Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just a quick update.

Sorry about the lack of posting. I'm having a hard week. The whole "taking crappy part-time jobs and living on the brink of homelessness" is taking a toll on me.

On the upside, my weight-loss program is going really well. I've lost 20 pounds. So, there's that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday Night Recipe: Sausage Meatballs with Asparagus

I threw this together on a whim once when I wanted to show off for a guy I was thinking about dating. (It didn't work out -- the dating, not the dish.) It's super simple, it takes minimal planning and it looks really glamorous if you plate it up right, maybe pair it with a nice wine (I don't know what kind; my gut says a white, maybe pinot grigio. Don't quote me on that). So: Sausage Meatballs with Asparagus:

1 package fresh sweet Italian turkey sausage (you can get this at Wal-Mart for pretty cheap, and it's pretty good)
1 bundle fresh asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces
Penne (you'll need less than you think; 1 lb. would serve four or five people easily)
Grape tomatoes (halved) OR diced sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
Quattro formaggio

Begin by cooking the penne to just shy of al dente (important note: DON'T SALT THE WATER -- there's enough salt in the rest of the dish that it's unnecessary). While it cooks, make the meatballs by working the sausages out of their casing (one sausage per person) and pinching off one-inch sections. Round them slightly in your hands and set them to cook in a large skillet on medium heat; you want them to cook through, but you also want them a little crispy on the outside (adds flavor). When the meatballs are about 2/3 cooked (cut a big one in half to check), add the asparagus (try for a 1:1 sausage:asparagus ratio) and enough of the pasta water to come about halfway up the meatballs. When the water reaches a boil, add the penne and cook until the water is almost boiled away. Add the tomatoes to heat through; neither option really needs cooking. Toss and serve in bowls with quattro formaggio (sprinkled) and a side of garlic bread.

Note: if you're serving more than two or three people, you may not be able to fit everything in the same skillet. In this case, simply cook the pasta normally and toss with the other ingredients either in the serving bowl or in the pasta pot. The note about salting the water still stands, though. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

EcoNazis, part II

Oh: And for all you Earth Day nutters, check it out. All that Antarctic ice? It ain't meltin'. Ha haaa ha ha.

George O. just sighed and said, "I told you so."

Given the incidents noted in this column, I think we could solve our energy crisis by hooking up generators to the graves of Winston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli.

Nikolai Bukharin claimed one of the Bolshevik Revolution's principal tasks was "to alter people's actual psychology". Britain is not Bolshevik, but a campaign to alter people's psychology and create a new Homo britannicus is under way without even a fig leaf of disguise.

...

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government's anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: "If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you." Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: "If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings." It took him five years to clear his name.
I noticed a few years ago that there are two kinds of persecution: physical and mental. One relies on prisons and feeding people to lions and things like that, and is notoriously ineffective, particularly when targeting religious groups (witness the flourishing of early Christianity in the pre-Constantine Roman Empire). The other, however, relies on suspicion and self-doubt, on people betraying those closest to them and on the subsuming of the individual to the collective -- in Britain's case, the government and the do-gooders running it. From what I've seen of British literature and several BBC miniseries on various topics, British culture has a distinct "listen to your betters" element to it. I haven't done much research, but I imagine it stems from the feudal system and the resulting aristocracy, where those in power had the best educations and did, in fact, have a pretty good handle on how to run things. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case; the general public can generally be trusted to run their own lives. I say "unfortunately" because there is still a significant portion of the policy makers who either a) don't realize this fact, b) realize it but don't accept it or c) realize it, accept it and don't care.

The result of all three options is largely the same: A situation commonly known as "The Nanny State." It's just what it sounds like: The government takes on the role of a scolding child-care worker, taking away small objects and refusing to let us eat cookies. It sounds childish until you realize that we're talking about adults here, and that I'm not kidding about the small objects and cookies. Britain's been taking away weapons and and fire extinguishers and people's ability to basically fend for themselves for years (heck, C.S. Lewis even mentions such things in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," and he died in 1963). It all comes down to making people over in someone else's image. First the powers that be make the population completely dependent on the whim of the government. Then they start remaking their very minds. It's an upside-down system, one that ignores the rights of individuals at the expense of liberty and coerces people into mouthing things they do not believe. In Britain, the consequence of defending yourself against a burglar can be life in prison. Now, apparently, the consequence of expressing your honest opinion -- even in private -- is a similar punishment. God help them (and us) if they try to export this thinking across the pond.

