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Joe McQuade

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  1. Slavery and the Civil War

    From the Houston Chronicle this morning: Confederates in their own words LISA FALKENBERG Today, I’m turning my column over to the Confederacy. Given the lack of trust in the media, and in experts, and in institutions, it’s probably the only prudent thing to do. You see, if I wrote in my own words about how Texas House Speaker Joe Straus is right to call for the removal of the Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque at the state Capitol, many of you would dismiss it. If I tried to argue that the San Antonio Republican has facts and history on his side when he says the plaque is inaccurate and that Texans are not well-served by distortions of our history, some might laugh it off. If I quoted directly from the plaque, which expresses “a desire to perpetuate, in love and honor, the heroic deeds of those who enlisted in the Confederate Army” and pledges allegiance to “pure ideals” including that the “war between the states was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery,” many might be inclined to believe it. Never mind that the plaque was erected 100 years after the Civil War. You might still argue, as Gov. Greg Abbott did last month, that “racist and hate-filled violence” is never acceptable, but that symbols of the past — apparently even if they glorify racism, hate and violence — should not be buried. “If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it,” Abbott said at the time. Well, governor, on that we agree. Let’s get to learning. Let us revisit history, at its source: the Texans who attended the secession convention in Austin in 1861. Why Texas seceded They proclaimed their reasons loud and clear in a document called the Declaration of Causes, meaning “the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union.” Many of us didn’t read this in school, but a simple Google search takes you right to it via the Texas state archives or the Library of Congress. It gets to the slavery issue right quick — in the third paragraph. The document explains how The Republic of Texas, a sovereign nation, was admitted into the union in 1845, “received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery, the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits — a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.” The Texans accused people in the non-slave-holding states of hostility toward “Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery.” The Texans also accused the northern states of proclaiming “the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color — a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States. “For years past this abolition organization has been actively sowing the seeds of discord through the Union, and has rendered the federal congress the arena for spreading firebrands and hatred between the slave-holding and non-slave-holding States.” The Texans continue: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable. “That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States. “By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South.” A picture of our past In closing, the document appeals to the “intelligence and patriotism” of free men in Texas to ratify the ordinance at the ballot box. It is signed by those who attended the convention, including President Oran M. Roberts, a South Carolina native who became a Supreme Court justice in Texas and was later elected governor. As hard as it is to read the racist, hate-filled words defending the violent institution of slavery, they represent a true and accurate picture of our past. Some would like to bury that past. Some tried to cloak it in bronze and whitewash it with lies. That plaque erected in 1959, in the days of Jim Crow, isn’t history; it’s harmful propaganda that humiliates our black brothers and sisters and divides us as a state and a nation. Governor, the sins of the revisionists aren’t yours. But any leader who lets them stand is complicit.lisa.falkenberg@chron.com
  2. Channeling presidential pantywaists like Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama believes the first rule of foreign policy is, “Don’t do stupid shit.” Like his role models, he draws howls from right-wing blowhards who prefer chest-thumping to reason and bumper sticker sloganeering to analysis. Obama is weak, cowardly, feckless, clueless, a traitor to his country – just like Ike. And we are lucky to have him. Here he is in Turkey this week, patiently parrying the stale talking points that have bedeviled great American statesmen since George Washington: https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/president-obama-holds-press-conference-5 He’s obviously jet-lagged, and if his slow, discursive delivery tests your patience, read the transcript instead: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/11/16/press-conference-president-obama-antalya-turkey And if you want a snappy summary of all this, watch a three-minute clip featuring Col. Jack Jacobs, an NBC military analyst who is so cowardly he won a Congressional Medal of Honor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt0Il4a2wzs
  3. Slavery and the Civil War

    Another friend of mine kicks it up a notch... Lincoln believed or hoped that war could be avoided and that preserving the Union would eventually doom slavery. He was a pragmatist. See his stance re Kentucky. But given events since then one wonders whether we would have been all slave or all free without the war. Great comments by both you valiant Americans. I too think the article is excellent overall but in his proposed solution the author is a bit off point. He violates the first two cardinal rules of the universe: protect yourself at all times; let your hands go. It is the states faithful to the union who should secede. One does not wait for a cancer to expel itself. They should not wait for the South to secede again. Show the traitors they should be careful what they wish for and secede from them. Would that the country were truly civilized and such questions could be settled again but finally With Fire and Sword. Sadly, we are left with the anemic remedy of banishment. So be it.
