Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Price Power?

Remember just a few short years ago when any mention of the fact that Bush, Cheney and their soulless minions were running roughshod over the Constitution and you were shouted down with calls of treason?

Here we are, a mere eight months into the Obama presidency and the right has raised the specter of a military overthrow of the elected leadership of the United States government. While this may be the newest low it is part of an unmistakable trend in right-wing rhetoric. Everyday we are seeing new levels of insanity and all suggesting extreme actions and violence against the rightly elected President. It's sick and depraved and very, very dangerous and it's a sign of conservative contingents gone stark raving mad.

This latest is from Newsmax columnist John L. Perry who encourages his right-wing readers not to "dismiss" the notion of an American military coup as "unrealistic."

America isn't the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn't mean it wont [sic]. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it....

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for "fundamental change" toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

I, for one, am truly afraid of another Oklahoma City or something even worse. We already have the murder of the census worker which is looking more and more as if it was related to his duties as a Federal worker. What's next? It is also sickly telling that we have had no comment from the worst of the worst (Beck, Limbaugh, Malkin, Bachmann, etc.) denouncing this insane talk for what it really is...treason. I expected the right to get a little crazy when the majority elected a black man President but I, once again, underestimated how deranged they could become. How far are the Republicans and the deranged right willing to go to regain their power?

As Mustang Bobby asks "Where is Kirk Douglas when we need him?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Land of the Lost

Gregory Rodriguez has an excellent article in the Los Angeles Times about the nature of conspiracy theories and why people believe them.

The real truth is that, as weird as they are, rumors and conspiracy theories can only thrive in the minds of people who are predisposed to believe them. Successful propagators of fringe theories don’t just send random balloons into the atmosphere. Rather, they tap into the preexisting beliefs and biases of their target audiences.

Plenty of studies have shown that people don’t process information in a neutral way — “biased assimilation” they call it. In other words, rather than our opinions being forged by whatever information we have available, they tend to be constructed by our wants and needs. With all their might, our minds try to reduce cognitive dissonance — that queasy feeling you get when you are confronted by contradictory ideas simultaneously. Therefore, we tend to reject theories and rumors — and facts and truths — that challenge our worldview and embrace those that affirm it.

This is likely true for every one of us, myself included. I find myself jumping on the bandwagon with news and stories that fit my world picture but I usually realize that I am not letting my well learned skepticism kick in and soon get it sorted out. Granted I still get fooled now and again but not often. This most recent period in American politics has done a fairly good job of sucking the 'pollyanna' out of my world view. Yes, I still get excited and believe at times that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I guess that will always be the case as I am not ready to give up life without some hope and I will always believe the positive attributes of our world will come to bear eventually. And yes, I understand "The Two Hands of God" bit and all the other yin and yang stuff.

What else is apparent is the "right" is pretty much gone over the edge and nothing like facts and logic is going to drag them back from fantasy land. Over the last 8 or 10 years, surrounded as I am with the hard right, I have come to realize that they are just too far gone and wrapped in their fantasy world and that reason and logic are no longer an effective tool for communication. No scientific fact or even the evidence in front of their eyes is going to change their minds about whatever bizarre notions they have about the world around them. It's not worth the effort to try and talk with them. I still try and reach out to the somewhat 'sane' but have effectively given up on the 'land of the lost'.

From the Buddhist perspective of "your outer reality is a projection of your inner reality" we have a serious problem with a rather large piece of the American public. I would have to say that there are way too many people running around with a very twisted inner reality and that is one disturbing thing to contemplate. I'm just saying.

Yogurt and Probiotics

I like yogurt and I try and eat a half cup a day of low fat plain organic of the stuff. You are seeing more and more claims everyday about the health benefits of yogurt and other foods with "probiotics" but there is some doubt about whether these “friendly” bacteria in yogurt and other foods actually do anything for you healthwise. We know they help yogurt taste good but what else? Tara Parker-Pope has a summary of the state of the research on probiotics in today’s New York Times.

If you follow the link you'll find that the short answer is kind of wishy-washy. In a nutshell it is probably yes for infant diarrhea and, maybe, irritable bowel syndrome, and maybe or no for just about everything else. Personally, I think yogurt helps keep your system in better tune and I know I seem to have less trouble with my digestion if I keep to my regular yogurt habit. This is especially true if I do bad things like eat too much raw veges or too many beans. Though I must admit that since I have been eating more veges(including beans) and a lot less meat I seem more able to handle the digestion side of the equation, yogurt or not.

According to the article consumers just won a large class-action settlement – $35 million – against Dannon for claiming that Activia yogurt promotes immunity. According to one news account, Dannon spent $100 million marketing the immunity-promoting effects of Activia ignoring the results of its own company-sponsored research which inconveniently showed few benefits.

Regardless of the pros or cons I'll stick with my daily yogurt because I like it and I think it helps this old body keep on clicking. Besides the breakfast angle I use yogurt a lot in cooking and for salad dressings and I use it instead of sour cream on my jacket potato. It may or may not infer any benefits other than adding to a well balanced diet but a well balanced diet is bound to better for you than an unbalanced one.

h/t marion

The Trouble with Biscotti

The trouble with baking biscotti is that after you cut them on the bias in preparation for the second low temperature bake is that you have all these odd ends left over! It is a shame to waste them!

I am packaging them 3 each(they are about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long) in little zip lock plastic snack size bags and they are my donation to the bake sale for the "Great Flea Fling" I'm inclined to suggest they go for 75 cents or a buck but I think Madam is looking at 50 cents a bag. What do you think is a fair price....especially since this is a fundraiser for historic preservation? And I dare you to find a better biscotti...lots of walnuts and sweetened cranberries and made with nothing but flour, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Damn fine if I do say so myself.

Updated to add the picture.

Chilly Morning

Chilly morning in Atlanta. I actually got up and put on Levi's instead of shorts this morning. Surprisingly, the hummingbirds are still around and I have dozens feeding in kind of a panic. Yesterday they actually drank a whole feeder full of nectar which usually takes them a week. I got a close inspection from several this morning when I was out feeding the other birds. It really starts the day off right when the little fellows get right in your face and thank you for the juice. They are trying to store up for their big migration to Latin and South America and they are unusually late in departing this year. Couldn't have anything to do with climate change though.

