Wednesday Kittens Want In

Life on the other side of the fence is hard for us kittens


By two_kittehs

The children on the southern border want in, they want a safe haven.  I think they deserve a hearing before an immigration judge at the very least.  Republican law makers disagree, not only do they want the minors seeking asylum to be deported without a hearing, they also want to overturn the President’s executive order  which gave the DREAMers a temporary reprieve.  It is ironic but not entirely surprising that the person behind the second initiative is none other than Ted Cruz.

If the Republican lawmakers want to curb illegal immigration, why not draft a bill which includes heavy penalties including criminal  ones on employers who knowingly employ migrants who do not have a valid employment authorization?  I see a lot of demonization of workers doing back breaking work for a pittance but I don’t see the employers held accountable, why is that?

The truth of the matter is, that the fruits of labor of the migrant workers are welcome but they are not. Employers hire them in many cases so that they can pay them significantly less than what they would have to pay otherwise. The demand for migrant labor obviously exists but the avenues to get  a temporary  wok visa  for agricultural work are slim and the  opportunity to immigrate legally is almost non-existent unless they have close family here.   I see no real efforts on the part of these lawmakers to change the existing incentives in the market for migrant labor.  The latest uproar seems to be nothing more than yet another stick to beat the administration with and keep the nativist base in full froth.

Twenty First Century Serfdom

Unreasonable demands, bosscat has them


By two_kittehs

Many part-time workers in the service industry (retail, fast food etc.) not only get paid a pittance but also have little control over their schedule.  It is unpredictable and changes from day to day because you have to be on call even at times when you are not working.  This makes it difficult to have a life outside your job, or even to take up a second job, or go to school. Kay of Balloon Juice covered this topic the other day.

Besides keeping employees on a short leash what purpose does Just-In-Time (JIT) scheduling  serve? Some reasons from the comments on Balloon Juice

 Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

It prevents them from having to figure out ahead of time how many employees they’ll need. It also means that they don’t have to put together a full week’s schedule, thus avoiding that no-fun task. And it saves on labor costs since you never have to worry about being overstaffed.

Satanic Panic:

I guess it’s easier to get people to fill in for employees that are out or have quit

Trollhattan said:

Best as I can figure, it’s the product of of our chronic, long-term underemployment paired with a corporate willingness to endure a pretty high employee turnover metric (thou shalt not exceed n-percent, lest thou miss thy bonus).

Last but not the least, Kay:

I think it might actually feed on itself, create the kind of chaos that then requires more JIT scheduling.


So there are some valid reasons for JIT scheduling of hourly employees but there seems to be no earthly reason why up to 50% of all hourly employees have to endure so much uncertainty.  Another Balloon Juice commenter further elaborates this point,

Roger Moore:

I assume the stated justification is the need for flexibility to deal with unpredictable need for employees and unpredictable employees. IOW, the employers want some flexibility, but they put the cost on the back of their employees.

So is this yet another example of socializing the risk and the cost and privatizing the profit or upside?

One quick way to curb the gratuitous use  of JIT scheduling practices would be to require employers to pay workers while they are on call at least  half their hourly rate.  I wonder what the cons  who call themselves reformers have to say about this, in their economic policy manifesto? 

Old Snake Oil in a New Bottle

Look out Onion, you have competition from the most venerable newspaper in the country,

Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas?

screams the headline of a magazine article by Sam Tannenhaus on July 2.  The article is accompanied by a Vogue-like photo spread with the brave conservative intellectuals  posing  like the Founding Fathers hard at work drafting the Constitution in an ornate room complete with crumpled papers strewn all over the wooden floor.

Short answer: No.

These ideas men ( because they are mostly men) are calling themselves reform conservatives now. I guess the tag compassionate conservative and/or tea-partier no longer sells. The article itself goes on to give the so called reform conservatives a tongue bath, especially Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin, going so far as to call them intellectual prodigies.  Really? Squeaky voiced Ponnuru whose only book is titled, Party of Death is an intellectual prodigy now? Talk about soft bigotry of low expectations.