  4. Slavery and the Civil War

    From Politico.com, 11/18/13 http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/the-gettysburg-address-and-other-monumental-failures-to-communicate-99992.html Was the Gettysburg Address a Mistake? Lincoln was far too kind to the South. And we still are... By Chuck Thompson Four score and 70 years ago, America’s Great Emancipator delivered the most famous speech ever made by a U.S. president. Universally regarded as a triumph of genius and brevity, Abraham Lincoln’s stirring Gettysburg call for national reconciliation in the midst of the Civil War was a 272-word masterstroke of empathy, statesmanship and diplomacy. It was also a missed opportunity. The speech remains eternally inspiring for the way Lincoln refrained from laying explicit blame at the feet of an enemy so embittered to the cause upon which he’d staked his life (literally, as it would turn out) that it had eagerly thrown itself into its own fight to the death. Lincoln sidestepped all that rage. And in so doing, he sidestepped the lessons of Gettysburg, thereby failing to predict—or prevent—the ways in which they were fated to play out over the next century and a half. Shotgun wedding, prolonged divorce Beyond the hallowed battlefield oratory, Lincoln’s address revealed the course on which a not-quite-so-benevolent federal government actually hoped to steer the country after the costliest battle of the Civil War. “It seems clear to most historians … that when Lincoln resolves that ‘these dead shall not have died in vain,’ he is speaking of the Union dead—not the Confederates,” says University of Georgia Civil War scholar Stephen Berry, author of House of Abraham: Lincoln & The Todds, a Family Divided By War. “The Confederates did die in vain—and we should be thankful for it.” A similar hope was driven home with more ferocity on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1865 by Pennsylvania’s Thaddeus Stevens—whom you may recall as the testy emancipation hero portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. “The whole fabric of southern society must be changed and never can it be done if this opportunity is lost,” warned Stevens, speaking of Reconstruction. “Without this, this government can never be, as it has never been, a true Republic.” The original union between northern and southern states was a shotgun wedding, Stevens and many of his contemporaries understood—hence that contemptuous addendum: “as it has never been.” Following surrender, the North made its clumsy (patriotic southerners might say criminal) bid for reconciliation through Reconstruction, dividing the South into military districts, establishing military governments and requiring ratification of the 14th Amendment, which gave blacks citizenship with “full and equal benefit of all laws.” The South, casting itself as the woebegone victim through typically radical politics (obstructionist), religion (evangelical), race relations (segregated), education (under-funded) and business (anti-labor), has done its level best ever since to remain an emotionally estranged partner who nevertheless sticks around for the financial support. Over the succeeding century and a half, the Dixie pathos that Lincoln and Stevens sought to destroy instead morphed into the scoliotic backbone of American politics that burdens us today—a vendetta against Washington, D.C., so besotted with ancient grudges and hidebound demagogic exaggeration that it renders productive discourse and open exchange of ideas a virtual impossibility. Think the Dixie-fried Tea Party and health care fight represent something new? The impulse behind them is the same one that gave us Jim Crow. The game of division practiced by conservative reactionaries today—mostly southern, though the obstructionist contagion has spread to all 50 states—is the same as the fathomlessly fraudulent politics that split the country in 1861. Think the Dixie-fried Tea Party and health care fight represent something new? The impulse behind them is the same one that gave us Jim Crow, brought the National Guard to Little Rock High School and led Hank Williams, Jr. to record, “If the South woulda won, we woulda had it made.” Nearly two years of fighting after the calamity of Gettysburg proved exactly what two-plus years of battle over Obamacare does: This is a tribe incapable of accepting compromise or conciliation. As a Confederate flag supporter in Georgia told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2004 after his side lost a referendum to keep the Confederate battle flag as part of the official state flag: “We will keep our anger alive. We shall be grim and unconvinced and wear bitterness like a medal.” Within the narrow-minded confines of the Us-against-the-North worldview, recognizing the ultimate sovereignty of the U.S. government amounts to an admission of weakness. As a result, the South no longer sends politicians to Washington. It sends blinkered warriors whose job is to represent the unbending naysayer impulse inscribed on a certain type of southern martyr from cradle to tailgater to grave. Worse, no longer are southern pols even the seditious but gifted white-maned officer orators of the Senator Claghorn days. At least those guys had style. Nowadays, the South consigns to Washington mere foot soldiers whose Men’s Wearhouse political dexterity renders most congressional debate as erudite and elegant as an employee smoke break in the parking lot behind the Waffle House. Forget a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Anymore, Green Eggs and Ham actually amounts to an elevation of discourse among certain southern legislators. Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/the-gettysburg-address-and-other-monumental-failures-to-communicate-99992.html#ixzz2l5a13lES Fights that do not have to happen Because it has long passed into the etched-in-granite annals of national legend, Americans have completely lost sight of the single most important fact about the Civil War—that it absolutely, positively, in no way had to happen. The Civil War should have been as easy to talk yourself out of as your annual colonoscopy. This becomes clear when you read the prewar history and discover that—as southerners love pointing out—far from being a saintly ally of slaves, Lincoln was quite willing to allow southerners to keep their human chattel shackled ’til doomsday if it meant avoiding secession and war. The president was above all things a politician, which means he was a negotiator, a role he continued to try to play—the Gettysburg Address shows it—even as the conflict dragged on to rebel detriment. The War That Did Not Have to Happen occurred for the sole reason that a great number of influential southerners wanted it to happen. Plantation battle hawks agitated for war in the press, in the halls of government, in public forums. In terms of rhetoric, they’re direct kin to modern nut jobs who conjure dragons from the northern ether in order to derail American progress. Here’s College of South Carolina president James Henry Thornwell rebuking liberals during a pro-slavery speech in 1850: “[The opposition] are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is a battle ground—Christianity and Atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity is at stake.” Here’s Newt Gingrich rebuking liberals during a book-tour speech in 2010: “[The opposition’s] secular socialist philosophy is profoundly in conflict with the heart of the American system and is a repudiation of the core lessons of American history … With God’s help, and our willingness to humble ourselves, to always seek His guidance, and always do His bidding, we will overcome our radical secular opponents.” Monuments to this obstructionist pathology litter the South. Excepting Stone Mountain, Ga., the most pompously defiant of these is located 75 miles northwest of Columbia in Abbeville, S.C. Walk past the granite obelisk dedicated to Confederate soldiery in Abbeville’s historic town square, and you likely wouldn’t notice anything special. The gray monument looks like any of countless similar statuary in the centers of cities and towns throughout the South. Take the trouble to read the carved inscriptions, however, and along