Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Thursday, December 30, 2004

This Cocky Christian White House: Tsunami presents excellent opportunity 

From today's White House chat session with USAID's Andrew Natsios,

Robert, from Portland, Oregon writes:
It would be great to illustrate to the world just how large an effort we are making to help the Southeast Asia Earthquake victims. I read that we are sending not only money, but a navy carrier group, air force planes ect. What a great opportunity to show the world how much we care.

Andrew Natsios:
The United States has traditionally been the most generous of the donor governments in providing humanitarian assistance in disaster relief. During the last fiscal year - 2003 - the United States provided $2.4 billion in disaster assistance for emergencies worldwide including the emergency in the Darfur region in Sudan, the Caribbean hurricanes, etc. Our contributions amounted to 40 percent of the total disaster contributions last year. America will continue to be the most generous of nations through our government-to-government contributions channeled through USAID and through donations from private charitable organizations and non-governmental organizations. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the generosity of the American spirit.

Ask the White House, December 30, 2004

So, apparently to the White House, the Tsunami presents a silver lining in that it will spotlight our generosity. Compare,

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

- Jesus, Matthew 6

Natios explained the US's generosity in greater detail,

Measured another way, as a percentage of gross national product, the OECD's figures on development aid show that, as of April, none of the world's richest countries donated even 1 percent of its gross national product. Norway was highest, at 0.92 percent; the United States was last, at 0.14 percent.

Natsios said the Paris organization's figures overlook a key factor - the billions more Americans give each year in private donations.

"That's a European standard, this percentage that's used," Natsios said. "The United States, for 40 years, has never accepted these standards that it should be based on the gross national product. We base it on the actual dollars that we spent."

Check what Bush's "favorite political philosopher" would have to say,

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."

- Mark 12

Although the toll is still climbing, the breadth of the disaster is already beyond shocking to the conscience and in the territory of the incomprehensible: some one-upmanship regarding the aid various nations give is probably a good thing. I just wish our spokespeople weren't trying to be so cocky about it.

store bought

Voter turnout in the US relative to other democracies 


Bush had a bit to say about bin Laden yesterday, "His vision of the world is where people don't participate in democracy." He was speaking of bin Laden's call for a boycott of the Iraqi elections, but look at where people participated in democracy by examining voter turnout among the voting age population of 163 nations throughout the 90's ... scroll down, down, down, you will find the United States ranked 140th out of the 163. We're in the 14th percentile.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Please, do anything but prevail 

"In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
Bush on Iraq, May 1, 2003.

"We will prevail over this destruction."
Bush on US aid to tsunami disaster areas, December 29, 2004.

What two double cheeseburgers and medium fries really look like 

The real thing:

mcdonald's double cheeseburgers

What they want you to remember it as looking like:

fake double cheeseburger

Power of Christmas vegetable tower; disaster 

stacked high

The tsunami deathtoll is at 80,000 with millions of people displaced. "Millions" is a lot of people to get water and food and medical supplies to ... as it stands by this count, it's already the 12th or 13th worst natural disaster in the last 200 years.

Lemon-lime Kool-Aid: HG Wells' unemployment solution 

with real sugar

In The First Men in the Moon, H.G. Wells describes the intelligent insect-like beings that live inside the Moon. Each "mooney" is educated and physically shaped to perform his destined job, the useful parts of his body stimulated and nourished, the rest of it starved. The result being machine operators with a specially shaped hand, messengers with long spider-like legs, and intellectuals who are almost all brain and need to be carried around by others. Unneeded workers are kept in a drugged stupor until they are needed,

To drug the worker one does not want and toss him aside is surely far better than to expel him from his factory to wander starving in the streets. In every complicated social community there is necessarily a certain intermittency in the occupation of all specialized labor, and in this way the trouble of an unemployed problem is altogether anticipated.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas meal leftovers and graph of religious encroachment 


God is becoming more popular, not less. Religious / political leaders claiming otherwise are LYING.

Here are the presidents who gave oral SOTU addresses, sorted from most God-talking to least, with the post WW II presidents made bold and blue and presidents from the first 50 years of the Union italicized and red.

Counted are the names and words God, Creator, Lord, Almighty, Supreme Ruler, and divine.

Our four most rcent presidents are all in the top five.

(rank. name (year of first SOTU): average number of references to God in each SOTU address)

