Archive for August, 2013

Oatmeal Extenders

August 29, 2013

You know how it goes. Sometimes you want a bigger breakfast than your oatmeal regime calls for. You want something more, but still healthy. What you don’t want is more oatmeal. That would be like wanting more dwarf bread. So the question arises, what kind of extender would work with oatmeal? Sort of a hamberger helper without the hamburger. Before I answer that question, you have to tell me, are you feeling foreign and exotic, or do you want your breakfast to be as bland as any other suburban meal?

Bland? Bland it is. And to my mind there’s nothing more bland than the kind of Ozzie & Harriet lettuce salad your mother used to make, to help fill you up before the hamburger helper. If you happened to have a bunch of chopped up lettuce and tomato from the previous night’s taco feast, so much the better.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of chicken broth, a quarter cup or so finely chopped lettuce and tomato, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the lettuce and tomato about a minute before the end and potato when you take it off the stove. You could even top it with a squirt of taco sauce, for that festive look.

Results: Not bad. The oatmeal and the wilted lettuce blend nicely. Using chicken stock ensures that things won’t be overly bland. This will be in my long rotation, assuming I can arrange for leftovers on taco night.

Rating: *****

Exotic? There’s nothing more exotic than shiratake noodles, made from the devils own tongue. If you remember from an earlier, non-oatmeal, entry, shiratake noodles are translucent wormlike things made of konnyaku starch. No calories to speak of, no carbs, in fact no flavor. They pick up the flavor of whatever they’re cooked in, like chicken stock. There’s a bit of prep work here, because they need to be heavily rinsed, and heated in a dry frying pan until they hiss when poked, to drive off the chemical flavors. As with the lettuce, you could arrange for some leftovers from last night’s oden. Since you want to give them time to absorb the local flavors, you should chop them up and add them to the broth even before you add the oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of chicken broth, quarter cup or so of chopped shiratake noodles, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the noodles when you start, and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Once again, not bad. The noodles pick up the chicken stock flavor, and give your mouth the feeling you are eating thin, but tasty, rubber bands. This is another entrant in the long rotation.

Rating: *****

Eight-Ball for Dinner

August 27, 2013

An 8-Ball squash is nothing but a fat zuccini. You can chunk them up and treat them exactly like zuccini when they’re small, but where’s the fun in that? The best way to cook them, best from a culinary experimenation standpoint, is to let them get bigger, say just over softball size, and stuff, or slice and stuff them. We’ve been doing the slice and stuff thing.

If you cut an 8-Ball horizontally, along the lines of latitude, you can see how they resemble fat zuccini.

Eight-Ball squash has Lots of big seeds.

Eight-Ball squash has Lots of big seeds.

The next step is to cut out the seed pod. This leaves a donut with a big hole, just begging to be filled by, for example, a hamburger patty. We cook the hamburger on one side beforehand, because the 8-Ball slice cooks quicker. Flipping it is tricky.

Looks like some kind of fried egg

Looks like some kind of fried egg

That’s basically it. You put in the center whatever strikes your fancy, and you fancy it up with whatever you like — mushroom and onion, for example, on a bed of spinach, with tomatoes.

Eight-Ball Florentine

Eight-Ball Florentine

If you have leftover mushroom and onions, you could always reheat them the next night with some edamame, and use that as the fill for another round of rings.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 26, 2013

Garden Report for 130826

The weather this week was the usual. Highs near 90, lows near 60. A smidgen of rain on the edge of a passing thunderstorm. Not enough to wet the ground under the trees.

UPDATE Monday 2AM: Well, that was fun. Line of severe thunderstorms came through just as we were starting Episode 10 in our marathon rewatch of Girls und Panzer. A one minute microburst blew stuff all over the deck, including the container corn. Power out for hours and just came back on. I’ll update again before I post this, but right now, there’s still two episodes to go.

UPDATE Monday 6AM: Damage confined to the deck. A couple tubs blown over. One blown off its stand. None of the corn actually broken. The same overhanging trees and fence that protect the KHG from exposure to sunlight protected it against the wind, so no damage there.

UPDATE Monday 9AM: One of the corstalks, back in the corner, was snapped off like it was a sugarcane. I’ve staked most of the remaining corn.

UPDATE Monday 9PM: Evidently, we doged a pretty big bullet. The really nasty storms cam through north and south of of us, snapping big trees and tearing up trailers and cutting off power for thousands in Spokane and the general environs.