Busy day with doctors and other tasks yesterday. Got my seasonal flu shot and all my routine blood work done. Madam doctor was pleased at all the weight I've lost and it showed in my BP (120/70) and I am sure it will have a positive impact on my Hemoglobin A1C and lipids as well. I'll know in a day or two but if my morning tests are any indication, and they are hovering around 100, then I should be good.

Speaking of flu shots...a crudely made sign was spotted on a telephone pole yesterday that read "Swine Flu shots will give you Gulf War Syndrome". What's the deal with that?

I got all the hot peppers processed into hot sauce and canned yesterday. All those peppers yielded 6 pints of scorchingly hot sauce. Probably won't be able to eat it all but I have a couple of chili head friends that I am sure will help. The jalapenos from the garden this year were exceedingly hot, actually hotter than the serranos, and the sauce is a blend of the two with some cayenne thrown in for goof measure. As my Granddaddy used to's so hot you'll have to use the creek to keep from setting the woods on fire. Good stuff!

Started my baking for the big Historical Society fundraiser this weekend (The Great Flea Fling) with a couple of batches of walnut and cranberry biscotti. I will do another couple this morning after I go get more eggs and baking powder. I am also on the hook for setting up tents which is a pain but only because of all the "help" I will have and that with daylight time I will have to do all the work in the dark on Saturday morning.

Time for another cup of coffee and then off to the grocery and back to baking. I mentioned the other day that I have gone back to the 'French press" for my morning coffee and damn if it doesn't make the best coffee! I am using a dark roast bean from Trader Joe's called "Bay Blend" and it makes a fine strong, full bodied cup and using the press method extracts every nuance from a quality bean. If you don't mind the little bit of sediment in the cup, which I don't, then it is definitely the best way to brew a good cup of coffee outside of an expensive espresso machine.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I slogged through a very wet garden and rescued pretty much all the remaining peppers today. I was surprised that so many made it through the storms. More than enough cayenne, jalapeno and serrano to make a batch of hot pepper sauce which is going right now. What I am going to do with all the sweet peppers is another question. Except for sweet potatoes(which I hope aren't rotting in the wet ground) and that's pretty much it for the summer garden.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Rain!

Another Saturday grounded by rain....needless to say something we really don't need right now. Madam is out and about and I am entertaining myself watching the 6 or so hummingbirds busily keeping each other from the feeder, the net result is none get to eat. They are supposed to be fattening up for the trip to points south but are so busy being greedy and territorial that everyone is losing out. You think they are Republicans?

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend. I've got a sourdough starter bubbling away so that I can bake tomorrow but other than that it will be real quiet around here. The radar is showing just spotty showers with most of the heavy rain a good ways north and my Mom said it was raining in Narrows (far western Virginia). so maybe we will be spared more flooding.

Sure would be nice if we could share some of this with our friends on the other coast or at least enough to put out the damn fires.

Don't try, just DO!

To steal a march from Bill Maher.

If you are like me then you are tired to the point of screaming of the extended debate over health care reform. We all know the GOP won't accept anything and that all they want to do is see President Obama fail. That's understood. Why the Dems won't see it or admit is another question altogether. Beyond the fact that the problems are known and that the fix is known (see France, Germany, Japan and many other countries) what the hell are we actually talking about and why are we talking about making it effective in 4 fucking years. Even if the complete shit of a bill put forward by Baucus is passed tomorrow (which will be a royal screwing of the American people and a giant reward for the health insurers) they are talking about not getting anything actually going for 4 years. Has anybody in Washington considered that at the current rate (which will probably increase considering the economy and joblessness) another 175,000 or so Americans will die unnecessarily for lack of adequate access to health care? Hello! These are people that should not die! While we diddle around for 4 years another 3 million or more Americans are going to go bankrupt because of medical expenses and more than half of those currently have what passes for health insurance in this country. This is absolutely insane. In 1965 when LBJ signed Medicare into law it only took another 11 months before seniors were getting benefits. WTF is wrong with us that we are willing to settle for 4 years of pain and suffering for nothing but some half-assed band-aid a sham effort at health care reform? We should be first, embarrassed and second, enraged.

What has happened to our country since 1965 that makes this all so difficult. Why can't we look at our problems as say to ourselves let's fix it and while we are at it let's not try and reinvent the damn wheel. Our problems have already been solved successfully and in several different ways and are there for us to model and's not any great mystery that needs years of study and whipsawing back and forth. It's a done deal. Pick a plan whether it be France's or Germany's or whatever but pick a successful plan that meets our needs and implement it ASAP and that means in 12 months or less.

There are no excuses for not getting this done and if this President and his majority Congress can't do it then we elect some folks that can. As the great Yoda would say "Don't try, just do!"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bad Shrimp

I'll be the first to admit that I like shrimp. I prefer wild caught but I sometimes by the frozen farm raised bags o' shrimp at Trader Joe's because it is convenient and it's nice to have a little shrimp on hand in the freezer for a quick stir fry. I probably won't be buying the farm raised shrimp again. I know it doesn't taste as good as wild caught and the texture is not as good but I thought that had more to do with the freezing than being farm raised....evidently I was mistaken. Farm raising shrimp is not a very nice thing and the product is more than likely tainted with something whether it be antibiotics or some chemical...evidently you pretty much can't grow shrimp without loads of chemicals and antibiotics. Yes, the FDA inspects and tests imported shrimp but only 2% if it and what it does test it finds is tainted.

