Thursday, July 28, 2005
Correspondent Tom, propieter of the informative and amusing Functional Ambivalent (which I don't have on a "we'll see" bloglist), mentioned that he used to watch "Wild On..." just to catch a glimpse of the wonderous Brooke Burke in a bikini. Concerned as I am with fairness, I wanted to make sure that all my readers were availed of this opportunity.
Its time to 'fess up. Two reasons motivate me to do this. First, Spoons has come out of the closet and secondly it is a fantastic opportunity to shamelessly post a picture of the sexy and delightful Brooke Burke. Here goes.
I watch Rockstar INXS. In fact, I not only watch it, I like it.
Go ahead, mock me if you must, but I will not be shamed. Sure I could do without the ritual "angst at the mansion" that all these shows seem to insist on including, but when it comes time to rock, its a delight to watch.
And rock is exactly what the contestants do. Tuesday night's show included fellow Chicagoan, Marty, belting out a fantastic rendition of Nirvana's Lithium. Marty was so impressive that he was selected for the encore performance on Wednesday night and apparently won Spoon's selection as the next frontman for the band.
This of course is wrong. Marty, an undeniably rockin' dude, doesn't have the melodic style that the band is going to require. For this reason and the fact that he is a fellow Aussie, Mig will be at the top when the show ends its run in a couple weeks.
So if you haven't caught it yet, there is still plenty of time to catch-up on Rockstar INXS. All I can say is that while I enjoy the show, I will never, ever again get caught up in a reality bit again. At least not until the next Amazing Race.
So as I watched the "return to space" with all its incumbent "risk" and "danger" on our fine cable news channels, it was without reservation that I began to wonder just how much of a rat hole NASA really is. Think about it. Here we are 2 1/2 years and over 100 million dollars after the last shuttle disaster, and still NASA cannot figure out how to make foam stick to metal. I'm aware we're dealing with the extremes of physics, but it just seems to me that we ought to be able to send men and women into space without increasing the risk that is already inherently part of such a mission.
We have been told that we have the best scientists in the world working on the space program, and I believe that this is true. I wonder though, if it is possible that genius is prone to the same pitfalls of hubris and stilted logic that the rest of us mere mortals experience. I know in business that one of the greatest challenges I face is getting teams to think beyond their experience, and look for new solutions that are obvious once you escape the prison of your own structured logic. The over used phrase that describes this process in "thinking out of the box". It is a tremendously powerful solution building tool when executed successfully, and there are many team building tools available to facilitate the process. "The Six Hats" is just one for example.
I'd recommend that NASA begin doing this, and as a public service allow me to make an initial suggestion that seems obvious:
Instead of trying to get foam to withstand the physics of lift-off, why not invert the structure of the external fuel tank? The easiest way to do this, of course, would be to not have the foam as the external skin. Instead, add one final layer of an extruded, light weight metal that would fit over the foamed tank like a fuel tank condom. I suggest extruding the tank condom so that it will be seamless there by reducing drag, and eliminating any seams that might cause sections to fall off.
I realize this solution will add weight to the craft, but the reduction of drag on lift-off, plus a re-engineering of shuttle materials that were designed 30 years ago, to include more light weight metals out to be able to accommodate the solution.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I'm reminded of the New York Times column penned by ex-CIA analyst Larry Johnson in July of 2001, almost exactly two months prior to the attack on New York and Washington. Good ole Larry has most recently been heard discussing the Plame affair, and while I have no idea whether his statements there are accurate, he certainly was a reflection of the misguided US foreign policy establishment in 2001 when he said:
"Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism. None of these beliefs are based in fact."
Frightening isn't it. Yet I wonder if we've drifted back to the same false sense of security today. The anti-Bush crowd, Larry Johnson included, seems more fixated on bringing down the Bush presidency by blowing up every non-scandal into a daily spew of ginned up outrage, than helping move the country forward. There was Koran Gate, the related Gitmo-Gate, and now Plame(Rove)-Gate. Amazingly, these have just been the outrages from the last three months!
Sadly, the proponents of the war on terror, have drifted in their commitment as well. After 9/11 we were committed to going after the terrorists wherever they were in the world. We started out quite well, toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan, and taking out Saddam Hussein's terrorist haven in Iraq.
We then lost momentum. I don't know if it is war fatigue, the constant flow of negative reporting from the mainstream media, or a general sense that we are now safe again, but I sense an all too real feeling of complacency at both the highest levels of our government and the general population.
I have always been a strong proponent of two tactical principles when executing a strategy. The first is that a good offense is a great defense. It is a simple fact that whether you're in business, sports, or war maintaining constant pressure on your opponent requires him to react to your moves, and takes away your opponent's ability to set the rules of the game, or even establish the field on which the game is played. This is why I am such a huge supporter of both the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns. We must take our fight to the terrorists and those that sponsor them. In this way we can use our superior firepower, intelligence and manpower to overwhelm the opponent on terms that we set.
