We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, December 19. 2014
Around the HQ, we stick with the un-Yankee, Southern Italian/Sicilian Christmas Eve fast, which means seafood. In past years, I have had the real 7 Fishes with fried baccala, steamed mussels, scungilli, etc etc. A wonderful fish feast which it would be a stretch to term "fasting." The Catholics are very clever with their concept of fasting.
The best-known Sicilian Primi is Pasta Con Sardi - pasta with anchovies (or tiny sardines) - what I term Pasta With Minnows aka Pasta with Bait.
What is an "anchovy"? Never, ever use those tinned brown over-salted anchovies that they put on cheap pizzas. Disgusting stuff, cat food for a cat you hate. If you can't get fresh anchovies (they are white) at your local fish market, use the canned white anchovies in olive oil. Tasty. Good Italian markets have good fresh or oiled white anchovy filets.
Here's the recipe. Yes, to be authentic it needs the breadcrumbs.
And here's another Vigilia favorite: Fried Baccala Balls. I've also had these with mashed potato in the cod mix to hold it all together. Nothing is more delicious.
Traditonally, you have to have Struffoli for dessert even though I find it inedible.
Truth is, in recent years we just make poached salmon with yogurt-dill sauce, to be ready to serve at room temp. after getting home from church.
The article begins:
No problem with hate, because many things and people deserve it but I sure don't.
Scientists tallied up all the advice on Dr. Oz's show. Half of it was baseless or wrong.
Franklin Graham: Movie 'Unbroken' Omits 'Most Important Part' of Louis Zamperini's Life
Christ saved him
California: Defining nearly all sex as rape
Prostitution seems to be ok
Why are women’s rights groups telling law students that they shouldn't have to learn about rape law?
SONY was mainly afraid of lawyers
Court Upholds Public School’s Ban of American Flag; TMLC asks Supreme Court for Review
Billions in Taxpayer Funded Loans Going to Companies that Serve the Rich
University of Michigan professor: “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans”
It's the season for hate
Kill all of the animals, and eat that beaver
Climate Change… Who Cares?
Abuse of government power: Obama’s ‘Operation Choke Point’
TOP 10 LIES IN OBAMA’S CUBA SPEECH
Dem Chairman: Obama ‘Vindicated the Brutal Behavior of Cuban Government’ in Deal to Free Alan Gross
Railguns: The Next Big Pentagon Boondoggle?
The Last Line of Defense - Congress is looking to block Obama's bad Iran nuclear deal.
China's Military Is about to Go Global
A FRENCH SOLDIER'S VIEW OF US SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN
Five puzzles about occupation and settlements: questions for Geneva
NBC's Richard Engel Reveals His Obsession With Israel
Thursday, December 18. 2014
We want it easy but good. We're thinking something like this:
Eggnog and/or Champagne, and Martinelli's of course for the teetotalers, then wine
We do church Christmas Eve, not Christmas morning as I did as a lad. We forbid gifts with extended family so we omit that silliness - except gifts of homemade cookies. In fact, we are not too big on gifts in general anymore. Instead, we'll have Mrs. BD on ye olde Steinway playing Christmas songs for us all to sing off-key, and some group games. We often play the "Who am I?" game.
At night, the kids go off to the movies with friends.
What's your plan?
Read it and weep, not only about this "comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration" as the Washington Post editorial terms it but it continues "Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades." Further, it will encourage other despots and their useful idiots in the Western Left, as "they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela."
Then weep that ignorance at Maggies Farm abets useful idiocy, and gives a pass to the dispiriting of those facing the China and Russia bullies.
As I said yesterday, Cuba is an insignificant, God-forsaken 3rd world s-hole with the population of the state of Georgia and with a crappy, corrupt, and cruel government like most other crappy 3rd world countries. It does not deserve all this attention or all this debate. All we Americans want from Cuba is cigars (possible in the near-term) and some political justice for their people (possible eventually). The latter is of course what we wish for all terrible crappy countries which include most countries on the planet, but which we cannot provide for them.
As I have said, Cuba is just another Haiti. Same population as Haiti, too.
But here's this: Every big question you have about the U.S. opening to Cuba, answered
Had to visit my friendly local dentist early this morning for what I term a "cosmetic emergency." Mrs. BD did not want me going through the rest of the holiday season looking like a Halloween pumpkin - or like a visitor from England (famous for its rotten and/or missing teeth).
He did give me one tip while I was there: he advised me to use interdental brushes instead of flossing. He said they are best for your gums, and clean better between teeth.
They come in different sizes to fit your tooth spacing. These things are news to me. I always avoided flossing and these are easier to use. He gave me a demo.
I heard a pair of Great Horned Owls hooting to each other around 4:30 this morning. A mating pair for sure. They lay their eggs in January.
