stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Every so often I forget how much I hate the hiccups.

I always get reminded.

:hic:
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
In the justly beloved movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, there is a scene in which the naive new senator is entrapped by a group of cynical reporters, who dupe him into being photographed in easily-misinterpreted poses. When he learns of the deception, he races through the streets of Washington, tracking down and assaulting each of the reporters. The audience is clearly intended to understand, or even approve of, his actions - though, to be fair, he does wind up learning that he fell into a rookie's trap, and resolves to become a better senator.

Last night, Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, on being asked a question he did not want to answer, apparently assaulted a reporter, body-slamming him to the ground and then ordering him out of the room. (Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault.) Response from the left blogosphere has been furious; from the right has come tepid condemnation, or in some cases approval. Anecdotes are coming in that at least some Republican voters, entering the polling places for today's special election, still intend to vote for Gianforte despite last night's incident.

I find the attitude of these voters repellent, but, with Mr. Smith in mind, I guess I can understand it.
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Apparently Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was very pleased by the fact that there were no protesters - "not one bad placard" - during their visit to Saudi Arabia. The fact that this might be because Saudi Arabia does not allow protests does not seem to concern him.

Well, at least he's not the Secretary of State.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Every so often, while reading one of the classics of antiquity, I get suddenly clubbed by the radical differences in attitude between now and then. In Arrian's book on Alexander, it was the repetition of "We came to a village, and asked them to give us all their gold. They refused, so we killed them all and took the gold anyway." (Not that that attitude isn't present today, but most people wouldn't say it so bluntly.)

I'm reading Polybius' history - just getting to the point where the various ongoing wars more or less coalesced - and ran across a reference to "the first necessaries of existence, cattle and slaves"....
stoutfellow: (Three)
When I got up this morning, it was raining, as expected. I checked Dark Sky, and it forecast "Heavy Rain" for the next several hours. To make my appointment, I would have to leave at 7:30, and at 7:30 it was, indeed, raining heavily. I called the groomer to cancel, leaving a message on their answering machine.

By 8:00, it had stopped raining, and Dark Sky now says we'll have a couple of hours of "Light Rain" starting at 9:00, followed by three hours without rain.

:grmph:

(In fairness, Buster and I would have gotten very wet on the trip over, but by the time the groomer picked up the message, my claim that "this weather is just impossible" must have seemed laughable.)
stoutfellow: (Three)
Yesterday, I took Gracie to the groomer. It was a nice sunny day - a bit on the hot side, but not too bad. She seems much happier now; her fur had gotten long enough to interfere with her vision, and she'd been rather skittish as a result.

Tomorrow morning, it's Buster's turn. The forecast is for rain. (Not "light rain", not "heavy rain", just "rain".) I don't have a stroller that Buster would fit in, and it's a bit less than a mile walk. I am going to arrive at the groomer with a very shaggy, very wet dog.... I think I've figured out how to get there with a large dry towel, but it won't be enough. I hope they'll be good-humored about it.
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
I'm currently reading Mandeville's Travels. Lots of bizarre stuff - dog-headed men, pygmies who war with the birds, headless men with eyes in their chests - which is pretty much as I expected. But I just ran across something which surprised me a bit.

There was a tradition of Biblical interpretation which identified Ham, Shem, and Japheth as the ancestors of the peoples of, respectively, Africa, Asia, and Europe. This, combined with the story of the drunkenness of Noah and Ham's reaction, was used to justify race-based slavery. Mandeville, however, assorts them differently; for him, Ham (or Cham) is the ancestor of Asia, and Shem that of Africa. He refers to the same story to identify Cham as a violent and selfish man, and hence the ancestor of those men of power known as the Chams - that being a common variant on the title "Khan". (He goes on to tell a distorted but recognizable version of the life of Genghis, together with brief accounts of some of his successors.)

Mandeville is interesting. The first part of the book describes the Middle East, and at least tries to approximate reality, but once he gets as far as "the isles of Ind", he goes off the rails. He is aware that the world is round, and gives the common estimate of its size - which he rejects as probably too small, and his estimate does seem to be closer to the correct value.

33 to 45

May. 18th, 2017 09:45 am
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
My father hated Harry Truman - absolutely despised him for his handling of the MacArthur affair during the Korean War. (I once heard him refer to HST as "Hairy Ass Truman".) He and I had more than one loud argument over the matter, but no minds were ever changed.

I've been thinking about Truman a fair bit lately, and especially about two of his most famous aphorisms (the first of which my father occasionally used, despite his opinion of the man):

"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

"The buck stops here."

Can't imagine why those keep coming to mind.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Robert Mueller, eh? Most of my sources seem to think he's a good choice - and he was involved, along with Comey, in the resistance to warrantless wiretapping during Bush the Younger's presidency. He seems to have been given a pretty broad remit, too.

Let's see what happens.

COFFEE!

May. 17th, 2017 11:20 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I have not had coffee in something like two and a half months. I ran out of beans in mid-March, and between the weather and my teaching schedule, I haven't had a chance to get over to Goshen since then. I've been getting my caffeine fix from tea.

Until today. With the semester over and spring (hah! more like summer) weather having arrived, I was finally able to take the trip over. (It was actually nice enough to walk, but I bought a monthly bus pass for May and haven't gotten my money's worth yet.) I bought one bag each of my usual Ethiopian and Sumatran single-source, and one bag each of the two Secret Stashes - one from Java, one from Ethiopia (a different blend).