Jill at La Vida Locavore exerpts from a book Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood by Taras Grescoe:

Here are some shrimp facts from the book:

  • In 2006, Americans ate 1.3 billion lbs of shrimp, or 4.4 lbs per person.
  • As bad as shrimp farming is, wild-caught shrimp are pretty awful too: for every one pound of shrimp caught by trawler, they kill and throw away 10 pounds of "bycatch" (other species they weren't fishing for).
  • Chain restaurants favor the uniformity of farmed shrimp over wild-caught shrimp, which can be more varied.
  • 85% of shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported.
  • 3/4 of the world's shrimp production comes from developing nations like Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and China.
  • China's the top producer of shrimp, followed by Thailand.
  • China supplies 70% of the planet's farmed fish.
  • In the U.S. one in every five fish is from China.
  • For each pound of farmed shrimp, it takes two pounds of wild-caught fish flesh. These are ground up and turned into pellets.
  • Shrimp have been turned into cannibals. A major ingredient in the pellets they eat is ground-up shrimp heads.
  • Individual shrimp farmers rarely do well financially, facing low prices for shrimp, high feed costs, and high risk of being wiped out by disease.
  • Shrimp farms do not effectively create jobs. In India an acre of rice paddy can employ 14 people but an acre of shrimp ponds employs 1.
  • Plants that process farmed shrimp hire many workers to behead and devein shrimp. In India, these workers make (on average) $35/month.
  • "In Louisiana, which does rigorous testing of its own, the antibiotic chloramphenicol, known to cause leukemia and aplastic anemia, was found in nine percent of all samples." - p. 159
  • Mangroves, which are being destroyed by shrimp farming, form a natural barrier against hurricanes and tsunamis. They "are among the most productive ecosystems on earth, as well as the most efficient carbon sinks we know of." - p. 160
  • "38% of mangrove loss worldwide can be attributed to shrimp farming." - p. 160
  • "In Ecuador, a major supplier of farmed shrimp to American chain restaurants, almost 70 percent of mangroves have been razed since the coming of shrimp farms." - p. 160
  • In 1990, a flesh-eating virus spread from Mexican shrimp farms to wild blue shrimp, wiping out the blue shrimp in the upper Gulf of California.
  • "An epidemic of antibiotic-resistant cholera has been documented among Ecuadorean shrimp farm workers." - p. 164
If I were you I would, like me, rethink my shrimp eating habits.

One More Time

Via Digby ......Vanity Fair has a great article today about the outrageous compensation schemes in the medical industry. We've written about the insurance company CEO's a lot on this blog, but this article takes a broader look at the health industry as a whole:

With median annual compensation of more than $12.4 million, C.E.O.’s at the big health-care companies make two-thirds more than their counterparts in finance and are the highest paid of any industry. The health-care industry’s total annual profit has grown to an estimated $200 billion, and it doled out nearly $170 million in campaign contributions in 2007 and 2008. It now spends more than any other industry lobbying the federal government—$3.5 billion over the past decade and a record $263 million in the first six months of this year. That’s six lobbyists and nearly half a million dollars for each member of Congress. It’s been a good year on K Street, too.

It should come as no surprise, then, that we spend 17 percent of our G.D.P. and more than $7,500 per American per year on health care. That’s 50% more than any other industrialized nation. Meanwhile, the quality of care we get in return has fallen to embarrassing lows. According to the World Health Organization, our health-care system ranks 37th in overall quality and fairness, placing us between Costa Rica and Slovenia. We rank 41st in infant-mortality rates, alongside Slovakia and Serbia, and dead last among 19 leading industrialized countries in preventable deaths. Nearly two-thirds of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are caused by illness, yet more than three-quarters of those people actually had health insurance when they fell ill. In other words, we’re all getting ripped off.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

When Did Hanging NOT Mean Foul Play?

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Census worker found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word on the chest of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and teacher. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky.

Investigators have said little about the case. FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is assisting state police and declined to confirm or discuss any details about the crime scene.


"Our job is to determine if there was foul play involved — and that's part of the investigation — and if there was foul play involved, whether that is related to his employment as a Census worker," said Beyer.

I may just being dense but what part of "hanged in a tree with 'Fed' etched in your chest' doesn't pretty much tell you foul play?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whose Cooking?

My previous post about my gift of eggs from a friend got me thinking. After I hit the publish button I thought to myself... a lot of people reading that post will think it is silly to 'gush' over something as mundane as a stupid egg.

I just came back from the grocery(it's Wednesday and 'old peoples day' where seniors get a 5% discount on their grocery order) and I always notice what is in other people's carts and it always dismays me. Piles of frozen 'entrees', boxes of mixes, frozen pizza, frozen potatoes, plastic bread, Little Debbie snack cakes, Velveeta and little packets of American cheese slices, canned biscuits and all sorts of dog awful stuff. There was a marked absence of anything fresh.

The thing is none of the stuff these folks are paying big bucks for requires any cooking. It only requires either opening or heating. You would have thought that with over 1oo million viewers the Food Network might have changed this but from my perspective it hasn't. When you think about it, it makes some sense and Michael Pollan alluded to it in a recent article. Most of those watching the Food Network are really food 'voyeurs' and not really cooks. It is also true that most of what is on the Food Network is not really cooking but shows about food related things and there are some really awful shows like Chopped, Challenge and Unwrapped that really stink. I admit I enjoy Ina Garten and sometimes Giada but I get really tired of seeing Bobby Flay trying to best every cook in the country.

I may be weird but I really enjoy cooking. I like to make things from scratch and I like to make things myself even if I can buy them. When I was growing up (and yes I'm a geezer) but cooking was a central part of daily life. Baking bread, making soups, stewing chickens, making cookies and cakes, making your own jellies and jams and even your own cheese was a part of the regular weekly activities. I was lucky growing up in a family of good cooks and in neighborhoods with Italians, Greeks, Slavs and all the rest. I got exposed to all kinds of food while growing up and most if not all of it was made from scratch. I was also lucky enough to travel abroad while in the military and experience the local foods in Europe, the Middle East and in Asia. All of this gave me a sense of food and appreciation for how important it was to the culture of a people. I learned to love food of all kinds and learned early on that "the realer" it was the better it was. I also learned that it was also cheaper to do it yourself.

