What the Boss Likes – More Geology Pron

I’m mildly addicted to watching geology shows on cable tv. My husband calls it my geology pron and the poor dear has been subjected to more of it than any one should be who doesn’t share an unnatural love of rocks.  

If you share that malady, here are some very nice websites/blogs:

Photovolcanica  it has penguins too! 

Highly Allochthonous

The Accretionary Wedge

Marli Miller Photography – Geology photos




Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – TANSTAAFL, FDR and poltics today

Sometimes it’s rather disturbing to see just how accurate George Santayana was when he said “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – Reason in Common Sense. 

However, humans being humans, we run from extreme to extreme, always sure that it won’t be the same as before and the promises made *this time* will be kept.  We don’t remember the past, that extremes always have their faults and that fanatacism has yet to be shown a good thing. Another quote from Santayana, “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”

 On a recent episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed a clip of Franklin Delano Roosevelt giving a speech at the 1936 New York Democratic State Convention.  And it’s spooky on just how much it applies now.

And no, I am not trying to say that President Obama is another FDR, though people back then hated FDR as much as they hate him now.  Obama is *anything* but perfect. What I am saying is that Romney and Ryan are indeed those who are saying (of course depending on the day and audience):  
“Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.” – spoken with much sarcasm and laughter by FDR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3aO_s0Yuv8 

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  No matter what the “math” Ryan claims he has (and refuses to show), someone’s paying for the tax cuts and the military increases. Who is it?   I’m sure someone will point to social programs as being “free lunches” but are they?  We support the hungry and helpless, the sick, injured and poor.  We benefit from them improving their lot so they might contribute to society, the person on food stamps that is working poor doing jobs many of us would not like, the solider injured in war so they can work again or at least be compensated for their sacrifice (again doing a job that many do not like), etc.   Our social net is the definite example of how there *is* no such thing as a free lunch,  since we cannot expect a free lunch on the backs of those people.  Slavery and the discarding of people to whom we have a debt happily is not part of the American ideal, at least not the ideal that I know.

Here’s the whole speech lest anyone fuss about “context”: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15142  It’s long.  FDR sure could talk.  The following are the parts I found most interesting.

“In the spring of 1933 we faced a crisis which was the ugly fruit of twelve years of neglect of the causes of economic and social unrest. It was a crisis made to order for all those who would overthrow our form of government. Do I need to recall to you the fear of those days—the reports of those who piled supplies in their basements, who laid plans to get their fortunes across the border, who got themselves hideaways in the country against the impending upheaval? Do I need to recall the law-abiding heads of peaceful families, who began to wonder, as they saw their children starve, how they would get the bread they saw in the bakery window? Do I need to recall the homeless boys who were traveling in bands through the countryside seeking work, seeking food —desperate because they could find neither? Do I need to recall the farmers who banded together with pitchforks to keep the sheriff from selling the farm home under foreclosure? Do I need to recall the powerful leaders of industry and banking who came to me in Washington in those early days of 1933 pleading to be saved?

Most people in the United States remember today the fact that starvation was averted, that homes and farms were saved, that banks were reopened, that crop prices rose, that industry revived, and that the dangerous forces subversive of our form of government were turned aside.

A few people- a few only—unwilling to remember, seem to have forgotten those days.

In the summer of 1933, a nice old gentleman wearing a silk hat fell off the end of a pier. He was unable to swim. A friend ran down the pier, dived overboard and pulled him out; but the silk hat floated off with the tide. After the old gentleman had been revived, he was effusive in his thanks. He praised his friend for saving his life. Today, three years later, the old gentleman is berating his friend because the silk hat was lost. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – TANSTAAFL, FDR and poltics today”

From the Kitchen – Murgh Korma

Ganesha, remover of obstacles, be praised!  We’ve done it!  Finally, we’ve made Indian food that tastes as good as what we get at restaurants.  And all thanks to the magazine, Saveur and its “150 Classic Recpies” issue.  I find that Saveur is one of the best cooking magazines out there.  And yep, still an atheist, but if you’re going to have gods, at least make them nifty elephant headed ones that help humanity and hold intellect and wisdom in high esteem. 

I have, well, an inordinate number of cookbooks.  It all started when my husband brought home The Joy of Cooking and I decided to become a good cook.  Unfortunately, none of my family are particularly good cooks. I have no nonna to run to for family recipes, no hidden delights in a recipe box.  What I grew up on was plain and basic. Paprika and oregano were a big deal back then!  

