Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BBQ Corned Beef

So in the spirit of that last post, I made this BBQ Corned beef a while ago on my Weber kettle grill, and forgot to finish posting about it.  Really I found the recipe after there was a sale on corned beef (after St. Patrick's day).  I liked the idea of this recipe because the sauce was mustard based, and I had just gotten into Lay's Tangy Carolina BBQ chips.

While you could technically say that the process worked, I started the grill at 6 PM on a weeknight and didn't finish until 3:30 AM the next day.  Now I've mentioned that I'm a huge masochist for food prep, I did a second pitch of yeast on my 1 year old Vanilla Bourbon Porter and plan on sitting on it for another 8 months.  I know how to play long ball with food prep.  I've made vegetable stock in my 7.5 gallon stock pot and roasted several dozen head of garlic to prep for a dinner date with some friends.  This little BBQ adventure in minding the fire was the most exhausting thing I have ever cooked.  Hard Lump charcoal is an adventure unto itself, and the propane torch I was using to accelerate the lighting of it was not helping matters.  You have to let it warm up on it's own accord, and since watching Alton Browns little BBQ show I learned that Propane emits moisture so I was messing myself up by using it to help maintain temperatures on the grill while the charcoal get going whenever I needed to feed the fire.  In this regard the Smokenator would have been a huge help, as I wouldn't have had to fully remove the lid and loose all of the heat to toss a little extra charcoal on top of the already lit stuff.  That would have helped get the new stuff going and helped keep the temperatures more even.

For all the hours I spent doing this cooking I somehow managed to not take a picture!

So I suppose I'll just have to make it again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Alton Brown DIY Smoker with upgrades?

This post is more of an open ended question about future projects and whether or not to undertake them.  If you've never seen Alton Brown's show good eats I won't lie I had never watched it either.  It was early food porn, with cheesy editing and acting, but this episode in particular launched a thousand copycat's and they come up in my feeds fairly often.

The question is do I go with a version of the Alton Smoker or do the Gizmodo BBQ upgrades?

I have a Weber Performer Grill, Black (Google Affiliate Ad) already, and have gotten some solid use out of it in the 5 years I've had it.  Recently I did a 8 hour smoke of a brisket on it with some measure of success, but I had to mind it carefully. I was adjusting temperature every hour, but checking more like every 20 minutes and even then my temperatures ranged greatly from 200°-300°F.  That method was way too much work.  Gizmodo recommended the smokenator for holding the fuel, and liquids, and The BBQ Guru (which I'll admit I don't fully understand the purpose of) as upgrades to the standard kettle grill.  I'm not sure that the smokenator alone will give me the smoking capabilities of the Alton "Macgyver" Brown's smoker.

The final, and surely less exciting option is the Bronze Medal kitchen hack from Food52 of using a soldering iron and a tin can to cold smoke on your grill.  I obviously saw it on lifehacker.  It's an option for smoking things but not bbq.  My current gut feeling is I should get the Smokenator, and make the cold smoker and save myself the heartache of some of the ocd and fancy upgrades I've seen of the Alton Brown backyard smoker.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If you needed evidence that the French are crazy...

Look no farther than this recipe on the Wall Street Journal.  I'll admit that I'm interested in trying it, but mostly because I'm a huge masochist when it comes to food prep.  One ingredient in this needs 36 hours of salt curing, and then is slow poached in the oven for 4-10 hours.  Read that first part there, one of the ingredients!  Another of the ingredients is garlic simmered in oil for an hour but the oil cannot boil, how's that for a balancing act!  And finally the thing that draws me to this recipe is the cookware you need to do it in.  I really like enamel covered cookware, both for appearance and the even heating.

Friday, October 26, 2012

More barrel stuff

No sooner do I commit to a whiskey barrel then I find out I could have gotten one in my own back yard!

Woodinville Whiskey company sells them directly.  It's an 8 gallon barrel, which adds logistical issues as most of my batches are 6 gallons tops and more like 5.5 by the time primary fermentation is done.  Mine was cheaper even with shipping it was only $120, but there is some cool factor to using a local companies barrel for aging.

