January 3rd, 2008

#801: MSM isn't talking about Fallujah anymore; wonder why?

I found this article linked here and read it, and found it both really interesting and encouraging.

Fallujah is not nearly as bad as it was a year ago. But heck, we could tell that by the way the name dropped out of the nightly news. No one in the mainstream media (MSM) is talking about Fallujah because the surge has turned into a success story.

* * *

An interesting point from the same source about what we can expect from oil prices over the next several years.

I've said time and again that it costs about $15 to extract a barrel of oil from the stony clutches of the Earth's crust. With oil selling over $90 per barrel, people are going to want to get in on that cash flow; that's 500% profit, and that rate of return is immense.

And, of course, when there is a greater supply of crude oil entering the world market, prices for crude oil will drop.

Right now oil is expensive because the supply is being artificially limited. Thanks, OPEC. But I can't blame them; they're attempting to maximize their rate of return. Everyone does that. (You have a limited supply of labor you can sell, so you try to maximize what you get paid for it. Don't you?)

It's the same as with diamonds. The DeBoers control the world diamond supply; if it weren't for their monopoly, diamonds would be about as expensive as river rock and finished stones would fetch about as much as cubic zirconia. Diamonds only cost a lot because they are artificially scarce.

That's really the issue here, not that the oil supply has peaked; it hasn't. The upward pressures on oil prices are political.

This article made Netscape bomb to the desktop when I tried to read it; I was able to read it fine in Internet Explorer, though. So the few remaining Netscape users out there, beware. Fire up your backup browser and read that article. It's chock-full of interesting information on why oil costs so much now and why it's not going to last.

Kyaa ha ha ha ha ha.

#802: Anime again

Pretty Cure is about three eps from being over.

The big final battle looks to be three eps long, too. They might surprise me and finish it in two, and then have a denouement ep. (That's what they did with Sky Girls. I'm eagerly awaiting ep 26 of that to see what happens After.) In Sailor Moon they took three eps to finish it, and the denouement was about a minute and a half of "wrap-up" showing that the girls were not, after all, dead.

The last half-dozen eps of Kaze no Stigma appear the same way. I'm on ep 22 (out of 24) and they've been following a single story arc for some time now. And it's good stuff; it's really good stuff. It's a perfect example of how to handle magic in a modern-day setting.

Myself; Yourself is showing signs of being more than just a basic "slice-of-life" series. I can't discuss the particulars without spoilers, but there have been hints that there is a significant backstory to what they're showing. It helps that all the characters are likable.

Interesting trivia: the voice of Aoi Oriba is done by Tomoko Kanaeda, who did the voice of Chiyo-chan in Azumanga Daioh. Aoi is a year older than the rest of the characters and has G-cup breasts, so I hear Chiyo-chan's voice coming from a mature girl with bounteous pontoons, and I get hopelessly confused.

But at least the series is entertaining.

Code E is a surprise. It has a gentle feel to it, yet there is a harder core of plot in the middle of it which is only becoming apparent in ep 3-4--there's something bigger going on than just this one girl with electrokinetic powers, but that much is obvious from the OP, anyway. It's well worth the effort to track it down and watch it, and it's full of little nice touches--such as when the main character, Chinami, tries to buy lunch at school, and in the background there is a sign which says, "20 TB memory cards now in stock". That's 20 terabytes, of course, 20 million megabytes.

I can't imagine needing more than one 20 TB memory card. Then again, in 1987 I would have wondered why on earth I could possibly need more than a single 1 GB memory card, yet I have four for my digital camera. The more storage you have, the more you need, and that's the way of things. This machine has 1 TB of on-line storage, and is starting to feel crowded what with all the fansubs I've been ganking.

Actually, now that I think of it, a couple of those would be handy for doing system backups...

#803: Spidey, UN Stooge

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four will be in comic books aimed at telling children how good the UN is. Whee!

What a load of crap.

Fortunately, whenever anything like this crops up it is almost always incredibly lame, and the kids are usually bright enough to notice how lame it is. The quotes at the end of the article are pretty incisive.

"'[Young people] will get excited if they know their heroes like Spider-Man will work with the United Nations to address these issues, peace and security,' [UN dude Kiyo Akasaka] said."