Writing the Declaration of Independence

This is not the first time I have found lavish praise for the tired ideas produced by these intellectual pillars of the right in the estimable Times. A month ago, David Brooks wrote a column praising the economic ideas of the YG network short for Young Guns* Network.  Reading Brooks’ article, most of the proposals in the collection of essays “ Room to Grow” come down to one of three ideas, decentralization, deregulation and tax credits. In other words, same old, same old, but  with a spanking new marketing campaign that Don Draper would be envious of.


Young Guns :  Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy

Sweet and Sour Summer Drink with Green Mangoes

On a hot summer day, there is nothing  quite as refreshing as an ice-cold beverage that hits both sweet and sour notes. There is the basic lemonade and its variants, of course.   In the land of perpetual heat and sun that is coastal Maharashtra, in addition to the lemonade, or nimboo pani, there is punhe’.

Punhe’ is a special summer time treat  made with unripe green mangoes available only in March and April.   Green mangoes are also used as a souring agent like tamarind or lime.  I drank punhe’ in copious amounts in my futile attempts to keep cool in the heat of May.  Recipe below the fold:


Punhe’ Read the rest of this entry

Fashion Advice Face Paw

Fashionista kitteh facepaws at your sartorial choicesfacepaw

By two_kittehs


I had the same reaction when I saw the capsule wardrobe and suggestions that fashion blogger Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen had put together for two weeks in India.

I am headed on a 2-week trip to India. I want to be comfortable sightseeing and spending lots of time on trains and planes, but still stylish. Any ideas for a capsule wardrobe for keeping cool, covered up, and stylish?


Paraphrasing some of her suggestions:

1. Wear an opaque mumu

We often think conservative in regard to length, but when packing for India, it also means fit. Clothing should cover at least the shoulders and knees and not have low necklines, but pieces should also be loose so the curves of your figure are not on display (loose clothing is also more comfortable in the heat). Consider the type of fabric and avoid those that may be transparent in the sun or cling when you sweat or walk. Cotton or cotton/silk blends are the best for opacity and comfort in the heat.

I wonder whether she has seen an Indian woman in a saree?  The outfit of choice of most Indian women; hugs your curves in all the right places, not only gives you an hour glass figure but also leaves your midriff exposed.

2. Find a tailor

If you’re not an off the rack size consider finding a local tailor – pieces can usually be made in a day or two for a very low price.

Good luck with that, if  you are in India for only two weeks. Buying the  fabric, finding suitable patterns and a tailor and then getting him to finish the job will take at least take a week, if you are lucky.  I am assuming you have better things to do with your time than make multiple trips to the tailor.

3. Or dress like a cult member and die of heat stroke

A Western alternative would be a dress that hits below the knee with leggings, a loose blouse with cropped or full length pants, a loose tee with a calf to ankle length skirt. In more rural areas, your bare legs will stand out more, so consider packing a pair of lightweight pants or leggings to slip under dresses to be more modest.

Really, leggings or pants under a dress?

4.  Hide behind dark sunglasses and scarves:

Another great accessory to have is dark sunglasses; direct eye contact may present the wrong impression and a pair of shades will let you see all the sights comfortably.

A scarf or dupatta will be your best friend on this trip. It can be worn over your head when entering Sikh temples, as a wrap when you’re wearing a short sleeve top or if you get a chill, and can protect you from the sun.

Scarves in 90 degree plus weather? You have got to be kidding me.

I am left wondering whether Ms. Gary has ever been to India herself.  India is definitely more traditional and conservative than the United States but it is hardly Saudi Arabia.  Second, India is not a monolith, each state is like a country in itself, culturally speaking.  There is lot of geographic variation too in a country the size of a subcontinent, so overly broad advice will only get you so far.

My advice is simple, be yourself, do some research before you leave,  use common sense and dress comfortably. Obviously, don’t wear Daisy Dukes and tube tops but there is no need to dress like a member of cult eitherThis trip, I spent most of my time in and around Bombay I wore both knee-length shorts and skirts, as well as sleeveless and short sleeved tops since the temperature was between 90 and 100, throughout my stay. I must have worn pants twice during my entire stay.  Needless to add I would dress differently if I were to travel to another part of India or go during winter.

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Sixth Sense Goggie has a scared

Sixth Sense Dog

By two_kittehs

Smart dog is smart, I would be scared too, that kitteh looks eerie.  I wonder what the story behind the photo is.   Has M. Night Shyamalan made any movie worth watching since the Sixth Sense?