(By the way, get the older copies of The Joy of Cooking (often found in thrift stores).  If it has the turtle soup recipe in it, you’re good to go. That book will teach you everything you need to know, even how to butcher game…)

With a lot of work, and cookbooks, both my husband and I have become really great cooks. It’s surprising that we don’t both weigh 400 pounds.  But one of the few things we couldn’t get a good handle on was Indian food.  We both love curries but they never tasted quite like what we would get at the local restaurant (favorite local one: Aangan).  I have two Indian cookbooks which are good but still didn’t have that spark. 

Then comes the 150th issue of Saveur, that had Murgh Korma as one of the 150 classic recipes in it. We figured, what the heck, why not try this one?  We had nearly all of the ingredients from attempts at curry and other dishes.  The only things I had to pick up were the raw cashews and chiles.  And, we now have an Indian market about a mile away, I could even get papads for a snack.  The cilantro chutney for them is at the bottom.  Side note about papads, the Lijjat brand is a woman’s cooperative that has helped women in India.  It has a rather curious looking rabbit on the label. 🙂 

Curries can be labor intensive. But I had a weekend where we weren’t doing anything since my husband was recovering from a sinus infection.  From start to finish, this curry took me between 3 and 4 hours, and that included cutting up the meat starting with pieces that were bone-in and with skin, slicing the onions, making the pastes and cooking everything down.  I cooked the onions on a lower heat that the recipe seems to indicate so I never had to worry about it burning.  

I found the Saveur instructions for this recipe a little confusing and wrote them for myself a little differently.  I hope you find them useful. The Saveur recipe is good for getting the complete amounts of each ingredient to start off with; I’ve broken them out for each step. This is definitely a dish that is much easier if you use separate bowls for the ingredients since they go in at different times.  Read the recipe through before you start. You’ll be glad you did.  No photo since curries aren’t the most photogenic of foods. Continue reading “From the Kitchen – Murgh Korma”

Not Polite Dinner Conversation – “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” and the usual hypocrisy

The theocrats want to take over the government but horrors if the government interferes with them and says “to retain your tax-exempt status, you cannot try to force your adherents to support any particular candidate or party”. Now, more vocally than before, it seems like religious groups in the US want to have their cake and eat it too, to have no government interfering with them but oh they want to interfere in government. And they are willing to ignore their supposed gods to do so.  More on that in a minute.

Of course, I’m a Monty Python fan.

This Sunday, October 7, has been ginned up as “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”, where some priests and pastors want to harangue their flocks to obey them in voting for one or another political candidates or parties.  They will insist that their god really really does support one side or the other. That god, always choosing sides in politics and football. Evidently, it’s more fun than actually helping people.  Tsk.

What’s hilarious as always is that they will inevitably contradict each other and they haven’t a shred of evidence for their claims.  Of course, it’s hard to say that God votes Republican or Tea Party or Libertarian when you can’t even show that your version of it exists at all.  These wannabee rebels claim that they will also film the proceedings and sent the films to the IRS so they can force a legal challenge to the law that says that if you support a political party or candidate, then you are unable to avoid paying taxes because you claim “religion”. They of course don’t think about how that law protects churches, church leaders *and* the congregation from gov’t intrusion.  A good run down on the law, and how it actually works is here.  

Yes, we will see men and women who are sure that they and they alone know what their god thinks insisting that everyone obey this god AKA them.  They will rail that the bible supports them and their claims of what their god “really wants”.  Of course, they have to make this up wholesale. Poor wannabee “martyrs” when they can’t even agree on what to be martyred about.

I’m still waiting for each sect to set up an altar to show us all who are the “True Christians”. No answers on that front yet.  So, while we wait, let’s see what the bible says about their intentional actions to rebel against the government. Nope, I don’t believe in teh bible and it’s nonsense but since Christians do, they reap what they sow. Hypocrisy is a bitch. Continue reading “Not Polite Dinner Conversation – “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” and the usual hypocrisy”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – HR 535 lawsuit, dismissed but resolution rebuked

stickers of this and more at http://www.evolvefish.com

Way back when in February, Rep. Saccone succeeded in getting HR 535 passed unanimously by hiding it among other “noncontroversial” resolutions.  However, when people actually read it, something that seems rather beyond many Pennsylvanian legislators, they discovered it wasn’t so “noncontroversial” at all.  Among Mr. Saccone’s claims that are outright lies:   

“WHEREAS, The Bible, the word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people;” 

No evidence of this at all.  Such desperation to be a special snowflake!