Oh sure they will. It'll be so exciting to see Spidey swinging on a web and saying, "Man, the UN sure is cool!"

*sigh*

Ann Coulter slams Kwanzaa. Thank God for Ann Coulter.

New Orleans' murder rate is among the nation's highest. What a surprise. The place has been a Democrat-run bastion of liberal stupidity for decades and the welfare mentality has become deeply entrenched in some areas of the city. Where there are slums, there are crimes, because the "Great Society" has done nothing but enable people to do nothing but sit around and take government money and live in government housing.

Tne entitlement mentality led some people in public housing to protest when the buildings had to be demolished post-Katrina. "That's our home!" No, it's not. They think that because several generations may have lived in one apartment, but it is public housing and none of them owns so much as a single nail of the building. The government can do as it pleases with that place; if it wanted to, it could sell the land to real estate developers and there wouldn't be a damn thing you could do about it. (Once the lawsuits got settled you might have another place to live.)

So it comes as no surprise that people who have been raised not to take any responsibility for themselves whatsoever end up generating such high crime rates. Poverty is not a cause; it's a symptom.

Climate change hysteria will be more excessive in 2008. Probably. Oh well.

Sex-bots by 2050, says expert.

Just as long as they don't turn out psychotically jealous like Valerie 23 I'm all for it. Have you seen that episode of The Outer Limits?

I'm not kidding; the actress who played V23, Sofia Shinas, ought to be mass-produced. Wowser. And she wears that tight jumpsuit throughout the entire episode, which only makes it worse. I mean, damn.

Valerie 23, on TV: I am fully functional.
Ed, watching TV: Proper response: "YAAY!!!" [waves arms overhead]

To make matters worse, I am led to understand that there is a not-censored-for-US-TV version where we get to see the hooties. Arrgh!

* * *

We got 5" of snow on Monday and I didn't bother to blow it off the driveway. Why?

Predicted temps for Fri, Sat, Sun: 33, 40, 48 respectively. (°F, of course. None of that fairy French metric nonsense here!) And Monday? 49. There isn't that much snow on the driveway and it's going to melt anyway, so to heck with it.

Yeah, I can be pretty lazy.

#804: Useful information: How to make Ed's Spicy Yakisoba

Ingredients:

1 lb (more or less) beef. (I like to use round steak, but whatever you like is fine.)
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can bean sprouts
1 can mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots
1 can baby corn
1 medium onion
minced garlic
ginger powder
Worcestershire sauce
House of Tsang Szechuan Sauce
White wine (or sake)
Vinegar
Honey
Soy sauce
1-2 bunches of soba, or about 1/4-1/3 box of whole-grain spaghetti
2-4 medium carrots
1/2 of a medium head of cabbage
about 1 cup of peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, or similar

Slice the beef thin, in strips about 1/8" thick and maybe 1.5 inches long. Chop about 1/3 of the onion and place with beef in a non-metal bowl. Add about 2 Tbsp of wine, 2 Tbsp of soy, a Tbsp of vinegar, dashes of salt and pepper, a Tbst of the Szechuan sauce, and about a Tsp of honey. Add can of mushrooms with the liquid. Dust liberally with ginger powder, stir well, allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes while you get everything else ready.

Boil the soba (or spaghetti) for 3-5 minutes, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Shred or julienne the carrots and set aside. Chop the cabbage into coleslaw-like shreds and set aside.

Drain and rinse the baby corn. Cut into 1" segments and set aside. Drain the other canned vegetables and set aside.

Mix 5 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp Szechuan sauce, and 1 Tbsp of soy sauce in small bowl and set aside.

Slice the remaining onion in thin slices. Drain as much liquid from the beef as possible but try to retain all the other stuff.

Heat wok/pan/griddle/whatever--turn the heat on "high". This is the only adjustment you need to make to the stove until you are done. I use a carbon steel wok without any kind of coating inside; it's just plain old oil-seasoned steel and it can take whatever heat I throw at it. If you use a wimpy teflon-coated pan, you should be mindful of the coating's resistance to heat. I would recommend not using any kind of teflon-coated cookware for making any kind of oriental dish because stir-frying means a hot pan, and putting an empty teflon pan on a burner set on "high" is bad for the coating.

