Sunday, July 17, 2011

Backyard Corn

To supplement our Backyard Cheeseburger recipe from last week, we present to you Backyard Corn - a perfect side dish designed to compliment the sauce of the burger with sweet corn and spice.  Enjoy with our compliments.

Ingredients:
1/2    cup sugar
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
8 ears sweet corn in the husk
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

Combine the sugar with cup of salt and 1 gallon of water in a large pot or clean bucket and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Cut off the stems and inch of the tip of each ear of corn and remove any protruding silk. Place the ears in the brine, stem end up. Let the corn soak for at least 4 hours or long as 8 hours in the refrigerator. If the corn wont fit in the refrigerator, keep it cold with bags of ice.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to as hot as possible. When ready to cook, place the soaked corn on the hot grate and grill until the husks are charred and blackened, 5 to 8 minutes per side (20 to 32 minutes in all.)

Wearing clean gloves or using a stiff bristle brush, strip the charred husks off the corn. Roll each ear of corn in the melted butter. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne, if using, and serve at once.

The Editor hopes that the Backyard Cheeseburger and Corn dishes find a permanent place on your menus at summertime. 

Cocolate Mousse Torte

This dessert is easy and delicious - the perfect dessert for an outdoor party or get together. 

37 Nilla wafers
4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate
2 pacakages of Jello chocolate instant pudding
2 cups and 2 tsp. of cold milk, divided.
1 tub of Cool-Whip (8oz.)
1 package (8oz.) of cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh rasberries

Stand 16 wafers around inside edge of 9-inch round pan lined with plastic wrap.  Melt 3 chocolate squares.

Beat pudding mixes and 2 cups of milk in medium bowl with whisk for 2 minutes.  Add melted chocolate; mix well. Stir in  1 cup Cool Whip; pour into prepared pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and remaining milk with mixer until well-blended.  Stir in 1 cup of remaining Cool Whip; spread over pudding.  Top with remaining wafers.  Refriderate for 3 hours.  Meanwhile, shave remaining chocolate squares into curls.

Invert torte onto plate.  Remove pan and plastic wrap.  Top torte with remaining Cool Whip, chocolate shavings, and rasberries.  Serves 16.

The Editor hopes this dessert will be as big a hit with your family as it is with his. 

Georgia Po-Boy

Our esteemed Lord Magna hails from the south, and once I had the opportunity to visit him in Georgia.  When I got to Atlanta, I discovered that Peach Tree was the name of every street I came across.  It was truly unreal - Peach Tree Road, and Lane, and Circle, and so on.  Navigating must be difficult there. 

The city's obsession with peaches serves as the inspiration for today's recipe.  The Georgia Po-Boy combines sweet and salty in perfect combination.  This sandwich is best served with french fries or potato salad.

1/3 cup melted butter.
1 lemon.
1 clove garlic.
1/4 tsp. salt.
1/4 tsp. black pepper.
6 miniature baguettes or 2 8oz. baguettes cut in thirds and split lengthwise.
1-1/2 tsp.  Cajun seasoning.
1-1/2 lb.  medium shrimp (36-40), peeled and deveined.
1 large jalapeno, thinly sliced.
3 peaches, halved and sliced.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. course ground black pepper
6 slices of bacon, crisp-cooked and broken into small pieces.

In a medium bowl stir together the butter, juice from half the lemon, garlic, salt, and the regular black pepper.  Cut remaining lemon into wedges for serving, set aside.

Lightly brush some of the butter mixture on cut sides of bread; set aside.  Stir 1 tsp. of Cajun seasoning into remaining butter mixture.  Add shrimp and jalapeno; toss into coat.  Place shrimp in a large grill tray or grill wok.

Pace grill tray on grill rack directly over coals for 10-15 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, tossing occasionally.  Add baguettes to grill rack, cut sides down, in batches and grill for about 2 minutes or until toasted.  If using gas grill, reduce grill to medium heat and grill as above.

Sprinkle sliced peaches with 1/2 tsp.Cajun seasoning.  Gently fold peaches into hot shrimp mixture.  In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and course black pepper. To serve, spread a little black pepper mayonnaise on the cut side of the top half of the baguette pieces .  Pile shrimp mixture on the bottom half.  Serve with lemon wedges.  Serves 6.

The editor has taken a break from his hamburger quest to bring you this fine Po Boy.  As the bard Douglas Adams said "Share and Enjoy."

Stuffed Chicken with Garlic Butter

This publication has been focused on meat these last few weeks, and so wishes to delve into poultry in this installment.  This recipe is pretty straightforward, and makes use of the garlic butter recipe we previously posted.  Enjoy with our compliments.

1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
Roasted Garlic Butter

Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Loosen the skin from the chicken and put the flavored butter between the skin and the meat. To do this, start at the top of the neck cavity and tunnel your finger under the skin. Gently loosen the skin from the meat, taking care not to tear it. Worm your whole hand under the skin, loosening it from the breast meat, then the thighs, and even the drumsticks. Spoon the flavored butter under the skin and use your hands to distribute it as evenly as possible. (Massaging the outside of the chicken will help distribute the butter.) Truss the chicken.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan in the center. When ready to cook, place the chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the hot
Grill grate over the drip pan and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Grill the chicken until the skin is a deep golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. (Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Insert it into the thickest part of a thigh, but not so that it touches the bone. The internal temperature should be about 165 degrees F; the temperature will rise as the bird rests.) If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes, and then untruss. Quarter or carve the chicken and serve at once.

Sometimes, the simple recipes are best.  The Editor hopes that this foray into chicken is appreciated, and assures his avid readers that he will diversify his articles in the future.

The Backyard Cheeseburger

For those of you who, like me, love the grill and everything it can cook, I present to you the Backyard Cheeseburger. It is perfect for parties and get-togethers, quick dinners, and potlucks when you're in a hurry.

The special sauce is not for children. Be advised.

Special Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise.
1 tbsp. dijon mustard.
1-1/2 tsp. roasted garlic.
3/4 cup ketchup.
5 tbsp. vodka.

Hamburger
2-1/2 lbs. ground beef, formed into patties.
Salt and pepper to taste.
2 tbsp. canola oil.
6 potato rolls.
6 tbsp. melted butter.
6 slices cheddar cheese
36 slices bread-and-butter pickles
12 tbsp. Special Sauce

For the Special Sauce: combine the first 5 ingredients on the list in a large bowl and mix.

