From the Kitchen – cake and some random musings

Back to some fun stuff.   I found a recipe for German buttercream frosting on Serious Eats, one of my favorite food sites.  This stuff is very good, not too sweet, and full of tasty tasty fat!  I recently made a spice buy at Penzey’s, my favorite socially concious spice merchant, and used my new vanilla beans.   I did end up using salted butter which was noticeable but fine on a chocolate cake, rather like the salted caramel craze.  I just used a boxed chocolate cake mix.

I honestly can’t frost a cake worth crap. but it tastes good.

This weekend we are going to return to an old recipe, the blue cheese tart.  This time we are going to grab a rotisserie chicken and add the shredded meat to the tart. Should be tasty!

I’ve been watching “The Terror” on AMC.  It’s a horror tale about the failed expedition to find the Northwest Passage back in the 1840s based on this book.  Generally I’m not big horror fan, still having nightmares from watching “Alien”.  But this show grabbed me somehow.  There’s lots of blood, cannibalized bodies, etc, but the characters are interesting.  I very much enjoyed it.  It’d make a great Cthulhu tale if one just added a few tentacles.

Short one today.  Eat and drink well!

 

 

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Yep, some Christians really are this desperate

As if you didn’t think some American conservative Christians weren’t crazy enough, we have this:

“The question either infuriates or intrigues tens of millions of Americans: Did God play a role in the victory of Donald Trump? The debate will soon be presented in movie theaters across the country, as evangelical megaschool Liberty University is making and releasing a film called “The Trump Prophecy.”

The film, which will be released in 1,200 theaters this fall, is Liberty’s largest production to date, and it pairs the university with an independent Christian filmmaker who raised $1 million for the project — a sum its director says could double with postproduction and distribution costs.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/05/31/did-trump-fulfill-a-divine-prophecy-what-to-expect-from-a-new-liberty-university-film/?utm_term=.e73b8dee7c61

Nothing like some Christians wasting money on trying to convince themselves an adulterer, a cheat, a repeat liar, a man who supports pedophiles, white supremacists, and who admits to sexually abusing women, is the second coming.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – two questions answered

In my last post, I wrote about abortion rights. I haven’t heard anything from any abortion opponents yet to answer my questions. However, I did note that the pastor I addressed has two questions for health choice advocates to answer on his blog. Unsuprisingly, Pastor Dave does not allow comments on his website. You can contact him through his contact page (complete with false claims about commenters being “aren’t so much interested in engaging thoughtfully” and bearing of false witness as commenters are not “genuine”, offered as excuses) , but it’s random if he bothers answering or not. I find it telling that I have no problem in allowing comments and that a pastor does.

The pastor has these two questions.

  1. When does human life begin?
  2. Who has the right to take life?

Dave believes that life begins at conception. Why? Because the bible tells him so. He also claims that “science and ethics point us”. Ethics has nothing to say about when life begins. And science doesn’t support his claim either. The concept of when life begins is still debated. Why he chooses to make unsupported claims is beyond me, other than to spread misinformation for his own benefit.

A fertilized egg cannot live on its own without support. Indeed, myriads of fertilized eggs never make it to the implantation stage and are simply expelled from the body. Myriads are aborted later by the failure to be viable. If it is killing when a fertilized egg is expelled, then this god is responsible for a very very large number of killing “children” as the anti-abortion folks want to claim per their own argument.

Dave, along with a lot of people against healthcare choice, quote the following: ““The scientific answer is that the embryo is a human being from the time of fertilization because of its human chromosomal constitution. The zygote is the beginning of a developing human.” Keith L. Moore, T.V.N. Persaud, Mark G. Torchia, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 8th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2013. p.327 (happily Amazon’s look before you buy has this excerpt)

What they don’t quote is the information around this, demonstrating the usual intent to spread misinformation: “There are differences of opinion on when an embryo becomes a human being because opinions are often affected by religious or political views. The scientific answer is that the embryo is a human being from the time of fertilization because of its human chromosomal constitution. The zygote is the beginning of a developing human. Some people think that the embryo becomes human only after birth”.

Now, this is not true. There is no consensus that the embryo is a human being; in the literature it is called a human embryo, not a human being. It is considered a potential human being even by anti-abortion activists in their propaganda, not a human being. (see here) Acorns aren’t any more oak trees than a human embryo is a human being.

