video games are hazardous to your health; ebola is not

We’re back!  After an unexplained 17 week absence.  We got a little turned around lately.  But we’re here again and ready to go.  Did you miss us?  No?  Oh.  We, ah, we thought folks missed us.  [cricket; cricket; cricket]

But you have to understand that even for the most jaded degenerate blog author, life has to take priority and can get out of hand.  We finally got divorced (there is a God) and I lost one of my dog buddies.  He will be missed, and is currently barking in Valhalla where he belongs.  Eh, it’s been a long few weeks.

So we’re here to write about what important topic to all humanity today?

– The World Cup (aka Uncle Vlad’s Guide to Effective Bribery of International Organizations 101)?

– The fact that immigration policies, procedures, and methods employed during the Obama administration are suddenly beyond the pale?

– The creation of Space Force (aka that thing that will never actually happen)?

– Chronic forthcoming global instability created by manic squirrels?

Wrong.

We’re here instead to briefly rant about the World Health Organization’s decision to state that playing video games is a classifiable addiction disorder.  Long term readers of this blog will be aware of two key facts:

1) I play a lot of video games.

2) I have a very low opinion of the WHO.

Granted, the WHO’s response to the recent ebola outbreak in Congo has been pretty good.  It seems they learned their lessons from the outbreak in West Africa a few years ago.  What could easily have turned into an even bigger nightmare if ebola had made its way down the river to Kinshasa (aka one of the biggest cities on Earth) seems to have been stopped in its tracks.  Good on them.

But then every once and a while the WHO reminds people how much money they burn on stupidity that could be spent vaccinating people against [insert anything here].  Hell, if video games are now an addictive disorder (as in the same category as nicotine) then we might as well classify drinking water as addictive.

Ever hear the term ‘everything in moderation’?  This is a pretty good term to live by.  Just about anything can be bad if you go at it too often.  You can even drink so much water that it kills you.  And your body is made up mostly of water.  But does that mean something is so powerful it can literally alter your body?

For example, I’m pretty sure if you play video games for a year your physical brain chemistry isn’t going to change.  If however, you decide to smoke crack for a year, I’m pretty sure you come out the back end of that year an entirely different person.

If you still don’t get where I’m going with this, just go ahead and put a crack addict and stand them next to even the most extreme South Korean player of StarCraft II.  I’m pretty sure you’ll see what I’m getting it.

Focus on ebola WHO, stop wasting my time.

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“Hey there kiddies.  Wanna get high?”

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we let smarter people take over for a moment

We recently wrote against the concept of cultural appropriation.  I think I wrote that post in 18 seconds and it shows.  I stand by every word, but sometimes it’s better to let smarter (or at least better written) people take over for a moment.  And so over to the goons at The Economist who make the point far better than I:

PS: They also talk about the Met Gala which I foolishly just wrote about as well.  I didn’t know it at the time but the ticket costs $30,000?!  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day.  Humanity is doomed.

 

When respect for diversity is taken to crazy extremes

The idea of “cultural appropriation” is a silly, harmful concept. Bin it

Open Future

May 15th 2018

by I.K. | WASHINGTON, DC

EVERY year the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a gala. A single ticket costs $30,000. New York’s A-listers and wannabes deck themselves in overwrought garments designed for the party’s theme. Three years ago “China: Through the Looking Glass” inspired dresses with dragons, hair held in place with chopsticks and, from a few sartorially confused celebrities, kimonos.

The attire prompted an outcry over “cultural appropriation”—an elastic, ill-defined gripe. No such furore arose over the outfits at this year’s gala, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”, even though they included a stilettoed and sequinned pope, Jesus Christ in a gold tiara, and a spectacularly winged angel. Why not?

It is not as though the concept of cultural appropriation has fallen out of use. Gonzaga University issued a firmly worded statement warning “non-Mexican individuals” against celebrating Cinco de Mayo; the campus multicultural centre published a minatory infographic ordering, “Don’t you dare try on that ‘sombrero’.” About a week earlier an 18-year-old white student in Utah received hundreds of hostile comments after she wore a Chinese-inspired dress to her school prom.

