About writing again. It’s been a while – real life (and real employment, beyond cigarettes) got in the way. Yet I find myself with plenty of things to say.

There will be more to come.

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A better use for breast milk

Rather than focusing on the more, erm, unusual uses for breast milk – ice cream, for example – Nick Kristof of The New York Times has a more direct approach. Breast milk can be used to prevent malnutrition in babies. Astounding.

According to Kristof, studies show that if a baby is fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life, the chances of that baby surviving – and thriving – skyrocket. But it’s not so easy convincing mothers in countries with malnutrition problems and high infant mortality rates to breastfeed. Everything from religious beliefs to supposed common sense to, perhaps, stigmas surrounding breast and breastfeeding seem to get in the way of what, on the surface, appears to be a simple and obvious solution. Because, unfortunately, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds. But, perhaps, it could be – if stigma and superstition are superseded by education.

Check it out here: The Breast Milk Cure

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Today, the Washington Post features a piece on a new, grassroots feminist movement,  SlutWalks. These walks have women taking to the streets, wearing as little or as much clothing as they choose to protest sexual assault. Their message: A woman’s clothing is her choice. It does not entice rapists, nor should it be blamed for such.

The movement so far has been successful in terms of garnering attention and gathering followers. In a world where the debate is on whether or not to make school uniforms baggier in order to deter pedophiles, rather than what measures to take to keep such predators away from schools, well, that’s indicative of a serious problem. And that is what SlutWalks is all about. “She’s asking for it” is antiquated and preposterous. Fashion should be fun, not frightening.

The other debate surrounding SlutWalks is the use of the term ‘slut’. Opponents of the movement – or at least how the movement is categorized – claim that by trying to reclaim the world slut, these women are injuring themselves and their cause. Slut does have a negative stigma, one that is culturally common. But I don’t think they’re actually trying to reclaim slut and turn it into something positive. Rather, I think by using the word slut, SlutWalks is cleverly turning the word on its head. First, it’s a great way to get attention – who would willingly call herself a slut? That incites curiosity. Second, it seems that SlutWalks is using the term as a sort of threat to anyone who would dare to call them such, or to go so far as to attempt some sort of assault. Singling out one woman as a slut is degrading, and renders her powerless. But it’s damn near impossible to call thousands of women sluts and expect the same effect. There is strength in numbers, and when women rally around each other, it is much harder for any of them to feel victimized.

Slut is not going to be the new ‘homegirl’ or ‘wifey’ or any other odd nickname. But used in the context SlutWalks, it shows that sexuality can also be strength. That a woman can wear whatever she wants, just because she wants to. And to those that oppose this – well, they’re just stupid. And they’ll have a hell of a time getting a date.


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Blocks and cigarettes

NYC legos, from Abstract Sunday (NYTimes)

After not writing for so long, actively trying to think of something to write about is difficult. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? That’s original, witty or thoughtful? Really, the more I think – and over-think – the worse I get.

But I do have a reason for not writing and subsequently agonizing over not writing – I am officially employed! Not as a journalist, but as the C.O.O. of a new company. Meaning I take care of everything: insurance, permits, equipment, tobacco. That’s right, tobacco. I, the health nut, the girl who eats organic food and whose worst vices are chocolate and coffee, am in the tobacco distribution business. I find it oddly funny too.

So, instead of chronicling my unemployment woes and wishes for a career montage and more patience, I now have a wealth of new material – tobacco distribution related material – to pull from. There is a whole world of regulations and taxes to explore (oh boy!), a whole new vernacular to learn. I am poised to become a non-smoking cigarette expert. Though smoking will not be allowed inside my warehouse/office. What will be allowed (to stay) are the boxes and boxes of caramels and hot chocolate left by the warehouse’s former owner, an ice-cream company. I might be storing my inventory in ice-cream freezers, next to two large jelly bean containers, the kind that separate the jelly beans by flavor and feature stickers with jelly belly recipes on them, such as piña colada or strawberry shortcake. Though they are currently empty of jelly belly goodness. But I will do what I can to change that – candy and cigarettes, such a promising combination.

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Blind date turtle

This should bring the ladies running.

No, this is not a meme or thing like the awkward moose. Though that is funny.

Today, I read a story about Lonesome George, the last known survivor of a giant tortoise species native to Pinta Island, near Ecuador. Though no one knows for sure if Lonesome George is, indeed, as lonely as his name suggests, a global search is underway to find him a mate – or even just a date. The problem lies in finding a female tortoise of the same species. The bigger problem is that Lonesome George seems exceedingly picky. So far, only one of the females (not the same species) picked to fraternize with him has elicited the desired response, but none of the eggs hatched.

So the search continues. Hopefully a female of the same species is found, and hopefully that female will arouse Lonesome George’s interest. And hopefully those eggs will hatch. Lonesome George can’t afford to be picky with his species on the line. Anyone know of a good turtle whisperer? This tortoise needs to understand what’s at stake here.

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Osama bin Laden, Taliban leader and fixture of the FBI’s most wanted list since 1999, is dead. He was killed this weekend by US special forces – a mission that had been in the works since August, when US operatives discovered bin Laden hiding out at a mansion turned fortress in Pakistan.

It’s surreal, in a way, to hear this. Bin Laden has been the world’s super villain for almost 10 years. Many people, including myself, have grown up in fear of the Taliban and what they are capable of post-9/11. To have it end so abruptly is both galvanizing and almost hard to believe, since the search has been ceaseless for so long. Hopefully, bin Laden’s death is as much of a downer for the Taliban as it has been a morale boost for the U.S. Thousands of people flooded Ground Zero last night to celebrate, a show of unity and strength that will, hopefully, be echoed around the country.

Hear Obama’s announcement here.

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The 4+ questions

Passover starts tomorrow night, which means that Jews all over (including myself) are buying matzoh, cooking brisket and sneaking bites of charoset out of the bowl. (Charoset is a mixture of fruit, nuts and wine. It looks weird, but tastes amazing.)

One of the seder traditions involves the youngest person present asking the four questions, which explain the main traditions of Passover: reclining, eating matzoh and bitter herbs. Always the same four questions. To add variety and humor to the routine, the New Yorker has come up with the extended version of the four questions, meant to explain parts of Jewish life today. My favorite:

FATHER: Has everyone here seen “Blazing Saddles”?
ALL: Yes, we have seen it.

FATHER: Do you remember the beans scene? That is the greatest scene.
ALL: Yes, we remember it.

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