It's cold here. I've been wearing a sweater and a jacket when I go out, and I'm considering adding a Kevlar vest to the ensemble since so many people think that type of attire is grounds for shooting.
Temperaturess are in the 50s today, and we're finally getting the rain global warming has denied us for weeks.
Which means it's time to head south. The south of France, somewhere near Grenoble, where I plan to have some plaisir. It's une véritable métropole alpine qui vit un perpétuel élan vers les sommets.
Yep, that's right. A veritable metropole alpine. Lots and lots of sommets. And also I might even wear shorts.
If I see any charming French cows, I might post them on Friday animal blogging. Otherwise, blogging will be light to non-existent until my return on Monday.
Oblong-ish: The shape of pizza to come.
I thought when I became vegan I'd have to give up pizza. But no, technology has provided us with soy cheese that melts as good as the stinky milk-based product. (You don't think cheese is stinky? Wait till it's lingered a while in your stomach and intestines. It's pretty horrid smelling then.)
The only thing is, Domino's and Pizza Hut and Pizza Express haven't caught on that some of us have advanced to the point where we no longer suckle at cow's udders, imagine that! So the only way to keep our love affair with pizza current is to make the stuff ourselves.
No problem, we have a nifty pizza dough recipe, and cutting up an eggplant or something is hardly hard work.
Half the dough in this recipe made a pizza large enough for the three of us. Notice, however, the non-round shape. Oblong, I think describes it. Actually oblong pizza is much better; you don't have to mangle whatever vegetable has the misfortune of being at the apex of the pie-shaped piece.
As for what to put on top, imagination plays a part here, too, as does the contents of your vegetable bin. Try not to use that fuzzy stuff in the back, though. It will smell as bad as cheese.
I have a couple of daughters. If this guy would throw in a few chickens, I'd seriously consider a similar offer.
If you live in, visit, or even fly over a red state, you'll want to read Pam's excellent round up of GOP talking points. My favorite is the one about the Republicans at their convention mocking Purple Hearts. Anybody know how many soldiers have earned Purple Hearts while fighting the Republican war in Iraq?
Speaking of purple, Shane deconstructs love bites.
Shakespeare's Sister has a fan. He probably deliberately used unconventional spelling and grammar so that Shakespeare's sister could relate, since back then thay all rote like that. If he'd monitored his Bevis more carefully he'd have known she isn't really Will's sister, nor is she 500 years old. But she is a witch. (We make believe a lot here in Blogistan, only we call it sarcasm.)
WordWhammy says what I've been thinking on collateral damage. What I want to know is, which bureaucrat at the Pentagon determines whether one is a piece of collateral damage or an innocent victim? Is there some kind of Good Guy/Bad Guy lexicon guide I don't have?
Warning: the following contains spoilers for all you Potted people.
Maybe I'll do some real blogging later. I've got tons of pictures from last week, even some top secret BBC photographs I've been warned could set off a lawsuit should I publish them. I'm weighing my options. (My civil liberties so far weigh less than my Volvo.) And stay tuned for food blogging. Pizza, at least, doesn't have a legal department.
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are...Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." —President Dwight D. Eisenhower, November 8, 1954
What is this feel-good fascist nonsense the Germans are spouting? "We invented everything."
A fairy tale retold. Or, how the Emperor with no clothes cried wolf.
The Queen goes green. No, not the political party. As far as is known, she's still a Monarchist.
Terrible news on the olive front. What's a chef to do? Blame global warming, then stock up before prices rise.
I'm leaving for France on Thursday. I'm just glad this is over. That guy bores me to tears, even before people started wearing rubber bands around their wrists to show support for someone who's won the Tour de France a bazillion times. I know, he serves as an inspiration to all those guys fighting testicular cancer. (I just think, tiny bike seats, ouch.) So shoot me.
No, wait...I didn't mean that.
The McLaughlin Group were talking about the latest London would-be bombings today. The old guy, McLaughlin, asked the others if they'd let their loved ones take the Tube in London. Answers were split: Pat Buchanan and Lawrence O'Donnell said no. Tony Blankley and Eleanor Clift said yes.
