Saturday, March 3, 2007

Looking for positive news

Reading the news this morning seemed almost too depressing. I felt like an un-medicated mortician as I slogged throughout Afghanistan and Iraq news. But I did find one story that may (but only may) lead to some progress:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/04/AR2007030400403.html

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Following their first official talks in Saudi
Arabia, the Iranian and Saudi leaders on Saturday pledged to fight the spread of
sectarian strife in the Middle East, which they said was the biggest danger
facing the region.

If Iran and Saudi Arabia truly work together toward reducing sectarian
violence, perhaps some stabilization could come to Iraq. I realize this is a
long shot, but it's a better shot than Shrub's escalation. Given all the bad
options, I've gotta cling to any hopeful idea.

Added: Also worth reading, Cernig at Newshog:http://cernigsnewshog.blogspot.com/

That Explains a Lot

Quote of the evening:

"I was Humpty-Dumpty in my kindergarten play" (said by a person who shall remain nameless).
Everyone in the room had a smartass line of response.
Blue-billed boobie added, because blogs get more hits when they show "boobies".

Alert the CIA

OK, maybe the CIA is already involved. Tehran, here we come:http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12317


Rare Iranian Cheetahs Get Tracking Collars


March 02, 2007 — By Reuters

NEW YORK -- Scientists said
Thursday they have for the first time collared a pair of Iran's rare cheetahs
with tracking systems which they hope will provide invaluable insights into the
movements and range of the highly endangered animals.


The Asiatic cheetah once roamed the whole continent but is now confined to
the harsh edge of Iran's Kavir Desert. Information on their movements is crucial
as there are believed to be only 60 to 100 of the big cats left in the wild.


For Zymurgian

Thought of the day.

This Matters?

Nedra the Pickler takes a short break from her usual job of reporting Clinton crotch rumors to give us this important news: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070302/ap_on_el_pr/on_the2008_trail

Obama's ancestors may have owned slaves

Really. I wonder why any sane person would ever run for president as a Democrat, given that the righties will do everything that they can conjure up to smear Democratic candidates. I only hope Barack fires back.

This time, Edwards fights back

Apparently, professional skank and all around idiot Ann Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot". Normally I ignore this kind of rightwing nuttiness, but I was happy to see that Edwards actually fought back:http://johnedwards.com/
Better than his wimpy defense of Amanda and Melissa.
Added: pic of harpy and mittens, just for the record.


Obscenities

Apparently, there's a big controversy about the use of foul language on liberal blogs. So I checked on my own usage, and this blog looks pretty tame. I realized this is because I don't swear a whole lot. Not because I find it offensive- I really don't give a fuck- but because that's the way I talk. I tend to save swear words for special occassions, like whenever Shrub speaks. But I think that's normal.
p.s. I'm inviting commenter Ghandisxmas to post here. This place could start to get crowded.
added: for more on obscenities, see the Editors at:http://www.thepoorman.net/

Friday, March 2, 2007

Meanwhile, in Liechtenstein


"a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring
Liechtenstein."http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070302/ap_on_fe_st/mistaken_invasion

Response to Zymurgian

I guess I must be getting old. I've been through at least a dozen predictions of doom, gloom, and rumors of booms. I was part of the generation that got drilled to hide under our desks in grade school in case of nuclear war. While a disaster scenario may happen, I've grown to fear the slow steady decline. The general malaise that allows our lives to slowly be whittled away into bland consumerism. Yes, the Roman Empire fell. But it happened over hundreds of years. The American Empire is falling, but the process may fill decades. So develop skills, but above all else: LIVE!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

happy thoughts!

At some point, this civilization is going to crash. Bitching about this "administration" and such seems to me incredibly sophomoric. I am sick and tired of hearing and reading about how malicious many of our politicians are. Corrupt politicians are a given in any society. They are a symptom of a deeper malaise; that being, the fundamental manifestations of human greed.
I am not a pessimist. Nor, an optimist. I am a realist. And the history of humanity has always been-"my war-hammer is bigger than your war-hammer." Please, anybody, tell me I am wrong!
I can't wait for this "civilization" to crash! It's a bunch of crap! Does nothin but breed sheep!(besides you and me, dear reader, of course) Meanwhile, I, Zymurgian, am a homebrewer. Mind you, chances are, our economy is certainly destined for unprecedented gloom. Convenience stores will be vacant. Liquor stores all boarded up... I will be pleasantly buzzed when USA takes a shit. Perhaps I will have some grog to share. You better be nice to me, when civilization goes dry! Ha ha!
It is not going to be at all pleasant, when it all crashes. So glean some skill "off the grid", like brewing or gardening. Your computer-programming knowledge shall be rendered superfluous, not to mention yer college credits... Maybe learn self- defense, which is another topic altogether...