The accusation is great at stirring up Twitter outrage. But what is cultural appropriation?

There is no agreed definition. Generally speaking, it’s the idea that a “dominant culture” wearing or using things from a “minority culture”—say, white American college kids in Brazilian bombachas or baggy trousers—is inherently disrespectful because the objects are taken out of their native context.

It’s not a completely new idea. More than two centuries ago it was popular for upper-class British and French to have their portraits painted dressed as Turkish sultans, which the historian Edward Said called “orientalism”. More recently some black Americans griped when Elvis Presley filched classic rhythm-and-blues riffs and sold them back to white, mainstream society.

Yet today the idea has expanded to new extremes—and obstructs free expression. In American colleges and universities, a vocal minority of students are pushing for official policies banning the practice—by, for example, disciplining students who wear Halloween costumes deemed inappropriate.

The threat here is quite overt. Offence is inherently subjective; university bureaucrats should not punish one student simply because her clothes hurt the feelings of another. Beyond the threat of punishment lies the threat of social stigma—that students, fearful of being accused, will censor themselves or feel themselves censored.

Had the Met gala opted for an Islamic theme (say, “Arabian Nights: Magic and Islam”), accusations of appropriation would have surely followed. This year Jared Leto, an actor, dressed as Jesus; had he dressed as Muhammad, even if in a plain and historically accurate thobe and turban, he would provoke all manner of disgust and denunciation. One can conjure any number of nightmare scenarios for galas themed around Judaism, blackness or, say, Aztecs—none of whom remain alive to be offended—no matter how sartorially sensitive the dresses.

That is because cultural appropriation is less about cultural disrespect or intolerance—for which much clearer terminology already exists—than about reinforcing the oppressor-oppressed binary through which social-justice advocates see the world. Because Christians and whites are groups deemed to have power, all manner of borrowing or parody is intolerable. And the inverse gets a free pass: nobody is upset when Asians wear European clothes, for instance.

The remedy for the selective application of the cultural appropriation label is not its expansion—as this would sweep in all manner of innocuous social interactions—but its retirement. The phrase stigmatises the beneficial cultural exchanges that happen in art, music, dance, cooking and language. The very idea is self-defeating. To declare black culture off-limits to non-blacks, for example, is to segregate it.

The term also fundamentally misunderstands the process by which all cultures form and progress: through creolisation and intermixing. To appropriate the words of John Donne, no culture is an island entirely of itself.

science knows nothing; we know everything

Well as it turns out science says there is in fact no new tomb rooms where they buried that Tut guy.  But what does science know?  Ground penetrating radar?  Bah.

Over two years ago we predicted (among other things) that Tut’s new tomb rooms:

“Tut’s new tomb rooms don’t exist”

They could have saved all that radar money and given it to me.  Beer isn’t cheap.

We here at TAP have all the answers.  We know everything.  Science knows nothing.

Why do I repeatedly post about Ancient Egypt stuff throughout the years of this degenerate blog?  Eh, it’s kind of a childhood fad thing.  In another life I’d be an archeologist digging up history.

I’d be solving the mystery of why Pharaoh X murdered Pharaoh Y to get the amulet and retain immortality without the use of the pyramids alongside some insanely beautiful French colleague and our lovable but oafish Dutch translator.

Then a truck bearing a black flag rolls up and I pull my Webley revolver, ready to duel with ISIS.  But it ain’t ISIS, out from the tinted doors rolls Zahi Hawass wearing a pristine three piece suit, his trademark hat, and duel wielding a pair of Yugoslavian machine pistols.

He’s not out for blood.  He’s just there for his plug.  He screams at us, wide eyed:

Ahhh, now that’d be the life.

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Where be this lady’s corpse?

cultural appropriation is inhuman

More and more I’m seeing this cultural appropriation term.  The latest internet rage is apparently against a teenager (as in, not an adult) who wore a gown to the prom in a Chinese style.  This is apparently a problem for some people (I guess) because she is not Chinese.