Season patties with salt and pepper and coat with oil. In a very hot skillet or on a grill, sear patties for 4 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm. Wipe out skillet.

Brush potato rolls all over with melted butter. Toast on both sides on the grill or skillet. Put 1 cheese slice on top half of the roll. Grind some black pepper over the cheese and put in toaster oven or back on grill for 1 minute or until cheese melts.

Place 6 pickle slices on each bottom roll, top with hamburger, and spoon 2 tablespoons of special sauce on burger. Top with other half of roll and serve. Serves 6.

The Editor loves cheeseburgers, and has made finding the ultimate one his mission. Most store-bought burgers are merely essays in the craft, but this is a true masterwork. Enjoy it at your next public function with his compliments.


Orange Mayonnaise

This particular sandwich dressing is a zesty replacement for regular mayonnaise at any party or gathering.  It works well as a replacement for the special sauce in the Backyard Cheeseburger as well. 

I am becoming interested in liquor recipes for food and sauces.  I'll work on finding more for you in the future.

  • 1/2 cup Meaux-style mustard (grainy)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 3 tbsp. orange liqueur
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix.  Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

The Editor is a gourmund of the highest order, and hopes you wil enjoy this fine alternative to everyday sandwich dressings.  Enjoy with his compliments. 

The African Lullaby

Sample the Dark Continent with this savage little number. It is not too strong for the experienced drinker, but is no the less pleasant for all that. Enjoy it in the late afternoon or early evening with your friends, and dream of penetrating the shadowy and sinister jungles of a forgotten time.

  • 1-1/3oz. Amarula Cream
  • 1/3oz. Coconut milk
  • 2-2/3oz. Milk
  • 2 dashes Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Ice
Mixing instructions:
Mix all ingredients in blender with one cup crushed ice. Pour into glass and garnish with red Cherry.

Bruce Kingsford has never seen any corner of Africa, but assures me that if he were to go, he would drink this when he got there.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thinking About a Dynamic Society

What makes a society creative and dynamic?

I found myself wondering that as I drove my automobile off to pick up my dry cleaning.  The drive is easily 30 minutes from my home, so I have a good amount of time to think about anything that comes to mind on the trip.

I found myself wondering if we may have engineered away our creative spirit.  A century ago, if the history books are to be believed, the civilized world reached the pinnacle of its expansionist and imperialist movements.  The first and second world wars would end the eurocentrism that the planet had labored under since the Renaissance, and begin the modern and post-modern worldviews of our present time. 

But certain concepts remained.  Chiefly, the idea that societies could be modeled and made into great engines of productivity and government by collectivization. 

All nations engaged in a form of this thinking in one stripe or another in the 20th century.  In America, the Progressive party and key members of the government elite championed laws such as Prohibition or Eugenics in an attempt to create a perfect citizen, both behaviorally and biologically.  In Germany, concepts centered around a master race took shape for the same reasons.  Communism in Russia and China had social collectivization as a key element of government, as did the anarcho-syndicalism of Italian fascists.

This thinking prevails in America to a lesser extent in the drive to make our children (and adults) "normal."

Children in American schools are more heavily medicated than ever, mostly to correct behavioral problems that public schools and other institutions have trouble with.  In short, they are drugged so they will behave as the adults in the school want them to behave.  Dealing with "abnormal" children is difficult, and the general attitude among educators and behavioral psychologists is that this behavior should be corrected, most often through the use of pharmaceuticals.

Corrected.  So they can be normal.

Are so many more children today "abnormal," or do educators want an orderly class more than a chaotic one?  Do psychologists really think that this increase in medication is needed, or are they thinking of their wallets more than their patients?  Are parents interested in the possibility of creative genius in their children, or do they simply want their child to be normal?

What is normal behavior?  How do you define it?  If it is such a worthy thing to be normal, why do we laud the abnormal in our society? Einstein, Tesla, Twain, Poe, Bierce, Lovecraft, Howard, Pythagoras, or Michelangelo - all exhibited radical departures from the social normal of the time (indeed, many would be considered insane today).  Why do we laud them as great men, if normality were really a virtue?

Why not channel this behavior?  Focus it toward creative and useful ends for society?





Is it possible that we can engineer away our creative spirit?  We still produce great things in our society, to be sure, but have we lost something unique in our desire for normality?

Is it just possible that we desire our children and peers to act normal because a creative genius in our midst reminds us of our own mediocrity, our own static sameness?  Do we push such people down because we fear their minds may actually be greater than our own?

Comments welcome.  Disapprobation expected.

The Symphony

A true symphony is typified by an exquisite combination of instruments, each one contributing to a magnificent whole that leaves a person breathless. This drink is the same - it's combination of basic ingredients makes a pleasant drink that far outvalues its parts. I was surprised by its combination of tastes and its strength - not too strong, but powerful enough to make itself felt. Try it with your friends at your next gathering.


2/3oz. Absolut Citron
2/3oz. Strawberry liqueur
1-1/3oz. Lemon juice
1/3oz. Grenadine
4 oz. Sprite

Mixing instructions:

Shake. Pour into glass and add Sprite. Garnish with a strawberry.

Bruce Kingsford is unlikely to see his fifties with his liver intact. His sacrifice is to your advantage - drink well, secure in the knowledge that each of these drinks has been well-tested for quality.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Electric Storm

As Victor Frankenstein (and Emmit Brown) discovered, a good electrical storm can accomplish anything.  In this case, it can enliven a party.  Enjoy this in good health.

Ingredients:
1/2 oz. Irish Cream
1/2 oz. Goldschlager
1/3 oz. Jagermeister
1/3 oz. Rumple Minze

Mixing instructions:

Combine all 4 ingredients into a shot glass.  Drink quickly.

The Editor apologizes for the delay in posting.  He hopes that the few who read this publication are of the understanding variety.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Fail to Understand...



I don't understand how this chain of logic works - they are white supremacists because they wear white shirts? Is that all it takes? Are these children really being denied their education for any amount of time because they wore commercially available blank white shirts? The same style of shirt that has been available since the early industrial age?

Blank white shirts = white supremacy?

Really?

The educators involved in this decision should be horsewhipped. It shows a blatant disregard for the students under their care, as well as demonstrating an appalling lack of judgement and character.

If people wear sleeveless white shirts, do we assume they are domestic abusers? If they wear shirts with music group logos, do we assume they are musicians or roadies?

I hope that the students involved in this travesty of justice retain good attorneys, and that the "adults" that passed this sentence are removed from their positions of authority at once. They are clearly too ignorant to be allowed to supervise the education and care of children of any age.

