Monday, March 08, 2010

For those who were interested in the recipe for the mushroom turnovers this weekend, here it is:

For the crust:
3 3 ounce packs of cream cheese (I used 1 standard 8oz package)
1/4 pound butter
1.5 Cups of AP flour

Cream the butter and cream cheese and add in the flour. Mix it until it's uniform and let it chill for at least 30 mins. I kept it in the fridge over night. Cut it in half and roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut it into 3-4 inch circles. You can continue to roll out and cut the scraps. It gets harder to work with as it warms up though.

Filling (make this while the crust is chilling):

1 medium onion (minced)
1/2 pound of chopped mushrooms
saute the onion first in 2-3 Tablespoons of butter until it's soft, then add the mushrooms and continue for about 3 minutes.

mix and add
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
Stir it in and continue to cook for about 3 minutes

Let it cool a bit and add in 1/4 cup of sour cream.

Heat the oven to 450 and spoon the filling on to the center of the circles. Fold the circles in half over the filling and pinch to seal. Poke some holes in the top to vent the steam.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Watch for a nice light brown on the crust.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I read a couple of great books over the winter. Two books, by Peter Hopkirk, really stand out. The first is entitled "The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia" (I'll refer to it as TGG). TGG is about the history of European colonialism in Central Asia. It focuses on the competition between the Russians and the British to bring the Central Asian tribes into alignment. Britain, desperate to protect her interests in India, was constantly sending spies into Central Asia and attempting to map the passes through which a Russian attack might be mounted upon India. The Russians, wanting to expand their empire and apply pressure to the British, also sent forth numerous spies and agitators. TGG relays its information largely through telling the stories of individuals. In contrast to ordinary history books, which state (interpreted) facts about events, TGG tells adventure stories about what happened to specific people as they attempted specific missions. The historical information thus become part of the narrative, and the reading is far more compelling.

The second book, "Setting the East Ablaze," picks up right where the first leaves off right about the time of the Russian Revolution. The Russian objectives in East Asia changed, but the goals in terms of empire remained essentially the same. Rather than simply padding the coffers of the Russian empire, Central Asia became the jumping off point for communist revolution in India, as well as a buffer against the Imperialist British.

Both of these books are insightful and informative. If you have any interest in world political history or if you enjoy books like the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser, you'll really like these. They remain roughly neutral (though with a cheerful adoration of British bravado and ingenuity). They helped me to understand much more about Afghanistan and the conflicts there and in northern Pakistan and even Iran.

Both TGG and SEA help to make clear why so many people over there don't like westerners. We've been stepping on their toes for hundreds of years, messing around in their politics and trying to use them as our pawns. I'd be bitter too.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Ok, so I'm sitting where I usually sit. No, maybe I'll sit over there. yeah, I should start sitting over there. Much better angles. Ok, so I'm sitting over there and dude walks in, probably THAT dude over there, he looks the type. Is that a bulge in his jacket? Fuck, it could happen today, but I don't have it yet. So dude walks in (I'm going to have to keep an eye on him) and nobody notices at first, but then he draws his Glock. no, Sig. No! it's a Walther. Yeah. So he draws his Walther and the professor just looks up at him slack-jawed. Then dude starts monologing. Yap, yap, yap, life sucks yap. And he pulls the trigger. Prof goes down and dude just keeps unloading. Maybe he hits that dick in the second row. Anyway, while he's busy and everybody's screaming I get my S&W out.

I take careful aim, but right when I'm about to fire, dickweed over there jumps up to run and gets in the way. Dude looks right at him and caps him, but he sees me too. Before I can get a clear shot he plugs me once in the left shoulder. But then I nail him and he goes down. I walk up to him slowly and he looks dead, but at the last second he opens his eyes and lifts his gun to take another shot at me. I hit him once in the head and twice in the chest just like the fuckin' special forces, then I collapse. Linda comes running up and she's all crying and is like "Oh you saved our lives! Don't die! Please. How can I ever repay you?" I open my eyes and smile. Yeah.

