Friday, January 26, 2007

Demotivational Friday: Recession

Artist Dulce Pinzón took photographs of immigrant workers dressed as superheroes (I'm assuming she asked them to dress this way for the picture, and that an Aquaman uniform is not the company's official dress code. Though if it were, that would be awesome). The series is called "The Real Story of the Superheroes." It is her tribute to the people who work long hours in lousy conditions for little money, much of which they then send home to their families in Mexico.

From Pinzón's website:

The Mexican economy has quietly become dependent on the money sent from workers in the US. Conversely, the US economy has quietly become dependent on the labor of Mexican immigrants. Along with the depth of their sacrifice, it is the quietness of this dependence which makes Mexican immigrant workers a subject of interest.

The principal objective of this series is to pay homage to these brave and determined men and women that somehow manage, without the help of any supernatural power, to withstand extreme conditions of labor in order to help their families and communities survive and prosper.

Hat tip to Boing Boing.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Government: Humorous Laws

In seven states, a man and woman who live together without being married are committing a sex crime. So literally millions of people living in Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, or West Virginia, are breaking the law right now. Well, some people in North Dakota want to change it, but its unlikely to occur.

Tracy Potter, a freshman Democrat from Bismarck, is asking the state Legislature to end North Dakota's status as one of seven states that have anti-cohabitation laws on the books. It has rejected three such attempts since 1990.

"Mark Twain expressed a simple view of people's personal relationships with government ... that I think government should adopt. That is, I don't care what you do, as long as you don't scare the horses," Potter said Wednesday during a North Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his repeal measure.


Tom Freier, a spokesman for the North Dakota Family Alliance, said repealing North Dakota's anti-cohabitation law would signal that the state doesn't value marriage and the societal benefits it brings.

"If we look at the research, social science evidence suggests that living together is not a good way to prepare for marriage, or to avoid divorce," Freier said. "Cohabitating is not positive for the family, and poses a special risk for women and children."

So, it would literally take billions of dollars to enforce the law. In fact, recent Census data shows that cohabitation is at an all time high, and is rapidly increasing throughout the U.S. No one really wants to do that, because disrupting up millions of relationships that way would be wildly unpopular. I could just see the campaign commercials now. Vote Democratic: Because we don't hassle you about who you're banging.

For decades now, the predominant metaphor has been that Republicans are the "Daddy" party - strong, serious, concerned about business and the military - and that Democrats are the "Mommy" party - caring, accepting, concerned about education and health care. But in reality, it turns out that Republicans are the aging Grandma party - hysterically concerned about when your wedding and when you're going to give her grandchildren, and yet prudishly unable to have an honest conversation about relationships or sex, because "people just don't talk about those things. And the rest of the family just nods, smiles, makes excuses, and then puts her into a home where they don't have to listen to her ranting on a daily basis.

Now, conservative opponents have a point - all the social science evidence I've seen indicates that on average, children living in married households do better then children in single parent or cohabitating households. But they don't have the courage of their convictions needed to actually enforce a law on the books, or repeal it, because that would require that they admit that its a bigoted and/or unenforceable law.

That sort of cowardice has always bothered me. If you're going to believe something, believe in it, own up to your beliefs, and accept the results of your beliefs. But if you're unwilling to live with the consequences of your beliefs, you're either an idiot, a hypocrite, or both.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Demotivational Friday: Accountability

I considered the description of, "I didn't do it." But the kid obviously is happy he did it. Ahh, too be young, fearless, and in love with paint.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Funny Commercial


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Recipe: Arugula Risotto

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to cook. I've been lazy about writing down recipes, because I never follow them. I just throw stuff together that I know works well, and rely on my Italian heritage and lots of practice to make it taste good. But now I've reached the point where I can't remember all of the recipe's that I've learned. So I've decided to start posting them.

