Friday, December 19, 2008

Nil Desperandum

Obama has done as he promised he would.
His words were and are clear.
Obama will be the President he promised to be in stump speech after stump speech.
That will get us nearer to the goal the Democratic Party has sought for many years.
If that displeases any of us to the Left, too bad.

He told us.

This is what we voted for.



Political appointments are actions.
Political speeches are words.
Political appointments are announced in political speeches.
Political appointments are still actions not words.
Actions still speak louder than words.
Even when they are modified by the adjective political.
Actions in the month preceding are indicative of the sorts of actions to expect the month after.
Disappointment looms.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Marking Sand

Mary Soderstrom kindly remarked today on my post: Where is the Start of Half a Circle?
Right on, Martin!

Still and all, I think Obama will at least appoint better Supreme Court judges than McCain would. And I must say that it is good to see that there hav been some changes for the beter in race relations--40 years ago the idea of an African American as president would have been unthinkable.



So perhaps I should make my thoughts a tad less murky, to wit:

My reaction to our election of an African American to the Presidency: About bloody time. But why isn't he succeeding a female?

My reaction to the election of a Democrat, any Democrat: Thanks for the breathing room to try to clean up the mess, that includes moving the Supreme Court away from the extreme right wing and restoring the force of law bound in the Constitution and the various treaties that were broken in the last eight years.

My reaction to electing Obama specifically is that he is an excellent choice for ordinary times. That is times when the business cycle is not too exaggerated; when the rule of law is firmly established; when politicians, will he nil she, accept responsibility for their actions.

This is not one of those times.

This is a time that calls for radical (that is: to the root) change. We need to make our democracy serve all its people, not just the wealthy few. We need economic democracy as well as political democracy.
To get there we need to examine the events of the past forty years. There are ideas we were taught to accept about politics and the economy which do not work to most people's benefit. Rather they take from most to give too much to a very few who do little to earn it. This need not be a search for justice or retribution. It needs to be a sorting of good ideas from bad, with the bad thoroughly noted as such so that no snake oil salesman can peddle them to us in future.
To get there we need to consider ideas from all points of view. That we ignore every idea from the political left hobbles our creativity.
My fear is that Obama will give less attention to these ideas then they merit because the right of center is more congenial to him. To succeed in this country in the past two generations required this of every Democrat from Ted Kennedy and Dennis Kucinich to Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman.
I hope to be proved wrong. I hope that Obama, and his administration, will rise to the times even more effectively than Franklin Roosevelt did.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Where the half circle ends

Steve Benen notes:
 the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins insisting, "Moderates never beat conservatives.... What Tuesday was, was a fact that people wanted change, and it's a rejection of a moderate view."

So the shorter version of my previous post is:
Republicans win by moving right.
Democrats win by moving right.
There is no left.
There is no center.
Everything is hunky-dory.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where is the start of half a circle?

Via Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly comes this quote of James Kirchick in the New Republic:
For the past 40 years, the Democratic Party has been most successful when it has governed from the center -- when it has governed at all
!! [consternation]!!

Lets see: Forty years back would be 1968. That year we rejected a worthy Democrat tainted by a stupider than usual war to pick a complete felon who continued the war another six years or so while establishing the broad strokes of the conservative kleptocratic agenda. Resigned to avoid responsibility for his crimes he left us in the hands of an inept, gently bumbling, incompetent who might rate an honored niche in history had he stayed in Congress. '76 brought a rare aves: a nuclear engineer who didn't pat the appropriate bums as they required. His policies, if continued, would put us ahead of the curve now so far as energy and climate change are concerned. But he was an engineer, so he was conservative -- except in a context of right wing conservative ideology. Not being a politician, he fell to a consummate sock puppet for the second run at the conservative kleptocracy. The befudlement of the populace continued apace through twelve years. Then we rejected a second term for the CIA apparatchik/aristo to elect another good ol' boy. This Democrat was a thorough going politician, and a DLC conservative. He did a few good things that hurt a hell of a lot, except not the capitalist aristocrats. He did a few bad thing's that hurt a hell of a lot, except not the capitalist aristocrats . So, after two terms we elected his Vice President and then stood by sucking our teeth while the Supreme Court, an organization with no part in elections, appointed his oponnent. This creature capered and preened as his staff constructed the grand Lazy Fair Kleptocratic Con With New 24/7 Open Vault at the fed. He opened Branch offices in exotic vacation spots like the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq. He created a meritocratic government in which the only merit was a expertise in particular fairy tales. These myrmidons rewrote laws to suit themselves. Tortured all and sundry. Drowned a city. Made even stupider than stupid wars. And generally assert the divine right of assholes, just not yours.
With the exception of the Watergate Investigations the Democrats in Congress spent the period taking care of any bidness but the people's. For the past thirty years these fine speciman's have honed their abilities as forelock tuggers.
The result of all this "centrism" is a complete conservative victory. The economy is in ruins due to greed and government is incapable due to corruption. We've elected another conservative Democrat and accept the label "liberal" applied to him by the con/kleps. The punditocracy is in full cry to hobble him.

