What the Boss Likes – Dieselpunk, Max Raabe and his excellent songs

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that Vel likes the world between 1920 and about 1950.  It’s often termed “dieselpunk”, taking a riff off the concept of “steampunk” which is about alternate history for the Victorian Era.   You of course can see I like the Art Deco style from the title logo.

Very fun 20s-30s versions of modern songs, as well as the usual American songbook songs.

We Will Rock You  – yes, it’s Queen

and yes, Oops I did it again

It reminds me of Riff Raff singing it.

and on Sesam Strasse – in German.  I haven’t a clue what he’s singing, but I love Sesame Street.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Republicans fall flat on face again, assure women that they only want up in vagina, not to give them fair insurance

Wow, Mike Huckabee is a twit, not that you didn’t know this already.   One more Republican who has said that somehow Democrats think women are weak and have uncontrollable libidos and *that’s* why Democrats think they have to provide women birth control coverage in health insurance.

Huck has said that Democrats supposedly say “they [women] are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”

Ah, Mike?  This woman, Vel, doesn’t think that Democrats think that.  I doubt you can even point to one Democrat that has ever said anything like that.  It seems that your accusations are quite amusing though in that Republicans do think that women are weak and have to have government control their actions.  We had Governor Ultrasound  (McDonnell) who said that women must get medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds mandated by the government.  We have Governor Corbett saying the same thing, but golly, we can close our eyes if we don’t want to see it. We have Republican legislators constantly trying to get their government up in our vaginas.  You all seem to assume that women can’t be responsible on their own and have to mandate government action to tell us what we can and cannot do.

No, Mike, we don’t believe your accusations.  Your “concern” about women are just crocodile tears.  Women are much stronger and much more intelligent than you seem to think.

This is how they think they can convince women they have our best interests at heart?  As George Takei would say “Oh my!”

From the Bar, from the kitchen etc – Naan, beers and pizza

tasty naan
tasty naan

Snow day today, thanks to the current snow storm moving across Pennsylvania.  A fair amount of  snow and it is getting windy. My coming home from work after dark could have been a bit dicey.  So I’m happily typing here on my couch, sipping a bit of tea from Republic of Tea and hang out with my husband who also had an early dismissal from work.

This weekend I finally found a naan recipe that replicates the soft chewy naan that we get at the local Indian restaurant.  Weirdly enough, I found it in a newer copy of The Joy of Cooking.  I had bought this copy for a friend of mine at work, a younger fellow who didn’t have any cookbooks of his own and wanted to know more.  I of course had to page through this new copy since it is a *book* (I have been known to read cereal boxes, laundry soap bottles etc in my addiction).

We had it with the murgh korma (aka chicken with yogurt cashew curry sauce) that I have already blogged about.  Delicious stuff!

2 c Bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 c yogurt or  buttermilk, room temp
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp to 1Tbsp water, as needed

Set rack in the lowest level of oven and place a pizza stone there.  Set oven temp to 475 degrees and heat the stone for 45 minutes. Add all ingredients to bowl.  Mix by hand or on low speed until a soft ball of dough is formed. Knead for about 10 mins by hand or with mixer, until dough is smooth and elastic, Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 1 1/2hrs.  Meanwhile, punch down dough and divide equally into 4 pieces. Roll into balls, cover, and let rest for 10 mins. Roll out each ball of dough on a floured surface to 1/4″ thick and brush with butter. Place as many dough ovals will fit on the stone and bake until each oval is puffy and beginning to turn golden 6-7 minutes. Brush again with melted butter.  Fold naan in half and place in cloth lined basket and keep covered.  You can also put minced garlic, minced ginger, various seeds on this when you initially put the butter on it to go into the oven.

Bread flour is essential in this.  You use all-purpose for fluff and bread flour (or even high gluten flour) for chew.  This reminded me also of the wonderful noni bread at a long gone Afghan restaurant, Skewers, that we used to go to.  They also had the most fabulous red lentil soup.  Any hints on how to make *that* would be appreciated. 🙂

We also had some new beers this weekend.