The second tactical principle that is critical for us to remember is that one never stands still. It is a simple fact of life that either you're moving forward, or you're falling backwards. The world, and as a result, war is always in flux. If one rests, the environment changes and your position declines as a result. One must continually press forward to keep up with change and execute the tactics that will achieve your strategic goals.
Can anyone of us say that we are doing this as a country committed in the war on terrorism? I truly doubt it. We've gotten lazy and distracted, and this has made us more vulnerable.
Our leaders tell us that there is a reason for this. On the left we're told that we're bogged down in Iraq. On the right, we're told the terrorists are an enemy without a nationstate to attack, so there isn't much we can do. Both of these are nothing more than hollow excuses for inaction.
Iraq is key to winning the war on terror. The basic thrust has been outlined before and comes down to the fact that if we can attract terrorists to fight us there, then they won't attack us on our home front, combined with the goal of establishing a working democracy in the region that will serve as a catalyst to spur other liberal reforms. We've had surprising success with the elections in Iraq, the writing of the new constitution, the recent participation of the Sunnis in the process, the eviction of Syria from Lebanon, and the liberalization of Egyptian elections. So we must stay, and we must succeed - the left is wrong, Iraq is not a distraction it is critical to our long-term success.
The right is equally wrong as well. The idea that terrorists do not have a nation state is absurd. The terrorists are supported by several states and we know exactly who they are. While we cannot start wars with these states, we currently are not making them feel pain for their support of the terrorists, and this must change now.
Sabotage, commando raids, support of a domestic opposition, and if necessary, assassination are the tools that we need to use against our enemies. An excellent example of a target rich environment is Iran. I personally believe that bin Laden has received sanctuary there, and whether I am correct or not, the point remains that Iran is supporting terrorism around the world. Yet what have we done to make Iran pay for this support? The answer my friends is nothing.
Here is where a good offense comes into play. Sabotage of Iranian industrial targets, the covert bombing of ships in its harbors, and the direct clandestine support of opposition groups in the country should be our first priorities. Obviously, we cannot take credit for these acts, but I'm confident our Iranian enemies will know who executed these attacks, and what actions they can take to stop them. If these initial steps do not affect a change in Iranian positions, then we need to turn the heat up. Where we can identify terrorists in country, we should go in and get them. Where we can identify Iranian leaders directly supporting terrorists, we should assassinate them.
The same approach can be taken with Syria (ok, no harbors to bomb, but you get the point), most likely with greater success, as Assad has already shown weakness. In Pakistan, where Musharaff has been cooperating, we should tread more lightly, but I still would run covert operations into the remote regions to take out those leaders that are sheltering terrorists.
I'm aware that many of my readers will react negatively to what I've proposed. I understand our hesitance to take aggressive action in the world as we like to think we can bring change without talk of death and destruction, but I'd remind you that our enemy has no such qualms.
Looking back on the history of World War II, if we could have been more aggressive up front with Hitler is there anyone who would not have taken action? Is our enemy today, substantially different than Hitler in both their quest for world domination and their willingness to kill innocents? If not, then why do we hold back? Why should we continue to give up our domestic liberties when some aggressive foreign action would continue to take the battle to those that want us dead?
UPDATE: Yup, looks like I was right. We have gone soft, and we're becoming down right Jello-y.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I'm just not sure where to start, except to say that it is now clear that the communists have taken control. As the linked article indicates, a recent "survey" resulted in the New York hotdog being declared the best tasting dog in the nation. From the article:
"The nationwide poll was conducted through random phone interviews with 900 people.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents backed New York, while 26 percent said they preferred Chicago. Dallas, Los Angeles and Denver rounded out the list."Immediately the survey's methodology must be called into question. In what world would anyone put together a survey of any type of cured meat product that included Los Angeles as a credible answer? Los Angeles? For hotdogs? I don't think so. Those people eat salads, "tofu pups" and God knows what other unnatural concoctions their mad "health experts" have invented.
Dallas and Denver while not equally dubious responses, certainly do not merit consideration in this question of culinary excellence. I don't mean to say they're not fine cities, but what pray tell is a Denver hotdog? One that tastes good due to the mind numbing effects of altitude sickness?
Here is the website of a loutish brute who clearly has ruined his tastebuds on a combination of trailmix, freeze dried beef stroganoff, and that sickeningly sweet powdered fruit drink concoction that his type refer to as "bug juice". Yup, a Denverite decided to taste test a Chicago hotdog, and came away completely underwhelmed. This, as a great President once said, will not stand. I've always heard that people like this were out there, but I never really believed it was true. I guess I was like those that deny the existence of the Devil. I've learned that they are all too real, and they are pure evil;
"A word of caution: if you ever hear anyone talk about the fabled Chicago Hot Dog, stop them. They lie. There is no greater lie. The Chicago Hot Dog is to adults what the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus are to children: a hoax and fraud.