Roman concrete used 'secret' ingredient to stand the test of time - and now engineers want to copy it
Why people are NOT leaving your church
Smotherers of Invention - Patent trolls, universities, and big companies are exploiting a broken system.
Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence
Sex with your professor is great if you initiate it … or want revenge
Sen. Sanders blamed speculators for the
Economic freedom by state
When Journalists Are The Story - Saying a sad goodbye to some NYT stalwarts, and The New Republic.
No Truer Words: Gross Calls Himself ‘A Trusting Fool’ Do-gooder comes a cropper
The Last Communist City - A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see
Shep Smith wonders: Is America about to “ruin” Cuba?
Obama hands Cuba's Castros a major victory, but Congress can still stop it
Castro, Cuba, Obama—and Iran
Mich Feminists Harass Muslim Who Wrote Political Correctness Satire
Anyone But Jeb Bush? Pretty Much
Hillary Clinton Sells (Very Few) Magazines
Rush Limbaugh: THE PERFECT 2016 Ticket – Clinton-Bush
If you only read American media, you would never know that most of Europe is boiling with anti-immigration sentiment.
A Few Confirmation Questions for Obama's SecDef Nominee
Canada: Convening of Fourth Geneva Convention meeting unfairly singles out Israel
Hamas Senior Officials At Movement's 27th Anniversary Celebrations: We Will Not Recognize Zionist Entity Or Be Satisfied With A Palestinian State Within 1967 Borders; We Thank Iran For Supplying Us With Weapons, Missiles
Wednesday, December 17. 2014
From our archives:
Christmas is a traditional feast day (but it was not for true puritan folk like Dutch Reform or Congregationalists, who did not historically care for Christmas), so you are expected to cook something tasty. We have done all of the things: turkey (again), goose, roast beef, crown roast of pork with apple stuffing (real good).
On the other hand, the southern Italians do a cool thing - they do the Christmas Eve fish dinner - because it is a vigilia di magro (fasting, Italian-style).That is darn good. Fried baccala, fried calamari, scungilli, clams, mussels, maybe lobster etc etc. I love the baccala, and those little fried minnows bagiggi - smelt - with lemon that you eat whole like french fries, and clams (if they aren't cooked), but hate those cold seafood salads - dolphin food. In Sicily, the tradition is seven fishes. Serious abstinence: cook a leg of lamb, and you burn in hell for eternity.
But back to Yankee Christmas dinner, and goose.
As regular readers know, we cook our Canada geese with the breast only, marinated and sauteed rare. We confit the legs and thighs.
Store-bought goose tends much smaller (maybe in Dickens' time they had bigger farm geese - if you can find a giant Christmas goose as big as Tiny Tim, great), and has lots more fat on it. In fact, it seems about 50% fat, which oozes out during cooking and fills the pan below. If you want to cook that traditional English bird, you need a few of them. I would say, one per 3-4 people, minimum, if you are using the supermarket birds. (Some might disagree with this.) One bird will not do it, as a turkey does, because once the fat melts off, there isn't much left except bones. The plus side of all of the fat is that they are self-basting.
This is a good approach. Overcooking a goose, at low heat, is not a bad idea. For a roast goose, you may really want the meat falling off the bone, unlike a nice rare breast of wild goose. Goose is, of course, a dark meat like duck (but more coarse in flavor, I think).
Make a tasty sauce out of the drippings, once you have removed the fat. Add a little red wine, maybe a handful of huckleberries or dried cranberries and a bit of sugar, and reduce/thicken.
What to serve with goose? Mainly braised and sauteed roots. Parsnip, carrot, potato, turnip. And how about a rutabaga puree? Or a celeriac (celery root) puree? Maybe a pile of braised, sauteed baby squash, too. Cranberry sauce? You bet.
Heading towards normal relations with Cuba? That's fine with me because basically Cuba is of little significance. Only the Cold War Russians put the place on the map, but that was 50 years ago and nobody, even the Russians, care about it anymore.
Nobody cares about Cuba anymore, same as Haiti.
Today I had to discuss business with him at a designated time and arrived as the last biscuit was handed out.
A group of people entered just after me, and were told the last one had be served. One fellow responded "Well, good, because I was conflicted."
"Conflicted about what?" I asked.
"I hate that company and everything it stands for. So I wasn't sure I wanted a biscuit. I'm glad they are gone so I don't have any moral qualms."
I started laughing and said "They make a damn good chicken sandwich, and that's all I care about. I can't stand many Hollywood actors and their politics, but I'll still see their movies because I want to be entertained."
He replied, "Well, that's not an issue for me. I like most Hollywood actors."
I could hear my point whistling past his ears.