This is the fantasy of concealed carry on campus. Everybody wants to be a hero. When you have a bunch of starry-eyed heroes (or raging paranoiacs) running around on campus with guns though, it's bound to cause some problems. Problems that these would be saviors are not trained to deal with.

So, you hear shooting in the room down the hall and you run down there to save the day, but you get there and there are two people shooting at each other, plus a hundred panicky innocents. Who do you shoot? How do you know who the bad guy is if there's more than one person shooting? It also makes it much more difficult for law enforcement to figure out who the bad guys is. Then there are the inevitable show-offs and braggarts. Suddenly every little conflict has the potential to become deadly.

Frankly, the only people I trust to handle firearms appropriately are people who have trained as law enforcement, or people that I've been to the range with (and even then I don't really want them to carry).

You can say "Well fuck you. I'm not gonna be a victim!" But you know, I'm probably not going to be a victim either, and it's not because I carry.

The fantasy is very nice. Like I said, everybody wants to be a hero. The reality however is fraught with complications and impracticalities. Concealed weapons don't lead to a safer society. Ask the Canadians.

All that said, I'm still in favor of private gun ownership and I enjoy shooting in appropriate venues. I do not delude myself into thinking that gun ownership will keep me safe from random violence.


Monday, April 14, 2008

In the bookstore yesterday I noticed that there seems to be a trend in tell-all books by former manipulators of the global economy. I read what I believe to be the first of these books some time last year. It's called Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It was a dastardly tale of adventure and deceit.

Alleged to be auto-biographical, Confessions recounts how the author was recruited by the NSA to work for a large Construction company. His task was to deliberately and significantly over-estimate the economic benefits of proposed infrastructure projects in developing countries. Using his estimates, the country would take out a loan from the World Bank with a contractual obligation that the money go directly to an American contractor. They would use the money to build the project, then find that the economic benefits fell far short of the estimates. At this point they are unable to repay the debt, and the US leverages the debt into UN votes, overly favorable trade agreements, and other forms of economic servitude. Perkins alleges this as a deliberate strategy to ensnare developing countries and ensure that they abide by our interests.

It's a compelling read, like a spy novel. It's claims are outrageous and infuriating. It's difficult to believe that it's all true, and yet, I have a nagging suspicion that it is.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Because I'm so successful at keeping up with this blog and my linguistics blog, I've decided to start another one. It's called It was going to be about green DIY projects, but I think it's going to start off at least as something much more general. Lots of links to articles about green tech and environmental issues, that sort of thing.

My hope is that over time, a pattern will emerge through the chaos of aggregated data, a pattern that might show the way to the future...

If you're interested in that sort of thing, Check it out:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pacific Gas and Electric is now offering to help its customers become carbon neutral. Through a service called "Climate Smart," you can sign up to pay a "carbon tax" on the energy you use. While it doesn't cover your gasoline consumption or any energy you use outside of your house, it makes it easy to take care of one small aspect of your overall carbon footprint.

It's also inexpensive. I haven't compared it to other services, but the amount is so insignificant that it's not worth the time to compare. Using this calculator, I determined that I will only be adding about $1.40/month to my bill. Granted, I won't be paying anything for electricity as my solar already covers that. The best part is that the tax is calculated for you and simply added to your bill. No extra work. I love that.

If you live in California and you are a customer of PG&E, check out this program and see if you can't cough up a couple extra dollars a month to cover your energy consumption. You might even make it a game to see how low you can get your carbon tax in any given month (like seeing how high you can coax the mileage on your Prius).

Good luck.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I can't believe it has gone on for so long. I can't believe that anyone still has doubts. I can't believe how we have hobbled ourselves as a nation.

So it comes to this:

The Bush administration has not only violated the trust of the American people, it has blatantly disregarded that trust, as though it has absolutely no need of it. It is dangerous to allow people with this kind of attitude to run our country and it eats away at our very foundation. They must be held accountable for their actions against the American people, against democracy, and against the world.

Click here to remove them from office.

My wife has interesting things to say about what it means to be an American. Check it out.