Of course, I can't leave you with something that depressing. So, from Iowahawk: It Could Happen Here!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An open letter to whoever narrates "Mythbusters"

Dear Sir,

"Team" is a singular noun. It takes singular verbs. Please adjust your script-reading accordingly. On behalf of word nerds everywhere, I can say that your efforts in this area will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Joanna

EconoChreasters: People who only recycle on Christmas and Easter

So apparently it was Earth Day today. Color me unimpressed; if you don't care enough to change your life the rest of the year, what good is recycling one day for going to do? If our Dear Leader has his way, though, we'll all be quiet and good little recyclers if we know what's good for us. The Quote of the Day (via Jonah Goldberg):

California's Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has said as much: "EPA, through its scientists, has given us a warning that global warming pollution is a clear, present and future danger to America's families. If Congress does not act to pass legislation, then I will call on the EPA to take all steps authorized by law to protect our families."

Translation: Either you vote our way or we'll render voting meaningless.
You gotta love the "our children are in danger!" appeal. It's a nice touch. I appreciate quality fearmongering.

If I'd known it was Earth Day, I would have driven around the interstate for an hour with the air conditioner on and the windows down. Then I would have sat in a parking lot somewhere with the air conditioner on and the windows down, reading "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. And because, apparently, fatties contribute to global warming, I would have chowed down on a Whopper Jr. and fries while doing it, except that I'm determined to get into bikini shape by July. Frankly, I'd rather look good and feel better than make a futile gesture of indignation against the econazis.

Also, I completely missed that today was Earth Day. Just flew right past me. So, ha ha.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dudley DoRight ... yeah, he ain't comin'.

Home security system commercials really bug me. A woman (sometimes a teenager) is home alone for some reason. A bad guy breaks a window or kicks in a door, setting off the alarm and startling the ingenue. She jumps, screams ... and grabs the ringing phone? What if the alarm didn't scare the guy off? Why is that the first thing she reaches for? What's that going to do if he decides to come in anyway? The Brinks guy will hear you screaming. Whoop-de-doo. I think what bugs me the most is that it's implied these women would be helpless if it weren't for the alarm. One of the women in these commercials is in the kitchen. She's surrounded by heavy, hot and/or sharp objects. It's the single most heavily armed room in the house. I'm darned if I'm going to rely on an off-site call center to summon the police while I get chased around the pantry. Heck, even just a screaming berserker charge is better than nothing. I'd rather see "Hey! What the hell are you doing?!" than "Aaah! I hope the Brinks people call! 'Cause otherwise, I'm helpless!"

I read a mystery back in high school (I think it was a Cornwell) where a woman was killed by a home invader. The mystery solver walked through the scene, noting where the victim had been chased from her front door through the living room (past the fire irons) and the kitchen (knives and pots and pans and ... ) and up the stairs to the bedroom (no real weapons there, right off) where she was murdered. The detective type observed that the woman ran right past all kinds of potential weapons, and that people who don't think ahead about these things don't take advantage of their environments in emergencies. That one scene changed my whole outlook about self-defense, particularly for home invasions. The Bourne movies reinforced it; dude takes out an assassin with a washcloth, for Pete's sake. Yes, Jason Bourne is highly trained; the point is that he thinks and innovates. He doesn't just think of guns and knives as weapons. Anything he can get his hands on can be a means of survival.

Of course, all the innovation in the world is useless without the will to act. As someone close to me once told me, "Shoot first; throw up later." Don't second-guess; don't hesitate. And don't rely on someone else to save you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunday Night Recipe: Tasty Tuna Salad

UPDATE: Forgot the red pepper. It's included now.

This is an old standby for me when it comes to packing lunches; it can easily last two weeks in Tupperware, and I can get at least four meals out of it if it's just me eating it. Plus it's right healthy served over romaine lettuce instead of toast.