This brings me back to the reason for the post in the first place. People need to learn to cook again. They need to stop throwing their money away on crap food and learn how food should be made and discover how wonderful and satisfying cooking for real can be. This, of course, brings me back to the eggs. If you think it is silly to gush over a dozen glorious eggs that were laid by hens raised the way hens are supposed to be raised then you don't or can't cook and probably don't know how to eat either and that is a damn shame. I for one am going to do each one of those culinary justice and I am going to relish each one for the jewel that it is.

In case you are wondering my grocery basket contained the following foods, King Arthur A/P flour, black beans, quesadilla cheese, chorizo, walnuts, org carrots, org celery, red grapes, buttermilk, butter, sweet potatoes, V8 juice, and bacon. With my frozen and canned garden produce that is the food shopping for the next week until 'old peoples day'.

Eggstra Special

I am so excited. My friend Carmen, who lives down the road, started a small flock of about a dozen chickens early this year and she just gifted me with a dozen of their eggs. Real local free range as in pasture raised chicken eggs.

Now I just have to figure out how to give them the honor they deserve. Of course four will be soft boiled (4 minutes) and served over homemade sour dough toast in the morning but what to do with the other 8. A cheese souffle would be nice but that takes 6 so I will have to study on it. Then there is hard cooking a couple and making a nice olive oil mayo for a simple but oh so nice egg mayonnaise. Then there is the dish I had at a little restaurant in Lyon(Daniel et Denise) a couple of years ago which was simple but absolutely smashing. Serve two lightly poached eggs in a broth of slow cooked red wine, butter and Herbes de Provence. Sounds a little weird but when you break the soft yolk and it mixes with the rich mellow wine broth and you soak it all up with a gorgeous piece of fresh baguette all the bells go off. Most of the eggs you get in Europe and especially France are from pastured chickens and the yolks are rich and almost orange, very unlike the lemon colored industrial eggs we have here in the U.S. available to most of us.

How would you use the other 8 very special eggs?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Bit of Bad Luck

I was out an around Monk manor surveying all the damage from the rains. Picking up branches and moving part of my gravel drive in the back yard back up the hill..lots of moving water. The garden is a disaster that will take weeks of work to repair. While picking up trash I managed to step into a yellow jacket's nest and before I realized what I had done they managed to get me pretty good. I had a pretty lucky summer with respect to bee stings... only a couple which I probably deserved but I had to wait until the last day of summer to get really hit. Ouch! i used to keep honey bees and am no stranger to bee stings but yellow jacket stings really seem to hurt a lot worse. Time for the Benadryl and no more yard work today. I did get the few puddles in the basement mopped up and it is drying nicely, so that's something. I can see from all the activity at the next door neighbor that they weren't quite so lucky, basement wise, as their is a large pile of carpet in the driveway.

Maybe I'll surprise Madam and run the suck broom while she is out.

Last Day of Summer

Well, today at 518pm EDT summer officially ends. That's when we strike the autumnal equinox and the nights begin to be longer than the days. Tomorrow will be the first full day of fall. Tomorrow, according to the ancient rules of gardening, is when I am supposed to plant my fall crops. Seeing as how there is an inch or two of water standing in the garden right now I am going to miss the ritual time and hope that the garden goddess doesn't punish me too badly for the failure to plant on time. Seeing as how rain is still in the forecast for the rest of the week I may be weeks late in getting anything done. The good news is that right this moment the sky is clear and the sun is shining. There is hope yet.

Metro Atlanta is Under Water

Serious flooding all around after yesterday's rains on top of the days of rain preceding it. Interstate 20 is closed at Six Flags because of the Chattahoochee and the Perimeter is closed in several places. Almost all of the school systems are closed due to flooding and power outages. I just have a little water in the basement but nothing except some seepage from under the door. It's not over since rain is forecast for the next few days but not at the level we have had. The pictures on the news this morning are pretty bad for a lot of neighborhoods. I am lucky that I live at the highest point in the area at the union of the two major watersheds(Foe Killer and Hog Wallow). I haven't been down to see the damage in the garden but a couple of days ago it was bad enough. Oh well.

If you are a neighbor I hope you are OK and not hurt too much by this.

Updated to add this link of the CNN coverage of the deadly mess we have in Atlanta.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Don't Want to Talk About It

Yes, it is still raining and right now we are having a frog strangling thunder storm with torrential rain and lightning everywhere. Flash flooding here and there and North Georgia is really having some trouble with flooding...That's all I am going to say about.

I'm making a Pot au Feu for dinner or at least my version of one. I'm not making my own stock but I am using all home grown veges with the exception of carrots and I didn't murder the bottom round roast I cubed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Updated: 1/25/10. My apologies. I just realized that I left the baking powder out of the recipe. My bad and I apologize to anyone who made some rather heavy biscotti. It's now correct.

Still raining and when I get bored I tend to cook. Somehow biscotti seemed appropriate and they are very easy to make. If you have looked at them in the grocery they are also quite expensive and there is no excuse to pay two prices for them when they are a snap and cheap to make yourself. A good biscotti can make a very good cup of coffee a great cup of coffee. BTW I have gone back to making my morning coffee with my French coffee press. You use less beans and it makes a superior cup of coffee as you can get the water hot enough to properly extract all the good stuff out of a good bean. The typical drip maker, even the expensive ones, don't actually get the water hot enough to properly brew coffee.

Anyhow, let's make some biscotti( this recipe comes from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)

You'll need:
4 TBLSP unsalted butter (you can make biscotti without butter but I like the flavor and texture a little butter brings to the party and without the little bit of fat the butter brings the biscotti are really, really crunchy)
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 TSP vanilla or almond extract (your choice) but I like vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375F and prepare a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan by using a Silpat or parchment paper or by buttering and flouring.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy then add the eggs one at a time fully incorporating the first egg before adding the second. After the eggs are nicely mixed in add your vanilla or almond extract and then the flour in three separate steps. Make sure each third of flour is fully mixed before adding the next. Be careful not to over mix or you will develop the gluten and make the cookies tough. Don't forget the salt.

At this point you can add some additional goodies. The batch I made today had chopped walnuts (1/2 cup) and 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries but you can add whatever you want. Pine buts, almonds, pistachios, dried cherries or even chocolate chips. The batter will take about a cup of additional ingredients.