Comments welcome.  Disapprobation expected (though I imagine it would be difficult in this case).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gurkha Ancient Reserve

Type: Torpedo
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

The Gurkha brand has become a favorite since I moved out west, and I was looking forward to smoking my ancient reserve ever since my wife gave me some as an anniversary present last month (six years and counting, gentlemen).  I finally got the opportunity recently, having secured some time for myself, and eagerly set myself to work. The cigar is handsome enough, though its presentation is not as good as the America or the AfricaThe pair of bands are in maroon and gold, with the Gurkha symbol on them, and would make fine additions to your humidor, but have no stunning visual elements.

The cigar resists on the first couple of draws, but eventually yields rich, thick smoke and a variety of fine tastes. The first third was very mild with a small amount of pepper. After that, the pepper began to pick up and a strong earthy flavor began to take hold, mixed with a faint bitter taste that gave the cigar a bite I rather enjoyed. During the final five or so minutes, the bitterness dissipated and a strong pepper taste returned.  The cigar burns evenly and holds a fine ash.

The Ancient reserve has a few negative points, however.  I strongly dislike raised veins on my cigars, and the ones that I smoked had them.  It was not bad enough to disrupt the smoke, but it made the stick feel rough and unbalanced in my hand, so that I was always looking for a comfortable grip.  The pepper was a welcome taste, but too faint throughout - it wasn't until the end that I got the taste sensation I had been teased with.  This cigar had the potential to be a better-priced Soprano, but fell short. 

I give this cigar three stars out of a possible four.  The experience was fine, the smoke pleasurable,  but I wanted more than they gave me.

The Editor hopes that you will lay a few of there aside for company.  they are reasonably priced and are not too strong.  For private consumption, though, he urges you to investigate the Evil from the same brand.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stuffed Chicken with Garlic Butter

This publication has been focused on meat these last few weeks, and so wishes to delve into poultry in this installment. This recipe is pretty straightforward, and makes use of the garlic butter recipe we previously posted. Enjoy with our compliments.

1 chicken (3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
Roasted Garlic Butter

Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Loosen the skin from the chicken and put the flavored butter between the skin and the meat. To do this, start at the top of the neck cavity and tunnel your finger under the skin. Gently loosen the skin from the meat, taking care not to tear it. Worm your whole hand under the skin, loosening it from the breast meat, then the thighs, and even the drumsticks. Spoon the flavored butter under the skin and use your hands to distribute it as evenly as possible. (Massaging the outside of the chicken will help distribute the butter.) Truss the chicken.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan in the center. When ready to cook, place the chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the hot
Grill grate over the drip pan and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Grill the chicken until the skin is a deep golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. (Use an instant-read thermometer to test for doneness. Insert it into the thickest part of a thigh, but not so that it touches the bone. The internal temperature should be about 165 degrees F; the temperature will rise as the bird rests.) If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes, and then untruss. Quarter or carve the chicken and serve at once.

Sometimes, the simple recipes are best. The Editor hopes that this foray into chicken is appreciated, and assures his avid readers that he will diversify his articles in the future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prometheus Steak

Prometheus brought the mortal world the secret of fire - this steak recipe brings the power of fire to your backyard grill.  Enjoy with our compliments.

4 T-bone steaks (at least 1-inch thick and about 12 ounces each)
Coarse salt and black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons dry mustard
2 to 3 tablespoons Tabasco or other hot sauce, or to taste
[ Tarragon butter ]

Place the steaks on a plate and sprinkle on both sides with salt and plenty of pepper and the dry mustard, patting the spices onto the meat with a fork. Drizzle the Tabasco sauce over the steaks, again patting it on with a fork. Let the meat sit while you preheat the grill.
Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the steaks on the hot grate at a 45-degree angle to the bars of the grate. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare, rotating the steaks after 3 minutes to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. Coarsely grind as much pepper as you can bear over the steaks as they grill. Transfer the steaks to plates or a platter, top with Tarragon Butter, and let rest for 3 minutes. Then serve.  Serves 4.

The Editor loves the bold flavor of this steak, and hopes it will relieve some of the routine steak dinners that this time of year brings.

Steamboy



Sweet fancy Moses, this is a terrible movie.

Visually, it is stunning - the world is well-realized, the inventions are spectacular and plausible given the established technological limitations, and the costuming is perfect.  The animators are to be congratulated for their efforts.

But that is all you can say for it.  The "plot" is hackneyed and poorly-executed, the character's motivations transcend the ridiculous and move directly into the realm of the inane.  The stunning visual attempt to create a steampunk London is destroyed by the sheer incompetence of the writers and director.

Lloyd Steam and his son Edward discover a pure mineral water (basically a super fuel for steam-based inventions). An experiment in Alaska to harness the discovery into a usable form goes wrong, and results in the creation of a strange ball-like apparatus that serves as an inexhaustible power source.  Naturally, this sets off a tale of industrial espionage as competing factions attempt to gain control of the ball for their own purposes.  The ball is currently in the hands of Ray, Edward's son.  Ray must protect the ball from the nefarious bad guys.

This would be a good story, if that were all it was.  But the movie insists on becoming a pseudo-philosophical diatribe that so many mediocre anime stories delight in.  It is apparently not enough for the story to be exciting and beautiful, it must be "deep" as well.

The thrust of the "philosophical" debate lies between Edward and Lloyd as to whether the ball, now invented, should be allowed to be used by the common man.  Edward claims that technology is made to be used, and that to deny its use is a sin in and of itself.  Lloyd claims that until mankind reaches an enlightened and unified peace, that they should never be allowed to use a power source of this magnitude.

It's obvious which side the movie wants us to side with, since Edward is planning on using the technology for weapons production, in preparation for an upcoming war in Europe.  This is meant to make us hate his point of view, while glorifying the "enlightened" point of view of the elder Dr. Steam for its purity of motive.

Ridiculous.  An object capable of providing an infinite supply of energy could power homes, provide heat and light for entire cities, and make cheap transportation available for everyone.  But because Lloyd believes that human beings are unworthy of his creation, he would deny these benefits to them until they attain a spiritual perfection according to his vision.

And he's the good guy.

