Beertopia website  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

My old place of employment has a new website. It's still sort of bootleg and all in HTML like before, but it is cleaner and well, updated to include Beertopia as well as the Belgian beer bar Max & Joe's plus the Crescent Moon and the Huber Haus. For those interested in the best street corner for beer in Omaha, click here.

This is satire  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Fat Boy Successfully Avoids Ridicule By Swimming With Shirt On:

Fat Kid Successfully Avoids Ridicule By Swimming With Shirt On

Chris Brown covers Otis Redding  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

So I'll post the Otis Redding.

And the permanent link.

Oh, whatever, here's the Chris Brown version.

Video: Jay-Z (and guests), "Roc Boys"  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Wow, ridiculous video to a great song. Hove back on top.

Who's who of hip hop and R & B royalty here. Massive horn sample from the Menahan Street Band.

Check out M.S.B.'s cut while you're at it: "Make the Road by Walking"

If the player won't work, do yourself a favor and grab this download. Impress all your friends with your obscure sample spotting.

Bret and Leslie in Las Vegas  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Yeah. We're going to Vegas. Tuesday night til Saturday.

What happens in Vegas....probably will get blogged this weekend. Hopefully we get some good photos. Maybe you'll hear from me, maybe not. Either way, enjoy Thanksgiving. We'll be eating dal with curried lentils and pita bread with hummus. And baklava, all the way from...Costco.

Two Great Editorials in the Washington Post last weekend  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

One is by Nawaz Sharif, the former President of Pakistan, whose government was deposed by military leader Pervez Musharraf several years ago. When General Musharraf declared the Constitution invalid a few weeks ago, it was really the latest of a series of human rights violations that includes the refusal of 160 Pakistanis the vote and the denial of governance to minority group leaders Mr. Sharif and Benzanir Bhutto; while Ms. Bhutto has in fact herself been found guilty of corruption, military autocracy, the suppression and disbandment of the judiciary, and the absence of the rule of law based on the opinions and political ends of one man should be swiftly dealt, by the denial of funds to the corrupt government. By some estimates, more unaccountable cash is given by the U.S. directly to Musharraf's government (the Pakistani military, which itself is really more of a large collection of mercenaries) than through proper foreign assistance channels. Read Mr. Sharif's comments here.

The second is Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason, writing on the cost of the Iraq war in the form of an open letter to President Bush. After noting that a White House economic advisor was fired after estimating that the war would cost $200 billion, Mr. Cowen tells us the true amount: over $1 TRILLION. He then goes on to say

But all these figures don't quite get at Iraq's real cost. Indeed, we usually don't even frame the question the right way. We'd do better to recognize what we've lost, rather than focusing only on what we've paid.

The article is short and swift, as always with Tyler very well written and reasoned. Some may remember my opposition to the war dating back to, well, before the war, and this editorial sums up quite a few things that I dreaded: massive loss of life (huge costs) while not radically altering the Middle East and in fact empowering other rogue states (grossly insufficient rewards). But most of all, it comes down to opportunity costs. What could we have done with the available federal troops? (New Orleans and southeast coast hurricanes, California wildfires.) What could we have done with the four thousand dead soldiers, the thirty thousand wounded soldiers and the other physical and psychological casualties of war? (Brought the long arm of justice down on bin Laden, put real pressure on Kim Jung Il and/or Mahmoud Admadinejad, had happier Thanksgivings.)

And one thing that Tyler didn't touch on that I would like to is that the U.S. shovels money into Middle Eastern duffel bags at unprecedented rates. With all the tough talk from Washington about Hugo Chavez and South American oil-rich nations, with all our fumbling about in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, why are the American people NEVER asked to make a sacrifice Congress are the only American citizens who are ever asked for more money - and it's certainly not out of their pockets. Taxes are lowered while government defense spending goes through the roof. I know this is Thomas Friedman's territory here, but a gasoline tax, a so-called Patriot tax on gas that would dually benefit the environment while not lining the pockets of ayatollahs and Saudi princes?

Read Tyler Cowen's lovely argument for the real cost of the Iraq war here.

Finally, Paul Krugman has a nice post up today about the economics behind the falling dollar. If you have any interest in a discussion of interest rate policy and the resulting effects on unemployment, exchange rates, and spending markets, have a look. It's not as WONKISH as he claims at the beginning, in fact it's rather simple. The first comment appears to be knowledgeable, disagreeing with Mr. Krugman. Read the post and see what you think.

Minneapolis to Boston: You're welcome...  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

...for two World Series victories, one franchise touchdown reception record and a 10-0 start to the NFL season, and an 8-0 start to the NBA season.


Posted by Wayne Bretski in

I think this would be the first breakfast featured at the Stare; one of the features of working as a substitute means that you can be relieved of planned duties the night before and then have no one else call in. Which really sucks, because I had to pass up a two-day job (today and tomorrow) for a friend because I was already committed to last week's class which was supposed to go until today. Boo.

So I made breakfast for myself. A salad. Eggs, dressing, spinach.


In the wok; oil thickened with salt and pepper. Cooked enough not to be dangerous, but with a runny yolk.


A take on salade lyonnaise but light on the Dijon. About one tablespoon each of balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, three of olive oil, salt and ground peppercorn to taste. Once that was satisfactory, I chopped up a bunch of pine nuts and sprinkled the smaller bits into the dressing, rubbed some basil til crushed, and added a drop of white sugar as well.

A lovely bowl of spinach, chiffonaded, to be joined soon by friends.

I added some dried Montmorency cherries (hence the sugar in the dressing) and the rest of the pine nuts to the lettuce.

