Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Legacy Building?

I was about to call this post "Vision Thing," but I seem to remember another president using those terms...

President Bush appears to be engaging in Carter-esque Mideast Peace Legacy Building. The Annapolis peace (choose one: talk, plan, roadmap, process, conference) is no different than previous peace...things. The players are still the same: America, Israel, and the peace loving people who chant: "Death to Israel and America, and all the enimies of Islam!" The difference now is Israel has given so many concessions to the enemy that the enemy is now part of the Israeli government.

This debate is worthless. There is no peace until the enemy who has sworn one's destruction is himself destroyed.

President Bush has 14 months left in office. The "peace" that this Annapolis thing would bring about is slated for, wait for it, 14 months. From the Associated Press:

Hours after opening a Mideast conference, President Bush said Tuesday he was worried about the consequences if the search for peace failed but declared, "It is worth it to try."

Bush cautioned it would take time for Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement. The goal is to reach an accord within 14 months by the end of Bush's presidency.

"I don't think it's a risk to try for peace," the president said in an Oval Office interview with reporters from The Associated Press. "I think it's an obligation."

I believe the obligation President Bush feels is to his own posterior. I mean posterity. Carter tried and failed. Clinton tried and failed. Why does George Bush want to be like loser Democrats? He has expanded the size of the federal government by record numbers. And he has not met a spending bill he did not like, until recently. At the midpoint of his second term, I was hoping Mr. Bush would go hardcore and spend all of the political capital he had accquired. Who cares what the stinky hippies think about him?

He has failed to be the president his conservative base elected him to be. Now that significant positive progress has been made in Iraq, let us pray that he continues to be hands-off in that arena.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Offerings to the God of Charcuterie

Thanks to Smallholder, I have procured a side of pork that can only be described as monstrous. "Hanging weight," or the weight of the carcass sans hair, teeth, eyeballs, little curly tails, etc.,of this side of beast was around 250 pounds. Considering that most commercial hogs are only raised to a similar weight for the entire body, this animal was quite large.

The ham weighed at least 35 pounds. It has been salted, and is now making the long journey towards prosciutto. The journey is not without its hazards. Critters of all kinds, especially little microbial nasties, will try to have their way with the ham unless temperature and humidity are closely monitored. And by long journey, I am estimating it will take at least a year to finish.

The bacon, or more specifically belly, was enormous as well. A full slice would be about the size of a small baseball bat. It is being transformed into smoked bacon, pancetta, and lardo (usually dry cured fat, but it can be made with belly as well).

I also have two hog heads (the real thing, not your common water-barrel) on standby, waiting for the right moment to become marinated and braised pig's head.

Much of this business of curing and air-drying can be unpredictable, especially the ham. But I have faith.

UPDATE: The book I have been using to conduct my porcine experiments is:

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. A well written and very informative book. In the age of microwave burritos, cryovac, and "instant" foods, the authors maintain that while the methods they demonstrate are no longer necessary for food preservation, they should not be left in the past for one important reason: taste.

UPDATE II: The molasses cured bacon was lightly smoked on hickory chips, and it is amazing.

Thanks to the Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy for the link.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ron Paul, Guy Fawkes, and Tom Clancy

Regular readers of this blog will of course recall that I have a libertarian bent. That is to say, while I share many of the views of the Libertarian party, I would not consider myself a "party line" type. I don't find it individualistic enough. Perhaps that is the curse of libertarians everywhere. Strong minded individuals rarely group together in large numbers. But I digress...

I was intrigued by the news that Ron Paul has reportedly raised more than $3.5 million in a fundraiser associated with Guy Fawkes day. N.B.-Fawkes is said to be the only man to enter the houses of Parliament with honorable intentions. So is Ron Paul advocating violent overthrow of our current government? More than likely not. A complete shakedown and cutting out of old, dead wood seems to be the idea. His candidacy for the Republican ticket does not seem very likely, however, as demonstrated by the last line in the preceding paragraph.

I am reminded of the book Debt of Honor, by Tom Clancy. The protagonist, Jack Ryan, has just been sworn in as the new vice president. At the same time, the capitol building has just been destroyed by a rogue pilot of a passenger jet which crashed into it during the president's state of the union address. Everyone is, of course, killed in the mess. Except Jack Ryan, who is in a nearby basement at the time. He then begins the long and painful process of restoring and rebuilding the government.

Sure, it's quite a fantasy. But a delicious one indeed. As president, Ryan is able to revise and simplify our virtually incomprehensible federal tax code, among other things. Government becomes smaller and more efficient. And the country is better for it, because the president believes in the strength, freedom, and liberty of the individual.

Ron Paul, while somewhat of a kook, advocates libertarian principles of limited government and individual freedom and liberty. But he does not want to fight the war against islamo-facism. You can have all the individualism, freedom, and liberty you can handle, but it does not amount to squat if you get blown up by some muslim fanatic with a bomb strapped to his ass.

Ron Paul will not win the Republican nomination for that reason alone.