I am now sipping a very nice cup of Sumatran coffee. Bliss....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I am, generally speaking, not a creative cook. I follow recipes to the best of my ability, and I am willing to try new things; I occasionally improvise, when one or another ingredient is unavailable, but that's as far as I go.

This week, I made a batch of arroz con queso. As the name suggests, it's a rice and cheese dish, with tomatoes, black beans, onions and garlic. This was the second or third time I've made it. Unfortunately, when I went out for ingredients, I forgot to get cottage cheese. The recipe calls for a cup of that, and also a cup of shredded Monterey Jack. I decided to go with two cups of the latter as a substitute. The result is edible, but rather dry, probably as a result of the substitution. I'll know not to do that next time.

(Gracie has been begging for scraps, but with the onion and garlic in the dish, she's doomed to disappointment.)

It did occur to me that the dish could use a bit more texture. I'm thinking that next time I make it I might throw in some peanuts. (Cashews? No, that would be too rich, I think.) Maybe improv substitution isn't my limit, after all. We shall see.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
David Malki's comic "Wondermark" is kind of hit or miss for me, but I rather like the last panel, in particular, of the latest strip.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Pierce was one of the greatest thinkers the United States has yet produced. Logician, mathematician, philosopher - many pies have the marks of his fingers. Here is his account of his life up to age twenty, written when he was twenty. It's rather amusing, I think; I find his notation for the two Miss W's entertainingly indicative of his future.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
After posting grades last Monday, I spent the rest of the week loafing. (Well, I had to reply to a few students asking why they got the grades they got....) No cooking - just frozen dinners, sandwiches, and cereal. No trips to campus - I did connect to my office computer a couple of times, mainly to look up the grade spreadsheets. It was too rainy, most of the week, to walk the dogs.

However, loaf time is over. I may not be teaching this summer, but I do have a lot of things to do. I have to get a new passport; as of midyear, TSA won't be accepting Illinois state IDs. I have to put the finishing touches on Taxonomy I and submit it, and begin writing TII and outlining TIII (and maybe TIV). There's lots of housework that needs doing. I'm recording my library on the latest version of my library DB (and there's been a story or two I should tell, in that connection). I'm contemplating revamping my finances database yet again. I should also prep for my fall classes; two of them are courses I haven't taught in a while.

There is a big pot of arroz con queso cooking away, for this week's dinners. I want to start using my new stock pot, and to try out some more Indian and Middle Eastern recipes. The dogs need grooming (this week!) and visits to the vet, preparatory to their badly-needed dental work.

I've drawn up a (still incomplete) To Do List. I've done that before. The trick now will be carrying it out.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
So, the Orange One has fired FBI director Comey. On the one hand, I shed no tears; Comey's actions just before the election were an egregious breach of protocol, and probably were a contributing factor to the debacle of Election Day. On the other hand, I cannot help but be reminded of the events of October 1973. The sole difference I can see is that Jeff Sessions isn't fit to shine Elliot Richardson's shoes, or William Ruckelshaus's either. (Robert Bork's, ehh, maybe.)

I was raised a Republican. The Saturday Night Massacre was the event that began my journey away from that party.

It's time for an independent prosecutor.

Training

May. 9th, 2017 02:42 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Almost every time I go to Shop'n'Save, I take either a shoulder bag (for small purchases) or a big grocery bag box (for large ones). The cashiers there, as with most grocery stores nowadays, bag your purchases as they're rung up. I prefer that they not do this, since I carry the groceries home in bag or box. By now, most of the cashiers know this, and simply place my purchases on top of the bag carrel so that I can gather them up myself.

Today, though, the aisle I chose was manned by a rookie - a young man with that gangly just-out-of-school look - and I prepared to inform him of my preferences. Business was slow, and the cashier at the next aisle was lurking near his shoulder, her own aisle being empty. As he scanned the first of my items, I heard her murmur something to him. All I caught of it was "He...", but, unprompted by me, the young man placed the item on the carrel, and likewise with the remaining groceries. He announced the price, I handed him a twenty, and he gave me my change. Another murmur: "He'll want his receipt."

When he handed me the receipt, I thanked him. Then I looked over his shoulder and added, "And thank you, also." She grinned and nodded, and I took my leave.

First Lap

May. 7th, 2017 08:13 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Oof! :creak:

One stack of finals done; two to go. (One only has five tests in it.)

I have to post grades by noon tomorrow.

:creak:
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Vive la France!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Fifty years ago, the Beatles released Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Forty years ago, the movie then known as Star Wars (no Roman numeral, no nothing) hit the big screen.

Today, they are conjoined, in Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans. Every track from the record is commandeered in the service of the movie. It is great. Check it out.

YASID: Mali

May. 2nd, 2017 05:34 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Back when I was in my tweens, I read a *lot* of science fiction, much of it by not-so-famous authors. I have a vague memory of enjoying a couple of books by someone whose name may have been Mary Lightner, but probably wasn't. I read a number of stories by Alan Nourse, as I recall; I only have one, The Mercy Men, in my current library. There were... there were others, which hover on the edge of memory.

At any rate: today something reminded me of a book which featured an interstellar power known as the Hegemony of Mali (and much else, but that's all I remember). I remember being confused, because I was already aware of the other two Malis - the current republic, and the old empire. Anyway, that name has stuck with me across the decades, and suddenly I want to know what book it was. It may have been by Nourse, or perhaps James White. Does it ring a bell with anyone?

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