This god doesn’t even consider them human beings, considering its commands here:

“When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.” – the punishment for killing a human being is not applied.

If the age is from one month to five years, the equivalent for a male is five shekels of silver, and for a female the equivalent is three shekels of silver.” – there is no value assigned for a child less than one month old, and it is not considered

15 Enroll the Levites by ancestral houses and by clans. You shall enroll every male from a month old and upward.” Males less than one month old are not considered human beings to be counted in a census and females aren’t to be counted at all.

Now, Dave goes on to excuse this god because of the classic “might equals right” argument. It’s okay for this god to murder children for the sins of their parents. It’s fine to kill women who are with child during this god’s genocides.  So much for Dave’s claim of “The Christian Gospel points to a God who unconditionally loves us and through Jesus’ death on the Crosstakes away all our guilt and covers our shame.”  Quite a few conditions given by this god, and it certainly doesn’t love those who don’t obey it.

And it’s mighty fine to harm a woman and her fetus if the husband is jealous. No evidence, just jealous.

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12 Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him, 13 if a man has had intercourse with her but it is hidden from her husband, so that she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her since she was not caught in the act; 14 if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself; or if a spirit of jealousy comes on him, and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself; 15 then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. And he shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.

16 Then the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord; 17 the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. 18 The priest shall set the woman before the Lord, dishevel the woman’s hair, and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. In his own hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. 19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you,” 21 —let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—“the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; 22 now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”

23 Then the priest shall put these curses in writing, and wash them off into the water of bitterness. 24 He shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her and cause bitter pain. 25 The priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand, and shall elevate the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar; 26 and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and turn it into smoke on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. 27 When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.

29 This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, 30 or when a spirit of jealousy comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this entire law to her. 31 The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.

This god has the right to kill anyone and anything because Dave believe it created them and creators have the unquestionable right of destruction. I suspect he might disagree with this when it comes to the church he preaches from, a hospital, the roads through his local town, etc. It becomes no more than special pleading on Dave’s part. It is only hypocrisy when these self-declared “pro-lifers” insist how bad abortion is. Might equals right is all they care about. Funny how even this god doesn’t believe that the fetus is made in its image, or it doesn’t care. Yep, Dave, you don’t get much more vulnerable than a fetus. Now, why does your god destroy so many if we are to believe your bible? So much for your plea for “struggling emotively”.

Considering the vileness of what you claim to believe, Dave, I know that I am far more committed to improving medical care for women and indeed everyone than you are, when you have made false claims about how allowing abortions somehow interferes with medical progress.

I am far more committed to protecting women from the bullying, abuse, sexual violence than you are since you have chosen to lie to women about abortion.

I am far more committed to standing up for asylum seekers who come to escape abuse, torture, rape and FGM from people who concur with the vile laws in your bible that you claim your god came up with.   Your god repeatedly approves of the murder of women, the murder of women who are raped and who didn’t scream lough “enough”, and forcing women to marry their rapists. It approves of enslaving people if the father doesn’t want to abandon his enslaved wife and children. We also hear little to nothing about parents who after they have had children, and who have murdered them on the pyre of their religion when they don’t get them treated for curable diseases. We only hear demands for “religious freedom” in those cases.

Such are the crocodile tears of a TrueChristian(tm).

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – reblogging a Christian bit of nonsense: The meaning of meaninglessness

This post came to my attention when Pastor Mike liked this post of mine.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that a Christian would like it, but I often encounter Christians who seem a little confused in what they profess to believe and what they actually believe.

Nothing like watching a TrueChristian(tm) do his best to bear false witness against others and have no clue about cause and effect. It’s a shame that Pastor Mike does claim to have all of the answers and claim that only his version of Christianity is the right one, with not one more shred of evidence than those who he decries. I am glad that he does admit that atheists wield logical arguments against his claims.  Alas, Pastor Mike falsely believes that atheists are all nihilists and in his ignorance, he trips himself up.

No wonder that Christianity is losing members when a Christian leader demonstrates that intentional dishonesty and ignorance are what he depends on.  You can see how Pastor Mike failed earlier on this blog.