Tasty Tuna Salad

In a small bowl, combine:

4 T. mayonnaise
1 T. capers
1 t. brine from capers
1/2 T. dried parsley
1-2 T. dehydrated onion
1/2 T. garlic powder
1 t. (+/-) red pepper flakes

Mix well and set aside. In a large bowl, combine:

3 cans tuna in water, drained
1 med. carrot, grated
2 stalks celery, chopped very fine
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped fine

Stir, then add mayonnaise mixture and mix until smooth. I recommend using a dinner fork for the final mixing; it helps break up the chunks of tuna and cuts the wet ingredients in very nicely. Serve on lettuce, with toast points or crackers or with leftover matzah. Tends to taste better the longer it sits in the fridge (time lets the flavors meld). Enjoy!

"You can't say that! I'm telling Mom! Mommmmmmmm!"

So the U.S. is boycotting the U.N. conference on racism, along with Canada, Australia, Israel (doy), Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, on the grounds that it'll just turn into another hate-Israel fest courtesy of the Islamic bloc's complete inability to take a rhetorical punch. To quote:

[Obama] said the language of the U.N.'s draft declaration risked a reprise of Durban, during which "folks expressed antagonism toward Israel in ways that were often times completely hypocritical and counterproductive."

"We expressed in the run-up to this conference our concerns that if you adopted all of the language from 2001, that's not something we can sign up for," Obama said.
No fit, Ferlock. The 2001 conference he refers to was, of course, the infamous Durban conference, which ended up being a hypocritical farce. Most international efforts on racism end up that way, in large part because the Islamists try to turn everything into "Israel is the spawn of Satan, and no one's allowed to say anything bad about Islam or anything to do with Islam, ever. Or else." The only saving grace of these proceedings is that they're run by the United Nations, which means any resolutions or other decisions will be completely toothless and utterly unenforceable. Unfortunately, even if the results are nil, giving the village bully/idiot the bullhorn for the afternoon is still unpleasant. Let him go on long enough, and eventually there'll be no choice but for someone *cough* US *cough* to walk up and give him a punch in the jaw.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We're downtown, so our clientele is mostly professionals and hobos. I'm just sayin'.

So it's my first day at my new part-time job, one where I'll spend the bulk of my time on my feet, and I spend eight hours in a chair in the breakroom for orientation (which was excellent, by the way) and end up with a leg cramp. It's a non sequitur of Biblical proportions, and I'm willing to bet that after my shift on Friday (when I will be on my feet) I'll be fine when I get home. Of course, I will have taken the bus and not had to pay $20 for parking (I hate parking downtown), so I imagine morale will be significantly improved as well. And I've tied in my book purchases to my weight loss goals, so hopefully I won't spend my entire paycheck before I get out the door each week.

It's kind of an ingenious system, actually. I try to stay at or under 1,300 calories per day -- my target weight (130) multiplied by 10 -- but I often don't succeed. It's mostly due to my lazy nature; I don't want to be bothered with eating right, so I give a little here and a little there and before you know it, I've gained back three pounds and that before the seder. So I need to get back on the stick. The solution? Stickers on the calendar. For every day I make or exceed my goal (is it exceeding if you go under the target number?), I'll put a star on the calendar. If I get seven days in a row, I buy myself a used book ($5 or less). If I get 14 days in a row, I buy myself a new book ($15 or less, plus my 33 percent employee discount at the new job). If I get an entire month full of stars, I get a new hardcover book or two boxes of ammo, whichever seems more important at the time. Also, to up the ante, every time I buy a book I'll post it here, along with my current weight. This leads to a) Amazon linkage (yay ads!) and b) accountability.

The one exception to my plan is Fridays; I'm allowed 1500 calories on account of the Sabbath meal, which is breadier and therefore more carb-heavy than most dinners. I can get breakfast and lunch in for 600 calories or less if I work at it. It involves a lot of lettuce. I'll also be walking a lot, which is always good. Even if this job doesn't pay jack (and jack is better than nothing at this point), it should still be a good experience.

At the very least, I should get some interesting blog fodder. Ah, memories.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lady, you do not honk off the angry suburban mothers!