Add to this that America is also preparing for the upcoming war by invading London during a technology expo in order to demonstrate their new weaponry to potential buyers....  oh, who cares.  The entire idea is so patently foolish that it defies all rational understanding.  This is a sick fantasy created by people who fail utterly to understand the mentality of the 19th and early 20th century European civilization.  It is a Luddite fantasy that rational people should reject the moment they hear it articulated (as it is, at length, for the entire second half of the film, to the point where I wanted to gouge my eardrums out rather than hear it again)

Destroy this film - every copy you come across.  It is truly a gilded piece of garbage - beautiful to look at, but ultimately trash.

I give this film 1 star.  It would be less, but the visuals were quite magnificent. 

Lord Magna hopes that he will eventually forget the story behind Steamboy, and just remember the visuals.  But he would spare you his pain.  The trailer is provided, and that should be enough. 

Herb Hamburger

My quest for the ultimate hamburger and cheeseburger has led me to this wonderful dish. In this recipe, you fold a disk of garlic herb butter into the center of the burger. As the burger grills, the butter melts, keeping the meat moist when cooked through.

1-1/2 pounds ground sirloin, round, or chuck (15 to 20 per cent fat)
4 tablespoons Herb Butter, cut into four 1/2-inch thick slices
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls
2 tablespoons melted butter

Wet your hands with cold water and divide the ground beef into 4 portions. Using a light touch, pat each portion into a thick patty formed around a slice of herb butter. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate the burgers, covered, on a plate lined with plastic wrap while you preheat the grill.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate.

Place the burgers on the hot grate and season again with salt and pepper. Place the burgers on the hot grill, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. (An instant-read meat thermometer inserted through the side of the burger parallel to the grill grate should read at least 160 degrees F.) Remove the burgers from the grill and cover to keep warm. Leave the grill on.

Brush the cut sides of the hamburger buns with the melted butter. Place the buns on the hot grill, cut side down, and grill until toasted, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Watch carefully. You may need to work in batches.

Assemble the burgers with any condiments you like. Best with sweet onions.


The Editor's quest continues. Enjoy this burger with our compliments.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Fine Tea Party Canidate

Recently, a friend pointed me to the candidacy of Herman Cain, a CEO and radio personality. Ever skeptical, I searched out his campaign website, interested in seeing if he actually had a platform, rather than being simply a rabble-rouser.

I am glad that I did.



This sort of video is stock for any candidate, so I continued to investigate, hoping to find some political meat. I found this:



The five-point plan is a good starting point for revitalizing our stagnating businesses and should be a cornerstone for any conservative candidate.  The ability to boil the policy down to easy to understand base principles is essential to ensure solid political support.  The plan is easy to understand, and economically sound.  Gains made through this policy promise to be substantial, but may not be enough on their own to complete a recovery.

During his presidency, Clinton proposed a bill similar to Obamacare, though admittedly less extreme. It had several of the same basic principles that the Obama bill has, and Cain brought these potential difficulties to light in front of the president.



Clinton handled that well - arguing numbers in a town hall meeting is terrible, even if the numbers are on your side. But the debate was well-reasoned and demonstrated the two points of view on this issue, as well as where Cain stands on the debate.

Cain is a Tea-party candidate. Before now, I have paid little attention to this political offshoot of the GOP, fearing that any candidate would be another Ross Perot, splitting the conservative vote. But this gentleman may be worth watching, and I will certainly keep an eye on him - he may be the most dynamic candidate in this crowded race.

I encourage you to investigate for yourself.

Comments welcome. Disapprobation expected.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quickmate

Every now and then, an opening arises in a game that you simply cannot afford to pass up.  It can shorten a game and irritate a fellow player, yet they are simply to good to pass up.  This week's puzzle is based on just such an occasion. 

Your opponet has just castled in an attempt to place his king in a more defensive position and to help develop his Rook.  This is your chance to strike hard and capture his king.

You are White.  You can acheive a mate in 2 moves, but I will give you 3.  Scroll down for the answer.











First Move:  Queen to F6, taking the Knight.
Your opponent, if he is foolish, could choose to move his King to G8 at this point instead of next turn, in which case, you may move your Knight to H6 and acheive a checkmate.  His best move is to move his Pawn to F6, capturing your Queen.

Second Move: Bishop to F6, capturing the Pawn. 
Your opponent's best move at this point is to his King to G8.  It buys him another turn, but not much else.

Third Move:  Knight to H6.  Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford loves quicker games, even when he loses them.  However, the more he plays, the less likely he is to have them.  It is a dilemmia he is unlikely to solve.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pomegranate Splash

Pomegranates are my favorite fruit (with persimmons a close second), and any time that I can use them in a drink recipe, I am a happy man.  This drink can be alcoholic or not at your discretion, allowing it to be enjoyed by the whole family on warm nights and barbecues.  Enjoy!

2      1-liter bottles of chilled ginger ale
or
2      750ml. bottles of sparkling wine, chilled.
2      16oz. bottles pomegranate juice, chilled
1      lemon, sliced.

In a large pitcher, combine the wine or ginger ale and the juice, add ice, then the lemon slices.

Bruce Kingsford is happy to bring this drink to you, courtesy of his sister.  He hopes you enjoy it.  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jalapeno Poppers

The Thrill of the Grilling Season is upon me - this is without doubt the greatest time of the year for comestibles. Prometheus' gift to Man is more than heat and light - it is a medium of art, as oils for a painter or clay for a sculptor. Everything tastes better when cooked on an open flame, and some things (like today's recipe) transcend tasty to achieve true magnificence.  Enjoy with my compliments.

18 jalapeno peppers (select straight peppers if possible)
8 ounces pepperjack cheese cut into matchstick slivers
cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces smoked ham, cut into matchstick slivers
fresh cilantro sprigs
Smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton; optional)

If using a jalapeno rack (which holds the peppers upright), slice the top off each pepper and carefully scoop out the seeds and ribs. If using an aluminum pan, slice a thin piece off the side of each pepper, exposing the seeds and ribs; scoop out. Discard the thin pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, smoked cheese, ham, Tabasco sauce, and garlic salt. Spoon into a resealable plastic bag and snip 1/2 inch off one lower corner. Pipe the cheese mixture into each pepper. Dust with smoked paprika, if using.

Arrange the poppers in the pepper rack, if using, or in the aluminum pan.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high. Grill the peppers (away from direct heat) with the lid down until the cheese melts and the peppers are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the poppers to plates or a platter. Let cool slightly before serving.