Update – 4/13  One also has to wonder about Pastor Mike when he likes my post on his blog which is the following: “well, Pastor Mike, glad that a pastor agrees with my post here: https://clubschadenfreude.com/2018/02/18/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-what-makes-christianity-christianity/  Always curious that a Christian would agree with what I’ve said, I wonder what your flock would say.  As for your claims “You have kicked God out of schools, so kids are turning to insanity to imbue their lives with some semblance of the significance you robbed out of life.”  For what is supposedly an omnipotent being, this poor god can be stopped by a human, per Pastor Mike.  Not much of a god, is it?  It’s nice to see you make such claims, when this god can’t even protect its own churches and keep its priests and pastors from abusing children, embezzling, etc right where it supposedly can get in where it wants.  As usual, you are so desperate to bear false witness against others, you dont’ think your claims through.”    What kind of fractured thinking goes with this? I do wonder if Pastor Mike thinks he is being sarcastic.

Mustard Seed Budget

imagesActually, snorting condoms makes perfect sense. As does chewing Tide pods. Along with cutting.

After all, if there is no meaning to life, then why not engage in something meaningless? If an attempt to find value shows your stupidity, then all we have left is getting attention through stupid means.

Atheists will bristle at my mockery, but their insistence that morality is an evolved feature — along humanity’s unusual drive for significance — is absurd. There is no evolutionary sense of morality or man’s quest for importance. Deprive man of God, and you get teens snorting condoms.

images-1And please, my dear atheist friends, don’t tell the gunman plowing down schoolchildren that he is inherently or obviously wrong. What is obvious is that there are no morals, no values, nothing. That is all atheism has to offer: nothing. There is no noble sense to humanity, no purpose, no beauty, no humanity…

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What the Boss Likes – my adventures in alcohol ink art

I’ll be the first one to tell you I don’t have much in the way of artistic skills.  I’ve tried piano when I was little, and never got it.  My grandmother and great aunt tried their best to teach me how to crochet and tat and I was an abysmal failure at those.  I can trace and copy well, but that’s about it.   Alcohol inks make me feel like I actually can be an artist.  They are a cantankerous medium, often wanting to do what they want rather than what the artist wants.  But that’s half the fun.

Alcohol Art Ink Community on Facebook has a lot of wonderful help and they have a very nice website. There are also a lot of videos on youtube.  These are all on ceramic tiles I got at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  You can also get tiles at a home improvement place.  I’ve just started working at one, happily no longer working with government.

Some of my attempts:

I plan to put these together in a frame for my new kitchen.

 

inks on a cheap plastic serving plate

Again, fair warning to anyone who came upon my website.  I do have a lot of fun posts like this but I also have my opinion posts which give my religious (atheist) and political (pragmatic progressive) opinions in a very unvarnished way.  If you want to avoid those, just ignore the posts titled “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation”.

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a peculiar Pollyanna

I’ve occasionally used the posts of a Christian minister to riff off of when it comes to showing how strange Christian arguments about their god and their religion.  It’s a way to have an actual Christian’s quotes to review and to point out how their claims don’t always work out quite like they intend.  For those who may not be familiar with the term “Pollyanna” it is from a movie, and has come to mean someone with a overly optimistic outlook, that every thing is wonderful and perfect, generally considered someone more than a bit naïve.

Pastor Dave has had a series of posts about creationism and his religion.  This is the most recent.  The basic argument is that the universe is evidence of this version of this religion’s god and that it is a result of this god’s “greatness”, which is a rather vague term, and its “goodness”, which shouldn’t be too hard to define but with many Christians, anything that this god can be claimed to do is “good” by default, a very circular argument.

He claims that “In Creation, we see God’s beauty, holiness and wisdom. For example, we see his holiness as God makes distinctions separating light from darkness, day from night, land from sea, sea from sky. This is the same God who will separate a people out for himself as a holy nation. This is also the God who, in his wisdom, creates an ordered and structured Universe.”

Now, considering what we know of the universe, it often isn’t very pleasant, and indeed, 99.999999999999…% of it is inimical to human life, supposedly this god’s favorite “creations”.   It includes the vacuum of space, guinea worms, gamma ray bursts, flesh eating bacteria (a some awful photos), water that is very deep with great pressures (also pretty gross), temperatures of millions of degrees and of many hundreds below zero, toxic gases, toxic liquids and things with lots of unpleasant venoms.   It takes an amazing amount of pure willful ignorance to try to make this argument, and an assumption that people are either too ignorant or simply too unintelligent to question it.  It could also simply be a lot of pure malice to control people by telling them such nonsense.