I said I wouldn't link to videos of CNN and MSNBC anchors making fun of/belittling/completely missing the point of the tea parties, and I stand by that. However, I will show this video of an on-the-scene CNN "reporter", if only because she gets majorly smacked down for her behavior by an angry suburban mother. I swear to God, people like this should be kicked out of journalism to blog full-time. At least there they couldn't put their noses in the air about how they don't have bias because they're "legitimate" reporters. Feh. Via Ace, who stole it from The Corner.

My favorite moment? When she basically comes right out and calls Fox News a right-wing propaganda machine. Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, pot. Should be a long and fruitful relationship.

Micromangement has no place in war

Remember how the article I linked said Obama "personally ordered" the attack that killed the Somali pirates? Turns out, not so much.

President Obama didn't personally order the Navy SEALs to take out the Somali pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips hostage. He left the decision up to the commanders on the scene, who made the right call. Obama should be congratulated for that, just as surely as he would have been criticized if things had gone south.

For those of us who see the resurrection of Jimmy Carter in Barack Obama, this was a nice surprise. People forget how reluctant the Carterites were to use force. Carter agonized over whether to rescue American hostages in Tehran. According to Charlie Beckwith, the commander of Delta Force in charge of the mission, he informed Carter's point man, Warren Christopher, that in the rescue effort, "anyone who is holding a hostage, we intend to shoot him, and shoot him right between the eyes. We intend to shoot him twice." Christopher was stunned, according to Beckwith. "Would you consider shooting them in the leg, or in the ankle or the shoulder?"
That last bit reminds me of the people who freak out when they see a mouse and demand you set traps, then completely wig out when the traps do what they're supposed to do. They almost never have any real experience with this sort of thing themselves. It's one thing to want to avoid violence because you experience something traumatic. It's another thing to stamp your feet and scream "Stop being mean!" because you never learned to deal with adversity.

They also lack cojones. But that's another post.

UPDATE: Based on some new information (namely, Obama dragged for 36 hours against on-scene recommendations before dispatching the SEALS and "specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge CPN and SEAL teams"), I have decided to call him President Warrick. It's from a book I read. I doubt very many people will get it, but if you've read the book you know it fits.

A sign of things to come

I wrote a few days ago about the gall exhibited by the White House press office in explaining Obama's bow to the Saudi king by simply claiming that it never happened -- despite indisputable video evidence that it did. Unfortunately, the same thing seems to be happening with the Tea Party movement, even here in Indianapolis.

A major theme hammered by CNN, MSNBC and most of the major news outlets is that the tea party protests aren't anything worth bothering about. When they're not making disgusting double entendres, they're downplaying the numbers and misrepresenting the message. Even the Indianapolis Star -- which is located, quite literally, about four blocks from the protest site -- turned in an extremely disappointing, half-assed article on the subject. You don't need a journalism degree to see that the reporter walked over, talked to a couple people who looked halfway interesting, and then left, all before the protest even started. How do I know this? No mention of the speakers, who included Greg Garrison and the Thomas Paine guy from YouTube, and the article was heavily padded with material from the AP. I also disagree with the official headcount of 2,500 -- the south lawn was packed tight. I would say there were at least 5,000 people there, and the organizers (who were on top of the steps and could actually see everything, unlike short li'l me) estimate 9,000 or more. The rally actually started late by about 10-15 minutes because people were still coming in from all directions at 4:30 p.m. -- and they'd been coming for hours already. According to the post-rally wrap-up e-mail sent by the organizers, IMPD estimated 12-15,000. So why did the Star use the much, much lower number?

When Michael Kane took over as publisher, everyone had to attend at least one of four identical meetings where Kane outlined his vision (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) for the paper and took questions. One thing he hammered was that the Internet allowed us to get news to the public in a timely fashion. We were no longer tied to the deadline for tomorrow's paper -- if news happened, we would cover it. Didn't matter what time or place, the Star would be there and would give timely, in-depth coverage. Unfortunately, this seems to have gone out the window, right after the business section. There is NO REASON why they couldn't have sent someone over when it was actually going on to take a head count and find out what was going on! By itself, this would look like just another understaffed paper dropping the ball on a major local happening. Unfortunately, given the behavior of the anchors on CNN and MSNBC (which video clips I am not going to link to because they are just. that. annoying), I think this is more than an isolated incident. It is, unfortunately, part of the larger trend of simultaneously ignoring and belittling anyone who disagrees with the leftist agenda. Luckily, that sort of behavior only lasts so long before people get mad enough to really do something about it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A quick update