Kirchick may call this "success". He may call it "centrist".
I think anyone with an understanding of the two terms as used by most of the world, would disagree.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Digby Speaks

it's not that I believe liberals are purely good and decent. We have many, many faults and are almost preternaturally talented at seizing defeat from the jaws of victory before we even get finished celebrating.

The temptation to put the blame elsewhere is too great if you believe there can be no doubt one is right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political Deflation

CEPR - The Reagan Question: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Eight Years Ago?
In his closing remarks during the final presidential debate of 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
Almost forty years on of a world dominated by the ideas and policies Reagan supported it is fair to ask an altered form of the question: Are we better off than we were forty years ago?
Very few can honestly answer in the affirmative.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Writer's Dilemma

A writer's worst dread is to be unread.

However gratifying the praise of crickets may be, only the publisher's check, if accepted by his, oh so clever (just ask him), banker, puts beans and such on his table.

Every one can write.

Just because you are good, does not mean you are good for that market.

Craftsman enough to be published, the duration of a reader's notice is short.

Few trouble to spend much time reading.

The only thing more petrifying than reading last month's issue is the medical appointment that usually follows.

How to cope with the half life of short fiction is every writer's knotty dilemma.

Along comes Rob Hunter to whack it in two like Alexander did the Gordian Knot. He collects a bouquet of his published short fiction, including one novella, into a handsome paper back. This removes the stigma of 'past issue' while opening the tales to broader audiences who may not be readers of a particular magazine. Is the candle worth the game? Yes. Emphatically yes. If you had a character cellar to pepper your stories with saps, clowns and God's fools in the manner of a Damon Runyon, a William Saroyan, a Ring Lardner, Junior, all rolled into one, while keeping the tale original you might almost match Rob's efforts here. These works are as varied as the nine patch quilts he limns so evocatively while remaining the clear effusions of a single master story teller.

For examples:

A Pass on the Tabouli offers a slice of peripheral vision. The characters inhabit the world we only glimpse out of the corner of our eyes. That world vanishes if looked at full on, lost in a fog of conventional feelings we choose to call reality. One might call a spade a spade in either world, but only in that peripheral world are we not too polite to admit that when we do the reason we refuse to dig is that we are lazy. Even that only when the tabouli is off.

Boys Night Out: Lycanthropy offers a plausible diversion from a narrative of conversational mixed doubles that illuminates suburban gender roles.

I Want to Share Your Wheat. A passage de danse for fore and back brain, digits and a cool green monitor filling with ampersands. Only those who know the horror of a blank page will appreciate the depth of this fantasy.

A Perfect Homburg. Further adventures of Jim Everhardy, our proxy mystery player: Everywriter. Who knew that a “38 Dodge chrome hubcap beats a gent’s best felt in the muse's duckpin league?

An Unwarmed Fish Artemis' Friday stand in nymph, Bambi, teaches Everywriter the value of not appearing with only a soundbite at a satire fight. Especially if it is a Friday duello in a modern day Duffy's Tavern caught in a Thursday time loop and well larded with spoonerisms. Wellerisms! Can't get enough of them.

Klein, the Clone Explores with nostalgic eyes the joys and perils of growing up twin and cloned in a blue rinse world of flags of all nations, noodle kugel, Mah-jong parties and an absent father – his body, not his head-- lost in Willipaq. Mistakes do happen.

The Nine Patch Variations. Libby Pease contemplates the infinite finitude of memory as she discovers the true, and only, existential question: Now, where did I put... what was it I'm looking for? Meantime William, call me Bill, Powell, detached from the silver screen, kibitz's on Libby's quilting, while the scallop casserole simmers seductively.

The Runaway Bungalo. Santa Expidito choreographs Mama Coca's tainted clams into a pas de trois for waitress, gentil hombre, and machine pistols. Not only the butterflies die. Oh, yes. Pirates!.