It also shows that the religious must try to convince themselves that they are special and above all other humans.  It’s not hard to see through history just what such ideas have done to humanity.

Pastor Dave tries to argue that this god cannot be a distant god, perhaps like the one that deists have invented, but a personal god that is constantly interfering with his creation, quoting John Calvin in that one cannot have a god that was just a momentary creator and claiming that “Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation.” The pastor makes the following claim: “God’s goodness, kindness, compassion and love are reflected in his providence.”   Calvin’s words reflect this: “After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.”

Really?  Goodness, kindness, compassion and love.  In this world, shown by this god.  Hmmm.  I wonder, can we tell this to the children who have their body parts cut off in Africa?  I guess the sparrow gets cherished and screw the children.   I guess it’s easy if you are comfy in a first world country to make such baseless claims and need external validation for your religion.

We also have the claim of predestination, which means that this god intends that everything happens as it does and approves of it.  I guess again, this god needed children who were made amputees in one of the worst ways possible, hacked by a machete.  “Providence describes the way in which God is concerned for the well-being of his creatures and so orders and sustains the very detail of Creation. Providence is a consequence of God’s Will and Decrees. In other words, everything happens because God predestines it.”.  and we are told that miracles do occur and are “natural” and are part of predestination.   In that there is no evidence for miracles period, there is no reason to think they real, much less natural or supernatural.   Having been a Presbyterian, I know quite a bit about the claims of Calvinists and predestination, which is nothing more than excusing a god, and declaring oneself to be extra special that one will be saved because this god chose you.  They aren’t much different from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this. And many Christians are sure that predestinationalists are entirely wrong.

Pastor Dave also wants us to know that this god works through “intermediate means” like him.  What he doesn’t explain is how does this work when pastors like him don’t agree on what this god wants.  He also wants us to believe that this god works through “processes of the water cycle and crop generation to bring this about”.  Hmmm, if this god can do miracles, why does it rely on natural processes that show that the claims of its bible never happened at all, and why does every other religion claim that their gods are responsible for the same natural processes?   And why do these natural processes fail sometimes and we have famines?  He also doesn’t quite get the “god of the gaps” idea.  The God of the gaps is a term where non-Christians have noted that the claims for his god aren’t true, and this god is only now able to be claimed as cause for processes we do not understand yet.  He wants to claim that his god is controlling all natural processes but that doesn’t work out very well for him because he wants to pick and choose when his god does something magical and when it does something by natural processes.   It’s awfully convenient to cherry pick like that, insisting that coincidence should be considered a miracle, and then be able to show no evidence at all that this god does anything.  It’s also quite funny to see him declare that his version of his god created a “mature universe” aka as it is right now,, when there is no evidence of that at all and indeed plenty of evidence that the universe became what it is today and wasn’t always this way.  Why some Christians try to lie about such things, when accepting the same science that shows that the universe has changed, as long as it makes them comfy, is rather ridiculous.  As for an orderly universe, yep, it does have certain physical laws that seem to control it, however, it’s a bit of a bummer when a star goes supernova and destroys what is around it.

Now, we get to the part where Pastor Dave claims this: “Providence encourages us to trust God’s provision and to depend on him every day.”  So how does that work out with the people who were murdered in that church down in Texas?  How many people does Dave think were praying desperately as the murderer was methodically walking around and shooting people in the head?  Did God need a baby to die of a high-power gunshot wound?  How about a good part of a family?  How about those people who were in the assisted living home in Philadelphia just today which burnt in a 5 alarm fire? Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a peculiar Pollyanna”

What the Boss Likes: So we went to Boston

About two weeks ago now, we took an extra-long weekend up to Boston.  My spouse has been working on a fiction story set there (and in New England, Cthulhu donchaknow? 😊 ) and it seemed as good as any place to vacation.

We took the train overnight to the city. That made for one long day without much sleep, since it is very rare in the US to have sleeping berths. We sat in seats that reclined only a bit.

from our room

Getting there about 8 AM, we were able to drop off our luggage at our hotel and they were kind enough to call us when a room was available. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel’s Nine Zero, and I always try to stay with them because of their policies.   The only thing that wasn’t great there was their attached bar, which really could stand someone who had more design skills than early frat bar. A hundred yards of decent fabric, or hell, broadcloth, would go so far!

