Thursday, August 23, 2012


Romney too busy for Vietnam? As the son of a wealthy Republican governor, Romney received no less than four draft deferments to keep him out of Vietnam. Later, he became very hawkish about the war, even claiming that he longed to go but couldn't. More Mitt bullshit. Here's the real story behind the satire circulating, from the Associated Press:

"Romney's recollection of his Vietnam-era decisions has evolved in the decades since, particularly as his presidential ambitions became clear. He said in 2007 - his first White House bid under way - that he had 'longed in many respects to actually be in Vietnam.' But his actions, Selective Service records and previous statements show little interest in joining a conflict that ultimately claimed more than 58,000 American lives. Still, he repeatedly cites his commitment to public service and the nation's military while campaigning for president. 'Greatness in a people, I believe, is measured by the extent to which they will give themselves to something bigger than themselves,' Romney said in San Diego last week to a Memorial Day crowd of thousands, flush with military veterans of all ages. He did not address his own Vietnam history that day. And his campaign has refused to comment publicly on the subject over the past week."

 For the rest of the story, follow this LINK.


You may never be Sicilian, but this recipe may help you do hard time with some style. No, it's not the latest Gordon Ramsey series. This delicious scene is from Martin Scorsese's celebrated crime film, Goodfellas. Cotswold House Hotel head chef Dave Watts has put together a recipe that approximates the one we see in the movie. He's about as Sicilian as Gordon Ramsey and he'll never be a made man but the dude can cook, and we respect him for that. We discovered this recipe at Slashfilm, an irreverent film site worth checking out.

The meal serves four hungry convicts well.  Preparation is 20 – 30 minutes.  Cooking time: 2 hrs 30 - 3hrs 30, longer if you have time.  (One other thing, the measurements are in the metric system which will be no problem if you're English or if you've ever dealt drugs.  Remember, 1 Ounce = 28.3495231 Grams). 

 6 onions peeled and finely diced
75g Cotswold gold rapeseed oil or olive oil
A teaspoon of salt
300g minced beef
300g minced pork shoulder
300g diced English rose veal flank
30g Cotswold gold rapeseed oil or olive oil
250g beef or brown chicken stock
10 cloves garlic peeled 100ml white wine
150g tomato puree
750g ripe vine tomatoes (chopped) or equivalent weight of quality chopped tinned tomatoes
A pinch of salt
Good grind of black pepper

For the actual recipe please check out Shortlist, who commissioned the interpretation, and try your hand at some tasty food. Link HERE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Right-wing Republicans are consistently anti-intellectual, anti-science and anti-women--so this idiotic superstition about rape comes as no surprise. It serves a purpose. The very notion of "legitimate rape" (what a dead giveaway) should tip us off that Akin and his gang are once again trivializing suffering and blaming victims. This is the GOP stock in trade. In this case, in their tiny minds, sex is bad and women are trying to get away with it without proper punishment, using abortion as birth control--and this nifty superstition allows these right-wing bible-thumpers to oppose abortion in ALL cases, even after rape, since "legitimate" rape rarely results in pregnancy. Once again, according to asshats like Akin, wanton harlots cannot be trusted; they're using rape--which apparently isn't so bad--as an excuse to have abortions, to jump from bed to bed without consequences and flagrantly violate the simple, inflexible rules of a wrathful God handed down during the Bronze Age, as well as the laws of his poor, God-fearing, sexually repressed Republican followers.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Moments ago, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, a philosophy graduate, Maria Alekhina, 24, a charity worker and environmental activist and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, a computer programming graduate, members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, were found guilty of hooliganism in a Moscow courtroom. Their crime? Criticizing President Vladimir Putin.  Each band member received two years in prison. The judge has said they are sane and should be punished in accordance with the law.  Shouts of "Shame!" filled the courtroom as the verdict was handed down. 