No Sunday Night Recipe this week, obviously, and not much other posting until probably tomorrow. There may be some tonight after the tea party (south Statehouse lawn, 4:30 p.m., be there or don't, your call, but we've got the YouTube Thomas Paine guy speaking so it should be cool), but I make no guarantees on any postage or lack thereof. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy posterboard. To the tree of liberty, Robin! Awaaaaaaaaay!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good news, not so good news

On the one hand, all's right with the world:

An American ship captain was freed unharmed Sunday and three of his captors were killed in a daring rescue by U.S. Navy Seals that ended a five-day standoff between the world's most powerful Navy and Somali pirates in a lifeboat far off the Horn of Africa.

Capt. Richard Phillips was in "imminent danger" of being killed before U.S. Special Operations forces shot the pirates in an operation personally approved by President Barack Obama, U.S. officials said.

Phillips' crew, who said they had escaped after he offered himself as a hostage, erupted in cheers aboard their ship docked in Mombasa, Kenya. Some waved an American flag and fired flares in celebration.
Seems that when the pirates began boarding, Phillips ordered the crew to lock themselves in a cabin and then offered himself up as a hostage. He's an extremely brave man, we need more like him, and (to rip off a comment I saw about Sully the Hudson Landing Pilot) if there's any justice in this world he'll never pay for another beer as long as he lives. I hope he gets home to his family and lives the rest of his life in peace.

On the other hand, this really burns my toast:

Pirates are holding about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members, according to the Malaysia-based piracy watchdog International Maritime Bureau. Hostages are from Bulgaria, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, the Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Tuvalu and Ukraine, among other countries.
Earlier paragraphs indicate that these poor people are actually being held in Somalia, on the mainland. Combine this with an article I saw earlier where women were flocking to the ports in hopes of snagging a pirate as a husband, and we've got more than a little problem. We have a seriously sick culture on our hands. In Nigeria, e-mail spammers are held in high esteem and hailed as heroes, but I fear that's only the tip of the iceberg. I wonder what they're going to do with the rest of the century?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

From my mom: "If the excitement in my life consists of a SlapChop, I'm finding the nearest bridge."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

And as a follow-up ...

UPDATE: Links fixed.

Remember that last post? Where I talked about how Obama and his crew have little to no connection with reality, to the point where trying to argue against their assertions leaves you agape and stammering like an idiot at the audacity (heh) of their bald-faced lies? Yeah? Remember that?

The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets.

"It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Still think I'm being overdramatic? The video clearly shows Obama's left hand hanging free at the critical moment. He does bring it up to join his right hand, but only after rising from a nearly 90-degree bow. This isn't just stupid ass-covering. This is a blatant, easily disproved lie. The hubris and chutzpah required for this sort of statement are absolutely staggering. Under normal circumstances, this sort of thing would be death to a politician's career. This has got to be a taste of things to come; it's gone past "finding his feet" to "we can do anything we want because you can't touch us". And the scariest part is? The way things are going, it's going to take divine intervention to get things straightened out.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What I Did On My Spring Holidays, by A. Rant

Okay, now I don't know what to think. First Obama can shut down the Internet. Then he can't. Then he can again. Either way, I don't care anymore. As someone put it before the election, it doesn't matter if the glass is half full or half empty. What you fail to notice is that the glass is full of urine!

Obama has been in office for less than three months. Less than a quarter of a year. Less than one sixteenth of his first (and hopefully only) term in office. In that time, he has suggested (and in too many cases, passed) more anti-American legislation than I would have ever thought possible. He has moved to nationalize banks and major corporations, with a fairly obvious endgame of nationalizing entire financial and business systems. He has moved to grow our national debt to unheard-of levels. He has said, in as many words, that his goal is to take wealth away from those who currently hold it and give it to those he deems deserving. He wants to put ACORN, a group notorious for brazen, broad-daylight voter registration fraud, in a position of influence with regard to the national census. He wants to create a literal army of volunteers (again, his words) as well-funded and equipped as the United States military, and would even make such service mandatory for all Americans. He wants to put limits on our food production, our children's access to literature and our own access to firearms and ammunition. He wants to move healthcare, an industry that creates an enormous amount of wealth in the private sector, under the arm of the government. This is the sort of thing you read about in books. He has, overall, the unstated goal of making us dependent on the state, of taking away our ability to fend for ourselves by eliminating the resources that make us able to do so. He has alienated our greatest allies and bowed -- bowed, as any free American should never do -- to the monarch of one of the most despicable "civilizations" on our planet.