HereÂs how to make a Chicago Hot Dog: Obtain hot dogs in Chicago. Dump all nature of shit on them so theyÂre smelly, messy, runny, and soggy. Now eat it in Chicago. HereÂs what separates a Denver dog from a Chicago dog: the water boils faster in Denver."
Chilling, don't you agree? Fear not my fellow gastronauts, as with the Devil, this odious excuse for a gourmet exposes his lie in his own words. "Water boils faster in Denver". Got him! Everyone knows that you never boil a hotdog. My God, what type of person would do such a thing? A hotdog is a fully cooked meat product. Nearly the perfect meal. Boil it? This guy must eat his steak well done and cook fish until it is dry and tasteless. Perhaps these are the types of people that were polled in the survey?
My friends, this is a very troubling development that speaks poorly for the future of our country. A Chicago hotdog is like no other.... a work of art that balances all of your basic food groups between the warm, steamy folds of a poppie seed bun. Denver, I'm sure, has some nice folks in it, but if this man is unable to distinguish the glory of the Chicago dog, one must wonder how many more are out there? Societies don't crumble in one huge explosion, they rot from within and we may just be looking at the early signs.
To prepare an authentic Chicago hotdog one must begin with the very best ingredients, and that means purchasing your cased meat product at the Mothership of Meat. This wonderful institution started in 1893 when two fine young imigrants wanted to feed the attendees of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. As is fitting the birth of an institution, readers of The Devil In The White City know that many firsts were achieved as the result of this fair. While we could point to the introduction of ice cream, the first Ferris Wheel, or the construction of the landscaped gardens of Jackson Park, or even the building of the "White City" as the fair's great accomplishment, the true most enduring miracle that came about was Vienna Beef.
Delighting the taste buds of Chicagoans for over one hundered years, the Vienna hotdog is like no other. All beef, the proper blend of spices and meat, and an enticing red hue, it yields a delightful "pop" when your teeth first sink into its meaty goodness.
With the Vienna dog as its base, a Chicago hotdog then must add mustard, electric green relish, onions, and fresh tomatoes and sport peppers. At this point, any other city would be satisfied with their creation, but not the city of builders. No way bub, we knew that to achieve true greatness more had to be done. The beauty part comes next; celery salt. A dash, not too much, makes the Chicago dog a transcendental experience, enhancing each of the other ingredients, and bringing out a symphony of flavors.
Comparatively, a New York hotdog is a horror show. For starters they fry the thing. God, what sort of person looks at a dog and thinks, "you know it could be good, but I should really add some grease, and burn the skin before I put it between two halves of a cold bun"? I'll tell you what kind of person thinks that; a communist. Thats right, the communists have begun to take over and they mean to ruin that most American of foods, the hot dog.
How do I know its communists? Simple, they put ketchup on their hotdogs. This may be the greatest outrage in the entire culinary world. Ketchup! So typically communist too. Again, evil always shows its face, you just have to know how to look for it. In this case it is simple. Communists want everything to be equal, nothing is supposed to stand out. My God, look at their horrid architecture, their awful cars, and look at their food. Its awful stuff, no real flavor, and a greyish tint that repels even those with the worst of tastes.
In the hotdog they found a challenge though. How could they take this tasty meat product, and cover up its flavor without tipping off all good Americans to their presence and their nefarious intent? The answer was as simple as it was devious; smother the dog in ketchup so that you can't taste the glory of the food that was founded to celebrate our liberty. See? Evil I tell you. In fact, I bet if you go back and look at the records you'll find that New York's liberal voting paterns started about the same time that they began putting ketchup on their dogs.
I am afraid yes, but I will not be intimidated. I love this country too much to see it rot away due to communist influence, and loathsome hotdog boilers. Look at that picture above. A true Chicago dog in all its well dressed glory! Some things are worth fighting for, and this is one of them. That is why I support Mr. Howard Eirinberg the glorious President of Vienna Beef in his challenge to a taste off.
"Anywhere, anytime". Thats the Chicago spirit. We aim to win and defend our honor which is gonna take all of our strength. I better head over to Weiner's Circle and begin my training regimine.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
We've discussed here before the alarming state of intellectual bankruptcy, and I would argue moral bankruptcy as well, on the left, but this new argument is truly appalling. Ken Livingston, the London Mayor, has been ad hocing from the approved script by also suggesting that somehow our need for oil makes us especially guilty. This, of course, makes no sense at all.