Keep in mind that I approximate EVERYTHING. So if you're the type of person who follows recipe's to the letter, this is not the blog for you. If something doesn't taste quite right, play around with the ingredients until it does or email me for advice. So, without further adu, I present:

Arugula Risotto

Arugula Risotto

Discovered and thrown together to the best of my ability after reading this article, I stole this from idea from Cafe Panache. It's a really great restaurant by the way, and their rendition of this is better then mine. So stop by if you're in the area.

Serves: 2 (easily doubles or triples to serve more)

Prep time: 30-45 minutes


3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of arborio rice
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large portobello mushroom
1 small bunch of arugula
1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


Dice your onion. Clean the arugula and mushroom. Tear off the arugula leaves and throw away the stems (or save them for another dish). Chop the mushroom into relatively large pieces. Clean and mince the garlic. Grate the parmesan. Set everything aside. Trust me, you don't want to be doing this while minding your risotto pan.

Get two pots or pans.

If the first pan, put all three cups of your chicken stock and warm it under a low heat. If you're lazy, you can skip this step and just make sure the stock is room temperature. If you’re a vegetarian, you can use vegetable stock. Regardless, always use low sodium stock, as pre-salted/seasoned stock tends to ruin the flavor of risotto.

In your second pan, put in the oil and butter under a medium heat. When the butter is completely melted, add the onion. You can use any type of onion you want, though I prefer white. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring slowly but constantly.

Add the rice and the garlic to the oil and butter. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring slowly but constantly until the rice shimmers.

Add the wine to the rice. Again, stirring slowly but blah blah blah. If you don't enjoy stirring, this is not your dish. Once the wine is fully absorbed into rice, you can start ladling in the stock.

The traditional method is to add the stock half a cup at a time, stirring, waiting for it to be absorbed, tasting the rice, and then adding more if stock, plus salt and pepper as needed. But experience has taught me that you can pretty much just add 2 cups of stock, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat all the way until its just simmering and cover it. Come back and stir the rice every five minutes, and be absolutely sure to add more stock if it's dry but hasn’t finished cooking yet.

While the rice is cooking, bring your first pan, which should have a little chicken stock left in it, to a boil. Throw in your arugula leaves for a few seconds, then remove them and put them in a blender. If you didn't bother to warm your stock, you can just wilt it with some stock or water and then put it in the blender. If you want to get really complex, you can blanch them, i.e., put them in ice water immediately after boiling them to set the color and flavor. But I've found this to be unnecessary. Puree the arugula for about ten seconds, adding additional chicken stock from the pan if needed to blend properly. Set aside until the rice is done.

After about 15-20 minutes, the rice should be done or nearing completion. At this point, you should be checking the rice every couple of minutes for firmness. When your rice is tender (just a bit firmer then normal rice when it’s ready to eat), it’s done. Turn off the heat. Add the arugula slurry and the 1/3 cup grated parmesan. If you're fancy and can taste the difference, you can use fontina cheese instead of or in addition to the parmesan, but I find that its not necessary. Stir until you have a creamy sauce. Add a little more stock if it's too clumpy or dry, add more cheese if there's too much liquid. It's important to do this last, as doing so at any previous stage will basically kill the flavor and color of the arugula and screw up your cheese sauce.

While you're finishing up your rice, use your first pan to sauté your mushroom over a high heat with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. You might have a little stock left over, and if so just set it aside. Since its chopped up, the mushroom shouldn't take more then a few minutes. You can use any type of mushroom you like for this, though my favorite it portobello. If you're lazy, you can just throw it in your rice pot while its cooking, though this will require more stock (since mushrooms are like sponges) and will lead to a different texture mushroom. Alternatively (or in addition) you can sear some chicken, shrimp, scallops, or whatever.

Put the completed green Risotto into two large bowls or plates. Top with the mushrooms. Garnish with a few large strips of shaved parmesan and a little fresh pepper. If you're feeling really hoity toity, you can add a little white truffle oil to the sides.

