Cooking Club Short Ribs

I made the beef short ribs according to Cowboy Kent Rollins recipe, which Grim recommended some posts ago. I had to use a slow cooker instead of a Dutch oven, and I went with an Argentinian Malbec instead of Merlot. Turned out well. It went for 5 hours on high, but could have used another hour, I think. It did in fact fall off the bone and tasted great, but at the thickest part was just a tad dry. Rollins suggests mashed potatoes as a side, and I second that. The thick broth makes a good gravy for it.

Saturday Night Electro-Swing

Apparently, 20-somethings are listening to a lot of this hybrid swing these days. Youngsters these days. (You'll have to imagine the eye roll there.)

The next would have been good for Halloween.

It's kinda catchy, though ...

Comments Policy

Since we have been getting so many anonymous comments lately, I thought I should repost the comments policy. It's very old: in 2015 it was nine, so it must now be a teenager. Anonymous comments are allowed, but must be signed with some kind of pseudonym that you'll stick by so that we can keep everybody straight. It's hard to carry on a conversation with three different "Anonymous" at once, not being sure which one said what or if they're all the same guy. 

Anyway, here it is.
Please be welcome, so long as you will adhere to this form.
I adopted [this policy] from the sadly-defunct Texas Mercury, a fringe publication but one whose bold assertion of well considered and unusual ideas I always enjoyed:
As we see it, modern society has all the important ideas of life exactly backwards: we are completely against the belief in sensitivity and tolerance in politics and raffish disregard in private life. The Texas Mercury is founded on the opposite principles- our idea is of tolerance and polite sensitivity in private life and ruthless truth in politics. Be nice to your neighbor. Be hell to his ideas.
Comments failing to uphold those principles run the risk of being deleted without warning. In the year and some months since I adopted that as the policy here, I've added one additional point: hit-and-run comments, as well as anonymous comments, will generally be deleted. If you're a regular here, and willing to stand up and fight for what you believe, you can say pretty much anything that isn't a personal attack on a fellow reader. If you're just wandering through, or unwilling to leave your name (even a false name you'll stand by will do, e.g., "Grim"), pass on. This is a hall, and regular readers are honored guests not to be troubled by cowards.
Fair enough? Well, fair or unfair, those are the rules.

The only thing that's been added since is that off-topic comments may be marked as SPAM, which will cause them to disappear from user's experience. I don't delete them, but I do sometimes so mark them because we've had some people over the years who proved it necessary. 

Try not to do anything that will make me add to this list. I liked it better when it was simpler.  

We’re at War

If you were wondering if things are moving behind the scenes this should tear it for you
United States Marine Corps Major Gen. Chris A. McPhillips reportedly announced Tuesday that the 248th Marine Corps Ball has been canceled by U.S. Central Command as a result of “unforeseen operational commitments.”

There are other matters you don’t know about if it’s gotten that far. Like it or not, saddle up.  

A Good Sharp Knife

The Orthosphere:

Rod Dreher has written another thumb-sucker about the evil that lurks in the hearts of all men, which is true enough but not particularly useful when another man, his lurking evil leaping into view, chases you down an alleyway with an axe in his hand.  Dreher naturally quotes Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s lines about the “bridgehead of good” that remains within hearts “overwhelmed by evil,” and the “small corner of evil” that remains in “even in the best of all hearts.”   Which is, as I said, all true enough; but hardly helpful to a man encircled by a menacing mob.

What exactly does Dreher expect me to do with the reflection that the man who proposes to slay me is on other occasions kind to animals, a devoted son, a skilled musician, a fellow with whom I might gladly enjoy a beer?

Well, go have a beer with him, if you can. If you can't, here's some practical advice.

Even a pretty devoted man may reconsider in favor of the beer if he is aware of the keen knife on your belt. That's been my experience, anyway.

The Scourge of the Hour

...decade, century-so-far, etc...
President Biden ran for office to restore the soul of the nation. He is unequivocal: there is no place for hate in America against anyone. Period.

Today, he and Vice President Harris are announcing that their Administration will develop the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia in the United States. 

How is it possible that the U.S. is only now developing its first-ever strategy to its most favorite problem besides racism and climate change? I would have thought we'd be on the fifth or tenth edition by now.

I'll take the path of magnanimity on the subject of 'President Biden ran for office to restore the soul of the nation,' an entity which has no soul... I mean the nation, of course. Nations are theoretical entities, not ensouled beings, thank God. When people start thinking of nations as beings with things like souls and destinies, they do terrible things indeed. 

The Feast of All Saints

For further reflection, the Pope’s remarks on holiness

On the Occasion of Halloween

I want to speak on this occasion to a comment left by our friend Lars Walker in the Níðstöng Pole post below. Halloween seems like the right time to discuss it.
Lars Walker said...
Speaking purely as a saga reader, without any more credentials than a lifetime of interest in the subject, I have a theory that putting a head on an inanimate object (Viking ships would be an example) transformed them magically into magical creatures, which would be empowered by the magic of the runes. Thus the nidstang becomes a living witch-being, constantly cursing the object of the curse.

