Begging The Question

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday Spies©: Friday the 13th Edition
Once again it's Friday, which can only mean one thing: in about 3 hours I'm going to get an assload of "due Monday" work dropped on my desk. could mean that it is time for another installment of Friday Spies, the recurring feature in which innocent bloggers voluntarily subject themselves to interrogation at the hands of the BTQ posse crew staff. If for some silly reason you would like to join in the fun, copy the questions from this post or send us an email and we'll add your name to the mailing list.

1. If you could change any element of your physical appearance, would you? If so, what would you change? If you could change any aspect of your personality would you?

I can live with my physical appearance - it's gotten me this far. If I had to choose something to change, I guess I would want a darker complexion. Otherwise, I can deal.

Personality? Hmm, yeah, I need a personality overhaul. Just trash it and start all over. Sarcasm, laziness, fear of success, fear of rejection, explosive temper, these are not good things. Oh, yeah, and I am a bit of an asshole. I wear it well, but I'm not sure it's the ideal personality.

2. Name a good make-out song (I believe the kids these days would call that "baby-making music").

I don't know about one single song, but I do know that when it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV.

3. What did Britney say to Kevin when she found out she was pregnant? What was his response?

Brit: Oh, oh, oh my God! Kletus, you won't believe it! You're gonna be a daddy!!! Wee!!!

K-Fed: *Beep* Yo, you've reached Kletus. I can't take your call right now because I'm wasted and shit and about to hook up with this dancer named Sinamon. So when it goes beep, say what you gotta say, leave your digits and I'll call you back, yo.

4. Did Oswald act alone?

Hell no. I don't care how magical your bullets are, it would take a helluva marksman to make those shots at moving targets. That guy was not exactly Rambo. Nah, he was a pawn for the Commies.

5. (Obligatory Friday the 13th inspired question) Are you superstitious? Do you believe in luck, karma, fate, the supernatural, etc?

Superstitious? No. Luck, fate, karma? I'm not certain. There are times when things happen that make me think I'm very lucky (or unlucky) but I'm not sure that's quite the same thing as believing in luck.

The supernatural? Why not. Just because we can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Besides, I used to live in a haunted house.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Trout are tasty.
Get in my belly! Thank you for all the suggestions for future installments of the Thursday recipe feature. I'll begin work on those ideas this weekend (after I finish the much-anticipated Tex-Mex post which I am sure no one believes I've worked on). For next week, I think I will address appetizers, specifically scallops, shrimp, and mussels.

For this week's recipe, I'll tackle Mr. Fun Ball's request for a fish recipe. I don't have a lot of experience cooking fish. What experience I do have is with fried fish (which I'll save for another day) and trout. Almost as much fun to eat as they are to catch. I've prepared trout two ways: grilled and pan fried. The rainbow trout in the photo to the left was grilled. And he was tasty.

Grilled trout is so simple, yet so delicious. For this recipe you will need:

4 trout (about 1 pound each), cleaned and gutted, heads and tails left on
extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 stems of fresh sage or rosemary
2-3 slices of bacon per trout (optional)
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Start your fire. Once the coals are ready, arrange the coals so that you can grill the fish over direct medium heat. While the grill heats up, lightly spray (or brush) each trout inside and out with olive oil. Season the inside with salt and pepper and place one stem of herbs and 1 or 2 slices of lemon inside each fish. Wrap the fish with the bacon strips and secure with toothpicks. Place the fish on the grill over direct medium heat for about 12-14 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking time. Adjust your cooking time accordingly for larger fish.

Pan-fried trout is something I've only done on fishing trips, but I would be hard pressed to come up with a better breakfast than freshly caught trout. I accidentally discovered this recipe when a buddy caught a pair of nice fish while I was tending to breakfast. You will need:

12" Cast iron frying pan (or similar large, heavy-duty fry pan or saute pan)
2 trout (about 1 pound each), cleaned and gutted, heads and tails left on
about 1 pound of bacon or sausage
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 onion, coarsely chopped
fresh herbs, if you've got them (sage or rosemary is particularly well suited to this task), coarsely chopped
coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Cook the bacon or sausage over medium heat until well browned. Remove to a plate and cover (crumble the bacon if you're using bacon). Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the grease in the pan and reserve another 2 tablespoons in whatever way you do that (I just pour it off into measuring cup or coffee mug or whatever is handy). Add the onions to the pan and saute until translucent, maybe 5 to 7 minutes. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the potatoes are golden brown, another 5-7 minutes. Remove the potatoes and onions to the plate with the meat. Cover and keep warm.

