Thursday, December 9
Thursday Food Blogging:It's An Erwtensoep Day, Hurrah!
It's bitterly cold today and foggy, and the temperature has been hovering around zero for most of the day so far. Time for erwtensoep, one of the nicer Dutch traditions, in my opinion, and which is only served on bitterly cold days in the middle of winter. Like today.
Unlike English split pea soup, which is made with a hambone, it's cooked with stock made from marrowbone of beef, and served with thin slices of uncooked fat bacon (katenspek - like lardons, only in a chunk) on pumpernickel bread, and garnished with slices of rookworst (Polish sausage, or kielbasa). It's best made the day before eating, but today it's so cold we'll have it for tonight's dinner, only without the fat bacon and the pumpernickel, since that's taking it a little far for me, the person who can't digest fat. That's my afternoon planned then, skimming, skimming, and more skimming.
Oh, those Scally filth.
Just listening to the radio, and a report of a senior Manchester police superintendent making some horrendous racist remarks: apparently he said that the best way to stop Moslems coming to Manchester to celebrate Eid would be to ""...place machineguns on the M6".
More on this later, I hope; but in the meantime, are this copper and Theo Van Gogh related? I think we should be told... Come to think of it, Blunkett bears a eerie resemblance as well. And, it occurs to me, as Blair and Blunkett are trying to get a new offence of incitement to religious hatred passed ( despite its being adequately covered, or could be by a small amendment, by the RRA), I have to wonder about the timing of this story. It all seems a little too opportune to me.
But that would be cynical, and that would never do.
More On the Rise and Rise of American Fascism
An excellent pice by Gary Taylor in today's Guardian online, interviewing Gerald Allen.
As you may remember, Allen is the Alabama legislator who wants all books containing gay characters or situations banned from schools and public libraries. He's about to give George W the benefit of his wisdom on gay issues for the 5th time, so obviously Georgie boy (rumoured amongst Yale's 60's gay elite to have the purtiest mouth in college) approves of Allen's insane ideas.
Hmmm. I wonder what jpg's are on Allen's hard drive, eh? He fits the profile of the self-hating, closeted Deep South queer to a T. I'll warrant it won't be long before we see his name in a roundup of patrons of illegal Alabama sex clubs.
Wednesday, December 8
Lords Give One In The Eye to Tony And His Crony
I find myself in an odd position today. ( No, not that kind of odd position. Pervs.)
I'm cheering for the House of Lords and their action yesterday in amending the new Constitutional Reform Bill to ensure that any future Lord Chancellor will be both a member of the H of L and also a senior lawyer/judge/legal scholar.
As a card carrying socialist, I'm absolutely in favour of abolishing the House of Lords. I also feel that the post of Lord Chancellor, embodying as it does an anmalgam of all three of the branches of government, executive, legislature and judiciary, should also go. But as a lawyer by training and inclination I'm cheering the Law Lords to the rafters.
The Blair government came to power with constitutional reform as part of its manifesto, as is only right and proper for a supposedly left-wing party. But Blair, being the devious little shit that he is, sought to consolidate his own power as PM by, rather than outright abolition of the upper house in favour of a totally elected second chamber, putting together a totally half-assed deal, where some peers would be there by birth (to placate the Tories) and some by appointment. I am sure I don't need to say who they would be appointed by. It was the worst of all posible arrangements for an upper house; a bunch of unqualified hooray Henries and Tony's placemen. With New Labour's huge majority in the House of Commons, Parliament would essentially become a one party government.
The additional twist Blair gave to the reform was to also abolish the H of L as the highest court of the land, and to split its functions into a Minister for Consitutional Affairs and a Supreme Court. The post of Lord Chancellor would thus become a politically appointed minor cabinet post, instead of the overarching legal conscience of all branches of government that it is now. To add insult to injury he also appointed his friend and former flatmate as Lord Chancellor, to push the reforms through; the flatmate is the barrister Charlie Falconer,(he was ennobled just so he could have the post) who is competely unqualified for such a sensitive job.
Well, the Law Lords weren't having it. When the bill came to the HofL yesterday they told Blair and Falconer in no uncertain, though polite, terms that they could stick their reforms. The bill now goes back to the House of Commons. I hope that when it returns to the HofL the Lords show a little more sense than they did with the foxhunting bill, and refuse to drop the amendments. Reform is necessary, but not these reforms, and not with this motivation.
Abu Ghraib Witnesses Threatened By Special Forces
Thanks to Jeralyn at TalkLeft
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - U.S. special forces accused of abusing prisoners in Iraq threatened Defense Intelligence Agency personnel who saw the mistreatment, according to U.S. government memos released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The special forces also monitored e-mails sent by defense personnel and ordered them "not to talk to anyone" in the United States about what they saw, said one memo written by the Defense Intelligence Agency chief, who complained to his Pentagon bosses about the harassment.
Where does one begin to describe the utter moral degeneracy of America? I'm risking sounding like one of those strident America-haters here. Do I care? No. I'm past caring whether Americans are insulted by the rest of the world telling the truth. Sorry guys, I'm not going to collude in your national self-deception.