The Editor fell in love with jalapeno poppers in his junior year in high school, and has loved them ever since.  This recipe comes the closest to his first experience, and he hopes you fall in love as well.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Amaretto Sunrise

Tequila sunrise?  Bah.  Amaretto is far superior - it has a better, smoother taste, and the color is far better for mixed drinks.  With that in mind, here is an update to this popular drink.  Enjoy it in the early afternoon, or at sunset with your friends.

  • 1/3 oz Amaretto     
  • 4 oz Orange Juice
  • 1/12 oz Grenadine     
Mixing instructions:
Mix together the amaretto and orange juice. Pour into glass and then add the grenadine.

Cheddar-Stuffed Hamburgers with Peach Ketchup

Summer is fast approaching in my neck of the woods, and so I thought it was time to share some of my recipes for the grill, to enjoy on the forthcoming warm days.  Today's fare is a variation on the cheeseburger with peach ketchup.




4       medium peaches, pealed, pitted, and cut up.
1/4    cup sugar.
2       tsp. cider vinegar.
1       tsp. chili powder.
1/4    tsp. black pepper.
1/2    tsp. salt.
1/8    tsp. cinnamon.
1       dash cayenne pepper.
2       lb. ground beef.
2       oz. white cheddar cheese shredded.
8       hamburger buns.

For peach ketchup: combine peaches, sugar, cider vinegar, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a blender.  Cover and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, lightly mix beef with half of the peach ketchup, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.  Divide into 8 balls.  Make an indentation in each ball and fill with cheese.  Shape meat around cheese and form into patties.

On a grill or in a 12-inch skillet (if indoors), add half of the burgers and cook for about 5 minutes, or until well-browned.  Turn and cook for 5 more minutes, or until no pink remains.  Repeat with remaining burgers.

Serve on buns with remaining peach ketchup and any other toppings or condiments you desire.  Serves 8.

The Editor has enjoyed this recipe for some time, and hopes that it will add some panache to your next outdoor party.  

Lie Down Already!

Have you ever played against an opponent who simply will not quit?  It doesn't matter how thoroughly you have beaten them, they refuse to simply lie down and start a new game.  They need to drag it out, even though victory is impossible.  It is a difficult thing, but it happens - and in this week's puzzle, it's happening to you.

Your opponent has lost - he just refuses to acknowledge it.  He continues to dance around the board sacrificing pieces and slowing you down until you have reached this point.  His King is alone, and you have three pieces left.  Despite that, he continues to dance, which would be admirable if he wasn't so good at it.  Even now, you need to box him in completely before he will concede.

You are White.  You must mate in 5 moves.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answer.


























First Move: Knight to F4.
Your opponent's best move is to move his King to H7, putting some distance between him and your King.

Second Move: Bishop to G5. 
The box is closing, and your opponent will see it.  His best move at this point is to move his King to H8. 

Third Move: Knight to G6. Check.
The box closes further.  Moving his King back to H7 breaks up the box for the moment, but the dance must end soon.

Fourth Move: Knight to F8.  Check.
Your opponent's best move is to move his King to H8 again.  Frustrating, isn't it?

Fifth Move: Bishop to F6.  Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford wishes that players would end their games at this point, so another game can be started.  Maybe you can brag the number of moves it took for you to be beaten, but its almost never worth it.  Play more, and these dances will become less necessary.

Better Living Through Mary Poppins

Greetings again, gentlemen of culture and ladies of discerning characteristics.

I enjoy the moving pictures as much as the next gentleman, in that I find them a diverting way to pass the time for a few hours. In today's dismal economy, I prefer the home cinema to the bustle and expense of the theater. Most times, they are simply a balm for boredom of the moment, a distraction from the drudgery of the day.

Occasionally, however, a tale is told that has a compelling story and lasting lessons for a gentleman. One such story is the subject of today's essay - Disney's Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins was released by Disney in 1964, and is set in Edwardian England, circa 1910.  The protagonist is one George Banks, a banker in a prestigious London financial institution.  Obstensively, the movie is about his children and their magical nanny Mary Poppins, but after careful consideration, I have decided that the story is really about the banker, and that his family are simply foils for his character development.  The nanny herself is the plot, the monkey wrench needed to pry the characters out of their places at the beginning of the film..

Most of the movie is ridiculous falderal, but the final half hour is instructive and well-executed, and so is deserving of some discussion.

The first scene we'll be looking a is a song regarding the travails of life, as described by George Banks.  This song speaks well of the character, and would serve as an excellent philosophy for all aspiring men and women.



This is an excellent attitude for any aspiring professional to have.  Order, structure, discipline, and duty are virtues that are unfortunately out of fashion in our modern time.  He is of course bamboozled into bringing his rapscallions to the bank.  At first, he sees this as an opportunity to educate his children on the virtue of thrift.  This is another lesson that today's wastrel youth could benefit from.  We live in a world of easy credit and endless disposable consumerism - it would be nice if even a few of these foolish young brutes leaned to save their money instead of spending like sailors fresh from the sea.

As expected, the children wish to spend their money on a ridiculous fancy - in this case, they want to purchase stale breadcrumbs from a street urchin to feed London's already fat and pretentious pigeons.  Banks understandably rejects this proposal in favor of them saving their money, contributing to the Empire's economy, and building interest on his children's behalf.  To that end, he enlists the aid of his fellow bankers to demonstrate the power of the saving and the service that banks provide to the Empire by investing the saving entrusted to them.



As the final scene of the preceding clip shows, this particular lesson is as pearls before swine - ill-tempered and stubborn swine.  If his children had not been so thoroughly corrupted by Mary Poppins earlier in the film, they would understand that their father was doing them a favor by teaching them the power of investment.  But, as children are wont to do, the boy cannot postpone his banal pleasures for even an instant, and rejects this lesson in favor of buying stale breadcrumbs, which could no doubt be had from his kitchen at home for nothing.

This is the fault of most children - they cannot or will not understand the importance of deferred enjoyment.  Money saved and invested would be better in every way than money frivolously spent.  The economy benefits from the money given to banks, which can be used to repair our crumbling infrastructure, give loans to businesses, allow commerce to increase, provide new jobs, do an everlasting service for our economy, and (heaven forfend) enrich the saver's life through compounded interest.

Doesn't that sound better than a few minutes spent using the same initial money to feed birds?