Season the trout inside and out with salt and pepper and place them in the pan. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time. Add the potatoes, onion, and meat mixture back to the pan. Warm through. Stir in your chopped herbs and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Order up!
Longtime commenter Wadsworth (not to be confused with the sabbatically-impaired Mr. Longtime Reader) put in a request a couple of weeks ago that I post a recipe each Thursday. As always, I am happy to oblige. In the past I've covered smoked brisket, Texas-style chili, margaritas, grilled quail, and grilled tri-tip. For future installments of what may become a regular feature, I'd like some reader input on what kinds of recipes - cooking method, cuisine, ingredients, whatever - you folks would like to read about.

(Yes, TP, I am STILL working on the Tex-Mex vs. Mexican post. I haven't forgotten you.)

Coalition for Darfur: The Attention it Deserves
[The following post is a weekly update from Feddie and Eugene, the authors of the Coalition for Darfur blog]

The Coalition for Darfur has two goals: to get bloggers writing about Darfur and to raise money for worthy organizations providing life-saving assistance to the people of Darfur.

So far, we are not doing particularly well on either count.

Outside of Instapundit, very few of the "big blogs" seem to be paying much attention to Darfur, which is why it was nice to see Kevin Drum finally address the issue a few days ago.

In his post on the topic, Drum made an important point about the genocide But hope is not a plan, and right now it strikes me that the only realistic option for stopping the genocide is to be prepared for a full-scale invasion and long-term occupation of Sudan. I could probably be talked into that if someone presented a serious military plan showing where the troops would come from and how they'd get there, but I haven't seen it yet. It is probably an oversimplification to say that full-scale invasion and occupation of Sudan is the "only realistic option" for dealing with the genocide, but the key point to be understood here is that nobody knows what it will take to stop this because almost nobody is even thinking about it.

Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, the head of the failed UN mission to Rwanda, estimates that it would take 44,000 troops to stop the violence and Brian Steidle, a former Marine who spent six months serving with the AU mission in Darfur, estimates that it will take anywhere from 25,000 - 50,000. There is also talk of imposing a no-fly zone and an arms embargo and expanding the AU mandate to allow it to protect civilians. But after more than 2 years of violence, these things still remain little more than talk.

As far as can be determined, nobody (not the US, the EU, NATO, or the UN) has even seriously contemplated what sort of military action might be necessary in order to stop the genocide. Foreign policy journals and think tanks have likewise been silent on the issue. The only people who appear to be seriously thinking about what needs to be done in Darfur are journalists like Bradford Plumer and activists like Eric Reeves.

For two years, rhetorically pressuring Sudan to disarm and reign in the Janjaweed and stop the genocide has not worked. Many hoped that the Security Council's referral of the crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court might force Khartoum to back down, but unfortunately that has not happened. If anything, the ICC referral may have made the situation on the ground worse - and open discussion of possible military intervention might make things worse still. It is impossible to say.

Nobody wants a large-scale invasion of Sudan, but more importantly, nobody wants to even think that such an invasion might be necessary and how it will need to be carried out. It is a sign of just how little serious concern the genocide in Darfur is generating that those who might theoretically be called upon in the future to intervene do not appear to even have begun examining the feasibility of such an intervention. Darfur might not require military intervention, but it certainly requires more than the few small steps currently being contemplated. And until those in power begin to give the genocide the attention and serious thought it deserves, there is little reason to believe that there will soon be an end to the violence.

This genocide will end in one of two ways: either the international community will begin to take its responsibility to protect the people of Darfur seriously and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure their survival or it will end when the Africans in Darfur have been completely eliminated.