In all, there are seventeen entries to odd corners of Manhattan, Massapequa and Maine, and points South, North, East and West. Views of paranoid borders with Canada and the id abound. At just over a buck a tale this is the perfect bound perfect gift for the quirky and normal on the list. Go see Rob’s site: for ordering details.

Not convinced? Rob, it turns out, is incredibly generous as well as marvelously gifted. Besides containing lanolin he is a voice artist of dexterity with timing to die for. Many of his stories are available as Mp3 files.

Hear him tell it.

Own and give your own copies.


Let me close with a poor song of my own but inspired by the The Song of the Rice Barge Coolie

In the interstices angst may provide
Glimpses of ids or sills inside.
Inevitable suicide?
Or wonted homicide?
You decide.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cui Bono

There is no evidence that the current administration is particularly stupid. Certainy no more so then the pit run of humanity.
All the evidence pointed to with shock and horror merely proves that the administration's goals are not our goals.
Pirates do not cosset ordinary prisoners. Pirates only care for those who will pay a sufficiently large ransom to make the game worth the candle.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dum Luk's Economics

Money is intrinsically valueless.
It gains value only when two or more parties agree to exchange something of value for it.
Capital, whether land or money or time, is worthless until one or more people agree to do something for it, or with it.

Economic theory is mostly an attempt to obscure this by exalting the owners of capital. This is inherently duplicitous. The scale differential makes it absurd that anyone might own land. Nor does land own people. Does a large mammal own the bacteria in its colon? Or vice versa?

We live in a closed system. One in which every action, or failure to act, has many ramifications beyond its direct effects. Time we started an economy based on that reality.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

As It Goes

Joe Globotz writes a book.
Izzy Whoskoitz turns it into a play.
Richard La Grandissimo writes an Opera based on it.
Fritz the Delightful records the ballet score.
Abagail Vunder plays it on her radio show.
Leonard Sloeship bought shares in the companies that made this possible.
The bankruptcy laws were rewritten to accommodate her.
Snively Bad Pirate Johnson got blamed.
Phineas Albert Schnide (the fifty third) waltzed home with the money.
He was not arrested the next day because it was his DOJ.

A Morning Filled With Shameless Self Promotion

John at Archy challenges me to a food meme:
Chad Orzel has a food meme up on his blog. This is the usual list style meme where you bold the items that you have experienced.

1. Venison (deer and elk) Many times. The best was a white tail from upstate New York
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare At a friend's. Diana commented, sotto voce, "But when is he going to cook the hamburger?"
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht This is getting a bad rap. Proper Borsht is good!
10. Baba ghanoush. Once Dorothy made a huge pile of french fries. I thought I had entered a fantasy dream world and swiped a hand full. Acwkk Phuooey!!!! They were eggplant, not potatoes. Put me off egg plant for most of my life.
11. Calamari Squid in Japanese is tako which is pronounced like taco. Now picture the result when an American with little Japanese visits a Japanese with more, but not a lot more, English and is asked if he would like some tako? Ever try to chew an art gum eraser?
12. Pho But I have had Yaki Soba which is similar
13. PB&J sandwich Though I prefer my PB with butter, mayo & lettuce. This disgusts non-aficionados for some reason.
14. Aloo gobi Sounds good!(video recipe)
15. Hot dog from a street cart In New York and Tokyo. Talk about diverse experiences!
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes By the front steps of the Kettering Science building at Antioch were a pair of cherry trees. The fruit was beyond tart. Even beyond sour. My house mate, Ernie, a chem major, turned them into wine which he laid down for a year. The result was exquisite -- potent, thick, dry with a fine finish -- just glorious.
19. Steamed pork buns See here and here.
20. Pistachio ice cream And root beer ice cream.
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries August in Michigan: Long, hot summer days tempered by a stand of trees textured by dapples of sunlight illuminating the low bush blueberries. Here in Washington we have wild Himalayan blackberries, so Melissa grew up browsing wild berries as I did.
23. Foie gras Poor goose.
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters When Eleanor visits she insists on visiting the oyster bar at the Rexville Store.
29. Baklava Diana & I made it for our wedding cake.
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl Homemade in both cases, and in a restaurant, and from the grocers
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar Ah, Romeo Et Juliettos! Damn the Cuban embargo!
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail As soup and braised with veg.
41. Curried goat The closest I get to goats is goat soap.
42. Whole insects Chocolate covered ants and fried grasshoppers
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk See No 41.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more Alas, no.
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut And what was all the fuss about?
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi Ah, Japanese pickles ...
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine Since that, loosely, is Irish Whiskey. But if limited to "Whiskey in the jar" then, alas, no.
60. Carob chips Yyecccch.
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads Hmmmmm. Why can't we get them any more?
63. Kaolin As Kaopectate. Fortunately medical science has moved on.
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis Talk about good! Diana will even consent to nibble a bit if a Scot in a kilt plies her with a wee dram before offering while pipes skirl.
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette Only the commercial chip which surely doesn't count.
71. Gazpacho Great antidote for a hot day.
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant Only because Michelin didn't try to rate them
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam see here.
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox One time was for the cast party of my production of Herb Gardner's "A Thousand Clowns" on Adak Alaska. Local fisherman provided the smoked salmon for our "lox" A kind Navy pilot picked up several dozen bagels on his lay over in San Francisco. But, of course, the quintessential Long Island experience is a lazy Sunday morning nosh of bagels, cream cheese, and Nova with olives and thin slices of red onion and tomato or
what have you while you plow, in a dilatory way, through the Sunday Times.
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake Rattler. Fresh caught in the San Bernardino Mountains on a sultry spring day. Sautèd in rancid safflower oil. Can't say about the snake but definitely do not recommend the oil.