Southern Tier 2X Milk Stout – a strong stout at 7.5% ABV.  The alcohol level and hops are well blended and don’t overwhelm the toasty notes.   We do love the Crème Brulee Stout from there and this is not nearly that sweet.

Flying Dog In Heat Wheat Hefeweizen – Classic hefe.  Nice notes  of banana and spice.

Weyerbacher Verboten Belgian Pale Ale – this is definitely Belgian style with the characteristic fruity funk but with the American fascination with hops.  Wanted to get one of these to see how it is.  We’re going to be brewing a BPA from Northern Brewer’s Assaazin  BPA kit in the near future.

Harpoon Chocolate Stout – Good chocolate flavor balanced by the slight bitter toastiness of the malt.

Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter – Not new but one of my favorite vanilla flavored porters.  Smooth and tasty without being too sweet.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ –  I do like hops, more than my husband necessarily does. This is nicely hopped beer with a good mouthfeel.  Some hop monsters tend to be a little thin to me.  And I always like pin-up art, as does, of course, my husband. 🙂

sisco pizzaWith these beers, we had an excellent pizza from one of the local places, Sisco’s in Harrisburg.  Best foldable pizza in the ‘burg.

Eat and drink well!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – professional and amateur theists and their straw men redux

Morality-of-a-believerThis week’s Sunday paper had a most entertaining column from Billy Graham Evangelical Ministries.  The title my local paper gave it?  “Atheists live by faith of God’s nonexistence”.  Yes, that old saw again.  (link to the sad little thing here).

Mrs. J.Q., the questioner, tells BG that her cousin has read some books by atheists and has now decided to become an atheist.  She of course has to add “much to his family’s disgust”.  The term disgust does give a lot of insight into just what Mrs. J.Q. thinks about atheists. Not grief, not concern… It’s disgust.  🙂

BG doesn’t know if there are more atheists, though “he” thinks there could be since there are more people in the world.  He does think that atheist are being more vocal and “because our society is getting more secular their message often gets more of a hearing.”   I do think that atheists are being more vocal, though we were just as vocal and perhaps more so back in the late 1800s.  Great freethinkers, like Robert Ingersoll, etc, gave public speeches to thousands.  It seems that it’s only since Soviet Communism that atheists had to hide their opinions for fear of being considered “commies” and being subject to the attacks like the lunacies of the House Committee on Un-American Activities  and Sen. Joe McCarthy and of course the rather sad little lies about atheists ginned up by theists… like Billy Graham.

According to Billy, “An atheist is a person who believes that God doesn’t exist.”  A decent definition, to be sure, though I would add “based on evidence.” to bring it completely in line with reality.   Here’s where BG is sure he’s being clever:  “But look carefully at that definition: An atheist believes God doesn’t exist.  He can’t prove it; he can verify it; he can’t demonstrate it.  He lives only by faith – faith he is right and everyone else is wrong”.

We can see that Billy apparently is using this definition of faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof (Merriam Webster).  It’s similar to the definition faith in BGs bible: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11

It’s easy to point out Billy’s hypocrisy.  If it is bad to believe in something with no evidence, no verification, no proof, no demonstration, then theists, including Christians, are just as guilty as atheists.  However, atheists *can* provide evidence to support their claims that the Christian god does not exist.  I have yet to see evidence from theists that their gods exist.   We have the same claims offered by them, that the mere existence of the universe is evidence of their particular god, etc.  But then which god should we believe in? Because we know that Billy thinks he’s right and everyone else, including other Christians are wrong.

BG then says that people who “claim” to be atheists (hmmm, who would know better what they were than the atheists?) often don’t look at “all the evidence and concluded that there is no God.”  Now, can you guess what Billy says is the real reason that people are “often” atheists?  Why yes, you’re right.  He uses the old claim that atheists, at least those who didn’t look at the evidence (ahem), are just rebels.  “They don’t want anyone (including God) to interfere with their way of living.”   I will admit that yes, I don’t want a god that recommends rape and genocide to interfere with my way of living which I find quite decent and humane.  And I wonder about Billy.  It seems that he doesn’t like this god interfering in his way of living too since he doesn’t follow the laws of his god either.  Where are all of those people that Billy has killed for working on the Sabbath?  Indeed, when is the Sabbath?  Sunday?  Saturday?  Friday?  Has Billy enjoyed a tasty shrimp?  How many people has he killed for adultery?  For those of you who might try to claim that those laws don’t apply to Billy, can you confirm for me that the earth and heavens are still here?

