Ok, I downloaded a copy of Caste, and I'm having the hardest time getting myself to read it. I'm weirdly stuck on the fact that the three caste systems she picks to do a deep dive on are the Indian caste system, Nazi Germany, and the US.
Of course the Indian caste system should be integral to any discussion of caste. And of course she's making a case about the United States, so that should be one. But...Nazi Germany? Why is that a good illustrator of a caste system? What about South Africa, or all the places I don't really know off the top of my head because I'm not well-informed? Nazi Germany only lasted 12 years and the system was constantly changing every few years. Shouldn't a caste system be something that spans generations?
I keep hearing so many people love this book, but I find this detail so off-putting that it's sabotaging my desire to dive into a very long bit of non-fiction. Should I shrug off this one oddity, and focus on the parts with insights into American society? Should I keep going?
Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 2/25
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
First 100 Days
After Covid relief and the main Senate confirmations, I feel very strongly that election reform is the next-most-vital thing to ram Congress through by hook or by crook. I don't really know how to find out what's being planned next, but how could anything be more crucial? It seems like doing anything else is a giant F.U. to Georgia Democrats.
Ok, this is a lot of constraints on a recipe, but let me throw it out and see if anyone has any great ideas.
I'm looking for quick, weekday vegetarian meals that are heavy on protein and have a simple palate for picky eaters. More specifically, our kids are very into plain carbs and I'd like some dinners that are light on carbs and heavier on protein. I know how to do this using meat, and it's really easy, and I'm just trying to diversify towards eggs and beans, I guess.
This year, since I'm mostly home with the kids in the afternoon, the recipes can take longer. It doesn't have to be constrained within 30 minutes start to finish. But it needs to be something I can do with half a brain - like be simple enough that I can carry on a conversation without constantly shushing them and wondering if I already did this step or not. And I don't want to spend an hour on prep.
Also we are not purists on taste. I prefer to minimize how much brain-RAM the cooking occupies, but I'm basically a competent cook at this point.
Guest Post - Running Out of Water
Nick S writes: I read this piece last summer and thought, "this feels very different than had I read it pre-Covid. It's much easier to connect the emotions to the broader sense of collective resources and infrastructure under strain."
I didn't get around to sending it in then, but it's still relevant. Emphasis mine on the final sentences.
I've had an aversion to being told the truth about bad situations since 2018, when Cape Town city officials first told us we were running out of water. The taps, they said, would be turned off when the six reservoirs that collectively supply the city's water dropped to 13 per cent of capacity. They were already down to 21 per cent. We didn't have to take the officials' word for it - we could drive past the Steenbras or the Theewaterskloof dam and see for ourselves that there was hardly anything in them. The newspapers made a point of saying that we were going to win the worst race in the world and be 'the first major city to run out of water'. The phrase terrified me not only because of what it meant for Cape Town but because it implied a second city, and a third, and a fourth, were about to loom into view. When the rains came, the fact that we hadn't run out of water seemed merely a temporary respite, an unearned reprieve that someone else would have to pay for. We had moved to the front of the queue, and then we were shuffled back a bit. Before we were at the front, it was São Paulo. After us, it was Chennai. Always threatening to push in front, Mexico City....
I went with my translator, Ulises, to Ecatepec, the sprawling municipality on the hills outside Mexico City ... We were walking towards the last houses high up the hill, watching the water trucks make the almost vertical climb, and listening to the dogs barking and the brakes screeching. The women who live on the street were standing outside their gates, as they do every morning when the municipal water supply is unavailable or unreliable, which in Ecatepec is most mornings. On that street, nothing had come out of the taps in five months. The women were telling the drivers what to do with cheery impatience, nudging dogs away from children, buying bread from a man on a motorbike - coping, the way it's said that women in places like that do.
I'd met one of them before, a woman in her sixties called Yolanda ... Her great-granddaughter, Aimee, a tiny girl of six, sat on her lap and submitted to having her plaits undone, while performing a short monologue called 'I Hate it When I Have to Get My Plaits Undone'.
As she brushed out her great-granddaughter's hair, Yolanda said that sometimes the pipas didn't bring enough water for the street, so she and some of the other women would bring the driver into the house and hold him there until SACMEX, the federal water operator, sent another truck. She pointed to the table where they sat him, not with a gun actually held to his head - no need, they all knew the gun was in the room - and gave him coffee and pastries while they waited for the second truck to arrive. Ulises mentioned this thing with the gun, which some people would describe as kidnapping, as we walked up the hill. I said something pathetic about adapting to difficult circumstances, getting used to things you'd never imagine you could get used to. Some rubbish about frogs in boiling water. He said that was one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it was that we were talking about a situation in which one person has the water, and the other has the gun.
Heebie's take: The article is just fascinating enough to outweigh how frightening and grim the topic is. Also not very long - worth clicking through.
This is the first I'd heard that gas stoves pollute the hell out of your home. I suppose I'm late to the party? I gather I'd missed a whole thing about how gas companies have sold us on the idea that gas is better for cooking than electric, and so people feel strongly loyal about their gas stove tops and are reluctant to convert for quality cooking reasons?
One thing I'm not clear about: are we strictly talking about ranges, or does "stove" include the oven? I assume ovens can be electric and that we're talking about not having a gas hook-up whatsoever? Is pollution from an oven equal to pollution from a range, or is the oven somehow cleaner?
Anyway, the linked article is about how having a gas stove was a saving grace during a weeklong power outage, which is true. But maybe a camping stove would serve a similar purpose.
I'm having trouble placing this indoor pollution danger in context. Is this so bad that it's worth replacing your stove if it's financially feasible? Or is this like fretting about an x-ray and then discovering that every time you fly, you're exposed to a billion x-rays worth of cosmic radiation, and you should resign yourself to the idea that you're definitely going to die of cancer early and tragically?