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We can do better

Jordan 2020-06-02

Being the primary meal preparer between myself and Michela during quarantine also means that I strongly influence what we pick up on our weekly grocery trips. It’s not that I’m an amazing cook, but thousands of hours of food media have definitely emboldened me: I may not be amazing, but I am fearless in the kitchen. Some of our quarantine staples have been: pan fried chicken thigh, roasted broccoli, Chinese string beans, chili-lime kale salad, french omelette with cheese, kimchi fried rice, tacos with fajita veggies, and Chinese egg and tomato. We also cook frozen food, ramen, pasta, rice and other grains, and we also order-in a few times a week. We get variety, but I also have a bias towards familiarity so I don’t go looking for new recipes the way I did with Mark when cooking was a weekend activity instead of something I do to have food.

Michela and I have been reading about police abolitionism, which it turns out actually isn’t very radical. The main idea is just that most cities in the US today task their police forces with a lot of stuff that might be better handled by other organizations: answering calls about people living on the street, mental illness calls, and small crimes. Abolitionism is a call to shift funding from the police to these other organizations and social programs which reduce crime.

A few weeks ago when we went grocery shopping, Michela picked up some fresh rosemary. I was skeptical about how we would use it. She didn’t have a plan, and we’ve let food go bad accidentally several times in the last few months, so I’ve been trying to take a conservative attitude on groceries, only buying things when I had a plan to use them. The rosemary ended up sitting in the bottom of our fridge for several weeks, despite near-daily reminders I would bother Michela with, that we still needed to use the rosemary.

My first response to the idea of abolition was that it made sense but I wasn’t sure why it was preferred over reform. Reform has been “tried” but to the extent that it hasn’t worked I also feel like it hasn’t been wholeheartedly implemented. Part of the problem is that attempts to reform the police from the outside tend to be met with extreme skepticism and patronization from the officers, according to Vitale in “The End of Policing.” Vitale also calls out reformist policies like community policing – the idea of some prototype of policing where neighborhood police are known and respected in the community – which call for things like increasing reliance on Police Athletic Leagues, positive non-enforcement activities with youth, and more focus on getting to know community members, things that Vitale says do not reduce crime. It’s worth noting that community policing has been shown to increase trust in the police and decrease perceptions of biased treatment, even among residents in high crime and high poverty neighborhoods.

Yesterday we made rosemary pesto off of a recipe from the internet. It asked us to make the pesto in a food processor, which didn’t work for us because the rosemary needles just got mucky and wouldn’t pulse, so we scraped it out and chopped it up on a cutting board. The pesto was delicious after we added some lemon juice and pasta water. I’ve never cooked with rosemary before, and I probably wouldn’t have if Michela hadn’t pushed it on me, so maybe I should be less resistant to buying things I don’t yet know how to cook. Being forced to use rosemary taught me about it as an ingredient. It’s intensely herby and a little throaty. Fresh rosemary has a sort of bitterness to its aftertaste, but by adding more acidity and salt we were able to balance it out.

While there is room for investigation when looking at reform and abolition, I do think that from the current state of things, both kinds of policies move us in the correct direction. The rerouting of funding is overdue. As Dallas police chief David Brown said,

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it … Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, let’s give it to the cops … that’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

This blog officially endorses police abolitionism and rosemary.

Suck my golden dick

Jordan 2020-05-26

One time in high school we watched a clip from a game show called Golden Balls where two contestants choose to split or steal a shared prize a la the Prisoners’ Dilemma. They get 1 minute to reason with each other about their options. If they both choose split then they each get half of the prize money, and if they both choose steal then neither gets anything, but if one of them chooses split and the other chooses steal, then the one who stole gets the full prize.

In the clip we watched, a short and innocent looking lady is matched against a man, and she spends the whole minute pleading with him not to choose steal.  He agrees early on, and then spends the whole minute reassuring the lady that he will split. Then when the timer runs out the lady chooses steal and the man chooses split.

I’m writing this post because nothing has ever made me angrier than the class conversation that followed, in which a girl in my class said that she thought the lady was kind of a genius. That she technically didn’t even lie because she never outright promised to split, and that it was impressive how she was able to outwit the man, and isn’t that what the game is all about? And I’m actually seething with rage just recounting this. Because what kind of fucking idiot, what kind of narcissistic and condescending piece of shit do you have to be to not only betray someone when they acted out of good faith and meta-rationality – but on top of that, to think that you outsmarted them? As if it didn’t occur to the man that the woman might choose steal. It’s literally the point of the game you moron. There’s only two things the woman can do, and your tiny brain thinks that doing one of those things is some sort of unexpected remarkable play? Well here’s the bit you missed while you were jerking yourself off on how much better than other people you think you are: when you chose steal, YOU DID THE UNREMARKABLE THING.