Dividing my loyalties

Blow for beer as biofuels clean out barley

Aargh! I'm a big fan of biofuels...but I'm also a big fan of beer. Please don't make me choose:

"One consequence, he said, could be a long-term shift upwards in the price of
beer. Barley and hops account for about 7-8 per cent of brewing costs.

Barley, which is used for making beer, whisky and animal feed, has seen
prices prices soar over the last 12 months."http://www.ft.com/cms/s/7f533724-c507-11db-b110-000b5df10621.html

Spring Training

Cactus League games begin. This is a good thing:

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sweaterman is down

(click to enlarge)
Sweaterman is having issues with his laptop. Issues that confound the geek squad. He will be back.

Dutch Laser Graffiti

found at:http://www.streetmemes.com/

Phuquetard Buddha

One of my favorites, Driftglass, posting at The News Blog during Steve Gilliards illness (get well soon, Steve) , has put up a masterpiece:

"Peace comes from
within. Which is why we need bunker busting nukes to get at it." -- sayings
of
the Phuquetard Buddha (Also known as the Guantanamo
Buddha.)


http://www.thenewsblog.net/2007/02/driftglass-phuquetard-buddha.html

Dang, wish I wrote that.

Renzi

Hey, locals! It seems that our own representative Rick Renzi recieved campaign donations from an indicted terrorist:
http://www.dccc.org/stakeholder/archives/005688.html
Let's remember this next year.

Can we get out of Iraq?

Short answer: not anytime soon.
While the public wants out, and Congress is trying to come up with passable legislation, the administration is hell bent on staying and expanding our presence in Iraq.Because of our congressional structure, even if the house passes the Murtha resolution the senate won't. Due to the filibuster, it takes 60 senators to pass any controversial legislation, and there aren't 60 senators who oppose the war. We'll get speeches and rhetoric, but no effective legislation.
The filibuster is one of those rules that can be a safeguard or an obstacle. I was discussing the history of the filibuster with a friend, and she came to accept that as a procedure it's still needed but annoying.
The public anti-war sentiment hasn't spilled into the street yet. While the DC protests have been much larger than the media portrays them, they aren't overwhelming. One reason that the Vietnam protests got so much attention was the massive, nationwide scale made them impossible to ignore. We aren't there yet. And the corporate media will continue to downplay anti-war sentiment for a variety of reasons (profit).
It's hard to predict what would happen in Iraq if we withdraw, but it's hard to see anything being much worse than what we have now. And we will have to withdraw someday. The attrition that increases as we prolong our occupation will slowly bleed us dry.
I was anti-war before the war even began, and one of my main reasons was the aftermath question. Simply put, if you take down Saddam what takes his place? The "flowers and democracy" theory of the administration was delusional at best, arrogant and ignorant at the very least.
So I'm left with the depressing conclusion that we're stuck with this disaster for the remainder of this administration, and no good options for the next one. I don't see any possibility of a positve outcome.
Damn You, Bush and Cheney.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

pizza sutra, part 1

Comparing Rome to the United States of America , is like comparing Led Zeppelin to the Stone Temple Pilots.
The U.S. A is an imperial force , today. Right? For what- a coupla decades or so? Well hey, before us England ruled most of the world. Deutschland tried. Napolean and his minions gave it a go. And so. Hiitites, Egyptians, Mongols, twas the Romans had the best run!
Romans invented highways(sic.AppianWay), bathtubs, parliametary governance ,decent sandals and seige strategies and provocative recipies like "Lark tongues in aspic." Did they invent fast-food as well? Probably, though i doubt it would favor our modern palates...Mind you, terrorism during 1 AD was something to be contended with! For example- Huns, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Gauls, Picts, Britons, Teutons, Vikings. These chaps put Al-Queda to shame!
Did they have pizza delivery in ancient Rome? Probly not, but I do! -as i am of hunnishvisiostrogallicpictishteuto-viking ancestry. My ancestors sacked Rome. And thanks to their battle-hammers and swords, we have pizza-delivery today.

More on Liberals

I needed to put up something lighter.



Yup, I sure seem like that kind of liberal...not.

