The Art Site

Friday, April 30, 2010

Planned Parenthood Founder: Pro-life?

Have you heard of Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist who kick-started the Planned Parenthood clinics in the US in the early 20s - 30s? This lady came from a Catholic home, and was one of 11 children. Her mother died through cancer and child bearing, and Margaret helped to look after her brothers and sisters.
Here's a picture. She's not bad looking for someone who wreaked such havoc..

I'll bet the photo's been digitally edited.. No one that evil could look that good.

Basically she gave her life to advocating birth control for the aim of creating a 'pure race'. She was all for reducing population, but more than that, she wanted the next generations of people to be bred from healthy, rather than mutant, genes. Poor people and immigrants she described as "..human weeds,' 'reckless breeders,' 'spawning... human beings who never should have been born." in her book Pivot of Civilization. In her own words, she said that the purpose of promoting birth control was to "create a race of thoroughbreds" - (Birth Control Review, Nov. 1921).

Her words have been the basis of a huge movement in eugenics, birth control and abortion.

When reading about her today (on Wiki! Isn't it great?) I found out something that stunned me. As in, I was actually sitting, staring at the university computer screen like a goldfish, with my mouth hanging open most unattractively.
This is the quote I read:
"While there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization." (Women and the New Race, 1920)
The second quote I read was even more amazing...

"To each group we explained what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way—no matter how early it was performed it was taking life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way—it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun." (from Marg Sanger's 1938 biography)

A 'disgrace to civilization'! 'Taking life'! Abortion is the 'wrong way'! Our Brave New World has then moved substantially past even Sanger's eugenicist literature and speeches: Every Western society is now killing off their next generations, even though the most basic science screams that abortion is a clever word for murder.

I find it remarkable that a woman who was all for eugenics and birth control, a heroine of pro-abortionists to this day, stopped short of advocating abortion, as she knew what every abortionist knows: abortion ends life.

Tomorrow: discussion on the West's aging population.. (guess why it's aging).

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

the art of writing

It's a challenge isn't it. To produce a clever, interesting and well structured piece of writing is a herculean feat for most people, unattainable for many.

Why is it so hard? Our thoughts flow easily, even entertainingly in our own minds, but when it comes to typing them out, more often than not they seem commonplace and flat. When asked to write an essay, minds blank out - the demand for a thoughtful, succinct and structured line of thought seems too much to ask.
So what is the magic formulae? How did Shakespeare pen his dreamy sonatas, or Milton his epic Paradise Lost, or Dickens think up such complicated and fascinating plots, or Hugo write his Gothic Hunchback of Notre Dame? And how does Austen manipulate her texts to flow so well, and sparkle so brilliantly with well-timed wit?
As Austen's heroine, Elizabeth Bennett said, on her skill of piano playing: "I have always supposed it to be my own fault- because I would not take the trouble of practising..."(Ch. 31)

Because that's what good writing is. Each piece, each paragraph and pithy line is usually the result of years of practicing writing, most of which is rubbish. The result is literature that lives on.

Do you like writing? What do like writing about, and do you ever dream of writing a novel one day?

On Felting

Tonight was felting night at our house. Mum's making gifts to give away. When she gets into a creative mood, the things she produces are quite spectacular..
Have you heard of felting before? It's a craft that consists of rubbing soap and hot water into wool. The wool 'base' has lots of cut out/strips of different coloured wools on it, making a picture, and when the warm soapy mixture is rubbed in, the wool fibers in the pieces meld into the fibers of the base, thus creating a picture that sticks together.

Here are some examples of felting, if you're curious. (Not done by our family!)

You have to love those colours! All it needs is a bit of green.. (green all the way, baby)

Haha! Cool what you can do with a few fibers..

Not quite sure what one would do with this - but it's unique and special in its own way!

Anyway, the artwork that me, Mum and a few friends who were around at our house produced was amazing. We rubbed the wool that was protected by bubble wrap (each plastic bubble is supposed to rub the wool) with the soapy mixture for over half an hour. Our hands had never been cleaner, and probably never will be again.
The picture was set against a creamy wool background, with blue waves and strands of white silk for foam. Among the waves dolphins and whales swam, wrapped in the waves, and overhead were white seagulls.. Ahh, so pretty.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


For my English essay writing class, we're looking at what mechanisms construct gender in our society. I've been thinking a lot about gender, femininity, feminism, and the female because of that..