I said, you mean I get a choice?
It's easy for pundits to sit in their studios in New Jersey and declare they'd never set foot on a tube train. For me and mine, it's a bit more difficult.
I was packed in a Tube carriage the other day, close enough to feel the breath of the guy next to me, a dark skinned man in a safari jacket with a string hanging out.
It occurred to me if he pulled that string and a bomb exploded I'd be dead. A scary thought, but then, have you tried driving down the M40 lately? You're one lane change from a crash most times, and at 80+ mph a crash almost certainly means life support.
So yeah, riding the tube is a bit scarier these days. But life goes on.
And maybe even some more places.
So go check out my blogroll for fresh blog. Or if you want the kind of blog only a Kathy can provide, click on one of the Chatty Kathys. But if you want the je ne sais quoi of What Do I Know? then feel free to go to my archives. I began blogging almost 6 months ago, on January 21 (at Nancy's suggestion) and I peaked somewhere around January 24 or 25. It's been downhill from there.
I hear Washington Post reporters are afraid bloggers will take over their jobs. But at this rate, that won't happen.
Here's a pic I've been wanting to post. Lord Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, taken a couple of days after the incidents. Yes, England will stand.
No, I'm not his secret love child. It's simple, really.
I can't think of a metaphor that works. The obvious, and therefore overdone, is "worm." But worms provide benefits to the earth, and I can't think of any good thing Karl Rove has done. I could have fun with "spider" perhaps—I even have a cool pic I took of an arachnid with seven legs, but again, spiders are very useful as flycatchers, plus they spin beautiful webs.
Ditto with dirt, pond scum, and snakes (I know, I don't like them, but they do rid the farm of pests) and I simply adore rats, so that will never do.
I know! I'll call Karl Rove a Political Operative. They're pretty much without morals (which is why I was such a bad one) and provide absolutely nothing of value to the planet, James Carville and his quaint Cajun expressions excepted.
But therein lies the problem: Karl Rove actually is a political operative, and he was doing what they do, lacking a vital moral compass and all. Never mind that he put a U.S. agent at risk, along with her contacts. Never mind that he did it in order to discredit someone who wrote the truth about the administration and their bogus hunt for WMDs in Iraq. He simply did what he is bred to do: Propel his client—in this case George Bush—and his agenda, despicable though it may be, forward.
But there's a real culprit here, and it's not the fox I was admiring yesterday as he sunned himself in the pasture.
Robert Novak is pure evil. (You know this from his permanent scowl. Facial muscles don't lie.) He's no political operative, though he acts just as reprehensibly. He instead claims to be a reporter, charged with a higher calling—to bring truth to the masses.
What Novak did, printing Rove's loose-lipped projectile perfidy, was inexcusable. He doesn't deserve to be called a journalist. Imagine if James Carville did what he did, or Paul Begala, or Al Hunt, or Phil Donahue. They'd be little more than Potomac pond scum by now.
Is Crossfire even still on? Weren't they going to cancel that? Now's the time to hand Robert Novak his pink slip. Any network or news organization that employs him isn't worth the metaphors it takes to damn them.
Through a circuitous route that began at The Sideshow and ended at The American Conservative, I happened upon the book Dying to Win, by Robert Pape of the University of Chicago. Professor Pape has studied the 315 known terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2003 and made some not-so-startling conclusions:
Pape concludes that "the data show there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any of the world's religions."
"Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective." [emphasis mine]
This is probably news to most Americans, who see themselves (by extension of their taxes supporting vast military actions abroad) as fighting the enemy in their homeland in order to "teach them a lesson," which is, I suppose, you Don't Mess with
TAC: That would seem to run contrary to a view that one heard during the American election campaign, put forth by people who favor Bush’s policy. That is, we need to fight the terrorists over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.
RP: Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies over there, if you would, is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us.
Duh. Read the rest, it confirms what those of us who opposed the war in Iraq knew all along. (Not all of us, by the way, were starry eyed leftists. Lots of conservatives said the same thing. They just should have said it louder. About the decibel level of the Howard Dean scream would have been about right.)