with the usual odes to the bravery and valor of the Confederacy’s battle dead, you’ll find this blatantly seditious declaration: “The world shall yet decide, in truth’s clear far-off light, that the soldiers who wore the gray and died with Lee were right.” Not that the soldiers were patriotic. Or courageous. Or true to some ill-begotten sense of duty. They were right. The only possible interpretation of this statement is that the cause for which the South fought—dissolution of the United States so that the South might preserve slavery and, thus, the economic and political position of its privileged caste—was a morally righteous mission. Consider, too, that the monument was erected not in the emotional aftermath of war in 1865, but in 1906 and then, in a ceremony replacing the original with a new one … in 1996. Don’t imagine the Abbeville monument as some redneck one-off in a notoriously reactionary town. A similarly solemn tribute to soldiers fighting on behalf of Jefferson Davis and his fellow slave-owners standing in the square of the far more liberal university town of Oxford, Miss., reads simply: “They gave their lives in a just and holy cause.” Different nations, different directions To appreciate how fully these inscriptions codify the traditional and contemporary straightjacket of southern political orthodoxy, one need simply take a stroll down Louisiana Avenue just north of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Walk a few minutes and you’ll come upon the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II. With a centerpiece sculpture depicting two cranes tangled in barbed wire, the monument stands as historic witness to the valor of Japanese American soldiers who served in World War II, as well as the persecution of the thousands of innocent Americans of Japanese ancestry who were forced into wartime internment camps at home. Attached to the monument a bronze plaque bears a straightforward, powerful inscription, quoting President Ronald Reagan: “Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.” So striking. So honest. So liberating. Acknowledge a mistake, learn from it and move on to create a better world. How different this difficult but uncomplicated monument in the nation’s capital from the ones in Abbeville and Oxford, and the thousands of other chunks of granite and poured concrete defiance that blight the South with a hostile architecture designed to keep ancient divisions alive. One might scour the world for a pair of monuments that represent more concisely the ideologies of two nations moving in such completely opposite directions. Yet in these monuments, separated by only a long day’s drive, the observer can stand before the physical testament of one nation’s willingness to assume what the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren called “the awful responsibility of Time,” and another’s determination to forever hide from that responsibility. Southern “traditions” of inflexibility and sabotage have hobbled American political progress across four centuries. One wonders what Lincoln would have made of a country, 150 years after his landmark call for renewal, still allowing itself to be held captive by a political race whose most powerful views, emotions and ideas lurk forever behind them. Chuck Thompson is author of Better of Without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, now available in paperback and from which this article is adapted. Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/the-gettysburg-address-and-other-monumental-failures-to-communicate-99992_Page2.html#ixzz2l5aELjLs
  5. From the NYT, by way of the Houston Chronicle, 7/22/13 Time's fast pace and the aging mind Thomas Friedman says if you want time to slow down, become a student again and take your sweet time about it. Ah, the languorous days of endless summer! Who among us doesnt remember those days and wonder wistfully where theyve gone? Why does time seem to speed up as we age? Even the summer solstice the longest, sunniest day of the year seems to have passed in a flash. No less than the great William James opined on the matter, thinking that the apparent speed of times passage was a result of adults experiencing fewer memorable events: Each passing year converts some of this experience into automatic routine which we hardly note at all, the days and the weeks smooth themselves out in recollection to contentless units, and the years grow hollow and collapse. Dont despair. I am happy to tell you that the apparent velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion and happy to say there may be a way to slow the velocity of our later lives. Although the sense that we perceive time as accelerating as we age is very common, it is hard to prove experimentally. In one of the largest studies to date, Dr. Marc Wittmann of the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, in Germany, interviewed 499 German and Austrian subjects ranging in age from 14 to 94 years; he asked each subject how quickly time seemed to pass during the previous week, month, year and decade. Surprisingly, there were few differences related to age. With one exception: When researchers asked the subjects about the 10-year interval, older subjects were far more likely than the younger subjects to report that the last decade had passed quickly. On the whole, most of us perceive short intervals of time similarly, regardless of age. Why, then, do older people look back at long stretches of their lives and feel its a race to the finish? Heres a possible answer: Think about what its like when you learn something for the first time for example how, when you are young, you learn to ride a bike or navigate your way home from school. It takes time to learn new tasks and to encode them in your memory. And when you are learning about the world for the first time, you are forming a fairly steady stream of new memories of events, places and people. When, as an adult, you look back at your childhood experiences, they appear to unfold in slow motion probably because the sheer number of them gives you the impression that they must have taken forever to acquire. But this is merely an illusion, the way adults understand the past when they look through the telescope of lost time. This, though, is not an illusion: Almost all of us faced far steeper learning curves when we were young. Most adults do not explore and learn about the world the way they did when they were young; adult life lacks the constant discovery and endless novelty of childhood. Studies have shown that the greater the cognitive demands of a task, the longer its duration is perceived to be. Dr. David Eagleman at Baylor College of Medicine found that repeated stimuli appear briefer in duration than novel stimuli of equal duration. Is it possible that learning new things might slow down our internal sense of time? The question and the possibility it presents put me in mind of my father, who died a few years ago at age 86. An engineer by training, he read constantly after he retired. His range was enormous; he read about everything from astronomy to natural history, travel and gardening. I remember once discovering dozens of magazines and journals in the house and was convinced that my parents had become the victims of a mail-order scam. Thinking Id help with the clutter, I began to bundle up the magazines for recycling when my father confronted me, demanding to know what the hell I was doing. I read all of these, he said. And then it dawned on me. I cannot recall his ever having remarked on how fast or slow his life seemed to be going. He was constantly learning, always alive to new ideas and experience. Maybe thats why he never seemed to notice that time was passing. So what, you might say, if we have an illusion about time speeding up? But it matters, I think, because the distortion signals that we might squeeze more out of life. Its simple: If you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller and break out a book on Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something youve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it. Friedman is a columnist for the New York Times and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.