I'm working on a recipe for putting into the barrel for aging, and think I'll start with an american strong for the first round and then a scotch heavy for the second.  This is the recipe I'm working on for the first batch, beer calculus is being strange so my process notes look wrong and I'm going to try for better than 63% efficiency this time.  The biggest troubles are I cannot figure out how to adjust the water to grist ratio when you add extract to the recipe, and it keeps resetting my boil time to 60 minutes.  I may use a different site to work out my mash schedule, my LHS says that they like Beer calculus for recipe management but avoid following their process notes.

Right Habits

Success is an interesting thing, easy to see when you're there but harder to see in process.  I waited out the olympics to post this link to the Lifehacker post on right habits.  I'll be the first to say, this struck me because I'm a swimmer, and I have some concept of what an amazing feat Phelp's first olympics was.  If you watched it, you know.  It was electric to watch him swim, there was something going on there.  I've attended swim camps, and have seen some of the techniques in the article generally applied.  Never with the success of Michael Phelps obviously, but the article is really worth your time.

For those not making the jump to the article, the thrust of it is success is a habit.  You cultivate it by creating routines that lead you to success and the the author covers a few that worked for Michael Phelps.  Small wins, create platforms and establish a culture where winning is contagious.  I think the small wins section is the easiest to wrap your arms around, and basically is about doing things that make you feel successful, leads you to do things successfully.  For athletes this is simple, most have a warm up routine and many have "race music" to help amp them up, applying this outside of athletics is a more interesting thought exercise.  For instance let's examine what I would call a successful brew day.

It starts several days in advance for me, researching a recipe and reviewing my brew processes.  I recall what I did the last time that I felt worked well, and think about the things I wasn't as pleased by to try and improve on.  Next comes having everything you will need on hand like grains, hops, yeast and any additives. I need my equipment sanitized, and clean.  I need enough purified water and my enough propane in my tank, but mostly I need to have enough time.  Invariably it takes me about 5 or so hours start to finish to get a beer done and in the fermenter, this includes the "second runnings" batch I've gotten in the habit of doing on my all grain beers.

Anyhow what did you think of the article?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Video Profile of Doug North

I fancy myself a bit of an artist, and really identify with what the artist featured in this profile says about not yet finding that thing that clicks.  I like some of the mediums that I've worked with, and have aspirations of doing something really interesting with paint, prose, electronics and wood, but I haven't found that thing yet.  I'm an artist in search of his medium.

Via Makeblog

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nail meet Hammer

So Gizmodo shared this article from Medical Express in April that postulates that analyzing happy memories makes them less special.  This was an interesting article when I read it back in April, and upon re-reading it I still find it an interesting concept.  Now it could be confirmation bias since the article is all anecdotal evidence, but it does mirror a sensation that I have about memory and emotions.  I tend to be analytical about interactions (whatever I'm a sociopath that way) and recall trying to explain to myself why I felt a certain way about someone.  Names withheld for my own sanity, but at the end of the process I was less satisfied with how I felt about them than when I began.  It all really boiled down to I added weight in my mind to the negative factors and downplayed the positive ones.

It's an interesting concept, and I would like to see more research in this area.  Tangentially related would be the habit of recording everything as it's happening, I'm often offended by the photography bug of everyone and their mother whenever people get together.  No I do appreciate a few photos from an event just as keep sakes, but every 5 minutes the damn cameras do not need to come out and even more so if there are 12 people in the photo you don't need all 12 cameras to get the same fucking shot!  Take a few and share them, use flickr or facebook or whatever, but I hate being trapped in a pose while several cameras take the same photo over and over again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trying to not hyperventillate

So yeah, I just bought a 5 gallon oak barrel for beer.  I've been looking at it for the last month, and finally pulled the trigger.