More required reading: "Tomorrow you will be in Paradise" about the training "suicide bombers" (who prefer to be called "marytrs") undergo. Again, the conclusions are surprising. Bombers aren't poor and uneducated, as we saw in the 9/11 attacks.
Understand your enemy. And get the hell out of their space. Before this happens:
"The longer our forces stay on the ground in the Arabian Peninsula, the greater the risk of the next 9/11, whether that is a suicide attack, a nuclear attack, or a biological attack."
Or, even worse, liberals like me will be saying "I told you so."
"Is the fact that you're speaking babytalk to me an indication you might be my friend?"
This morning I woke to loud plaintive mooing. One lone cow was in the pasture, upset at being separated from her friends, I guessed. The other cows had gone on to greener pastures, and I hope I'm not using that phrase figuratively.
Later, someone (or more likely, one of the cows) opened the gate, and her baby rejoined her. (It was the calf pictured above, and he looks just like his mama.) They ran toward each other—well, they sort of hopped, in the way cows do. Her tail was wagging back and forth. I'm sure that means the same in cow language as it does for dogs, which in English is: "Hey! Long time no see! Like, it's been five minutes! See how much I missed you? My butt can't stop wriggling!"
Cows are sociable creatures. One of the calves came to see what I was doing at the fence the other day, and one by one they all came over to see the crazy human and her whirring thing. I talked babytalk to them while I shot them with my Nikon.
I was wrong about them being girls, by the way. Some are clearly male. Maybe they're steers, and destined for someone's plate. I hope not. They're far too sweet. And they're my friends. Their tails wag when they see me.
"Who, me? Eat birds? Nah...you have me confused with that fox over there."
My dog is a killer. Sort of.
We were walking in the woods—she was off lead—and we came up to an intersection. I signaled her to go straight, and she went right. When I got to the intersection, I saw why she flouted my command.
There was a bird, obviously injured. It was one of those big fat pigeons, or maybe a dove, about the size of a small chicken. They circled, while I screamed "NO! NO!" and then she got a good mouthful of it.
I continued to scream as the feathers flew, and then I came to my senses. "Drop it," I said to her calmly. She placed it gently on the ground (true to her breeding), but there was little hope for it at that point. A fox probably made a meal of it later.
I scolded her, telling her birds are our friends, but she seemed awfully proud of herself, prancing along, feathers dripping from her mouth. I know she's a dog, "it's her nature," but I've been trying to teach her compassion.
She hates it, though, when I get all abstract on her. She refuses to learn the memory verses I give her: "Blessed are the meek, my ass! This one's MINE!"
In other dog news, over at Creek Running North Chris Clarke and frequent commenter Tost have a bet going. Go vote for the handsomest dog. (Each vote costs a donation to a favorite animal shelter.) Read the trash talk that started the bet here in comments.
My dog, an ethnocentristic American, is voting for a member of her own breed, Cody, but I'm leaning toward Zeke.
Pasta with Sundried Tomato and Artichoke Hearts, twenty minutes from boxes and jars to table.
There's nothing like pasta for a meal on the fly. Only sometimes it tastes like that too. A box of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce are hardly a gourmet meal.
Not that all our meals must be gourmet, mind you. There's a time and place for tacos. But since that time was night before last, and I still hadn't been to a grocer and time was short, to the cupboards I went.
Artichokes? Check. Sundried tomatoes? Check. Olives? Check. Boxes of dried pasta and tins of tomatoes are givens in my stockpile-for-any-disaster mindset. (I estimate I can survive six months of nuclear winter just on assorted pulses.)
Really, with properly filled cupboards, there's no reason to go hungry, or to—gasp—resort to Ragu and angel hair.
Now that we know the London bombers came from Leeds, I guess we should root out terrorism at its ugly heart and bomb Leeds back to the stone age.
It worked in Afghanistan, didn't it? Then we should go invade Scotland. Yeah, that should do the trick.