1. Reagan, Ronald (1982): 4.43
2. Buchanan, James (1857): 2.75
3. Clinton, William J. (1993): 2.63
4. Bush, George W. (2001): 2.5
5. Bush, George (1989): 2.5
6. Truman, Harry S (1946): 1.88
7. Lincoln, Abraham (1861): 1.75
8. Polk, James K. (1845): 1.75
9. Pierce, Franklin (1853): 1.5
10. Kennedy, John F. (1961): 1.33
11. Eisenhower, Dwight D. (1953): 1.33
12. Roosevelt, Franklin D. (1934): 1.17
13. Taylor, Zachary (1849): 1
14. Cleveland, Grover (1885): 1
15. Jackson, Andrew (1829): 1
16. Ford, Gerald R. (1975): 1
17. Tyler, John (1841): 0.75
18. McKinley, William (1897): 0.75
19. Wilson, Woodrow (1913): 0.625
20. Monroe, James (1817): 0.625
21. Johnson, Lyndon B. (1964): 0.5
22. Adams, John Quincy (1825): 0.5
23. Nixon, Richard M. (1970): 0.4
24. Roosevelt, Theodore (1901): 0.375
25. Grant, Ulysses S. (1869): 0.375
26. Adams, John (1797): 0.25
27. Washington, George (1790): 0.25
28. Coolidge, Calvin (1923): 0.17
29. Madison, James (1809): 0.125
30. Harrison, Benjamin (1889): 0
31. Arthur, Chester A. (1881): 0
32. Hayes, Rutgherford B. (1877): 0
33. Johnson, Andrew (1865): 0
34. Carter, Jimmy (1978): 0
35. Fillmore, Millard (1850): 0
36. Van Buren, Martin (1837): 0
37. Harding, Warren G. (1921): 0
38. Jefferson, Thomas (1801): 0
39. Hoover, Herbert (1929): 0
40. Taft, William Howard (1909): 0
41. Cleveland, Grover (1893): 0

A graph of the same thing:


Source for the Addresses.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Slab of ribs and George W: Man without God 

leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner

George Washington gave eight State of the Union Addresses and in them did not once mention God, Lord, or Christ. George W. Bush has given four SOTU addresses and in them mentioned God ten times. Stand by for quantitative proof that our government is becoming less not more secularized.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Wintery Greetings, Southern Hemisphere! 

Google seems to be greeting the Southern Hemisphere (Brazil, Australia) with wintery holiday graphics.

Will Google's War on Summer show up on the right wingnuts' seasonal radar and echo endlessly?

A Wintery Merry Christmas to all! (Except the scrooges trying to make a federal issue out of Christmas for their own political, financial and egotistical gains. To them - I offer a tip of luck their faces don't break should the Christmas spirit move them to smile by accident.)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Pollock, last of the liberal chili 

cleaning up

If anyone is unsure whether "sheeple" is an accurate moniker for the Republican sympathizers in America, go visit some political chat boards. Tricked by Bill O'Reilly into thinking someone is attacking Christmas, they are all asserting their right to say "Merry Christmas" and getting pissed off when nobody takes offense.

PS. Bush's pastry chef is a frenchman.

If the neocons guided the Cuban missile crisis 

ate these, like last week.

Reading R.F.K's Thirteen Days, A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis ... I don't need to add my emphasis, things will stand out on their own,

But before these reports [of Russian missile buildup in Cuba] were given substance, they had to be checked and rechecked. They were not even considered substantial enough to pass on to the President or other high officials within the government. In retrospect, this was perhaps a mistake. But the same postmortem study also stated there was no action the U.S. could have taken before the time we actually did act, on the grounds that even the films available on October 16 would not have been substantial enough to convince the governments and peoples of the world of offensive missiles in Cuba. Certainly, unsubstantiated refugee reports would not have been sufficient.

- Robert F. Kennedy
"Tuesday morning, October 16, 1962 ..."
Thirteen Days

Neocon approach: "Missile sites in Cuba? OK, but whacha got on Iraq?"

Kennedy also relates the story Kerry told on the campaign trail,

And in these present days of strain, it is well to remember that no country's leader supported the U.S. more forcefully than did France. General de Gaulle said, "It is exactly what I would have done," adding that it was not necessary to see photographs, as "a great government such as yours does not act without evidence."

- Robert F. Kennedy
"It was now up to one single man."
Thirteen Days

Neocon strategy: "France, she uill neveh be ouer equals. If France, she give us the test and uee fail, this is victory, she is ouers!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Couple questions for the President Guy 

fruit snack

1. If one of the benefits of having invaded Iraq is that it's better to draw terrorists into a fight in Iraq than the US, why do you continue to complain about terrorists crossing the Syrian and Iranian borders to attack people in Iraq?

2. What is this nonsense about the January elections being a defeat for terror? What candidates are terror running and do you seriously think kamikaze truck drivers are going to honor the results?

3. When are we going to Mars?

Pollock, Y2K rice and Iraq: it's where the aliens left their stargate 

frozen pollock

Most, if not all, criticisms of the Bush administration's motivation for launching a preemptive war on Iraq focus on a combination of the imperial world views of conservative politicians in power in Washington, D.C., and the corporate interests that drive the political agenda of the Bush administration. This study will provide a radically different political analysis of the Bush administration's motivation for going war, and of the explanations offered by his critics. This study provides an exopolitical analysis of the policy dimensions of an historic extraterrestrial presence that is pertinent to Iraq and a US led preemptive attack. It will be argued that competing clandestine government organizations are struggling through proxy means to take control of ancient extraterrestrial (ET) technology that exists in Iraq, in order to prepare for an impending series of events corresponding to the 'prophesied return' of an advanced race of ETs. The Columbia Space Shuttle may well have been a high profile victim of such a proxy war intended to send a message to US based clandestine organizations over the preemptive war against Iraq ...