The choice is ours.

Also, check out this BBC article which explains that so much money poured in for disaster relief after the tsunami in December that Doctors Without Borders raised four times the amount it needed and now has to try to track down donors in order to return the money or get permission to redirect it to places like Darfur.

Monday, May 09, 2005

It's a long way down the Holiday Road
I got laid off when the asbestos factory closed...I just wanted to check in to let folks know how the so-called sabbatical was going. It's nice not having the pressure to post stuff, but as I'm sure you've all figured out, I am still getting my blogging fix by sending multiple emails a day to Fitzy, 99% of which he promptly deletes. That's right, folks -- the snippets you're getting are the cream of the creme.

New paragraph just for TP.

Anyway, I'm still checking in when I can, and extending the dead hand of influence over the goings-on around here. So if you don't like it, you can still blame me. I also appreciate everybody hanging in with those posts that our favorite Longtime Reader sends in. I hope everyone understands that even if I can't get into the reasons for my sabbatical, I have them, and I just have to hang up the ole blogging cap for a while. Uh, except for this post. And a special post that I have coming up later this week. But other than that, I'm still on shore leave, sailors.

If you're really aching to keep in touch with me and hate how time-consuming email and spelling out your words are, you can now instantly message me via instant messengers. If you want to buddy up or whatever on the AOL instant messenger, my screen name is "milbargebtq." And if you prefer the Yahoo! messenger, the screen name is flipped, "btqmilbarge." So feel free to add me. I won't be chatting from work, but I'm available otherwise from time to time. I'm not an IM pesterer, but I correspond when called up, so don't be a stranger (inside joke for Fitz).

Okay, so...I'll have that other post up soon, and after that it's back to sabatticalizing.

No! I'll never join you!
Join me Fitz-Hume.  Join me or die! Some men are afraid of the "metrosexual" label. Some men take pride in their metrosexuality. Some men revel in it. Some men become Bobby Trendy. And then there's Scott. Scott is the dark lord of metro, with his designer jeans, his wine cellar, and his smooth bald head. The metro is strong with him. So strong that I think just reading L-cubed may have turned me to the dark side.

I don't didn't ever really think of myself as "metro." Not that I thought of myself as John Wayne or Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr. or a lumberjack or anything, but I just never looked at myself as one of "those" guys. That's despite my playing the piano, my sordid male-cheerleading past, and my pink button-down shirts.

The thing is, my whole universe came crashing down this weekend when, like a bolt of lightning, the realization struck me: I may be a little metro. Maybe a little too metro.

On my annual trip to the mall, I acquired a new fragrance. The liar of a sales clerk told me that Armani had discontinued He so I was talked into Armani's new cologne, Black Code. It's not bad. Very woodsy. According to Sephora, it is "Fresh. Sexy. Masculine." Err, just like me. Or maybe not. (Query: If "He" is discontinued, then why is it available on the Sephora website? Corollary to the first query: Why do I even know to look at Sephora?)

After purchasing the cologne, I wandered over to the Clinique counter, where I picked up a few other essentials: moisturizer (now with 21 SPF!), face cleanser, face scrub (it's different from the cleanser, trust me), aloe shaving gel (highly recommended for sensitive skin), and bronzer (in my defense, the bronzer was a free gift).

It was while I was seated at the Clinique counter that I experienced my epiphany: A man who spends more money on product than he does on rent should just acquiesce, give in to the dark side and accept his fate. He's a metro.

Looking at my purchases, I thought to myself, "Goddang. Maybe I AM that guy." Ugh. In an attempt to redeem myself, to restore Soupie's faith in me, and to avoid turning into the guy with the designer jeans, I knew I had to make some other purchases before heading home; moisturizer simply could not be the most expensive thing I purchased. Fortunately, I found a pair of decidedly un-metro cargo pants that fit well and a North Face Apex jacket that makes me look like a tank driving extra from Patton. Very un-metro. Whew. That was a close call.

Now I know some of you will argue that the jacket does not redeem my make-up counter purchases, and that pants from Banana Republic scream out metro, but I don't have time to debate that right now. I need to go or I'll be late for an appointment with my stylist.