Once you mix in the additional stuff divide the dough into two equal parts and form two logs about 3 inches wide and 3/4 inches thick. You can do this right on the prepared baking sheet. Bake these about 30 minutes until they are lightly browned and then remove from the oven and set aside for about 10-15 minutes. Turn your oven down to 250F.

After you can handle the big cookies cut them diagonally into about 1/2 inch wide bars. Put them back on the baking sheet cut side up and return them to the oven to finish for about 30 minutes turning them over about half way through. Cool them on racks. Makes about 3 dozen or so. These will keep in a tightly sealed container for a week with no problem if they last that long.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rainy Saturday

Sorry Jill, it's still raining.

The hawk is back on the deck railing this afternoon and seems intent on catching something that appears to be hiding in the gardenias. He is just pacing back and forth and staring into the bushes.

Can't work in the garden so it's Blockbuster time.

Madam wanted Chicago...I didn't love it but I'll watch it. There is Ms. Jones after all and Renee Zellweger is a favorite. I really enjoyed her work in the Beatrix Potter movie and in Cold Mountain.

I also got Australia which was recommended by a friend so we'll see. Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen is the other and I usually enjoy her stuff. So it is day in front of the boob tube for us.

Everyone enjoy the weekend.

Shiver Me Timbers!

Don't forget it is 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' matey! The FSM expects everyone to climb the mizzen and do his or her part.

Oh! And it is still raining quite hard here and the forecast is for rain the next 7 days.

Avast! Man the pumps you swabs or we'll be sleeping with Davy Jones!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Red Tailed Hawk

One of things about a wildlife habitat in the backyard is that you get both sides of the food chain. While I have lots of deer, wild turkey, opossum, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and a wide variety of birds I also get the occasional predator. In this case it was an immature red tailed hawk that came and sat on the deck railing for a while waiting for an unwary chipmunk, dove or something else tasty. He/she sat and posed for a long time all the while keeping a close eye on the ground under the bird feeders. The hummers and chickadees pretty much ignored it but there was not much else venturing out. Even though they are a regular visitor I get just as excited each time they appear and always try and get a few pictures. It was late in the day and between cloudbursts but I managed to catch a few poses.

You can click on the pictures if you want to see them full screen.

For any of you that are interested these were taken with a Nikon D80 using the 55-200 VR Zoom.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And the Rains Came!

Jeebus it is raining pitchforks and puppy dogs right now...again! It has been doing this for a couple of days now...every once in a while the skies just open up. My rain gauge says we have received just under 6 inches in the last few days and that was before these last two deluges this morning and now. This is putting a serious dent in my fall gardening and I am starting to get a bit of 'cabin fever'. The good thing is that I did manage to get roquette(arugula), spinach, beets, some mixed lettuce and French breakfast radishes in the ground over the weekend and the lettuce, radishes and roquette are already up and on their way. It would have been nice to have the peas in but that's the gardener's burden...timing and weather.

On the bright least it is not very windy and I can keep my windows open and listen to the rain.

The rains come and go,
providing a small gift for
silent listener


A Billion Hungry!

Even when the world economy is rocking along the wealthy countries of the world have trouble meeting all of the demands for aid to the hungry. Now that we're in a global recession, it will only get worse.
Food aid is at a 20-year low despite the number of critically hungry people soaring this year to its highest level ever, the United Nations relief agency said Wednesday.

The number of hungry people will pass 1 billion this year for the first time, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said, adding that it is facing a serious budget shortfall.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Next It Will Be Sheets and Hoods

It has been going on since the election... the lowest and most vicious of Obama's opponents have been subtlety adding a racial 'color' to their attacks. For the most part it has been very carefully worded but if you took a second look you could hear the dog whistle. Most recently it was Saxby Chambliss warning the president to show humility during his speech or Joe Wilson's shout "You Lie! and carefully leaving the 'boy' word unsaid but understood. Apparently, the time for carefully shaded remarks is over and unvarnished racism and race-baiting is now the order of the day.

It apparently started with a headline on Drudge: "White Student Beaten on School Bus; Crowd Cheers." What makes a fist fight among teenagers on a school bus in St. Louis national news is beyond me but since it was a black kid hitting a white kid it was evidently serious enough for the far right to make it important on a national scale.

While a number of wingnuts jumped on the story as an excuse to accuse President Obama of creating a new era of black on white hate, Rush Limbaugh took the prize for the most unvarnished race-baiting of the day when he decided that somehow President Obama is responsible for this tragic event.

"It's Obama's America, is it not? Obama's America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety, but in Obama's America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,' and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he's white."

It doesn't appear to matter that the event wasn't racially motivated but rather the result of some bullies who like to dictate who sits where on the bus. Of course, the truth doesn't matter when it comes to the real goal of the far right which is to try and transfer their racial hatred of the president to as many of their mouth breathing listeners as possible. The mostly sane and somewhat civilized among us recognize and revile this kind of crap for the hateful and dangerous thing that it is. Many of us lived through Jim Crow and the pain of the civil rights movement and remember how this kind of talk strains the fabric of our society. I had actually believed that except for a small fringe of society that we had moved beyond this sort of thing and never would I have believed that such transparently racist language would be on national media. The real tragedy is that it will get worse and that it will most likely trigger some kind of violence but even if no one gets hurt physically it will generate emotional pain and foster hatred and sadly Limbaugh and his cohorts will not suffer any consequences for their nasty discourse.

This is a terrible fire the far right are unleashing and something that will burn us all.

Update: Some more reading.
MoDo thinks it is.

Jimmy Carter thinks it is.

Cynthia Tucker thinks it is.

Another Bacon Cheeseburger?

Not that I eat them that much any more but it seems research has shown that foods high in saturated fats (beef, milk, cheese, etc.) actually tell the brain to ignore the "I'm satisfied" signals and keep eating. Probably another reason to stay away from the fatty foods. They don't specifically mention bacon or BBQ pork so I guess I'm good.
A U.S. study by UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has found that fat from certain foods such ice cream and burgers heads to the brain.