It is long held strategy of those without a defense to try in some way to attack the other side. Sort of a play on the "best defense is a good offense" tactic. We often see this as a defense in rape cases where the attacker has more or less been caught red handed. The defense attorney, while "not wanting to cross the bounds of decency" is compelled "by the demands of justice(!)" to point out that the victim did in a way bring this on herself.
In other words, the bitch was asking for it.
This is what we have today. The left in the person of Red Ken and many others is playing the role of the oily defense attorney willing to say or do anything to protect his guilty as hell client. Don't get all uppity with them because you, bitch, were asking for it. By going about our daily business, paying countries in the middle east for oil that they by a fluke of history just happen to be sitting on (but in most cases were technically unable to remove from the ground without our help), well, we should have known that they would ultimately get angry and attack.
These people are sick. They defend murderers for no other reason than to relieve for a moment their own self loathing. Of course they're not so sick as to strap on a bomb and do the deed themselves, no that is for the little brown people. The big brains of the left must remain available to defend poor blown up Mohammed, so that others will follow in his spatter to continue the carnage.
Well John Howard, PM of our great friend Australia, has some words for the pimps of Osama. Click on the link to read the facts.
Of course this is just one view, and as Krauthammer points out there are several views on the right that have supported a very healthy debate. What Krauthammer doesn't say, but readers here know that I will, is that it is sad that no such discussion is credibly in action on the left.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Roe ruling has polluted the Supreme Court nomination process since, and resulted in the awful hearings that surrounded the Bork and Thomas nominations, as well as some of the early pronouncements on the Roberts nomination. It is instructive to see the differing degrees of respect that nominees have received in the Senate from liberals and conservatives over the years. Very liberal nominees such as Ginsburg and Breyer have been accorded respect from conservatives and received approval on a near unanimous basis, while very conservative nominees have been smeared by the liberal propaganda machine.
There is a good reason for this. Liberals recognize that in our republic, controversial rights that are "found" by the court have an extremely precarious position in jurisprudence. As a result, the only way to defend these rights is to defend them through the mechanics of the judicial nomination process. This, of course, is contrary to the proper means established by our constitution which dictates that rights be accorded through the constitution, and that when necessary, amendments be made to expand the rights of the governed. In this way only, can every citizen feel that they have had their thoughts heard and valued. It is a messy process which ultimately leads to negotiation and compromise, but ultimately it the best means by which we can achieve an agreed upon status quo. Ruling by judicial fiat, which is effectively what Roe did, results in one side feeling aggrieved and is the catalyst for the seemingly endless battle that we've experienced for the past three decades.
For this reason both liberals and conservatives should support the overturning of Roe. I've linked this post to the Functional Ambivalent's post today where he makes the liberal case for overturning Roe. As the FA points out, once this is done the legislative process will kick into high gear, much as has occurred in the case of the recent Kelo decision. The process will be messy, but in the end each state will arrive at a balanced compromise which its citizens can abide by with regards to reproductive rights. More to the point, liberal states such as New York can pass laws without interference from more religious states such as South Carolina, and vice versa.
Here is the kicker. This is the point that conservatives have been making for years. Rather than listening to our argument, liberals have accused us of wanting to "steal women's wombs" and other non-sensical arguments. While there are certainly those that have supported the overturning of Roe because of their desire to outlaw abortion, the conservative view of this controversy has developed based on our views of the best means for ensuring our rights, and providing for reasoned judicial nominations and confirmations.
Adherence to proper legislative process is the best, and only way to properly safeguard our rights as citizens. I'm heartened to read a unapologetic liberal get this correct for a change. It also makes me wonder, is the Functional Ambivalent becoming a conservative without realizing it?
Shhhhhhhh don't tell him.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Today came news that the government (or "damn guv'ment" if you're one of us) will be back in court to argue their right to hold Jose indefinitely without charging him. This is, of course, un-American and a violation of Jose's rights as a citizen. Yet, we must wonder why exactly the damn guv'ment is doing this.
I, my friends, have the answer. You see, my little theory has been that not only is Jose the "dirty bomber" he is also the mysterious "John Doe Number 2" from Oklahoma City. Remember way back immediately after the bombing a mad search was underway for John Doe. However, once McVeigh and Nichols were captured, we were told John Doe didn't really exist. At the time this seemed sort of odd.
Then Jose was arrested, and the link was clear. This morning as I was searching for a picture of John Doe #2, I found the attached website. Click on the link yourself. It seems there is at least one other nut case out there that believes as I do that Jose is John, and John is Jose. What do you think?
Why, you ask, would the damn guv'ment deny this? Well here is my explanation. Back after the Oklahoma bombing, John Doe provided a link to Al Queda that the administration did not want to act on. Denying John Doe's existence was much easier than fighting a frontless war on terror. McVeigh was convicted and executed, and Nichols was convicted. All was wrapped up real nice like.
