Jesurgislac’s Journal

January 20, 2009

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: Promises Are Pie Crust

“Promises are pie crust” – easily made, easily broken.

Obama has promised he will remove “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and LGBT people will be able to serve openly in the military; he has also promised he will have the Defense of Marriage Act repealed, which will mean that a same-sex couple who live in a state where they are legally banned from marrying, can go to a state in which they can marry, get married, return home, and their home state will be legally required to recognise their marriage as valid.

Both are huge legal steps towards legal equality for LGBT people in the US. But all we know for sure about Obama’s Presidency is that today, Rick Warren will give the invocation prayer at his inauguration.

When Barack Obama was born, his parents could not be legally wed in multiple states in the US. The last state to take the laws against his parents’ being married off the books was Alabama, in 2000. Young Barack Obama was not quite 6 years old before a Supreme Court decision anti-democratically overturned the legislation against the legal marriage of Ann Dunham and Barack Obama Sr. The same kind of Christians who today oppose same-sex marriage, back then opposed miscegenation or interracial marriage, and in the same terms: it was against God’s will, they said, to give mixed-race couples the legal right to marry: it was against God’s will for them to have children.

Would Barack Obama invite a preacher who had, a few weeks ago, told him that his parents were morally the same as child or animal molesters – that for his mom and dad to marry legally was on the same kind of moral plane as paedophilia and bestiality? If he would not, why does he feel it’s Okay to invite Rick Warren?

Pie crust is easy to make. The best kind is short-crust pastry. For this, you need:

1. Cold hands. If your hands are not naturally cold (cold hands, warm heart) hold them under the cold-water tap for a minute or so before you start rubbing the fat into the flour.
2. Cold water. Cold as you can get it without it actually freezing over.
3. Fat. You can use butter or margarine. Butter has a lovely flavour in itself, of course, but really, for a pie with a flavoursome filling, margarine will do. If you use a fat that is hard in the fridge, it needs to be at room temperature – that is, soft to the touch – when you use it in pastry. This is, in fact, the best reason for using a soft margarine if you just want pastry right now – it won’t be the best, but it’ll be fine. Non-vegetarians tell me that lard is good.
4. Flour. In principle, you want a low-gluten flour – a “soft” flour in bakers’ parlance. This is because a high-gluten flour, or “strong” flour, will make you pastry that’s very hard and stiff. But if you are a dab hand with the rolling pin and can roll your pastry out very thin, I personally think that the stiff pastry that results from a high-gluten flour can be very nice – but you do need to plan on using it for a thin, thin crust.

For short-crust pastry, if you are making a batch with four ounces of flour, you want two ounces of fat. Half the weight of fat to flour.

With cold hands, rub the fat into the flour to make crumbs. Do so gently and quickly. Don’t over-rub. There are all sorts of techniques advised, like using a knife to cut the fat into the flour until it is evenly distributed, but the reason for all these rules is simply: You don’t want the fat to melt. You want the grains of flour to be englobed in fat that is still fat, not oil. So: cold hands, don’t rub too hard, if you’re deft with a knife use a knife as much as possible, keep your hands cold…

Mix the crumbs with cold cold cold water. Just enough to draw the crumbs together into a ball of pastry-dough. Not too much.

Wrap the pastry-dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to two days. (Seriously; if it’s wrapped up, it’ll be fine in the fridge for a couple of days.) If the pastry’s been in the fridge for more than 30 minutes, make sure it’s at room temperature before you start rolling it out, or it’ll crack.

If you’re making a pie, divide the pastry into two rounds. It would be otiose to point out that you will want the round for the bottom crust to be larger than the round for the top crust: about a third larger. Either you are the kind of person who thinks of these things before you start rolling out the pastry, or you are not. Flour a cold surface, flour the rolling-pin (I picked up a marble rolling-pin in a second-hand shop for peanuts, years ago: it makes great pastry because it’s cold) and roll your pastry out. Keep dusting the pastry and the rolling-pin with flour if it seems to be sticking to the pin. Line the tin you are using with the first round of pastry, fill it with beans, and blind-bake it in the oven for a few minutes to make it crisp.

Roll out your second round of pastry. Fill the pie with your filling. Apple pie is the best. Cover with the pastry. Trim off the edges. Press holes in the top with a fork (or cut with a very sharp knife). Do fancy things with the trimmings like making shapes of leaves or apples if you like, but you’ll make me feel inadequate – I usually just bake the trimmings in the oven spread with mustard and cheese for instant cheese straws, yum. I am not artistic.

Bake your pie in the oven. You will find that the pie crust is like promises: easily made, easily broken.

—Update, 2nd May 2009—

Sometimes, I really hate being right when I’m cynical.

You remember those promises being made post-election, pre-Rick Warren? The civil rights section of the White House website is now de-gayed. versionista cite

(waves at cleek)

January 19, 2009

The chief exercise of privilege

Privilege: an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks. (Unpacking the invisible knapsack – the original, on race privilege, straight privilege, class privilege, male privilege, cisgender privilege.)