Isn't she a beauty?  For those that might be interested in such a crazy thing they can be purchased here for $89+shipping.  I didn't want to post anything here before I got a chance to buy one, but oh my goodness I excited and scared.  I just put myself on the hook to always have a beer in it for the foreseeable forever, because the barrel can never be dry (or you risk infection).  I'm going to have to keep it filled with only non-soured beers so that I can tap "guest" brewers to help keep it full.

Cardboard robotic arm

This was a pretty neat Kickstarter that ran over the summer, at the end of the day it's about a $200 computer controlled robotic arm made of cardboard.  The usefulness is somewhat limited, but the materials and relatively low cost ($200 for a 4 axis control board and 3 stepper motors is pretty decent) would make it a fun electronics project for learning with children.  Best part is that you could turn them loose with it when they are done, I don't see them killing themselves with cardboard.

Via engadget

Brain abuse

So perennial link bait site Lifehacker had this little gem of a post about brain abuse.

It's a short article, but the gist of it is your brain is important so stop using it ineffectively for things it doesn't do well, and don't do things that make it preform poorly.

Basically don't re-think things, leave things half finished, work on too many things at the same time, or try to rely on your brain to remind you of things.  It's some pretty good advice, even if the examples are pretty thin and little evidence is offered why this are abusing your brain I think most people can identify with the articles thrust and agree with some of his recommendations.

For me it's the half finished work and re-thinking that gets me into trouble.  I don't feel fully responsible for these failings as sometimes the trouble is reality has constraints and those constraints prevent me from finishing a project (time, money and expertise for instance are limiting constraints) that cause me to have to come back to projects to wrap them up.  All of that just forces me into rethinking items in an effort to prioritize projects as the resource become available.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Science or something like it

This is the type of thing that is on the top of my mind of late, so I've got some video's on things that are going on in my world.  First up Science of Weight Loss

Via Geeks are Sexy

And we'll follow that up with Some info on Over eating.

Via Geeks are Sexy

Raising boys

Since the birth of my son, I've been in a curious spot trying to think long term about the things that I find important and want for him to learn.  One constant theme that I'm running into even before my son turned one is the gender stereotyping, and "norming" on those lines.  My parents, and In-laws both are projecting a good deal of boy roles onto him already with the toys they buy but the worst usurper is in my own household, my wife.  We lost a daughter at full term, and thus had a house full of pink things for baby girls.  Most of the items where functional, clothes bedding, ect.  When we found out that it was going to be a boy overnight most of that stuff was sold, or donated and a flood of blue came into our house.  I argued (and still argue) that the pink things, especially the things like bedding, and clothes that they only really wear for a short period of time and are just going to spit up on can be any color in the damn rainbow.  I think she needed the validation that it was a boy, I'm pretty sure my son was wholly unaware of both the color of his clothes and how people reacted to him in those clothes.  By casting colors as gender specific we are limiting him, and ourselves, and that seems ludicrous.  In a related sense, I also am trying to be mindful of what types of toys I buy him so as to not force the type of play that we allow him to engage in.  I think this article addresses the issue fairly well.

Another issue is respecting women, both their autonomy and their intelligence.  I suppose you can gather that I have some feminist leanings, and in that vein I wanted to raise a boy and hopefully a young man that has some appreciation for the amount of projection that women are subjected to, but also how marginalized they can be.  It wasn't until really the last few years that I've had my eyes opened to how pervasively American society has sexualized and marginalized women, but anyone that has been watching this years political cycle no doubt is aware of how politicized women's health and autonomy has become.  It's appalling that politicians think that they should be in charge of choices that a woman and her health care provider should be making.

