35 stories
·
1 follower

The Chairmen, Trump and Mao

1 Share

The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline “China in Chaos.” Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump as Chairman of the Board.

Read the whole story
sfernseb
30 days ago
reply
Washington DC
Share this story
Delete

Pioneering artist Tyrus Wong dies at 106

1 Share
His paintings served as the visual inspiration for Disney's 'Bambi.'



Tyrus Wong, the pioneering Chinese American artist who paintings served as visual inspiration for Disney's animated classic Bambi and other Hollywood works, died on Friday. He was 106.

Tyrus Wong, Pioneer 'Bambi' Artist, Dies at 106

Wong was a painter, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer, designer and kite maker. His professional career included working as a greeting card designer for Hallmark, a film production illustrator for Warner Brothers, and an inspirational sketch artist for Disney, where he most famously served as the lead artist for Bambi.

Wong's death was announced on the Facebook page for Tyrus, the 2015 documentary on his life and career.

"With his passing, we have lost a brilliant artist, motion picture & animation legend, Chinese American pioneer, and hero," the post read. "He survived Angel Island, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Great Depression, discrimination, and the loss of Ruth, his soul mate and beloved wife of over 50 years. Yet Tyrus always faced adversity with dignity, courage -- and art."

Read more »
Read the whole story
sfernseb
54 days ago
reply
Washington DC
Share this story
Delete

How to talk to politicians

1 Comment

This google document that has been going around the progressosphere is an important read.  An extremely important read in the days going forward.  (And, I trust it because, humble-brag-6-degrees-of-separation-style, my aunt knows one of the authors!)

Many of us, I think, are new to this whole getting involved with politics thing.  We may have fired off an email or a letter when something particularly egregious has happened, but for the most part we’ve voted and generally trusted our elected officials to do what’s right or to ignore what’s right because we’re outnumbered.

We no longer have luxury of trust.  And we have the moral imperative and the will to fight to stem the worst excesses even if outnumbered.  With enough of our voices we can make change.  We’re the majority in the country even if not a majority in our gerrymandered districts.

A question I’ve had as I make these phone calls to politicians (something I’ve been doing almost every weekday since recovering from the election) is whether or not we can/should batch up comments into one phone call to an office or if each item should get a separate call.   Another question is whether it’s ok to leave a voicemail or if I should keep trying offices until I get a voice on the other end of the line.  And should I be using polite scripts or should I be more confrontational?  (Answers down below.)

Calling every day is a bit draining.  Generally the feeling of being drained happens before I make the call and I feel fine and maybe a little strong and powerful after, but I was a bit shaken and angered by an extremely unpleasant call with so-called “Richard Wilson” at the house financial oversight committee republican number who claimed to be the front office supervisor who told me that they couldn’t possibly investigate Trump’s potential conflicts of interest until they’d finished investigating the oh so corrupt current administration and then got confrontational with me (and if I wanted to complain about him, I would have to call my senator because he is the top supervisor).  Usually though I just do the polite script, they say, “thank you I will let X know” and that’s that.  Easy Peasy.  But I was feeling really angry about the latest Trump conflict of interest and the way that the financial oversight committee is determined to do nothing (and has plans to do nothing) so I started asking when and why.

According to the guide, I should be having more of that type of conversation, pushing aides to give me an answer and telling them I’m not satisfied.  And I will, but those phone calls take energy.  (I did recently have a script-like conversation with a nice lady at the governor’s office about an issue directly related to my kids– it was easier and more natural to push on that because I did want information and I did want the governor to actually do something.)  The guide recommends a separate phone call for each issue.  Calling until you get a staffer, and not just talking to the staffer who answers, but talking to the staffer specific to the issue you’re concerned about and not letting go until you’ve talked with them.  If that sounds overwhelming, keep reading this post.

I want to remind everybody that although the script in the google document is the ideal, that although having confrontational phone-calls, going to town hall meetings, and so on are important and we should be working towards them, in politics as in everything else that matters:

Don’t Let The Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good.

Reading that google doc has made me want to do more, much more.  And it’s pushed me to try to connect more with our local groups even though they’re not making it easy.  (If we ever get in touch, one of our first orders of business will be to make it easier.)  I’m going to try to use more confrontational scripts with my local staffers.