Layers of History II, Karla Caves and The Ekveera Temple

Wherever you are in India, you are a  witness to several historical eras juxtaposed together, like several geological eras in a single sedimentary rock. This is true whether  you are  in  Colaba or Karla.

The Karla Caves sit atop a mountain in the Sahyadri range.  The cave complex is made up of the largest Chaitya or  prayer hall  in India and the Viharas which serve as living quarters for the monks.   If the cave temple complex is a relic of India’s distant Buddhist past, the present is represented  by a much smaller temple dedicated to Ekveera Devi.  In fact, most of the visitors to Karla are Hindu pilgrims.  Ekveera, is the kuldevata (literal translation: clan deity, roughly like the Catholic patron saint) of the Kolis, the fisher folk who were Bombay’s original inhabitants.  She has also been adopted as kuldevata by many other Marathi speaking communities of Bombay.

The Ekveera Devi temple is one among many temples in Maharashtra that sit atop a mountain. Some are behind  impressive  fortifications while others are tucked away in plain sight next to Buddhist cave temples from another era.  Their location makes sense when you realize that higher altitudes are cooler during the summer and offer a measure of safety along with a peaceful place to meditate and contemplate. Watching the sun go down in the Western Ghats is a spiritual experience in and of itself.

Karla Cave Temple Complex  and Ekveera Devi Temple

Entrance to the Prayer Hall and the Ekveera Devi Temple

Ekveera Devi

Her Tortoise

Living Quarters  for the Buddhist Monks

A View of from the Top

To check out other posts about my India trip, click here

Wednesday Afternoon Moment of Zen

The Main Prayer Hall, Karla Caves, Lonavla

I was here almost a month ago, a cool place to be in the middle of May, literally. The temperature inside the caves was at least ten degrees cooler than the outside. It is one of the many Buddhist cave temple complexes found all over India. Buddhism once flourished in India, especially during Ashoka’s reign.  The main prayer hall has Ashoka’s pillar at its entrance.

Chilling On a Caturday Afternoon

Hold the Calls and Send the Nip


By two_kittehs  Photo: ShiroNeko’s blog

When it comes to relaxing, kittehs know the best.  The most relaxed cat on the intertoobz has appeared on these pages before.  He also has a YouTube channel.   I am going to follow his example to attain Purrvana.

An Ode to the Bounty of Summer-Hapoos Mangoes

Its been just two weeks since I came back from India.  However, the arrival of summer-like temperatures  is making me nostalgic about my trip. Before the monsoon arrives in early June, Bombay  is enveloped by punishing heat and  oppressive humidity.  The hardy souls who venture where angels fear to tread are rewarded by the seasonal bounty of ripe Hapoos mangoes.   In my biased opinion, they are the  best tasting mangoes in the world.

When ripe, they are a bright reddish orange.  When you bite into it, the mango has a velvety texture that melts in your mouth but it’s the heady sweet bouquet of ripening mangoes that draws you in, in the first place.

When I was in India I ate a Hapoos mango almost everyday, sometimes twice in a single day. I ate it by itself, in yogurt, juiced (aamras), with clotted cream, in an ice-cream and in kulfi.  If you have never tasted Hapoos, you should put it on your bucket list.  The Hapoos season is brief, late April until the arrival of the monsoon. There is no real substitute for the Hapoos but  Ataulfo mangoes are somewhat similar.

To welcome summer, I am going to post recipes using mangoes in the next few days.  I am starting with a recipe for mango lassi. If you have any specific requests email me or leave it in the comments below.

A Green mango on a tree, in my friend’s garden in Lonavla.

Mango Lassi


2 cups frozen or fresh ripe mangoes (I use the frozen mangoes from Trader Joe)

2 cups nonfat or 2% yogurt

2 tbsp sugar (more if you want the lassi to be sweeter)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

If using frozen mangoes, thaw them.  I usually add the sugar and the salt when I am thawing the mangoes.  If you have never diced a fresh mango, there are step by step instructions here. Use a blender to blend everything together.  Serve chilled. You can add some fresh mint or basil  for  a variation.  You can also leave out the grated nutmeg and cardamom if you don’t have them at hand.


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