Friday, July 06, 2007
Nine tenths of the evil and suffering in this world is rooted in the idea that something must be done. Why must anything be done at all? All the advocacy and protest in the world would pale in the face of practiced inertia. The way to confound the authorities is to sigh and take your time when they ask you to remove your shoes at the airport. The way to confound the terror-profiteers is to shrug and look for lunch. I am deeply inspired by the British who seem largely not to give a shit that some nuts tried to blow up something with a car. A nation of people who carry umbrellas on the sunniest days is a nation with an admirable relationship to fate. By failing to react, they have driven American conservatives into spectacular and hilarious conniptions, eructions of rage, howls, cries, squeals, belches of anger. It's a good show, and I'm jealous that I had no part in doing nothing to provoke it.
Victor Davis Viagra Cialis Priapus Excedrin Belligerence Hanson has written the craziest thing I've read in a while. Just reading it leaves me muttering out damned spot. The West is Ulysses! Islam is Caplypso! Muslims are coming to kill everyone in England! Yet Britain remains calm! Why won't you fuckers panic like men!? Leftists hate Dick Cheney and Israel! The West is a fish out of water! Oxygen! Terrorists--using courts against us! Let's impeach the president! No, that's a joke! Haha! Fuck you, Al Qaeda! Our DVDs and bellybuttons will win the day! Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill!
This paragraph strikes me as about seven kinds of bullshit:
Many Sunnis, for their part, are less inclined to see the soldiers as occupiers now that it is clear that American troop reductions are all but inevitable, and they are more concerned with strengthening their ability to fend off threats from Sunni jihadists and Shiite militias. In a surprising twist, the jihadists--the Americans’ most ardent foes--made the new strategy possible. Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a predominantly Iraqi organization with a small but significant foreign component, severely overplayed its hand, spawning resentment by many residents and other insurgent groups.Many is a favorite weasel word of a journalist who wants to imply a majority or a plurality without actually identifying any such statistically meaningful thing. Then there's the "all but inevitable" troop reductions--an assurance repeated but never realized since 2004. Then there's the idea that these perceptual reductions negate the perception of American forces as occupiers. Even were it true that substantial reductions are in the offing--a doubtful proposition--fewer occupying troops are still engaged in occupation. There is the idea that "Sunni jihadists" are a category entirely discrete from "many Sunnis." There is the "small but significant foreign component"--a series of empty signifiers if I ever saw one. How small? Significant by what measure? And, of course, there is the perpetual irony of the foreign occupying power identifying the presence of foreigners in the insurgency as a matter of special gravity.
East and Southeast Asian cuisines are known to us for, among others, cooking and serving noodles, rice, and dumplings in broth. We often forget that Italian cuisines also partake in this culinary tradition. Where a Chinese dish might feature dumplings or won-tons in a broth, Italians will use a stuffed pasta like Tortellini or small meatballs in brodo. Here is a recipe for tagliatelle in brodo, where the noodles are twice cooked in broth: first underdone in a pot of boiling broth, then removed, drained, and reserved to be finished in an intensely flavored sauce scented with many cloves of garlic and reduced to its essential flavors. If you want a quick and easy meal, you can prepare this dish using the many good stocks and soup bases now available at higher-end grocery stores like Fascist Foods. If you want a truly special pasta, use the full recipe below.
Tagliatelle in brodo
This dish combines the chewy texture of broad tagliatelle with the concentrated flavor and aroma of chicken. The broth, which is also the sauce base, is made from the chicken's innards--simply reserve the gizzards and neck the next time you cook a whole chicken. Buy good, imported egg noodles, or, if you have a good Italian market or grocer, you can probably buy freshly made noodles that day.