So for some people (I guess) the idea is that only Chinese people or people of Chinese background are allowed to wear gowns in the Chinese style.  I think.  Well, if that’s what cultural appropriation is?  Then cultural appropriation is inhuman.

I thought the whole point of our human journey was to bring us all closer together?  I thought that was the whole point of modern progressiveness?  How do we do that by adding yet another redline that nobody can cross without offending somebody else?

I’ve seen this cultural appropriation nonsense in other ways too, like with food.  So I guess I’m not allowed to write a recipe for a Thai curry or Indian rice because I’m not Indian or Thai?  Too bad.  I just did it last week.  You’ll see them posted on this blog soon enough.  If somebody finds it offensive, that’s of course their right, but I won’t give a shit.

I’ve worn a kimono before, and I’m not even Japanese.  Oh my, what horror!

Any person, of any color or creed or religion or favorite football team should  be able to wear whatever gown they want.  I will write whatever recipe I want.  I will not bin humanity into 735 boxes that are not allowed to touch each other.

One of the great gifts of life and our human race is to learn, experience, and grow from experiencing backgrounds that are not our own.  It’s how we mature as humans and enrich our lives.  It makes us better people.

rocket vinaigrette

This one’s pretty straightforward.  I made this for me Ma off the top of my head, but was not 100% pleased with it.  So when she asked me for the recipe I had to play with it for a few months to get it where I wanted.  Sometimes the simplest of recipes are the hardest to muck with.

The term ‘rocket’ is an inside joke known only to me, and seven other members of an obscure cult funded by a Yugoslavian oil baron who moonlights as a vampire slayer.  But otherwise, it’s not meant to indicate this dressing is somehow special.  It’s not, it’s just a simple salad dressing you can make in 43 seconds.

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Enjoy the journey, bask in the exquisite plate presentation generated by a drunk-jaded-elf, observe only the finest and most complex ingredients, bask in the stupidity of food posts and garbage-level-food-photography provided by the most degenerate of blog authors.  You’ll not regret it!

My last go I used this dressing over a salad with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, blue cheese, sliced apple, and tomatoes.  I like this salad combo, credit where credit is due, it’s based off an old Emeril recipe that for some reason is now gone from the Food Network website, my printed copy says it’s called “mixed green salad with diced avocado, peaches, crispy bacon, feta cheese, and champagne vinaigrette”.

Let’s begin!

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rocket vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp mustard

salt & pepper

dash hot sauce

Pour all the ingredients into an airtight container, seal, and shake vigorously.  Spoon over the tasty salad of your choice.

Store in the fridge for up to one week.  Shake again prior to serving.

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I enjoy how it all looks before shaking, it’s science, chemistry, and pretty colors all rolled into one.

Use whatever version of oil, balsamic, honey, mustard, and hot sauce you prefer.  If you want a sharper taste, double the volume of balsamic, mustard, and hot sauce, though this might be too much for most folks.

I used standard Tabasco in this version, but in other more insane versions I’ve used hot sauces that melt metal and it adds a wonderful adventure to your salad journey.  Salad is more exciting when the dressing tingles your lips with burning.

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Enjoy life!

stupid work potato salad

We had to pick a dish to bring for the work potluck.  I chose potato salad, because it was easier than telling work I don’t like them and refusing to play.  So we decided to spice things up and make a potato salad that nobody on the planet had ever had before.

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stupid work potato salad

8 strips bacon, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 lbs mixed potatoes, cubed

1/8 cup white wine vinegar

6 garlic cloves, mined

1 lemon, juiced

salt & pepper

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 eggs

2 Tbsp mustard

1 cup mayo

2 Tbsp sriracha

1/4 cup capers

1/2 cup parmesan

cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a saute pan until it’s nicely done, remove bacon and set aside; discard all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat from the pan; add the onion and cook until browned, add the brown sugar, lower the heat, and slowly caramelize the onions

preheat the oven to 375 degrees; wash the cubed potatoes in a colander, add them to a bowl and toss with the vinegar, garlic, 1/2 of the lemon juice, salt & pepper, paprika, and olive oil; dump the potato mixture on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil and roast, stirring once, for about a half-hour until the potatoes are crispy but not overly brown

meanwhile, hard boil the eggs, cool them in the fridge, then peel and dice them

in a large bowl, add the potatoes, then add the mustard, mayo, sriracha, capers, remaining lemon juice, onion, bacon, eggs, and cheese, mix them all up until it’s a nice salad; serve immediately hot, or later on cold

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Let’s begin!

