Changes to The Socratic Project

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Cindy Moy

My goal for The Socratic Project was to create safe avenues of conversation about difficult subjects, and for 2 years, you’ve been kind enough to take part.

Thank you for your support and your encouragement along the way. Now it is time to begin a new chapter, and I hope you will be a part of that as well.

My first novel–Suraiya Jafari, An American President--about an Indian-American Muslim Congresswoman who accidentally becomes the U.S. President, is now available here.

Suraiya, a Republican and former Marine lawyer, is serving as the House Minority Leader in 2022 when the vice president is charged with fraud and forced to step down.

Suraiya is tapped to be vice president in an effort to rebrand the party. Then the president dies, and Suraiya moves into the Oval Office.

Thereafter she deals with distrust from her own party, sabotage from her political rivals, and even the threat of a third world war, all while coming to terms with how others try to define her and figuring out how she defines herself.

Also, visit me and my friends anytime at cindymoy.com. We talk about books and politics and random musings.

Are we afraid of Mexico?

By Cindy Moy: I grew up a country girl, with my car radio tuned to two different country music stations. I’m also a Toby Keith fan, so when one of his songs came on the radio, I turned up the volume.

One line in the song, American Ride, gave me pause: Tidal wave comin’ cross the Mexican border.

My guess is that the line refers to illegal immigration from our southern neighbors. Thousands of illegal immigrants from other countries (Canada and Germany, for instance) live in the U.S., though, but those countries did not make it into the song.

Are we afraid of illegal immigration, or are we afraid of Mexicans? Continue reading

MN Masala: Online Resources

By Jane and Chux: We are always looking for new ideas for things to make.  We like variety and enjoy trying new recipes.  Even though we have an extensive cookbook collection and love having a book in hand, we have also come to appreciate a number of online cooking resources.  Following is a list of some of our favorites:

1) 101 Cookbooks: This site was created by Heidi Swanson (a cookbook author, photographer, and world traveler) in 2003 when she decided to do something with her large cookbook collection, instead of just looking at them.  This site is well organized with good articles, beautiful pictures, and lots of recipes.

2) Post Punk Kitchen: This site was created by Isa Chandra Moskowitz in 2003 and is dedicated to  vegan cooking and baking.  This site is rich with great recipes and videos.  You can also purchase Isa’s cookbooks if you want one in hand.  Really nice site.

3) Smitten Kitchen: Deb Perlman created this site with a focus on the home cook with simple ingredients to which most of us have access.

4) Jamie Oliver: Jamie Oliver has cooking shows, cookbooks, magazine and endorsements.  I really like his TV show called “15-minute Meals.”  I love how Jamie promotes healthy, family home cooking with local ingredients.

5) Yotum Ottolenghi: Yotum Ottolenghi is a chef, restaurateur, writer and cookbook author (he and Sami Tamimi created the very popular “Jerusalem” cookbook).  His website also has recipes with a Mediterranean focus.  You can also find Yotum Ottolenghi’s food articles in the London Guardian newspaper.

What is happiness?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania set out to discover whether people found more happiness in extraordinary experiences or in ordinary experiences.

For example, would a week long vacation to Hawaii give a person as much happiness as a frappucino? Apparently, yes, which makes me wonder who the heck the researchers talked to for the survey.

The study showed that for younger people, extraordinary moments caused just as much happiness as ordinary moments. But for older people, the ordinary moments were more highly valued. Why? Continue reading

Should evolution be taught in school? Should creationism?

Sam Stern

By Sam Stern: One of my earliest movie memories is being befuddled watching the 1960 screen adaptation of Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized telling of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial.”

The movie, based on the trial which resulted in John T. Scopes’ conviction for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class, contrary to aTennessee state law, probably aired on television in 1964 when I was 12.

While I missed the parable about McCarthyism, which the country had recently survived, I was familiar with Darwin’s theory of evolution. I could not believe that someone could be criminally prosecuted in 20th century America for teaching science in a public school classroom. My young mind cheered when the character based on William Jennings Bryant became flustered by Clarence Darrow’s cross-examination, caught up by contradictions in “God’s Word.”

By 12, I was an avid reader. I had been attending Hebrew School five days a week and Junior Congregation at our synagogue on Saturday for several years. I understood the concept of faith and the power of Biblical (Five Books of Moses) lessons. Continue reading

Lessons Learned: Parenting

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Parenting is hard, and it doesn’t get easier after doing it for 20 years, so here are a few tidbits of wisdom I’ve gained along the way. Please share any things you’ve learned in the comments section below.

