The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dialing up the dishes

As a gesture, mostly, of defiance, I've been trying to cook again, essentially since I got out of the hospital. However, it's been simple stuff -- meat and starch, basically. Things I can do in my sleep, which has been pretty much the case. (Try not to think about that 210mm Shun gyuto: focus, focus, focus -- you'll need that thumb, later on.)

This week, though, it seems as if I'm able to do a bit more in the kitchen, and here's the first of what I'd call an even marginally interesting menu. Wild striped bass fillets in parchment, with a cashew-carrot gunk spread on 'em, served with a few Michigan farmed shrimp in a butter sauce, a trivial couscous dish, and (not shown) a green bean fricassee side. Drank a white burgundy with it - good match, actually, although not deliberately chosen.

As always, why do you care? You don't.

Another book note

I just finished The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro, 2005. This is another of those times when I discovered that I didn't know enough about something, and suddenly needed a book on the topic. I doubt very much that you need to know much about this, so I won't inflict the details -- enough to say that it's damned depressing, given the massive (I mean massive) incompetence and corruption exhibited by the poor French. It's hard to imagine a country more betrayed by its leadership. Napoleon III staged a coup in the middle of the nineteenth century, setting up the so-called Second Empire, with himself as Emperor. Then, by carefully placating the ignorant, illiterate peasantry, he could stay in power by holding a national election, which would return a majority from the countryside, overwhelming the urban republican types. The country people didn't know anything about what was going on except that the Army had won two wars (v.s. Russia and Austria, two even more unimpressive powers -- against Mexico, they didn't do so good,) and that the Emperor subsidized their continuing, almost feudal existence without their having to do much except pay low taxes.

When the emerging Prussian / North German confederation of states began to get uppity (they took a startlingly successful whack at Austria, themselves, in 1866,) Napoleon III got concerned, and his government allowed itself to be maneuvered into starting a short, bloody, horrifyingly mismanaged defeat at the hands of Moltke and the rest of Germany. When it was over, instead of an amalgam of small states, Germany was a unified empire with a tremendously professional army and the beginning of the national attitude that would lead to World War One.

The book is five years old, and I didn't catch any serious errors except one embarrassingly technical flub: if you can imagine it, the author actually confuses the Montigny mitrailleuse with the Reffye mitrailleuse! How is such inattention to detail possible?

A promise that cannot be kept, Attorney General or not

Whatever I did, whatever I believed in, whatever political party or radical fringe group I belonged to, I would never, never make a promise like this one. "There are never going to be any more Kwame Kilpatrick's in Michigan." What are the chances that Mr. Schuette himself has sometime, somewhere, forgotten to pay $12.95 in nanny taxes, or will have one locally-produced craft brew too many at a fundraiser? The phrase "Elliot Spitzer" would just keep ringing in my head.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

sorry about not approving comments

The blog system has stopped sending me mail when there are pending comments. Sorry I missed yours. All have been posted. My bad.

Autism and vaccine -- one more nail

Read it for yourself. I'm tired of the whole thing.

Update: there's even a book about it all, now.

Seriously, people are suggesting that health care providers refuse to see or treat unvaccinated children, and that providers who participate in the panic be disciplined. I'm not sure I can disagree.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The revolution is over

Instead of fomenting international socialism (which they were no good at, anyway,) Cuba is entering the international business world by ... suing somebody. Actually, it'll probably end amicably, but the state-owned Cuban cigar shoppe brand, La Casa del Habano, which operates in a number of countries (not the US, obviously) is suing a Detroit-area smoke shop, La Casa De La Habana, over name infringement.

I don't give a damn, obviously, for the outcome, but I think it's a hoot that Cuba is flexing this kind of non-ideological muscle. If we could just get a cease-and-desist order on Hugo Chavez now, forbidding him from saying the name, "United States," it would be a diplomatic step forward.

And speaking of the lunatics of the world's leadership, did you see that Ahmadinejad got not verbally, not politically, but physically slapped by one of his peers, according to some of the Wiki leaks stuff? Can a shoe-flinging or pork-pie assault be far off?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011: made it

So, here we are. Made it out of 2010 with my sanity (an assertion which, I suppose, is open to debate,) but it seemed questionable once or twice. I'm including the truly unfortunate self-portrait only by way of a warning: you really, really don't want to go through an allogeneic stem cell transplant. None of the wreckage you see has anything at all to do with the myeloma; it's all the treatment and the treatments for the treatment. I look kind of like a plucked turkey, and I have just about the energy to do a blog post or two a day, but I'm still standing.

If there's any message at all it's just this: if you think something's wrong, it probably is. I spent my entire life never sick a day, and then in a year, through the disinterest and inability of a useless general practitioner, let this sneak up on me. Don't let it happen to you; if somebody says, "go get an MRI," go get one.

Anyway, enough whining. Thanks for all the support and good wishes. It's uphill from here.