Storm Damage

Storm Damage

Prior to 10PM Sunday night, this was our situation:

Squirrels got into the Section 2 corn, the most mature, and pretty well trashed it. I salvaged about five immature ears, got half a cup of kernels. I’m spraying the deck corn and the Section 1 corn  with hot pepper solution every day. We’ll see.

The red tide is a’coming. Just not yet. Harvested eight smallish tomatoes (20 oz total). Probably ten more ready by next week. Another 50 or 60 sitting there, green.

Otherwise, got two summer squash (12oz), one 2.5lb 8-Ball that I harvested later than I should have, and one 2.0lb crown squash that I thought was an 8-ball (and I probably harvested too early). Tomorrow I’ll post a recipe for 8-Ball squash.

There are about six or eight Delicata/Spaghetti squash coming along. I slash the names ’cause I’m not sure. They don’t have green striping like the Delicata are supposed to, but they have longitudinal groves, which the Spaghetti are not. Hide and watch.

Planted more Brassicae in Section 1, under the corn and next to the peas. Brussels sprouts and Broccoli on one side, Cabbages and Cauliflower on the other. Should be easy to keep straight. Cabbage should be ready mid-November, and the rest at the end of the month. Not sure if they’ll die of frost, or if they’ll cross-pollinate and produce monsters, but once again, we’ll see. Saturday I dug over the Section 2 cornfield and planted spinach and lettuces. Never had much luck with spinach.

The hops are doing well. Much of the browned leaf areas are sprouting again (piling on the compost and giving them more water did the trick), and the tops have bushed out something fierce.

Almost ready for beer-making

Almost ready for beer-making

To bad this is one of the areas we sprayed for carpenter ants — I wouldn’t want to eat anything out of here for another couple of years. I planted the hops as ornamentals, and to give shade in the late Summer. I have high hopes for next year.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
Tomato 4 8 2 4 8
Summer 1 4.5 4.5 1 4.5
8-Ball 1 32 32 1 72
Cuke 1 6 6 1 6
Tomato 13 26 2.0 17 34
Summer 2 8 4 3 12.5
8-Ball 1 40 40 2 52
Crown 1 32 32 1 32
Cuke 1 6 6 1 6


August 22, 2013

So. last week was raspberry flavored iced tea. That used up one cup. It’s a gallon jug. What to do? How’s about we doctor it up a bit? Let’s add some flavor, so it’s not so Middle-America tasting, maybe by moving from Middle America to Central America. MJ had some bananas, for her morning phosgene or something, so I snitched one of them and sliced it up into the iced tea. Instead of potatoes (whoever heard of potatoes in iced tea anyway?), we’ll thicken it a little with mochi flour. Keep in mind that mochi flour clumps like regular flour, and as far as I know, there’s no mochi equivalent of Wondra, so you have to paste it up in cold water in a saucer, then add a little of the hot tea and then stir it all back into the pot.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of mochi flour, one cup of raspberry-flavored iced tea, one overripe banana, sliced.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the banana before you add the oats. The mochi goes in a couple minutes before you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. The bananas cooked down almost enough to be their own thickener. The fruit/berry flavors heterodyned nicely. Keep in mind, however, that you’ve just doubled the size of your breakfast.

Rating: *****

Saint Jones

August 20, 2013

Pamela Jones, PJ, is a lady, who might be young and blonde or old and grey, who might live in upstate New York, or maybe it was Jersey, and who, on occasion, might or might not wear a red dress. She’s also someone who took on one of the greatest evils of our technological culture, and won. OK, it wasn’t just her, any more than it was just Joan of Arc who drove the English out of France. She didn’t even command armies, the way Joan did. In military terms, what she did was organize a guerilla war that bled the enemy dry while the big guns of companies like IBM rolled over their main force. And thereby hangs a tale.

Back in the day, there was a pretty cool company called The Santa Cruz Operation, or SCO, for short (for anyone from the South Bay Area who’s been to the beach at Santa Cruz, the name says it all). They built a version of Unix that ran on x86 chips, the kind you use in your PC — this was pre-Linux. Alas, SCO fell on hard times, and eventually was bought out, by a company called Caldera Systems. Some years later, Caldera, now The SCO Group, also fell on hard times, when their server software wasn’t selling the way they thought it should. Instead of winding up their software business, or reinventing themselves as a beachwear company, they decided to become copyright trolls.