The rest of the story ...

It can't get any clearer than this ... 

Idiots abound ...

On Saturday, February 1, 2003, I lifted my hands to begin praying and the Lord spoke to me. He said, "Roy, what is your judgment as to whether the USA should go to war with Iraq?" I answered that it was unimportant what I thought, but I wanted to know whether the God the Father's direction was to go to war or not go to war. If He said go to war, then that is my opinion, and if He said to not go to war then that would be my opinion in the matter.

The Lord said, "What if I said, do not go to war with Iraq?" I said, "Then I would be against going to war even though I know that there is evidence that Iraq is directly involved with terrorism."

Then the Lord said, "What if I said to go to war with Iraq?" I said, "Then I would be completely for the war with Iraq."

The Father then said, "I am saying to go to war with Iraq".

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Don't take any stock tips from the President Guy. 

In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
- President Guy

Bombs in Karbala, Najaf kill 67
- 598 days later

Rocket attack on U.S. base kills more than 20
- 600 days later

Sins of omission ... 

chips and fancy sauce

This puts a grim perspective on healthcare as a right ...

More than 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if African Americans had received the same care as whites, according to an analysis in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

We have been hearing about the raw deal women got in Afghanistan and non-Ba'athists got in Iraq ... even a bit about Sudan. When we're talking about a death toll approaching one million, does it make it any different that the deaths were caused by something that wasn't but could have been done as opposed to shouldn't have been done but was?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Happy winter solstice 

ginger bread

Winter solstice, ginger bread, a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to eat and bake gingerbread, shall not be infringed, dig?

Election fallout: Bush in damage control, Catfish et épinards mélangés  

This is so great. Bush wins the election, his approval rating plummets, outlook on the occupation of Iraq goes dismal, the knives are out for the only important cabinet member Bush wants to keep, and he has to do two live press conferences in as many months to try to hold things together. That's what he gets when he tries to claim a landslide victory when less than 25% of eligible adults voted for him.

Catfish et épinards mélangés


Heat oil in a frying pan, add the salt, stir, then add the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach - put 12-15 drops tabasco sauce in there. Cook over medium-high heat until all the fish has changed color. Add the spinach. Heat it up and eat it up. Makes two servings. This was an awesome dish if I do say so myself, which I just did. It might be even better with butter instead of olive oil ... maybe try adding some walnuts or pecans.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Americans love revising history 

I always remember December 17th as it is Phil Barth's - my best friend in elementary school - birthday, and the anniversary of the Wright brother's Kitty Hawk flight.

Introductory comments aside, the Wrights made their "historic" flight at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903, 101 years ago today. "Historic", so goes American mythology.

In 1783, the Montgolfier brothers' invention, the "powered hot air balloon" was successfully flown for 5 miles. That was not heavier than air though. And they were French.

Otto Lilienthal of Germany made thousands of short flights in gliders in the 1870 and 1880s. These were not exactly "controlled" though - he didn't fly very far.

In 1883, John J. Montgomery successfully tested the first controlled heavier-than-air flight. San Diego's Montgomery Field is named after him, but that was not a powered flight - it was a glider. Montgomery was an American.

In 1887, Clement Ader flew a heavier than air powered machine for over 300 yards. He wasn't American though. Another frogman.

In 1897, Samuel Pierpont Langley (American) flew his heavier than air powered invention over 1000 yards. Langly AF Base is named after him.

Then in 1903, the Wright Brothers duplicated Langly's feat, but only flew 120 feet.

So, Orville and Wilbur's accomplishment may best be described as this: They were the first ...

For those who contest Langley's accomplishment as a vast and fraudulent conspiracy, NASA and the US Air Force are not on your side of the debate.

Here is Ader's machine:

bat plane

2nd cup of tea, Xmas cookies and why I'm un-fat 

from mom

Until I started photographing meals, I didn't fully comprehend the enormity of the portions of food I serve myself. As the picture taking has added a layer of observation to my eating habits, it certainly has changed them - but my appetite and calorie intake has remained the same, I believe. I've just been eating more fewer times per day as I'm more likely to cook a full meal to get a picture of than, for instance, stand in the kitchen eating carrots and corn chips.

But here is why I never have a weight problem: I'm a leg bouncer. Think about it: have you ever seen a chubby leg bouncer?

I'm in a chair quite a bit more than 10 hours a day, but let's say I bounce my legs for just 10 of those hours. The frequency of the bounce is 4x/second and the amplitude is about one inch, so 1 inch up and 1 down four times a second: 8 inches of movement per second, 480 inches per minute, 28,800 inches per hour, 288,000 inches in 10 hours.

There are 63,360 inches in a mile - which means I move my legs up and down over 4.5 miles per day.

If I'm bouncing 20 pounds of leg mass, this works out to approximately 345 Joules of work in leg bouncing a day - convert Joules to calories and you get 1443 calories of energy. What a workout!