For the broth
innards, neck, and any fat trimmings of one roasting chicken
2 medium shallots
extra virgin olive oil
whole fennel seeds
whole celery seeds
For the noodles and sauce
5-6 large garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil
To make the broth, roughly chop two shallots and one large, rinsed, and unpeeled carrot. Heat olive oil in your pot and then sweat out the shallots and carrot with a little salt over a medium-high heat. When the carrots have begun to soften and the shallots to turn translucent, throw the innards and neck into the pan and lightly brown. Add a tablespoon of whole fennel seeds and a half teaspoon of whole celery seed. (Exposing the seeds directly to pan heat for thirty seconds or so will help bring out their oils, and therefor their flavors and aromas.) Now fill the pot with hot, filtered water and return to the heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then immediately reduce to the slightest simmer. Simmer mostly covered for at least three hours, stirring occasionally, and salting to taste. After several hours, the gizzards should have given up all their flavor, and the broth should have a pale yellow color--almost like faded goldenrod. Taste a chunk of the liver if you want to be sure the chicken has given all its flabor to the broth.
Now strain the broth through a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth or several layers of wet-and-wrung-out paper towels, as you would a consommé. You will produce a clear yellow broth, slightly fatty, with light but deep poultry flavors and scents, backed by the slightly sweet anise flavor of the fennel seed and the earthy brightness of celery seed.
Bring the broth slowly to a boil and then drop your pasta. Egg noodles, especially fresh noodles, cook very quickly, so pay attention and stir constantly. Within a few minutes, they should be ready for removal. The texture you're seeking is a little less done than a good al dente noodle--when another minute in the water seems like it would finish the noodles to your liking, that's when you pull them out with tongs. Lay out the half-cooked noodles as well as you can on a lightly oiled pan.
Now for the sauce: thinly slice two shallots. Take five or six big garlic cloves and cut them into paper-thin slices. Heat oil in a sauce pan. Add the shallots, salt lightly, then cover and reduce heat to medium. This will cause them to sweat their liquid directly into the pan, rather than browning them. Next add the garlic and again cover for a minute or two, until the garlic begins to soften and give up its own liquid. You'll have to carefully watch the heat so that neither begins to burn or brown. Now ladle several generous spoonfulls of broth into the pan. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. The room will fill with the aroma of garlic, chicken, and the spicy pepper. Finally, throw your noodles into the pan and toss with the reduced broth. Add a pat of butter--monter au beuure.
Now you're ready to finish. Serve the pasta in big bowls, and spoon a little extra broth/sauce from your pan over the noodles. Grate Parmagiano Reggiano over each dish. Roughly grind a little black pepper over the cheese. Garnish with a pinch of tiny fresh thyme leaves. Sprinkle with raw olive oil. Serve.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Anyone ever condemned to a year or two in a college dormitory recalls how certain students mistook the smell of feet, gentle rot, and coin-op laundry for intellectual ferment. These types were almost inevitably boys--women aren't generally so gullible--and they had the occasionally disarming, usually annoying, habit of believing that knowledge new to them was equally new to everyone else. From the ether of otherwise common knowledge, they would snatch willynilly at historical clichés and critical truisms, which they would then extrapolate into a glorious Weltanschauung to be pronounced often, publicly, and without any consideration of whether it was or was not germane to such pressing questions as: Stevie Ray Vaughn or Jimi Hendrix?; or, Dude, you gonna hit that?
Here, for instance, Jonah Goldberg reenacts that hilarious scene from Animal House where Flounder realizes that Malthus' predictions about food production and population grown didn't take into account the advent of the hydrocarbon economy.
Goldberg, Glenn Reynolds, Newt Gingrich--these are the boundlessly optimistic sort who once imagined that by 2001 we'd all be living in arcologies and turning into space fetuses. Every technological utopian is obliged to do this jig on Malthus' grave. But the age of internal combustion and the petrochemical revolution caused manifold changes that are unlikely to be repeated in the next great upheaval. Consider this: the advent of a refrigerator that tracks its own inventory and orders new groceries on the internet does nothing to increase the aggregate food production in the world. The idea that a gadget will save the ozone layer and photosyntheszing robots will scrub the atmosphere of excess greenhouse gasses--"humanity's bottomless capacity for innovation"--occupies a pretty sad territory in humanity's other bottomless capacity, which is for fantasy and self-delusion.