We see them everywhere. Their smiles fake, exaggerated with plastic happiness over a new product. A perfect smile, composed of full lips stretched over straight, flawlessly white teeth (no gaps allowed), sells anything. Shining hair falling in waves over a perfect pair of shoulders, strands gleaming in mock sunlight, a perfect figure, symmetrical in each proportion, eyes that have never laughed, eyelashes so long they sweep the smooth cheeks, hands that touch nothing but moisturising creams.

Her clothes are immaculate, no stains, stray hairs, wrinkles or rips. Nothing is too short or too long on this being: clothes sit perfectly on her figure, accentuating each curve.
This creature has never lived.

Her brand name is 'woman', and she is plastered in advertisements, billboards, magazines, TV, and movies.

'She' is the ideal that will never be realised, as she has never breathed.

What do you think about the way women are portrayed in our society? Do you think we have created a dangerous specimen that looks like a woman, but is also an unattainable stereotype that many women strive for, and men fall for?

Monday, April 26, 2010


This is something I wrote last term, while sitting at a desk in the Uni library, looking out at the view. Looking at views invariably takes my mind off the practical and everyday, and plunges me into gynocentrism. Some of it is what I saw, some of it is distorted. Distortion and creativity are synonymous.


Sixth floor of the University library. There's a line of us students, sitting on chairs with desks, 70s variety, lined up by the windows. This room is ugly, with its yellow-brown carpet, glaring yellow bookshelves, purple columns and fading yellow window frames. The windows look as though they have never been opened and the long window openers hang dejectedly down, still fastened to their hooks. Paint is peeling from the frames, flakes lie on the ledge, undersides faded yellow, upturned sides white. The glass has splashes of dried-up matter on them - not cleaned, as students are meant to see their books, not their surroundings.

These windows look onto the brown, gray and cream-coloured buildings, oblongs that sit solidly on the concrete bellow, full of windows like eyes and more study spaces for more students. Remnants of old fashion, they are like imprints of another age, so immovable and entrenched, reminders of an ephemeral past.
Now their stained walls and roofs collect dove droppings, and their rooms, bare and spartan as ever, are the subsidiaries of mindless students.

Beyond the buildings is an expanse of trees that stretch out in varying shades of verdure to the gray hills.
Down the long stretch of desks I observe the students working. I feel no connection with them, although I am just like them. A man, black-haired, resting his arms on the desk and reading, serious, inscrutable expression. There is no aura of self-awareness encompassing him, his eyes and his mind are fixed in the realm of the book he reads. Two girls, heads tilted to one side like birds, hair - straightened more than Nature allows for - falling to the other side of their up-turned faces. One girl, sitting apart from the others strikes me as different.

If it were not for her attitude perhaps she would have passed with the rest. Her hands, ordinairy, pink, nail-bitten, rest loosely together on the desk in front of her, her shoulders slightly hunched with knotty tension as she leans back into her chair. A stack of books and papers lie untidily on the desk, as though she pushed them roughly to the side so that she could contemplate the view with slitted, black-fringed eyes.
The slanted, questioning eyebrows, brown, are pulled slightly together - the by-product of puzzling something out, or trying to sift through an idea, perhaps.

The intensity of her gaze - piercing, unblinking - directed beyond the University buildings suggests that her mind is not turning over her studies, in fact it seems more likely that she is exploring metaphysics. And like me, writing this down, her brooding thoughts were implanted by the view.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Of Leaves, the Sky and Skeletons

When pondering what to write today, I realised that the leaves stewn in a thick blanket throughout Christchurch are blog-worthy.

It's Autumn. The trees, in order to start their budding program for Spring, rid themselves of every toxin they possess by depositing them in their leaves, then discarding them over the ground.
And the result is beautiful.
Today I went with a group of people from our church to visit the old folk at a resthome, and noticed that the trees outside the building had carpeted the vibrant grass with masses of ochre, orange and vermillion leaves.

So I picked some up. The veins had paled, and were made more distinct by the deep crimson of their backdrop, and on one leaf I found golden-yellow highlights, splashed in among the red.

On these trees, the branches were beginning to show through. Autumn is an undressing season: trees everywhere discard their leaves when they are at their most magnificent state, leaving only the trunk and branches, the skeletons of former beauty.