Here is me, looking as fat as I can:

my gut

Egg, tea, and rice/bean/vegetable jubilee and Who's Next? 

another egg

Kerik Hans Kerik
Rumsfeld Donald Klink

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Dinner in George Bush's America 

salsa obscures a second (broken) egg yolk

This is George W. Bush's Culture of Life: If you live in Bush country - "the suburbs" - your house is probably worth more than the $250K cap Bush wants to put on the value of your children's lives.

The President: And I propose a cap of $250,000. (Applause.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Breakfast and suggestion for medical malpractice reform 

banana, apple, tea

Wackjobs blame the victims of medical malpractice for skyrocketing healthcare costs and want to limit non-economic malpractice liability to $250K - meaning that in itself, loss of your ability to walk, see, hear, have children or breathe without a machine will never be worth more than an arbitrary $250K.

It seems to me that if we are wanting to place a cap on patient's compensation, it would also be reasonable to place a cap on caregiver's compensation. Max compensation for physicians, administrators, comptrollers, CEOs: $250K. That ought to bring down the cost of healthcare.

But that sort of cap would never fly. Maybe some sort of a cap should be placed on these types of compensations for victims of malpractice, but the arbitrary figure of $250K is bothersome. It should have some real world measure from which it is derived.

Perhaps it should be measured against the compensation of the guilty parties. Say the malpractice took place at a smaller rural hospital, so the CEO is only compensated at $450K a year, the treating physician makes $200K/year - both the physician and hospital were found to be responsible for the medical error. The longest obligation anybody usually enters into is a 30 year mortgage, so we can just use 30 years of those salaries ... $19.5 million.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hot bowl of liberal chili and engagement at the Bowl 

w / saltines

Yesterday, I was in the throws of an existential crisis, but now I have something to live for: the role of "Bohdi" in the Minneapolis production of Point Break LIVE!, opening at the Bryant Lake Bowl in five weeks.

The play is a stage adaptation of the 1991 action movie Point Break: 120 minutes of cinematic skydiving, car chases, surfing and bank robbing packed into 90 minutes on a 10' x 10' stage. For an additional handicap, the role of Keanu Reeves' good-guy character is played by a randomly chosen audience member assisted by cue cards.

I take care of the part of Patrick Swayze's bad guy character in the movie: a bank-robbing zen surfer who speaks just about like one would expect a bank-robbing zen surfer boy from Southern California to speak. I am told I look like Swayze - maybe a bit, particularly when everybody squints their eyes, but my speech and mannerisms are utterly distant from those a macho surfer's, which may make me perfect for the part. "Great Scott'! Shoot that mondo tube, bro! Gee willigers!"

me and pat

A meal of leftovers worthy of a feast in less prosperous nations and an idea 


What if I were to buy a can of soup and instead of giving it to the needy, auctioned it off and donated the proceeds to charity with the understanding that the buyer would in turn auction it off and give the proceeds to charity. The only rules being that you have to sell it for more than you paid for it, and donate 100% of the proceeds to charity.

People could track on a website what the current value of an item they once bought and sold. See pie charts to what causes the donations went to.

Souped up Campbell's tomato soup, newly discovered verses in Mark 


Months later, when the Eleven were gathered again, Jesus just kinda appeared and everybody halfway stopped what they were doing and stared a bit, for they had largely grown accustomed to their Lord nonchalantly popping in and out of this dimension at unexpected times. "Hey guys. One more thing: Peter, you need to start wearing a funny hat. I decided I might not return to judge the righteous and wicked within your lifetimes and it's probably a good idea to keep the lines of communication open. When Peter is no longer with you, find a replacement and dress him up even funnier than Peter so the Father will know who you want to be His earthly mouth and face."

The disciple who was always being a pain in the ass spoke up, "But before, you were saying whereever we gathered in twos or threes, you would be there too - and now you are saying you're only going to speak through one dude in a funny hat? And he's supposed to dress up all wild? What happened to simplicity and meekness - remember the thing you said about the sparrows and, what was it ... lilies ..."

Jesus glanced around the room, drumming His fingers to indicate His displeasure. "Any other wiseacres care to take a crack at me? Whether salvation is earned through grace alone or if you have to do good works, hmm? Oh, that would be rich, you'd all have a good laugh over that one. Anyone?"

Some of them muttered, "No, my Lord", as they returned to their business, while Peter pondered his funny and extravagant attire.

Pope John Paul the Second Pope John the twenty third Pope Paul the Sixth

Monday, December 13, 2004

Banana, Earl Grey and a White House built on sand 

not an organic banana

Politics is ethics in action. There is something wrong when you get this far off from the ethical system that allegedly informs your politics.

The more ownership there is in America, the more vitality there is in America.
- President George W. Bush

2004 AD

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

... Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

- Jesus c. 30 AD

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Girli-man chililess chili 

  1. Start to brown the vegetables

    brown the vegetables

    Say "ouch" even though you didn't cut yourself when your knife slipped while cubing three celery stalks. Tell yourself that your eyes are watering only from the three onions you chopped up - it has nothing to do with the fact that your new Olivia Newton John DVD just won't play. Everything will work out fine. There is salted olive oil in the bottom of that pan.