  6. Sous-Vide, Or Not Sous-Vide

    My sous vide machine is gathering dust, but I plan to use it often this fall. Meanwhile, here's a nice take in Slate: Slowly but Surely Sous-vide cooking is destined for ubiquity in home kitchens. By Rob Mifsud|Posted Monday, July 15, 2013, at 5:45 AM In August 2005, the New York Times Magazine published an article by Amanda Hesser that effectively introduced sous videthe process of cooking bagged, vacuum-sealed food in a precisely controlled, low-temperature water bath, sometimes for days at a timeto the American public. Since then it seems, foodies have been simmering in a low-temperature, never-ending debate. On one side, we have the proponents of sous vide, many of whom trace their culinary roots to the modernist movement made famous at restaurants like El Bulli and Noma. These men (they're almost all men) champion the technique because it allows even the most unskilled kitchen hack to reliably produce restaurant-caliber results with the press of button. On the other side are the skeptics, who counter that sous vide imparts unpleasantly spongy textures to food and, most importantly, that it drains the romance and skill from cooking. On the surface, this seems like a meaningless argument rightly confined to the astronomically priced margins of fine dining. However, underlying the chatter about beef cheeks and broccoli stems is a debate of immense importance about how we're going to cook, in our own kitchens, a decade from now and beyond. That's not obvious because most of us still have no first-hand experience with sous vide; though it's common in professional kitchens, it's still a niche technique with virtually no penetration into our homes. But that's about to change. To appreciate sous vides odds of catching on as an everyday cooking method, consider the last cutting-edge cooking machine to conquer the American kitchen: the microwave. In 1955, the Tappan Stove company began marketing a dazzling new technology to American home cooks. At $1,300 a pop$11,273 in today's dollarsthe first microwave ovens were an outrageous luxury, not to mention space hogs roughly the height and weight of their users. By 1967, microwave technology had improved enough to allow Amana to introduce the first countertop model, a $495 unit (the equivalent of $3,446 today). In 1971, 16 years after its introduction, the microwave was a miserable failure: Less than 1 percent of American households owned one. For thermal immersion circulators, the tool that cooks use to sous vide (which, keep in mind, is the name of a technique, not a gadget), it's still 1971: Prices are high, volumes are low. But it probably wont stay this way for long. Like microwaves, circulators were originally priced as luxury goods. In 2003, the earliest and most affluent adopters of sous vide had to repurpose $1,220 Polyscience circulators with all the design charm of cumbersome lab equipment (because that's exactly what they were). But the price of circulators is falling quickly, perhaps even faster than the price of their Cold War analog. In 2009, SousVide Supreme introduced its breadmaker-sized home unit for $449. Polyscience responded, in 2010, by releasing its first unit targeted specifically at home cooks, and then followed up last year with an even sleeker $499.95 device whose slender profile would garner a grudging nod of approval from even the most austere Scandinavian design snob. (Polyscience and SousVide Supreme provided me with free review models of these machines.) And the market's about to get more crowded. A recent Kickstarter appeal to fund a mass market thermal immersion circulator drew almost $600,000 in funding despite the inventors request for only a third of that. When it arrives later this summer, the Nomiku's target price of $359 will once again lower the price barrier. The Nomiku's unique design is unintimidatingin profile, it resembles a cross between a stick blender and a G-spot vibrator. Its marketing is aimed squarely at Gen Xers and Millennials who love to entertain but don't really know their way around a kitchen. As long as immersion-circulator manufacturers keep lowering prices and aiming for a broad audience, we could see the advent of $50 circulators alongside $50 microwaves at your local Wal-Mart in the next decade. Granted, the microwave, which produces lousy food quickly, and sous vide, which produces great food slowly, have little in common in terms of function. But microwaves owe their near ubiquity to two very important features that they share with thermal immersion circulators: They're easy to use and convenient. The ease of both devices is obviousboth allow you to press a few buttons, walk away, and return to food that's cookedbut convenience is tricky to define (and, perhaps, to defend for a machine that takes up to 72 hours to cook tough cuts of meat). It's more than just the ability to prepare a meal spontaneously in 30 minutes or less. Any meaningful definition must also consider the relationship between quality and effort; time allocated to set up and clean up; and, most importantly of all, passive versus active toil. It took half a day for me to sous-vide a turkey thigh confit last Thanksgiving, but I was active for about 10 minutes of it: five minutes to collect the ingredients in a food-safe bag, and about five more minutes to brown the turkey skin under a broiler after the meat was cooked through. I probably spent more time explaining to my guests why the turkey was good than I did actively preparing it. This is usually the point when critics of sous vide hurl what they consider their ultimate insult: "Dropping food in a plastic bag isn't cooking." To which I respond, "So what?" Americans don't cook (though they apparently want to feel like they do), and it's time the evangelists who view cooking as a social and health imperative stopped insisting noncooks learn to sauté, braise, and poach, and instead started promoting food-preparation techniques that are likely to be accepted by a wide audience, like reheating. Thanks to companies like Cuisine Solutions, a pioneer of premium, mass-produced meals precooked using sous vide, "cooks" who can't even be bothered to put food in a bag can enjoy a precooked sous vide meal. And what a meal: Forget everything you know about scorched, insipid microwave entrées; these are first class, restaurant-quality dishes that can be reheated in a water bath in less than half an hour. For those who want to sous vide from scratch, not much paraphernalia is needed: Aside from the circulator, all you need is a bag. True, food must be sealed in order to cook properly, and vacuum sealers are also expensive, but they're not truly necessary. The more I sous vide, the more I rely on the Archimedes Principle (lowering a Ziploc bag into water forces out air and seals the object within). And though cooking in plastic may seem like a recipe for bisphenol A contamination, BPA-free bags designed specifically for sous vide are available from retailers like Williams-Sonoma. Perhaps the most important positive indicator for the prospects of thermal immersion circulators is that sous vide's killer apptransforming any cut of meat into meltingly tender, succulent fleshjust happens to conform perfectly with modern cravings. Though America's taste for meat has declined recently, as of 2007, the average American still consumed 125.4 kilograms of meat per year, and gorging on flesh is the way most people choose to mark patriotic occasions like the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. And one other important cultural phenomenon could help sous vides ascendance: Though on the whole, people are cooking less, men are cooking more. So far, anecdotal evidence indicates that they're also disproportionately drawn to sous vide. Few proponents of sous vide are as eloquent and cerebral as Chris Young, a former chef at Englands The Fat Duck, one of the co-authors of Modernist Cuisine, and a co-founder of chefsteps.com, a free online culinary school. Young argues that sous vide's future hinges on its accessibility. That means developing a retail presence for precooked, reheatable sous-vide meals (likely via emerging distribution channels, like Amazon Fresh, that arent constrained by the limited shelf space of conventional supermarkets), as well as making the equipment broadly affordable and showing consumers that they can use this gear to make food that's relevant to them. It's an elaborate plan, but Young articulates a near-utopic vision of what ready-made dinners might be like in a decade if his ideas came to fruition: I can even imagine QR codes on the packaging, so your sous vide device essentially scans and sets the time and temperature for you ... and you have a really high quality, restaurant-grade meal that took you twenty or thirty minutes, and most of that time was unattended so you could be enjoying a glass of wine. No, it's not fine dining, and, true, it may not even be cooking. But even in our fast-paced, high pressure world, slow and steady still wins the race.