I like these skeletons. On nights when the sun is just leaving, but still touching some objects with golden light and casting others in shadow, the skeletons of trees are at their most eerie. The sky all around them is pale, while they stand out as black outlines, stretching branches like arms into the sky, as though embracing it.

..and another creepy picture of trees:

Tell me, reader, do you also have a love for this season of dramatic beauty? Stand in solidarity with me and explain what you like about it! Please do.

- Lydie

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anzac Day! (Tomorrow)

Here's the butter and golden syrup, in two identical bowls.  No-one would know that they would have such exciting adventures in the next hour.

It's Anzac Day tomorrow, Sunday 25th, so Anzac biscuits are in order.  If it wasn't our special commemoration of the day when the Anzac troops landed at Gallipoli, it would be just the right time to make something in the kitchen anyway.  It pretty much always is, from my point of view, if not from my mum's.

These biscuits are full of rolled oats, butter, sugar, golden syrup and coconut - pretty much the recipe for happiness-in-a-biscuit. Texture: crispy edges, slightly chewy centre, with the oats and coconut making for a gutsy mouthful.  Aesthetic appeal:  actually golden-brown, like all the recipes prophecy then don't deliver on - the butter, sugar and golden syrup meld together in the baking stage, caramelising, binding the various ingredients together, and making the cookie spread into perfect circles.  The surface of this comparatively thin cookie is flecked with the pale-coloured oats.

I decided to make glutenous and gluten-free cookies.

Water and baking soda added, and the resulting foamy, buttery mixture.  Looks awful, doesn't it.

Another picture of the baking soda playing with the butter and golden syrup.

The pouring of the coconut and my thumb.  Note the rolled oats in the picture, along with their packet to the left..

Meet Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.  When making glutenous and non-glutenous food at the same time, it pays to use different measuring cups and utensils.

Also meet one of my favourite things: Fake Vanilla Essence.  Of course I like the real stuff better, with the vanilla seeds and all, but this isn't bad for $2 something.  The Pams' variety has a cute picture of a cupcake on it..

Don't be bored at this point.  Let me introduce you, if you haven't met each other already, to Xantham/Xanthan Gum.

According to Wiki, "Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide used as a food additive and rheology modifier. It is produced by fermentation of glucose or sucrose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium."

Yep, I don't understand that explanation much either.  Sounds like a kind of yeast though - basically sugar fermented by a special kind of bacterium.  Lovely. It's brilliant - works like the Gluten Monster does, just not quite as well. Anyway, I added some of this to the g-free mixture, to give the cookies the right texture.

The unbaked cookies.  Again, the tray to the left is free of Gluten, the one to the right is full of it.

The gluten-freebz were looking so delicious - everything that an Anzac biscuit should look.  Then, disaster struck, a not irregular occurence when I am let loose in the kitchen.

I took the cookies out of the oven, and tried to put them on the bench, on a wire rack. Then Tragedy! Somehow the tray managed to slide off and fall Splat onto the ground, face down, smushing all my adorable, golden-brown cookies into our cork floor.  After emitting a piercing shriek, I knelt on the floor and wept inwardly.

As I sat, I debated whether or not to take a picture: in fact, whether to puncture my pride and show a picture of them all crumbled, on this blog or pretend it didn't happen.  The above picture demonstrates the result of the debate and of the fall.

Here are the finished products.  Please do make some for Anzac day, whatever your gender, dear Reader.

Make them for your family, they'll love you to bits.  Also follow the New Zealand tradition, eat them drowned in a steaming cup of Earl Gray tea, or if you are not so uncivil, seperately, with fine China tea cups.

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100 Days Of Blogging

Yes, you read correctly. I, the author of this erratic, unpredictable, inconsistent, fitful and intermittent blog, have decided to give myself a challenge: to write something on here every day for 100 days.

In this way, I'll be working on being more creative. The people who like some kind of regularity and consistency in their lives will rejoice on the un-erratic nature of the blog, if not on the (in all likelihood) erratic nature of its content.

I'm not swearing to anything, even though this occasion seems to beg a solemn promise from me that I will write on here without missing a single day.
I'm going to give it a shot though.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Mish..