Adults could do with this lesson as well.  In an age of Payday loans and massive debt, it may be a lesson too late for some.  I urge all readers not presently investing or saving their money to do so - you will one day need money to care for yourself hen you are old.  Never permit yourself to rely on retirement benefits or lottery winnings to support you - both are equally unlikely.  What you save is what you will have, and nothing else.  Your children will need money as well, not only as they grow up, but as they prepare to enter a university or trade school.  As you get older, you will become more infirm, and more in need of medications and care.  It goes without saying that the money for such things will need to come from you - relying on public funds for such things is wishful thinking on par with dreams of the fountain of youth and the kingdom of Prestor John.

Duty, honor, thrift, discipline, and order - important lessons from George Banks.

Lord Magna is a dedicated curmugeon and a dutiful saver.  His rants on all manner of things regarding life are a pleasure to edit.   

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T-Bone Steaks with Chipotle-Cilantro Butter

Ahh, the summer.  The perfect time for relaxing afternoons, family reunions, afternoon walks, and of course, barbecues.  The grill has been a staple in my family for my entire life, and the summer is the perfect time to try new things over the open flame.  To that end, I have prepared for you a recipe that transforms the classic T-bone steak into a new experience.  This particular recipe comes to me courtesy of Bruce Kingsford.  Enjoy! 

1     stick butter, softened
2     tbsp. chopped canned chipotle chilles en adobo
2     tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1     tbsp. tequila
4     10 to 12oz. T-bone steaks
1     tsp. salt
1     tsp. fresh ground black pepper


Combine butter, chilies, cilantro, and tequila in a bowl and stir until incorporated.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on a work surface and cover with an equal-size piece of plastic wrap.  Spoon butter mixture into center and roll into a log, twisting the ends until a tight cylinder is formed. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  Season steaks with salt and pepper and grill on one side for 4 - 5 minutes

Meanwhile, slice butter log into eight equal-size pieces.

Flip steaks and top each steak with two butter slices.  Continue to grill until butter begins to melt, about another 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to plate and serve.  Serves 4.

The editor can think of nothing better on a Sunday afternoon than grilled steaks with potato salad, a fine cigar, and a cold beer.  If you agree, try this recipe next Sunday afternoon with his compliments.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Persistence

Persistence is the only virtue that I admire, and when I have the opportunity to utilize it in chess, I am a happy man.  Here, then, is your puzzle for this week. 

You have battled your opponent heavily, and have reached a point where you must strike.  Your rook is out of position for any serious offensive, so you will need to use your knight and queen to mount your final attack.

You are White.  It is possible to mate in 2 moves, but your maximum is 4.  Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answer.



 
















First Move:  Knight to F7.  Check.
Your opponent can accelerate his demise by moving his Rook to F7, capturing your Knight.  If he is that foolish, moving your Queen to D8 forces a mate in two moves.  His best move is to move his King to G8.

Second Move:  Knight to H6.  Check.
Your opponent's best move at this point is to move to H8 to take the pressure off his king.  It also places him outside the knight's immediate striking range, which could give him time to maneuver into a better position.

Third Move:  Queen to G8.  Check.
At this point, your opponent is pretty well trapped, but he hasn't run out of options yet.  His best move at this point is to move his Rook to G8 and capture your Queen.  It gets him out of trouble in the short term.

Fourth Move:  Knight to F7.  Checkmate.

Bruce Kingsford loves chess nearly as much as he loves drink.  They are in his opinion two of the greatest activities in the world.  He hopes you will join him next week for another jaunt into the most cerebral of games.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time's Last Gift

Time’s Last Gift
New York: Ballantine, 1972
Written by Philip José Farmer
Reviewed by Lee Strong

I bought this book during the 2010 ECOF book crawl because I heard that the principle character Lord John Gribardsun was Tarzan in disguise.

It’s an excellent disguise.

If I had had to rely on the book’s weak plot and weaker action, I never would have recognized Lord Greystoke as the inspiration for this time waster. Fortunately, Mr. Farmer provides sufficient heavy handed hints about Gribardsun’s “true” identity for the knowledgeable Greystokean to figure things out.

The boring world civilization of 2070 AD sends 4 scientists back to 12,000 BC in the first practical time machine (appropriately named the H.G. Wells I). Their mission is to gather information on humanity’s remote past including genetic and linguistic data on our Magdalenian ancestors. Led by the enigmatic Lord Gribardsun, the scientists scout out several prehistoric tribes and quickly move in with the locals. While they do gather some information, most of the book is taken up with Gribardsun’s mysterious claims, arrogant showboating, interpersonal tensions, and uncoordinated wandering around the primeval landscape without much of a research plan, not to mention much emotional or intellectual excitement. Eventually, 3 of the scientists return to 2070 AD where they learn that Gribardsun is an immortal man who is the ancestor of most of the human race many times over. The End.

To put things very mildly, I didn’t enjoy this story. The characters are all very shallow beings who travel across a poorly described landscape with few if any action-adventures or scientific findings. One male character resents the attention his wife pays to Gribardsun but, ultimately, his sulking is melodramatic without resolving anything. There’s just no reason to spend time with these cardboard cutouts.

Farmer’s supposed hero shares some history and characteristics with Tarzan but that’s about all. Gribardsun comes across as an unappealing caricature of the great ape man rather than a respectful homage. Tarzan is definitely a loner who often keeps his own counsel. Gribardsun carries these traits to decidedly unpleasant extremes without having Tarzan’s fundamental respect for other beings. All of the other humans, including 21st Century scientists and primitive tribesmen and –women, are reduced to toys or servants for The Great Man to play around with. Ultimately, he comes across as a time traveling playboy-hunter out for a good time rather than serious scientific research. The Big Revelations at the end of the novel (immortal man, constructive work, romantic plot) seem like afterthoughts tacked on to justify 200 pages of blah.

I rate Time’s Last Gift as 2.0 stars on the 5 star scale because name dropping a far better man’s life story doesn’t redeem multiple other storytelling weaknesses. – LS

Lee Strong is a bibliophile of the highest order, and a professional author currently working on a novel inspired by the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  His work can be found throughout this publication, and only improves with time. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to make Coca Cola BlaK

Located this video in one of my many safaris around the internet. For those of you intereseted in making your own foods and beverages, this video is a true gem. Enjoy!

Guru Larry – How to make Coca Cola BlaK

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Inappropriate Dress

[This article]from CNN is very interesting, and confirms something I've long suspected.  I'm not the only parent who thinks that young children being dressed in sexually provocative ways is profoundly disturbing.   

I think that most parents would agree with this in the abstract.  But then who is buying these clothes?  It has to be parents, and if that's the case (as the article points out) then they are poor parents engaged in behavior not just irresponsible but psychologically damaging to their children.