  2. Gently, respectfully roll some pansy-ass herbs into the meat

    season the meat

    That's black pepper, rosemary and basil. As you mush them into the meat, acknowledge that some of your tears are now for the children in far away lands who work for $1.60 a month so you can have cheap shirts and nice spices - even though the basil and rosemary were probably grown at an obscenely wealthy professional football player's crappy herb farm as a tax write-off. Thank Gaia for not sending a tornado to wipe out the factory farm the meat came from.

    Brown the meat in the vegetables. Put all that stuff aside, exclaiming "Darn, darn, darn" when you accidentally drip some grease on this month's Harper's.

  3. Cook the other stuff

    the other stuff

    As a liberal, one of your core values is a unwavering optimism that the future can be better if we act rightly in the present, so earlier in the day you were thinking ahead and you cooked 8 oz (1/2 package) of dry black beans according to instructions outside the purview of this recipe. (If you are a conservative, one of your core values manifests itself as an irrational fear that things are always getting worse and falling into disarray, so you made your kitchen less messy by opening a 10-16 oz can of pre-cooked black beans - blissfully ignorant that you didn't save a mess at all: you just contributed to the mess at the cannery.)

    In addition to your approx. 16 oz (cooked weight) of black beans, you are bringing the following ingredients to a boil: 1 6 oz can of tomato paste, 1 14 oz can of stewed tomatoes, 4 medium potatoes - cubed, and 1one or two cups water - just enough to cover everything. Let it slowly boil, covered, until the potatoes are soft all the way through.

  4. Combine everything


    Because you are sensitive and know no single solution can be right for everybody, you put no chili in your chili, preserving the opportunity for each to chose the amount (or complete lack) of chiliness right for him- or herself. Show that your relativism is founded within a coherent moral framework by moving a well-worn Red-Letter version of The Book into the picture with an almost suspiciously haphazard bookmark giving quick access to Acts Ch. 4 where it describes how the first Christians shunned personal property and lived communally.

  5. Reach out

    make it special

    On your third bowl, show multifaceted bipartisanship by seasoning your chililess chli with Mrs. Renfero's hot red and hot green salsas - both canned in that den of Republican vipers, Texas.

The Utopian use of gold, popcorn and half a banana 


They also use chains and fetters of solid gold to immobilize slaves, and anyone who commits a really shameful crime is forced to go about with gold rings on his ears and fingers, a gold necklass around his neck and a crown of gold on his head.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Sir Thomas More on unconventional ideas, ground beef on toasted English muffin 


More's traveler Raphael relates a story of advice he gave at a King's cabinet meeting on how the King could increase his wealth. After others have suggested manipulating the value of the Kingdom's currency, levying extra taxes for a nonexistent war and the like, the idealistic traveller chimed in, "Why do you suppose [your subjects] made you king in the first place? ... Not for your benefit but for theirs. They meant you to devote your energies to making their lives more comfortable, and protecting them from injustice. So your job is to ..." He continues to suggest the King give up one of his vices - pride or laziness, quit being a nuisance to others, prevent crime instead of punish it after it has occurred, and finally to limit his wealth to 1000 pounds of gold.

After some discussion of whether saying such thing serves any purpose or not and noting that he wasn't suggesting (and would never suggest) something as radical as communal ownership of property such as Plato prescribes in the Republic , Raphael explains why he must say such things as he did in the cabinet meeting,

Of course they wouldn't like my proposals. Having set their hearts on a certain course of action, they'd naturally resent being shown the dangers that lay ahead, and told to give the whole thing up. But apart from that, what did I say that shouldn't be said in any company? If we're never to say anything that might be thought unconventional, for fear of its sounding ridiculous, we'll have to hush up, even in a Christian country, practically everything that Christ taught. But that was the last thing He wanted. Didn't He tell His disciples that everything He whispered in their ears should be proclaimed on the housetops? And most of his teaching is far more at variance with modern conventions than anything I suggested, except in so far as His doctrines have been modified by indigenous preachers - doubtless your recommendation!

"We'll never get human behaviour in line with Christian ethics," these gentlemen must have argued, "so let's adapt Christian ethics to human behaviour. Then at least there'll be some connexion between them."

Fried rice 

fried rice

How to make fried rice

Save some rice in the fridge. Save some stir-fried vegetables in the fridge. Heat up a frying pan or wok, oil it, add the rice and vegetables. Put some orange juice and soy sauce in there, not much though. Mix around. Possibly add some additional vegetables, like I did the peas above. Maybe add some black and/or red pepper or some other seasoning. When it's hot, add one egg. Stir on the heat until none of the egg is runny.

Sir Thomas More on Bush's baby 

... Eventually they won, only finding that the kingdom in question was quite as much trouble to keep as it had been to acquire. There were constant threats of internal rebellion and external aggression. They were always having to fight either for their new subjects or against them. They never got a chance to demobilize, and in the meantime they were being ruined. All their money was going out of the country, and men were losing their lives to pay for someone else's petty ambition. Conditions at home were no safer than they'd been during the war, which had lowered moral standards ...