Part 1
My blogging friend Theresa, from gisforgluten and I drove out about a week ago to Piko, an old curiosity shop. Apart from being an old-fashioned, red-bricked building with a sign that has an outré picture of a pumpkin on it, this cosy, out-of-the-way barn has hidden treasure. Walking in was like entering gluten-free paradise; the shelves that filled up every square inch of wall were packed with every kind of organic flour, spice, chemical additive, grain, fruit, tea and cereal known to man.

It was just the kind of shop that you could stay in for hours, meditating on flours like Amaranth, millet and sorghum, agonising over xanthan vs. guar gum and pondering the merits of rice flakes and chestnut powder.
We didn't stay for hours - closer to 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour, but it was enough. By the time we'd left, I was lugging a huge box full of various flours, organic cupcake cups, xanthan, guar gum and cereal. The next part of the mish was to go to my place and try to create something edible from the flours we'd bought.
Part 2
Theresa and I love cooking, so naturally we talk about it a lot: ideas for new, revolutionary g-free recipes, ways to create lighter-textured baking, and the results of what we make. Actually eating food is fantastic, but scheming, collaborating and creating food is where the pursuit of happiness ends. Pretty much.

When we got to my house, we'd already decided to make pasta: organic, whole-grain flour, eggy pasta, with Italian tomato and herb sauce.
Here's the pictures of what we came up with:
..An action shot of the dough. It was so stretchy and sticking-together-ish. Just beautiful.
The strips of dough - tagliatelle? Before they were cooked..
Here's the 'Italian' pasta sauce - good mix of caramelised onions, chopped tomatoes and paste, some Italian herbs, spices and sausages, and a good dash of balsamic vinegar.
..The cooked pasta. We weren't too sure how long to cook it, but it turned out okay in the end!
End result..
..the melted cheese and basil enhanced the flavour and appeal of the pasta.
It was so, so good. Here's a recipe for pasta, from Recipezarre. By the way, the speckled appearance of our pasta is due to our using different types of whole-grain flours (because they're good for you!). You can have a go substituting brown rice flour, amaranth and sorghum in small quantities instead of just using tapioca, cornflour etc.

Happy cooking!

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Of Interest

The posts on this blog have been quite un-tranquil lately. Not lately, actually - there haven't been any posts at all from me for a long while!
I won't thank you for your patience, since I'm sure you all lost patience a long time ago. Understandably.
Interesting things are happening in my life. Due to my negligence, I daresay my crowd of readers are quite uninterested. But I'm more than happy to monologue away...

I'm a real, honest-to-goodness University of Canterbury student now! I'm doing an arts degree in political science. This semester I'm doing a history paper on Revolutions, one on writing Academic Essays (to brush up my skills from Correspondence, and *hopefully* get better marks) and a Public Policy paper.
It's amazing to be paying to study. I really enjoy it - you can learn everything you want to, study as hard as you like, soak in the Uni atmosphere, catch up with friends around campus, and sit under huge old trees to study.. so good. Do you guys enjoy studying, or is it a bothersome nuisance to you? I'm curious.

I appreciate (while I'm listing the good things about Uni) the fact that when you're paying for your own tuition you have to force yourself to work hard. I like the challenge of handing in an assignment on time; all the components of the work that you have to think through yourself and present in a coherent, logical way.
I feel Pollyanna-ish.
While I'm noting things about me that might, or might not catch your interest, here's one that is big in my life right now: I went gluten-free a couple of months ago.
Please feel free to shed a sympathetic tear at this juncture.

It's actually not all that bad surprisingly. A Gluten-Freeite does have to forgo those amazing sandwiches that have their filling encased between thick layers of light, springy-textured, seed-embedded bread. Squiggles, Tim-Tams, normal cereal, most lollies, most sausages, most pasta - these things are dead to the person who is a G-Freeite.

But there is hope, due to one's cooking and baking abilities. Really, all you need is a few basic culinary skills, a bit of initiative, a bit of innovation - and you'll be able to adapt normal recipes into g-free ones. Being G-Free doesn't really limit what you can cook/bake - it just makes cooking or baking a little more difficult.
As I write, there is a large tray of Easter Egg slice cooling on the kitchen bench - I made up a recipe for a base, created some marshmallow mixture, poured it in and smoothed it over, waited for it to set then spooned melted dark chocolate over.

It's an interesting life, all up.
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