(I echo John:)
That's 59; not very impressive. Items not on the original list, but that I think I deserve credit for:
101. Moose
102. Retsina Both the Greek variety and some of Ernie's Home brewed mead which got decanted into a small pine cask which mysteriously appeared one day in our house. The mead turned quite resinous.
103. Ćevapčići Much to Cotunix's disgust.
104. Postum
105. Fried halibut cheeks
106. Cracklin
107. Chapattis
108. Home brewed wine or mead Ernie made wonderful mead. Me, not so much.
109. Sour Dough Bread from my own wild capture starter
110. Three year old Mince Meat. See here.
111. Dark Fruit Cake See here.
112. Raw Chicken Breast See here
113. Pisco A Peruvian Brandy. Not so good as Fundador in my insufficient opinion, though highly prized in South America.
114. Kasutera A steamed, rather than baked, sponge cake (scroll down) made in Macao, Hong Kong and Japan since the Portuguese arrived in the sixteenth century. As Dorothy would say: very easy to eat.
What belongs on your list?


See End Game by Shannon Brownlee at Ezra's place for a description of two doctors. One was forced to face the deaths of his patients virtually naked, equipped with only compassion, in a POW camp. The other did battle with "his Enemy: Death" in a full panoply of armor in the form of gleaming operating theatres equipped with marvelous technology and an overflowing pharmacopoeia.

Thinks I: I do not want to meet death on a battle field -- even a metaphoric one. Let it rather be wth a healer at my side.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beery Civics

Hoisted from Comments:
Blogger John said...

Western Civilization would not have been possible without alcohol. The only way you can have a dense population is if you can find way of making your water safe to drink. Europeans managed this through beer and wine. This is proven through evolution. In most of the non-European world, only about half of the population is born with the enzymes to digest alcohol. In Europe the proportion is 90 percent. Those without the enzymes rarely made it to adulthood and have been slowly bred out of the population.

In Asia, civilization was possible because they developed hot beverages and had lots of spices with antiseptic properties. There, evolution favored those who like spicy food. When Muslim civilization gave up wine drinking, they adopted tea as a replacement.

The Egyptians loved their beer, as did the Sumerians. The Greeks, of course, created wine snobbery.
But the point of the King's College lecturer is not so much that alcohol was necessary as much that it was the principal cause.
In proof of the hypothesis one might hope to find some attempt at brewing which predates agriculture.
When I consider there has to be a formidable set of tools created. You have to have grain better than wild grass. You have to master a fair bit of chemistry to convert the grain into something we have a chance of digesting; and you have to invent a rather extensive tool set from clay pots to hammers, sickles (da, comrade!) and, oh just a minor point, fire control as well as making.
Phew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Civilisation Without Beer? Not.

Tim Bousequet writes, on his eponymous blog, a series of frolicsome summaries of the lectures he heard when he attended a course on beer making at King's College.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Sing a Slog o Dogs

Sandy at Junkfood Science has a fascinating post on nitrites and nitrates. While pointing out that Arugula has far more nitrites than commercial hot dogs or bacon, she mentions that July was National Hot Dog Month. (Also National Beer Month and National Ice Cream Month just to round out the menu). She also sends us to a mouth watering page of regional red hots.

That tickled me enough to send an e-mail to Roy. Naturally he was on top of the cultural significance of this and replied with a link to an American Museum of Natural History menu about Hot Dogs as America which played in their snack bar during their exhibit called Baseball as America.