The way they did this was to start suing people who used or contributed to Linux (which by now was not only A Thing, but Quite A Thing) — IBM, Novell, Daimler Chrysler, AutoZone, claiming that among other things, SCO owned Unix and that code donated to Linux by companies like IBM included SCO-owned code. The apparent plan was to get the deep pockets to give them lots of money to go away, and to gain control over Linux. If open-source Linux was destroyed along the way, well, that’s just a side effect of doing business in today’s USA. This was a direct attack on everything the hacker culture holds dear, and I’m using hacker in the extremely positive sense.

In early 2003, within two months of the initial suite being filed, a retired paralegal named Pamela Jones started a website called GrokLaw, intended to collect all documents and evidence associated with the SCO offensive and to rally the technical community to the support of Linux.

She became SCO’s worst nightmare. Every time they would make a statement, someone out in the technosphere would find an original document that proved the statement false, send it to PJ, and she would post it on GrokLaw. Every time a SCO expert witness said something, there were dozens of technical experts who would write to PJ refuting it. Many of them were on the order of “I was there, and this is what really happened…”

PJ was scrupulously honest. Notice that I did not say even-handed — even-handed today means finding some weasel-worded way to say “both sides do it”, or “the other side has a point”. She never believed that. No-one who understood the industry believed it. She published the documents in the case and let the chips fall where they may. It’s just that none of the chips fell SCO’s way. The fact is that SCO was evil, lied, knew they were lying, and didn’t care. They kept getting outside funds (cough – Microsoft -cough), and kept running the case long after it was obvious to all that they were defeated. At the end, in January of 2007, they told the Utah judge that there was no need to establish an escrow fund for things like the licensing fees the judge had awarded to others. No fund was necessary, because they were a profitable, operating business, with no intention of going bankrupt. In September of 2007, in New Jersey, they filed for bankruptcy.

PJ’s punctilious sense of honor hurt her in many ways. In some cases it was simple smear tactics by SCO and their hireling press. In others it was more direct. Once, she was offered a job, with a company called Open Source Risk Management. SCO immediately said she was trading on her fame from GrokLaw. She resigned. “I kept coming back to the same thing. If my working for OSRM is doing harm by creating FUD possibilities, I need to remove that issue. Money is nice, but integrity is everything.

Pamela Jones is an extremely private person. One might say she has a pathological need for privacy, but I refuse to say anything bad about PJ. Throughout the whole guerilla war against SCO she refused to come into the limelight, even to receive any of the multiple awards that GrokLaw has been given. But GrokLaw runs on email, and if you’ve been following the reports of the attacks by NSA and the Obama administration on the 4th Amendment in general and email in particular you know there is no way to remain a private person and still use email. None.

So today, in a statement she posted at 2:30AM, PJ announced that she is shutting down GrokLaw.

You may not like her decision. You may not agree with it. But it’s her decision to make, in order to preserve her personal integrity. Unlike Joan, she was able to see her cause triumph. Unlike Joan, she was able to see that institutions that she revered, like The Law, were no longer able to protect her. Unlike Joan, she was able to remove herself from the fray with both her life and her honor intact. Like Joan, she set in motion something that would continue beyond her time. GrokLaw may be closed to new entries, but the site is still open. More importantly, she showed the technosphere that it is possible to win through collective action. It requires A Cause, but there are several of them out there, including protecting the privacy of email users. One day, perhaps, she’ll be back.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 19, 2013

Garden Report for 130819

The weather this week was typical for mid-August in the NENW — highs in the mid-80’s and lows in the mid-50’s. No rain, and it probably won’t rain until mid-September.

Early spaghetti, unless they're pumpkins

Early spaghetti, unless they’re Delicata

My efforts to curb the blossom-end rot seem to have worked, and the summer squash is starting to come in. I suspect we’ll be eating one per day before too long. No more 8-ball yet. There’s a couple that are coming along. The spaghetti squash is just starting to produce little thumb-sized yellow fruits (unless it’s the Delicata). Also found one biggish pumpkin in a back corner of the yard.

We'll have at least one pumpkin for Samhain

We’ll have at least one pumpkin for Samhain

Now, which plant did this tomato come from?

Now, which plant did this tomato come from?

tomatoes also starting to ripen — I found four Early Girls (I think) buried under the foliage at one corned of Section 3. I say I think, because even though I recorded where I planted each plant, they’ve kindof grown together.