Topped with the eggs and drizzled with the dressing. Here's the tableau:

Thanks to Miss Bee's grandmother for the tea kettle. Miss Bee found the lovely coffee mug at a garage sale, and we purloined the silver tea set from the depths of our Dumpster. Okay, it was sitting outside the Dumpster, but it was going to the trash and it appears to have never been used, not even unwrapped.

Here's the rest:

I enjoyed this breakfast with a large mug of rainforest coffee and the Monday crossword; these are recommended for maximum enjoyment.

Why wouldn't Radiohead release an album with a label?  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Turns out the lovely folks at EMI have decided to release a box set of Radiohead's prior albums right around the same time as the In Rainbows deluxe set. Of course they have the legal right to do so as they own all the recordings, but it seems to me like more reasons for artists to avoid these people.

If you care, Insound has offered readers of a 10% off discount on the box at their website. Here's a link to the password.

Strange Experience: Aptonyms  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

I was trying to think of the term "aptonym"; meaning someone whose name, apropos to their job, is notable. I had all but abandoned this post idea because I couldn't come up with the word and out of nowhere the Freakonomics blog had a link to a pretty good one: a dentist named Dr. Trusty who was dancing to the song 'Car Wash' and got a drill bit stuck in his patient's face.

You can find plenty of examples if you google 'apotonym': the hydraulic engineer named Flood or whatever...but I liked this one. Turns out that there is a gentleman named Thomas Saving who once held the austere title of Public Trustee of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund. I love it!

Encountered at Cafe Hayek in Don Boudreaux's reaction to Paul Krugman's Friday column accusing Barack Obama of being hoodwinked by Social Security doomsday predictions.

*Update* Krugman offers more on his blog.

Tom Friedman joins the Pigou Club..  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

and argues for a "Patriot Tax" on gasoline. Good reading, check out the article.

Checking in  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in , , ,

Hello. It's been a bit slow of late here. We had a visitor last weekend (three actually) and spent a lot of time going out to eat, etc. (Three day weekends are great). All this week and next Monday I'm working with autistic kids in the ED classroom at Balsz (Miss Bee's school). All this is to say that our cooking has been a little paltry of late. Last night was our first home-cooked dinner in a while, consisting of store-bought Swiss cheese and chive potatoes au gratin with sauteed spinach with garlic and pine nuts.

Look for tomato "soup" with pasta soon.

A few pictures now. Here's one from last Friday; we went to a flamenco guitar concert with Miss Bee's old mentor teacher Mary and her husband Richard at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Papago Park, which is only about five min. from our place though we'd never been. The only picture I took worth seeing is this one of some sort of small desert tree, outlined so nicely with the lighting. The concert was lovely, and I think we're getting tickets to the gardens themselves soon so hopefully more pictures of this cool place coming up.

Thanks to Mary and Richard for the tickets.

Next is a picture of Miss Bee's friend Aliya who visited from Vegas with her friend Josh. On their last day we took them to our local Chinese place, Hai Ching Ling, in the Chinese Cultural Center (affectionately known as the Embassy). Here's the golden Buddha statue there.

And Aliya looking lovely in her "mini-moo":

Any visitors will surely be taken out here to enjoy amazing Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and vegetable chow mein. We can't get enough; in fact, the waitress actually pre-empted our order by asking what we wanted with our eggplant.

Also, I have to share one of these pictures I took of little Alfred. He's a five year old non-verbal; when he came the first day this year he didn't make any sounds other than crying. He's starting to say alphabet syllables now, which is what I was working on with him here. Yes, that's my knee he's resting his head on...

And finally, here's Alfred waiting to go out to recess; he's waiting for me because I am tall enough to help him walk backwards up the slide. Shortens the wait time, you know...

A Couple of Old Ones  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Here is but one example of the pasta with red sauce we've made over the past few weeks. This one features flash-fried eggplant.

We've been using tomato paste as a base, with no real requirements after that: herbs, pepper, carrots..

Another pasta was super easy: store-bought olive tapenade with a dollop of yogurt cheese over hot pasta.

In an effort not to go to the store until payday, here was our "what's in the fridge" stew. Carrots, celery, lemon juice, an rice make up the bulk of the soup. We had this for five lunches last week.

Grenadine and Pomegranate syrup  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Two sides of the same coin on making these "mix" type drinks.

For the pomegranate syrup, boil the juice of a couple pomegranates along with about a quarter cup of sugar. The syrup should be a pinkish hue.

Here's the syrup mixed with champagne.

For a different take, boil about three pomegranates' worth of juice until about a third of the original liquid remains. This is true grenadine. With champagne:
Clearly a little darker red. You could sugar this up a bit too, it was a little bitter but not bad.

The tough part here is getting the juice out properly, without making a mess. The first thing to do is chop off the 'head' or 'crown' of the fruit, then section it with a knife. From there you just want to separate the pith from the seeds. I did it over a bowl which caught the red juice, and I put seeds that were fully separated into here. If the seed stuck to the pith, or there was a chunk of pith in which several seeds, these I tossed into a pot with water. The water separates the pith, which floats, from the seeds which don't. Once you've got the seeds separated out, use a food processor or blender to chop up the seeds, called arils, releasing the liquid inside. For most pomegranate recipes you can stop here, but for the syrup and grenadine, you'll have to take the chopped up mush and use a strainer or cheesecloth to let the juice through and leave the seed covers. I used a French press coffee maker, putting the mush in the bottom and pushing the lever down hard to release all the moisture. You can still eat the fibrous seed covers, as they are good for you and taste okay. I found that two pomegranates can yield about a cup of juice, more if you have better technique.

Thanks to Carrie for the pomegranates, to experiment!

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