Once there, the fat molecules trigger the brain to send messages to the body's cells, warning them to ignore the appetite-suppressing signals from leptin and insulin, hormones involved in weight regulation — for up to three days.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reading for Teabaggers

Jon Perr has a handy little post over at Crooks and Liars. 10 Lessons for Teabaggers. Now if we could just get the Teabaggers to turn off Glenn Beck for a few minutes, read the post(following the links and documentation) we wouldn't have a problem. Not going to happen I know but one can dream.

Friends are Where You Find Them

A nice story and pics my daughter sent but I don't know who was the original author.

The Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara, CA (or Santa BBQ as Cookie Jill would say)last week caused these two to take shelter together. The fawn is 3 days old and the bobcat about 3 weeks. The fawn came from somewhere in the fire and the bobcat from Carpentaria. They immediately bonded and snuggled together under a desk in the Santa Barbara County Dispatch Office for several hours.

Reportedly the bobcat kitten was rescued near Arnold Schwarzenegger's ranch, where it was dehydrated and near death.

They rescued the fawn during last week's wildfire.

Although wild animals, especially of separate species, are never placed together due to regulations, in this emergency situation, they had no choice.

During the mayhem of the fire, they were forced to put animals anywhere they could, since they had run out of crates large enough for the fawn. The kitten ran to the fawn, and it was instant bonding.

Food Safety - Good Resources

According to Marion Nestle there are now two good Internet resources for news and information about food safety. For government food safety information, there is And now Bill Marler, the lawyer whose Seattle firm represents victims of food poisonings, has just launched Naturally, some of the information on these two sites will be redundant but they will be covering it from distinctly different perspectives.

Thanks Marion.

Update: Links fixed

Most Doctors Want A Public Option

Not that it will likely change many of the bought votes of our congress critters or the otherwise insane ones it seems like actual physicians support a public alternative as part of health care reforms, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Public opinion surveys have consistently shown strong support for a public option as part of heath care reform while the entire health care industry has been furiously fighting it.

It is encouraging to know that a large majority of physicians seem to agree more with their patients than with the industry. (via Dr. Ron Chusid, who has more)

A large majority of doctors say there should be a public option.

When polled, "nearly three-quarters of physicians supported some form of a public option, either alone or in combination with private insurance options," says Dr. Salomeh Keyhani. She and Dr. Alex Federman, both internists and researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, conducted a random survey, by mail and by phone, of 2,130 doctors. They surveyed them from June right up to early September.

Most doctors -- 63 percent -- say they favor giving patients a choice that would include both public and private insurance. That's the position of President Obama and of many congressional Democrats. In addition, another 10 percent of doctors say they favor a public option only; they'd like to see a single-payer health care system. Together, the two groups add up to 73 percent.

According to the author, "Whether they lived in southern regions of the United States or traditionally liberal parts of the country, we found that physicians, regardless -- whether they were salaried or they were practice owners, regardless of whether they were specialists or primary care providers, regardless of where they lived -- the support for the public option was broad and widespread."

Like I said, this probably won't undo the congressmen and senators that are owned by the insurance industry and big pharma but physicians' opinions may help swing a few reform skeptics. Of course, I am still a believer in a true single payer system but if a public option is a step in that direction then this is, at least, some good news.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Maybe Not the Beach!

You might want to reconsider that trip to the beach:

SAN FRANCISCO — Dangerous staph bacteria have been found in sand and water for the first time at five public beaches along the coast of Washington, and scientists think the state is not the only one with this problem.

The germ is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — a hard-to-treat bug once rarely seen outside of hospitals but that increasingly is spreading in ordinary community settings such as schools, locker rooms and gyms.

The germ causes nasty skin infections as well as pneumonia and other life-threatening problems. It spreads mostly through human contact. Little is known about environmental sources that also may harbor the germ.

The reality is that this and other resistant bacteria are showing in more and more places.You might want to double down on the hand washing.

Evolution, What Evolution?

A British film about the life of Charles Darwin cannot find a distributor in the United States.

US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution., an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as "a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder". His "half-baked theory" directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to "atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering", the site stated.
In another example of the lack of evolution...The 9/12 march organizers are saying that there were over a million of 'em in DC this weekend to protest Obama's policies and pretty much everything else since the 19th century...other, more official, estimates have it at about 60,000 tops.

Maybe this wording on one of the signs seen over the weekend in DC helps explain some of it?

"Obama, we have waken up to your evil plans to destroy our country. Take your racist unamerican Acorn groups and arrogant wife back to your own country and strip their rights away!"
Just makes you proud to be an American doesn't it?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Things

Finally dried out enough for me to get the lawn mowed and some more garden clean-up done. It is taking me longer to clean up all the tomato vines than it did to plant them...all in the compost now. Still getting a few peppers but otherwise the summer garden is finished. Over the next week I'll get the peas, spinach, arugula, lettuce, beets, radishes and turnips in.

Trying to figure out what to fix for dinner. Somehow mac and cheese keeps popping to the fore. I have the cheese and whole grain macaroni it will now just take the will to move this tired old body to the kitchen. I'll let madam decide. Then again there are sweet potatoes that could be baked. the last couple of nights I have subjected the lady to chicken and avocado burritos and pizza so tonight is her call. I just hope it is not a souffle or something though that would be nice and actually not that much more work than a proper mac&cheese. Both require a white sauce, both need grated cheese and instead of boiling macaroni and have to beat egg whites. I guess it is a toss up.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Backing Up for 10 Years

In case you are an exception it is now confirmed that you are worse off today than you were 10 years ago. I surely know that is true for me as I see it in a shrunken 401K, depleted savings and a missing paycheck. It was just a few weeks ago when the White House released its horrible mid-season budget review that showed a huge and growing deficit and which prompted conservatives to proudly announce the death of Obama's presidency and foghorn the failure of his progressive agenda is. Now that the Census Bureau's annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance is out it might be fair that the progressive agenda just got a kick in the butt.