Then came 9/11 and the subsequent arrest of Jose Padilla. We've since learned that Jose was researching dirty bomb attacks, but when Al Queda leadership thought this was too difficult, he reverted to researching buildings to blow up. Hmmmm....... buildings like the one in Oklahoma perhaps?
Now the damn guv'ment finds itself in the odd position of holding a suspect that they think was complicit in the Oklahoma bombing, but can't publicly charge without admitting to distorting the truth back in the mid '90's. So, they argue that Jose is an insurgent, allied with a foreign enemy in the hopes that they can keep a dangerous man off the street, without divulging the real truth.
Now you know the story.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Attached is the latest example. An ABC report from 1999 that discusses in detail the links between Iraq and Al Queda. Its extraordinary really. Go have a listen, try to ignore the blowhard comments in between, or if you can go see Annika who has the video.
It is so amazing, you almost wonder if it is a fake.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Me, apparently I'll keel over sometime around 84. A bit soon given my muscular 25 BMI. My guess is that it would be longer except my mother's side of the family has a little issue with coronary blockage. You should have seen my doctor's face drain to pale when I told him that my uncle had a heart attack at 45! You just can't pay for entertainment like that........um, unless it is with your life.
So don't piss me off, you just might cause me to have the grabber, and you wouldn't want that on your conscience would you?
Two years ago Howard Fineman wrote an excellent article detailing this complex history, and I've attached it here. Fineman's guess at the time was that Rove did intentionally "out" Plame, but I am not so sure. Since this article was written, we've found out more about Wilson's lies, and followed the bizarre, for an outed spy, behavior of Ms. Plame. At any rate, Fineman's background is a must read.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Well, we saw it, and I couldn't be more pleased that we did. Hotel Rwanda is an excellent film. Admittedly there are difficult moments to get through, but as the director Terry George explains, a conscious decision was made to tell the story by relating the horror without focusing on the gore. Mr. George also did a remarkable job with his basic craft in constructing a film that builds a sense of desperation that ebbs back and forth between hope and despair. This was a wise move as it allows the viewer to experience the film on a deeper level. Absent the revulsion that a gory picture would have elicited from the viewer, one is able to feel the tension, and wonder at the seeming quickness with which societies can descend into insanity.
The message of the film is clear. When the west could have done something we didn't. When government officials were clearly aware of genocide, they ignored it, tried to deny both their knowledge of the facts, and their responsibility for action. The film also shows the courage and strength of one man, whose principles wouldn't let him forsake his family, friends and employees. I cannot imagine a person that could see this film and not walk away vowing to fight evil when it inevitably shows its face again.
The problem with this vow is that it is ultimately a cheap oath, uttered in response to an emotional experience. "Doing something" requires action. To fight evil we must have courage, and sacrifice, and commitment to a higher cause. Most of all, to fight evil we must be able to recognize it.
This, I think, is a problem in the world today.
Evil is alive and on the move. It has declared war on the west and attacked at every opportunity. Thousands of innocent lives have ended, many have been ruined and even more have been injured. Yet inspite of all this carnage, huge cross sections of our society have failed to recognize the challenge.
As I watched Hotel Rwanda, it occurred to me that a mob is comprised mainly of people too frightened to do anything other than join in the killing for fear that if they don't, theirs will be the heads that are severed. In a sense it is not insanity that has taken over, but instead a very rational desire to just get to another day, and avoid the wrath of the killers, even if that means one must join them.
This caused me to think about the war on terror, and more importantly Europe's and some American's response to the ongoing war that Radical Islam, evil by another name, has declared on the west. It seems to me, that up to now Europe is behaving very much like the cowardly Hutus in Rwanda. They know that evil is on the march, and they think they know how to stay out of the cross-hairs. As long as evil focuses it's efforts on "The Great Satan" Europe views it's own fortunes as separate from ours. Notice I said the Hutus, which is no mistake. Europe in it's non- action is complicit with evil, if not actually doing the killing themselves.
How else can one explain their continued absence in Iraq, their silence in the larger war on terror, and there complicity with Saddam in the oil for food scandal. As I've said before, one can argue that the Iraq invasion was the correct next move in the war on terror, but now that we're there, there can be no doubt that all of us must win.
Yet Europe cowers on the sideline, hoping that evil will not look her way. They have a well documented history of this approach. Cowardly denial led directly to the conflagrations that were WWI and WWII. Indeed, Islam's initial advance into Europe 600 years ago was met with little or no resistance.
The only real flaw to Hotel Rwanda was its ending. The director clearly felt he needed to deliver a happy ending to his audience after subjecting it to the horrors of genocide. This is understandable, since Mr. George's goal was to educate the public about what happened in the hope that it won't happen again.