Seymour Hersh

The Seymour Hersh piece in the New Yorker should be mandatory reading for every member of Congress. Hersh details the massive screw-up of our changing loyalties amid sectarian violence and the push for war with Iran, and it's enough to make me scream. Basically, we're going to aid Sunni's who are killing our troops in order to oppose the Iranian Shia who aren't:

"To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration
has
decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In
Lebanon, the Administration has coƶperated with Saudi Arabia’s government,
which
is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken
Hezbollah, the
Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also
taken part in
clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A
by-product of these
activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist
groups that espouse a
militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America
and sympathetic to Al
Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the
insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni
forces,
and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective,
the most
profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is
the empowerment of Iran.

"http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/070305fa_fact_hersh

Hersh has a long history of accurate reporting on the middle east, so I recommend reading the whole article.

Paying for wars

Watch what you eat, people. Amongst today's bad news I read this:

"The federal agency that’s been front and center in warning
the
public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is
conducting just
half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

The cuts by the
Food and Drug Administration come despite a barrage
of high-profile food
recalls.

“We have a food safety crisis on the
horizon,” said Michael
Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the
University of
Georgia.

Between 2003 and 2006, FDA food safety
inspections dropped 47
percent, according to a database analysis of federal
records by The Associated
Press".

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17349427/

Are you feeling safer yet?

Cheney and the Taliban

But I'm sure he'll explain how well things are going in Afghanistan. Will the idiots leading us ever realize that the debacle in Iraq has detracted from real American security?

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber attacked the
entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday during a visit
by Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20. Cheney
was unhurt in the attack, which was claimed by the Taliban and was the closest
that militants have come to a top U.S. official visiting Afghanistan. At least
one U.S. soldier, an American contractor and a South Korean soldier were among
the dead, NATO said.

Cheney said the attackers were trying "to find ways to
question the authority of the central government." A Taliban spokesman said
Cheney was the target.

AP story here:http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AFGHAN_EXPLOSION?SITE=TXMID&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Maybe this will be a wake-up call for the evil one.

added thought: Cheney's visit was "secret", so it
appears that the Taliban have infiltrated base security.


More on Cellulosic Ethanol

While this is a small start, the idea is quite sound:

ALCOHOL FUEL:
Celunol, based in Cambridge, MA, tests its cellulosic-ethanol process in this
pilot-scale plant, which converts biomass such as switchgrass into ethanol.
Biomass is stored and handled in the building to the right. From there it’s fed
into the four black tanks in the center, which contain enzymes for breaking down
cellulose and other complex carbohydrates to form simple sugars that can be
fermented in the “beer” tank below. There, the liquid produced has the same
alcohol concentration as beer. Next, the beer is distilled in the tall column
left of center before being stored in ethanol tanks at left. Celunol started
construction on a much larger cellulosic-ethanol plant this month.
Credit:
Courtesy of Celunol Corp.

article here:http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=18227&ch=energy

also, from NPR's "Living on Earth", a story about termite enzymes and the role they might play:http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=07-P13-00008&segmentID=2

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A matter of perception

I have this pair of sunglasses. Good enough shades, but one of the lenses keeps popping out. "Well that sucks, get better ones," you might say to me, but avast! how now! - hear me out; behold my tale, dear person perusing obscure blogs today...
I don't wanna nother pair of sunglasses, because the lense that periodically pops out of its frame is always hopelessly lost, only to present itself again, not in a pocket or the like, but in a preposterous format. Perpetually.
Please understand, one of the lenses of my cheap-ass pair of gas station shades has a mind of its own. Once, I found it 'neath a downtown turkey-smoker. Coupla days ago the lens was nestled in the fronds of my pet rabbit-foot fern. Last tuesday it had crept into the shower stall. It has even been known to manifest under my pillow. Who knows the agenda of an errant sunglass lens? Thing is, I always discover it somewhere, and it snaps gingerly back into its frame. Snugly, securely, for awhile. Reminds me of a husky dog I once knew...
Hi! My name is Zymurgian and I am honored to have been invited to post on Pygalgia's blog.
Now that I have you gently twirling your snifters of cognac in anticipation, I could be a real bastard tyrant and tape or crazy-glue this vagabond lense to the frame of my sunglasses, thereby inhibiting its annoying periginations (The other lense is quite docile and servile; proleteriat to the core) but who am I to inhibit a gas station lense's free will? It agrees to let me find it, so far. It agrees to guard my eyes from slush and wind and ultraviolet maelstrom, sometimes. Where I live now, at this latitude and elevation, sunglasses are efficacious, as I am amore interested in what the ravens have to say, i.e. ardent cyclist.
To digress, I gain understanding from them that go on tour, -husky dogs and sunglass lenses and friends, relatives, sleeping bags, lovers. I accept that most of this world is busted, and duplicarious. Touracious.
Simultaneously, the only way through this busted frame of a life is to pop out of it and go on tour. But if through that, you do not realize yer tru purpose is to be of service to another's maelstrom, well, hey, get a better pair of shades!