Harvested the last of the lettuce and I think I’ll let the soil rest for a bit before I put in the winter chard. The Corn I planted in Section 2 is producing heads, and should be ready by early September. The corn I planted in Section 1 (to replace the cabbages) is doing well, and so is the corn I planted in containers on the deck. Maybe late September for them. Speaking of containers, the miniature cucumbers have climbed out of their pot and are now hanging out off the end of the deck.

And finally, the hops are doing well. All bushy at the top and starting to leaf out along the stems. Of course, the worst heat of the year is over, but they’ll still provide a bit of shade, and I have hopes for next year.

Not a lot of shade, but it's a start

Not a lot of shade, but it’s a start

Iced Tea Oatmeal

August 15, 2013

Sometimes you don’t want excitement for breakfast. You want something plain, comforting, family restaurant style. What could be more Perkins/Applebee’s/Callenders than iced tea? Now, consumers that we are, we don’t often make our own. I find that home-made iced tea lacks that industrial-processing edge, so reminiscent of childhood rest stops. This time it was a jug of Arizona Raspberry-flavored Iced Tea that called me from the bottom shelf of the fridge. I was a little hesitant to use it, because I’m batting about .500 on teas and oatmeal. That’s a great average for baseball, not for breakfast. IIRC, the first was a black tea, and it tasted like tea leaves. The second was a green tea, and it tasted OK. This one was one of the OK ones.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of raspberry-flavored iced tea, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Not bad. A little on the sweet side, but many folks like their oatmeal sweet. I didn’t think to put milk on it, so I can’t speak to how it would do as the base for a standard oatmeal breakfast.

Rating: *****

A Good Lawyer

August 13, 2013

There’s an old saying, that goes something like “a lawyer will point to the rule that says you can’t do something, a good lawyer will comb through the rules until they find the combination that says you can do it“.

Time and again, the Department of Justice has demonstrated that, when it comes to destroying American constitutional government, they are the very best of lawyers. Remember John Yoo?

He is best known for his opinions concerning the Geneva Conventions which legitimized the War on Terror by the United States. He also authored the so-called Torture Memos, which concerned the use of what the Central Intelligence Agency called enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding. Wikipedia

What’s the DoJ latest? A white paper of Yoovian audacity, justifying the bulk collection of US citizens’ telephone activity, on the grounds that it might someday be “relevant” in combatting the terrorist threat to the US. Some people have a problem with this.

One of the jobs of the Attorney General is “to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States”. Those words are used in both the original Judiciary Act of 1789, and in the follow-on legislation almost a century later, the Act to Establish the Department of Justice, ch. 150, 16 Stat. 162 (1870).  So the job of the Attorney General, with the support of his minions in the DoJ, is to answer questions like “Is it torture if we do to this guy the kinds of things we executed other people for?” and “Is it a violation of the 4th Amendment if we do to citizens of the US the kinds of things we vilified the communist countries (and King George) for doing?” Given our long devotion to the rule of law, one would expect the answers to be along the lines of  “Of course it’s illegal, you dumb shit, why are you even bothering me with this malarkey?”

Instead, we find that the AG and the DoJ have become enablers, complicit in attacks on US civil liberties. I’m not claiming an anti-American conspiracy here. The AG’s under both Republican and Democratic President’s are honorable, capable men, who I am sure, see themselves as protecting American lives; men who have no intention of creating a police state and who see no way that it would ever come to that.

To modify slightly the closing words from Judgement at Nuremberg, “It came to that, Mr. Attorney General, the first time you sanctioned an act that you knew to be illegal.”

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 12, 2013

Garden Report for 130812

Weather was warm and dry, except when the T-storms came through. Twenty minutes of moderate rain, about a quarter inch.

Corn. Meal.

Corn. Meal.

So the first increment of the KHG corn is all taselled up and producing ears, and you know what that means — critters! Squirrels have been into that crop, and into the stuff I just planted in Section 1, and torn down almost a third of the stalks in one day. They very considerately left a half-eaten mini-cob on top of a support post so that I’d know it wasn’t just the wind. Meanwhile, the slugs are making a comeback. I found a 3″ one on one of the downed corn ears. If I have to put my gardens inside a 6ft chicken wire box and spray them with slugbane, they won’t be as much fun…. (more…)


August 12, 2013

Went out to watch the Perseid meteor shower. I unthinkingly set up my deck chair directly underneath a cloud, and no amount of switching its position did anything to improve the view. Pity that. I had my catcher’s mitt and everything.

