Friday, February 12, 2016

Hooray For Lard!

I love to make blackened ribeyes. I do them on a huge cast iron skillet outside on the grill so the smoke doesn't fill our house. I've used butter in the past as the substrate when I cook them, but recently I've discovered the glories of lard. This, in particular, convinced me.
When it comes to determining the stability of a fat, it’s all about chemistry. Saturated fats have single bonds between all the carbon molecules of the fatty acid chain and are therefore the most heat-stable. That’s because single bonds, when it comes to the fatty acid carbon chain, are relatively difficult to break.
Lard doesn't burn and doesn't break down under heat unless you really screw things up. I've yet to burn lard the way butter burns. I had one adventure a while back where I heated the skillet and when I put the butter in, it burst into flames immediately, coating the pan with ash and giving the steaks a charred flavor even though they weren't burned themselves.

Lard doesn't have that rich, milky flavor that butter has, but you can get that effect by putting a small pat of butter on top of the steak when you serve it.


Ribeyes cut from the bone awaiting blackening.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Something Positive On My Tenth Blogiversary

I couldn't leave that last snarkathon as my only 10th blogiversary post. I need something more positive. This sleep apnea thing is really kicking my butt, so many days I end up grumpy because it feels like a part of my body is broken for good. I always thought I'd react better to the slow entropism of age, but so far it looks like I've got some room for improvement.

On to something positive.

Last night I went to Ash Wednesday services. As a Eucharistic minister, I was one of the folks doling out the ashes. When you make the cross on the recipient's head, you're supposed to say, "Repent and believe in the Gospel." That in itself was a bit surreal as I'm always fighting plenty of my regular sins and losing one or more of the battles at any given time. Me suggesting that someone else needed to repent felt out of place.

In any case, a mom with a little baby girl, probably no more than 2 years old, came up to get ashes. I put hers on her forehead with a dutiful, "Repent and believe in the Gospel." She then turned her little girl so I could put ashes on her forehead. She was the picture of lovely innocence. I smiled and as I put the ashes on her I said, "You don't need to repent. You're beautiful just the way you are." The mom had a big smile on her face as she walked away.

There. Now that's a 10th blogiversary post.

The Right Side Of History Always Seems To Have Sound Money And Plenty Of Firepower For Some Reason

Today's my tenth blogiversary. Yay for me! Ten years and nearly 7500 blog posts later, I'm as OCD about this blogging thing as I've ever been. I've blogged before about what I've learned from blogging, but the last time I did that, someone admonished me saying, "No one wants to read a blogger blogging about blogging!" That seemed like sound advice, so off we go onto another gloomy snarkfest.

En, as they say, joy.

Time and again, we're told that progressives, social justice activists, democratic governments and diversity are on the "right side of history." It's rather Marxist as it assumes that history is inexorably flowing in a given direction, carrying us on with it like some kind of river.

Funny thing about that river. It always seems to be going in the direction of military might and financial power.

The WSJ today has a bit on the Russian quagmire in Syria, or rather, the lack of said quagmire. It turns out that contrary to the Obama Administration's assertions that there's no military solution in Syria, the Russians have discovered that there may indeed be a military solution. That solution involves unrestricted bombing.
Defying U.S. predictions of a quagmire in Syria, Russia is achieving strategic victories there with this month’s Aleppo offensive. The question now is whether this is a turning point that hastens the five-year war’s end or the trigger for a counter-escalation that will drag other regional countries into the conflict.
Apparently ignoring pseudo-Marxist logic, local regimes are seeking rapprochement with the enemies of history.
(C)ountries such as Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have been voicing a willingness to accept the Kremlin’s role in Syria and work more closely with it. Israeli officials have said they hoped Russia could help constrain Iranian operations against Israel from Syria.
It's worth noting that our new bestest friends in Iran and the proud, sovereign people of Afghanistan who will soon be released from under the American jackboot, are joining the fight against history.
“There is no regime advance,” (a Syrian rebel leader whose soldiers are getting mauled) added. “In the air, it is Russian planes. And on the ground, there are Afghan, Hezbollah, and Iranian fighters. And in the operations room, there are Iranians.”

Iran has recruited thousands of Afghans, many of them refugees living in Iran, to fight on the government’s side in Syria. A Human Rights Watch report in January said the Afghan fighters are organized and commanded by Iranian military officials and have fought at every major battlefield in Syria, including around Damascus and Aleppo.
Meanwhile, European banks and stock markets across the globe are getting crushed despite central banks shifting their printing presses into overdrive. It's almost like there's something else at work here, something other than monetary policy.

We live in crazy times, man. Crazy times.