Part of the reason these calls are so important is because staffers check a box based on your call to see what issues constituents care about and in which direction they care.  So calling up and telling your senator about the appointments you oppose in one phone call gets those boxes checked (“We prefer it, so much easier for everyone,” a staffer told my sister.)  That’s not ideal when talking to Republican representatives, according to the google doc , because we don’t want things to be easier on them, but we do need those boxes to be checked.  Calling and getting those boxes checked is so much better than not getting any checked because you couldn’t make all those phone calls.  Similarly, leaving a message isn’t as good as talking to a staffer, but if you aren’t going to be able to keep calling until you get a staffer (because you have a job), leaving a message is still important.  Polite scripts still get your voice heard and that box checked.  We don’t need everybody to be confrontational, but we do need our representatives to know that people are noticing that what is happening is not acceptable and we do not support it.

I’d say right now, in D&D terminology, I’m a level 3 activist (and if you play D&D, you know you’re still fighting slime molds and can die by goblin at that level).  But that’s ok.  Just like with role-playing games, we need experience before we can level up.

What I’ve been doing has been doing one action item off one of the newsletters I subscribe to each day.  Sometimes I talk to a person (and sometimes I call different offices until I get a person).  Sometimes I leave a message.  You may prefer to bunch up and make all of your phone calls on Moral Monday or Activism Thursday or whatever fits best in your schedule.  (And I may move to Moral Mondays as time goes on.)  Start at whatever level you feel most comfortable.  Batch your calls once a week if that’s what you have time for.  Use the polite script if you don’t have the time or energy to have a discussion.  Leave messages if you don’t have time to call different offices until you find a person.  As you get more comfortable or as you’re working on the issues that you care about more, then do more.  The more you do, the sooner you level up, and the more you’ll be able to do and the easier it will be.  Because we have a lot to do to keep this country from moving backward, and we need to make our voices heard and to organize in order to survive the next few years.

In the words of one of the new activism newsletters I subscribe to, “Letting your voice be heard in any way is more important than not being heard at all.”

What level activist are you?  What suggestions do you have for organizing?  Have you reached out to any groups?  How have your experiences with calling been?  Is it easier than you thought or harder?  What other kinds of things have you been doing besides calling?  Is anybody going to DC or a local city for the Million Woman March?


Tagged: politics

Read the whole story
sfernseb
64 days ago
reply
Helpful D&D analogy...
Washington DC
Share this story
Delete

The Magician of Manga

1 Share
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, had long possessed—in its fabulous collection of Japanese art unparalleled anywhere outside Japan—an anonymous album of drawings long assumed to be by Hokusai. That album has now been persuasively linked to the artist.
Read the whole story
sfernseb
65 days ago
reply
Washington DC
Share this story
Delete

Apart Together

1 Comment
Christopher Benfey ruminates on distance: "Every relationship is a long-distance relationship. Rilke (unmarried and childless) thought there was still hope for marriage. Teju Cole, thinking of his own relationship with W.G. Sebald, quotes Sebald: 'Across what distances in time do the elective affinities and correspondences connect? How is it that one perceives oneself in another human being, or, if not oneself, then one's own precursor?'"
Read the whole story
sfernseb
65 days ago
reply
"Longing, we say, because desire is full/of endless distances."
Washington DC
Share this story
Delete

A Buddhist dish that's soft and sexy

1 Share
Photo courtesy of Chowhound
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an amazingly erudite review of both All Under Heaven and The Dim Sum Field Guide last month, and my deepest gratitude goes out to the author, JBF winner Wendell Brock

He writes things that make me blush and also feel incredibly proud, like, "With All Under Heaven, Carolyn Phillips delivers a remarkable love letter to the infinite variety of Chinese cooking." And then he goes on to say about the Field Guide, "It is as erudite as it is darling." Such lovely words sure do my heart (and ego) good. Thanks, Wendell!


Photo courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly
Canada seems to be liking AUH too, as evidenced by this remarkable bit of news: It made the top five best-selling cookbooks in Quebec! Yay, and thanks to the Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore in Montreal for the shout out and high honors. (And what a great name for a cookbook store...)