I grieve over the slide of the Icelanders, and other Europeans, into pre-Christian magic. They will suffer for this, not only in eternity, but in this life. I take no pleasure in saying it.

To the first point, I definitely think there is something to that. I wrote an essay years ago called The Smell of Death that also spoke to the power of the severed head, both to create the impression of a being and to destroy it: 

Today, among Americans, only hunters have encountered this directly. It comes in the time when you are cleaning a kill. You cut the head from the body, and hold it in your hand. Though you slew the beast yourself, though your own knife did the cutting, seeing the head disjoined from the body is the most disquieting experience it is easy to know.

Indeed, the hunter finds, it is as if the whole power of the animal were in the head. The body, with the head set aside, no longer really resembles an animal at all. It is plainly dinner, and a hide to use as a blanket in winter.

We do not react to the severed leg as we do a severed head: a drumstick is a delight to the eye; the haunch of a deer or a pig both looks and smells fine as it roasts on the fire. Or think of a fish, if you have ever had one served as they serve it in China: with the head still attached. It is a very different experience to eat such a one, than to eat a fillet.

This is why some hunters take the heads of their beasts, and place them as trophies upon the wall. It is why the ancient Gael took the head of his famous and noble foe, and tied it by its own braids to his chariot as a warning to others. It is why the more ancient Celt built temples to the severed head, with alcoves and emplacements specially constructed for displaying honored skulls.

It is why we have legends of Mimir, and Celtic tales of other severed heads that spoke wisdom to the wise. They conversed with us from the realm of death; they kept the power of great men.

The second of his points, though, is the one I wanted to discuss on Halloween, that day of Celtic rather than Icelandic carry-over of magic and surviving echoes of pre-Christian traditions (well, and Yule; but we'll get there in due time). 

For one thing, Icelandic magic has flourished throughout the Christian period: consider the Galdrabók. Scholars estimate it to be from around 1600, which is to say six centuries after Iceland was Christianized (by elective choice, rather than conquest or imposition from a ruling king). It retains the names of some pre-Christian beings, but also uses names that are explicitly from the Christian tradition. I wouldn't say that the thing that is wrong with it is that it isn't Christian enough; indeed, the beseeching of the aid of Satan in working one's will on the world is far more troubling than any reference to an elder god. 

Tonight I will perform Halloween celebrations in that most-American, and least-religious, way: I will be at the VFD distributing candy to children dressed up in costumes. There is exactly nothing of the religious aspect left there: we are neither burning fires to welcome the darkest time of the year, nor attending midnight Mass to celebrate the Feast of All Souls. Yet I don't think there's anything wrong with this at all; we are giving some joy to children in a way that lets their parents know that the gifts they are receiving will be safe and trustworthy. 

Theologically and metaphysically, I think of Matthew 18:18. The power to bind and loose is a kind of magic, too: a divine grant of it, an assent to support a working of the will that will hold in this world and the next. There is some debate about who precisely was granted this power. I think the Orthodox position is that it belongs to the Church by apostolic succession (leaving aside the practical dispute among the churches about which one is entitled to wield it). Yet I have heard even a Roman Catholic priest -- a Franciscan -- suggest that the power there belongs to any Christians acting in concert; the next verse seems to say that explicitly, although in such matters interpretation even of the apparently explicit is always contentious. 

Such a wide interpretation is defensible: perhaps, being commanded to love one another as ourselves and even our enemies as ourselves, we might all wish for a broad power to loose. Yet then there is also the question of what to bind, which would be similarly broadly granted on that interpretation. The Church's stronger position makes more practical sense: if there is an authority that alone has the power, then you won't get the problem of one group of nuns deciding to bind something and another one deciding to loose it. 

I think there are more pragmatic than theological problems with a broad notion of forgiveness. It is plausible to me that God would want Hell to be empty, and would not wish to see anyone suffer eternally. Here on earth, however, we seem to need some controls on human behavior: it would be helpful to enlist the church in that, many societies have thought; it would even be decent, as it would provide an alternate source of authority to counterbalance that of the state where the state grows overweening. Of course there is the problem that the church could merely choose to reinforce the overweening state: that was what Mussolini wanted, more or less. In such a case, a rebel tradition that preaches wild forgiveness would be welcome. 

I leave all of this as matter for reflection, and discussion if you like, on this All Hallows Eve. 

Grim’s Hall Cooking Club

Let’s try something different. Most of you probably have enough ground to dig a hole in. If not, you can substitute an oven. 

Let’s do this Friday, and compare notes. That’s plenty of time to shop and make preparations.