The Insider’s View

August 10, 2013

Jennifer Hoelzer is the former deputy chief of staff for Senator Ron Wyden (D OR), long term NSA critic. Today she wrote a “Favorite Posts of the Week” column for TechDirt, talking about the NSA surveillance programs. I don’t normally post links to things I don’t comment on, but I think this one stands on its own.

The TL;DR version: the President, the Intelligence Community, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have been guilty of lies and coverups about the legality of the NSA collections programs, and the recent public statements by the President are simply more lies and obfuscations. Go read it, and read the stories it links to, and keep in mind that this is just one week’s worth of news and commentary on the topic.

The Paradox of Warning 2

August 9, 2013

And so Ramadan has come and gone, the celebrations of Eid al-Fitr have come and gone, and there’s been no attacks. Maybe there never were any planned, at least, none of substance.

As I said in my first post on the subject, The Paradox of Warning is that if you give your boss a warning of an event, and your boss acts on it, and as a result of those actions the event doesn’t happen, were you guilty of crying wolf?

Sometimes there’s corroborating evidence. In a big operation like this, there’s always that ten percent what don’t get the word, and so there’s a pattern of minor attacks — guys running up to the barricades carrying a flag with their shirt undone and not enough people behind them to justify a painting. Sometimes the other side will admit to their plans, usually years later. But sometimes you just get it wrong and there never was a serious intent to make a serious attack. And sometimes you are guilty of lying.

Take this latest kerfluffle. Look at the leaked “evidence” around it. The Legion of Doom holds a conference call that we are able to tap into, maybe because there’s so many participants they can’t keep track of who’s dialed in. There’s a threat that stretches across all of the Middle East and North Africa and beyond, requiring that we close our embassies there for a week. There’s a threat of attacks on pipelines and ports in Yemen. Except, of course, there’s always attacks on pipelines in Yemen and the pro-AQ tribes have never had the ability to mount a major attack on a port. Plus, I’m not aware of any pipelines that run through the embassy there.

What’s the result? I mean aside from us becoming the laughingstock of the Middle East, and aside from giving Al Qaida in Madagascar an idea for their next deception operation? Well, at home, the NSA supporters have the opportunity to claim that their programs (legal, but of questionable constitutionality) are needed to prevent these kinds of plots in the future. Funny timing on that, isn’t it?

It stinks, as they say, on ice.

Curried Oatmeal, With Cheese

August 8, 2013

Had some 2″ slices of sharp cheddar sitting in the fridge, the kind you take on road trips for snacks. Coincidentally, I was looking for some way to spice up my mornign curried oatmeal. I mean, plain old curry for breakfast can get a little old, ya know?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of chicken broth, quant suff of diced cheddar, no salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato and cheddar when it’s done, and stir over low heat until the cheese has melted into streaks.

Results: Pretty darn good. Of course, it’s hard to misuse cheese in oatmeal. This dish had that spicy curry flavor on a creamy cheese base. A little pepper might help, to activate one more class of taste buds. This might be my first second five star rating.

Rating: *****

Snowden started it, but it was only a matter of time

August 5, 2013

The NYT this morning is reporting that NSA is being pestered by other government agencies, clamouring for their data (and in some cases, getting it).  This is all coming out because the Snowden leaks have made it possible to talk about it, but the fact is, those other government agencies have always wanted in on NSA’s surveillance data on US citizens. It’s an organizational imperitive. If there’s a tool that will help you do your job better, then you want to use that tool.

Better, of course, means “more convictions”, not “protect American values.” Convictions can be measured and therefore have become the standard. Safeguarding the rights of Americans can’t be easily measured, can’t be reduced to a sound bite for an appropriations committee, and so becomes irrelevant.

This is the slippery slope. This is why the various NSA programs should be prohibited. It’s not that NSA is a rogue agency, ’cause it’s not. It’s that elements within all three branches of the government conspired to make legal that which should never have been made legal.

Will shutting down these programs increase the risk? Certainly. Will shutting down these programs lead to increased American deaths? Most likely. But Americans have always been willing to accept risks, and to die, in support of freedom and, let’s say it “the American way of life”. Because that’s what’s under attack right now. Al Qaida, for all their chatter, poses no great threat to the US, not compared with, say, furniture. But NSA, FBI, DHS? These are the real threat.  These are the organizations whose chatter we should be listening to.


Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 5, 2013

Garden Report for 130805

The weather this week was surprisingly wet. Rained steadily for a day and a half. We got about an inch, so it wasn’t a downpour. Good, as they say, for the crops. Also the mosquitos. Next week, back to the heat.