He has, overall, proven himself to be so counter to the ideas that make America what it is that I doubt he will survive the next election cycle -- or at least, I wish that's what will happen. He is, unfortunately, so good at talking the talk, and there are so many, particularly in my generation, who are ready to lap it up, that he'll have to flame out in spectacular fashion in order to lose. His perspective is so far from the plumb line of reality that trying to argue against it means arguing against an entire worldview. It becomes a nearly impossible task. He is the pap, the pablum, the left hind tit that keeps your belly full and your mind occupied while he steals your wallet and "borrows" your car. He's the starry-eyed girl who thinks that nature is inherently peaceful and violence and bloodshed are human inventions. He's the spike-haired 16-year-old who wants to save the planet by setting fires at a Hummer dealership. He's the college student communist who seethes at the unfairness of the upper classes and who's never worked a day in his life. He's that completely out-of-touch mentality personified, the one who only sees injustice and oppression in the fairest, freest country this entire planet has ever known. And he sees no better solution than to tear it down. He is so far off level that there's no arguing with him. There's no attempting to engage, no trying to rebut his claims. There's only standing up and shouting the truth -- and if the water carriers who run the cameras let you have the megaphone for a minute, well, you'd better make the most of it. Because you're not likely to get a chance to defend yourself. So yeah, it's only been about two and a half months since he was inaugurated. It's going to be a long four years.

P.S. You want links, go find them yourself. I'm tired of searching through the archives. It's all in there somewhere.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Grrrr.

So I've been running this blog in some fashion since November of 2004, and when I upgraded my template last month I lost all my SiteMeter statistics. Turns out it helps to tell them you changed your e-mail address *before* you go to sign in and get the thing reinstalled. I just lost four years' worth of hits, which is, granted, something along the lines of maybe 500 if I'm lucky, but still! It's the principle of the thing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

That'll go over well, Part II

Hot Air has more information about the Internety-type bill mentioned earlier today, with a little clarification that I didn't get in time for my original post. Namely, that it's not so much a "Shut down the Interwebs" bill as it is a "Fourth Amendment? What's that?" bill. In particular, one section of the bill allows the government to investigate any private network without a search warrant *cough* warrantless wiretaps *cough* which is a direct violation of the Bill of Rights. *cough* Bush is Hitler! *cough* So basically, it wouldn't be a case of the government shutting down our communications networks (although they could certainly restrict things in a big way); it would be a case of the government poking their noses in places where they oughtn't. I suppose that could lead to finding flimsy pretenses to shut down communications, though ... I don't know any more. As I've said in other posts, I'm almost too tired to gin up any real anger about this sort of thing anymore. Which is probably their plan. Diabolical, that. And I do mean "diabolical."

My point about Katrina still stands, though.

Sunday Night Recipe: Thin-Crust Smoked Sausage Pizza

I usually make pizza for dinner on Saturdays, but this weekend I made it on Sunday instead. Most of the time I make a pan pizza with all the trimmings, but I was feeling minimalist today. Also, I was out of turkey pepperoni and olives. Hence, Thin-Crust Smoked Sausage Pizza!

Thin-Crust Smoked Sausage Pizza

For the crust, mix

2 loose, smallish handfuls of flour (about a cup, sifted)
2 small pinches kosher salt
1 large pinch sugar (about 3/4 T.)
About 1/2 T. yeast

Heat a cup of water to about 115 degrees (about a minute in the microwave) and add enough to form a dough. Mix with your fingers and knead it in the bowl, adding a little flour if necessary. When good and doughy, cover the bowl with a towel and let it rest.