Lots of comparisons are being made to the way Londoners handled the "incidents" the other day and the "troubles" with Ireland in previous decades. Ironically, the IRA situation was handled, finally, with diplomacy and a recognition on both sides that further violence wasn't the answer, and today, the prospect of IRA terror is remote. (More irony: it was President Bill Clinton who sponsored George Mitchell's peacemaking efforts. Guess that's what Karl Rove was talking about when he mocked "liberal" solutions to terrorism as "offering therapy".)
If the IRA terror threats had been handled the same way 21st century terrorism is dealt with, the British army would have first rained bombs on Northern Ireland and then invaded Scotland.
How many times can I say in one week the "war on terror" isn't working?
I just hope when we bomb Leeds we don't accidentally destroy any of the cultural heritage. The Brontë sisters were born not far from there. It'd be a shame if the parsonage were lost, along with its priceless artifacts.
Also, aren't there white people in Leeds? Shouldn't we, like, warn them or something?
American military personnel stationed outside of London were ordered to stay out of London immediately after Thursday's "network disruption" (as they're calling it on the Tube loudspeaker these days) for fear they'd be victims of a bomb attack.
Shorter George Bush: London, we feel your pain. Not really!
Millions of unflinching London residents, meanwhile, commuted to and from work.
It's fast becoming a pet peeve of mine, this notion that American lives are worth more than other lives, and thus should be protected more strenuously. We bring our "war on terror" abroad, where many thousands of innocents are killed.
A couple of years ago, out of curiosity, I looked up the figures for the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan after we invaded that country. At the time, conservative estimates put the number at 4000, a thousand more than were killed on September 11. Four thousand innocent people killed by our indiscriminate bombs.
Estimates (pretty conservative estimates, at that) put the number of innocent Iraqi dead at 100,000.
Most Americans have a rough idea how many were killed in the Trade Center attacks, and some know about how many American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. But few know, or care, that so many have been killed for the crime of being born in a country whose leaders earned the wrath of George Bush and Co.
Today they finally lifted the order restricting American military personnel from entering London. But it was too late. Word on the street is, Americans are weenies.
They don't hate us because we drink Coke, or wear skimpy clothes, or have "freedom." No, they hate us because too many Americans think American blood is worth more than any other kind.
Last time I checked, it all turns red when it's shed.
I'm not, unfortunately, a Harry Potter fan. It's not that I don't like the lad, I just don't care. I'm a Harry Potter agnostic.
So what's an agnostic to read these days?
The Guardian's book section has a cover story about Christian fiction that's worth reading, if only for explanations like this:
More tellingly, its stark black-and-white morality and its bromides about "healing" address two fundamental American concerns: the need for certainty and for closure (note the vast success - within both the Christian and secular public - of a novel such as Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, with its comforting depiction of the sweet hereafter).
If Christ-lit and kid-lit aren't your thing, how about the much-maligned chick-lit? Booksquare defends the genre, written, incidentally, by, for, and about women, and maligned by the same.
Now don’t get us wrong. We love elitism, so much so that we practice it wherever and whenever we can. The statement does, however, beg the question — is it true that the New York Times does not review chicklit because it sucks? Does the NYT refuse to review other books that suck, or just this particular genre? If that is the case, then, wow, those editors must have had one fun policy and procedures meeting. We imagine the following inserted into the manual:
Section 6, Paragraph 7: The New York Times Book Review (”NYTBR”) will not publish reviews of any novels that fall into the genre of “chicklit.” For the purposes of this paragraph, the genre will be defined as the following:
1. The cover contains shades of pink, blue, green, or anything in the pastel family. Books with covers depicting shoes, purses, hats, or female figures (except those reminiscent of classical sculpture) will also be defined as chicklit.
2. The narrator or protagonist does not possess a Y chromosome.
3. The character(s) experience difficulties with romantic relationships, work, parents, or airline attendants.
4. The author is female or knows a female.
Note: When applying subsection 4, use only the best available information.
Also, thanks to Booksquare, (go read the comments for the great stuff) I've discovered my next beach read: The Thin Pink Line, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Faking a pregnancy never sounded like so much fun.
