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A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 30th, 2017

Perfectly wonderful dinner: Roasted Chicken Provençal

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The underlying recipe is by Sam Sifton, but I’ve modified it in a few ways, including sequence. Here is my version:

9 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, ends cut off and then cut vertically in eighths
20-30 cloves garlic, peeled
8-10 medium-size shallots, peeled and halved
1/2 to 2/3 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put the flour in a plastic bag, season it with the salt and pepper, then shake the chicken in the bag, three thighs at a time. Shake the pieces to remove excess flour.

Swirl the oil in a roasting pan, and place the floured chicken in it, skin side up. Arrange the lemon, shallots, and garlic cloves around and between the chicken thighs, then add the vermouth to the pan.

Season the chicken with the herbes de Provence.

Put the pan in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes, then baste it with the pan juices (which will take care of any flour on top of the chicken). Continue roasting for another 30 minutes, or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat cooked through.

Serve in the pan or on a warmed platter.

I try to put a lemon section so that each thigh is surround (4 lemon sections around the thigh, though the same section serves as well for the adjacent thigh), and do likewise with the halved shallots and the peeled garlic, though with the garlic I tend to go with two for each side.

Really an extremely tasty recipe. Today I used Meyer lemons, which are very thin-skinned.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 6:12 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

When you see a reporter at last able to use something he’s wanted to use for years

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It was probably a dozen years after I heard the expression, “Let us set our course by the stars, and not the lights of passing ships.” A long wait, but apparently my using it caused some conversation.

Steven Erlanger reports in the NY Times:

It had all been going so well.

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain had just left Washington on Friday evening after a tense but successful first visit with President Trump for a 10-hour flight to Ankara, Turkey, for her next awkward encounter, with the increasingly autocratic Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

By the time she had landed in Turkey, however, Mr. Trump had signed his executive order halting entrance to the United States of all Syrian refugees and of most citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including dual nationals. Mrs. May was beginning to feel the backlash.

After she termed the executive order an American issue, criticism erupted even among her own members of Parliament. She was accused of appeasement by a former British diplomat. Protesters gathered outside Downing Street on Monday night, and more than 1.5 million signatures collected on an internet petition demanding that Mrs. May rescind her invitation for Mr. Trump to visit Queen Elizabeth II.

While Mrs. May is the latest prominent figure to suffer repercussions for her handling of Mr. Trump, the leaders of those other three close allies have also felt the sting of public anger soon after what seemed to be friendly telephone calls or encounters. They then find themselves facing a no-win situation, either openly criticizing the leader of their superpower ally or pulling their punches and risking severe criticism at home.

One Western leader to escape this fate so far is the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has kept a cool distance from Mr. Trump. In a telephone call on Saturday, she reminded him of Washington’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions to accept refugees fleeing war, a view underlined by her official spokesman.

The danger of playing nice with Mr. Trump should come as little surprise to his country’s allies. Besides campaigning on an “America First” platform, he has regularly argued that allies have been taking the United States for a ride, in trade, security and financial terms.

While he has been cordial in public settings with the leaders of those allied nations, Mr. Trump has turned on them soon afterward.

“The problem for May is that Trump doesn’t value relationships. He values strength and winning,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior State Department official. “If you rush to the White House to offer a weak hand of friendship, you guarantee exploitation.”

While Mr. Trump’s executive order was clearly not aimed at Britain, he signed it on Friday, just a few hours after Mrs. May left. “You can show up at his doorstep and hold his hand so he doesn’t fall down a ramp, but that doesn’t mean a few hours later when he’s signing an order he thinks at all about how it affects you, your politics or your citizens,” Mr. Shapiro said.

Particularly problematic for Mrs. May was . . .

Continue reading.

I’ve put in boldface the term I’m sure he was delighted to use. If he were recounting this, his voice would change on that phrase.

I would say that perhaps even Trump can grasp that following set procedure has certain benefits that shooting from the hip lacks.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 4:54 pm

Is there a pattern of nihilists being attracted to Russia?

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Certainly the droogs of Clockwork Orange were: their slang was filled with borrowings from Russian. And it seems as though Bannon, a nihilist if there ever was one, is fond of Putin. (I’m assuming that Trump is pretty much directed by Bannon, and so perhaps some of Trump’s admiration and love of Putin is in part a manifestation of Bannon’s feelings. (Of course, there’s always the blackmail possibility.))

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 4:29 pm

Seeing U.S. as others see it.

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The is from the foreword of Conrad Black’s book Rise to Greatness: The History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-3-31-14-pm

Wonder how he might have expanded that passage to include the Trump administration. (It’s hard to believe that it’s been only a little over a week since Trump took the oath of office and began violating the Constitution, which seems okey-doke to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, who are sort of relieved because they never really understood much of the Constitution. Take the First Amendment, for example:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is practically anti-Christian the way it’s been twisted around so that you can’t even make stop other religion (Islam, for example) from building a church, much less making the religion illegal. If you paid attention to the Constitution, it would make it difficult to persecute other religions.

And freedom of speech! Don’t get me started. That would allow people to say anything and voice all sorts of disagreeable ideas (e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n, for example, or anti-fracking, or describe what happens in meat production), and that would lead to all sorts of disruption.

