Archive for January, 2009

Minestrone –

17 January 09

– is just a good, hearty Italian veggie soup. There’s really no such thing as one authentic recipe. Each region had its own variation and each cook varied it as the mood and the available ingredients changed.

That said, here’s a master which can be changed as you see fit:

2 quarts beef broth
½ cup dried white beans – cannellinis work nicely
1 cup shredded Savoy cabbage
1 cup shredded spinach
1 cup shredded beet greens
1 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed – judge by your taste
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 carrot (small), chopped
1 celery stalk (small), chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 potato, diced
½ cup seeded, peeled, minced fresh sun-ripe tomatoes
½ cup rice, cooked
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

If you’ve got dried beans, soak them overnight and then drain them well. If you’ve got fresh beans double the amount and don’t soak them.

Drop the shredded greens into a pot of boiling water and cook until just barely wilted.

Slow simmer the veggies in beef broth until they’re just tender and done. Easy thing to check is the potato – should be soft. Adjust the seasoning and continue simmering as you stir in the rice. Do use a good grade of Italian Risotto short grain rice. You may need to adjust the liquid if it gets too thick – just add a bit of boiling water.

Serve it up with Parmigiano Reggiano. You can also serve with shredded salt pork to sprinkle on top.

Add, subtract, substitute ingredients as the mood of the moment changes.


The Great Equalizer –

3 January 09

Let’s think about force. An unpopular topic, I know. In a primitive society, size = strength = winner. If a small man disagrees with a big man, the smaller man is going to lose in a confrontation. The bigger man rules. Women are going to lose in these brute strength contests.

As societies evolve, weapons come into being. Things like clubs and swords and the like. You know – muscle powered. Does the bigger man still prevail? Usually. Now, it is perfectly true that a smaller, faster, more skilled man could defeat a larger opponent, but it takes training and lots of practice for the smaller man to get there. The skill factor is less with a bashing or slashing weapon, greater with stabbing weapons. Of course, generally we can look at two opponents and say that young and trim will defeat old and fat. So there are still discrepancies. A man will defeat a woman. And so on.

It is worthy of note that in any method that involves close interaction between combatants, if other factors are equal, the bigger opponent will usually prevail. Kung-fu movies to the contrary.

Later on we got gunpowder and shoulder weapons to use it. Yes, I know cannons are in there, but they are usually awkward for personal combat. Back to shoulders. Now a shoulder weapon is a marvel. It enables anyone to be effective with just a bit of training and practice. Size is of little consequence. Sex is not of much consequence. But – it is damned awkward to carry around a shoulder weapon.

The final and most wondrous of weaponry is the hand held weapon. Now we have something that anyone can use. There is no way of telling who is the faster draw. There is no way to tell who is the better shot. There is no way of telling who will actually aim and shoot without hesitation. Size and strength are completely nullified. A small woman can defeat a large, powerful man. An eighty year old woman can protect herself from a punk gang. This has happened more than once.

In this age the hand weapon is the pistol. A pistol is easily carried and may be concealed. The modern pistol will hold enough ammunition and deliver it at a suitable rate to be reliable protection. It is worth noting that the personal pistol is always the first thing outlawed by a totalitarian government. The totalitarian state rightly fears an armed citizenry.

The Founding Father’s worded the Second Amendment very poorly. Their intent had nothing to do with militia formation. They seriously intended for the citizenry to be armed to prevent governmental misbehavior. This is made abundantly clear in numerous other official documents. It is manifestly clear that the FFs had a profound dislike of government and wanted no more government than the bare bones minimum. They were aware that if the citizenry is unarmed there is nothing to stop government from taking all freedom away. I note that the liberals want more government and want to disarm the populous. These are the preliminary steps to dictatorship or oligarchy. The current libs want an oligarchy from everything I can see. Government force will be used “for your own good” and “to protect the environment” and so on. All very caring, compassionate, well meant and benevolent, no doubt. A benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. All done by force.

What? You jump up and exclaim! Force, why, the government of the good ol’ USA doesn’t use force. They use laws. My dear reader, law IS force, for if you break the law, the state will pursue you. You will be forced into court. You will be forced to pay a penalty, either financially or prison. Or death. Try not doing exactly as told. As much force as is necessary will be applied by the minions of the state to force (there’s that word) your compliance. How much income tax would you pay if the IRS didn’t have force to back up its demands? Ultimately and literally a gun to your head. This taking money at gunpoint is usually referred to as theft.

Now, if one bad boy uses a weapon to resist, he will lose. There are enough cops to stop him. If millions of citizens decide on armed resistance, the state is doomed. The side with superior force and moral authority will be victorious. If there are not millions of privately owned arms, then there can be no successful revolt.

OK, but we’ve got to take the weapons away from the criminals and nuts. No. Doesn’t work. If we look at the countries that have banned private possession, we see that crime does not go down. We also see that criminals can get black market weapons any time they wish. We also see a populous that cannot defend itself. Whether from criminals or from the state. What would be very nice would be for the state to do what it is supposed to do. Protect citizens from harm by others. Even if this means executing those who commit murders and other violent crimes. Or habitual career criminals. Most of the people that are booked for murder have criminal records of significant length. Frequently going back to their juvenile years. Yet we insist that criminals’ rights are sacrosanct and do not protect the rights of decent citizens. Right now it seems that the libs are more likely to kill someone for chopping down the wrong tree or lighting a cigarette than for killing children.

As a final note, let us look at the Virginia Tech tragedy. There is the argument that if the gun laws were properly followed, the killer could not have gotten weapons. Immaterial, he could buy them on the black market, if necessary. Anyone who can read and follow directions can get homemade bomb instructions from the internet. Well, what if the school authorities had thrown him out or had him committed? Boy, oh boy. The libs on campus would have gone nuts. The ACLU would be sharpening its knives. You cannot deprive anyone of liberty based on what they might do. And you cannot make medical information public. The ACLU sued so that even known AIDS carriers who would not stop dangerous and indiscriminate sex could not be restrained. But, I digress. If the lad had been prevented from obtaining firearms there is no guarantee that he would not have used a bat or a knife or a tire iron. The one thing that would have stopped it would be another armed student with the guts to take the madman out. Come to think of it, if the students had rushed him in a group instead of cowering helplessly there would have been a fraction as many casualties. Yes some would have been wounded. Yes some would have died. But more would have lived.

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