Concerning "Privacy" Developments

The way I see it, there are two ways to protect your privacy (and future inquiries into your identity) online.

The first: Just be careful what you post! Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t want a future boss to read!

The second: Be anonymous! Use a pseudonym!

There’s only one teeny little problem: they don’t work.

The first ensures that you will never say anything interesting. Don’t offend, don’t offer an opinion, heck – don’t have an opinion – just be careful and safe and boring.

The second has two major flaws. No one trusts pseudonyms or aliases. The web has evolved beyond that, and readers now expect genuine humans to identify themselves as such in their writing.

Not that a pseudonym is actually anonymous anyway.

As Brooke Gladstone revealed in last week’s episode of On the Media:

Some might say, look, you don’t have to use your real name. And yet there’s this company called PeekYou LLC which has just applied for a patent that would use information about you that’s scattered all over the Web to match your real name with whatever pseudonym you might use on a place like Twitter. Does that presage the end of Internet anonymity?

And seriously guys: “PeekYou?” Are you trying to sound evil and illiterate?

I’m all for promoting a healthy amount of caution and foresight when posting stuff online, especially when you’re using your real name. (Truly.)

But my concern is for free speech, intimidation, and the ability for anyone to instantaneously track our every move in this new world we all inhabit. It’s not like there’s an epidemic of kids getting kicked out of school for their blog, or teachers getting fired for the content of their Facebook page, it’s the fear of that retaliation that worries me the most, the chilling effect on speech that a culture of easy surveillance promotes.

Of course, we could just change our names. Or form an Internet Privacy Committee. Or read a book and go off the grid entirely…

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parm is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It’s fast, easy, and (sort of?) healthy. I’ve gotten my process down to a science.

I’m going to break it down in 3 steps. All measurements are guestimates; serving size is 2-4 people.

Step 1: Make the sauce!


You can buy sauce from the store, but making it from scratch is easy and can be tweaked to match your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2–3 cloves of garlic
  • splash of white wine
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions:

Mix all of the above ingredients in a medium saucepan with a spoon, and heat gently for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat while you prepare the rest of the meal.

2. Eggplant communion

Ingredients:

  • plain breadcrumbs (about a cup)
  • flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 medium eggplant (I prefer organic eggplants; avoid the humongous ones because they tend to be on the seedy side).

Directions:

Slice the eggplant into 1-inch slices, so you’re left with 5-7 good sized discs, depending on the size of your eggplant.

Next prepare three shallow bowls. Fill the first bowl with flour, the second with 2 eggs, the third with breadcrumbs. You want to put enough in the bowl so it can easily cover your eggplant slices.

Rub the eggplant slice in each bowl, making sure to cover evenly and thoroughly. Refill as necessary.

flour
flour

flour
breadcrumbs

eggs

Finally, lightly fry the breaded slices in a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

3. All Together Now

Ingredients:

  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced (I prefer the “log” from Trader Joe’s.)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Line up the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet, leaving a couple of inches between each slice. Top with mozzarella and a healthy dollop of sauce.

 

4. Bake
Bake for 15–20 minutes, until cheese is good and melted.

Sprinkle each slice with a hearty pinch of Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!

A Great Recipe Finder

Epicurious is my go-to site for recipes, especially their customizable recipe finder, which you can use to narrow down your search based on diet restriction, main ingredient, season, etc.

I used it last night when I decided our eggplant parmigiana needed a quick side dish. Since I try to cook with veggies that are in season, I narrowed my recipe search by Fall/Autumn; since I prefer meatless meals I chose only Vegetarian dishes. Of the 139 results meeting my criteria, I chose a side that looked super easy and didn’t require a ton of ingredients: Parmesan-Roasted Butternut Squash.

It was amazing — and it only took a few minutes to prepare, once I figured out how to peel a butternut squash!

In addition to the search options I mentioned above, you can narrow down your results by ingredient type, nationality, and a lot more. It’s a great way to experiment or use up an extra bag of potatoes you have in the back of the fridge.

Needed Summation

The thing I like best about the New Yorker (besides the illustrations) is that it consistently summarizes national events in a careful, thought-provoking way. Newspapers just don’t fill a need anymore — breaking news coverage has been offered by television and the internet for the past decades. TV doesn’t work because it’s one-sided; the Internet often lacks patience and perspective.

For me, The New Yorker is an ideal compromise. It often predicts big stories, offering an in-depth analysis of events that other news outlets can’t afford (in time or dollars) to provide. (Like this week’s detailing of Britain’s dire financial situation.) The New Yorker can afford to put its reporters in far away places long term, giving readers a nuanced view of life in Afghanistan, Iran, Washington D.C., etc.

All this is to say that Margaret Talbot’s piece in this week’s Talk of the Town, “Pride and Prejudice,” is not so much an up-to-the-minute perspective on the suicide of 18 year old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, but a welcomed summary that connects the dots and puts the tragic event into a larger context. As a society, we are becoming more and more accepting of gays and lesbians — but as we make strides toward equality, the hatred of an outspoken minority becomes ever more voracious.

Ms. Talbot addresses the other major issue in this story: the abhorrent invasion of Clementi’s privacy and, as Talbot coins it, a “culture of exposure.”

Clementi lived in a world where filming your roommate in his most intimate moments and broadcasting the results without his knowledge represents a difference in degree, if not in kind, from a lot of online behavior.

She continues:

Young people discovering their identity and their desires need a zone of privacy where they can be who they are, perhaps in the company of another human being, without feeling that somebody else might be tweeting it, filming it, or blogging about it, or that maybe they themselves ought to be—there’s such a thing as violating your own privacy, too. The unobserved life is so totally worth living. ♦

Read the whole article here.