You did what a monkey would have done. You followed your immediate incentives. I’ll see you in 30 years when your heart is full of hate and you deserve it, and not just me – every discerning and intelligent person in your life will have sized you up, and we’ll all judge you for it, and you’ll never change our minds unless you begin to change yourself, which will never happen because you can’t see past your stupid forehead, and it’s the year 2050 and you’re still here, congratulations you got carried on the shoulders of people who care enough about others they HATE that they didn’t leave them behind on the dying fucking planet they created. Here’s your stupid fucking banana Einstein.

House rules for Bananagrams

Jordan 2020-05-25

During this year’s quarantine, our 3 bedroom 5 person apartment has found plenty of time to dive into the board games we own. Today Mark was at Jo’s and Sijia and Chad were out biking, so Michela and I spent the morning in with iced coffee and a french omelette on toast, which I have recently begun to perfect. Around 11 we broke out Bananagrams and I taught Michela our house rules.

Bananagrams is a simple board game which uses only a set of letter tiles. The general goal is to use all of your own tiles to make real words from left to right and up to down in a connected scrabble-like array. To play our rules with 2–5 people you need:

Shuffle all the tiles around face down in a pile. Every player then gets 40 tiles of their own. When the game starts, each player flips over their tiles and tries to use them to make connected words at least 4 letters long.

At any point a player can say PEEL and grab a tile from the middle, and all other players still in the game must also grab a tile.

At any point a player can say DUMP and put a tile back into the middle, replacing it with 3 other tiles.

The first person to use up all of their tiles is the “winner,” and the game ends when all players have used their tiles.

The after-game

My words (left) were: roti, fish, harken, frank, allot, reel, brave, forte, tries, seethe, exciting, and roomie.

Michela’s words (right) were: sane, oared, teat, fined, near, sated, judged, joyous, hoot, coitus, tweens, chore, broiled, and chore (a second time).

Here are the poems we came up with:

Jordan's poem

‘Frank tries fish’ or ‘Remembrance’

It never was my forte, dear, but brave as I can be
I’ll take the fish with roti, dear, with rage I will not seethe.
And as I cut the fish in two, the sauce I will allot
Harkens to exciting roomies’ sauces I forgot.

My poem is about Frank trying fish, and it’s also about remembering times past with your roommates who may or may not be moving to Europe.

Michela's poem

‘To be sated and sane’

To be sated and sane,
in a time such as this,
To be oared through the channel,
is a chore for the rower.
Such a chore that,
in the ‘twixts and the ‘tweens,
we find ourselves broiled
in joyous coitus
and fined ourselves sums
for the teat we sucked
and judged ourselves sinful
to be near the hoot.

Michela’s poem is about how we judge ourselves for giving in to baser instincts when that’s what it takes in quarantine to stay sane.

You can try it at home

Altogether one round of Bananagrams with our house rules takes 15–20 minutes. I highly recommend it as a short and fun little game that also lets you be creative.

Thoughts from the back of this human centipede

Jordan 2020-03-06

Boy, what a whole thing huh? One second you’re minding your own business getting fro-yo with this German lab assistant you met on Tinder, next thing you know you’re at the tail end of a long line of captives sewn ass to mouth. Haha! Nah I’m just kidding, it’s really terrible.

Well first of all, and let me just say that I don’t mean to be inflammatory, but can I just say: I wish I was LUCKY enough to have poop to eat right now. I mean I’m not saying I love poop, but it’s been a few days and nothing has made it through the first 4 people or so. You know the survival rule of threes: three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food. Well, what they don’t tell you is that even a few days without food is pretty miserable!

I’m trying to be positive. Gah. I am positive. In general, I’m an optimist. It’s just that sometimes our circumstances get the best of us and, how would you feel?

Huh? I don’t need to defend myself to you? You get it? Thank goodness.

I think about death. And how there’s no way I’m going to get fed. Even if the person in front of me died and I had a chance to eat their butt cheeks from the hole outwards, I don’t think I could do it. So it’s just a waiting game. And then sometimes, I think: hasn’t it always just been a waiting game? Haven’t I just been eating shit pooped at me by someone else who’s been eating shit from a line of shit eaters, my whole fucking life, just waiting to die? I’m only 25. I always wanted to do something big. And I never did. Too busy with other things. Netflix. Work. Eating shit. So I think that’s the gift I was given. To see the whole pattern, finally, physically. And to have the privilege to see the end of the pattern, here at the tail of the line. To know that I won’t have my own shit thrust into someone else’s mouth. To know that it ends with me. And to know that no matter how much I would totally kill for some shit to eat right now, it’s never going to come. That the cycle is broken, but that I am free because for once in my goddamn life, I don’t even have the choice to eat shit.

I think sometimes we can only be free when we end our bondage to ourselves.