And finally there is his own sexuality.  I don't remember how I found Goodmenproject, but this article on sex education is one of the guiding lights I have for conversations that are inevitable as he grows up.  Like the author of that article I was also left on my own, to guess and talk with other boys my own age.  I had a sex education class around grade 6, but even then I would not have been comfortable asking questions in that kind of group setting so aside from some of the biology they taught, not many questions where answered.  I was fortunate to live with a nurse so I was able to get some questions answered, but really how much do you want to talk to your parents about sex?  As such I had the typical boy vocabulary that marginalized any body that wasn't a cisgendered male, and that makes it hard to explore what your sexuality even is.  In essence it's dictated to you by gender roles you absorbed from society or your peer group.  I still have a hard time not saying fag (online gamer, it happens from time to time), but taunts based on sexuality are exactly where it starts, and I'm hoping to at least educate him on how harmful it is to.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kitchen tools and stuff

Well this post is a little nostolgic for me.  I stopped reading Gizmodo over the summer as I finally admitted to myself that I didn't have enough time for my 200+ blog feeds as it was.  It doesn't stop the fact that Gizmodo always posted some really interesting gadgets for the home and kitchen.

This little toy caught my eye because really all of the items in this kit would be fairly useful and in that package I could keep it on the counter without much guilt.

And next Grill Clips.  They are exactly as bad ass as they sound.  Sure they are from Sur La Table[?], but only $15 and grilled veggies are the best part of summer.

Battle Star Galactica?

I've never seen a single episode of BSG, (or anything related to firefly for that matter so don't use it as a reference point) but this little video piqued my interest.  So honestly and without gushing, give me your pitch on why the show was worth watching?

I'm in the tail end of Season one of Game of Thrones  and have the last few episodes of this season of Trublood to finish, but after that I have no shows on my watch list.

Source Geeks are sexy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cloud Atlas Trailer

Well it has the acting talent, and some really great directors.  Here's hoping for the best on this one.

what the what?

Alright so I'm sure I must have seen this on Jezebel or something, but anyone got the stones to give My Secret Concierge a go?

Never heard of it?  You apparently use your time on the internet for more "appropriate" activities than I choose to and I refuse to be judged for it!  Any how, seems like an interesting thing if you have several things going for you.

  1. Cash you are totally excited to part with
  2. Some kind of fantasy that you don't have a particular interest in arranging yourself but would totally do
  3. no shame
Is my list missing anything?  I mean really as adults how hard is it to google Boudoir photography in x town (where x is the town you live in), and proceed from there.  I randomly (or not that randomly I suppose) even know a photographer that specifically markets that he does these type of shoots, friend of a friend type of situation but none the less I'm sure that there are plenty of photographers that would totally be happy to help your Significant other get gussied up and take photo's of them while partially or fully nude.  Feel free to totally be comfortable with that, some dude taking neeked or semi-neeked pictures of your wife or girlfriend.  Because let's not kid ourselves here percentage of proprietors of this type of business that are dudes is approaching 100%.  Nuff said, then they offer to arrange your own 50 Shades fantasy, oh how kind of you to make me a billionare, with stalker tendencies and strange affliction with contracts as a prerequisite to sticking hard members into your inner goddess. (I realize this article is turning a little blue as it where if it makes you uncomfortable, well do something else more "appropriate" with your time.)

But what this boils down to for me is have you ever used the concierge desk?  They can be really useful and get you free appetizers at fancy restaurants (well assuming you didn't stay at the best western, which probably doesn't even know how to spell concierge), but for your naughty bits?  I feel like you should probably grow a set of stones and make those arrangements yourself. 

Cheap ethernet connection for microcontrollers

This probably belongs on my other blog, but whatever.  I've been ever so patiently waiting for my twine to arrive, but that doesn't keep me from eyeballing other network connected embedded projects left right and center.  Hackaday posted this little gem of a project, for connecting arduino's to your network on the cheap. It used to be the network connection for these embedded projects can be more expensive than the microcontroller itself! So it's good to see projects working to tackle that.  My self I have TI Launchpad that I keep meaning to cook up something meaningful with, but the best I've come up with is motion activated stair lights.  I'm not sure the wife would approve of my cutting up the house, but I would be nice to not fear falling down the stairs at night.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Beer Tourism