  7. Centrist Principles Of The Obama Nation

    From The Democratic Strategist, by James Vega, 3/21/13: Boy I'm glad Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan weren't writing in the early 60's. I tremble to think how they would have covered Martin Luther King. In a new piece titled provocatively titled, "Obama the Uniter? Not Really", the Washington Post's resident dispensers of inside the beltway common wisdom have once again managed to concede the reality of Republican extremism as the source of political polarization in one sentence and then turn around and lay the responsibility for it on Obama in another. Just watch how this world Olympic-class "it's not really his fault except it really is" gymnastic logical summersault is performed:"Obama the Uniter? Not Really", ...there's little question that Republicans in Congress have been driven to the ideological right over the past few years due in large part to a series of primary victories by conservative insurgents over incumbents viewed as insufficiently loyal to party principles. But, Obama is still the president who pledged -- loudly and repeatedly -- to change how Washington works. That has not happened. The economic stimulus bill and the healthcare law passed on party line votes in his first term. The gun bill failed on party lines in his second term. And, with a series of scandals and investigations now mounting, it seems more likely that partisanship will grow rather than shrink in the coming months... None of that is Obama's fault and there is nothing -- or virtually nothing -- he can do to change it. But, add it all up and you are left with one inescapable conclusion: The president who pledged to change Washington is almost certain to come up short on that promise. Wow. I sure am glad Cillizza and Sullivan weren't writing in the early 60's. They probably would have evaluated Martin Luther King something like this:Martin Luther King, Man of Peace? Not Really ...there's little question that segregationists have been driven even further to the ideological right over the past few years due in large part to the growing demands for equality ...But Martin Luther King is still the leader who pledged -- loudly and repeatedly -- to seek civil rights without violence. That has not happened....A church in Birmingham has been bombed, civil rights workers have been murdered and John Kennedy has been assassinated. None of that is King's fault and there is nothing -- or virtually nothing -- he can do to change it. But, add it all up and you are left with one inescapable conclusion: The leader who pledged to seek civil rights without violence is almost certain to come up short on that promise. Does anybody except me think that this is just world class crazy? I sure do hope so.
  8. Help Me Understand The Threat Of Illegal Immigration

    A clear-eyed, conservative defense of immigration reform. NYT, 5/6/13: Beyond the Fence By DAVID BROOKS The opponents of immigration reform have many small complaints, but they really have one core concern. It’s about control. America doesn’t control its borders. Past reform efforts have not established control. Current proposals wouldn’t establish effective control. But the opponents rarely say what exactly it is they are trying to control. They talk about border security and various mechanisms to achieve that, but they rarely go into detail about what we should be so vigilant about restricting. I thought I would spell it out. First, immigration opponents are effectively trying to restrict the flow of conservatives into this country. In survey after survey, immigrants are found to have more traditional ideas about family structure and community than comparable Americans. They have lower incarceration rates. They place higher emphasis on career success. They have stronger work ethics. Immigrants go into poor neighborhoods and infuse them with traditional values. When immigrant areas go bad, it’s not because they have infected America with bad values. It’s because America has infected them with bad values already present. So the first thing conservative opponents of reform are trying to restrict is social conservatism. Second, immigration opponents are trying to restrict assimilation. The evidence about this is clear, too. Current immigrants enter this country because they want to realize the same dreams that inspired past waves. Study after study shows current Hispanic immigrants are picking up English at an impressive clip, roughly as quickly as earlier immigrant groups. They are making steady gains in homeownership rates, job status and social identity. By second generation, according to a Pew Research Center study released earlier this year, 61 percent of immigrants think of themselves as “typical Americans.” Third, immigration opponents are trying to restrict love affairs. Far from segregating themselves into their own alien subculture, today’s immigrant groups seem eager to marry into mainstream American society. Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9 percent of whites married outside of their racial or ethnic group, as did 17 percent of blacks. But an astonishing 26 percent of Hispanics and 28 percent of Asians married outside their groups. They are blending into America in the most intimate way. Fourth, immigration opponents are trying to restrict social mobility. Generation after generation, the children of immigrants are gradually better educated and more affluent than their parents. A few years ago, the great political scientist Samuel Huntington asserted that Hispanic immigrants were not succeeding as previous immigrants had. James P. Smith of the RAND Corporation conducted the most prominent investigation into this claim and concluded: “The concern that educational generational progress among Latino immigrants has lagged behind other immigrant groups is largely unfounded.” Some intelligent skeptics say that mobility is fine through the second generation but stalls by the third. It is indeed harder to rise in a more chaotic and fragmented society. But one of the country’s leading immigration researchers, Richard Alba of the City University of New York, calls the third generation stall “a statistical illusion.” Much of the research that shows the effect compares today’s third-generation immigrants with today’s second-generation group. But the third-generation families originally came to the U.S. decades ago, at a time when segregation was prevalent, discrimination was high and immigrants were harshly treated. You’d expect those families to progress more slowly than families that came to more welcoming conditions a generation later. Fifth, immigration opponents are trying to restrict skills. Current reform proposals would increase high-skill immigration. Opponents of reform are trying to restrict an infusion of people most likely to start businesses and invent things. Alba points out that, over the next decades, the retirement of the baby-boomer generation will open up a large number of positions, especially atop the labor force. He points out that the fastest-growing ethnic groups are already rising to fill these slots. Whites occupy 80 percent of the top-paying jobs among older workers. But, among younger workers, whites occupy only 67 percent of the top jobs. The work force is already more diverse the younger you go. Finally, opponents of reform are trying to hold back the inevitable. Whether immigration reform passes or not, the United States is going to become a much more cosmopolitan country than it is now. The country will look more like the faces you see at college commencement exercises and less like the faces you see in senior citizen homes. One crucial question is whether America will be better off in that future with today’s dysfunctional immigration laws or something else? Another interesting question is whether a major political party is going to consign itself to permanent irrelevance. If conservatives defeat immigration reform, the Republicans will definitely lose control of one thing for years to come: political power.