There aren't many purchases I make while considering the politics of those things. If I did, I probably wouldn't spend much money. I'd have a hard time buying clothes, food, and putting gas in my tank. I'm a fan of Pink Floyd, went to see Roger Waters perform in concert, with all his political nonsense, and simply told my boys "Enjoy the show and the music, pay no attention to the political diatribes and imagery. We didn't ask for that, he's just decided to force it on his fans, many of whom don't think for themselves, anyway. We are here for the art and the entertainment."
I loves me my Chick-fil-A. I don't agree with their stance on homosexuality. But I'm not convinced my not enjoying chicken will alter their stance. To be honest, I'm not sure what one has to do with the other.
A Dylan performance for an audience of one
The Rising Cost of Felony Creep - Over-criminalization takes its toll.
1 in 5 Millennials Live in Poverty, Census Bureau Says
World-first ‘Bionic Bra’ inches closer to reality
London in Shakespeare's time
What Is a Suburb, Anyway?
Nothing Succeeds Like Liberal Secession: Blue America Without Red America Would Be A Basket Case
Sarah Palin hunts feral hogs. World ends.
Tim Scott: Why Marriage Matters for Fighting Poverty
NIH Has Spent $100.2 Million on Mindfulness Meditation
Government Job Security
Bye, Bye “Bailout”: CROmnibus Takes a Small but Important Bite out of Obamacare
A Winning Alternative to Obamacare
Gluttony and Global Warming: We’re Eating Ourselves to a Warmer Planet
Sony Exec Reaches Out to Al Sharpton – Will Hook Up This Week for Race Conference in NYC
Taxpayer-Funded Immigrant Advocacy Group Blasts Republicans - Helps those seeking deportation relief, tells them to vote against GOP
Sydney: One ‘Irritation’ Too Many
Sen. Rand Paul on ISIS, the Middle East, and when America should go to war
Tehreek-e-Taliban Takes Credit for School Attack That Left 131 Children Dead: “We Want Them to Feel Pain”
Sept. 11 detainees in Guantanamo get copies of CIA torture report
The True Victims of Torture - The Democrats, suddenly shocked by the CIA’s tactics, dishonor the people who died on 9/11.
Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed
Newly Released NSA Documents Show That China Captured American Soldiers During The Vietnam War
Tuesday, December 16. 2014
...because a cute, perky young gal held the door for me at the gym at 5 am this morning. Sheesh.
And because my lad now fits into my tux. He borrows it when he needs it, but the legs and sleeves are a little bit short but not so's you would notice at a crowded event.
I've had mine for many years. Admittedly, Brooks did let out the waist an inch for me (35 to 36) a while ago and it has been dry cleaned many times.
The lad fits into my formal dress shirts too, and I am happy to loan him my grandpa's gold studs and cufflinks. If one is not wealthy, as I am not, a classic Brooks tux remains a bargain, is always appropriate, and is cheaper than an ordinary fancy suit. They last forever unless you get fat or live a far more hoity-toity life than I do. It's holiday season now and, in Yankeeland, you have to dress up a little for special occasions. Year 'round, really. At Christmas and New Year's, I just do it by adding my red holiday cummerbund and red bow tie.
It's a uniform. Maybe we remain a little old-fashioned. Nowadays, we easily forget that the tux was invented (in Tuxedo Park, of course) as a casual dinner get-up for the jazz-age youth who rightly rebelled against wearing vests and tails to dinner and parties.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:22 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
It's called "horizontal gene transmission." The gene that jumped - Genes that leap from one species to another are more common than we thought.
The know-nothings out there know nothing about biology.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
We'll leave out the billionaires, because they are too few to move the dial. Let's just look at the very high-income people who make America look unequal in the statistics.
Who are the piggish people with multi-million annual incomes?
Pop music stars
I don't begrudge any of these people their incomes, but I sometimes envy it while aware that I would not be capable of doing what they do. Still, if we taxed them all 100% over 1 million, we'd eliminate the statistical "crisis" and people would have to bitch about something else.
Who am I missing on my list?
Disgusting greedy capitalist pigs: Highest earning musicians of 2014
Office work is dangerous
Highest earning musicians of 2014
Black newspaper takes on black-on-black violence
The mob is alive and well in the unions
Which Costly Family Most Deserves to Enter the Moocher Hall of Fame?
How ignorant jerks are going to treat good cops now; ‘I’m scared for my life . . .he’s trying to Mike Brown me
Social conservatism, marriage, and class:
Media swoon: Elizabeth Warren, unlike Ted Cruz, hailed as a principled crusader
The Democrats Double Down - Will Republicans seize the opportunity?
VDH: Epitaph for Hope and Change - Obama has fundamentally transformed America, all right — but not as he intended.
