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.