Bragging Rights

Surfing the intertubes, I see a lot of blogs out there. And if I may say so, this humble little blog is doing okay. After all, we can boast that we've been blogging longer, and have put up more posts than Pete Townshend:http://www.petetownshend-whohe.blogspot.com/.
Now if I could only play or sing or show any other talent.
Added: Yes, it is THAT Pete Townshend. Most people my age might have heard of him. Younger folk can look him up.
Added x 2:http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/ConcertDetail.aspx?id=4267962

A Diplomat

While I haven't picked a Democratic candidate yet (it's way too early), Bill Richardson's WaPo editorial expresses a level of diplomatic wisdom that our current administration lacks:

"No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have
chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because
we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we
convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than
if they don’t."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301595.html

An Oscar Party Dinner

OK, so my blogging resume said that I'd post a recipe now and then, and, as a favorite recipe blogger of mine is down and out, I thought I'd post a dish I made the other night. Given that it's a wee bit cold here in Flagstaff, a hearty meal does one good, and it fills you up enough to just veg on the couch and suffer the acceptance speeches without any damage. It should serve 4 folks with some leftover for lunches during the week, and it'll run you about $15 for all the ingredients (not counting the wine - have your guests bring that!), depending on your cupboard status.

I call it the Meaty Italian Pasta Dish. My girlfriend just likes to hear me say 'Meaty Italian'.

Ingredients:
  • 2 boxes of pasta (I prefer a penne and mostaccioli mix; rigatoni is good too)
  • 1 package of mild or sweet italian sausage (5 sausages or so)
  • 1 package of proscuitto (about 5-6 slices or so; or more if you love it)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 package of pre-cut shrooms (yes, I'm lazy)
  • 1 - 3 tablespoons of garlic (to your taste)
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons of white, yellow, or green onion (again to your preference)
  • About 2/3 of a six-ounce can of tomato paste (so 4 ounces)
  • About 3/4 of a half-pint of heavy whipping cream (to mix)
  • 3/4 cup red wine (and a good one, dammit!)
  • Spices: sweet basil (1 Tbsp), crushed anise (1/2 Tsp), a sprinkle of oregano, 1 bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese for topping (your choice).
  • Olive oil. As needed, just to keep the sausage from sticking to the pan.
My girlfriend cut up some sopprassetta into small chunks which we also incorporated into this meal; however it's optional unless you want this dish to be the Italian Pork Extravaganza...


Prep (15 minutes unless you're screwing around):
  • Slice the proscuitto into about nickle-sized pieces (I know it's difficult to do because the proscuitto's so thin, but quit whining)
  • Slide the sausages out of their casings, so you have a big skillet of snausage.
  • Chop the onion. Don't cry. Be an Iron Chef.

Cooking (25 minutes):
  • Start cooking the sausage in all the spices in olive oil (low to medium) and add the garlic after about 5 minutes. This should cook for 10-12 minutes.
  • Simultaneously, start boiling the water for the pasta.
  • After 10-12 minutes, start cooking the pasta (follow package directions, but usually about 10-11 minutes for al dente pasta from a box).
  • After about six minutes (of pasta time) add the proscuitto, shrooms, onions and wine to the sausage. Turn the heat up to med-high or high depending on your stove. Let simmer for 5 minutes, and turn heat to warm.
  • Add tomato paste and whipping cream to the sausage mix. Stir well, until creamy.

Immediately toss all the meat with the cooked pasta and the cheese. Bag lettuce and some garlic bread go very, very well.

Wines: Decent red table - Two Brothers, Big Tattoo Red is perfect. Or, if you're a whitey, a crisp and very cold Chateau St. Michelle chardonnay.

Remember to add/vary any of these for even more taste: eggplant, zukes, chicken/veal/even seafood is possible.

Bon appetit, and here's hoping the best actor(s) win!