For more on ice cream see Dum Luk's Ice Cream Post.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Canned Air

Imagethief's mordant post about Beijing's air reminds me of Del's entrepreneurial frenzy at the advent of Seattle's World's Fair in 1962.
One of Seattle's boasts was the clarity and freshness of its air compared to that of LA at the time, say. Seeing Mt. Rainier all year long from downtown was an unremarkable event. Del tied the thought of cosmopolitan visitors marveling at such transparency to the folks he knew who ran fish canning plants. A bit of time in the composition room of the label printer produced a clever label which he then had applied to a short run of a few thousand tins sans fish. The result was Pure Pacific North West Air which sold to fair goers eager for souvenirs of the lighter sort.
Another product he offered called on his friendship with a supplier of biological lab specimens and a dentist. From the first he purchased preying mantises. These were carefully placed in the dental molding centrifuge which replaced all of the insect with molten dental gold. The result -- the seven or eight times out of each ten that it worked successfully -- was a solid gold replica of a praying mantis complete with delicate gold feelers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Frivolous Thought

Brad DeLong regards Der Spiegle's interview with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq, and concludes:

Is there anything left to say?

Yes, there is. Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

While we're at it, Let's impeach John McCain.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dum Luk's a Potato German Salads

Reminded that this is the International Year of the Potato, the season of salad turned my pea brain towards the German style. Usually this is a fall or winter dish because it is served hot. If you've never had it, the basic idea is to dress some boiled potato slices with a vinaigrette made with bacon fat and cider or other flavorful vinegar. Crumbled bacon and sautèd onions garnish the dish. A coarse mustard is a good addition

Thinks I: What if I grilled the potatoes in one of those sieve-like wok thingies? It works nicely.

Slice a couple of potatoes (I like reds for flavor and ability to hold shape. Use yellows to significantly alter the texture to creamy. Use fingerlings for flavor and color. I like reds for flavor and ability to hold shape.) thinly -- a quarter inch or less. Put in the wok and set over a modest heat on your charcoal or other BBQ. Stir as needed to brown. Do not burn.

Dice two slices of fat bacon about 3/8". Cut a small shallot into a fine dice. Put these into a sautè pan over a low flame to render the bacon and caramelize the shallots.

Mix a quarter cup of vinegar with a tablespoon of coarse mustard and a teaspoon of celery seed in a bowl large enough to hold the finished salad. Add salt and pepper. Reserve.

When the potatoes are nicely browned and the bacon crisp, combine all in the bowl and toss.

You might add some chopped roasted red peppers, mild or hot to suit.
Or chopped olives.
Or pickles.
Some like the crunch of diced celery. The leaves are tasty too.
Italian parsley, or any other leafy type you are partial too can also go in.

This is a style rather than a recipe. You can add or omit to please yourself. Within reason. Change the oil to olive if you like -- but leave out the potatoes and we're talking about some other critter.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In Memorium

The Fourth Amendment
to the
United States Constitution

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

December 15, 1791 -- July 9, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Plus Ca Change

Tim Abbott quotes:
If(sic) soon however appeared that part of this intelligence was false, and the rest greatly magnified.
About the Revolutionary War.
(Ours. Not theirs)
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Monday, June 09, 2008

Where We Stand?

When G W Bush assumed the position...
He tipped us 600 bucks.

We cheered until we got sandbagged.
Tax cuts for the rich.
War on people whose land contains oil.
Welcome to authoritarianism!

"Doesn't that burning constitution
Give a warming glow to my backside?
Kissme!" he postured
as his poll numbers drooped.

He killed thousands of us.
And hundreds of thousands of them.
His pals took a balloon ride,
or three, or more, on us.

He put us in hock for 4 Trillion.

As he prepares to pass the baton
(to one that's
just more of the same)

He tips us $600 again.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not to Worry

Herrington pauses. "George W. Bush," he adds, "would do what they are doing here in a heartbeat if he could."

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Old Guard Changeth

After 30 some years my old reliable Sabatier carbon steel Chef's knife is retiring to an honored position as kitsch hanging on my kitchen wall. There it is between the two new arrivals: another 10" chef knife and a 6" utility knife.
Maybe this time I will remember to hone the blades on the steel before use so I can avoid hollowing the edge on the stone. I also know to use a cleaver to smash garlic cloves rather than the chef knife, so the handle may stay intact.

Earle used to say:
Too soon old.
Too late smart.
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

She Protests Waaaaaaay More Than Too Much?