“If you make jokes about people who are going to kill you, there is a sort of tendency to hold back a little.”
‘He Must Have Loved Ones, Too’ - Pathological altruism in Sydney.
German Leader Denounces Anti-Immigrant Surge
Last week the news arrived that the most popular name given to boys in the UK in 2014 was "Mohammed." The reactions and non-reactions to this story betrayed the deep unease and denial that are now part of the debate around Islam in modern Britain.
At its 27th birthday parade, Hamas vows to destroy Israel
The earlier written narrative of the Maccabean revolt against Hellenization and outlawing Jewish worship differs in emphasis from the later “official” Jewish take on the result.
The portion of the Apocrypha (biblical era writings not included in the Jewish Bible) dealing with the events does not mention a miracle of one day’s sanctified oil for the Menorah lasting 8 days. The Book of Maccabees speaks, instead, of eight days of rejoicing the victory to substitute for the eight days of the Torah requirement to celebrate Sukkot, which were missed due to the fighting. The eight days celebration of Chanukah (i.e., rededication) became a custom for every year.
Several centuries later, in the Babylonian Talmud (finalized approx. 5th century, Common Era) interpreting Jewish law and customs, the narrative takes on a new twist, emphasis on G-d’s “miracle” of the oil, which downplays the emphasis on the accomplishment of mens’ arms to retrieve the Temple and Judaism from Hellenistic extinction.
What had happened?: The fall of the Temple and the dispersal (Diaspora) of surviving Jews. No longer having a state, Jews had to survive through craft or accommodation (different than assimilation) to the religion and politics of the states they lived within and not by emphasizing their abilities to fight, not to mention win, when persecuted.
The rise of Zionism in the late 1800s and early 1900s emphasized Jews’ ability to fight and win, and to deserve and have a state to protect Jews from thousands of years of oppression, persecution, and murder, based on thousands of years of roots, presence, worship, investment, hard work, and unceasing yearning for Israel. The more secular Zionists’ pragmatic emphasis stood in stark contrast to the more pacifist or accomodationist teachings that had dominated for almost two millennia.
Today, although a small minority within Israel still cling to illusions of a “miracle” of Palestinians and Muslims transforming their hate into peace, a larger proportion of Jews in the US and Europe – less existentially threatened – cling to such illusions. In Israel and elsewhere, Jews light the eight lights of the Menorah with the extra “helper” light, but the emphasized meaning behind the ritual differs. Adherence to G-d may have given Jews the internal strength to fight and survive, but it was not (as during the Exodus) G-d who directly intervened.
Regardless of this difference, the overriding and more important thing that unites Jews is that regardless of how to get there, either way requires faith and hope. Without faith and hope, necessary for resilience, Jews would not have had reason, cohesion or the internal strength to survive the depredations and challenges to existence of the past two-thousand years since the fall of the Temple to the Romans. Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, means The Hope.
As long as the heart within
Our hope is not yet missing,
Chanukah starts tonight. Come celebrate the miracle of endurance and survival.
The Credo, by Zionist poet Saul Tchernichovsky:
Laugh at all my silly dreams!
Monday, December 15. 2014
Pic was the Maggie's HQ tree set-up in the parlor last year. Yes, there is an outlet in the floor. This year, we're in process of going back to colored lights for the darn pagan tree.
Tree is a fire hazard, but the fake ones just feel fake and seem to create the unpleasant feeling of bank-lobby to me. I don't like to keep a real dead tree up for over 14 days but maybe I'm a scaredy cat.
I like the tree in the middle of the room, away from heat and far from a fireplace. I keep the water full, and I use this tree water recipe. Same trick that makes cut flowers last longer. Best to use warm water to soften any sap that would block water uptake. Cut trees are thirsty.
I use a heavy and heavy-duty welded steel stand like the one below. It holds a gallon of water and could easily hold a 12' tree.
After 14 days or so, I carry the tree with its stand and lights out to the front of the house to abide a while, or even months, with an extension cord to keep it lit. I don't even try to keep last years' lights anymore.
Good news: Mrs. BD is already practicing her carols on the pianny. It's a delight for Bird Dog, even the missed notes.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:49 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
It's about time for a real Indian in the White House.
I agree with this author
The Cheapest Generation - Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy
Study proves high heels do have power over men
Pope Francis Confirms Cats Still Going To Hell
Declare CO2 a nutrient
“Rape Culture,” Debunked
Police: Armored Military Vehicles Needed for ‘Constitutionalists’ with Firearms
Greenfield: Life in Post-Truth America
Al Sharpton Leads March in DC as NYC Protesters Chant: 'What Do We Want? Dead Cops!'
Back in Saigon: The Senate Intelligence Committee Report
Gaza Is Almost Totally Cut Off From The World, And It's Getting Ugly
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