But Goldberg is making a point, boys. What he really wants you to grok, see, is that 77% of the world's wealth is in your head, man. He is so certain of this fact that he twice uses the word "literally" incorrectly, always a sign of fervor in an inferior writer. As you can imagine from a conservative stooge, the entire point is that the rich are rich, the poor are poor, the sky is blue, the sun is bright, and all is well with our world. Why build roads for Africans when those poor fuckers are so lacking in intacranial bullion? They'll probably just spend it on AKs and chicken wings anyway.
I can hardly argue that wealth is entirely tangible, that skill and knowledge don't count as capital, but this notion that the vast majority of the world's wealth exists conceptually in the brains--mostly--of Americans, five Western European labor-market reformers, ten Japanese executives, a Mexican billionaire, and an Australian media magnate has the faint odor of crazy. The reason that knowledge, skill, judgement, and invention may count in our measurements of wealth is that they are transferable into the actual world. Their fruits are goods and services, for which provision we pay. With money. Meanwhile, my lazy afternoons contemplating the swirls in the ceiling and listening to old classical albums enrich the world not a cent. Jonah's Ozymandian realization that in the absence of maintenance all our works are dust has been a staple of amateur eschatologists everywhere since the first Sumerian planted wheat beside the Euphrates. Goldberg forces us to the sobering contemplation: the mind that can enrich can impoverish also. Today's LA Times, let me tell you, makes me feel like reaching for my beggar's cup.
I'm always quite stunned at some of the reactions I get when I post about zoning/development issues. No one is trying to take your car away. No one is condemning your suburban existence or trying to wipe it out. No one is demanding everyone live in the equivalent of Manhattan.Put that "no one" back in your bag, big dog. I'm condemning your suburban existence and trying to wipe it out. To the winners go the renewedly arable farmlands!
-Atrios, timorous liberal
The President gave a speech yesterday that quickly steered itself into the reasonable proposition that the American occupation force in Iraq is very much like the rag-tag band of patriots freezing to death in Valley Forge. Oh, dude. Totally. One of the goofier features of godless communism was its fixation on revolution as a continuous rather than discrete act. But of course the idea that Soviet Russia was undergoing the unending reinvention of the revolution-in-permanence was totally bonkers. By the time Trotsky got his unfortunate scalp massage in Mexico, the wintery fatherland had stopped revolving. The dial was set at dreary and gray. An oxidizing failure.
The United States likewise maintains an odd dual image of itself, on one hand aware of itself as a so-called superpower, conferring on itself all the rights and responsibilities it imagines to emenate from preeminence, while on the other hand it wallows in congratulatory nostalgia, where we are still a scrappy band of colonies starving, freezing, and fighting for truth, freedom, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. There's no sense or direction to either image. They exist simultaneously and contradictorily: a perfect paradox. And they allow some extraordinary projections, like, for instance, the idea that a war in which a distant, powerful empire attempts to reign in a troublesome rebellion in a farflung colony translates into the present with the Iraqi insurgency as the empire and America as the pesky, indomitable rebels.
It's as if Newt Gingrich were given a bag of commas and challenged himself to write an article using each and every one.
By helping his groups of forgotten men, Roosevelt created another forgotten man, the individual left out by the groups. That forgotten man was the forgotten man of productivity, not redistributionist pity.I have no, idea what Newt is talking, about. It sounds sort of, like Ayn Rand. Who is, John Galt?
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Richard Cohen is a twat.
Yet, when the Supreme Court ruled last week that in most cases race could no longer be taken into account to achieve classroom diversity, the groans from the Democratic candidates suggested that something of great and tragic consequence had occurred--Jim Crow was at the schoolhouse door.Cohen's point--and I'll put it indelicately--is that the Bronx and Anacostia and South-Central are already so shot through with niggers and spics, so emptied of pasty white motherfuckers, that racial remediation is unattainable. And hell, that may well be the case.
The reality is that the court decision has almost no application to the big-city school systems we worry so much about.
