Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pan-browned Brussels sprouts

The Brussels sprout is a terribly underrated food. In America, we are taught as children to hate the tiny cabbages for absolutely no reason other than the television telling us that they are bad, but the Brussels sprout is really a wonderfully versatile vegetable. Here is a recipe for pan-browned Brussels sprouts with toasted garlic and sesame butter. I made these last night, and they are delicious.

What you'll need:

1/2 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
1 and 1/2 tablespoon butter
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sesame seeds

What you do:

Step 1: Rinse and trim* Brussels sprouts. Cut sprouts in half lengthwise. 

Step 2: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy, 10-inch pan over medium heat. Add olive oil.

Step 3: Add garlic, heat until golden brown. Or accidentally leave it on too long and make tiny garlic hash browns like I did.

Step 4: Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon. Set aside in a small bowl.

Step 5: Reduce to low heat. Add Brussels sprouts, cut side down, in a single layer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt to taste. Cook uncovered for fifteen minutes, or until sprouts are tender. Do not flip sprouts.

Step 6: Remove sprouts from pan, place on paper towel to absorb excess oil. 

Step 7: Melt remaining butter in pan, increase to moderate heat. Return garlic to pan and add additional sesame seeds. Saute for approximately one minute. 

Step 8: Arrange sprouts face up on serving plate. Spoon garlic mixture over sprouts and serve immediately.

* I recommend always cooking with fresh Brussels sprouts. Fresh sprouts need to be trimmed, however, but doing so is easy. Simply cut off the hard portion of the stem at the bottom, remove any yellowed or withered outer leaves, and they're ready to go.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I am glad to hear that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was upheld today.

I am not an economist, and I will not sit here and pretend like I fully understand the long-term financial implications of every tiny element of the statute.

But I feel that any action that works to insure that all people have access to reasonably affordable health care is a step in the right direction.

I don't mind paying higher taxes if it means that more people get to stay healthy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

(Click to enlarge)

Is anybody else confused by this discrepancy?

Monday, June 25, 2012

America needs to have a serious discussion about newborn circumcision and why we are so complacent in this tradition of parents having a piece of their son sliced off before he has any say in the matter. The foreskin contains a large quantity of erogenous nerve endings, and deciding for someone whether or not he gets to experience the potential sensations offered by those nerve endings is a violation of his bodily autonomy.

He may be your child, but his body does not belong to you. Your traditions do not matter to him yet. He should be allowed the chance to make the decision for himself.

[Visit this post from the lovely Athena of My Life as a Grown-Up for more discussion on the issue]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The following is a series of quotations from a scientific/philosophical article that I recently read about some of the impending ethical issues of human enhancement technology, pertaining particularly to cognitive enhancement in this specific case. The quotations occur in the paper in the order that they are listed below; I have simply removed the examples and extraneous elaboration. I apologize in advance for the unconventional quotation format, but Blogger's quick-formatting options are limited and right now I do not feel like struggling with mark-up text, nor do I feel like presenting the quotes "properly" in one huge paragraph full of disorienting ellipses. Regardless:

"Another worry is that all the possibilities offered by cognitive enhancement might lead us to view those people with below-average cognitive ability as diseased, rather than as part of the normal human spectrum of abilities."

"...included in this group of people will be those whose cognitive functioning falls so far below the average that society deems them incapable of making important life decisions - such as where to live and what to do with their lives - which must instead be delegated to a carer. Cognitive enhancement could enable these people to gain autonomy over their own lives; however, given their impaired cognitive abilities, it is probable that they would be deemed incapable of consenting to receive enhancing treatment."

"That enhancing treatment should be withheld from severely cognitively-impaired people might be seen as a consequence of our current way of thinking about medicine. According to this way of thinking, it is acceptable to treat a severely cognitively-impaired person for conditions recognised as diseases or injuries, such as cancer or a broken leg, despite the fact that he is incapable of giving consent. Generally, we believe that such treatment is acceptable because it is in the person’s best interests; whereas leaving him untreated would be contrary to his best interests. On the other hand, it is not clear that an avoidable enhancement, such as a facelift, would be in his best interests. Since very low intelligence, like having facial wrinkles, is not universally recognised as a disease state, it is questionable on the current medical model whether it serves the best interests of a cognitively-impaired person to undergo cognitive enhancement treatment."

"This medical model, according to which treatment for disease is seen as necessary whereas enhancement is seen as gratuitous, is arguably outdated."

"Moving away from a model that associates medical treatment with disease would enable cognitively-impared people to recieve enhancing treatment without committing ourselves to the view that such people are diseased."

[Nick Bostrom and Rebecca Roache, Ethical Issues in Human Enhancement, New Waves in Applied Ethics, 2008, pages 16-17]

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Step 1: Pour glass of Armenian brandy.

Step 2: Suddenly realize that said serving of brandy will push you over your daily calorie limit.

Step 3: Shrug shoulders dramatically and drink brandy anyway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Brief thoughts on Prometheus

It would seem that, for some reason, a lot of people don't like Prometheus. That is fine; they are entitled to their own opinion about it. However, I found it to be a very intelligent film that assumes a certain level of active awareness in its audience. It doesn't force the story down your throat. Rather, it relies on the attentiveness of the audience by presenting important plot elements in what I thought were very artistic, subtle, and well-executed ways.

I enjoyed every minute of Prometheus, and I enjoyed every minute that I spent thinking about it during the days that followed my viewing of the film. Like I said above, it assumes a certain level of intelligence in the audience, so you do have to be ready to pay close attention and work with the film to completely absorb the story. I can't promise that you will enjoy it as much as I did, but I can say with certainty that if you allow yourself to miss out on seeing Prometheus because of the flippant and nit-picky complaints of less engaged viewers, you are doing yourself a serious disservice.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Every now and then...

I suddenly remember that she is dead.

And everything that I do feels wrong.
There are those who, when presented with a novel but yet unproven idea or technology, call upon their knowledge of the universe to say, "No, that is not possible."

And then there are those who call upon their knowledge of the universe to ask, "What if that were possible? What else would have to be true for that to be so?"

The former may stay comfortable for now.

But the future will be built upon the latter.

The future will be built upon those who believe that we will know the unknowable.