Billy does admit that “not all atheists are bad”.  Indeed, some of us are even “commendable”, gasp!  But Billy then goes right for the usual lie that “some of the worst atrocities in human history were committed by regimes that were based on atheism”.  This is the usual ignorance of history that so many TrueChristians evince.  Please do read the history of the phrase “Gott Mit Uns” ,  for the story behind one of those supposedly “atheist” regimes.   Of course, if one wants to assign causation, hmmm, where does that leave regimes that stated that a god was behind all that they did?    Billy does call us atheists fools and all of us “corrupt” and our ways “vile” (Psalms 53)  but seems to forget what JC says about calling people fools. Tsk.  🙂

I do like how Billy’s claim about the “some atheists” does show that one doesn’t need his god or religion to be moral and good and “commendable”.  But but aren’t we all corrupt and vile?  Darn, I really wanted to be corrupt and vile.  🙂  Seems that bible is wrong again because Billy says so!

Finally, Billy says to pray for that cousin!  This god is the only thing that can supposedly convict Cuz of his sin and open his eyes to “truth”.  He also says that Mrs. J.Q. prays for herself so she’ll be an example o this god’s love.  Seems that prayer has already failed with her sniggering about being disgusted. The missus is to love and be compassionate to her cousin but alas it says to be anything but that to atheists in the Christian handbook.  Per JC, folks like me are to be killed at worst and to be separate from at best.  So much for love and compassion eh?

Now, I’ve been prayed for a LOT, if we are to believe many many TrueChristians and a few Jews, Muslims and pagans.  Nothing has happened yet.  Again, why should we believe prayer will work in this instance or any?  And what *does* become of those claims of free will that so many TrueChristians make with demand that God changes someone’s mind?  (oh, bonus new verse I found showing no free will: Ephesians 2:9)

Biblical-view-on-women with TrueChristianWe’ve seen repeatedly that TrueChristians, from Billy Graham and his staff to bloggers, have no problem in lying about atheists.  We’ve seen that in the comments of this blog, by our TrueChristians KD and Potato.  We can even see KD lie about atheists on his own blog, a pair of lovely recent ones: where I am claimed to have said a certain thing (pity that KD doesn’t know about Ctrl+F and how it’s easy to show I didn’t say what he claimed), and KD’s creed of what his imaginary atheists think.

We know that the bible does say that lying is not something that this god supposedly appreciates.  We also know that we supposedly can tell who is who by their fruits.  I have read the bible, I have watched the actions of its purported believers of all stripes, and I have found evidence that demonstrates that these religions are not true.  These reasons and others are why I am an atheist.  Considering the situation above, this quote from John Locke sums it up well: “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – John Locke quotes.

Christianity isn’t worth my respect or belief.  As you can see, sometimes neither are its followers.

From the Bar – three more wines and a cocktail of our own

Just having returned from visiting my folks, I have more wines and drinks to review.  My folks are very nice folks, ordinary but nicer than most. And I find going to visit them ridiculously stressful.

So, on to the new wines.  My folks live in very very rural Pennsylvania.  We were going to take a growler from Otto’s (their Ottonator is excellent), but it would have been a little pricy. So we waited until we got closer to home and grabbed a couple of random bottles from the local state store.

Deadbolt red blend – This got picked up because of a cool font on the bottle.   I’ve seen that another reviewer compared it to Apothic Red and it is very similar, so  Lorie nails the review in my opinion.  I do love my Califorina red blends.