But as it turns out, many of us don't "worry so much" about New York and Washington city schools. We worry about the schools in Louisville. We worry about the schools in Seattle. Why, I do believe that it was those cities, not New York nor Los Angeles nor the District of Columbia, who recently found themselves gazing at the barrel-end of a revanchist court majority.
The import of this case is that the federal government now sees fit to interdict local authorities from carrying out their own prerogatives on desegregation. Amid the hue and cry about this "conservative" decision, this perspective is lost. The case is about the authorities in Washington denying communties the right to craft their own solutions, tailored to local conditions, enacted by local governments, approved of by local populations.
Which is to say that the decision isn't conservative at all. Magnet schools and the careful management of intradistrict student transfers for the purpose of maintaining a relative degree of racial, cultural, and economic diversity is hardly preferential affirmative action. The Supreme Court decisions have placed the federal government in the position of actively promoting the resegregation of metropolitan and aggregated school districts. If not an issue for New York, it is for Pittsburgh, Louisville, St. Louis, Seattle, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Charlotte.
It must have sounded reassuring to big-city education unions and politicians with a gift for exacerbating racial paranoia.Ta gueule ! "Big-city education unions." "Politicians." Are there no other props in the shop?
Oi ye bollocks. What have ye all got on about? God? Why he's the real problem, i'n't it? I've a mind ta knock the old pouf in his pouf face for tryin ta kill them slags.
Yeah, ye heard me all right. I say it was God that dunnit, God and his dirty Muslim hordes, that's who.
Great Britain is rot through and through with these swine. Winston Churchill, God bless his soul, he would've gassed the lot of them. It's ye liberals, Gordon Smith on down the daisy chain, who're bollocksing England up for the rest of us. Oi these Muslims are inbred as a clan of Hapsburgs.
Ye skeevy Labour bastards. I hope God gets ta ever last one of ye. That'll teach ye.
Monday, July 02, 2007
I just thought I'd remind you all of this. Happy Fourth of July.
True Story: I was once talking to a very drunk old man in what you might charitably call a tavern in Connellsville, PA. He leans toward me and says, his breath like the inside of a peanut shell, "You know why they call it July?"
"Because the Jews. Lie."
I say this without irony: I love America.
This is the funniest thing I've ever seen.
Lately Democrats have allowed the word impeachment to float tremulously to the surface of the dark Democratic ocean. Just enough to get it out in the air. It's a monster, and it scares its potential users more than its potential victims. But frankly, I still don't think it goes far enough. I advise the Democrats to consolidate themselves geographically and then simply secede. The bastards did it to you! Do it back to them. Turnabout is fair play. What goes around, comes around. Don't tell Mom the babysitter's dead.
Oh good lord. Sullivan wants "the best of America." Quotes, videos, hand jobs, etc. My favorite quote about America?
Two of my favorite words, American and people, become hateful to me when placed directly next to each other and preceded by "the."Yeah. I wrote that one.
The French have parades on Bastille day too, but barring the North Koreans, who have no choice, I can think of no other people on earth who so glory in the affirmation of their glory. On July 4, 1776 a slave Confederacy burst forth to the chagrin of natives and Royalists alike. Like all dates, it was arbitrary. Like all entities, America has an expiration date, though yet to be determined. This isn't just my inner humbug, but my outer atheist reacting to the religious habit of setting aside sacred dates for the commemoration of the hazy events of the past.
Andrew Sullivan, you may have noted, is awfully down on America lately. He discovered that his adopted land never abjured the thumbscrews to the extent that he'd come to believe from the Voice of America broadcasts he used to risk his life to listen to in Socialist East London. He's found that his jolly little colonial war is neither terribly jolly nor exactly little. He found that the lamentable dimwit who dresses as our head of state isn't just acting. He wants this "best of America" to reaffirm his once-held, now-departed exceptionalisms.
How can I put this? The best thing about this week is that it's a shorter one. Our government has seen fit to mandate time off of work and time out of mail so that we can concentrate on the holy whatsit of America, blessed be her name. The American people gladly accept their part in this scam, for it allows them to watch things explode and to contemplate endless bottoms of domestic lager bottles. Let us not waste our time helping some dreary homosexual feel better about the adopted country whose promises turned out to be so much dust.