If know one for certain, it is that evil will walk again. Indeed, we hear its march today. This is why Hotel Rwanda is ultimately flawed. We can't hope to prevent evil, but we can prepare ourselves for the necessary course of action to stop it. In the film we learned, almost incidentally, that the only thing that stopped the carnage was the infliction of the greater more organized force of Tutsi rebels against the Hutu killers. The carnage stopped once the Tutsis drove the killers out of the country into the Congo.
So it is with the war on terror. We can idle away our freedom as the Europeans will, sipping lattes in the public square and scolding the barbarians that refuse to give the UN time. This feckless, cowardly approach will make some of us feel good as we bask in the aire of our common sense of moral superiority, but it will ultimately lead to our ruin.
Our only real choice is to kill the bastards.
There are those that say London 7/7 was the European wake up call. This is the cry of the truly desperate. While I understand the hopefulness underlying that statement, the truth is Europe is done. If it is to continue as we know it, then it will be only because America saved it's sorry behind one more time. Either way the message is the same. It is up to us and the Brits.
Kill the bastards.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Bar-B-Que that is..........what did you think I was suggesting?
It was with a little sadness that Mrs. P and I woke on Saturday for our last childless "date Saturday". The previous two weekends had seen us on weekend 1 driving to Sheboygan Wisconsin for the best wood burning oven pizza in the Midwest, and on the second weekend heading to Monroe Wisconsin and points nearby for micro-brewery tastings, and Mustard Museum viewings.
The pizza in Sheboygan was fantastic, and how we found this place is most likely a story with which you can relate. Last year, some friends of ours invited us to join them at the Kohler Food & Wine festival. They suggested that while we were in Kohler, we could pop over to Sheboygan for "the best Italian meal you've had in a long time". At the time I assumed our pals, fellow gastronauts both, were suffering from hyperbole born of their desire for Mrs. P and my company.
The truth was that they were correct. The joint is known as Stefano's Trattoria and is located on 8th street in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. We went in expecting something.......how do I say this, Wisconsony? Yet, we experienced a delightful meal. I had Osso Buco, a dish that is done to mediocre levels in restaurants around the world. At Stefano's the veal has been tortured to succulent perfection, cooked in a beautiful sauce, and served with the special zest of gremolata that makes your taste buds sing with joy. Washed down with a nice Italian selection I made a silent note to myself to never doubt this couple's recommendation again. The next day, we went to Stafano's pizza joint across the street for lunch, and we vowed that someday we would return.
That someday was two weeks ago, and we were not disappointed. Mrs. P had a ham and artichoke calzone, while I enjoyed a "regular" pizza with prociutto, arugula and artichokes. Cooked in the wood burning oven, both were finished to crispy excellence, and made the two hour drive well worth it.
So this week it was bar-be-que. We awoke Saturday with a hankerin to drive and consume hickory smoked meats. A quick search of the internet revealed that a mere three hours away, in Peoria Illinois, several several shacks of questionable repute, served forth the magic that is bar-be-que. I've attached the list we used, in case you ever find yourself in Peoria with a serious sauce deficit in your system.
We set our sights on Big John's. A bar-be-que chat board, suggested that Big John had had some difficulty with the Gov'ment a few years back. Apparently the man had some issues around the whole payment of taxes thing. As any good bar-be-que fan knows, a healthy suspicion of "the man" combined with a dodgy history of operation can make for some pretty fine "que". So, it was with mouth watering delight that we set out on our quest.
On our way down, we drove through the small burg of Eureka, Illinois, where my personal hero, Ronald Wilson Reagan attended college. In town they have a Reagan museum, and although I was very excited to stop in, the rumble in my belly dictated that we head directly to Big John's were we assumed our hunger would be sated.
The rest of the journey was a glucose deficient blurr. Suffering from hunger that caused us to drift in and out of lucidity, we got lost, found our bearings, and got lost yet again. A map of Peoria would have helped but the truth was we weren't thinking straight. We needed a fix, and we were desperate.
We were also troubled by the phone company's recorded message that the line to Big John's was "being checked for trouble". In retrospect, an ominous warning. Eventually, we found University avenue and began counting up the addresses to 7805........
At that moment the true horror of our situation struck home with all the force of a stun gun in a slaughterhouse. Big John's was no more. In it's place, was an establishment named Elliots.
The name still brings a chill to my bones. It was the cruelest of jokes. A nerdy geek had taken over the once proud, manly establishment known as Big John's. Even worse, Elliot's wasn't open. No doubt, he was driving mommy to the mall for support hose.
