Walk the Plank

Here's a theory about Republican re-orientation that sounds really exciting: Peggy Noonan says "It's pirate time."
Now is the time to fight and be fearless, to be surprising, to break out of lockstep, to be the one thing Republicans aren't supposed to be, and that is interesting. Now's the time to put a dagger 'tween their teeth, wave a sword, grab a rope and swing aboard the enemy's galleon.
That sounds great. Throw out the rules, grab a blade, and start swinging. And what does she go on to suggest that these wild swashbucklers do?

Endorse gun control, tax increases on the very rich, and "immigration reform."

Apparently when Republican Pirates yell "Surrender!" they are to precede the exclamation with "I."

Condolences to FPS Russia

Our condolences to FPS Russia on the apparent murder of their producer. I had not realized that they were close physical neighbors to the Hall, but they are apparently located quite close by (and not at all in Russia, as you might think).

Here is their top five list, in memory of the good work they have done.

Fluidity and locusts

Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons in 1936.  He quoted the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was opposing direct efforts to prevent Germany's remilitarization:
"We are always reviewing the position."  Everything, he assured us, is entirely fluid.  I am sure that that is true.  Anyone can see what the position is.  The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind.  So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.  So we go on preparing more months and years -- precious, perhaps vital to the greatness of Britain -- for the locusts to eat.


Happiness, a new season. This is a good trailer:

Two on Tolkien

Richard Fernandez writes a review of the new Hobbit movie, which makes me think I might ought to go see it after all. I hated Jackson's treatment of LoTR very much -- well, the first movie, which I hated so badly I didn't see the others. The MTV swinging-cameras and technicality seemed to me to do violence to Tolkien's vision. I can't imagine he wouldn't have hated the movies at least as much as I do.

Still, Fernandez mentions a couple of Jackson's additions to the plot kindly. That's another thing of which I was suspicious. I can't imagine that Jackson's ideas about what the plot should contain are so superior to Tolkien's that the expansion is a great idea. Usually a novel benefits from cutting, not expanding, extra elements.

A man much more after my own heart, Lars Walker, writes the second piece for today on the subject. He looks back at older editions of LoTR that meant a great deal to him. Now this is the kind of thing that Tolkien would have understood!

Lucky Gunner on Brass v. Steel

For those of you interested in arms-related questions, the folks at Lucky Gunner email to draw your attention to their recent tests. They've passed tens of thousands of brass and steel cased ammunition through Bushmaster AR-15s, and have a report on the effects of each on weapon accuracy and reliability. Conditions were pretty rough at times, between rain and sandstorms in the Arizona desert.

Learn more at LuckyGunner.com

Of course, if any of you are inspired by this to go out and buy an AR-15... good luck! As D29 points out, there's little need for gun control on these weapons right now. You couldn't find one to buy if you wanted.

Comfort food

Over at Maggie's Farm, they're featuring a series of old favorites like chicken pot pie. Today's topic is chicken tetrazzini, which inspired me to write about the difference between the turkey tetrazzini I once whipped up using an undistinguished recipe off of the net, and the immensely superior one my husband made up shortly thereafter. It was like a demonstration from a cooking school: how a real cook makes even ordinary dishes something special. His didn't even take longer to make. It left mine in the dust.

This recipe is pretty close to what he did. It starts with a light roux, which is just flour stirred into butter in the saucepan until it thoroughly dissolves. You add equal parts cream, stock, and white wine and cook them down a bit. In the meantime, cook your noodles and hold them to one side. Also, start sauteeing the vegetables, whatever's handy, but a good mixture is celery, onions, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms. Add some salt and pepper as well as some herbs; he used thyme and sage. Grate up some parmesan and get your bread crumbs handy. Then all you have to do is mix up the diced turkey or chicken with the veggies, sauce, 1/3 of the bread crumbs and cheese, and the noodles. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, then top it with the rest of the bread crumbs and cheese and bake it until golden brown and delicious.

This is a forgiving dish, but it will be better if only read food goes into it. That means actual butter, actual parmesan, stock you made yourself, crumbs made from actual bread, and dry wine you wouldn't object to drinking on its own. On the other hand, most of these ingredients are leftovers. We make stock whenever the pile of chicken carcasses and leftover chicken bones, innards, and necks gets too big in the freezer, and stock freezes just fine in conveniently-sized containers until you're ready to use it. While it takes several hours, it's not like you have to be doing anything to it while you wait. It would be a fine thing to leave bubbling away in a crockpot while you're away or busy. It's nice to add vegetables or herbs to the stock while it's cooking, but you'll get a fine stock even if you dump in nothing but the chicken parts. When the chicken is cooked to pieces, strain it and reserve the liquid. Our dogs love to eat the mush that I pull off the bones. With the chicken bits in the dogs and the stock in the freezer, all that's left of many chicken carcasses is a tiny pile of bones.

As for the wine, it's a great way to use up any wine that's sat out overnight; this year we used the tag-end of a bottle of Champagne that sat out in the back yard overnight after New Year's Eve losing its fizz. It goes without saying that the bits of fowl are leftovers, and the veggies can be anything you have handy: peas or whatever. For bread crumbs, we keep a bag of heels from loaves of bread in the freezer and periodically pulverize them.

When this "leftover" dish is finished, you'll wish you had more.

This Is What I Want To Do For Vacation:

About five minutes into this video and the wife veto'd the idea, but I think I can talk her into it.

Some of you may recognize the road.

The 15-Hour Workweek

An economist writing in Aeon has an article on the rise of a leisure-based society, long predicted by Keynes and others. He asks, "Are we ready for it?" It's kind of an interesting reading for a notion of where the Left thinks we are.
The social democratic welfare state, supported by Keynesian macroeconomic management, had already smoothed many of the sharp edges of economic life. The ever-present threat that we might be reduced to poverty by unemployment, illness or old age had disappeared from the lives of most people in developed countries. It wasn’t even a memory for the young....

[F]or the first time in history, our productive capacity is such that no one need be poor. In fact, more people are rich, by any reasonable historical standard, than are poor....

If work was distributed more equally, both between households and over time, we could all be better off. But it seems impossible to achieve this without a substantial reduction in the centrality of market work to the achievement of a good life, and without a substantial reduction in the total hours of work. The first step would be to go back to the social democratic agenda associated with postwar Keynesianism. Although that agenda has largely been on hold during the decades of market-liberal dominance, the key institutions of the welfare state have remained both popular and resilient, as shown by the wave of popular resistance to cuts imposed in the name of austerity....

In a post-scarcity society, everyone would be guaranteed an income that yielded a standard of living significantly better than poverty, and this guarantee would be unconditional.
What is most interesting to me about this is that it is unmoored from any discussion of means-to-ends. The assumption is that the means are already in place: the problem is that the market distributes those means to the wrong people. What looks to me like a "Kill the Golden Goose" issue looks to them like an opportunity for golden eggs for everyone, whether they work or not.

In any case, the 15-hour workweek seems to be on its way. Obamacare brutally punishes businesses that have more than 50 full-time workers, where "full-time" is defined as 30 hours a week or more. Whole industries are now pushing low-wage workers onto 15-29 hour schedules, which means that they will be going on food stamps (if they aren't there already). Many of these jobs are no longer paid minimum wage, using the 'seasonal' or 'temporary' loopholes.

You'll have lots of time, I guess, to sit around and worry about how poor you've become. But of course there's a solution for that: the new 'guaranteed income' will ensure that no one is poor. (How will we pay for that when we can't pay for Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid or already-promised pensions? And we, the richest nation on earth?).

That's the Spirit!

A review of Scottish fencing.