Boston traffic is entirely insane and I am so glad we took the train. Most streets are one-way, and definitely not meant for the easy passage of modern cars, being crazy narrow. No wonder they had such misery trying to get rid of the snows that the big blizzards dump. There is simply no where they could possibly put the stuff even if it would be plowed. Boston, at least the actual city is pretty tiny, and no problem to walk it.

We went to Boston Common and it’s smaller than I thought, but has a great carousel with a kitty to ride. We also went to the Faneuil Hall, much smaller than it seems in photos, and filled with tourist tchotchkes. There is a farm type market nearby and it was nice. Behind it, toward the bay, is the market hall which is Foodcourtia, surrounded by national brand shops. It felt like there were about a zillion tourists from China, Korea, Japan…. I’m not sure. They certainly wanted the lobsters. The chowder and lobster roll weren’t that great (I’m of course spoiled by my spouse’s chowder recipe). We also got a little lost and ended up in the Italian area of Boston (like I said, Boston is small). There is one fantastic liquor store there, V. Cirace & Son, that has about 20 bottles of things I haven’t seen other places like Batavia Arack.

That evening we found a great bar/restaurant literally down the alley by our hotel, Barracuda. It was on a second floor, which is a bit unusual. Tiny place, but it was friendly to everyone, and had great food. It also would make such a great bar to send

the alley where Barracuda is

characters to in a role playing game like Shadowrun, with a skylight that just begs to be crashed through. We had some great fried fish and scallops and beers, including one that became a favorite, Allagash White.

Next day we headed to Salem, of witch fame.   We went by fast ferry which took about an hour to get there and was a very nice addition to be able to be out on the water. Some folks tried to set out on the unprotected part of the deck, which got them wind whipped. Salem is mostly a bedroom community for Boston, though it does have the usual tourist stuff. A lot of it was cheesy and we indulged in the cheese. We got our photos taken in witch costumes. We also went to a nice classic dark bar/dining room that one can see “made men” taking dinner at, and stopped at a brewery. We went in some of the new age shops and picked up some incense that is very full of the good resins: Fred Solls. More expensive than a lot of incense but worth it. I used to consider myself a Wicca and it was kinda neat being back in those stores.

What’s amusing is that in high school I played an old witch in a play (complete with bringing my real live pet cat on stage with me). It’s amazing how close the images are, me in make up at 17 and me now in these silly photos.

We got back just before dinner time and hadn’t made a decision where to go. We were a bit nuts and ended up at the Union Oyster House, a fixture of Boston and where *all* the tourists go. Many thanks to the staff who got us in quick despite no reservations, and where we got the fastest service I’ve had in a long time so bravo to the kitchen staff. We tried the chowder there and it was better than the other but still not what I wanted. I got a raw seafood appetizer as a meal (oysters, clams and a couple of jumbo cocktail shrimp) and I’ll be damned if I can remember what he got. Oysters were good, clams are a bit gamey for me.

We went up on Beacon Hill on Saturday, and found this fabulous (and expensive but everything edible, with an exception below, is expensive) bakery/pastry shop, Tatte. We got in line, and then got coffees and two pastries, a cream cheese Danish and a thing I can’t remember the name of, other than it probably sounds something like “queen” but isn’t spelled like that. It was a layered pastry, no filling but a caramelized sugar top.

We then headed to the Boston Public Library which was gorgeous and in amongst the very very high end stores, like Hermes, Chanel, etc. The murals in the library were wonderful (pictures on Flickr). My favorite is this https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/7727592768/in/album-72157630936484918/one, which I interpret as Sophia conquering the pale Galilean. I’m sure that’s not what was intended. 😊 There was also a book sale in progress by the friends of the library group. After that we were feeling the stress of traveling and dealing with people, retreated to our room and read our prizes from the sale and the ones we brought along.

The last day found us an outdoor arts market just south of Chinatown (and just down from a Whole Foods). Had some nice stuff but we didn’t have much way to transport it back. We wanted to do dim sum in Chinatown so we headed there for brunch. I don’t remember the restaurant we picked because there were so many and we just picked one that looked nice and had a few signs in English in the windows. Most signs were in some dialect of Chinese. At the restaurant we got three things, soup dumplings (where they are filled with broth and you have to suck out the juice before eating), a scallion pancake with beef and chilis rolled inside and bao which were also fried like potsticker dumplings. All very good, especially that pancake!  This was the only reasonably priced (from a central PA standpoint) food on the whole trip.

That’s the highlights. Hope you liked the review.