Serve with the white wine that you opened in the beginning of the recipe. If you don’t want to open a bottle of wine, you can leave it out of the recipe and just use more stock.

Now, all of this seems really complex. But its actually quite simple. Simmer rice in stock. Add cheese. Put stuff on top.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Worst Novel Ever Published (on Purpose)

PublishAmerica is a Maryland based book publisher known to screw over authors in a variety of ways. They claim to publish only select, high quality works. But most of their revenue actually comes from authors.

PublishAmerica doesn't provide any free copies of the published work to the author or to book reviewers, forcing the writer to buy hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of their own books (depending upon how stupid they are), which rarely see the shelves of any physical book store. And PublishAmerica doesn't spend any money to market what they publish. So their entire business model is built almost entirely upon devouring the hopes and dreams of unsuspecting writers. Delicious, tasty dreams.

Soul eating aside, a group of writers got together with the explicit purpose of creating an unpublishably bad piece of work and testing whether PublishAmerica would still accept it.

They succeeded:

Richard didn't have as sweet a personality as Andrew but then few men did but he was very well-built. He had the shoulders of a water buffalo and the waist of a ferret. He was reddened by his many sporting activities which he managed to keep up within addition to his busy job as a stock broker, and that reminded Irene of safari hunters and virile construction workers which contracted quite sexily to his suit-and-tie demeanor. Irene was considering coming onto him but he was older than Henry was when he died even though he hadn't died of natural causes but he was dead and Richard would die too someday. . . .

If reading this excerpt of Atlanta Nights didn't destroy your temporal lobe, you can visit its website, or read more about it here or here.

Hat tip to Slashdot.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Divorce: Jan 8 is D-Day

According to one poll, January 8 is the busiest day of the year for divorce lawyers in Britain.

And top reasons for splitting are affairs, followed by boredom, abuse and lack of sex.

More than 100 leading marriage lawyers and 2,000 wed, divorced or separated people were quizzed for a poll.

It revealed thousands of couples will today start moves to split — often with Christmas the final nail in the coffin.

The biggest tipping point for most was an affair (27 per cent).

Falling out of love was second (22 per cent) followed by men abusing women (16 per cent).

After lack of sex, it was money rows, alcohol or drug abuse, debt and careers or hobbies taking priority.

Leading divorce lawyer James Stewart said: “Extra time together such as over Christmas can force problems already in the relationship to come to a head.

“We’re expecting this to be our busiest day and our busiest week.”

Given how unreliable most polls are and the source, a divorce website, I'm not sure how much stock to put into this. It makes intuitive sense. But the article makes the rookie mistake of confusing some of the symptoms of marital instability (affairs, boredom, lack of sex) with the causes of marital instability (immaturity, abuse, lack of communication, money, empty nest syndrome).

It's also worth mentioning that the U.K. has a lower marriage rate and a higher divorce rate then the U.S., though I don’t think that it would play into the timing of divorces in this case.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Demotivational Friday: Resolutions

Couldn't decide which angle I like better, so you get both. Hope everyone made it home safe and sound with at least 80% of their body mass still contained within them, and not on a bathroom floor somewhere.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Democrats Sworn in to Power

Above all else, Democrats need to remember Henke's Law:

Minority Parties are always a little bit libertarian, if only to restrict the power of the majority party; majority Parties are always anti-libertarian, if only because, hey cool, power!

They've got maybe 30 days of real legislating to show the country their ideas. Only the most wildly popular will get past Bush's veto pen (like ethics legislation or the minimum wage increase). Since the rest of their agenda will be DOA, their main goal is to simply run an orderly government, provide strong oversight, and avoid scandal. The Republicans weren't thrown out of office because they believe in smaller government and lower taxes, they were thrown out of office because of rank incompetence. You won't be thrown out for expanding health care or balancing the budget. Just avoid embezzling money and molesting interns, and things should go fine in 2008.