President Obama and I agree

President Obama and I agree

I usually have quibbles, reservations, or complete disagreement with much of what our President says, but here I am in 100 percent agreement. Like it our not we are a high energy society. If we want our planet clean then we must have abundant clean energy to keep it that way. Approximately 25 percent of our domestic electricity production is used to clean sewage and treat water, something few people are aware of. Increased Nuclear energy here creates better prospects for our future prosperity, but also better chance for prosperity in the rest of the world. The current world food security crisis is driven in large respect by energy constraints, and we need to remove those constraints to fight hunger and to enable poor nations to improve their lifestyles; which will lead to clean futures everywhere.

The Death of a Good Man: Norman Borlaug RIP

The Death of a Good Man: Norman Borlaug RIP


The anti-Christ of the Luddite factions in Greenpeace has died. Norman Borlaug was the pioneer of genetically modified crops that have kept billions in the subcontinent of Asia from starving to death as the Club of Rome report “Limits to Growth” had predicted in 1972. Literally billions are alive today because of Norman’s work.

Even with that proof of the value of GM crops and their long use the radical anti-science left in Europe still makes resistance to GM crops a staple of every demonstration, and there are even factions doing the same here in the US.

Norman was one of the good guys, and he will be sorely missed – it would be hard to find someone else who has really done more for all of humanity.

Fork and Screen: New Movie Experience

Fork and Screen: New Movie Experience

rendering_homeAs part of my wife’s birthday gift the kids took us to see the latest Harry Potter movie at AMC’s new “Fork and Screen” theater in Olathe. It seems a bit spendy when you look at total price, but if you compare it to other movie outings for the family it actually fares better. Ticket price was $20.00 each, but included ten dollar vouchers for the meal. Since we spend nearly that much on movie tickets and refreshments anyway (we average 15 to 18 dollars each,) and then still go to a restaurant afterward I consider this a steal.

The experience includes a bar, dining, and a wide recliner. No, not a fake recliner, but a motorized almost too reclined chair with a foot rest. They also have “no children” showings, which is great if you want to see that kid’s movie without all of the distraction that comes with an all-kid audience.

The food was good, the chair was comfortable, and the price tag actually came out less than the usual movie and restaurant that we do. You also save some time, so what’s not to like? I’ll be doing this for most movies I see henceforward. One thing the marketeers might have done better: “Beer and Screen” would draw a larger audience…

Verdict: Great concept well executed.

The Christmas Roast


The Christmas Roast

My wife asked for the the “Biggest roast you have” at the butcher’s, so now we have a 22 pound rib roast that doesn’t fit in the pan.  I seasoned it and we will be putting in in the oven in an hour or two. To give you an idea of scale, that’s a three layer chocalate raspberry cake in the background.

Teriyaki or Plain? (more food porn)


Smoked Salmon and Teriyaki Smoked Salmon

First soak the salmon in water with a bit of sea salt while you prep your smoker — if you can taste the salt strongly then you used too much salt to make your brine. The idea is to get it about as salty as sea water or just slightly more to your taste.

Get your smoker ready: rinse it out since you do not want too much essence of pork or beef oil flavoring your salmon. Starting with a wet smoker is also always a good idea since your food does not become dry and dessicated that way, but more on that later.

Start the fire in the fire compartment with normal BBQ coals and put your wood on, for Salmon I recommend apple or cedar. You should put on plenty of wood, you want a relatively hot fire to start. The idea is to kill all possible germs through the combination of salt, then heat, then smoke. So you should get the fire hot, run with the damper and stack wide open until the smoking compartment is 300 degrees fahrenheit or thereabouts.

You should section the salmon into about 2″ strips, then pat the Salmon dry and coat it with some with extra virgin olive oil, and some with Teriyaki sauce.  Make a perforated pan out of heavy duty foil for each type, make sure to puncture the foil in several spots with a fork so the smoke gets through to the bottom of the Salmon as well.

Place the salmon in the smoker at the end away from the firebox, you want it on “high heat” for ten minutes, which will seal the outside a bit, kill any possible germs, and make the seasoning stick. After ten minutes, open the smoker lid, damp down the fire, and let the smoker cool for about five minutes. Close the lid, set the firebox damper to a sliver, and close the stack damper to a sliver. Smoke about four hours.

Also note to keep humidity in your smoker compartment high – keep a kettle of water boiling above your coals, and occassionally take the garden hose set to “mist” and mist lightly to coat the bottom of the smoking compartment. Do not mist above the Salmon, remove a section of grill and mist below it. Feed wood as necessary, after the inital fire you shouldn’t have to feed too much more in if you have your firebox properly damped.

Occasionally brush the Teriyaki batch with fresh sauce or it will carmelize and go too black and hard. Pull it off and cool, eat with crackers, cream cheese, lox, bagels, or however you prefer.

Musharraf and the Bear’s Bad Bargain

While many are portraying the resignation of Musharraf as either a bad thing or a good thing, in effect it happened two months or more ago. His old friends and associates have been ignoring him, the stalwarts in PML-Q and MQM have deserted him, and even General Kayanni who he appointed as his replacement Chief of Army Staff has deserted by ducking meetings. His popularity with the Pakistani people of all stripes is almost as low as the US congress is with the American People. He lasted the six months past the elections that I previously predicted he would make it at least as far as, but not much further.