Digby quotes Ann Coulter:
I don’t know if you read the Starr report, the rest of us were glued to it, I have many passages memorized. No, there was more plot and dialogue in a porno movie.
Does anyone else see the connection to this joke told by my Band Master in High School , ca. 1960:
Kid goes to a psychiatrist.
Shrink givess him a Rorschach test.
"What does this make you think of?" says the Doc.
"Sex," says the kid.
"What about this one?" says the Doc.
"Sex," says the kid.
"Okay... try this." says the Doc.
"Sex," says the kid.
"Hmmmm. Und dis?" says the Doc.
"Sex," says the kid.
"Boy," says the Doc. "Do you have problems!"
"But, Doc! You're the one drawing dirty pictures!"
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Hullabaloo Said It Too

Despite Obama's advantage in delegates and popular vote, 64 percent of Democrats in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say Clinton should remain in the race. Even among Obama's supporters, 42 percent say so.

That's not a majority endorsement of Clinton's candidacy; Democrats by a 12-point margin would rather see Obama as the nominee, a lead that's held steadily in ABC News/Washington Post polls since early March. Instead it reflects a rejection of the notion that the drawn-out contest will hurt the party's prospects. Seventy-one percent think it'll either make no difference in November (56 percent) or actually help the party (15 percent).
c. f.:
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To Be a Skeptic ...

To be a skeptic
Means not only to say:
"You're wrong!"
He he he!

To be a skeptic
is more than
"That's not so!"
He he he!

To be a skeptic
Suggests a teacher
Did less than say so.
He he he!

To be a skeptic
Donkeys must not
Have their way!
He he he!

To be a skeptic
I must not say
"Because I was told so..."
He he he!

To be a skeptic
Is to repeat:
"I don't know.
I really do not know."


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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rubber Duckies

Rosserjb at EconoSpeak notes the New York Times report:
So, today a second US aircraft carrier has entered the Persian Gulf ...

Picture. if you can stomach it, dear little Georgie in the claw foot tub with his little toy boats bobbing all around him. Down comes his fist as he chortles Ka-BOOM! and sends the aircraft carrier to the bottom.
For a contrary, but coincident opinion, please see the Watley Review.
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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"All Men Are ..

Created Equal..."
So says the Declaration of Independence.
What is the definition of "All Men"?
The rich, white male population? Or is it somewhat broader?
This is the fundamental question of the United States of America since its inception.
We still struggle to agree on any part of the definition.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Try It

Del was at the door. He unslung his pack to settle down.
"I've brought something for you to try."
As I handed him a glass of wine he pulled a jar from his pack and offered it to me.
Pickled Garlic read the label.
"It's more of an ingredient looking for a recipe than anything else," he said.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In Support of ...

The preceding post is not an endorsement of negative campaigning by any Democratic candidate. That is a tactic required by the moral bankruptcy of the other side.
The vote so far demonstrates that almost as many Democratic voters favor one candidate as the other.
Now I would rather see the reasons to vote for a nominee rather than reasons, sometimes spurious, to vote against a candidate.
The world is indeed a vicious place in which violence is endemic. What I want to know is what the nominee plans to do in office to mitigate that fact.
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Count the Vote

Goldy urges the superdelegates to throw their weight behind Obama to make him the Democratic nominee because "Hillary can't win." He opens his post:

Well, of course, she could win. Shit happens. Scandals. Wars. Terrorist attacks. Assassinations. But barring some paradigm-shifting calamity crushing Barack Obama’s presidential aspirations (or the man himself), Hillary Clinton just can’t win the Democratic nomination.

Didn't we get a President in 2000 on the basis of not counting votes, or completing due process, because five Supreme Court Justices (who were appointed by Republican Presidents) thought they knew who won?
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CW = Contrary Words?

One notes the conventional wisdom:
One thing seems quite evident prior to getting the vote totals: while Obama has a floor, McCain and Clinton have ceilings, and they've already hit them. ... check out Charlie Cook writing about Obama's chemisty: "This unusual combination created the equivalent in Democratic politics of nitroglycerin. It has already overpowered all but Clinton and is pushing its beneficiary closer and closer to the nomination, despite the inherent advantages that she began with."
But I note the delegate count is within a 150. Also noteworthy are: The high number of Republican Congressional retirements; The many highly qualified, serious, Democratic candidates running all over the country; The enormous number of new voters who register as Democrats; The flood of small donor funding for many of these candidates.
Nitroglycerin separates particles dramatically. When any candidate has the political equivalent of nitro, they blast ahead of expectations and their opponents, e.g.: Darcy Burner's Washington 08 fund raising.
I don't think a 1650/1508 delegate split is evidence of nitro, no matter how enthused the supporters of either candidate are.
That those eligible to vote in the Democratic primaries consistently divide so nearly for two candidates, while offering major support to Democratic candidates in Congressional races might be interpreted as a desire in the electorate to change the composition of the Executive and Congress (and therefore the Judicial) and an acceptance of either Democratic Presidential candidate, rather than an overwhelming preference for one candidate.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another Trip to the Well

