Thought You'd Never Ask

Just mouthing off -- because I can.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Some Muslims will burn in hell

The martyred Benazir Bhutto said it:

I do not believe that any true Muslim will make an attack on me because Islam forbids attacks on women, and Muslims know that if they attack a woman they will burn in hell, so I don’t believe that any true Muslim will make an attack on me.

That's the whole crux of the problem today, isn't it: terroristic criminals and thugs running around falsely pretending to be "true Muslims" while perpetrating hatred and crimes that shame and dishonor them in the eyes of other Muslims. They shame and dishonor the name of all Muslims in the eyes of the world. They shame and dishonor the teachings of their Prophet and the commandments of their God in the eyes of the world. And yes, evidently they condemn themselves to hell.

Just wanted to point out the obvious.

And speaking of terroristic Muslims, here's a good, thoughtful, critical review of Norman Podhoretz's new book, World War IV. Get the big picture of jihad with your morning coffee.

Don't forget: for "educated" coverage and analysis of Benazir Bhutto's assassination that you won't hear from the mainstream media, be sure to drop in on Jihad Watch.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I want to know more about Duncan Hunter

He looks (at first blush, as Huckabee once looked) like a good candidate for conservatives to back. But he has not gotten the media attention and vetting in the public eye that the other candidates have gotten. Why not?

I feel I have learned the inside pros and cons of all the Republican candidates except for Duncan Hunter. I like what he says on his website (except I want to know more about what he means by "fair trade" and raising reciprocal tariffs--does he really understand economics and the free market?). I just don't trust what the leftists say. I want the so-called mainstream media and most importantly, the conservative bloggers I trust to put their most objective, probing, critical, diverse, and brutally honest spotlights on this guy and tell us exactly what's good about him and more importantly, exactly what's bad about him, before the Republican convention. Why aren't they doing this? Who decided Romney, Giuliani, and McCain would be the top tier?

Duncan Hunter may just be the right man for President, for all I know. I'd like to find out more before the primaries. Because I am not entirely happy voting for any of the other Republican candidates, I want more hot, passionate, detailed discussion of Duncan Hunter, as the last unknown.

Does anybody else feel the same way?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin drops a crumb.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Christmas Gift List

Friday, December 21, 2007

Huckabee (and other Republicans) reconsidered

When I first heard about Huckabee I felt favorably about his candidacy because he supported the Fair Tax. Not that a President can do that much to bring about a tax code revamp, but still, I liked the fact that at first glance, he was distinguished among the field of candidates for seeming to have his fiscal heart in the right place.

Huh. Since then a lot more has come up to tell us what else Huckabee thinks. Frankly, he thinks like you'd expect a Baptist preacher to think. There's no crime in that in America. But I'd rather have him sharing his gifts with the world as a Baptist preacher than as President of the United States.

As George Will has pointed out:

Huckabee's radical candidacy broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.

And he is willing to exploit religious tensions, which I find especially offensive in anybody.

He is unnecessarily divisive, using religion as a wedge.

Just for that distasteful and tacky tactic alone he should be shown the door. Do your duty, Iowans. This man is not a universally-acknowledged good representative of the true spirit of Christianity, and even if he were, that's no reason to vote for him or anybody else for President.

On the other hand, the way Romney thinks has certain attractions (via Bookworm Room). And Beldar makes a good case for supporting The Fred (via Instapundit).

UPDATE: Too many bloggers (and more bloggers), writers and radio pundits I trust are finding too much wrong with Huckabee for me to support him any longer. Now how about vetting Duncan Hunter before the primaries? If Chuck Yeager's for him, he deserves a close look.

Then there's the case for sucking it up and voting for McCain to forestall a Democratic win (via Roger L. Simon). If such polls can be believed, which is not a given. And sucking it up would be hard; as Hugh Hewitt says, "John McCain is a great American, a lousy Senator and a terrible Republican." Yes, I remember. Maybe just the man the country needs (or will elect, anyway).


I question the timing

Got our tree up and decorated this week. Managed to buy one of the last nice-looking trees for sale in our area. The tree lot was just about empty. Since when did the celebration of Christmas turn into a month-long Ramadan-like festival? As Mama always said, "Don't put your tree and lights up in November--by the time Christmas Day come around, everybody's tired of it and doesn't care anymore!"

Well, we are different, all right. Our tree and lights are up and everybody in our house is excited. Including the cat. Four days till Christmas!


Friday, December 14, 2007

When pundits hit the nail on the head

Came across some great pieces while taking a break from wrapping Christmas presents:

Peggy Noonan -- "The Pulpit and the Potemkin Village" (via Drudge). She is consistently a talented and an educated writer, and here she shares her thoughts about religion becoming too prominent a factor in the Presidential campaigns, and about Hillary Clinton's hollow core (Peggy ought to know, having written the book on some of that). Some excerpts:

It is a delight of democracy that now and then assumptions are confounded, that all the conventional wisdom of the past year is compressed and about to blow. It takes a Potemkin village.