Cube the potatoes to a size you like and then wash them in a colander to get the starch off.  In a large mixing bowl douse the potatoes with the vinegar, garlic, juice of half the lemon, salt, pepper, paprika, and olive oil.

Cut the garlic to a size you like.  I minced it because you never know how much folks do or do not like garlic.  But, if I’d been cooking for myself I’d probably just leave the garlic cloves whole and roast them as is.

Make sure you mix up the bowl really well.  You want the paprika, vinegar, and olive oil to really coat all the potatoes.  After that, aluminum foil on a baking sheet and bake them.

Do not pre-grease the aluminum foil.  As you stir them yes, they may tend to stick to the foil so don’t make the mistake of not stirring them at all during the roasting.  You want the potatoes to be brown but not overly done, just slightly still firm.  It’s potato salad and not true fully roasted browned potatoes.

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You’ve got regular old bacon and hard boiled eggs which are staples of many potato salads.  I add caramelized onions because I love them and want to share that love with all humanity.

When you’re done making the bacon, eggs, onions, and potatoes, it’s time to mix it all together with the remaining ingredients.

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Use whatever mustard and mayo you prefer.  The sriracha is flexible with another hot sauce if you want.  Go with what you like.  But please put some kind of sauce in there because it’s money and not boring.

The capers add a nice extra touch for my taste.  If you don’t like capers, you can skip this part.

As with before, make sure you really get a good mix in the bowl so all the sauces coat the potatoes all over.

You can serve this immediately while it’s hot, or chill it and serve later cold.

Be advised, this will not really keep in the fridge for more than about two or three days.  After that time, the moisture starts to separate from the potato mixture and the salad becomes dry and tough.

This is easily tackled by reheating the mixture in the microwave for about a minute to loosen it up again.  But, generally speaking, I’d eat it all within two days for max tastiness.

Enjoy life!

cooking in a kitchen that’s not your own

Well, it’s been two months since my employer (dressed as an evil smiling clown) black bagged me in the middle of the night and sent me abroad.  And my precious, precious doggies are doing well with my host family, but I miss them.  I also miss my kitchen.  A lot.

This has ended up being a far bigger issue than I would have expected.  If you cook regularly, we all have our kitchens.  We know them.  It’s downright transparent.  You might make an alteration here and there, but it’s essentially static.  The dynamic factor is the food.

We also have what I guess you can call guest kitchens.  For example I cook at my Ma’s for me Ma all the time.  I know that kitchen like the back of my hand.  It means nothing for me to cook over there as if it was my own.

So I guess I just kind of assumed since work wasn’t sending me to the middle of Vlad’s Siberia wonderland or a tiger filled jungle that I’d have a real kitchen, figure it out, and it would be fine.  Right?  Nope.  But, why?

1) Bare Basics

Because I’m abroad for a limited time I didn’t get to bring my stuff.  Work has a local contract (which wouldn’t pass most Western anti-corruption standards) to provide me the very bare bones basics at my apartment.  This means I’ve got some plates, a few bowls, and six sad water glasses.  I’ve also got some D grade pots and pans manufactured in Yugoslavia Circa 1989.

You can forget the most benign of kitchen items are important to you, until they don’t exist.  Out here I have bowls, but they’re of a shallow nature, and hold only enough liquid for a six year old’s soup  I made curry and the broth was a rather light consistency.  Given the small bowl size I had hardly any food in there.