While the dough is resting, cut 2 oz. beef smoked sausage into thin slices and fry it in a cast iron skillet. Remove when the edges blacken and drain on a paper towel. Rinse out the pan and wipe away the extra grease, then dry inside and out and smear the bottom with butter.

Mix 3 T. tomato sauce with garlic powder and dried parsley, basil and oregano.

Take the rested dough and spread it out in the bottom of the skillet (mine is 10.5 inches in diameter; simply adjust the amount of dough for a larger or smaller pan). You should have enough to create a thin crust. I find the easiest technique is to coat your hands with a little olive oil, shape the ball of dough into a flat circle, then lay it in the pan and press it to the edges with your fingers. Top with the sauce and 6 oz. grated mozzarella cheese, then arrange the smoked sausage over the top. Amount of coverage depends entirely on how thin you sliced it. Top with 1.5 T. grated parmesan/romano blend and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the crust is cooked through. Cut into slices and serve hot. Enjoy!

Tijiuana, do ya wanna?

It's old by now, but I thought I'd link it anyway: Frank W. James takes apart the "90 percent of the Mexican drug-war weapons come from the U.S." lie. Shermlock has some schooling for you, too. The gist of both reports is that of the guns submitted by Mexican authorities to the U.S. for tracing, 90 percent of them had origins north of the Rio Grande. Unfortunately for the gun grabbers, that's 90 percent of something like 32 percent of the total. In other words, most of the guns recovered in raids, etc. are so obviously not from the U.S. that they don't bother submitting them for traces.

"There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics." - Benjamin Disraeli

Make the road straight ...

Via The Anchoress, Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood points out a disturbing development in the AmeriCreeps take-your-medicine-it's-good-for-you hoo-ha (links and emphasis mine):

This bill essentially allows the Treasury to define “fair pay” for all employees, at any level. Worse, the Treasury would like to be able to take over any company it deemed as important enough to take over regardless of whether or not it had accepted bailout funds. Worse still, the Serve Act [The AmeriCreeps bill -- the Senate version removed the mandatory service bit and made it its own bill (see footnote 2 of the linked post). - ed.]proposes to make volunteering for the government mandatory (with pay, of course). Last time I looked, working for pay was called A JOB.

The scariest part of the bill is that while you’re serving as a “volunteer,” you’re prohibited from participating in worship and church activities, political rallies and being involved in a union. In short, your essential freedoms are gone. I keep hearing about Obama being a socialist but, I have to disagree. Based on these measures he appears to more like a person pursuing Communism or Fascism.
What on earth makes them think the American people would stand for this if they knew what was going on? Wait, don't answer that -- most of them wouldn't care. Heck, I care and I can barely believe it! I told my mother about it in a phone call earlier, and she didn't believe it either. She rightly pointed out that this violates at least two of the five freedoms mentioned in the First Amendment, reproduced here and highlighted for your edification:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
(Everyone in J101 at Ball State has to memorize that. You're welcome.) I count at least three violations there, and you could probably stretch it to all five if you thought about it hard enough. And how far does the restriction of religious activities go? Are you allowed to discuss religious issues with your fellow voluntolds? Are you allowed to bring a religious text with you and read it on your own time (provided you get any)? What would the punishment be for breaking one of these rules?

Back to my first point: Why wouldn't people care? Because most people, and I say this in love, are too busy with their own lives to notice what's going on around them. They're either too busy with their own worries to be bothered (the parents-with-three-kids type), or they're too busy not having worries to be bothered (the college-students-with-iPods-glued-to-their-ears type). I have much less patience with the latter crowd. Those of us paying attention, of course, are ready and primed to go running for the hills, screaming all the way with our backpacks full of canned goods (that's a joke, son), but what about the other extreme? What about the ones who think this is a good idea?

Yeah, that'll go over real well.

So normally Mother Jones is the last thing in the world I would link to, but this article makes a good point (and a surprising one at that, since what little I've seen of MJ indicates they lean left): Should Obama Control the Internet? Juicy bits below:

Should President Obama have the power to shut down domestic Internet traffic during a state of emergency?

Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) think so. On Wednesday they introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor—an arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure.

[snip]

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (PDF) gives the president the ability to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any "critical" information network "in the interest of national security." The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president.