Snoqualmie Riesling – A sweet Riesling and yep, it’s very much like pears drenched in honey.  Most excellent and I think would be great blended with a drier sparkling wine.   It’d also make a great base for a white sangria.

Be Flirty Pink Moscato – this was drunk the day before we went up to visit.  And we drank it with “pigs in a blanket”, hot dogs with cheese slices wrapped in refrigerated crescent roll dough and baked.  Yep, pretty much the comfort food of the poor at one time or other in the US.  Being a moscato, it was sweet but not as much as you’d think. Very much for a very déclassé, but tasty dinner.

Pink Mist
Pink Mist

And a cocktail!  My husband came up with the name “Pink Mist” for this since in much of science fiction, people are being threatened to be turned into a pink mist. (blasters, hard vac, etc tend to do this in SF, though not quite in reality).

1 oz Lunazul tequila reposado (our favorite tequila by far! Amazing quality for the price.)

2 oz. guanabana (soursop) nectar (we can usually only get Goya)

¼ tsp grenadine (Rose’s. the fake stuff but the real stuff should work well)

1/8 tsp lime juice (reconstituted but likely much better fresh)

Shake the above with ice in a shaker.  Pour into favored glass. Top off with bitter lemon soda (Schweppes brand. this is a lemon soda with quinine as a bittering agent).

Be back soon with more posts about atheism and theism. The usual Billy Graham column and our very own TrueChristian, KD, have provided most excellent source material recently.  In case you haven’t seen it, please do chime in on this post to tell me why one theist’s claim of intervention by their god should be taking as more valid than another’s. Or why it shouldn’t.

Drink well!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a Christian commenter comes slinking back, and a question: why believe one and not the others?

(Januaryy 22 – an addendum.  We have one Christian who answered the question at the end of this post.  You may find what he said here. He believes in other gods in addition to his god.  There are arguments for and, of course, against this in the bible.)

Happy New Year!  Welcome new “followers”.  I noted that some of you are theists, so this post might interest you. If you do decide to reply on your own blog, please do let me know.  Some of you might recall a lengthy exchange between myself and a self-described Christian commenter named KD on this blog.  After insisting that he was leaving, that this blog was pointless etc etc, he has slunk back to give me a lovely bit of glurge.

all images thanks to atheistmemebase.com
all images thanks to atheistmemebase.com

“I had been dating a girl for a month and a half. I was head over heels for her. I had prayed one night that I wanted to marry her. If it was God’s will.

Then December 20, 2007 came along. I had a meeting with a Staff member of the College Ministry that I was involved with. We planned on meeting at the mall but something came up and he couldn’t make it. So I had some time and decided to wander around a little bit.

I guess God took me seriously…as I was praying I was led to a Jewelry store. I figured I could find out about the 4 C’s of diamonds and get an idea of price of rings. I sat down with the sales woman and she explained what Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat all meant and gave me pricing on a diamond and ring setting. The whole time I’m praying that God is leading me during this whole process and that as I’m looking at these diamonds and ring settings that He shows me the ring for the woman he desires me to marry.

Well, the sales woman was good. And the store had a good deal going on. And I walked out having bought an engagement ring…

A little over a week later. I’m watching a movie with my girlfriend and our conversation turned to marriage. We had both felt like we could see ourselves getting married one day. This was the first time we had this conversation with one another. As the days went on we talked about getting engaged and planning for a wedding. I asked her to start looking at rings and what she would like so I had some ideas of what to get her (she had no idea I had already bought a ring).

One night, when I got to her place she had been studying up on diamonds and looking at rings. I go with her and she pulls the ring setting that she liked up and started by saying “I don’t know how much you are looking to spend on a ring, I like this ring setting…but I don’t like the diamond…I would like it in this cut, color, clarity, and carat.”

After she was done showing me I excused myself and went in the bathroom. I began to cry over the ring she had picked out. We loved each other, we both wanted to get married to each other…but our first commitment was to honoring God. and I had made a vow to God when I bought the ring. That I would wait to marry the woman who the ring I bought was intended for.

So, I sat in the bathroom and cried. I was overwhelmed.

