super hanc petram

Monday, November 29

The Great Indecency Hoax  

The much praised column by Frank Rich about our latest front in the culture war. Get it now before it disappears into the Times's chasm of articles they want no one to read after eight days. I'd like to say it was because they were doing the Lord's work. But then...


Saturday, November 20

The Vineyard Kitchen  

Preparing for Thanksgiving. Jess and I can't eat an entire turkey by ourselves so we've decided to improvise a bit. We're taking two recipes from our new favorite book The Vineyard Kitchen in order to take advantage of the late fall local produce from the two farmer's markets we have access to. For the main course we're having sage-roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and cipollini onions, and for desert we're making our maiden voyage into pies with the heirloom apple pie. To start we're taking something from the new Cooking Light, the spinach-pear salad with mustard vinaigrette. We're also taking the recipe for our stuffing from the same issue. The herbed bread stuffing with mushrooms and sausage. Should be a pretty good meal all around. Oh, and for the rest of today we're going to be making a big batch of Nana's Tomato Sauce, from Vineyard Kitchen, so that we can stop spending money on the jarred stuff.


Friday, November 19

Storing cheese correctly  

So last night I caught the Frontline about marketers. One of the interviews was with Clotaire Rapaille. Rapaille talked about helping a french cheese company marketing its product in America.
For example, if I know that in America the cheese is dead, which means is pasteurized, which means legally dead and scientifically dead, and we don't want any cheese that is alive, then I have to put that up front. I have to say this cheese is safe, is pasteurized, is wrapped up in plastic. I know that plastic is a body bag. You can put it in the fridge. I know the fridge is the morgue; that's where you put the dead bodies. And so once you know that, this is the way you market cheese in America. I started working with a French company in America, and they were trying to sell French cheese to the Americans. And they didn't understand, because in France the cheese is alive, which means that you can buy it young, mature or old, and that's why you have to read the age of the cheese when you go to buy the cheese. So you smell, you touch, you poke. If you need cheese for today, you want to buy a mature cheese. If you want cheese for next week, you buy a young cheese. And when you buy young cheese for next week, you go home, [but] you never put the cheese in the refrigerator, because you don't put your cat in the refrigerator. It's the same; it's alive. We are very afraid of getting sick with cheese. By the way, more French people die eating cheese than Americans die. But the priority is different; the logic of emotion is different. The French like the taste before safety. Americans want safety before the taste.
So I decided to take a look at some ways to store cheese. It will be interesting to try some of these and see how they turn out. I'm not actually afraid of dying from cheese as I'm not all that into the stinky cheeses. Jess and I are, however, very into taste so this should be a good deal of fun.


Monday, November 15

Tough Times for a Centrist  

I'm a centrist democrat.  However, over the past two years I've seen the Washington "centrists" leave me behind and enter some imaginary world that is "centrist" to them.  I left the DLC over their ridiculous anti-Dean crusade and I dropped my TNR subscription over their absurd support of Bush's Iraq adventure.  There are two things I find infuriating about these "centrists" that have left Dems like me behind. First, what it means for them to be centrists is to stake out some position half way between sanity and whatever position the conservatives put forward.  The substance of the proposal can never be too outrageous for them to actually oppose it or call a spade a spade.  Being "centrist" to Holy Joe et al. means taking extremists seriously and, as a consequence, getting rolled by them every time. This leads to the second infuriating habit (rather, delusion) of the "centrists."  They take every proposal as if it has merit.  This  absurd notion reached its height with the Iraq resolution.  The scribes at TNR waxed oh so poetic about the dangers of WMD and the shining light that a democratic Iraq would be, all the while setting aside whether the current administration was actually up to the job.  There were several problems I had with launching the Iraq war in 2003, but none was bigger than that I knew from watching BushCo. for three years that they were incapable of handling the situation.  Any sentient being in Washington should have known the same.  But in the name of "centrism" no one spoke up. Now I see that Holy Joe and the "centrists" are out to sink Dean yet again.  Howard Dean is the best thing that's happened to our party since the Clinton presidency, but Joe doesn't ground himself in the party.  He grounds himself solely in relation to the opposition.  I'm not saying Joe should leave or be thrown out of the party.  He needs to understand, though, that he is currently not a centrist and that there are no bridges to be built to the current opposition.  It is a strategic choice of the majority in congress right now to resist any effort at bridge building.  Indeed, reaching out to them is taken as a signal to shift further right.  Akin to a car salesman upping the price just a little more since he senses you'll pay it. A while back the Republicans realized that the DLC were using the R's positions as the only way to determine what the "centrist" position was.  With the Democrats controlling one branch or house of government, this worked since the party as a whole could engage in dialogue.  Now that mooring is gone and the old centrists in Washington have become "centrists" only to themselves. Tom Vilsack is, I'm sure, a fine human being.  I'm sure he's also a very capable politician and a man who could forge a coalition with moderate Republicans.  But Tom Vilsack is not Howard Dean, and Howard Dean is the only man on the map at this time that can bring us back to the majority.  He has been so publicly derided by our own party luminaries that he probably can't get the nomination in 2008, but that's part of what makes him perfect for DNC chairman.  Dean is a leader who needs to be able to speak his mind and take the energy of the party faithful and put it into action.  Finally, and this is perhaps what is most threatening to Lieberman et al., Dean actually is a centrist.  To Holy Joe he may look like some crazy lefty, but that's solely because Joe is stuck in his Washington paradigm of "How to be a Centrist."