In the recession last year, the nation's poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

This was the first significant increase in poverty since 2004. It also portends larger increases this year, as unemployment numbers have risen far more than in 2008, economists said. According to the census data, 39.8 million residents lived below the poverty line in 2008.

The data shows 46.3 million Americans went without health insurance last year. Just as important, median family incomes fell to $50,300. David Leonhardt put this in context:

The typical American household made less money last year than the typical household made a full decade ago.

To me, that's the big news from the Census Bureau's annual report on income, poverty and health insurance, which was released this morning. Median household fell to $50,303 last year, from $52,163 in 2007. In 1998, median income was $51,295. All these numbers are adjusted for inflation.

In the four decades that the Census Bureau has been tracking household income, there has never before been a full decade in which median income failed to rise. (The previous record was seven years, ending in 1985.) Other Census data suggest that it also never happened between the late 1940s and the late 1960s. So it doesn't seem to have happened since at least the 1930s.

In short all these different measures of a sliding middle and lower class reinforces what everybody already knows...The the conservative stewardship of the economy and the reign of Bush the Second sucked.

Note also that this is the data on 2008 and while they are dog awful the numbers from 2009 are going to be even worse...more painful than even these. The current recession "officially" started in 2007 but the real economic collapse didn't really go off the cliff until late last year and while it may have reached bottom finally in the third quarter, unemployment is going to get worse and the consumer economic engine will have to follow along.

You don't even want to think about the same report next year.

Good Speech

I thought last night's presidential address was spot on. I just wish he had given it a couple of months ago. He left the public option on the table and most of all let the opposition know that he was in the fight to win and would call liars liars when it needed to be done.

The old saying "A caught pig squeals" is about all you have to say about the outburst from SC GOP thug Wilson. This will come back to haunt him as is evident by the increase in contributions to his campaign overnight.

I've got errands to run and bread to get shaped and rising but I'll be back a little later. All in all I feel a little more encouraged after the speech. There may be hope for meaningful change after all.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Georgia KKK Speaks Up

Fortunately we haven't heard much from Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss on the health care debate but leave it to him to get his hidden racist comments in when most appropriate. Seems he has some advice for Obama:

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said today that, because of angry town hallers and the like, President Obama should show “humility” when he speaks to Congress Wednesday night.

“What you’re seeing is folks on my side anxious to see what the president has to say tomorrow night,” Chambliss said. “I think he’s gonna have to express some humility based on what we’ve seen around the country this August and that’s not his inclination.”

If you are not from the South I will translate that for you...

"Folks on my side" = white people

"express some humility" = let us know he knows his place

"not his inclination" = he's an uppity negro

Here is another example of what the health care reform debate has devolved into. The wingnuts, and conservative GOP types are standing on the sidelines and slinging shit balls onto the field. Throw enough and somebody will get hit or at least step in one. The real debate is going on among the Democrats and the progressives on the Internet as there is sure as hell nothing constructive coming from the right and the media are doing their best to stir the shit. So here is the number 2 asshole from Georgia slinging out a shit ball that when decoded is just a another way of calling Obama "uppity" much like fellow Georgian Lynn Westmoreland.

I think sticking with Paul Krugman's advice is a better choice.


Paul Krugman has an excellent blog post about what Obama needs to do tomorrow night. It's not a very long post so I won't try and summarize it. Just go read it.

Milestone Day

Guess who hits the big 60 today? Funny but I don't feel a day over 59!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I celebrated the big day yesterday with my favorite meal--slow smoked BBQ baby back ribs, potato salad, corn on the cob, and cucumber and onion salad.

I have to go into Atlanta this morning. I got a letter from the Dept. of Labor saying that I wasn't registered to work and had 7 days to report to the office. My access was denied when I tried to do the weekly filing on Sunday. One would think that the initial filing and the reporting weekly would effectively register you to work and you have to ask why they have been paying benefits for 5 months if I wasn't registered....government efficiency I guess. Anyhow, I'll be back later.

Maybe I'll be back in time to see the President indoctrinate all the kids into proper Marxist ideology.

Update: It's also Cookie Jill's name day and she has posted a list of all the famous people we share our birthday with and as a bonus quite a list of big events that happened on September 8th. Cool!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Losing the Battle

The always astute Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake reminds us that we, as a nation, are failing our most vulnerable. Here are few bits but make sure and follow the link and read her whole post.

The number of homeless schoolchildren, uprooted amidst the financial turmoil of the last few years is rising:

There were 679,000 homeless students reported in 2006-7, a total that surpassed one million by last spring, Ms. Duffield said.

With schools just returning to session, initial reports point to further rises. In San Antonio, for example, the district has enrolled 1,000 homeless students in the first two weeks of school, twice as many as at the same point last year.

New analysis shows that the poverty rate among those over 65 is far worse than previously thought:

Nearly 20% of Americans over 65 would be considered poor if the government updates the way it calculates poverty, which hasn't considered medical costs, regional variations and other factors since its creation in 1955.

Currently, the poverty rate for that age group is 9.7%, or 3.6 million people. If the government adopts a revised formula by the National Academy of Sciences, that figure would jump to 18.6% — 6.8 million people...

Conservative Derangement Syndrome

There is a good post over at A World of Progress by Sara Robinson discussing the current and continuing wave of conservative derangement and the most recent expression of it in the Van Jones attack and resignation. I highly recommend giving it a read as it puts some of the insanity into perspective.

Here is a little sample but you really should read the whole article....

It’s not news to anyone that the conservative movement has an authoritarian streak a mile wide and twice as deep. The desperate drive to quiet one’s existential fears by acquiring ultimate control and unaccountable power — rules for thee, but not for me — is at the heart of conservative political theory, economics, and culture. And when their control cracks and their power ebbs away, it creates a panicked sense of loss that’s bubbling up now in a whole range of strange and wondrous right-wing freakouts, from the teabaggers to the moonbat conspiracy theorists to Glenn Beck’s bizarre deconstructions of UN statuary. Apparently, not even one of the devout Christians at FOX recalled that the whole “swords into plowshares” idea — the motif of a UN sculpture which Beck darkly called out the other night as a “Communist” image straight out of the USSR — actually comes straight out of the Bible. And it appears there not just once, but three times — in Isaiah, Amos, and Micah. Sunday School FAIL.

