Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Note: If you're in Virginia's Fourth District--Chesapeake, Suffolk and parts west--you are fortunate to have Randy Forbes (R) as your Congressman; Randy is one of the few to have voted against all of the half dozen major Bailout / Porkulus bills. On the other hand, if you're in Virginia Beach, that's Second District and Glen Nye (D) is your Congressman.
If you don't know who your rep is or what he's up to, check GovTrack. Elected officials are like three year olds--you need to keep an eye on them.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
No, you don't support the troops. Our troops are all, every single one of them without exception, volunteers. They signed up knowing that their job was risky, and that they were offering to carry out the lawful orders of our government despite that risk. That is what they are doing. Undoubtedly, they all want to come home--but the honorable ones want to come home after they finish their job. If they come home before they finish their job, well, the word for that is "defeat". If you are advocating defeat, you are not supporting the troops.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Of course, in an event which is a little closer to us, this is also the day that, in 1933, the German government passed the Enabling Act. This Act gave Chancellor Adolf Hitler the ability to create laws directly, without the legislature's participation.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
1 lb of flank steak or cube steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 teaspoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 -3 large cloves)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 large green onions, sliced
Rice, for serving
1. For the meat, make sure the steak slices are dry by patting them with a paper towel. Slice them into strips, then add the cornstarch to the beef. Place the slices in a strainer and shake off excess corn starch. Begin to cook the rice while you prepare the rest of the meal.
2. For the sauce, heat half of the oil in a large wok or pan at medium-high heat and add the garlic and the ginger. Immediately add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look thick enough at this point. The corn starch in the beef will thicken it up later.
3. Place the meat in the same pan and cook, stirring until it is all browned (this is a quick thing). Pour the sauce back into the wok/pan and let it cook along with the meat.
4. You can cook down the sauce to reduce it to thicken or leave it thinner. Add the green onions on the last minute so the green parts will stay green and the white parts crunchy. Serve it hot with rice. Serves 2.
Plus bob's comment from that blog:
"use 1 tsp. of baking soda in the meat prior to cooking. that is the trick to get meat as tender as in the restaurant. you’ll have to add a bit of salt as well, just a 1/2 tsp. baking soda will mellow the salt flavor in the soy sauce."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
edit: This reminds me that a politician recently said that AIG executives who took bonuses should resign or commit suicide, in the Japanese tradition. I don't think that was proper to say...although if he were saying it to Congress, I'd have a hard time complaining.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Speaking of which, I ran across For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto in a used book store. I've just barely started reading it; based on the comments at Amazon, it looks like a winner.
I've also been reading The Moon Goddess and the Son, which weaves a girl who loves the Moon, an engineer and his son, plus the Mongol influence on Russian law, a mathematician, the space race, a gamer designer, the Cold War, Middle Eastern antiquities, and other threads to form a dense, complicated, highly enjoyable novel. I have to re-read a Donald Kingsbury book to find out what I missed the first time; and they're good enough that I'm ready to start re-reading them the minute I finish them.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
And persistent effort is valuable, because "many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years."
Incidentally, I picked up these from Schlock Mercenary, specifically the artist's blog. Where would you expect to find this sort of information, if not in a web comic about space mercenaries?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
"a growing number of lower profile yet visually arresting altruists began serving their fellow citizens by taking on local thugs, helping stranding motorists, volunteering at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and participating in blood drives. They call themselves Real Life Superheroes, or Reals for short, and as their name suggests, their inspiration comes not from elected officials, religion, or the Kiwanis Club, but rather Batman, Spider-man, and the countless other icons of spandex-clad virtue."
Sunday, March 8, 2009
A normal contract is bilateral, in that the seller and buyer both agree to the deal, and both come out ahead. It doesn't matter who initiates the transaction. By contrast, a transaction for the sake of "fairness" is unilateral. If Alice has $500,000 and Bob has nothing, Alice can initiate giving Bob $250,000, in which case she derives $250,000 worth of satisfaction from the deal; or Bob can initiate taking $250,000 from Alice, in which case she gets no benefit. The situations are not moral equivalents. The first is a gift, the second is theft.
If the government is taking on Bob's behalf, it's still theft. Ultimately taxes come down to "you will give us money or we will put you in jail"; if they were voluntary, they wouldn't be taxes. And it's a safe bet that Bob isn't even going to get the full $250k out of it either.
If the government wants to have "fairness", it should to give an incentive for charitable gifts, rather than promote a mentality that theft is socially sanctioned.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
After days of cold rain followed by a freeze and a dusting of snow, we've now gotten some decent weather for a few days. The last frost of the year is usually in early April, so I'm not expecting this weather to last; but while it does, it's pleasant to be able to lounge on the deck and enjoy the afternoon sun while wearing a polo shirt rather than a parka.
And with warm weather, people think about gardening. That is, some people do; normally I'm not one of them. And when I do get an urge, once every few years, to commit premeditated horticulture, I generally sacrifice a Boston fern and that is more than sufficient. This year, however, the economic climate is also a factor, and I'm finding myself thinking about peat moss and compost and canning tomatoes. We're in a condo with about 50 square feet of deck usable, so we're hardly going to be self sufficient. But every little bit helps, and we'll be getting practice towards the time when we have more room.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Somewhere in this city a soldier is blowing on his hands as he stands watch through the night; a homeless man is curling up in a blanket and not really caring whether he'll make it through the cold; a newlywed is cuddling with her husband; an executive is deciding to skip the bar and go home to his family; a single mom is wondering whether to give her landlord notice or try to eke out one more month; a teenager is chatting online with her friends in Australia and California and Germany; a man is kissing his beloved goodbye for the last time; a woman is stripping for a man who doesn't care for her; a couple is trying sushi for the first time; a Coast Guard crew is heading home, having given up a search; an artist is delighting in her painting; a boy is wondering at the stars.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Around 1995, I started playing Full Thrust, a game of starship combat by Ground Zero Games. The official background had several major nations and their navies, but it was generally accepted by the publisher and the fans that players could either flesh out the existing nations or design their own. A lot of people did their own variants of Scotland or the Confederate States or such, which struck me as unimaginative. I decided to translate my Balance of Power country to the GZG universe. This led to the libertarian monarchy known as the Alarishi Empire, which controls a group of three M stars with no habitable planets, but lots of asteroids.
The Alarishi Empire has been described as an orbiting collection of experiments in social Darwinism. The Imperial government will generally let you start your own local government and run it however you like, as long as you pay your lease on time and refrain from blowing up your neighbors. If your local government and social system works, you'll thrive; if not, that's your problem, and the Imperial government feels no obligation to bail you out. Think of it as federalism on steroids.
The point of this is that it gives me a background for thinking about government in terms of "what is theoretically workable and just" rather than "what's politically possible given the mess we're in and all the history behind it." I'll be considering various issues from the point of view of "if I were making the rules, I'd say....". Comments are always welcome.