On listening to streaming audio:
A commercial classics station that broadcasts in a language I do not comprehend is much more bearable than one that broadcasts in English. From annoyances the ads rise to mildly intriguing puzzles.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Fool's Day Squib

The Vancouver CBC station reported more anti-intellect acts by CBC's management this morning. The reader assured us this was not a joke: The CBC, after better than 30 years on radio and television, has canceled the Canadian Air Farce.
For those unfamiliar with Canada's premiere satire troupe think of the network canceling Saturday Night Live.
But my favorite CBC/April Fool memory is of Bob Kerr, host of Off The Record. This was a long running afternoon classics show which could play a full Mahler or Buxtehude symphony without interruption. And just as well do a smattering of art song fragments. Bob featured his favorite instrument on his Organ Thursdays which introduced more than one generation to the breadth of the King of Instruments. His commentary on both composers and performers was always considered, informed, and zestful with never the least hint of academic stodge or snobbishness. Never did he indulge, as is the fashion in the US, in an attitude of: "Now, do listen [children], this will be so-o-o good for you."
One April first, mid 80's or thereabouts, he burst into his opening theme glowing with the excitement -- very infectious -- of this marvelous discovery that only just arrived in his mail box. He had played it once before the show and now promptly played it for his listeners. What we heard was a more than acceptable standard of play of the Minute Waltz distanced by the obvious youth of its recording technology, like listening to a cleaned up wax cylinder of Caruso. Bob was utterly fascinated with it. He played, he said, a British CD Mags' insert which claimed to be a recording of Chopin playing the Minute Waltz in something just over 60 seconds.
How was this possible?
The magazine claimed that a hitherto obscure Frenchman had invented a recording device -- I think it involved smoke patterns on glass but, then again, that might be my imagination supplying what my memory lacks -- and just happened to live near the villa occupied by a Mme. Sand and M. Chopin. The latter was gracious enough to perform for the instrument. The result was buried in the back garden to preserve it from one war or another until it was forgotten. Gr gr gr gr someone overturned that corner and retrieved the precious artifact. Science was enlisted to devise a means of reproduction. This led to the flimsy CD included in the magazine.
Bob was oddly skeptical and enthralled all at once. Partly he denied the notion of the inventor while he so much wanted to hear Chopin play even at the great technical remove offered. He played it once or twice more, interspersed with this information and his reactions, before turning to the day's program. But he did so only to clear our palettes. Soon he was back to play the cut and marvel at the wonder of actually hearing Chopin perform the Minute Waltz in something like 68 seconds. This was more than the title called for, but rather less than the vast majority of pianists managed, as somebody hastily sent to the disk library for examples proved.
Over and again was the wonder that we listened to Chopin himself.
And what did we think of that?
Then the canker worm raised its head. A listener called in to report that Bob might want to examine the mast head.
There it was: "Issue 0401." The rage for a lost penny wasn't in it.
Bob informed us he had already sent a postcard to the magazine canceling his subscription. For several minutes he fulminated against the asininity of the perpetrators. The imbecility! The Rudeness! The just plain impoliteness of it!

And the wonder we felt: "What was it about that recording that we experienced when we believed it was genuine?

That passionate, intelligent, involvement with music is what CBC used to be. Since Brian Mulroney gutted the CBC budget causing the decimation of the news department, until then one of the finest in the world, in the late 80's 'til now when the boobitariat reins at CBC headquarters it has been downhill all the way up.
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Koan of Stupidity

The Encyclopedia of Stupidity by Matthijs van Boxsel has, at last, risen to the top of the pile. It proves better than advertised. Better than I expected when I first posted about it.
Boxsel's thesis is that:
No one is intelligent enough to comprehend his own stupidity. And that is all to the good. Cognition has a disastrcous effect not only on stupidity, but also on the intelligence based on it.
-- The Comic Hiatus, pg 47

This suggested a koan of stupidity:

I have my little ways of doing things,
Which make sense to me.
Fold the towel narrow to fit in the bar,
Then fold in half and half again to fit the shelf.
It makes no sense to you, no matter how I explain.
So I must let it go. It matters not that you do it.
Only that I do it.
Because I am the one who wants to do it that way.
So where is the stupidity most?
In my insisting all do it my way?
Or in my insisting I do it my way?
Or is it both?