Where do these parents come from?  Why are there so many?  There are clearly enough of them to support million-dollar industries.  Were they all parented in that way when they were young?  Or were they raised strictly, and rebelled against what they perceived as unfair treatment by giving in to things there parents would never have allowed?

I think the answer is more horrifying that that - I believe that these parents just don't care.  They as "adults" dress in a similar manner, and cannot conceive of their children dressing in another way.  To them, this is "normal" or even "cute."  Our media-driven culture backs this up by not providing any counter-examples. It reinforces this by providing increasingly younger examples of sexually promiscuous behavior and lifestyle.




Granted, it's not the job of media industries to become moral arbiters of culture - its the responsibly of PARENTS to educate their children on social and cultural norms.   But our nation's parents are more likely to have been educated by a television than by parents.  Divorced households or unmarried households with children are more common than ever - I myself am a product of such an arrangement.  Whether or not you believe that two parents provide a better upbringing, a single parent does have to work more to make ends meet than they would with a second income.  More time at work means less time for children. In our modern culture, that means putting the child in front of a television or the computer.


This would be a disturbing enough chain of reasoning if it were theoretical or just beginning.  But this is the second full generation of such things.  Today's parents are my age, and apparently see nothing wrong with sexually inappropriate behavior for themselves or their children.

It's not that all these parents are neglectful - though some of them may be.  It's that they truly believe that these sexually charged choices that they make for their children are harmless or normal.  They do not understand that these choices - these blatant attempts to sexualize themselves - are harmful lessons to pass onto children.  The average American child loses her virginity around the eighth grade now - can we truly say that this sort of behavior is not contribute?

There's another question that needs to be considered.  As our society becomes increasingly obsessed with sex and our girls become increasingly desensitized to the importance of decorum and increasingly interested in sexual behavior, what will happen to respect for women?  I have no respect for the sexually-charged celebrities I see on the television.  They are objects for my entertainment, and I have no interest in their lives.  But to people that idolize or pattern their lives after them (and there are many more than I am comfortable with), the behavior of these megalomaniacal childish adults is the gold standard.

THIS is the the gold standard for behavior?


That's frightening.

Why should anyone respect that?  Why would anyone respect a women who acts that way?

Comments welcome.  Disapprobation expected.

The Editor may be reached for comment at liquidether@live.com





Friday, February 18, 2011

A Global Discussion

In an attempt to look at both sides of this issue, I have compiled some video regarding climate change. I summarize my view at the end of the post.

First, an overview on Global warming from National Geographic



Next, the opposing argument from Glen Beck on CNN.




Is this really an issue?

The below post was used by me before, regarding the same issue, but the points he makes are relevant ones. Is there something we can do about this, or is the whole issue an enormous exercise in political ego-gratification?



I don't know enough about this issue to debate the scientific merits of the two arguments, but it seems to me that this is an issue we should continue looking at. It's not the sort of thing we want to be wrong about. At the same time, as our economist points out, there may not be much we can do about it at this time. This debate extends beyond the science (which is muddled enough) and beyond the special interest groups on both sides (who throw millions at research and counter-research). Are we even able to affect the climate positively at this phase?

I've often heard that it's easier to break something than it is to fix it. Perhaps we're at that point on this issue. Even if we were affecting the climate, can we do anything positive to repair the damage?

Comments welcome. Disapprobation expected.

The Editor can be reached for comment at liquidether@live.com

La Aurora 1495 Series

La Aurora is one of the world’s oldest cigar brands, originating in the Dominican Republic in 1903. The Leon Jimenez family, who has been making these cigars there for over three generations, is the preeminent cigar family in a country that makes more cigars than any other country in the world. It is a tested and proven commodity for cigar aficionados around the world, and has a well-deserved reputation for quality and taste. The exclusive 1495 line was developed to commemorate Columbus expedition and discovery of the new world and the cigars which came with this discovery.

To begin with, the cigar itself is quite handsome and well-made. It contains five different types of tobaccos from Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic (which is the source for the binder as well as one of the filler tobaccos), so it is no surprise that the cigar is complex, but what is most impressive is the balance that this complex blend maintains.

This cigar is a fine Medium - body smoke, lasting about 25- 30 minutes.  The pre-light draw was earthy and rich - a suitable prelude to what proved to be a spectacular smoke.  The flavor has a deep leather mixed with the earth that becomes richer as the smoke continues, without becoming smothering. The stick burns evenly and retains a long, firm, ash - hallmarks of fine construction.  I would pair this cigar with a glass of rum - my favorite is Captain Morgan's Private Stock, but there are higher quality ones that would pair wonderfully as well.

I rate this cigar a 3.5 on a four-point scale.  It is a worthy addition to your humidor.

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 x 50
Wrapper : Sumatra Ecuador
Filler : Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peruvian
Binder : Corojo


The Editor regrets that he only had three of these cigars - they were gifts from a friend, and his present tobacco shop doers not carry them.  He urges you to smoke a 1495 Series on his behalf.

Our Difference Engine is Still a Few Years Away

Because there is little to do during the week except Jeopardy after dinner, I watched the Watson vs. Humans matches, and found them interesting.  But were they merely a Potemkin village, a dog-and-pony show, a lie?  Was what we saw a genuine achievement, or a Public Relations stunt designed to get more funding for similar projects?

The author below seems to think so.

From:http://gcn.com/articles/2011/02/17/ibms-watson-cheated-on-jeopardy.aspx


So the big news this week in the land of computers is that IBM’s Watson beat two accomplished “Jeopardy!” champions at their own game. Even more impressive was the fact that this was a two-game competition played over three days and the computer won both games.


You would think that a techie like me would be overjoyed at seeing a glimpse into the rise what show loser Ken Jennings called “our new computer overlords.” But actually I was disappointed by the whole dog and pony show, which was set up in a blatantly unfair way to favor the computer.

Although Jennings did well (I think the other contestant, Brad Rutter, played a bad game), there was never any question who would win once I understood the rules – which both “Jeopardy!” and IBM were pretty vague about.

Now, first off, I will say that this is a great moment for computers. It really showed what they can do in certain circumstances. But would we be similarly impressed if a desktop PC running Microsoft Excel could crunch 50 pages of numbers faster than a math whiz? Because it could.

The point of a game show, or any contest really, is that all contestants are on the same footing and the best person, or computer in this case, wins. But Watson had an unfair advantage: It was being fed the questions electronically.