Elliots. We spat the name from our sauceless lips with disgust. Mrs. P consulted the address again and looked at the number on the door. It matched. I then pointed to the true confirmation. Big John's derelict smokestack. It rose proud in the sky, yet none of that blued hickory flavored goodness came forth. Big John's was gone, gone and a milktoast pretender named Elliot had taken over the smokestack of another man. A much better man, who no doubt would have been open for lunch. Elliot. I curse the name.
Desperation set in. We had been three hours en route. We not only need food, we needed bar-be-que, and we needed it now. Mrs. P, the co-pilot of my life, leapt into glorious action. Really, they ought to give medals for performance under pressure such as this. She began dialing for salvation. Queen Bee Ribs........no answer. MP's smokehouse..........silence. Famous Dave's........heresy! Big O's Bar-b-que Station..........."hello, Big O's".
Yes! Quickly, Mrs. P got directions and we were off. After a series of miscues due to fatigue, hunger, and the much-to-late realization that Peoria does have one-way streets (note, they take driving the wrong way rather seriously down there....go figure), we pulled up to a small shack, with an aging sign. Big O's! Immediately I knew lady fortune had dealt us a winning hand.
As we entered the shack we were greeted with a broad counter where we would place our order. The foreroom of the restaurant was a collection of simple tables. Two thoughts crossed my mind. First, "this is exactly how a bar-be-que shack should look". White walls, red tables, pictures of Jesus. A pencil drawing of an African American man was framed on one wall. It had a vague sort of saintly appearance to it. No doubt this was the man himself. Secondly, the place was clean. Real clean.
We ordered a simple lunch. One rib dinner, one pulled pork sandwich. As we took our seats, another hungry patron, Homer from St. Louis, engaged us in conversation. Homer was in town for a church outing, and had gotten a little hungry. New to town, he had driven past "several McDonald's, and KFC's" because he just knew he could find a place to get some catfish.
Homer is my kind of man.
Presently, our food arrived and we dug in. The ribs were delightful. The meat separated from the bone quite well, yet still had excellent texture that provided a toothsome satisfaction. The smoke flavor was light, perhaps a little light for my taste, but when combined with the tangy tomato sauce it yielded a true bar-be-que flavor. The sauce itself, had no heat yet was not overly vinegary, or worse overly ketchuppy.
The pulled pork was very good. Succulent, excellent smoke and quite moist we ate our food mostly in silence, interrupting our bliss only to respond to Homer's thoughts on other fine bar-be-que establishments in Illinois, Missouri, and Memphis. Soon it became clear that we needed to try the beef.........and another rib dinner.
The beef was my least favorite. It was overdone, and instead of a smoky flavor had a sort of off putting burned flavor to it. This, of course, served as confirmation of one of my bar-be-que theories. Top level pit masters gain their reputation not only through their cooking skills but also because they match their wood to the meat. Big O's, in my view, made the mistake of smoking beef with Hickory, a combination that doesn't work. Much better to use an apple or cherry wood.
In the end, this was just a quibble as we consumed all of the beef and the second rib dinner as well. It was then that we did something that floored our dear, new friend Homer. We bought a pound of pork to go! Yup, its there in my fridge as I write, just waiting to delight us again.
That, my friends, is the lesson that bar-be-que teaches us. It is a cooking style that lives on the edge. Oh it is true, the infidels that try to make life safe and predictable have tried to tame bar-be-que with their gas grills, and "fat grilling machines". Yet all these people have done is diminish their lives and the lives of their followers. Bar-be-que, like life, can't be controlled, we can only hope to contain it's magic briefly. While it is contained though, what a joy it yields! Controlling the essential element fire, with air and smoke, to produce a necessity of life is inspirational.
Our lives need to contain some of the same element of unpredictability. This is how we found Big O, and the reward was fine. Very fine indeed.
Friday, July 8, 2005
Its Friday afternoon, and I'm feeling kinda psyched. Campari time is nearing, I'm thinkin about date day tomorrow with Mrs. Pursuit, and Sunday will bring the smell and sounds of shotgun fire on the trap range.
Life is good baby. So what is my I-tunes shuffle playing?
1. No Man's Woman - Sinead O'Connor
2. Billy and Bonnie - Steve Earle
3. Cash Talkin' - Albert Collins (The Iceman!)
4. Give Me Back My Man - The B-52's
5. Jesus Is Just Alright - The Byrds
6. Jackson - Lucinda Williams
7. Can't Let Go - Lucinda Williams
8. Spider Web - Joan Osborne
9. Silver Lining - Bonnie Raitt
10. Little Martha - The Alman Brothers
11. King of Love - Dave Edmunds
12. Divine Intervention - Matthew Sweet
13. Hella Good - No Doubt
14. Mojo Box - Southern Culture
15. Dead Flowers - Who else?
16. So Into You - Altlanta Rythym Section
17. Walkie Talkie Man - Steriogram
Oh, God......Greenday, Boulevard of Empty Dreams just came on. What can one say when one's children makes a mistake. We all did it, BTO was one of mine, I'm not proud to admit. I believe educaters call these teaching moments. This was one of PD1's few musical mistakes. I did what any good father would do. I pulled out my Dookie CD, and took the time to show her cool and then we talked about just how bad it can turn when you take yourself too seriously. A shame really, can't somebody whack Billie Joe upside the head?