A while ago Saveur posted this article on beer tourism to Belgium, and I wanted to cry with envy of this bastard living literally my dream of sampling the funk from the source as it where.  The US is slowly developing it's own sour beer tradition, and New Belgium brewing is putting a strong stake in that territory with their Lips of Faith series of collaborative brews marking some of the most interesting and funky generally available sour beers I know of.   Certainly one would argue there is the import section of the bottleworks places in my area for trying some strange brews, at truly they would be right, but for whatever reason the Pacific Northwest has decided that the trail to beer nirvana lies through IPA infested waters.  Round these parts hops are king, and so many of the people I talk to about beer just rave about how they're a hop head and love the IPA's.  I ask about funk brett beers, lambic's and gueuze's and I get blank stares.  Not even a Flemish Red I lament?  Open up your palette's people because this is a damn party, it doesn't need to be 190IBU of Magnum hops to be an enjoyable beer damn it!  In the heat I find IPA's oppressive, and look for pales, or better a saison for some lightness to the day.

It blows my mind that people relish funky cheese, brag about the blue cheese that smell like someone's old jock strap, but any of those notes in a beer and their raging hard on for funk wilts.  With that in mind I went looking for the Great North American Sour Brewery and found in my neck of the woods The Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  Located in Portland they have beers that move with the seasons, and they aren't afraid to get funky.  The beers link opens the "Beer Menu" and right now they are pouring 8 sour beers, but a short 4 hours away from me.  I bide my time, and read the Mad Fermentationist for moral support while my sours work on maturing.

Right now I have a 8ish month old Sour Raspberry Pale ale on Wyeasts Lambic Blend, a 1 year old Vanilla Bourbon Strong Porter that has been on Wyeast's Brett Blend for the last 3 months, and the Second runnings of my Oatmeal Stout sitting on The same Brett Blend for the last 3 months.  I broke out a 16oz of the Sour Raspberry for Seafair this year and it was so perfect for the summer, light and bubbly enough you would think it was champagne, with a light funk bite and crisp.  This is the hallmark of excellent sour beers, the funk doesn't linger.  It's the tiniest hint, the impression of that flavor and it's gone as soon as you swallow it; leaving your palette begging for more.

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Saveur Recipies

Just flushing out old drafts not much to see here, it's sort of a follow on from this post if you will.

Greek Mac and Cheese. So I think the title says all that you need to know about the recipe, but the reason I was a huge fan of it was the picture on Saveur's site, I want that cast iron thing the mac and cheese is in.

Cheesy Corn Casserole looks like a pretty sweet side dish for some BBQ and well I'm a sucker for corn recipes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meritocracy Round 6

Continuing from Round 1Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, and Round 5 so begins the Chapter 7 summary.  This chapter begins with a bold declaration that Classes and Castes are universal (Natural Order perhaps?), and the level of harmony between them in dependent on the distribution of resources according to the moral code.  In this instance the author indicates that something in 2005 stabilized and the harmony had been stable since, as long as you don't count the discontent that this whole book is about I guess.  In essence when inheritance was wiped out you had to compete via merit for a high paying job, the poor no longer took offense to those that had more, they had earned it after all.

The socialist begrudgingly tolerated the elitist attitudes because for instance they as well as everyone else wanted the best care they could get when they where ill.  What they bemoaned was the pay gap, keeping in mind Young has cast the Socialists as believing everyone is equally deserving of everything.  The hard part for stability was choosing a mandate to decide the relative fairness on, as there where many perspectives on the issue.  The silencing of this debate was key to stability, and was achieved with the 2005 equalization of income act, so that everyone gets the same pay.  I think Young was jumbled on his thoughts here or more specifically he failed to carry his solution to the logical finish when he wrote it.  In any event he continues on as if everyone got the same pay, and said the difference in incomes for the elite comes from employer provided services (maids, secretaries, home, cars, ect.).  He justifies this system where the government is the ultimate wage payer so profits go to the government  by saying that wealth generated must be reinvested to stay competitive with other countries in the future.