Sir Thomas More
Utopia, Book One
1516, AD

Sir Thomas More on supply-side economics and the death penalty, Wee hour snack 

pink lady apple and orange

I never used to read forwards, notes, introductions - nothing but the meat of a book. I told myself I didn't want my understanding tainted by another's. I'm quite obsessive about digesting such things now - I think I was just lazy before - and perhaps afraid that I was more impressionable than I was comfortable with - which in itself was wise: indeed, I have read 8-9 Ayn Rand books which is 7-8 more than anyone should.

I am getting my fill of introductions and postscripts with Paul Turner's 1965 translation of Sir Thomas More's Utopia: An introduction by the translator, three fictionalized letters of introduction by More, an introductory Utopian poem and translation from the Utoptian language, the translator's notes, and appendix and a glossary. That is in addition to the meat of the book.

More's work is clever on many levels: written in 1516 and presenting such subversive ideas such as punishment other than beheading for petty theft, More disguised his ideas by narrating a conversation in which a visitor to Utopia relates the ideas as things he saw on the island of Utopia.

Sadly, along side More's criticism of the death penalty for thievery, he satirizes faults our society still suffers from. More places a jab at the Bush administration's supply side economic theories in an explanation of why he didn't ask his traveller about sea monsters,

There is never any shortage of horrible creatures who prey on human beings, snatch away their food, or devour whole populations; but examples of wise social planning are not so easy to find ...

[a few pages later] ... for every king is a sort of fountain, from which a constant shower of benefits or injuries rains down upon the whole population.

On the death penalty of the time - the important points of which still apply today,

I've seen as many as 20 on a single gallows. And that's what I find so odd. Considering how few of them get away with it, why are we still plagued by so many robbers?


God said, 'Thou shall not kill' - does the theft of a little money make it quite all right for us to do so? If it's said that this commandment applies only to illegal killing, what's to prevent human beings from similarly agreeing amongst themselves to legalize certain types of rape, adultery, or perjury? ... can we really believe that purely human arrangements for the regulation of mutual slaughter are enough, without any divine authority, to exempt executioners from the sixth commandment? Isn't that rather like like saying that this particular commandment has no more validity than human laws allow it? - in which case the principle can be extended indefinitely, until in all spheres of life human beings decide just how far God's commandments my conveniently be observed.

Of course, More was beheaded in 1535 for holding such views.

"brown basmati" rice & how to cook it without a recipe, a bit of most every green or white vegetable I have, a couple raw Minnesota carrots  

new rice

I have been out of the rice scene all millennium. I had assumed most programers had been as careless as I so I bought a 50 pound bag of rice and my girlfriend and I rented a bunch of movies. Waited for the world to end watching FLETCH at her dad's lake home. Been eating rice ever since. Luckily, it's excellent rice; I will be sad to see it gone.

I began to purchase rice again just a couple months ago. First a box of Uncle Ben's boil-in-the-bag. Upon hearing I was eating something cooked in a plastic, my kind master Jen struck me with a cane until the back of my shirt was bloody threads. This put me back on the right path after my misstart.

Yesterday, I noticed that at some point in time over the last 5 years, the "Basmati rice" bin at the co-op had been re-labled "white Basmati rice" so as to differentiate it from the new "brown Basmati rice". My only reader who regularly gives feedback, Beth from Ohio, noted that my recipe for split-pea soup is unhelpful to her as it contains a line reading "2-3 x as much water as beans". I am thinking perhaps an easy book to write would be "How to cook without recipes". It seems a book that would perhaps be more often purchased than read, but if it helps some people and one of them is me, it would be a successful book in my book. Here is the type of thing my book may contain,

How to cook any kind of rice

When cooked, rice fluffs up to twice it's dry volume, so decide how much cooked rice you want to make and measure out half that volume of dry rice. Then measure out an equal amount of water. Look at how much water there is and add 10% more water. Bring that water to a boil. Salt the water to taste if desired, add enough butter or oil to create a sparse film on the surface of the water. Add rice. Don't stir it! Put a cover on it. Allow water to return to a boil, then reduce heat so the water is just barely simmering. Cook, covered, until it seems like there is just a tiny bit of liquid moisture left boiling at the bottom. DON'T STIR IT! Just sample a few grains with a fork - if you have a quick cooking rice, it may be done when the water is just gone. If it's not done and the bottom is almost dry, add some more water a tiny tiny bit at a time and continue cooking, covered. If it almost seems done, but has more than a tiny bit of water in the bottom, do not add more water, but continue cooking uncovered. It may take up to 20 more minutes of cooking and watching, but eventually your rice will be done. Let it sit uncovered for a couple minutes. You may want it uncovered on the heat if there is still detectable water in the bottom, otherwise, just let it steam a bit off the heat.