The press is being taking care of right now. The directive from the man who seems to be actually running things, Stephen Bannon, is for the press to shut its trap. And certainly the lying never stops: 24/7. And since policies are so often abruptly reversed—20% import tax…. no, wait, no such thing; green-card holders are banned from entry…. wait, no, they’re not; et al.—a lot of lying is required. In fact what is required is exactly the kind of memory edit described so well in Orwell’s 1984: That truth is no longer operable; here is the new truth, and you have always believed it.

So the press will not be a problem: we deny, and they report the denial. Anything serious, we just say, “Fake news” and ignore it, just like the administration ignores the Constitutional clause on emoluments.

Peaceable assembly is tricky. Of course, one can always ensure that it is not peaceable by sending in a few ringers to stir up trouble. People can protest, but the police union backed Trump and police officers seem to like him. (Not all, but a surprising number: hence the union backing.) – OTOH, LAPD says it will ignore the executive order. That’s pretty damn strong.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 4:01 pm

Stupidity? or ignorance?: Trump and his aides keep justifying the entry ban by citing attacks it couldn’t have prevented

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Of course, it is probably a simple case of bad faith: the Trump administration knows the arguments makes no sense and is nonresponsive to the situation, but they make the argument anyway because they have nothing else and are unwilling to admit that. Mark Berman reports in the Washington Post:

President Trump first pitched a ban on Muslims more than a year ago, proposing it in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015. He revived the idea after the Orlando club massacre last summer. And when Trump announced Friday that he was suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, his order mentioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks three times.

No one involved in those attacks was born in the countries Trump’s order included. Even as Trump’s aides tried to defend the ban amid its chaotic rollout over the weekend, they continued pointing to some of those attacks, including some carried out by people born in the United States.

ban-chart

The list of countries the ban affects also did not include countries where people behind several other attacks in recent years — along with high-profile plots that were not carried out — were born.

birthplaces

Trump’s ban, which also temporarily halted refugee resettlement and sent shock waves around the globe, followed through on a campaign pledge he said is necessary to keep the country safe.

In his order signed Friday, Trump noted that “numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001.” Yet the list of countries included in the ban — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya — leaves out countries tied to extremist attackers or plots. . .

Continue reading. The ban is clearly close to crazy, ignoring problem countries (because Trump does business in those countries).

In the meantime, Congress seems unable to act and a surprising number of Republicans think this is a good approach. And ISIS rejoices, since it helps their recruiting by confirming that the US is at war with Islam, not with terrorism.

Later in the article:

“The ban is less about national security and more about advancing a worldview based on religious and racial exclusion,” J.M. Berger, a fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague and co-author of “ISIS: The State of Terror,” wrote in an email Sunday. “It’s not likely to make us safer, and it is far more likely to help our real enemies, ISIS and al-Qaeda. We don’t do ourselves any favors when we make their talking points into reality.”

Also:

None of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from countries on the ban list. Most were from Saudi Arabia, which is one of multiple Muslim-majority countries where Trump has business interests and declined to ban travel. (The other hijackers were from Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.)

Nor did the home countries of the Boston Marathon bombers — Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, brothers born in Russia and Kyrgyzstan — turn up on the list. Dzhokhar, the younger brother, who was sentenced to death for the bombing, was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Their parents were not refugees as has been reported; they instead came to the United States on travel visas and applied for political asylum.

The two deadliest recent attacks in the United States that precipitated Trump’s public call for a ban both involved people born in the United States.

The Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, was born in New York, the son of an immigrant from Afghanistan, a country not on the banned list. Syed Rizwan Farook, who carried out the attack in San Bernardino with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, was born in Illinois and, according to the FBI, had been radicalized and plotting attacks years before he met her. Malik came to the country on a fiance visa, and she was born in Pakistan and later moved to Saudi Arabia, two countries not covered by the ban.

Since 2001, every deadly jihadist attack inside the United States was carried out by a U.S. citizen or legal resident, according to data collected by New America, a Washington-based nonprofit group.

New America tracked nearly 400 cases involving people charged with jihadist terrorism or a related crime. In nearly half of these cases, people involved were born in the United States, while nearly a third involved naturalized citizens or permanent residents.

“Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents,” the group notes in a report on its findings. It adds: “In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration.”

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 12:37 pm

Man helps baby robin find food

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Taking a break from the grim political scene:

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Is Donald Trump just Stephen Bannon’s puppet? Trump talks, Bannon controls.

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Seems like it from this mess of an immigrant ban: Bannon and Stephen Miller apparently wrote the order, being careful not to let any other departments or legal counsel see it, and then had Trump, the public face, issue it and defend it. Well, on Sunday apparently all Trump administration members did a public defense on talk shows (pretty much required, else they’re out).

But it does seem as though Bannon is the puppetmaster and Trump, ignorant, wilful, easily manipulated by appealing to his yuge ego and playing on his enormous insecurity, is the puppet.

We’ll see, but Bannon is the one who appears to be in control. (Trump is controlling, but he also lacks self-control and thus is easily directed this way and that.)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2017 at 10:58 am

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