What should have been a marvel of having the whole country on the same pay grade is instead called a hypocrisy, the elites are more rich than previous elites because of this facade.  The trouble ultimately begins with when it's a battle of wits to determine the distribution of assets the new low class has the deck stacked against them.  In earlier parts of this chapter he talks about different pay grades inside of companies so I felt Young lost his way a bit on this chapter, or at least didn't clearly delineate that the pay grade discussion was for pre-2005 companies.  In any event I think the rest of the book you are supposed to believe that in terms of money everyone gets payed the same, but that the elites get cool free stuff as a part of their having a job.  Surprisingly I think that this type of a system would be more fair than our current set of elites that often don't "work" any more.  They have so much money that they live off of investments, or other people working.  If they wouldn't have the benefit of fancy cars and nice houses without having a job, you would see a very different attitude towards the rich.

In chapter 8 we really finally get to the meat of this book and look at the present day, life under the meritocracy.  The author notes that the Meritocracy isn't perfect, but rather a balance, and believes that until sociology develops as much as the other sciences there will never be a frictionless society.  Even with that in mind the resistance to the meritocracy doesn't make sense to the author so he explores where the spark for the resistance came from.  It started with women he thinks, that went to work as lower grade labor rather than in their earned place.  The tried to convince their fellows of the injustice that was being rained on them.  Sadly there was no common will to raise up as these intellectuals where "day tripping" as laborers and didn't know the technicians hearts.  They did however plant a seed to encourage smart people to stay as technicians rather than pursue advanced education they where entitled to, that their intelligence would be available for their fellows.  An intellectual education counterculture if you will, and a grassroots movement grew up from there.  They never had a good idea for how to go about it as most that could advance wanted to.  The tact that found purchase was to argue that physical labor had was as valuable as intellectual labor that can be satisfying by it's own right (There are seeds of this in our current society see Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance, or the results of this search).  They where questioning how we came to ascribe one person more value than another one?  And argued the ability to expand production made sense when war was eminent but couldn't we broaden the definition of value?  The resistance group produced the 2009 Chelsea manifesto claiming the aim of the group was to cultivate variety, that felt that the inequality reflected a narrowness of values.  In a reversal of what the meritocracy had built they called for a return to common schools to cultivate an appreciation for diversity and to nurture the children's contentment.  Arguing that people should be free to pursue the things they are truly great at, and able to enjoy the full spectrum of human experience.

So who where these women that worked with the lower class laborers?  Young titles this section the modern feminist movement, and from here it gets interesting.  Some of the women mentioned didn't marry and settle down, rather continued in their quest to overthrow the Meritocracy (those evil women!).  The reasoning as to why the did this the author believes is related to the biological role, and how the women are supposed to stop work for some time to raise their children as that is considered the noblest job (likely buy the men of the meritocracy).  During this time they transfer their frustration with not being able to have true biological equality with men to the authority figure of the state and fight for equality they can win (or so the author believes).  He does concede that the meritocracy is still asymmetrically benefiting men more than women which does add to their reasons to protest the status quo.  Another rallying point is the practice of marrying for intelligence, as the insurrection favors romance and beauty.

Perhaps spurred by the resistance, the meritocracy has moved in legislature to have have the hereditary nature of intelligence guarded with guaranteed education for their children, in essence undoing the whole meritocracy's advancements.  The story sort of takes a swerve here into the silly in my opinion, but in the fictional future social scientists developed methods for reliably testing intelligence by knowing the intelligence of the parents, as if intelligence is set by your genes.  With the evidence that their children where in fact superior, what was the point of equality of opportunity?  The outcomes where set there was no need to bother placating the dumb of the society.  The author notes that the truly bright tend to have slightly less bright children and the truly dull have slightly less dull children and thus trend towards average, but that the extremists of the new conservatism didn't care, while the more moderate offered a compromise of a limited window for rechecking.  The final straw, that started outright resistance and the events that where outlined at the beginning of the book was the practice of kidnapping promising babies for the elite to raise as their own and shipping of their dumb offspring to be raised elsewhere.