I used to love and admire America - I spent a long time living there, I like the people, my children have US passports. But there's no denying that the country itself is becoming a fascist one party state, and Americans themselves the 21st century equivalent of the Good German, except that this time round they have no excuse. Those Germans who fell in line with National Socialist policies in the nineteen-thirties at least had the excuse that they had little access to real information: there was no internet then, no cellphones, no multichannel cable or digital TV, no satellite phones or radio; now the information is there if you want it.
And that's the problem - they don't want it. The US, collectively, just does not want to look in the mirror and be forced to face what it has become. That would mean admitting to itself that their much vaunted constitution is just another piece of paper and their supposed love of freedom and democracy is just spouting empty words; words that were once powerful but that have been shorn of meaning by two corrupt elections, the gutting of the justice system and the politicisation of the military and of the security apparatus. Where's the outrage, for example, over the Bush maladministration's hiring of two former KGB Colonels
as consultants for an internal passport system?
What's happening in the US is prefigured wonderfully in Sebastian Haffner's
biographical books. Haffner relates just how the Nazis gained and kept power, with the blind unknowing collaboration of ordinary Germans. He shows how fascism can creep up by increments, until, one day, you look around and realise that this isn't your country anymore and all your neighbours are alien to you. Then you start worrying about the 3am knock on your door.
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress...
Tuesday, December 7
Aieee! Flee! The Fundies Are Coming! Watch Out, Baghdad...
Yes, they are all the same family. This is the Duggan family: guess what, they're fundies ( was it the hair that gave it away? ), and Dad, or should I say paterfamilias, ran for the Senate in November.
What I'd really like to know is why haven't they enlisted those kids yet, 'cause they look like ideal Bush cannon-fodder to me. Look, they're already in uniform! They look to me just like the kind of kids who could easily make a bazooka out of a Pez dispenser.
I am glad, so glad, I'm not Mama's OB-GYN. I doubt I could find that size speculum.(thanks to Tbogg for the photo)
Monday, December 6
You know you're Dutch when...
With thanks to the readers of expatica.com, of various nationalities.
1. You don't bother picking up after your dog. Or yourself, especially on the beach. This is someone else's job.
2. You hate the Germans, the Jews, the Moroccans and the Turks. The rest of the world you merely look down upon - especially the Americans.
3. You don't particularly like working too hard, and you think people in English-speaking countries are insane to work as hard as they do.
4. You think you speak English. You know you don't speak French but you like to pretend you do. You understand German more than you like to admit.
5. When you see an opportunity, you take it. Owning Indonesia was the best thing ever.
6. You hate it when anyone or anything gets in your way.
7. You go to birthday parties without presents.
8. You are an expert at marketing weak points as strong points. "Vol is vol."
9. You hate it when people make fun of your country. You are desperate for international recognition. You want the world to think of your country as the nation of Anne Frank; not the nation of Maarten Kuiper.
10. You are not particularly concerned about cleanliness and health, and you think that the Americans are too obsessed with this.
11. You think that politeness and friendliness must be phoney.
12. You love the idea that dope and prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but you know that this is mainly for the tourists. Dutch people don't do these things.
13. You expect to have the government provide everything for you.
14. You love insurance and dislike taking risks of any kind.
15. You are good at technical matters. You're not that good at coming up with new ideas. You depend on the BBC for good programming ideas.
16. You're afraid of losing your woning. And if you own your house, you would rather die in the house than sell at a loss.
17. You feel you had a superior education. You know your four year Dutch university degree is the equivalent of a Master's anywhere else.
18. You think it’s normal that your employer would have a lunchroom and that you would sit down for lunch with all your colleagues every day. You don’t leave the table before everyone else does unless you’re sure they won’t start ripping you apart.
19. You think Holland is going to hell, but you also think that foreigners should not discuss this. You enjoy complaining about the government, taxes, traffic fines and the immigrants with your Dutch friends. As soon as a foreigner contributes to the conversation you'll immediately start defending all the policies you've just attacked.
20. You have filled your home with new DVD players and flat screen TVs. You enjoy going on holiday in a luxury caravan pulled by a huge SUV. But when other people have or do these things, you think it’s extravagant.
21. You’re not the slightest bit embarrassed when you see Surinamers watching Zwarte Piet at the Sinterklaas parade. You’re angry at any criticism of this lovely old tradition.
22. You think that teaching children stereotypes about other cultures develops their imagination. You enjoy watching a popular TV show in which a blond Dutchwoman pretends to be a buffoonish Japanese woman.
23. You think it’s OK to make sexual or even obscene remarks in front of women – funny even.
24. You think that sex is just one more "leuke dingen om te doen", falling somewhere on the pleasure scale between playing board games and discussing rumours.
25. You love to gossip. You know that gossip could well be true because the person who told you heard it directly from someone else.
26. If you see a queue, you will join it until you find out what it is for. If you know what the queue is for, then you will immediately start thinking of ways to get around it.
27. You yourself speed when you think you can get away with it, but you resent it when you see Germans and Belgians on the highway doing the same thing. They should follow Dutch laws when in the Netherlands.
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004