The chief exercise of privilege is to ensure that people who do not have your privilege are ridiculed or condemned for speaking up, when the privileged can speak up on their behalf so much better.

I am thinking in part of the silencing of Gene Robinson, whose last-minute invite was supposed to symbolically content LGBT people for the center-stage honor of Rick Warren, but who was never to appear on the HBO broadcast of the event, nor even (apparently) on stage at the same time as Barack Obama himself. Obama will, we have been told, speak up for LGBT people: we needn’t worry our little heads about the silencing of our own. (Pam Spaulding confirms that silencing Bishop Robinson was planned by the Inauguration Committee, who specifically told HBO that the “pre-show” wasn’t part of the broadcast.)

And of other circumstances, other times, other exercises of privilege, which all amount to: Let me silence you. For your own good. You don’t frame the discussion right. I know what ought to be said, and you don’t.
(For the current example I was thinking of: the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM.)

January 17, 2009

Why are Mormons acting ashamed?

Because the LDS Church is being investigated by the California Fair Elections Commission because there is evidence it may have broken the law by “substantially” lobbying for political legislation and failing to report campaign-related expenses.

The Yes on Prop 8 campaign, by the way, wants to change the laws that require all donors to make public their names/addresses, claiming that it’s unfair that people should know who these donors are. While the splashy side of this story has been the donors who find that their businesses are boycotted by customers who don’t like their bigotry, the silent, tactical side is this: it’ll make it a lot harder to show, next time, that the LDS Church is breaking the law.

American News Project:

January 16, 2009

Rick Warren wants to be an inspirational leader of a movement that will change the world…

…just like Adolf Hitler was.

No. Not kidding. The two most oppressive problems the world suffers from, apparently, are ‘spiritual poverty’ and ‘egocentric leadership’.

Via, Bruce Wilson, Huffington Post:

“In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.

And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, “Hitler, we are yours.”

And they nearly took the world.

Lenin once said, “give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I’ll change the world.” And, he nearly did.

A few years ago, they took the sayings of Chairman Mao, in China, put them in a little red book, and a group of young people committed them to memory and put it in their minds and they took that nation, the largest nation in the world by storm because they committed to memory the sayings of the Chairman Mao.

When I hear those kinds of stories, I think ‘what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say ‘Jesus, we are yours’ ?

What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ? “

One like Rick Warren’s? Apparently, during his 2005 speech in the Anaheim stadium, Warren revealed he’d received a message from God. which led him to Psalm 72, “Solomon’s prayer for more influence… in Psalm 72 [Solomon] says ‘God, I want you to make me more influential. God, I want you to give me more power. I want you to bless my life more. God, I want you to spread the fame of my name through other countries.'”

In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

“What kind of spiritual awakening would we have ?” What indeed?

January 15, 2009

Savage Saddlebacking

Mocking Rick Warren:

My life’s purpose over the last week was reading thousands of proposed new definitions for “saddlebacking” sent in by my readers. As with the new definition of santorum crafted by Savage Love readers (“the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex”), the new definition of “saddlebacking” has to be some act that (1) needs a name but doesn’t already have one (we can’t just rename “reverse cowgirl,” people) and (2) is naughty enough to discomfort, say, a Reverend Warren, but something that actual people might actually do because that’s the only way the actual word will actually get used.

If you click on the link, you can find what definitions 2 to 7 are, but for my money, the best definition is number one:

Saddleback: “Logically, if ‘barebacking’ means having butt sex with no condom, then ‘saddlebacking’ should mean having butt sex with a condom.” Dan Savage notes: (1) I like the idea that “sex” is understood to include condoms and that sex without condoms—bareback sex—needs a special term. But tons of people suggested that “saddlebacking” should be the opposite of “barebacking,” so here it is.

I like this especially for mocking Rick Warren, because Warren’s much touted global AIDS work is on evangelical Christian lines. Warren doesn’t promote saddlebacking, so his church should be made to – by name, if not by tithing.

It is worth noting that during the 2000 campaign, Bush, a born-again Christian, promised to provide more federal funding to faith-based groups working on various social problems. Thus it may be no coincidence that some of the same people who once treated the issue of AIDS with indifference suddenly seemed so concerned about it. Do evangelical Christian groups have a role to play in fighting the AIDS epidemic? Maybe they do, but at the moment they are engaged in an unseemly battle with secular AIDS organizations over US government contracts that could derail what little progress there has been in combating the epidemic.

Most of the $15 billion in the AIDS plan is to be spent on treatment and care for people with AIDS, but $1 billion is earmarked for HIV prevention through abstinence-only-until-marriage education. Since 1996, the US government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on similar programs in American schools. These programs teach children that heterosexual intercourse within marriage is the only safe and acceptable form of sexual behavior. Teachers in those programs are barred from mentioning condoms and birth control—except their failure rates. (God and the Fight Against AIDS, Helen Epstein)

Some of the other definitions are highly ingenious, but none have the poetic appropriateness of definition 1, so I would like you to vote for that definition from the list of nominees by sending an e-mail to saddleback@savagelove.net, including “saddleback: 1” in your subject line. Or, if you must, vote for another definition, one you like better (put the number of your preferred definition in the subject line to have your vote count – “saddleback: 1,” “saddleback: 2,” etc.) But vote now!