A thought on the presence of Bill Clinton. He is showing up all over in Iowa and New Hampshire, speaking, shaking hands, drawing crowds. But when he speaks, he has a tendency to speak about himself. It's all, always, me-me-me in his gigantic bullying neediness. Still, he's there, and he's a draw, and the plan was that his presence would boost his wife's fortunes. The way it was supposed to work, the logic, was this: People miss Bill. They miss the '90s. They miss the pre-9/11 world. So they'll love seeing him back in the White House. So they'll vote for Hillary. Because she'll bring him. "Two for the price of one."

It appears not to be working. Might it be that they don't miss Bill as much as everyone thought? That they don't actually want Bill back in the White House?

Then there's Victor Davis Hanson's latest blogpost, featuring so many great moments, including these nuggets:

Democrats and their apologists keep insisting that either illegal immigration is not really an issue, or, that to the extent it is, it only wins Democrats Latino voters. Three things: as of yet the vast voting Latino bloc simply has not emerged; two, all the polls show overwhelming opposition to illegal immigration; three, African-Americans are against it, as are Asians; so legitimate worry over wide-open borders is hardly the equivalent to a Lou Dobbsian “nativist” spasm.

This is a losing issue for Democrats. In today’s press releases and punditry, the National Council of La Raza is often referenced and approvingly quoted. So those alleging that others are nativists or tribalists have now aligned themselves with The National Council of—the Race?

Doesn’t anyone grasp that La Raza (“the race”) should be a toxic term—a 60’s separatist and racist rubric that should have long ago dropped from popular American parlance? Even the recent Univision debate is a reminder why one wouldn’t wish an officially bi-lingual society: the moderator Jorge Ramos is a tribalist of the first order, and the format, with clumsy translations, ear-pieces falling out, and repetition and confusion, reminds one how intellectual commerce simply comes to a halt when everything must be translated rather than simply communicated in a shared language.

and this:

The Clintons as Demosthenes?

It was quite entertaining to hear the Clinton people drudge up Obama’s confessionals about using drugs, proclaiming they were now airing them only in worry that the Republican attack machine might do worse later—classical praeteritio (e.g., ‘as far as my opponent’s drug use, let us not mention it’).

In the past we have seen the use of apophasis, in something like ‘As far as stories about Obama’s Muslim madrassa past, we think such slurs are entirely inappropriate’ (the use of denial to make a positive statement). Before the campaign is over, every classical rhetorical trope will be exhausted—and we haven’t even seen yet the entrance of the nasty relief staff like Begala and Carville.

Read it all.

Powerline also weighs in on the illegal immigration anti-debate and the tacky and corrupt in politics (includes a nice, succinct listing of Hillary's past baggage).

What I like about reading conservative pundits is that I do not just have my prejudices affirmed as truths; I actually learn new information while doing it.

Back to wrapping my gifts!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Demotivational poster generator

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soon it will be Christmas Day....

Politics? What's that? I've been too busy these past few days keeping up with my kids, with all that's going on in their schools these days, and getting ready for Christmas. I don't know about you, but I have plenty to get done: printing out and mailing out the family newsletter/card now that I've written it; sending online gifts and still getting out to the stores for real purchases; wrapping gifts, putting together packages and hauling them to the post office to stand in line.... Haven't even started any Christmas decorating yet--just some of the cleaning in advance of it.

I've only got four more days to myself until my son has final exams and starts calling me to pick him up from school by noon each day...and only seven more days of school till both kids are home for Christmas vacation. Got to make the most of the time I have left to get all the "Santa secrets" squared away.

Although I must say it's more relaxed now that both of my kids know the Truth about Santa. I don't have to sneak quite as much.

I've been listening to my favorite radio talk shows as I rush around (my daily fix) but don't really have much inclination to comment. Too busy. Besides, any Republican candidate that wins the primaries will have my vote over any Democrat candidate. That simplifies things.

In the meantime, I'm halfway to my goal of losing that ten pounds I gained since last July at the family reunion when my sister-in-law's cooking was so hard to resist (she put five extra pounds on me, and birthdays, Thanksgiving, and general indulgence in deserts and baked goods added another five). Seem to be losing five pounds every 2-1/2 weeks, which is a leisurely, safe pace without too much suffering. My diet consists of:

Orange juice and vitamin pills for breakfast, with a banana
Bowl of Mueslix with skim milk and blueberries for lunch
Anything if it's a salad or a soup for dinner
Snacks: bananas or plain Greek yogurt
All the fruits, vegetables, water, coffee, tea, and nuts I want, whenever I feel hungry.
Any Thai food I can get.
No sweets (doughnuts, candy, cookies, pastries, sweet sugary breads, etc.)

And when I cheat (and I have), I have less than I'd normally eat (one piece of pizza instead of two, etc.). Some days I feel okay about eating sparsely, some days I allow myself to cheat a bit (after all, I am still preparing the usual meals for everybody else, and I'm human! Who can resist the skin of a fried chicken passing through her hands anyway? And I had to try one of my tea cakes with a tiny schmeer of butter...)

Add a 3-mile walk every day I can, and that's my not-too-stringent diet.

I've got a lot of "skinny pants" hanging in my closet waiting for me, so I'll try to stick with it for another couple of weeks. I'm already planning to cheat on Christmas Day, though!