Ahhhhh......Marcy Playground now..........
UPDATE: Graham Parker rocks.
Citizens of the west up until this moment have, in my view, been remarkably restrained. 9/11, 3/11, and now 7/7 have brought unprecedented levels of terrorist created devastation on peaceful societies, and there is been virtually no vigilante attacks on Muslim citizens in these countries. Even more remarkable, the citizens have gone out of their way to remind each other that attacks on innocent Muslims, assuming they exist, would be wrong and intolerable. This restraint by the victims, has not been equaled by moderates in the Muslim world, assuming.......oh, you get the idea. At some point, and I think that point is soon, people are going to realize that the only way to win this thing, is to hit Muslims in their home countries, or proxy countries (Iraq), and root out the agents already in place in our own countries.
We've already taken the war to the middle east. Some may argue that Iraq was the wrong target, but it was the one our government chose and we have no choice now but to win. Yet, the war at home remains a largely amateurish endeavor, and to be fully successful we must have the full cooperation of those Muslims who claim the terrorists don't represent the "true Islam". Fair enough, but as the saying goes, "what have you done for us lately folks?" Precious little seems to be the answer. Friedman is good on this point:
So this is a critical moment. We must do all we can to limit the civilizational fallout from this bombing. But this is not going to be easy. Why? Because unlike after 9/11, there is no obvious, easy target to retaliate against for bombings like those in London. There are no obvious terrorist headquarters and training camps in Afghanistan that we can hit with cruise missiles. The Al Qaeda threat has metastasized and become franchised. It is no longer vertical, something that we can punch in the face. It is now horizontal, flat and widely distributed, operating through the Internet and tiny cells.
Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.
Thursday, July 7, 2005
The irony that this attack occurred at the beginning of the first G8 conference where the Global War On Terror was not on the agenda is a timely reminder of the real and perceived threats against civilization. President Bush, in his remarks at Gleneagles, favorably compared the G8 agenda with the agenda of death and destruction that radical Islam is following:
The contrast between what we've seen on the TV screens here, what's taken place in London and what's taking place here is incredibly vivid to me. On the one hand, we have people here who are working to alleviate poverty, to help rid the world of the pandemic of AIDS, working on ways to have a clean environment. And on the other hand, you've got people killing innocent people. And the contract couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill -- those who have got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks.
We have to ask ourselves a question though. Is this something we really should be proud of? It is great to feel good about our good intentions, but when good intentions and the politics of emotion distract us from the task of killing terrorists how can we be proud? Our enemy is focused and committed to the destruction of our way of life. No matter how much we wish this wasn't so, the fact remains that it will not go away until we kill it. If we lose this war, does anyone seriously believe that the issues the G8 was addressing will improve?
Sadly we live in a time when some members of our society do not take the threat seriously. They have tried to distract us with the ginned up controversy of the "Downing Street Memo", false allegations of torture at Gitmo, pathetic cries of Quaran desecration, and of course defamatory claims of the moral equivalence of the American military with Nazis, and other mass murderers.
Can we please stop this now? I have no issues with those that think we are following the wrong path in the GWT by attacking the jihadists in Iraq. Serious people can disagree, and our culture has a long tradition of finding the right path through analysis, debate, and action. Dissent, however, requires ideas and today's dissenters have put forth few if any.
The few who have put forth alternative views have suggested that we need to increase homeland security efforts. While this is no doubt true, today's attacks on London illustrate the folly of concentrating your entire strategy on the homeland. In a free society it is impossible to prevent killers who are willing to use their own deaths as a means of killing others from carrying out their awful acts.
We must take the fight to the enemy and we must do it as one. Let's hope that the pleadings of unserious fools can be ignored in this next stage of the war. It would be nice if they would join the fight, but 4 years into the war this is unlikely to happen. Our enemy has shown his resolve. President Bush, illustrated the contrast in the terrorist's resolve with our own. The only way we can be free, is to round these people up, do what we must gain intelligence, and then kill them in their homes.
UPDATE: Another example of not taking the enemy seriously. I just saw Tony Blair get into a helicopter to head back to London. It is likely he will take the most direct route. I'm no military expert, but is this not playing into an enemy's hands? A serious enemy might anticipate such an action and stage in advance an operative with a shoulder fired missle on the most likely route. Why would they not put Blair in a jet to avoid this risk?