From the Guardian: "MOSCOW — A judge found three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism on Friday, in a case that has drawn widespread international condemnation as an emblem of Russia's intolerance of dissent. "The judge said the three band members "committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred" and offended religious believers. The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow's main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia's president two weeks later."

"Nobody can take away my inner freedom. It lives in the word, it will go on living thanks to openness [glasnost], when this will be read and heard by thousands of people. This freedom goes on living with every person who is not indifferent, who hears us in this country. With everyone who found shards of the trial in themselves, like in previous times they found them in Franz Kafka and Guy Debord. I believe that I have honesty and openness, I thirst for the truth; and these things will make all of us just a little bit more free. We will see this yet."

- from their closing statements; entire text, translated to English, located HERE

For more news about the trial, check out BBC Europe's coverage HERE.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


 Next month, my dad will be celebrating his 80th birthday with my mom amid the high-octane thrills and glitter of Las Vegas. The smart money says they'll have a great time, as they have for the past fifty-seven years. Wish 'em luck! And wish Dad a happy a month!  Maybe some of that luck will rub off on the gaming tables or slot machines. 

As for luck, it's hard to beat Archie Karas. Archie (born Anargyros Karabourniotis in 1950) is a Greek-American gambler famous for hitting Vegas with just fifty bucks and parlaying it into forty million.  That's the largest and longest documented winning streak in history. The guy was golden. And just so you don't get the wrong take home lesson, Archie also lost it all.  As my grandpa, a gambler in his own right, used to say, "Don't gamble if you're going to cry about it."  My grandma, who never gave him the last word if she could help it, would add, "Easy come, easy go."

So how do you make a million in a Vegas casino? Easy. Start with two million.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I'm writing about World War II, and I did some digging about cigarettes in the 1940s. What would someone be smoking during the war?  It depends which year. "Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War!" was heard over the radio when the military needed green dyes and pigments for the war effort (titanium was in the green, and bronze was in the gold dyes) so the Luckies pack evolved to the more familar white-and-red pack.

While the folks on the home front made do with off-brands like Rameses or Pacayunes, more popular brands were included in GI C-rations. 

According to "The Cigarette Camps," a website about army camps in the La Havre area during the war, the cigarette connection continued after the Liberation:

"Once France had been liberated, the U.S. Army established a series of camps just outside of the harbor city of Le Havre. Each was named after a popular American cigarette of the period, primarily for security reasons: Lucky Strike, Old Gold, Philip Morris, Twenty Grand, and Chesterfield, among others. In 1944-45, the camps were essentially depots for new arrivals bound for the front lines bordering the West Wall (the "Siegfried Line"). These replacements were desperately needed to bring the American divisions being bloodied in places like the Hürtgen Forest, the Saar, and, later, the Bulge. After V-E day, they were transformed into way stations for men returning home. Like the cigarettes they were named after, they were a pleasant diversion from war no matter how short-lived, though the men who spent time there going in either direction certainly cursed them at the time."


Sunday, August 12, 2012


Mitt Romney has picked his perfect match for running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan. No surprises here: Ryan is another wealthy, white, privileged male with political connections, another smiling clueless heartland bland Anglo-Saxon in an expensive suit with a pile of money in the bank.  Ryan is a Romney clone ever further to the right, but who knows? Maybe this one will be able to distract a sufficient number of Americans with short attention spans and no sense of history.  Maybe this one will reveal his tax returns.

But who is Paul Ryan? This video says more about him than any detailed rundown of his far-right political record, any in-depth analysis of his economic plan favoring the rich, any string of tales that exhibit his consistent insensitivity to issues facing the jobless, the poor, the middle class and non-Republicans. In this video, Ryan jokes as Tom Nielsen, a 71-year old retired plumber, questions his plan to gut Social Security and Medicare and is wrestled to the ground. Ryan gets some laughs from his grim mob of supporters as Nielsen is knocked down, handcuffed and arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest. His real crime? Questioning his congressman during Ryan's only public appearance scheduled during the August recess. So much for democracy.