Lessons Learned From Adopting a Special Needs Baby

When a doctor tells you that the best you can hope for is that your child will be slow, and that you should turn down the adoption referral, carefully consider what adopting this child will mean for your life.

Special needs babies can grow up to be math prodigies that tell math jokes that you–a reasonably intelligent person–do not understand.

Babies are babies. Adopted or biological, you never know what you’re going to get. And neither do they.

Lessons Learned From Being Elbow-Knee in Diapers Continue reading

MN Masala: Nell’s Finnish Fruit Pudding (Velia)

By Jane and Chux: A few years ago, Chux planted black raspberries in our backyard.  These plants have flourished, and last summer we had a bumper crop of berries.  We had so many, we were able to freeze some of them.

Given our cold and snowy “spring” this April, we wanted to make something with these berries.  A reminder of the summer to come.  These black raspberries taste like sunshine.  They are also extremely complex in flavor with sweet and sour notes.  Since these berries taste good on their own, we decided to make my grandmother Nell’s Finnish berry pudding.

As a kid, I would spend time with my grandparents at their cabin in Michigan.  We would go wild blueberry picking at their top secret place with coffee-can pails in hand, handles made with bent coat hangers.

We would make this fruit pudding as well as pie with these fresh blueberries.  This pudding can be made with any fresh or frozen berry including blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries.

Today, I’m copying my grandmother’s recipe as she sent it to me in a letter over 30 years ago. 

For our black raspberry pudding, we used four cups of frozen berries, added ¾ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of tapioca, and ¼ cup of water.  You can adjust the sugar and thickener in your fruit pudding depending on how many berries you are using and how sweet you like it.  The pudding is delicious on its own, or over pancakes for brunch, or with ice cream for dessert. Continue reading

Can our lives be works of art?

By Sam Stern: I am not much of a philosopher but days like this one demand some big picture reflection. It occurs to me that I’ve entered a sector in the Circle of Life that is going to involve acknowledging mortality and saying a lot of goodbyes.

Because being upright and in a position to face the emotional challenges of the end-of-life sector is better than the alternative, I need to find, and share, a coping mechanism to serve me and minimize the pain of loss.

Recently I attended the funeral of Joan Mondale, our former Second Lady. I did not know her well, other than from her public persona. But one meeting in particular amounted to more than exchanging pleasantries at mutually attended political functions and I wanted to demonstrate the depth of my appreciation by paying my respects through my attendance at the funeral. Continue reading

Do words have power?

By Cindy Moy: The Husband, an American of Chinese descent, and I attended a wedding in a small town in Ohio.  Everyone was wonderful to us for three days.  One night we were walking back to our car with my in-laws and passed three teenage boys, sitting in a doorway along the sidewalk, drinking beer.  I knew what was coming.

They took one look at my family and began making karate chop noises.
My husband ignored them.
My in-laws ignored them.
I was upset.

When we got back to the hotel my husband said, “I can remember this weekend for the dozens of truly nice people we’ve met, or I can remember it for three drunken idiots on a sidewalk.”

The Husband was able to take away the power those teenage twits had used to try to intimidate him. Continue reading

What advice would you give to your future grandson?

By Sam Stern:

Dearest Beloved Grandson,

Although you are still in utero, I thought it might be a good time to start sharing life lessons for you to use as guidance in the years to come.

Lesson 1. Read. Learn to read. Love to read. I’m going to be up past my bedtime writing this tonight. If you are going to ignore Lesson 1, there’s no point in my bothering. Your Papa (me) started reading voraciously at a very young age.

As a result, I was able to travel through time and space from the comfort of my home. My vocabulary developed without having to resort to flashcards. My imagination flourished and I developed a moral compass from the stories I devoured rather than from sustaining a lot of negative reinforcement after blindly straying.

As a side benefit, if we think you’re precocious, we’ll give you extra attention. I spent hours playing Scrabble with your great-grandmother Pearl from the age of 8 or so on. I’ll never forget the joy she expressed when I was able to beat her. I look forward to experiencing the same joy sitting across the table from you.

You may be thinking that these benefits are too deferred. After all, I had to pore through some World Books, the Wikipedia of my day, to develop that vocabulary. Here’s a more immediate benefit. We’ll leave you alone while you’re reading and exercising your mind. Continue reading