The sample recipes would be filler. The bulk of the book would be exercises to demystify troublesome lines such as "until it seems like there is just a tiny bit of liquid moisture left at the bottom" - judgment calls like that just need experience from experimentation. I suppose it doesn't occur to some people to pay attention to how the steam sounds, whether it feels like the center of gravity changes when tilting the pot ... etc. They need my book!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dinner at Nick's and what not to buy at health food stores 

team effort

Nate grilled the steaks outside in the sleet, Nick made the salad and salad dressing from scratch, I made the stir-fried vegetables. Nobody saw me put the secret ingredients in the vegetables: dill, sage and 1/3 pound of minced catfish.

Here is everybody, starting with the obviously half-Jap brothers: Jamie, Nick, Anna, Nate, Kella.

the team

As everybody sighed heavily at their empty plates waiting to be washed, I noted that men did all the cooking. Bitches thought I was joking.

Anna, who has worked at a new age/health food/supplement store named ear candles as the biggest rip-off among the products they sold when asked. Which is saying a lot being that they also sell bundles of sage guaranteed to drive evil spirits when burned in newly acquired living quarters. Waste of sage!

Nate recently returned from a stint at a Buddhist monastery in California - not meditating but laboring building a new temple in the middle of wilderness - he was brought in to do "decorative and structural statuary". He did have to abide by the monastery's rules. He decided the gig wasn't for him. Some of the monks were egocentric pricks, apparently.

Kella has just bought and moved into a condo. She has discovered that her dad, who she works for, does not immediately notice when his radio station is changed from the right-wing AM talk station to the FM oldies station. Everybody enjoys working more if her fat dad is just fat and not angry at liberals.

Jamie, my good friend Nick's brother, moved to town to run a film organization recently. There are new stories about their childhood in Kenya coming out. I had not before heard about their devoutly Christian servant who approximately twice a year would drunkenly bring home multiple prostitutes.

I handed out Pink Lady apples in a bar later on. I am an enthusiastic advocate for Pink Lady apples.

Gay marriage, cup of split pea soup (unpictured) and a few of my mom's date balls, vanilla coke 

date balls

George Bush's America

The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and the law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. (The Prez protecting the family, July 10, 2004)

Uncle Joe's USSR

The family enjoys the protection of the state. Marriage is based on the free consent of the woman and the man; the spouses are completely equal in their family relations. (USSR Constitution, Article 53)

Hooray for today's rejection of totalitarianism by the Canadian Supreme Court.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Redistribution of wealth: Walmart style 

In 2003, the five Walton Walmart heirs collected half a billion dollars for sitting on their asses collecting dividends from Walmart stock. Half a billion dollars. From Walmart stock dividends.

Each heir "earned" over 114,000 times minimum wage - for doing nothing! That's before taxes - only a measly 75,000 times the minimum wage after taxes.

The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimated that employees of a smaller Walmart consume $420,000 a year in need-based federal assistance programs, including,

Maybe that's not exactly right - but the undeniable point being that employees of the approximately 3,000 Walmart stores are compensated in a way that they miss their actual living expenses by hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

And taxpayers make up the difference while the Walton clan makes off with half a billion dollars in profits made possible by labor you and I subsidize on Tax Day.

Monday, December 06, 2004

TAX AND COMPENSATION FAIRNESS ACT, jelly bismark and vanilla Coke 

filling flavor: red


An act to eliminate taxpayer subsidization of artificially cheap labor and for other purposes.

Earnings of companies who employ persons qualifying for need-based assistance programs will be subject to a tax calculated as follows:

L = lowest yearly compensation paid to full time employee
H = highest yearly compensation of any employee, board member or shareholder
R = compensation fairness tax rate

R = (H / (L x 7)) - 1

In other words, if the highest paid employee is compensated more than 7 times the amount of the lowest paid employee, and any employee qualifies for need based government assistance, the company's earnings will be taxed at a rate proportional to the difference between the highest and lowest paid employees.

I mean, why should you and I be taxed to support artificially cheap labor?

Breakfast and a couple reasons banks suck 

yellow, orange, red

Friday, I checked my personal checking account online. Out of nowhere came a line described as "OVERDRAFT XFER FROM CREDIT CARD OR LINE" despite the fact my account had not gone under - if my account were to go negative, the negative balance automatically goes onto my credit card, issued by the same bank.

I had paid off the balance on their card the day after I made a deposit into checking to do just that, which triggered a business rule they have in place to retroactively put a hold on my deposit so they could transfer what I had just paid off right back onto my card.

Everything is right there on my online statement - an overdraft line right there among all the positive running balances. My bank immediately reversed their fancy and scurrilous accounting during the phone call I made to them. The fact that the lowly phone job banker had the authority to reverse the transaction tells us exactly why they tried to do it: because they could.

I looked up who the bank contributed money to in the 2004 election cycle. In the first 50 largest donations, over 85% of it went to Republicans.

This is lefse 


Does everybody's fingernails look that pink? I will take it as a compliment from my body on how healthy I keep it. That is a piece of lefse along with my stunning thumbnail. Lefse (LEF-suh) is a Norwegian pastry bread made from potatoes and flour. It's delicious if you grew up eating it, but usually unappealing if you didn't.