January 13, 2009

Two days separation makes it safe

I don’t know whether it disturbed me worse: whether Rick Warren’s invitation was a classic mistake on the lines of “we’re BFF, I don’t need to vet him” or if Obama had Warren vetted and either didn’t care or approved of Warren’s beliefs about effective AIDS work, torture, and same-sex marriage.

For example: this interview in which Warren compares same-sex marriage to child molestation, incest, and polygamy; or Warren’s championing of Martin Ssempa, whose notion of fighting AIDS in Uganda is to burn condoms and preach abstinence – either of which should have been enough to eliminate Warren as a choice for this honour.

As Michelle Goldberg notes, same-sex marriage isn’t the only thing that one hopes Warren and Obama don’t agree on:

Meanwhile, while Warren says he opposes torture, he doesn’t treat the subject with anything like the zeal he accords gay marriage and abortion. As he recently told Beliefnet.com, he never even brought up the subject with the Bush administration, where he had considerable access. Just before the 2004 election, he sent out an e-mail to his congregation outlining the five issues that he considered “non-negotiable”. “In order to live a purpose-driven life – to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates – we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly,” he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia. Torture, apparently, is something that decent Christians can disagree on.

Was Obama genuinely ignorant of this? Was Warren’s selection just the first failure of the Obama administration to vet candidates?

Or did Obama know that Warren opposes effective AIDS campaigning in Africa, thinks torture is an issue that Christians can agree-to-disagree on, and that Warren is the kind of Christian homophobe decent people should want sidelined as a radical, not given this kind of central honour – and just not care?
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Tuesday Recipe Blogging: griddle cakes

I own a family griddle. It’s a flat piece of cast iron, quite heavy, with a wooden handle in a metal socket riveted to one side. There is a slight rim around the edge, to keep melted grease from running off. (You never pour large amounts of oil on to a griddle: you grease it, and wipe it off after use.) I don’t know how old it is: I inherited it from an elderly cousin who died a few years ago.

This week’s Tuesday Recipe Blogging is inspired by this video at Ezra Klein’s, in which Barack Obama (then a very junior state senator) extols the virtues of Dixie Kitchen, and warns of the dangers of corn cakes.

Which are griddle cakes: there’s a shot of someone cooking them. Sure, you could fry them, if you don’t have a griddle. Different technique, though. Frying is cooking something in hot oil – even a shallow fry is the process of heating oil until it is hot enough to cook whatever you have put in the oil.

Griddle cooking uses grease only to keep whatever you put on the griddle from sticking to it. What cooks the food is the heat from the metal: a cake placed on a griddle is cooked through from the bottom up, and you turn it over only briefly to brown the top side (if you want). It’s a very basic kind of cooking. I have cooked popadoms and chapattis, oatcakes and drop scones and singin’ hinnies, tortillas and tacos, on my griddle. All of them are made with some basic combining of ground grains, water, fat, and flavour.

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January 9, 2009

Ouch

Filed under: Uncategorized — jesurgislac @ 5:31 pm

Sprained my ankle.

January 8, 2009

What will Bush do when he retires?

His daddy’s rich friends will buy him a company for him to be the Decider of. He will be a non-voting shareholder with a token post on the board, who sits in his office all day and drinks.

After early-onset Alzheimers (alcoholism is reckoned to be a contributory factor) sets in, he will believe he is still the President, and will be upset when he no longer has Secret Service agents guarding him.

He will choke to death on his own vomit some time in the 2020s, and receive a magnificent state funeral. Assuming that the Republicans are still a viable party then, all sorts of them will say how he was the best President since Lincoln. Everything that’s gone wrong in Iraq since 2003 will be blamed on the Iraqis or on President Obama.

Since the Secret Service will continue to defend him till 2019, none of this should be taken as so much as a wish that he will come to any harm. “Congress changed the law in the 1990s so that any president elected after Jan. 1, 1997, and his or her spouse will receive the federal protection for only 10 years.” cite (There should be a comma after spouse.)

Apparently, Bush intends to spend at least the first 4 years of his retirement fundraising for a planned $300 million “structure” at Southern Methodist University, to be named after him, which will include a library, museum and policy institute. Once he’s raised enough in private funds to pay for the construction, the National Archives and Records Administration will take over the operation of the library and museum at federal expense. It’s supposed to be finished by 2013.

At least that’s when Bush probably plans to spread a “Mission Accomplished” banner over the building site, declare that “major contruction is finished”, and go back to the office space acquired for him by the General Services Administration, which, under the Former Presidents Act, will pay for the office suite and staff to assist him for the rest of his life.

Nice.

…but I have a tiny wish that he ends his days in a cell at the Hague trying to convince the judge that he’s mentally unfit to stand trial.

Oliver, what are you thinking?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jesurgislac @ 9:05 am
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