Saturday, November 13

Where Lewis Went Wrong  

Much fat to chew within this Washington Monthly article by Michael Hirsh. As a companion piece to William Darymple's look at where Lewis went wrong with medieval Hellenic history, we now have the beginnings of a cogent non-Lewis-slanted history (past and modern) pushing its way into the mainstream. From Hirsh:
"Modern Arab anger and frustration is, in fact, less than a hundred years old. As bin Laden knows very well, this anger is a function not of Islam's humiliation at the Treaty of Carlowitz of 1699—the sort of long-ago defeat that Lewis highlights in his bestselling What Went Wrong—but of much more recent developments. These include the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement by which the British and French agreed to divvy up the Arabic-speaking countries after World War I; the subsequent creation, by the Europeans, of corrupt, kleptocratic tyrannies in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan; the endemic poverty and underdevelopment that resulted for most of the 20th century; the U.N.-imposed creation of Israel in 1948; and finally, in recent decades, American support for the bleak status quo."
This discussion is vitally important because our current foreign policy is controlled entirely by Lewisites. This is why so many of our troops are being killed unnecessarily in Iraq. It is, in fact, a fundamental misunderstanding of the Middle East and the Arab Mind. Most troubling, though, is that as far as I can tell, Lewis et al. don't get everything completely wrong. That is, Lewis doesn't put forward false events in his histories, he's just drawing the wrong conclusions and focusing on the wrong events. However, when such misreadings are literally writ large upon a region and its peoples, the ramifications are dire for years if not decades. Indeed as this article points out and Bin Laden (and others) has been telling us for several years now, al Nakba is far more important than the Battle of the Nile. If we are to make significant headway against both terrorism and the corrupt regimes in the Middle East, we must gain a greater understanding of What Actually Went Wrong.


Tuesday, November 9

Election result maps  

As with the last election, the maps of red and blue America are all the rage. In 2000 the map was a novelty and some pundits used it to make broad statements about red and blue America that verged on the inane. This year the mania over "red" and "blue" America is reaching a fever pitch especially as James Dobson and the freaky rightist try to claim some sort of mandate for Bush and his intimidating 51% (286 EV) popular landslide. For those willing to look a little deeper, of course, there is much, much more to be found out about our country in maps similar to the bland red/blue but that make more effective use of the data. Comes now this page, which incorporates a host of different number-crunching takes on the old red/blue map. For my money, this is the most effective.

Prior to the election, this quote from Mark McKinnon in Ron Suskind's piece got a lot of press:
"You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!"
Now inside the bubble that is the power-grabbing right in Washington, I'm sure 51% looks to them like 66%, but as the map above shows, there is no 2:1 margin in favor of any faction. It's important to keep this in mind, espeically if you're in the habit of watching the Sunday talk shows or any of the nightly offerings from the cable stations.


Sunday, November 7

FURL Cooking!  

I'm sure others have already thought of this, but I've now added a 'Cooking' category to my Furl archive. No more flipping between Cooking Light, Epicurious and old fashioned Google cooking, now I've got my own damned cookbook. And with the old wireless connection in the apartment, now I'm cooking with FURL. First recipe goes to my favorite. Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce. Vary the amount of curry paste according to how spicy you're feeling. Eat with both wine and water handy. It took Jess and I while to figure that last bit out. With just wine, you wind up slugging down a bottle without thinking just to cool your mouth down. Hot stuff.


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