Two recipes are used in my extended maternal family: "State Fair" and "Clarkfield", the second being named after the "Clarkfield Cookbook". Most likely "Clarkfield Lutheran Cookbook". Or maybe it was a clipping from the Clarkfield newspaper. It definitely has something to do with Clarkfield's geographic proximity to my mom's hometown of Granite Falls. The significant difference between the two recipes is that Clarkfield uses real potatoes, State Fair uses Potato Buds. The State Fair is drier and less pliable, and is the recipe I prefer (to eat).

I've never tried to make lefse - it's allegedly quite hard as it's one of those things that you have to account for the humidity and temperature of the room. Making it involves rolling out the dough, flouring it and grilling it on an extremely hot surface - one at a time.

Most people butter and sugar half a piece and roll it up as pictured. Some fold it into triangles. At an extended family get together Saturday, someone had brought some that had cinnamon in it. One hears of people putting jelly in it, but no one ever claims to know someone who has actually eaten jelly in lefse.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Stir-fried beef and onion with spiracha sauce, yakisoba, Campbell's cream of chicken soup with fresh green beans added for health and good luck 

best looking meal campell's and I have made in some time.

I was able to follow my two cooking container rule by first doing the beef and onions, then heating the noodles in the same pan.

Unpictured from yesterday was Wonderful Bright Vegetables and Cellophane Noodles in Chicken Broth; from Friday, Is It and Omelette or or is it Veggies with Eggs?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Slaves or communists 

Santa's elves are necessarily slaves or communists. I would guess communists given the roles Santa has played in the off season while the elves are making toys in their worker's paradise.

santa santa as karl marx santa as fidel castro

Erik's guidlines for cooking and eating 

I'm single, live alone and pride myself on how well I eat. I enjoy a bit of fame among my friends for my fish. Tom and Joan always have me cook breaded and fried cod when they are in town from Brooklyn, about every other time I see Kella she mentions a meal of baked orange roughie (which was great, but I could never exactly reproduce it as I winged it: I completely covered the fillets in basil and oregano while baking them in butter). Jeaneen mentions cod occasionally, Jacques fondly speaks of the trout pizza topping I annually prepare on Trout Thursday.

Gee whiz, I just realized I host websites for everyone I mentioned other than Kella. Maybe they're just kissing my fishy butt. Even if they are, they are choosing my fish preparation to compliment, which is still objective proof that what I am about to present are not subjective whimsies, but eternal truths.



I can't really call the split pea soup leftovers although I have eaten a whole batch within the space of a few hours. Come to think of it, I cooked more rice than I intended to eat this noon, so that's not really leftover either.

Anyway, two big meals today. I feel stuffed. If I weren't skinny, I'd also feel guilty.

Some sort of egg/vegetable thing and brown rice 

like segregated stir-fried rice

Fried up 1/2 cucumber, a couple cloves of garlic, a zucchini and some broccoli and cauliflower florets. Last two vegetables were leftovers from Thanksgiving's vegetable plate. Added an egg at the end.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Why everything is right wingers fault 

Why must you blame everything on right-wingers?

Because much of America are backwards right-wingers and they are often the wrench in the gears of progress!

Have you ever spent much time in small towns? In Ashboro, NC my dad was railroaded out of town - he was the superintendent of schools and got off on the wrong foot with much of the town by promoting a black man to assistant principle. This was not a here and there thing - there was enough pressure on him so he eventually decided to resign. This was in 1988 or 1987.

I don't know what it is that makes the twisted version of Christianity appeal to so many people - and it's not because of the "rural" thing alone - most of the people I met in Appalachia were quite tolerant and enlightened.

The mindset just makes no sense: take the right-wing view of the courts. Right wingers are always afraid of the government getting down on them. The courts are the vehicle which protects the citizenry against government excesses, but for some reason, they hate an independent judiciary! They are in practice anarchists, but whenever I ask someone on the board who hates all government if they're an anarchist, the question doesn't even make sense to them. They don't even understand who they are!

So it is maybe not surprising that some come to hair brained ideas such as that Jews are trying to control the world by trying to make everybody use the metric system.

If it weren't for the minority of lunatics in America, a lot more good could be done.

Split pea soup 

split pea soup is like ambrosia to me

I think of split pea soup as one of my specialties along with guacamole. Green mushy things both. I don't measure anything - these are estimates.

Erik's Split Pea Soup

Soak your legumes a couple hours. Rinse. Add about 2-3x as much water as there are split peas, put the rest of the stuff in there except for the vinegar and potatoes and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cook covered until the split peas are pretty much disintegrated, adding the potatoes about 20 minutes before it's done. This is around 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remember to stir every several minutes. Remove the bones if there are any, chop the meat up into small pieces, put back in. Mix in the vinegar and eat.

You can leave out a bunch of the ingredients other than the peas and probably the marjoram and it will still be great. This time I did not use potatoes or sage as I had neither. If you leave out the pork, you will want to add salt.

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