Growing stuff continues to grow.

Lots of tomatoes, nothing ripe except some S-100s. Harvested the first 8-Ball squash. They are just round Zucchinis, but you can do interesting things with them.  Deck corn is up to my armpit. KHG section 1 corn is 8″ or so high. Harvested the last of the container peas and pulled up the plants — they were pretty heavily mildewed. I had started some lemon cucumbers with the thought of putting them in an hanging bag, like the S-100s, but realized I didn’t have any place to hang it, so I planted them in the container peas container.  Hops 1, 2, and 3 are all doing reasonably well, and are spreading out, now that they’re at the roof. The only trouble is, the area they are shading is already shaded by the roof overhang. This is obviously a multiyear project.

Not-growing stuff continues to not grow.

The peas I planted last week haven’t come up yet. May have planted too deep. Hop plant #4 is still stuck even with the deck. Doesn’t look particularly sickly, just stunted. Carrots at the N end of section 4 aren’t doing much, either.

I got a bunch of pea gravel for the dog run, way more than I needed, so my project this week is moving the excess to the  KHG to make paths around the perimeter.

The Paradox of Warning

August 3, 2013

The Paradox of Warning grows out of the experience of the Indications & Warning community. Say that country B is about to attack country A. If A’s I&W analysts figure this out, and formally warn A’s government, then A might take action to forestall the attack, like putting their troops on alert. When B sees this, they back off, figuring that their attack will be unsuccessful. There is no attack, and A’s government yells at their I&W analysts for giving a false alarm and causing them to spend money on troop alerts. And of course, A’s I&W analysts have no way of proving that there ever was an attack planned, unless someone from B should admit to that. IIRC, Anwar Sadat said that he was on the brink of ordering an attack on Israel six or seven times, and pulled back each time, before finally committing to the 1973 war.

On the other hand, there’s no way to prove that country A really believed they were going to be attacked, and didn’t just inflate the possible threat in order to distract the country from internal political complications, the Falklands War being a good example. On the gripping hand, there’s no way to prove that country A didn’t just inflate the threat in order to demonstrate that they really do need programs like PRISM and XKeyscore.

According to CNN, Sunday is the 27th day of Ramadan, and the day that Muslim extremists consider auspicious for attacks on the US. That may be part of the reason why there’s a State Department travel advisory, and why 21 US embassy’s are closed this weekend.

If there’s a major AQ attack, then the government is proven right. If there’s minor disturbances, even if they are of the kind that can occur any time in that area, then the government will claim to be proven right. If there’s no attacks, then the government will say “See, our precautions worked, and it was all due to our collection programs.” And nobody will be able to tell differently, unless, you know, somebody blows the whistle.

Me? I wouldn’t be surprised to see attacks sometime this month — merde d’occur — but I still don’t trust the government.

There were 54…

August 1, 2013

Do you want to know why General Alexander claimed there were 54 terrorist plots foiled by NSA surveillance of everybody in the USA? Because 57 was already taken.


Oats Del La Mer 2

August 1, 2013

Herewith, my third attempt at mixing seaweed and oatmeal. The first two were surprisingly OK. The first was crumbled nori, the seaweed sheets used for sushi, and the second was a seaweed medley, various kinds, shapes, and colors.  This time it’s SeaSprinkles, nori seaweed that’s been roasted  “with olive oil, agave syrup, sesame oil, sesame seeds and sea salt”.  Instead of sheet form for sushi, these come as little clusters of black threads. The best way to describe them is that they look like you took a big handful of black plastic-coated wire ties (the kind that hold electronics accessories to their cardboard backing), dropped them into a blender, added a teaspoon of honey, and gave them five or eight good solid pulses. The consistency is similar as well. The flavor is very much seaweed, but the oils and agaves make for a sweet overtone. I took a fat, three-fingered pinch and dropped it into the beef broth before I added the oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, fat pinch of SeaSprinkles, no salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: At the high end of OK. The cooking spread the flavor out through the oatmeal, giving it a delicate edge to the bland, that was far from the seaweed-heavy tastes of the other efforts. It needed salt, so I added plain salt, not soy sauce. The texture of the seaweed bits was that typically seaweedy crunch that feels like you’re eating thin strips of rubber. Despite the off-putting description, I think tomorrow I’ll try it with home-made dashi instead of beef broth.

Rating: *****