“WHEREAS, Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States;” 

Ah, no it doesn’t, not even remotely. Nothing in the Judeo/Christian bible that mentioned anything about democracy, disobediance of a king, etc.  Honestly, Saccone, have you even *read* the bible or the Declaration or the Constitution?

“WHEREAS, Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people;”

No evidence that it can.  Also no evidence that Saccone’s version of Christianity is the “right” one and the only one to be followed in order to get this magical “strength”.  Should it be Roman Catholic who want to control women and homosexuals?  The United Church of Christ who don’t have their knickers in a twist over that?  Which one? 

“therefore be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania in recognition of both the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.” 

Nope, no need for *everyone* to read one religious text, and certainly no need to apply its very questionable teachings to anything. Slavery anyone?  Genocide for theists to have the land they want?  Eternal torture for anyone not accepting a certain god?   It is only by some heavy-duty cherry picking does Christianity become something decent.  It’s not all “love thy neighbor” despite the claims of Christians.  I suggest everyone read it sometime.

You can see the rest of my blog post about HR 535 here.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sued Saccone, et al, for their actions to try to sneak around the wall between church and state.  The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner, found that the FFRF and its plaintants in the state did have legal footing to claim injury from such a “noncontroversial” resolution.  Unfortunately, the judge came to the conclusion that Saccone et all had “absolute legislative immunity”, a relatively obscure legal idea that is meant to protect legislators from lawsuits that arise from them “acting in the sphere of legitimate legislative activity” e.g. if anyone gets angry at a legislator for any reason that is legislatively based, they can’t sue just because of that.  Admittedly, this is a good thing that this is in place.  Can you imagine all of the nuisance lawsuits?  Unfortunately, I find that the judge screwed up here, since trying to lie and force the recognition of one’s personal religion into the government isn’t what I find to be “legitimate legislative activity”.  It is indeed nothing more than “gratuitious political grandstanding”. Alas, there is a SCOTUS ruling that resolutions, as pointless as they are, are just as protected as voting and committee work.  Here’s the entire decision.

Judge Conner did use the word “pellucidly” (transparently clear), which gets him props for having a very good vocabulary 🙂  And he did say this (I broke it up into paragraphs for ease of reading):

“However, the court’s determination that the defendants engaged in a “legislative act” for purposes of immunity should not be viewed as judicial endorsement of this resolution. It most certainly is not. At best, H.R. 535 is a benign attempt to reaffirm the underlying principles of the Reagan proclamation of 1983. At worst, it is premeditated pandering designed to provide a reelection sound bite for use by members of the General Assembly. 

But regardless of the motivation behind H.R. 535, its express language is proselytizing and exclusionary (e.g., “ Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people”). The court is compelled to shine a clear, bright light on this resolution because it pushes the Establishment Clause envelope behind the safety glass of legislative immunity. That it passed unanimously is even more alarming. 

This judicial rebuke of the resolution is not intended to impugn the religious beliefs of any citizen. To the contrary, the court’s disapprobation is directed to the blatant use of legislative resources in contravention of the spirit – if not the letter – of the Establishment Clause. At a time when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania faces massive public policy challenges, these resources would be far better utilized in meaningful legislative efforts for the benefit all of the citizens of the Commonwealth, regardless of their religious beliefs.” 

The judge points out that this lawsuit goes no further only because of legislative sleight of hand, a hiding behind the skirts of freedom and law to do something less than palatable.  What the resolution actually says is simple pandering and politics that have wasted time, resources and have attempted to create an “us” and “them” based on religion.  Reagan’s proclamation did much the same thing, with the same false claims used by Saccone.

He is right to be alarmed at what seems to be nothing more than willful ignorance and/or laziness by the rest of the legislators who didn’t even read the resolution and passed it sight unseen.  It shows that there are some uncomfortable possibilities, that the legislators aren’t doing their jobs or that they intentionally disregard one of the most benefits of living in the US, the right to pursue one’s religion or not at the case may be, with no state involvement allowed.  

It’s time to hold our legislators accountable.  Write them, write letters to the editor of your hometown newspapers.  It’s up to the people to defend the ideals of the country, not to assume that the greedy and the fearful will do it for us.  They won’t.  

***BTW, U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner is a George W. Bush appointee and ruled against the ACA, so tsk tsk on you if you whine about “activist” judges.