You see, the ring setting she showed me, the cut, color, clarity, and carat of the diamond she desired and described was identical to the ring God led me to buy in the store that day.

My wife’s wedding ring is more than a token of our love for one another, more than a symbol of our commitment to one another. Her ring, for me, is evidence of God’s love and grace. Of God’s promises and His answer to prayers.”

This is “how to respond to a theist 101”, so if you are new to the procedure, feel free to create your own rebuttal below in comments.   I’ve already done so in my response to his comment, which you can link to in the next paragraph.

You can read his entire post here and my response here. The question I want to ask everyone, especially theists, is:

This story is similar to so many others e.g. the theist claims that their god answered their prayer positively.  It was offered to impress an atheist with how “real” this god was and how it did things.  Would you accept this story if it invoked Allah or the Wiccan Goddess or any other of a hundred thousand gods? Why or why not?

From the Kitchen and Bar – goulash, more pork and a couple of wines

These past several weeks have been a blur thanks to me working retail over the holidays.  It was my first experience in doing so and the fact that I work in a meat department made it quite unique.  Here in the US, there are various traditions for what one eats for what holiday.  Ham and beef rib roast are usual for Christmas.  Here in Pennsylvania, pork cooked with sauerkraut is common for New Year’s Day, thanks to our Germanic heritage.  So we had hundreds, or maybe thousands of people desperate to achieve their ideal of holiday meat.    This makes people nuts as far as I can tell.  Suddenly, people who are assumed sane at any other time now buy $400 roasts, having never cooked anything like it before.   The reason for that ridiculous price?  I’m not sure if it’s common around the world, but the US has a beef grading system that has some beef considered “prime” which makes it about 3-5 times as much per pound than the next grade down, “choice”.  It’s from younger cattle and it has a greater amount of fat marbled through the muscle.  I personally find it far too fatty, but as always some are willing to pay to be seen to pay.

I did have a chance to cook a few things during the craziness, and of course found a few new things to drink.

goulash.  I love my la creuset pot

First up is beef goulash.  I have about half my ancestry as Hungarian but my relatives weren’t much on the cooking.  So I found a goulash recipe at one of the places we visited up in the Finger Lakes.  It was pretty much like the one at Saveur, so I saw what was common between the two and went with that.  The sweet taste of the paprika is very prominent, as well as the sweetness of the root vegetables.  One of those veggies was parsnips.  I remember trying them when I was young and finding them nasty.  I rather like their sweet muskiness now.  I did not use potatoes in my version.  I used the spaetzel noodles with it and of course, crusty rolls.

I used chuck roast, actually a cut called a “chuck eye”.  It’s one of the muscles in the chuck (shoulder) that doesn’t do much and is quite tender.  It also has a decent amount of fat so it cooks down soft and luscious.  It’s been called one of the butcher’s secrets. They aren’t very common to see in the states, so scoop them up when you see them.  Ask for them at the supermarket, there may be some in the back that they can’t get rid of since few are familiar with them.

roast porkThe other big meal I made was yet another pork shoulder.  These last us about 6 months, eating one meal from it and then freezing the roasted meat to make bao and whatever else I can think of.  I cut the skin in small diamonds so it would crisp up better.

The wine with this was a bottle from Greece.  From Boutari wines, it is a Santorini wine from the Assyrtiko grape.  I picked it up because it was one of the few bottles that mentioned the wine being good with pork.  It was very dry and had a nice honey scent.  It really did go excellently with fatty pork.  For around $12, I think it was a happily lucky pick.

I also got a bubbly wine for New Year’s Eve.  I worked until late afternoon and people were still wandering around looking for “a good piece of pork”.  The bubbly was a cava from Spain, Cintra Purpura SemiSec, from Juve y Camps (beware, autoplay music  and damn near impossible to navigate website). I was happy to find a demi-sec at the state store, rather than the usual brut or extra dry.  It was just sweet enough, but not like Asti Spumante, an infamously sweet bubbly.  A very nice wine to see out the old year.

That’s it for now. Eat well!  May you all have a fine 2014!