He wants a quotation? Here's a quotation:
I live in America, Louis, that's hard enough, I don't have to love it.
We had a lovely dinner chez famille IOZ last night. Mom and Dad prepared grilled pork with a sweet onion marmalade and a blanched-then-sautéd broccolini dish. Brother of IOZ brought the cigarettes. I brought a bottle of Pastis and a couple bottles of Jaboulet Parallèle "45", one of my current favorite $15-and-under reds, a very pleasant, rather spicy Côtes-du-Rhone that suits grills and outdoor meals very well. Talk turned, as it does, to politics. Mère IOZ suggested that the best bet at this point would be to redirect the exponentially increased opium production of Afghanistan toward Iraq. This is a basic medical principle, isn't it? Anesthesia before extraction? Granted, we're extracting ourselves. Physician, heal thyself!
In this interview, Benito Giuliani expresses an idea that I've often heard from those who take the "Islamic threat" very, very, very, very seriously.
If we had taken Hitler at his word, Stalin at his word, I think we would have made much sounder decisions and saved a lot more lives.The notion is that--for instance--since Hitler always said that he had it in for the Jews and agitated for German expansionism, we shoulda seen it comin'. The context is that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad also says bad things about Jews, thus, therefore, ergo . . .
Of ocurse, Adolph Hitler was a man with a superhuman capacity for mendacity, and hardly a word he uttered in public was untinged by a lie. In fact, Europe and "the World" largely did take him at his word--distrustful though they were of him, the powers basically accepted it when he pronounced Germany satiated by its last annexation. If indeed the future Allies erred in their dealings with Nazi Germany, it was through surfeit of credulity.
As for Iran, I will not be the first to point out that we are urged to believe every apocalyptic utterance from Ahmedinejad's ever-flapping pie-hole, while at the same time we are cautioned that any intimation that Iran is pursuing peaceful nuclear energy or that Iran genuinely wishes for some stability in its failed-state neighbor is a damned lie.
Many of you have probably already read "A President Beseiged and Isolated, Yet at Ease" in the WaPo. The tone is very odd--at once fawning and damning. Much of it is clearly reworded press releasage.
At the nadir of his presidency, George W. Bush is looking for answers. One at a time or in small groups, he summons leading authors, historians, philosophers and theologians to the White House to join him in the search.It's supremely doubtful that such a thing has ever actually occured, but if it has, God Bless You, Mr. T: I pity the fool. Imagine yourself as some reasonably happy moral philosopher, securely tenured, doing a bit of departmental administration, tinkering with notes for a new book you may or may not write, enjoying Sunday morning brunches with your wife's friends from the Modern Languages departments, gardening, vacationing at the Outer Banks. Thirty years ago, you would have considered this life a disappointment, your intellectual output a failure. But who as a student can anticipate the pleasures of basil plants, day lillies, and home restoration. You recieve an invitation to speak with the President of the United States, whose policies you abhor and whose person you suspect you distrust, but he's the president nevertheless, and though settled, you can't help but wonder if this meeting might be parlayed into something beneficial to your career or finances. So you find yourself in some private study in the White House, facing the reptilian eyes of a sober drunk as he sucks on a soda pop and asks you about the "post-9/11 world."
Over sodas and sparkling water, he asks his questions: What is the nature of good and evil in the post-Sept. 11 world?
A frightening prospect, huh?
In any case, the profile draws contrasts to Johnson and Nixon, who howled through their downfalls with Old Testament rage. We're meant to infer that the President, through force of will, "remains at ease," but the unintentional effect is to make us realize just how much crazier it is to go silently toward personal and historical doom without doing a lot of elaborate cursing of the fates and the heavens, the angels and devils that beset you on all sides. Nixon ended up as mad and self-pitying as Lear. Bush, meanwhile, is as silent as Iago, and his fierce resentments and dangerous self-regard run just as deeply.