Finally, Chowhound has given its considerable blessing to AUH by including it on its "Cookbook Gift Guide for the Holidays." Thank you, Chowhound! This is what the folks there had to say: "Wrap your head around all the varieties of Chinese food in this comprehensive, contemporary portrait of a country's culinary geography and the history that has shaped it." And not only did these fine folks somehow prop me up near the top of that list, but I also find myself surrounded by some of my favorite authors. A terrific honor, and I am both moved and grateful. 

Now, on to more food...


*  *  *


Simplicity doesn’t have to mean boring, at least when it comes to vegan dishes like this. In fact, this dish is not only simple to make, but also fast and delicious.

The main ingredient in this traditional Buddhist dish from the Yangtze area is soy skin (aka yuba in Japanese), which forms on soymilk when it is being simmered, sort of like the stuff that collects at the top of your cocoa when your great-aunt makes it. In other words, this is simply a thin layer of protein.

But unlike that chewy layer of milk – something that has never charmed me much, to tell you the truth – soy skin is terrific. It has a wonderful texture that changes depending up whether it was dried or bought fresh, and also alters even further if it is, say, deep-fried, braised, or steamed. Dim sum restaurants often wrap julienned vegetables in these soy sheets before either steaming or frying them.

The easy ingredients
If you are a meatless sort of person, soy skin is one ingredient you should get to know up close on a personal basis. It has a bit of a chameleon character due to its different guises. Vegetarian ham or chicken, for example, is made out of gently stewed soy skins that are wrapped up into tight balls and then steamed to set their shape. One of my favorite versions even smokes these grapefruit-sized spheres, and that gives them even more of a meaty texture and flavor.

Today, though, we are going to be looking at a recipe that really is effortless. You can make it with either fresh or dried soy skins. I happened to have a package of fresh ones in the fridge, so that’s what I went with, but honestly, the dried ones are good, too. They have more of a leathery character in this dish, and that is not bad at all, since vegan dishes often can use a bit more texture.

The other main component here are fresh soybeans, what the Chinese call máodòu 毛豆 and the Japanese refer to as edamame. They are available in most supermarket freezers nowadays – and are almost impossible to find fresh – so go the easy route here and have a bag of these shelled beans ready to go in your own freezer.

Rinse off the packaged water
I like to cook this delicious dish in a light braise that is packed with flavor. To do that, I first fry fresh ginger and green onions in some oil, and then add a good wallop of Shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce, and sugar. That’s pretty much it. Who says dinner has to be stressful? Serve over some rice with maybe a bit of greens on the side, and your work is done.

Red-braised soy skins
Hóngshāo fŭpí 紅燒腐皮
Jiangsu
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
5 slices ginger
Braise the soy skins
2 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch / 2-cm lengths
5 ounces / 140 g fresh soy skins, or one large dried soy skin sheet
Warm water, as needed
6 tablespoons / 90 cc Shaoxing rice wine
¾ cup / 180 cc water
2 tablespoons / 30 cc regular soy sauce
Rock sugar about the size of a cherry, or agave syrup or white sugar to taste
¼ cup / 1½ ounces / 40 g shelled green soybeans (frozen is your best bet)

1. Set a wok over medium heat and then add the oil. Sprinkle in the ginger and green onions, and fry them until they are browned. You can remove them for more formal dinners, but for family meals feel free to leave them in.

2. While the ginger and onions are browning, work on preparing the soy skins. Fresh ones should be rinsed in warm water to remove any off flavors – I usually do this in a colander set in the sink. A dried sheet should be soaked in warm water until it is soft, then drained and rinsed. Tear the skin into pieces about the size of your hand and then drain.
Perfectly delicious

3. Add the rice wine, water, soy sauce, and sugar to the wok. Bring this to a boil and add the soy skins. When this comes to a boil once again, lower the heat to maintain a bare simmer, cover the wok, and then stir the skins occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly. After about 40 minutes, most of the liquid should be gone. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then toss in the soybeans. Cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or so to simply heat them through, as the frozen beans have already been blanched. Remove the cover, raise the heat (if necessary) to boil down any extra sauce, and then serve immediately.

Read the whole story
sfernseb
93 days ago
reply
Washington DC
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories