Sunday, March 2, 2008

Harvard Beets...

I cooked on my own tonight, as Debbie is a million miles away at that agility meet. Usually when she's gone I just scrounge my meals from whatever we happen to have lying about. But for some reason yesterday I went grocery shopping for some simple treats. Tonight I had some excellent sausage and boiled cabbage as a main course. I had picked up some lovely fresh beets, and decided to make a dish I'd never made before: Harvard beets. When I was a kid it was a favorite, but I've had it only rarely since then.

I could guess (from the flavor and texture) most of the ingredients other than beets: sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch. But one ingredient I don't think I'd ever have guessed – cloves. And the salt was a bit unexpected as well.

Cleaning and dicing the beets was a bit of a chore, but the sauce was easy. The recipe calls for making the sauce in the top of a double-boiler, but I used a small saucepan over extremely low heat, and this worked just fine. And what a treat the result was! The fresh beets had that wonderful earthy aroma and flavor, and the sweet-and-sour sauce was exactly as I remembered it, and a perfect complement. Now I'm barely able to move, stuffed with such excellent food. And it was so easy to do!

Double Qs!

Debbie is off at an agility meet in Silverado, California. She's competing with Mo'i, but she also has Miki along – he needs to get accustomed to crowds, noise, and the random events of a show.

A few minutes ago, a very happy and excited Debbie called with the news that she and Mo'i had “Double-Q'd” today. That's agility competition jargon for having qualified on each of their two runs today. To qualify at the level of competition that Mo'i is in, they have to run the obstacle course perfectly – all the designated obstacles in the correct sequence, without hesitating, without knocking anything over, and without missing any of the “contact points” they're required to touch. In addition, they have to run it at least as fast as the official time for the course. She and Mo'i did that twice today, on two different courses! Between the two courses, they were seven seconds ahead of the course time – so they earned 27 points today: 20 for the double-Q, and 7 for their speed.


I'm told they celebrated afterwards by sharing a barbequed chicken sandwich. I suspect this was more profound and meaningful for Mo'i than it was for Debbie <smile>...

Dissing "Disproportionate Response"...

Over the past few years a recurring plaint from liberals, their lamestream media lapdogs, and the losing side of a war (fascinating how that particular combination is seen so often!) is the notion of “disproportionate response”. The American military and most especially the Israeli military have often been accused of this. The general idea, apparently, is that when one country is attacked, it is under some kind of obligation to respond with a level of military intensity that is “proportionate” (by which they really mean “roughly equal”) to that of that attack that provoked it.

I've always dismissed such criticism as utter nonsense on the face of it, and really just aimed at trying to pressure the attacked country into not defending itself. In fact, I believe an overwhelmingly disproportionate response is often the very best military strategy. For example, in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas (operating out of Gaza), Hamas is attacking an Israeli city with missiles. Israel is being accused of disproportionate response because it has started military operations inside Gaza to rid themselves of the Hamas attackers. I think it would be very smart of them to rampage all through Gaza, capturing all the cached Hamas weaponry (especially those damned missiles) and killing every last one of those Hamas fighters and their sympathizers and supporters. But the lamestream media (and Hamas, of course) seems to believe that what Israel really ought to do is to lob a few missiles back at Hamas. How dumb is that?

This morning I read a post by Tigerhawk that says it much better than I could. Here's his conclusion (which is actually about half the short post):
If law or morality or God were to require that retaliation for an attack be commensurate with the attack itself, then attackers would essentially dictate the force that could be used against them. The attacker could then calmly decide whether it was more able or willing to absorb losses than the defender and structure the attack accordingly, all with the comfort of knowing in advance that law, morality, or God would not allow the defender to inflict losses that the attacker was not able or willing to sustain.

In other words, if the attacker can control the extent of the retaliation against him, he will not be deterred from attacking in the first place. Effective deterrance requires that the attacker not be able to predict the losses he will suffer in retaliation. A prospective attacker will only be deterred if he know that there is at least the possibility of massive retaliation out of proportion with the original attack. This is why, for example, Dwight Eisenhower loudly declared that any nuclear attack on the United States, no matter how limited, would be met with massive, unconditional, and total retaliation. Anything less might not have deterred such an attack in the first place.

So, the next time you hear some fool bleating witlessly about the Israelis -- or anybody else -- responding to an attack "disproportionately," take the time to point out to them that the morality they propose would result in more war rather than less.
What he said!

60 Minutes Takedown!

Last Sunday, the 60 Minutes show broadcast a segment that made a case for a Republican conspiracy (conspicuously led by Karl Rove) to falsely accuse and convict Alabama governor Don Siegelman of mail fraud and bribery. The network's case was almost entirely based on a story told by one Jill Simpson, an otherwise unremarkable lawyer from Alabama. I did not see this segment (I rarely watch television at all), but I'm nonetheless very familiar with it because of the uproar it created in the press and blogosphere.

The reason for the uproar is a simple and all-too-familiar one: it didn't look like their was much basis for the allegation, and the timing (during a Presidential campaign season) made it look like a hit piece. The suspicion is that the 60 Minutes show has an agenda, and that agenda includes knocking Republicans at every opportunity. Remember “RatherGate”? This looks like more of the same.

Amongst the many bloggers who successfully debunked the story behind RatherGate was John Hinderaker (of the PowerLine blog). His debunking stood out for its clarity, completeness, and persuasiveness. Now he's done it again, for the segment broadcast last Sunday. Here's his conclusion, but don't miss the whole thing (you just wouldn't want to miss seeing a competent journalist do the job that the lamestream media just can't seem to do):

... Jill Simpson is a sad case, but she's not the only one. The world is full of mildly deranged people who are convinced that they alone have stumbled onto the great conspiracy of their time, or that they themselves have played a key role in events, unaccountably unacknowledged by anyone else. There once was a time when journalists tried, at least, to avoid being led down blind alleys by such sad cases.

What is surprising is not that Jill Simpson exists, but that CBS chose to put her forward on 60 Minutes as a credible witness, without disclosing the many facts that would have enabled the network's viewers to draw their own conclusions about Simpson's story. It seems fair to wonder whether, at some level, the people who run CBS and 60 Minutes are as deranged as Jill Simpson when it comes to Karl Rove and the Republican Party.

If I were an executive at CBS (the studio that produces 60 Minutes), and I read the entirety of John Hinderaker's takedown, I'd be looking for new “talent” at 60 Minutes. And I'd be wondering if I could possibly entice John Hinderaker out of his legal career into a position where he could better inform the public, and help restore the credibility of a show whose tarnish now outweighs its substance...