  9. The NYT, MAY 5, 2013 The Chutzpah Caucus By PAUL KRUGMAN At this point the economic case for austerity — for slashing government spending even in the face of a weak economy — has collapsed. Claims that spending cuts would actually boost employment by promoting confidence have fallen apart. Claims that there is some kind of red line of debt that countries dare not cross have turned out to rest on fuzzy and to some extent just plain erroneous math. Predictions of fiscal crisis keep not coming true; predictions of disaster from harsh austerity policies have proved all too accurate. Yet calls for a reversal of the destructive turn toward austerity are still having a hard time getting through. Partly that reflects vested interests, for austerity policies serve the interests of wealthy creditors; partly it reflects the unwillingness of influential people to admit being wrong. But there is, I believe, a further obstacle to change: widespread, deep-seated cynicism about the ability of democratic governments, once engaged in stimulus, to change course in the future. So now seems like a good time to point out that this cynicism, which sounds realistic and worldly-wise, is actually sheer fantasy. Ending stimulus has never been a problem — in fact, the historical record shows that it almost always ends too soon. And in America, at least, we have a pretty good record for behaving in a fiscally responsible fashion, with one exception — namely, the fiscal irresponsibility that prevails when, and only when, hard-line conservatives are in power. Let’s start with the common claim that stimulus programs never go away. In the United States, government spending programs designed to boost the economy are in fact rare — F.D.R.’s New Deal and President Obama’s much smaller Recovery Act are the only big examples. And neither program became permanent — in fact, both were scaled back much too soon. F.D.R. cut back sharply in 1937, plunging America back into recession; the Recovery Act had its peak effect in 2010, and has since faded away, a fade that has been a major reason for our slow recovery. What about programs designed to aid those hurt by a depressed economy? Don’t they become permanent fixtures? Again, no. Unemployment benefits have fluctuated up and down with the business cycle, and as a percentage of G.D.P. they are barely half what they were at their recent peak. Food stamp usage is still rising, thanks to a still-terrible labor market, but historical experience suggests that it too will fall sharply if and when the economy really recovers. Incidentally, foreign experience follows the same pattern. You often hear Japan described as a country that has pursued never-ending fiscal stimulus. In reality, it has engaged in stop-go policies, increasing spending when the economy is weak, then pulling back at the first sign of recovery (and thereby pushing itself back into recession). So the whole notion of perma-stimulus is fantasy posing as hardheaded realism. Still, even if you don’t believe that stimulus is forever, Keynesian economics says not just that you should run deficits in bad times, but that you should pay down debt in good times. And it’s silly to imagine that this will happen, right? Wrong. The key measure you want to look at is the ratio of debt to G.D.P., which measures the government’s fiscal position better than a simple dollar number. And if you look at United States history since World War II, you find that of the 10 presidents who preceded Barack Obama, seven left office with a debt ratio lower than when they came in. Who were the three exceptions? Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes. So debt increases that didn’t arise either from war or from extraordinary financial crisis are entirely associated with hard-line conservative governments. And there’s a reason for that association: U.S. conservatives have long followed a strategy of “starving the beast,” slashing taxes so as to deprive the government of the revenue it needs to pay for popular programs. The funny thing is that right now these same hard-line conservatives declare that we must not run deficits in times of economic crisis. Why? Because, they say, politicians won’t do the right thing and pay down the debt in good times. And who are these irresponsible politicians they’re talking about? Why, themselves. To me, it sounds like a fiscal version of the classic definition of chutzpah — namely, killing your parents, then demanding sympathy because you’re an orphan. Here we have conservatives telling us that we must tighten our belts despite mass unemployment, because otherwise future conservatives will keep running deficits once times improve. Put this way, of course, it sounds silly. But it isn’t; it’s tragic. The disastrous turn toward austerity has destroyed millions of jobs and ruined many lives. And it’s time for a U-turn.
  10. What a cool post! Conjures many thoughts, among them that there are places in the Americas where the sun rises over the Pacific. See the southern peninsula in Panama: https://www.google.com/search?q=map+of+panama&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
  11. Racism and the Parties

    From www.thedemocraticstrategist.org. (4/23/13) The Media Coverage of Ron Paul’s “The GOP Was Always for Civil Rights” Revisionist History Failed to Clearly Report the Central Reality, That the Exploitation of White Racial Resentment Was For Decades the GOP’s Fundamental Political Strategy Regarding African-Americans. By Ed Kilgore, James Vega and J.P. Green Ron Paul’s recent appearances on largely African-American college campuses to promote the notion that the GOP was always a firm supporter of civil rights and the true friend of African-Americans was met with widespread and well-deserved ridicule. But the commentary on his revisionist history lessons failed to confront a key fact: this claim is not only utterly and completely false, but is most emphatically not just an idiosyncratic notion of Paul’s. It is an integral part of a larger attempt by conservatives to whitewash the GOP’s shameful past on racial issues, an attempt that extends from Glenn Beck, the Tea Party and other right-wing commentators on the one hand, to the pages of the National Review on the other. As Ed Kilgore noted in a recent commentary at the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog: Paul seems to be peddling the highly revisionist take on civil rights history laid out last year in National Review by Kevin Williamson, which holds that Republicans always were and always will be the party of civil rights while Democrats have consciously switched their white supremacist tactics from Jim Crow to “plantation” socialism. It’s a hallucinatory approach to developments too recent and too well known to fool people about, and for that reason, it’s a line of argument that tends to offend people, particularly those being told they are fools for voting Democratic. The evidence that refutes this attempt to rewrite history is simply incontrovertible. Just by themselves, widely-known public statements by the major architects of the GOP’s “Southern Strategy” clearly demonstrate three things: • That the GOP’s “Southern Strategy” was an approach consciously designed to exploit white racial resentment of African-Americans in order to benefit the GOP. • That it was designed and executed by the most important political strategists of the Republican Party – the men who were top political advisors to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush. • That it was so deeply offensive to all African-Americans that the head of the Republican National Committee felt obligated to formally apologize for it in the mid - 2000s. It is outrageous that these three facts did not appear in every single one of the mainstream commentaries on Rand Paul’s Soviet-style rewriting of history. After all, it was not as if the facts were at all difficult to find. All the mainstream commentators had to do to find the precise, fully documented quotes that they needed was to open up a source as simple as Wikipedia and type in the words “Southern Strategy.” Had they bothered to look, here’s what they would have found: As with most Wikipedia entries, the entry on the “Southern Strategy” starts with a quick summary: Though the “Solid South” had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party’s defense of slavery before the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many