Anyway, oil the pan with peanut oil or other high-temp vegetable oil. (Not olive oil.) Add the onion and about 2 Tbsp minced garlic (or to taste), and stir-fry until the onion just starts to carmelize. (If your pan is properly hot, it will take about as much time as it would take you to read this paragraph twice.)

Add the beef mixture; stir-fry until browned.

Add--in this order--cabbage, carrot, canned vegetables, and sprinkle about 5 Tbsp of wine over it all; do not stir, cover and allow to steam for 3-5 minutes. Stir well, add noodles, continue to stir for 1-2 minutes. Stir the sauce mixture, then pour over the top of the contents of the pan, and stir well.

Shut off heat, add peanuts, stir stir stir. Serve.

* * *

This will make a lot of yakisoba. This recipie, as stated here, will feed 3-5 people and you may have leftovers. Use a big pan when you make it, too; this recipie fills my wok almost all the way.

No one has ever had a bad word to say about it, either.

If you want less heat (spice), you can reduce or eliminate the Szechuan sauce, and just make up the difference with Worcestershire.

This yakisoba recipie is meatier than true Japanese yakisoba, and it's less bland. The only ingredients which are critical are the meat, the cabbage, and the noodles; everything else is negotiable. It's a highly flexible recipie which is hard to ruin, too.

Enjoy.

#805: Idiocy, Global Warming, Etc.

In no particular order:

The Earth is more closely-coupled to the Sun than we thought.

The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field which itself exists in the solar magentic field. This article suggests that the aurora borealis (and australius) are caused by current and charged particles flowing through "magnetic ropes" ("flux tubes"?) which link the Earth and the Sun.

This shows that we can't look at the Sun's visible output as the only measure of the total energy transfer from our system's primary to our planet. These "magnetic ropes" could represent a non-obvious conduit for solar energy to be pumped into Earth's atmosphere--"non-obvious" by default since we've been observing the sun for centuries and only now discovered this phenomenon. What else could there be?

Ultimately any and all energy which warms the Earth comes from the sun, one way or another. Seems to me we ought to understand these mechanisms before ruining the global economy with "carbon caps", particularly when the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere lags warming.

* * *

In the same vein, this article.

"The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect...."

Oh well.

* * *

Idiocy:

I took Mom to the bank and we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for my famous yakisoba. There was a car parked in the alley right in front of the store's rear entrance.

A "car"--a little BMW convertible. Just sitting there, in the middle of the way, engine running, no driver, passenger sitting in the passenger seat.

I moved around the thing and found a parking spot; as Mom and I were going in, the driver of the thing came strutting out--a 30-40-something woman dressed extra-glam. Obviously she was too important even to pull off to one side of the alley so other vehicles could get past--after all, she was just going in for one item!

Yeah. Real considerate, you stupid bitch. We're not impressed.

I've come to the conclusion that BMW owners drive like raging assholes. I have two examples which immediately come to mind:

In 2005 I was on my way home from work and a BMW asshole was crawling over some gravel--I mean, like 5 MPH in a 45 zone--so I ducked left and passed him. This infuriated him (because some dust got on his car?) so he tailgated me, skipping a stop sign to stay on my butt, and then passed me in a no-passing zone. This tower of restraint and intellect was driving a dealership car and turned out to be one of the freaking owners of the dealership.

On my way to work one morning in 2000, I was behind a BMW jerk who was going 45 in a 55. No biggie; I just ducked into the left lane to pass him--whereupon he sped up, so I ducked back behind him...and he slowed down to 45 again. So I again got into the left lane to pass, he again sped up. (No, I wasn't tailgating him, either time.) This time I stayed in the left lane. And I discovered that a 1995 Escort LX with a manual transmission can accelerate faster than a BMW 318i. Ha, ha.

...but there are many other incidents which are less clear. I drove 100 miles plus per day for seven years, from 1990-1997, and I had to put up with a lot of assholery from BMW drivers. Even Cadillac and Mercedes drivers aren't as bad as BMW owners. Lordy!

The stupid inconsiderate selfish bitch who blocked the alley so she wouldn't have to walk an extra ten feet is just typical of the breed.