Though they where the move by the conservatives to restore heredity after it took two centuries to tear it down was met with revulsion as it was an attack on the values of society as a whole, so even if the New Feminists also represented an assault on some of the core of the Meritocracy it upheld equality of opportunity and for that is perceived as more moral.  Without the antagonism of the conservatives, the women's movement would have had no support.  Though they capitalized on the conservatives actions as well as they could, the movement was merely riding the mob, not guiding it.  I disagree with that assertion that there would have been no support as the structural inequality of the meritocracy probably would enough to garner some support, even if it wasn't as much as they received with an enemy to the common man.

The response in the Parliament was to remove the most far right elements from power, and promise not to do the most offensive things they had suggested, leaving the author to believe that the rebellion was defanged.  He died at a rally in Peterloo where he thought the rebellion would fall apart without a common enemy.

There is a footnote at the end that is quite telling and sums up better than I can hope to.

Since the author of this essay was himself killed at Peterloo, the publishers regret that they were not able to submit to him the proofs of his manuscript, for the corrections he might have wished to make before publication.  The text, even in this last section, has been left exactly as he wrote it.  The failings of sociology are as illuminating as its successes.
So ends The Rise of the Meritocracy, and more thoughts to come!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

More Joseph Gordon-Levitt

So I've posted a thing or two of Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing, and I really like the guy.  After watching the his recent SNL  I tumbled down the youtube hole and watched related videos of the Nirvana cover and found this one.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt sings Oasis- don't look back in anger

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Meritocracy Round 5

Continuing from Round 1Round 2, Round 3, and Round 4 picking up with the Fall of the Labour Movement.  The Labour Movements historic role in the book was to win the people's mind to the order of the world the other reforms had created, to adapt to the language of the people the message that they need to compete and be measured.  That this was their will being done.   The end goal to equality of opportunity was aided by the Socialists having related or similar enough goals that gave them reason to add their support.  Once opportunity was equal the secondary goal of the socialists, equality of man was absurd.  Had the ideal of equality of man been carried to it's logical conclusion, the revolution would have been a dud.  The will to rise as high as your abilities justified had to be the ethos of the people, Young's literary doppelganger says otherwise the the country would never have achieved it's many successes.

While discipline was voluntary, socialism played an indispensable role in goading people to go get the opportunities available to them.  Where Protestantism fired the acquisitive urge it had to be adapted to economic requirements in order for expansion into Western Europe and other parts the world that made up the British Empire, the older religions of the rest of the world to provide that fire.  This gave rise to the linked religions of Communism and Nationalism and the accompanying revolutions that helped the Russian, Chinese and Arab's be receptive to needing turbo generators and electrostatic wands (author's examples not mine, you could say cell phones and televisions just as easily).  Protestantism could only go so far though as it encouraged the hording of wealth for future generations, so it was the transmutation of Protestantism through non-conformist churches into anglo-socalism that carried the transformation the rest of the way through.  It was the socialist distilled message that all men where created equal, so what did right did one man have to opportunity that all other men didn't have as well.  They failed to see that in practice that equal opportunity was real equal opportunity to be unequal.  Their structural blindness helped them attack with vigor all means of inequality due to inheritance.  Death duties, the decay of nepotism, free secondary and university education and the integration of public (again in America we call these private) schools, wages for students and the abolition of the hereditary house of Lords (British house of government) where their greatest achievements.  A change of the countries psychology on the scale and time frame it was achieved wouldn't have been possible without the socialists.