white Southern Democrats stopped supporting the party following the civil rights plank of the Democratic campaign in 1948 (triggering the Dixiecrats), the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and desegregation. The strategy was first adopted under future Republican President Richard Nixon and Republican Senator Barry Goldwater in the late 1960s. The strategy was successful in many regards. It contributed to the electoral realignment of Southern states to the Republican Party, but at the expense of losing more than 90 percent of black voters to the Democratic Party. The extensive and fully footnoted body of the Wikipedia entry identifies the origin of the southern strategy in the exodus of white southerners from the Democrats in 1964 as a reaction to the 1963 civil rights act: 1964 Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater won his home state of Arizona and five states in the Deep South. The Southern states, traditionally Democratic up to that time, voted Republican primarily as a statement of opposition to the Civil Rights Act, which had been passed by Johnson and the Democrats in Congress earlier that year... The Wikipedia entry then proceeds to focus in on Richard Nixon’s political strategist Kevin Phillips and his 1970 book, The Emerging Republican Majority, which became the major strategic blueprint behind the Nixon and Agnew political playbook. As it says: ...Although the phrase “Southern strategy” is often attributed to Nixon’s political strategist Kevin Phillips, he did not originate it, but merely popularized it. In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, he touched on its essence: From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that...but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats. Even four decades later, the cynicism of this strategy remains stunning and Phillips himself later forcefully repudiated and apologized for his earlier views. But the strategy was key to the gradual political realignment across the South that began in the 1970s, a realignment in which African-Americans dramatically increased their role in the Southern Democratic Party and in campaigns as Democratic candidates while in response Southern white voters increasingly shifted their support to the GOP. The Southern Strategy was equally central to the approach of the Republican Party’s next major political strategist – Lee Atwater. After the 1980 election Atwater became an aide in the Ronald Reagan administration, working under political director Ed Rollins. In 1984, Rollins managed Reagan’s re-election campaign, and Atwater became the campaign’s deputy director and political director. In 1988 Atwater was the campaign manager for George Herbert Walker Bush’s successful 1988 presidential campaign and after the election became chairman of the Republican National Committee. In short, Atwater was by far the most important and influential GOP political strategist of the 1980s. The Wikipedia entry provides the following, deeply revealing story: Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist, reported a 1981 interview with Lee Atwater, published in Southern Politics in the 1990s by Alexander P. Lamis, in which Lee Atwater discussed politics in the South: : Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps. Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “N***r, n****r, n****r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****r” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites....obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.” Herbert wrote in the same column, “The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.’s relentless appeal to racist whites. Tired of losing elections, it saw an opportunity to renew itself by opening its arms wide to white voters who could never forgive the Democratic Party for its support of civil rights and voting rights for blacks.” Seen with this background, Rand Paul’s attempt to tell African-American college students that the GOP always supported civil rights and was the real friend of black folk while the Democrats were their real enemies can only be described as utterly dishonest, and in its aggressiveness, actively offensive. The truth about the GOP’s cynical exploitation of white racial resentment has always been so brutally clear to every African-American that in the mid-2000s the head of the Republican National Committee actually decided to explicitly apologize, a fact that can also be found in the same Wikipedia entry. As it notes: Ken Mehlman, Bush’s campaign manager and Chairman of the RNC, held several large meetings with African-American business, community, and religious leaders. In his speeches, he apologized for his party’s use of the Southern Strategy in the past. In 2005, When asked about the strategy of using race as an issue to build GOP dominance in the once-Democratic South, Mehlman replied, “Republican candidates often have prospered by ignoring black voters and even by exploiting racial tensions,” and, “by the ‘70s and into the ‘80s and ‘90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African-American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out. Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.” It was very safe and easy for mainstream commentators to criticize Rand Paul. But the real scandal was their utter and complete failure to powerfully and categorically refute Paul’s profoundly dishonest rewriting of history with the raw quotes and facts that were available to them literally at their fingertips. And there is one other critical fact that needs to be underlined as well. Rand Paul is emphatically not alone in this cynical attempt at an inversion of political history. Glenn Beck, spokesmen for the Tea Party and other conservative talk radio hosts now widely circulate the lie that Martin Luther King was a Republican (when in fact he publicly called on African-Americans to vote against Barry Goldwater in 19641 and successfully negotiated the pivotal Civil Rights Act with Democratic president John Kennedy and the Voting Rights Act with Lyndon Johnson). The National Review, once viewed as representing intellectually honest conservatism, now shamelessly promulgates a more verbose but equally dishonest version of the “The GOP was always African-Americans’ real friend” myth and the Republican National Committee now effectively disavows the apology of its former chairman. It is rarely appropriate to use the term “The Big Lie Technique” in modern political discourse because of its close association with totalitarianism. But in this particular case there is simply no other phrase available in the English language that can adequately express the cynical essence of the GOP’s current attempt to rewrite the history of its decades-long exploitation of white racial resentment. If Republicans want to perform “outreach” to African-American voters, and that would be an excellent development for both political and moral reasons, they should begin with a thoroughgoing disavowal, not denial, of their past strategies and tactics. http://www.thedemocr...reclaim_mar.php
  12. Pope Frank and Me

    A conservative Catholic’s take on Pope Frank, from Slate: Why Pope Francis May Be a Catholic Nightmare He may seem like a humble reformer, but Cardinal Bergoglio is the last thing the Vatican needs. By Michael Brendan Dougherty|Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 6:32 PM There are two ways to look at the election of Pope Francis. He takes the name of the famous saint, whose life was defined by a vision in which he was commanded by a crucifix to “rebuild my Church, which is in ruins.” That name, combined with rumors that Cardinal Bergoglio impressed his fellow Cardinals at preconclave meetings with his willingness to clean up the Curia, may be a signal that reform is on the way. His choice of name may also signal an affiliation with the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier, an exemplary evangelist and missionary. Cardinal Bergoglio is known as a simple, humble person who eschewed the pomp of his high office in the church. Until now, he has lived in a simple apartment and cooked his own meals. He worked to prevent priests from abandoning their parishes and the sacraments entirely for revolutionary political activism in Argentina, when liberation theology was ascendant. But the other way to look at the dawn of this papacy is that it is one more in the pile