"We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs—from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records—the list goes on," Rockefeller said in a statement. Snowe echoed her colleague, saying, "if we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina."
[All emphasis mine.]

Okay, first off, a "cyber-Katrina"? I assume she's referring to some bad guys getting in and shutting down all our major communications networks, but come on! We'd still have food and water and shelter, we'd have homes to come back to and the networks would be up and running again in some fashion in a matter of days, thanks largely to people who do this for a living or as a hobby, not as part of some super-duper government agency. Which brings up my second point: If something on that scale did happen, would you want to rely on the equivalent of FEMA to try and sort things out? And I don't mean to criticize FEMA; God knows they did the best they could (they were largely hamstrung in NOLA by the inadequate local response and failure of the city government). But if there's one thing I've learned in my various volunteer experiences (two in NOLA, one with IDHS to run pandemic flu simulations), it's this: If you rely on the government to bail you out in a major disaster, You Are Screwed. As in: You'll Probably Die or be otherwise In The Soup. If something happened on a major level to take down our communications networks, I would not want to be reduced to sitting in my apartment, waiting for some bureaucrat to sign something in Washington just so I could get my LOLcats fix. (And you know there are people who would do exactly that.) I would gather my gear and be ready for whatever came down the pike, but most of all I would Watch. Out. For. My. Self!

The other thing that gives me the willies is this "shut down whole chunks of the Internet at one man's discretion" business. The sheer nerve/gall/chutzpah (take your pick) of this administration is absolutely mind-boggling. It's made all the more aggravating by the fact that the Left has been screaming bloody murder about Bush pulling these kinds of shenanigans for the last eight years, even though, hey, showing ID to get a driver's license isn't exactly on a par with this stuff! Ooooh it makes me mad! >_< On the other hand, if the government did try to shut down parts of the Internet, all those basement-dwellers out there (and I use the term affectionately) would immediately start working on a way around it. It's what they do. It's their raison d'etre. It's not something the federal government can ever hope to go against. Don't believe me? Have you been on the Internet?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oh, it's wronger, all right.

There's an episode of VeggieTales [VeggieTales? - ed. Shut up.] where Larry the Cucumber uses the word "wronger" in a song; when corrected, he makes a sound referred to in my family as a "grammar noise": a sort of high-pitched "N" sound, spoken through the nose and combined with a snort, with a little bit of throat-clearing thrown in at the end. Written out, I suppose you would spell it "hngg", although there's a bit more emphasis on the G than comes out in plain letters. It's a wonderful all-purpose expression of frustration, particularly when there's something gotten wrong by someone who it's very, very important they get things right. I've been making that sound a lot lately.

Update: the heck?!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Oh well. We tried.

To be honest, when I saw this post on Ace, about Obama deciding that GM will declare bankruptcy after all (after giving them $14 billion of our money and deciding to sack its CEO), all I could think was "He's gone mad with power!" And it didn't help that I heard it as a quote from Rex the dinosaur in one of the Toy Story movies (I forget which one he says it in). I have to wonder if maybe that's why I'm so politically twisted.

On a more serious note, though, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me feel like I'm shouting into the wind. We've got laws to "protect our children" that end up restricting their access to books. We've got potential laws that could restrict our ability to grow, buy and sell our own food. We've got laws that will depress charitable giving at a time when people need it most. We've got a brand new law, just passed, that will eventually lead to mandatory "volunteer" service (no link; just scroll down a post or two). We've got measure after measure designed to do away with individual self-sufficiency and implement government dependence, which is such a shift from the way this country's always been that if you took a man from 100 years ago and told him some of the things they're planning, he'd call you a liar to your face. And the thing that tears me up inside is that they're not done yet. Not by a long shot. It makes me sick with grief, and if that sounds histrionic, I promise you it's not. It's the best descriptor I have for my reaction.

This isn't about Barack Obama. He's a part of it, but he's not the impetus. He himself, much as the voters thought otherwise, is not the change. He's the tool, wielded by forces so far above him that he wouldn't recognize or own them if you pointed them out. And it's going to be an interesting time seeing where they take things, and what the rest of us are going to have to do about it in the meantime. Me? I'm buying old books and planting tomatoes. Take that, Congress!