UPDATE: A closer look at the Republican field. Huckabee's shine is rapidly tarnishing as folks learn more. Could The Fred be the answer? Meanwhile, Hillary steps in it! Answer the questions, Madam Senator.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Can Americans bake British tea cakes?

Some of you may recall my struggles to replicate here at home the delicious British tea cakes my Dreamboat and I enjoyed in Wales and England last April.

I am excited to report that yesterday's effort, after a series of disappointing failures, seems finally promising enough to share here:

Zabrina’s Updated British Tea Cakes
Made December 7, 2007
Most successful trial yet; definitely within the realm of your traditional, ordinary, British tea cakes! At last! With U.S. measurements and ingredients, detailed for bread-baking dummies like yours truly.


1/4-oz. packet of active dry yeast (Red Star, Fleishman’s, etc.; have extra packets on hand)
1/4 cup of warm water (just comfortably, gently warm to the finger, not too hot)
3/4 cup of hot skim milk (you can microwave it to get it hot)
3 Tbsp. of softened butter or you can use Crisco vegetable shortening
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, room temperature, beaten
3 to 3-1/2 cups of unbleached bread flour
about 1/4 cup of currants (which are smaller, specialty raisins you can find in the stores here only at Christmas time—buy a year’s supply and they will last)

You cannot rush this recipe to completion. Expect to be doing this in the background, all day.

1. Take the egg out of the fridge and put it on the counter so it will warm to room temperature.

2. Pour the grains of yeast into the warm water, stir briefly and gently to mix, and let sit for about 40 minutes. If the yeast is alive, it should combine with the water to become a visibly enlarged “sponge,” a yeasty mass (this is called “proofing” the yeast to see if it’s alive). If not much happens, the yeast is dead; start over with another packet of yeast. If the water is too hot, the yeast will be killed; also the yeast could be old or already dead in the packet. So have extra packets of yeast on hand. Don’t proceed without “proofed” yeast.

3. Mix together in a large bowl: the butter or shortening, the sugar, the salt, and the hot skim milk. When this mixture has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, stir in the yeast/water mixture and the beaten egg.

4. Then gradually stir in about 2 of the 3 cups of flour and all of the currants, to the point where the dough starts to leave the edges of the bowl. (I used a mixer at first, then stirred with a wooden spoon by hand.)

5. Using a bit of the additional cup of flour, flour a kneading surface and turn the dough out onto it. (The dough will be rather pasty and very sticky for awhile). Knead the dough gently for 10 minutes, reflouring the board as needed and gradually working into the dough the final cup or more of flour. Use no more than four cups of flour, and you may use less than that. The dough when you are finished should be soft, but no longer sticking to the board or your fingers. Then place the dough ball into a greased or buttered bowl, turning the dough once to butter the top side of the ball. Cover with a towel and place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for around 90 minutes to let the dough rise.

6. When you return, the dough ball should be visibly larger (doubled in size is ideal, but don’t let it sit for hours waiting for that, as you still want some of the yeast to be active during the baking stage later). Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it gently for another 10 minutes. The dough should be of a consistency that you don’t need to add any additional flour. After kneading, gently divide the dough into 8 more or less equal pieces, roll each into a ball, and flatten into a circle about 1/4 inch in height. Place the 8 circles onto an ungreased cookie baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let sit in a warm, draft-free place for another 90 minutes or so, while the tea cakes rise again.

7. Bake tea cakes in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Pull them out when they are golden brown. Move tea cakes to cool on wire racks. Allow them to cool completely before cutting (or they will get hard and tough when the steam is let out).

When completely cool, slice a tea cake in half horizontally to open, toast, and serve hot and buttered. Good for light meal or snack anytime with tea or coffee. They last for several days, covered w/tin foil.

If anyone has suggestions to improve this version, I am all ears, a humble student! My tea cakes of yesterday (huzzahed by the family for breakfast this morning) could still stand to be lighter and fluffier, for example. But this success (with the real currants found in the stores now) has been very encouraging, after my series of failures I will not chronicle here.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Back online

Our internet access was still down, 48 hours into the outage, when my Dreamboat came home from the office and said somebody there told him to try OpenDNS. He readjusted a few things in our router and we're back onto the internet again, faster than ever, with no help from our internet service provider. Their "Customer Care" personnel would have no reason to tell us to try that, as they'd lose our ignorant commitment to their own servers.

Well, they've lost that now.

Power to the people.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Still not blogging

Now my internet service provider has bugged out on us and we've been without service for over 24 hours. "No idea" when service will be restored, says "Customer Care" (which doesn't much seem to care). I think we're dumping this provider as soon as we're able to. Have gone a whole day wondering how to spell "Okeefenokee" without Googling.

In the meantime, I am uploading this post either from a well-lit table at one of the local coffee bars, or furtively from home, hacked into an unsuspecting neighbor's unlocked and unguarded wireless network.

Just wanted to let you folks know that until our corporate "patrons" get their act together, I will be baking cranberry bread, making cookie dough, shopping, cleaning, wrapping and mailing Christmas presents and cards instead of blogging.