of recent Catholic novelties and mediocrities. He is the first Latin American pope, the first Jesuit to be pope, and the first to take the name Francis. And so he falls in line with the larger era of the church in the past 50 years which has been defined by ill-considered experimentation: a “pastoral” ecumenical council at Vatican II, a new synthetic vernacular liturgy, the hasty revision of the rules for almost all religious orders within the church, the dramatic gestures and “saint factory” of Pope John Paul II’s papacy, along with the surprise resignation of Benedict XVI. In this vision, Benedict’s papacy, which focused on “continuity,” seems like the exception to an epoch of stunning and unsettling change, which—as we know—usually heralds collapse. There are reasons to believe that Pope Francis is a transitional figure, unlikely to effect major reform at the top of the church. He is not known as a champion of any theological vision, traditional or modern. He is just two years younger than Pope Benedict was upon his election eight years ago. He has deep connections to Italy, but little experience with the workings of the Vatican offices. A contentious reading of Pope Francis’ rise is that Benedict’s enemies have triumphed completely. It is unusual for a one-time rival in a previous election to triumph in a future one. And there is almost no path to Bergoglio’s election without support from curial Italians, combined with a Latin American bloc. Low-level conspiracy theories already flourish in Italy that Benedict’s resignation was the result of a curia determined to undermine his reforms. This election will only intensify that speculation. An older pope who does not know which curial offices and officers need the ax, will be even easier to ignore than Benedict. Besides his lack of knowledge of the ins and outs of the Vatican, there is almost no evidence of him taking a tough line with anyone in his own diocese. Are we to believe that Buenos Aires has been spared the moral rot and corruption found almost everywhere else in the Catholic clergy? Or, more likely, do we have another Cardinal who looked the other way, and studiously avoided confrontation with the “filth” in the church, no matter the danger to children or to the cause of the church? Presumption and detraction are sins, but Catholics should gird themselves; the sudden spotlight on his reign may reveal scandal and negligence. Liturgical traditionalists (myself included) can only be depressed by this election–it is almost the worst result possible for those of us who think the new liturgy lost the theological profundity and ritual beauty of the Tridentine Mass. Benedict’s liberation of the traditional Latin Mass and revisions to the new vernacular Mass have not been implemented at all in Cardinal Bergoglio’s own diocese. Already some of the small breaks with liturgical tradition at the announcement of his election are being interpreted as a move toward the grand, unruly, and improvisational style of John Paul II; an implicit rebuke of Benedict. Of course, the papacy has offered surprises in the past. Catholic tradition holds that the papacy was built on a mediocre man, St. Peter, who was once described as “a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man.” Pope Francis is now the man at the head of a Church impaired by immoral clergy, negligent bishops, and a moribund intellectual and spiritual life. God help him.
  13. Post-Doctoral Grilling Studies

    And exchange on brisket... SB: First attempt, a brisket flat, is in the smoker. JM: eager to hear about the labor and smoke intensity with that little tube fueler....did you have any pellets? SB: It looked great and tasted great BUT it was a little on the dry side, not moist. I think I have a plan to correct that. Also did some brats that came out perfectly. I used the small chips from our efforts at your house. Over an eight hour period I probably used 5-6 handfuls. Is there any use of cleaning the glass? A little concerned about the remote, it lost connect several times despite only being about 15 feet away. JM: if dry, consider whether you cooked too long or too hot. i usually put the meat in a foil wrap for the last couple of hours to moisten it and capture the juices for later basting. what plan did you have in mind? i'm cheered to hear the wood lasted so long. did it produce enough smoke to give a red quarter inch collar under the outside crust? the glass is hopeless. cleaning it is very difficult, and it doesn't last. they discourage using solvents, too. and besides, if it's smoking right, you can't see the meat for the smoke. benign neglect is in order. check the batteries, if they're OK, ask them to replace the remote by mail. I'm able to use mine in the living room, through patio doors and brick walls. we baked two pork roasts, one with liquid smoke, one without. couldn't detect much difference. probably didn't apply enough... Lovely gray day here. All doors wide open, waves roaring. SB: I wrapped BUT probably too late and slightly overcooked. My plan is to wrap when the meat hits 155 degrees the next time. Yes, definitely had the smoke ring, nice crust, good flavor but only juicy briefly then got dry as it cooled. JM: i've never used internal thermo on smoked stuff, and i've got nothing against it. but consider this: slow smoke it for 6 hours at 210, 200, or even 190. , then use the last two covered hours to bring it up to temp. That way you use less moisture during smoking and save what you do lose in the bag or foil. SB: Not sure what kind of wood I’m using but assume it is pecan. Wasn’t that what we had the most of? JM: i think the bulk of our shit was pecan, the reference standard in smoking wood. SB: Do you make your own rub? JM: i'd like to, but rae rarely leaves a fancy food store without another one, so i'm always trying to use them up. angelo's, sold at academy, is fine. SB: Mop? I’m skipping the mopping next time. JM: mopping's not necessary, but i do apply a glaze before i do the finishing session in foil. chipotle bourbon with garlic and black pepper is my fave. SB: Do you flip the brisket? JM: nothing wrong with it, though i seldom do it with my new unit. in the old days, the bottom used used to cook faster with my crude wood fire regulation.. SB: Also do you get a whole packer’s brisket or a flat? We only did a flat which is missing that extra layer of fat which may contribute to the dryness problem. JM: correct! I always get the biggest, fattiest shit they have. makes things moist and flavorful, and you can pull the fat off before serving. SB: Oh, the brats came out great. Stuck them in about 1 ½ hours at 210. What temp are you using? JM: l've never smoked those, assuming they wouldn't take the flavor very well with the skin. but now you're got me interested. 200 to 225 works for everything except cold smoking....which, alas you can't do with your setup. it has a min temp of 100, which is pushing it for cheese. i don't know if you''ll even be able to ignite the chips at that temp.
  14. Post-Doctoral Grilling Studies

    Smoked Pork Belly Man, oh man. We gotta did this!
  15. Pope Frank and Me

    That's a nice thought, but I don't think it's going to work out. To return to the Church, I'd have to endorse the Apostles' Creed, about 90 percent of which strikes me as utter nonsense. I've boldfaced the plausible passages below, and I don't think they represent sufficient common ground for a reconciliation. I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. I am struck by how believers tend to assume my non-belief results from emotional scars or a religious trauma of some sort. If only my psychological damage could be healed, they think, I would suddenly recognize the divinity of Jesus and rush back to the loving arms of the flock. In fact, my exacting Catholic training has nothing to do with what I believe now, except to the extent that it helps me think clearly. Today my theological views are rooted solely in reason, a faculty which even kindly popes and well meaning friends abandon entirely when it comes to their religious beliefs. There is much about the church and religious people to admire. Their blind acceptance of preposterous fairy tales is not among them, alas. But hey, some of my best friends have taken the bait. QR was born at the right time. In an earlier era, a Jesuit might have chased her down and shaken the dust from her boots -- and her molars from their roots.