Rest assured, the world is largely united in agreeing that we're on the right side of history.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Playing In A Hurricane

Central banks are either flirting with or have already instituted negative interest rates in order to force commercial banks to lend. This isn't going very well and both the Japanese stock market and European bank stocks have been getting slammed. It's no joke.
But there is more to the sector slump than just the individual bank problems, according to Garnry. The negative interest rates set by the ECB means that banks effectively have to pay to have cash on their balance sheets, while at the same time getting squeezed on their net interest margins. Debt levels are already really high on the continent, which means further loan growth is expected to be low, he said.
Think about what negative rates mean. If banks aren't lending, it's because they don't see sufficient rewards for risking their money. Banks make money by lending, so they're already predisposed to make all the loans that seem reasonable. Money kept on the sidelines by the banks is really being kept out of the hands of dangerous, risky business ventures.

In comes the central banks, punishing them for not lending to poor risks by charging them for keeping cash reserves. It's like the central banks are shouting, "Go out and play with the other children! It's a beautiful day, much too nice to stay inside." The commercial banks look outside and see this.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Strong, Assertive Women With Swords (And Bows)

I recently shocked one of our sons' girlfriends when I told her I hated female movie and TV characters who engage in medieval combat. The topic came up while discussing Game of Thrones. It would have been equally applicable to the Hunger Games films or the new Star Wars movie.

I read recently that the reason the French, when fighting the English in the 1400s, didn't come up with longbow units was that they couldn't find anyone strong enough to pull the darn things. Welsh boys were brought up being trained to fire the longbow. It's such a difficult weapon and requires so much upper body strength that you can't just pick it up and start using it.

Similarly, women in armor with swords or axes fighting men is stupid. They'd last about one hit and then they'd be dead. Imagine any woman taking on an NFL linebacker. Knights were the professional athletes of their day. Heck, women can't even compete at the professional level at golf, much less MMA (Medieval Martial Arts).

In any case, the young lady was aghast. No one she knew talked like that. It was just assumed that it was perfectly normal for women to be shown physically beating up on men. I think I sprained her brain as she realized I was an unapologetic chauvinist.

But to me, it prompts the question, why are we at this point? Why is it that popular culture is full of women besting athletic men when they'd be lucky to take down an average guy? It's particularly egregious when a woman of classic beauty, slender and lovely, punches out a guy who looks like an enforcer for the mob. And yet, we see that all the time. Why?

How about this. Popular culture is trying to advance the myth that women don't need men. Equality requires replacement, maybe? It's certainly defiance of the thought that men and women are complimentary.

Something to ponder.

I'm just sure that one of these guys could have been replaced by a woman.
(Sorry for the lousy video quality. It was all I could find from El Cid.)

Monday, February 08, 2016

Women And The Draft

You have to think that at some time these fantasies that men and women are interchangeable, all careers need to be equally open to all sexes and that gender is a social construct are going to collapse. If nothing else, the internal contradictions will bring it crashing down.
Meanwhile, integration continues apace with predictable results.
Critics are scrutinizing mixed martial arts (MMA) competitor Fallon Fox, after the transgender fighter gave her opponent a concussion and broke her eye socket.

Fox defeated her opponent, Tamikka Brents, by TKO at 2:17 of the first round of their match. Brent’s eye injury resulted in a damaged orbital bone that required seven staples.

In a post-fight interview this week, Brents told Whoa TV, “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because she was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ”
Emphasis mine to illustrate just how deeply ingrained this idiocy is in our culture. You need to be a doctor to ascertain whether or not men are stronger and more aggressive?


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hillary Should Have Avoided All Primary Debates

... or done as few as possible. She's caught in a vice.
  • If she goes on a lefty-moderated one, like on hosted by MSNBC, Sanders won't get any hard questions and will be able to talk endlessly about how many presents he's going to give the good little boys and girls. Hillary's one advantage, that she's slightly less loopy than Sanders, will be negated by the loopiness of the moderators.
  • If she goes on a centrist-moderated one, she's going to get corruption questions she can't answer.
  • She's never going to go on a Fox News - sponsored debate, so there's no real point in considering it.
She should be playing rope-a-dope with Bernie and instead, she keeps engaging him.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

English Soccer In America

... is growing in popularity by leaps and bounds.

I'm about to zip over to a friend's house to watch this morning's games where about 6 men are gathering for British breakfast and (proper) football. Of the 6 of us, only 2 of us have been watching the English Premier League (EPL) for longer than a year. Out on Twitter, my man Dean has started following Manchester City. At work, my office mate now texts me regularly when the games are on.

For me, football in general and the EPL in particular is the best sport out there. No commercial breaks and almost every game means something. In the EPL, it's not just about placing in the top 6 spots so you can go to one of the European tournaments, it's about not placing in the bottom 3 and getting sent down to the league below. That means even the really bad teams play like mad.

And there are moments like this, where Jonas Gutierrez, cancer survivor and long-time Newcastle United favorite, saves the team from relegation by scoring a crucial goal in the last game of the season.

Howay the lads indeed.