Greed is good. Knowing what the eff you're talking about is better.
Let me set the scene for this tale: Yours truly is seated in the bar section of a generic "Mexican" restaurant for Sunday lunch following my annual trip to the mall.

I'm sucking down the world's weakest margarita when 3 people take up residence at the table behind me. They are all dressed like (and probably are) waiters from the generic "Italian" restaurant next door.

Says the first idiot (whom I have dubbed Gekko for reasons that will become apparent) after ordering a vodka and Red Bull (WTF?), "Yeah, so I looked up some rankings and it turns out that the Business School at Chicago is very good. It's ranked near the top of all these different rankings. It has been for at least the last three years. So, you know, that's cool. I'm so glad I decided to go to Chicago once I finish my BA. It's cool, too, because they don't really care where you go to undergrad so long as you major in Business Administration. That's why I'm doing most of my classes at the community college."

To which his idiot buddy (Bud, naturally) responds, "Kick ass, dude! That's awesome! That's so cool that you decided you're going to go to Chicago and then you find out that your program kicks ass. Kick ass!"

To which I mumble (to no one in particular), "There is definitely some ass kicking that needs to be done, but it ain't at the U of C." While mumbling this, I have a daydream in which I turn around, and without warning punch Gordon Gekko in the back of the head. Alternatively, I consider turning to him and remarking, "You know, I hear they have a nice law school, too, you idiot." Instead, I bite my tongue and think longingly of better days in some remote location devoid of idiots. That whole deserted island idea sounds kind of nice sometimes, especially after a foray into that part of America in and around the local mall.

During the course of the business school discussion, Gekko's girlfriend says nothing, preferring to light a cigarette instead of revealing that she's not entirely sure what a business school is.

I assumed Gekko was a blowhard and a big fat liar. He just had that air about him, like the kid in high school (Mr. "Oh I am cool. You should see me when I'm hot.") who swore that he was asked to drop out of school and join the Navy SEALs or that frat brother who insists that he had a three-way with the Coors Light twins. Within minutes, my suspicions were confirmed. Gekko turns from his academic musings to a story designed to solidify his street cred. Yes, he spins a tale of a bar fight. Naturally, he was so wasted he couldn't really remember when the fight happened or where, but some girl started some shit with his girl, they threw down, the other girl's boyfriend jumped in, and the Gekko stepped up and started "wailing" on this guy. You know what's coming next: the other guy's buddies - "like 7 of them, man, cause the whole baseball team was there" - jump our hero. He manages to "tag" a "dude" in the jaw and break a bottle on another guy's head and he and the girlfriend escape just before the cops show up.

Like, no way, man! That story will sound so good in your personal statement for the U of C GSB. Drunken bar fights are cool. Lunch is for wimps.

Speaking of lunch, I lost mine when Gekko spiced up the tale by explaining that it was a Major League Baseball team. Yeah, I bet all the big shots in MLB like to party at the dive bars in Elko, Nevada. Vaughn, get the stewardess. I need one of those bags.

Elmer Fudd and Other Looney Tunes
Via Mr. Longtime Reader:
Here are two very disparate items that have nothing in common except that they caught my eye and I thought I'd share a thought or two about them.