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

mauger mauger mauger

When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.
Stephen Jay Gould
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Sunday, January 27, 2008


A friend once challenged me:
"If you can't afford broad cast, do narrow cast!"

Television is broadcast. One source presents itself to many.
What is Narrowcast?
My friend meant one talks with a selected few, i.e.: use direct mail which would avoid the waste of TV ads,
Now he might mean social networks, or You Tube, or podcasts, or blogs.

At which point Narrowcast becomes: "Many talking to a self selected number between few and many" with a chance that those many might talk back.
So the problem is now: get the message to those who want to hear and give them a means to respond. And let everyone listen in.
Many talk with many.
This I like.
updated in a vain attempt to improve the quality of thought. 2/29/08
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Steps to Paradise # 27

Crisis Avoidance is better than Crisis Response if you want many happy returns.
h/t Matt

Of course you have to be right.

That is very hard.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bitter Truth

They cover politics as if the Media aren't part of the process and as if reporters, pundits, editors, publishers, producers, and anchors have no influence on anything---not on the way stories are covered, not on what stories are covered, not on what people think about the stories.
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Little oily balls.

Direct translation. Not so appetizing in the midst of our current anti-fat bigotry.

Fruit doughnut? Only a little better.

Apple Fritter, suggests the MacGear.

And I accept it as descriptive and inviting. For a translation.

But Oliebollen is the name as this is the progenitor of all doughnuts: A yeast raised sweet dough, filled with fruit, and deep fried, traditionally eaten in the Netherlands at New Years since the late sixteenth century. Approximately guessed.

For certain it attracted the notice of that famed historian Diedrich Knickerbocker who describes a a high tea among the Dutch settlers in the Hudson valley as including:

Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks—a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, except in genuine Dutch families.
-- Washington Irving, Hist of New York,
Chapter III

Thus Oliebollen are as native to this country as the Dutch farmers and merchants who built Wall street.

The Congressional Club Cookbook of 1927 is the earliest recipe I have. My transcription (possibly not verbatim)

13 oz flour7oz currants
1/2 pint milk4 oz raisins
3 eggs1 1/2 oz citron chopped fine
1 1/2 oz yeast1-2 sour apples chopped fine
2 oz butter
Mix above in bowl. Stir well. Let stand 30 minutes. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil. Cook slowly until brown.
-- Mrs. Jacob Steketer

But, as with any traditional dish there are many variants' only one of which will be acceptable to the one who grew up with a particular recipe. The rest may pick and choose and use the result as a springboard to their own version.

For your browsing pleasure we offer a round half dozen out of the myriad your search engine will find:

  • Oliebollen
  • Oliebollen (Dutch Doughnuts)
  • Oliebollen
  • International Recipes: Oliebollen
  • Oliebollen -- New Year's Eve Doughnuts
  • Recipe for Cooking Olie Bollen

  • Although essentially the same in the main ingredients, variation appears in the fruit used, how it is incorporated with the dough and the consistency of the dough which may be a batter or a soft, but moldable dough, or any likely point between. In some recipes the dough wraps around the filling rather like Bao. This requires dough to work. If the fruit is mixed in with the flour and liquid, then a batter consistency is good, though the dough still works.

    Dum Luk's, but of course, does it other.

    Dum Luk's Oliebollen
    1 cup starter (or yeast)3 eggs
    1 cup cream2 tbl Butter, melted
    1 cup Flournutmeg
    1 tart apple grated1/2 cup filberts,chop fine
    Mix all of the above, except sugar, in a bowl. Adjust flour until you have a good batter. Deep fry in your Christmas goose schmaltz, or lard, at 350of (180oc) until brown. Turn halfway through. Drain and cool slightly. Then roll the oliebollen in sugar. Powdered or granular as you wish.

    Goed Niewe Jaar!

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    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Iowa News

    Hubris Sonic at the Group News Blog nails it:

    Thursday, January 3, 2008

    Iowa Wrap Up

    Total Voter Turnout (approximate)


    Percentage of total vote
    24.5% Obama
    20.5% Edwards
    19.8% Clinton
    11.4% Huckabee (R)

    All else is spin.