Eat Your Broccoli!

Here is another reason to eat your broccoli and your other cruciferous veges.
Researchers at Imperial College London have found evidence a chemical in broccoli and other green leafy vegetables could boost a natural defense mechanism that protects arteries from the clogging that can cause heart attacks.

In a study funded by the British Heart Foundation charity and conducted on mice, the researchers found that sulforaphane -- a compound occurring naturally in broccoli and other brassicas -- could "switch on" a protective protein which is inactive in parts of the arteries vulnerable to clogging.

"We know that vegetables are clearly good for you, but surprisingly the molecular mechanisms of why they are good for you have remained unknown for many years," said Paul Evans of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College.
Granted this study comes out of the UK so it is tainted with socialism but look on the bright side...maybe the wingnuts will pooh pooh it and we will get some Darwinian edge out of it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Environmental Failure by Obama

This is extremely disappointing. In Idaho and Montana the hunting of the gray wolf is now legal again thanks to President Obama continuing the irresponsible environmental policies of the last administration. This is a waste of years of recovery efforts by the federal government. The gray wolf population in the West was decimated by trapping, poisoning and hunting, there were even bounties and was finally put on the endangered species. After years of hard work wolf populations are coming back and now we'll see them go right back where they were. This is not just about the gray wolf but about the entire ecosystem being deprived of the balancing effect of a top of the chain predator. I can't understand why Obama sided with the Bush team to allow hunting again.
Melanie Stein, a Sierra Club spokeswoman, said that the wolf populations "are just on the cusp of recovery and that we are almost there." But she says the hunts represent "a step backward and away from recovery" of the wolf populations.

Defenders of Wildlife, one of several groups urging the court to stop the hunt, detailed the ecological role of the wolves on its Web site.

"In what is known as the cascade effect, wolves are exerting influence over a multitude of species within the park's ecosystem. Elk, wary of the reintroduced top predator, have altered their grazing behavior.

"With less grazing pressure from elk, streambed vegetation such as willow and aspen is regenerating after decades of overbrowsing. As the trees are restored, they create better habitat for native birds and fish, beaver and other species."

Thursday, September 03, 2009

What Me Worry!

With all the other news going on and the bat shit crazy GOP trying to foment armed rebellion it is easy to miss other important news.

ES&S just bought Diebold. Just so you know, this means that one private company controls virtually all electronic voting machines in America. What's to worry?

If that doesn't give you the creeps or at least a little shudder then you are a Republican.

Too Crazy for Me

You kinda had to expect, if you thought about it at all, that electing a non WASP to the Presidency of the United States would generate some rather crazy stuff as we proceeded along. You had to suspect that some of the hard decisions and actions that needed to be made in trying to get this society off the rocks after 8 + years of GOP rule would generate some repercussions in the wackiest of the insane right but Jeebus whou'da thunk it would get this insane?

The announcement that the President would broadcast a speech to America's school children next week urging them to to "work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning" has invoked a major freak out on the right and we are talking mainstream right and not the truly nutty fringe. Jim Greer, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida no less, seems to have something of a breakdown. He actually issued a statement condemning the president for, among other things, trying to "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda" while adding that that Obama "has turned to American's children to spread his liberal lies."

Mr. Greer was hardly alone in the wilderness of bat shit crazy as much of the right apparently went simply apoplectic over this. None other than the Prince of Bat Shit Crazy, Glenn Beck, began organizing a campaign to keep children from going to school the day of President Obama's speech. Beck came up with this latest insanity whilst continuing to harp on the delusional idea that Obama and his minions had actually staged a 'coup' by getting themselves elected. Obviously Mr. Beck hadn't bothered to page through a dictionary for the definition of 'coup' before beginning his rant much as he didn't look up 'oligarhy' either.

I am beginning to think that it is not healthy for my sanity to even pay attention to these rantings anymore. There used to be some dim hope that, by and by, this group of fellow citizens would begin to come to their senses and that it might be possible to actually begin to have a reasonable discussion with them about the problems facing us. I would swear I remember the GOP being the party of 'personal responsibility' not so long ago but I must be mistaken. I am obviously wrong because it is just getting worse as each week goes by. Or as Matt Yglesias put it, "Probably the biggest moral of the story is that the contemporary conservative movement is run by crazy people with no scruples, who'll turn anything into a pretext to level wild accusations."

There was a time, not that long ago, when some of this was actually kind of funny. It was just the fringe of the fringe just being crazy and doing so quite predictably. It's no longer even remotely humorous and has morphed into frightening. Assault rifles carried openly at presidential town meetings, the president being called a Marxist on national TV, the poorest and neediest people in the country rejecting health care reforms that will save their and their children's lives and on and on. It is just getting too crazy for me.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Can you Say Quagmire?

I'm beginnning to have serious doubts:

Reporting from Washington – U.S. officials are planning to add as many as 14,000 combat troops to the American force in Afghanistan by sending home support units and replacing them with “trigger-pullers,” Defense officials say.

The move would beef up the combat force in the country without increasing the overall number of U.S. troops, a contentious issue as public support for the war slips. But many of the noncombat jobs are likely be filled by private contractors, who have proved to be a source of controversy in Iraq and a growing issue in Afghanistan.

I was originally kind of "OK" with our presence in Afghanistan but I am beginning to think we have lost our way. I can't really discern exactly what our strategy in Afghanistan is anymore? What is it, exactly, that we are trying to accomplish? Add to this that I think increasing the number of private contractors is ridiculous and has proved over and over again to be a waste of money and dangerous for the actual military. Electrocution in the shower anyone? How about a little sewage in your iced tea?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The War After "The War to End All Wars"

Jim DeRosa reminds us that today it is the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII.

At 0445 (0245 GMT) 1 September 1939 a German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire at point-blank range on a Polish fort on Westerplatte peninsula near Gdansk.These were the first shots fired in WWII.

Update: And so does Bryan at Why Now!