In frustration, I ended up using a pot as my eating bowl instead.  I’m there eating straight out of the pot and I look over and there’s this Viking ghost sitting next to me doing the same.  He hoists his drinking horn in a toast, I hoist my cheap ass local beer can made of cadmium.  Cheers my Viking brother, I’ve gone back in time.  It burns.  The spicy curry, not the cadmium, not yet anyways.

How about spices?  How about starting from zero, nothing.  At home I might have 50 spices of a variety that would make a 16th Century Portuguese smuggler angry and pull his cutlass.  Out here I had a bare cupboard.  I’ve methodically replenished jar by jar for weeks.

At first I didn’t get new measuring cups because I didn’t want to buy new ones.  I eyed everything.  Then I realized you really can’t write proper recipes without them.  So I had to go buy new measuring cups I didn’t want to purchase.

Remember grating cheese or vegetables?  This is a pretty standard task, right?  But what happens when you don’t have a grater?  You have to make a tactical decision on whether it’s important enough to buy a new grater.  Countless, countless decisions need to be made on how important things and tools are to you.

So you’re probably like, well, whatever man, just go buy all this stuff.  It’ll be fun, right?  But, …

2) Waste

I already have a grater, and spices, and bowls, and whatever back home.  So I’m going to buy new items to satisfy my kitchen needs out here, for what, one year and some change?  I had to buy a new colander because you essentially can’t cook without one.

But I’ve got like five or six different sized colander’s back home.  So this was an unnecessary purchase.  I felt really bad buying it even though I knew I absolutely needed it.  So what do I do with it after I’m done here?  Ship it home?  I need a seventh colander less than a mercenary elf assassin.

So I guess I’ll ship the new one home, and donate one of my older colanders to charity?  I guess?

It’s not that big a deal for these minor tools I suppose.  A colander or a peeler or a wooden spoon are small, relatively cheap, and just not that big of an impact to anything.  But, …

3) Gear

For the first few years of my cooking journey I didn’t really employ gear.  You need good knives, good pans, a large steel mixing bowl, etc.  For a long while I never used things like a food processor, blender, spice grinder, any of that.  But once I did, and learned how to use them well.  They became essential tools.

This is even truer for me because I like to cook and experiment with various cuisines from around the globe.  Now without this gear I feel my powers are reduced.  There’s less magic to be made.  Buying a new colander I don’t need is minor waste.  Buying a new food processor that costs north of three figures?  I haven’t done that.  I won’t do that.

And so in the meantime: I’m in a dark cave, behind me are a bunch of kidnapped urchin children I’m rescuing.  The cursed bear is up on his hind legs, roaring, foaming with delight, urchins are screaming in terror.  “I’ll deal with him,” I firmly state.  I reach for my sorcerer wand, and nothing is there.  Then the urchins are running and screaming as the bear rips me in half.  But, …

4) The Past

I don’t know how my Grandparents did it.  It’s weird to think about.  The number one thing I typically wonder is how they cooked all that delicious food with so little counter space.  The answer is I think they did a ton of prep actually at the kitchen table.  In those days the table was actually right in the kitchen.

My Grandmother had a double stack oven, the kind where you have two whole elements you could set to different temperatures.  So that capability was awesome, and actually in excess of what most kitchens have today.  But they didn’t have fancy tools like food processors or spice grinders.  They probably didn’t let a of lack spice jars bother them as much as it does me.

So it’s tough to know how much of my current kitchen is real legitimate frustration on my part, and how much of it is I’m an amateur cook who’s a spoiled brat.  I’m still cooking and cooking well out here, it’s just a slog at times with these various limitations.  It sucks when you plan a meal, you’re in the zone, and you reach for (x) and you’ve entirely forgotten you don’t have it.

So you flex, and get it done, and the food tastes great.  But it was much harder to do, and so there’s a commensurate lapse in enjoyment.

Not sure how I feel about all this.  But that’s about it.  I miss my dogs.  I really miss my family and friends.  I’ll get the kitchen back too, and that’ll be nice.

In the meantime, it’s been a good long while since I put a recipe up here.  More on that, and soon.  After all, work made me.