Sunday, May 17

The stupidity and cruelty of the earth

This ugly sunlit picture of the stupidity and cruelty of the earth sent the ascetic finally to his prayers for purification and new thoughts.
That sounds very elevating. And yet as it turns out, the curate described here (in G.K. Chesterton's "The Hammer of God") doesn't behave very well.

Taro root

Wearing gloves, slice the skin off a large taro root. Rinse, then cut into sections and cut the sections into slices roughly a quarter inch thick. Heat a little oil in a pot, briefly stir fry the slices, then add water (a cup or so, but you're not making soup). Simmer until the taro softens, then season with salt and sprinkle with green onion cut into thin slices. Eat.

I've decided that it's better than mashed potatoes, and practically a comfort food.


Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

Les mouches du temps aiment une flèche.

Saturday, May 16

SURS Loses Money On Salesmen

In Illinois, where Rauner is pushing retirement benefit cuts, the trend is illustrative. There, the $18.9 billion Illinois State Universities Retirement System (SURS) used placement agents for 15.6 percent of its private equity investments -- which then underperformed the pension fund’s other private equity investments by -9.2 percent. The underperformance may have cost the system hundreds of millions of dollars, money could have been used to shore up the plan’s funding.

The SURS declined to comment on the study in response to queries from IBTimes.
Full article here.

Sunday, May 3


MARISOL: Your mother's family is Spanish?
PILAR: Sure, they go back to Cortez. When he rode by, they were squatting in a hut cooking hamsters for dinner.

Friday, May 1

Deliberate exercise or display of the body is a prostitution

"I have wished myself to know that any deliberate exercise or display of the body is a prostitution; our created shapes being only our accidents until by taking pleasure or pains in them we make them our fault."
T. E. Lawrence, The Mint
That's a little extreme. And if you feel that way about your body, isn't your intellect also an accident?

Then on the other hand, what's wrong with prostitution?

Foreign aid making governments weaker

Anne Applebaum writes,
In 2009, Ashraf Ghani, now the president of Afghanistan, co-authored a book with Clare Lockhart that argued international aid had drastically weakened the Afghan state: Instead of building Afghanistan’s capacity to deliver health care or education, foreign donors set up parallel structures. Charities hired the best people away from the government and took all the money, too. Recently, an acquaintance who works in Mogadishu told me that exactly the same problem now afflicts Somalia. Instead of shoring up the central government, international policy seems designed to make it weaker.

Tuesday, February 17

There is no "you"!

Normally I like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics. I really didn't like the awful Henry Hersch Hart translation of the Bái Juyì (Po Chü-i) poem used in this one (which is probably why I should agree that it's not great that every job requires a college degree).

Here's Hart's awful translation:

A Forsaken Garden

I enter the court
Through the middle gate—
And my sleeve is wet with tears.

The flowers still grow
In the courtyard,
Though two springs have fled
Since last their master came.

The windows, porch, and bamboo screen
Are just as they always were,
But at the entrance to the house
Someone is missing—

Here's the original:
【重到毓村宅有感】 白居易著

Here's my effort:

"Feelings Upon Returning Again to the Dwelling in Yù Village"

About to enter the middle gate; tears moisten my kerchief
The flowers in the courtyard haven't a master for two springs
The windows and curtains are both as before
Only one person is missing from the front of the hall

There is no "you"!

Apparently Bai had began his studies in Yù Village (now Gǔ Fúlí Village 古符離村 in Fúlí xiàn in 符離縣) in Anhui Province and later returned there.

Wednesday, January 14

How many balls you got dangling from your rearview mirror

Shane is trying to help the daughter of an Armenian "businessman" who's lying in a coma. After he tells her that one Juneteenth Freeman has been ripping off her prostitutes, back at the police station he hears "African-American male, 20s, ID'd Juneteenth Freeman, out on parole, found unconscious in an alleyway with his testicles cut off."

Later talking to her, Shane says, "It's only a matter of time before Rezian finds out your father's out of the game. If he hasn't already. When he does, he's gonna come after you with everything he's got. Now, you're not ready for that. I don't care how many balls you got dangling from your rearview mirror."

From "The Shield" Season 6 Episode 8.

(Bonus: When the male cops express surprise at female interest in knockoff luxury purses, one of the female cops explain, "It's a girl thing. You guys just don't get it." Another chimes in, "Yeah, it would like us trying to understand why you guys love your balls so much that you gotta play pocket pool all the time." and one of them guiltily removes his hands from his pockets.)

Friday, August 22

Fear of disorder

In Environmentalism and the Fear of Disorder, Ronald Bailey writes
...a lot of environmentalists experience many aspects of the modern world as chaotic and thus seek to compensate for their perceptions of disorder by engaging in ritual behaviors that make them feel like they are exerting more personal control. It is not much of a leap to conclude that by imposing those rituals on others, some environmentalists seek to reduce their dread of disorder even more.

Why call them rituals? Because it is not all that clear that they actually do anything much for the natural environment. For example, the costs of curbside recycling often outweigh purported benefits, and lower organic crop yields mean more land taken from nature. But as Meijers and Rutjens have shown, partaking in such rites is much like reciting the Rosary, in that they, too, reduce participant anxiety.

Saturday, April 12

Red cooked pork butt

3-4 lbs. pork butt

The day before:
Cut pork into large pieces, bring to a boil, cool and then rinse, refrigerate

Fry in a little olive oil:
chopped package shallots
sliced ginger (a piece the size of two thumbs)

All the meat
2 star anises
2 one-inch by ½ inch pieces of chinese cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sichuan peppercorns
6 dried peppers
5-6 pieces rock sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup rice wine for cooking
½ cup soy sauce
1½ cups water; the mix of meat and spices should be about 7/10 covered

Stew over a low flame until tender (1½-2 hours)

Sunday, April 6

Salmon fried rice

Use the leftover oil from frying salmon or salmon skin.

Chop about a cup cabbage, fry in the salmon oil, add half a cup of chopped cilantro, stir fry, mix in a couple of cups of cooked rice (adjust according to how oily you want it), sprinkle with salt, and you're done.

Salmon on rice wrapped in nori

That's about it. Salmon skin is good. Chop up the meat and skin and fry it up. (Save the oil and some of the meat for Salmon Fried Rice). Spread cooked rice at one end of a sheet of nori, spread on some salmon, sprinkle with furikake and wrap it in the nori; I don't know if it's genuine onigiri, but I like it.

Shiitake mushrooms with snow peas

Snap both ends off snow peas, slice about equal quantity of fresh shiitake mushroom caps (discard the stem) into thin slices. Heat oil, first dump in the mushrooms, then the snow peas, stir fry adding water whenever the liquid dries up. Don't overcook!

Chinese "meat loaf"

OK, it's not really a loaf, but it's meat.

½ lb. ground pork

Mix in a couple of teaspoons of:
soy sauce
sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste.

2 scallions
1½ teaspoon ginger
1 cup shiitake mushrooms

Microwave the mushrooms a minute or so; they'll shrink to about half.

Mix all ingredients together in a low bowl, then put the trivet in the rice cooker, two cups of filtered water, put a plate on the trivet (in case of spills) and the bowl on the plate. Click it on and take it out when it's done. Eat with rice.