The religious conservative nature of more than half of Musharraf’s base has been decaying since 2006 — it started when he turned his back on the government sponsored terror camps for Kashmiri Jihadis, and this turned some factions within the army and ISI as well.
It accelerated as he started flushing the Afghanistan Refugee camps and repatriating them, with the hudood ordinance wrangling for women’s rights, with the de-certifying of madrassa diplomas, and sped up more with the well-constructed Al Qaeda’s cape of Lal Masjid Mosque to Musharraf’s bull.

Then he lost the urban moderate part of his base with the barring of the Judiciary and the censoring of media in the run-up to elections. If there’s someone in Pakistan that Musharraf hasn’t pissed-off, I’m certainly not aware of who it is. At some point you have to step back to admire his tap-dance across the razor wire of Pakistani politics, and the panache with which he carried off several actions of his tenure as president in a country so factionalized you need a score card to know how to dress when you travel.

In the end patronage is what got him post election. The political and business communities in Pakistan thrive on patronage, and without his partie’s people in the bureacracies and positions of power Musharraf has been a thin paper icon and not a real power the past few months, and the final dregs of his support trickled away.

With Musharraf now gone, the US got the bear’s bad bargain from him, as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been securely in Taliban hands the past two years, and during the last year and a half they’ve made steady progress in trying to take over the North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP). Ayman Al Zawahiri and Bin Laden have been directing events, and they’ve created the next generation of Jihadi leadership under his nose. There’s been billions in aid and hardware spent, and now like the bear in the story, we are rambling off with empty paws.

The effects of Musharraf’s departure, like all multi-faceted events, are much more complex than any single pundit can predict, but I will do my best to sketch some possibilities here.

This will put Zardari, a questionable character in his own right, in charge of PPP, as the likely next president – if it’s not then it will be a puppet of his. (This goes with the usual codicil in Pakistan: If he lives, his name probably heads Baitullah Mehsud’s assassination list of 300.) There’s a slim potential to make Nawaz Sharif president, but the chances of that aren’t likely.

I think you will see Al Qaeda declare that PPP is just the newest US puppet, and they will continue their war against the government of Pakistan; they need to do that to survive. Brokering peace in the frontiers isn’t likely except under one scenario, and it’s probable that it will be floated or tried at some point so watch for the following possibility:

I would wager that the the new government would be willing to turn Jihadi ire away from Afghanistan and back towards India and the Kashmir standoff if they think that will bring them peace. With the Kashmir intifada heating up, it’s a likely ploy and scenario to regain the conservative sympathizer vote and to shore up the peace in the frontiers. Without an external enemy to focus the jihadis upon the jihadis will continue to eat the state of Pakistan.

The other challenges before the government are many, and how they answer them will be instructive over the next few months. The economy is floundering, in stagflation from energy and food inflation, coupled with decreased productivity and increased joblessness. Hunger is beginning to stalk the subcontinent once again, and that’s something that could snap the populace into their face very quickly if not abated.

Pakistan is energy deficient, which leads to many of their other woes for you can not support a dense population without abundant, cheap energy.

If they agitate in the Kashmir too much, they will find food supplies shortened, which certainly won’t help matters.

Then of course there are the Islamists, who are trying to overthrow the Government of Pakistan, and if they fail in that, they will next attempt to create the breakaway state of Pashtun land (there are many spellings for the envisioned state to be carved out of FATA, Southern Afghanistan, and NWFP, I’ve anglicized it.)

So lots of challenges, and at this point I have no firm predictions.

For a run down on potential candidates, here’s a list from Pakistan policy blog.

 Also just a couple notes to correct some misconceptions in other articles I’ve seen in the blogosphere:

It was Richard Armitage who took the message to Pakistan that we would bomb them to the stone age if they did not cooperate according to Musharraf’s memoirs.

It was under Bhutto that the Kashmir genocide through forced migration started, and prior to that General Zia al Haq had been using Bin Laden and AQ to cleanse the hinterlands of Pakistan, like Chitral etc.

As Predicted

This is a time when I hate being right in these previous articles. This is a night I surely wish I were wrong, completely and utterly wrong.

North Koreans are starving once again, and for now it’s the tyrannies and the slave states that will feel the brunt of hunger. Later, if we do not make energy more plentiful it will spread to poor states, not just the failed ones. Growing, transporting, and storing food is energy intensive, the higher energy goes, the higher food price will go. From Washington Post:

The main U.N. aid agency in North Korea, the World Food Program, will resume emergency operations there in the next two weeks to help feed more than 5 million people over the next 15 months at a cost of $500 million, said Jean-Pierre de Margerie, the agency’s country director in Pyongyang.

“The situation is indeed very serious,” de Margerie said at a news conference in Beijing.

The resumption of emergency operations, which were scaled back in 2005 on a request from the North Korean government, was decided after a U.N. survey last month showed the most severe and widespread hunger among North Koreans in a decade. The survey was taken after the Pyongyang government, in an unusual gesture, officially acknowledged a growing hunger crisis and appealed for international aid.

Here’s a short video of what it was like last time North Korea went through Famine.

Warning: Do not watch if you are weak of heart or spirit.