Normally I sympathize with any author who experiences declining book sales. But not this one.
Do real writers blog? Tom Dolby answers:
As a novelist, so much of my interior life is already exposed -- when a book of mine is published, I'm giving my readers eight or 12 or 24 hours of myself -- that to give up that essential energy and put it all online would be to spill some of the blood that fuels my work. For now, I want to experience at least part of my world privately, to let my ideas percolate in my imagination before they make their way to the printed page or the screen.
Can't help but agree.
And that's enough of my blood for now. Check back tomorrow for fresh platelets.
I've often felt like I'm straddling the blogging universe, with one Birkenstock in progressive America and one sensible shoe firmly planted in muddy England.
Now I find there's a name for what I do: Bridge Blogging. I'm bringing news of one part of the world to another. Granted, it's a part of the world that's more than adequately covered by others (see my "Food's Not Good but the Blog's Great" blogroll), but I try to bring a unique perspective, and no small amount of ignorance.
Now that my mission is identified, I'll get on with it then. Some typical British reactions I've come across the last couple of days regarding the attacks on Thursday:
From Dave Weeden:
Who’d have thought the French would take the Olympics so seriously?
And if there’s one good thing about all this, at least 7-7 is a date the Americans can get the right way round.
I suppose I could write something serious. But then they'd have won, wouldn't they?
Tim Blair follows the money:
But I have a more sophisticated theory: London's streets creaked and rattled with nervous new cyclists Friday after bicycle sales rocketed in the wake of bomb blasts on three underground trains and a double-decker bus.
Damn bike cartels.
Blighty Blog has a history lesson:
Ever heard of the blitz? A mere inconvenience. Back to work in the morning.
Everyone’s all, “These evil barbaric fiends, these monstrous vermin,” and I’m like, “What are you trying to do? Hurt their feelings?” Incidentally, Britain could have 500 such attacks a year and it would still be less violent than Colombia (43,000 murders per annum, according to the President’s website). That would quickly become quite tiresome, though, if every time you got on a bus some enemy of democracy blew it up. Anyway, bollocks to it. Even to still be discussing it is to play their game. Let’s talk about something else.
While bloggers have gripped their keyboards and reacted stoically, The Sun newspaper goes apeshit:
Britain is crawling with suspected terrorists and those who give them succour. The Government must act without delay, round up this enemy in our midst and lock them in internment camps.
Remember the play I almost went to Thursday night? Apparently the Telegraph reviewer had a change of heart about "Talking to Terrorists", which I've decided I do want to see, more than ever.
What I would show them is this from Andrew, who was on the train behind the one hit near Liverpool Street:
An open letter to the terrorist cunts who tried to kill me today:
Fuck you. You missed me. Better luck next time.
That about sums it up.
In other news, more than 20 were killed in Baghdad by a suicide bomber. No word if the dead included any white people.
Paul McCartney, fresh from a Live 8 gig, busked for change in the London Tube.
Tom Friedman is an idiot. (Not news, exactly, but Juan Cole does provide a skewer, using identical language to what I just heard the guy I saw yesterday, who was from Al Arabiya rather than Al Jazeera, say on Dateline London today. I think Mr. Suave Announcer Man must read Informed Comment.) (Internal Editor: Does this last bit make any sense?)
In the instant on the platform as the train braked to a stop, I had to decide which carriage to step into. I chose the one with lots of blonde women. When a man got off later, I glanced at the spot where he'd been sitting, in case he'd left a bomb.
After a couple of stops, I forgot about being scared. Millions of Londoners must have felt the same way yesterday when they went to work.
In Covent Garden, we saw The Producers. Gaiety ruled. Who knew Hitler could sing and dance?
On the way home, a man got on the train with his little girl. He was showing her the tube map (Londoners teach their kids the tube map the way we used to teach ours the state capitals) and she said, That's the purple one the bomb was on. No no, he said. Don't say that word. She said it again. Incident, he said. Call it an incident. But he was laughing. We all were.
Then we got off, and in the lift was a photo of a missing person. John Downey, who didn't come home that night. And there were more flowers, outside Edgware.