The next section is on British politics, and is not the most interesting read for those that don't know how their government works.  The short version is this outlines how the House of Lords came to be a tool of the Meritocracy and the House of Commons came to be of little importance.  Prior to the casteless society suffrage (the right to vote) was recognition that intelligence was distributed among the population at random, so the above average in the miners and factory workers was likely to be as intelligent as the above average Lord.  Once the society moved to a class based society the argument that talented could be plucked from among those that where left after intelligence testing had separated them out of was harder to make.  The lower class clung to their right to vote, even as it made them inherently less and less equipped to perform in the complicated government that emerged from the rise of the meritocracy.  Even though that could be demonstrated, the public continued to elect from within, and the author concedes that there are rare occasions that advice from a properly advised common man is as good as what the meritocracy can come up with on it's own so the social relief of allowing the appearance of power sharing is worth headache.  The real reform came in the House of Lords.  Hereditary peers where banned, the membership was restricted to life peers, the selection was of men as well as women from the most eminent people in the Kingdom and the payment of a generous honorarium transitioned the tool of the Aristocracy into a tool of the Meritocracy.  Further lessening the role of the House of Commons was the high preference given to selection for the civil service, that is filled with highly competent and well trained servants.  In the face of this, nearly all amateur politicians are happy to take the glory and abandon the power.

With it's purpose fulfilled the Labour party continued on mostly because of social inertia.  The members of the party advanced their concerns as unit when the individuals where bared from advancement, once the meritocracy began to work there was no need to continue to work together.  Their compromise with the society that they helped to birth was to cease to exist.  Every individual advancement was a detriment to the Labour parties whole.  There was some political appeal to claiming labour heritage, the hard upbringing and working one's way up the ladder, but as the base of the party advanced to middle class there was less value in those emotional appeals.  Interesting to note in this section Young guessed at something that really has come to pass years after he parodied it.  He proposed upgrading of titles to jobs that could not be upgraded otherwise.  Workers became Technicians, Technicians became Specialists, Specialists became Benefactors, ect.  I would have to look it up, but I thought this trend started in the 80's, but can you imagine rat-catchers as rodent officers?  This behavior was also mimicked by the unions, and thus the labor party became the technicians party nearly overnight.

As the meritocracy kept the bright for itself there where no up and coming intelligent children in the labor force of the unions to replace the retiring union leadership.  Unions would have collapsed under mismanagement had they not changed tack and taken to strengthening their appointed staff by hiring from universities.  The negotiation shifted from with individual companies to nationalized negotiations based on statistics rather than bargaining.  It seems absurd to anyone that has ever dealt with a union that nationalized bargaining would ever have a chance of being less contemptuous than the union bargaining we read about in the news all the time.  If State's can barely make peace with just the Teachers Unions, I cannot imagine what waste workers or longshoremen would be like if they negotiated with the Federal Government.  I'll give him some creative license here, I'm positive that the author hoped humans would be more capable of being civil in the future and went when he was writing this.  As this history lesson draws to a close, the author does finally start to peal back some potential reasons that there is unrest in the Meritocracy.  He notes that modern populists are arguing that because their leadership didn't ascend from their ranks, their is no cohesion.  The group cannot look up to one of their own that has succeeded, in essence hope has vanished.

Continue to Part 6 >>>

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Monday, October 01, 2012

Crème fraîche

So I'm going to imagine my fellow American haven't had much exposure to Crème fraîche , but how about you international fellows?  I've been working on pulling sugar out of my diet, but I still want rich food from time to time.  I was thinking an unsweetened fruit desert with Crème fraîche for a treat.  I've also got a few soups that I'm eyeing that you can place a dollop as a garnish.

I don't remember what the genesis of this idea was, but here is the Joy of Baking how to video that got me interested in making some crème fraîche and using it in cooking.  I also thought I'd throw around some recipes for the fun of it

Crème fraîche Mousse with strawberries - I'd play with the sugar here, as 1/4 cup seems like a lot for a small desert.  Also for those wondering caster sugar is the half step between white sugar and powdered sugar.  You can just pulse some white sugar in you food processor to make it.

Milk Chocolate Mousse with Port Ganache and Whipped Crème Fraîche - I'd just go with this one.  The port is sweet, but only 2 tablespoons of sugar are added so it's really not over the top sweet.

I need to use my sourdough starter again so I could just use the crème fraîche as a topping for crumpets.

Any idea's?  How would you use the crème fraîche?