I wanted to see Watson hear the questions using speech recognition and process them the way humans do. But Watson was instead fed the words that made up the question in ASCII text and then went about searching a database, albeit a good one, looking for patterns and coming up with the proper response. All very rudimentary work for a computer, actually, and not much different than what Google and Bing do everyday right now.

The fact that Watson had a buzzing device is irrelevant. It already knew how it would answer before the question was finished being read, and the humans were still gathering input. And considering that the questions on last night’s show were actually pretty easy for “Jeopardy!” and that Jennings and Rutter obviously knew most of the answers, what Watson really excelled at was buzzing in faster than the humans.

What do you think?  Comments welcome.  Disapprobation expected.

The Editor may be reached at liquidether.live.com

Thoughts on Education

Since I am an educator, I found these lectures particularly enlightening. Let me know what you think of them.










I found the last one to be most disturbing. I think he is wrong, but that may be because I'm deeply invested in the cultural belief system he's challenging.

Comments welcome.
 
The Editor may be reached at liquidether@live.com.

Speech: Free and Complicated



For some reason, this clip from Anamaniacs got me thinking about the use and power of exclusivity in language. Every subset of people in a society creates its own dialect, almost instinctively. Part of this is out of necessity, because some concepts they are dealing with are unique to their occupations. But it has another use too.


It excludes the layman.

I worked for MCI at the height of the tech boom. During that time, the gap between the people who understood computers and the people who simply used them was much smaller than, say, in 1988, but it was still much larger than it is now. One of the most frustrating parts of running logistics for the tech guys was their infuriating tendency to talk in lingo, and to type in "l33t sp34ek." When I would ask on more information on their operations, so I could better anticipate their needs, I was snidely informed that it would take too long to explain.

I wasn't a tech guy, you see. I wasn't a code monkey. I couldn't build a computer from scratch components. I didn't know Perl. I wasn't in the club. And my inability to understand the tech lingo was one of the ways I was kept at arms length from the elite few in our department that were.

I don't think that this was an intentional conspiracy. I'm not so paranoid as to think that all the world's tech people got together and wrote a dictionary of computer lingo just to exclude me. But the existence of that new language kept me and others at a distance, and those in the know worked to maintain that distance by casting scorn on my ability to learn their new language, and by extension, their trade.

Because communicating with these people and supplying them was my job, I gained a certain amount of proficiency in their speech. I learned the basic of their trade too. It's not as complicated as many tech people like to make it sound.

The mystique of slang exists in all subsets of life, and it exists to make those included feel included, while setting them aside from the "normal" man. Among the goths I travelled with in High School, non-Goths were called "mundanes" and were scorned. Among role-players and card gamers, there exists a massive slang vocabulary, including Munchkin, Twink, Broken, Min-Max, Manaburn, Cheesy, and Ping. People who don't understand the lingo single themselves out, and are scorned (not by everyone, it should be noted, but that falls outside the scope of this essay).

Ultimately, this kind of exclusive language is one of the many rituals that social groups use to establish their identity and hold power over the disenfranchised. Another lesson in power politics among individuals, and proof that politics is life, not just government.

Polititico- Histronomics

Ok, time for a little history lesson, fused with economics.


The housing crisis began in earnest in the summer of 2007. At that point, thousands of people were losing their homes as a result of the real estate slowdown. A sudden need for liquidity led to a drop in the stock and bond markets.

CNBC aired this discussion in August, when the crisis had become a noticeable problem.



His proclamations led to this response, also in August 2007



So it wasn't like people couldn't see this coming. This "unexpected" market correction was predicted at least a year out.

So why wasn't anything done about it?

The answer to that question is complicated. Both sides of the political aisle would have you believe that the other side was entirely at fault for this crisis. Part of the reason for this is that they believe it, but mostly they are hoping to gain a political advantage off this crisis, using it as a way to bolster their control. Both sides are looking for a way to turn this setback into an advantage.

That's what politicians do.

The reason this crisis was allowed to fester had a political angle, one that made correcting the problem almost impossible for either side.

The reason Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac existed was to provide home mortgages for lower-income families. This kind of legislation does not exist in a vacuum. Creating organizations to allow easier home mortgage loans was a result of the average low-income voter demanding it. Wasn't it the American Dream to be able to have a home of your own? Our founding fathers cited the right to own property as one granted by God. Didn't every American have the right to own a home?

The short answer to that question is no. Only people who can afford a home should have one.

But in a American culture dominated by credit and consumerism (as it had been trending since the 1980's), the concept of waiting to afford something didn't exist in the same manner that it had before. You could always buy it on credit, and credit was always available. Shouldn't that be the same for houses too?

Again, the short answer is no. Don't put the money down if you can't make the payments.

Low income families were high-risk loans for a reason. They weren't guaranteed to be able to pay. That's why banks were refusing them. But rich or poor, they could still vote, and they made their displeasure known to their representatives in congress.

Politicians are, as I previously stated, always looking for a political upper hand. They found one here. If the government were to cover the loan, many more people would be able to buy their own home. This would make them happy, and they would remember who it was that had made that possible. Their gratitude would be demonstrated by votes to keep the incumbent Representatives in power.

So - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The mortgage industry was deregulated in the 90's removing the "old laws" that had been around since after the Great Depression. These safeguards were unnecessary, the politicians claimed, because of the new financial reality.

The truth was that financial reality had nothing to do with it. The political capital to be gained by increasing the volume of investment (leading to increased infusions of cash into the market) was too valuable to pass up. Rich Americans were happy Americans, and happy Americans voted to re-elect instead of "throwing the bums out."

When the crisis began to show itself in 2007, it was fear that stopped the government from doing anything. These low-income, high risk loans had become an entitlement. The American people expected them. Who would be able to stand for reelection if they voted to take homes away from low-income families? Your opponent would be all over that, claiming that you don't care about the working class, that you would happily deny them the American Dream.

So, seeing no political profit in it, the politicians did the other thing they do best - they waited. Sure the crisis was bad, but maybe it wouldn't implode - at least not when they were up for reelection. Maybe they would luck out. The few people who did want to do something hit the brick wall. It wasn't in the government's self-interest to do anything, so it didn't.

It's that simple.

Polititico- Histronomics 101: People can be relied upon to act in their own self-interest.

Comments welcome. Disapprobation expected. Debate encouraged.

The Editor may be reached for disaprobation at liquidether@live.com.  Comments should be made below, for the benifit of all readers.