First, this story about efforts in several states to shut down a company, Live-Shot, that offers hunting over the internet, via remote-controlled guns. The guns are set up, the quarry wanders by, and a mouse-click fires the gun. The guns and animals are in Texas, and users have to register with the site and have a valid Texas hunting license (which they can get online). But now several states are trying to ban virtual hunting. I'll leave it to the law students to debate the possible Commerce Clause challenges to a state law regulating internet sites. (Texas is looking to ban remote hunting within the state, which is can probably do, but there's no reason the site of the hunt couldn't be moved elsewhere, even overseas.) Note that Congress is mulling a nation-wide ban. The Post trots out a former hunter who is now quadriplegic, who uses his mouth to manipulate a joystick for remote hunting. He says it would be impossible for him to go out in the wild to do actual hunting. What I found odd about the story is that it mentioned a couple of times that the NRA and other similar groups were supporting the new laws. The story noted that it was odd to see hunting-friendly groups like the NRA in alliance with hunting-unfriendly groups like the ASPCA. An NRA person explained the group's opposition as based on the sporting aspect of hunting -- the experience of carrying the gun, being outdoors, and giving the animal "a fair chance." Of course, hunters use blinds and long-range scopes and all manner of equipment that make them just as remote and hidden as someone on the web, but never mind. I won't get into how "fair" hunting is. (I'll note, though, that I don't categorically oppose hunting. I just don't like people touting it as a fair fight.) But the story never mentions another obvious reason that the NRA might oppose virtual hunting: It has quite an interest in promoting non-virtual hunting. If you're logging on to a hunting website, you're not (necessarily) buying guns. What's the point in opposing the DC gun ban if DC residents can hunt from the nation's capital? Heck, we might as well ban guns altogether if the sporting reasons for owning them aren't necessary! (To be clear to any thick-headed readers, I'm not proposing this, merely making a rhetorical flourish of what might be the NRA's big fear -- or at least the slippery-slope argument it might make.) It seems beyond obvious to me that the NRA would want to promote live-action, tactile, real-gun, non-virtual hunting, and would worry that internet hunting is a threat to that. So why wouldn't the Post point that out? A sidenote: I wonder if the impression I'm attributing to the NRA is an accurate one. I wonder if, aside from quadriplegics, the people who use the web to hunt aren't actually more likely to be hunters in real life as well. After all, if you're against hunting for ethical reasons, I can't see you being okay with a system that makes hunting more disembodied and less bloody (from the "shooter's" perspective). My guess is that most of the people who would virtually hunt would do it in real life when they can. So the web site scratches that itch when they can't get away from their computers. But that's just a hunch. Maybe "real" hunters would be disdainful of point-and-click hunting. I'd be happy to hear from hunters (actual or virtual) who'd like to share their thoughts. My tentative take is that I'm opposed to the new regulations, partly because I don't see internet hunting as any worse than "real" hunting, and partly because I see parallels to virtual sex, and don't want to see that banned.

Hey, what do you know -- there was something that tied these stories together, because the other story is Michael Jackson, someone who should by all means be limited to mere virtual sex. (I agree with Jonah Goldberg that this is a real news story, but have to disagree with his apparent conclusion that it could only happen in Hollywood.) Slate's correspondent was back at the Jackson trial last week as the prosecution wrapped up its case and the defense started calling witnesses. Go read that account to understand just how bizarre and audacious the defense is. In short, they're portraying Jackson as so emotionally stunted and child-like that it's almost reasonable that he shares his bed with kids (i.e., what's wrong with two kids having a sleep-over?!). They certainly aren't hiding from the fact that Michael has had more boys in his bed than the Paris Hilton. (I mean the hotel, of course. I wouldn't make such a cheap-shot joke at the expense of the "actress"!) Of course, such a crazy defense theory seems only fitting in light of the equally odd prosecution theory. And it doesn't sound like the prosecution is scoring any knockouts in its cross-examinations of Jackson's defenders, including parents who saw nothing wrong with letting their kids sleep with Jackson. While it might be a little off-putting to the jury to flat-out accuse these folks of pimping their kids, the alternative explanation (that these people are more delusional than a guy printing "DeLay for President" bumper stickers) is hardly better. If I were the prosecutor, I would go ahead and call them out for what they are. If the jury doesn't think these people are looney tunes, at least you've led the horse to water. So the prosecutor ought to be asking every one of these parents, "So how often does your son sleep with you? Why do you think it's okay for him to sleep with a 40-year-old weirdo but not his own parents or uncles or neighbors? How many other strange men do you let your son sleep with? Or is it only the ones who shower you with money?" Now, for the defense attorneys out there, I'm not saying that the jury should convict Jackson of molesting Boy A just because the parents of Boys B, C, and D are possibly giving Jackson further opportunities to molest. But just because the defense puts these people on the stand, they don't automatically get to be treated as if what they've done is normal.

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