Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The oldest blog profession

I've been reluctant to endorse any product on this blog because I know what high esteem you have for my opinion, Gentle Reader. I did not wish to capitalize on the awesome power of my blog for something as common as filthy lucre. But I'm going to make an exception.

I really like cooking with fresh herbs, especially basil. It is just so fragrant and so essential to Italian cooking that the dried stuff is really just a pale echo of the fresh. Unfortunately, I can't really grow my own since it wants bright sunlight, which I don't have. I can't always find fresh bunches in the store, even at this time of year. Those little plastic tubs are expensive and somehow, even when I pick over them carefully, the leaves are brown and wilty even by the time I get the groceries home. Then I discovered this:

That's Gourmet Garden basil-in-a-tube. It's not the most attractive of delivery mechanisms, but it's really effective. I tried it once this winter for a recipe where I really couldn't omit the basil and none other could be found. I was expecting it to be bland and artificial, but it really wasn't. It smelled and tasted exactly like basil I'd just chopped fresh.

It's not the most attractive of presentations squeezed right out of the tube, but it's clearly finely chopped green basil in a paste. There are no particularly scary ingredients; no artificial preservatives, etc. I wouldn't use it where you really want recognizable basil leaves like on a pizza or added to Thai food, but for things like a tomato sauce or manicotti, it's really effective. Just add it toward the end of cooking, like you would fresh basil.

They've got some other products that I haven't tried, like cilantro, garlic, and parsley, but I think I will in the future. It's a bit pricey at about $3-4 a tube, but they last several months, and longer in the freezer, which is a lot more than the 24 hours or so I can get out of fresh herbs from the store.

I'm told that there's one local blogger that demands free swag from manufacturers in exchange for complementary blog posts. This is not such a blog post. I'm not that mercenary. Oh, who am I kidding, I just don't have enough clout to be that mercenary. If any major multinational would like me to be their corporate whore, the line starts on the left.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This thing is not like that thing

Both Illinipundit and Glock21 have accused the Obama administration of astroturfing and that they are therefore no better than the right wing mobs currently shutting down town hall meetings across the country. These are excellent examples of the logical fallacy of false equivalence. Basically it goes like this: the right wing is inciting their base to be as disruptive as possible, the Obama administration is encouraging people to contact their local officials: see, they're both astroturfing!

Well, no. This is a great example of the false equivalence. The best definition I can find online is from the link above, as equating "an act by one party as being equally egregious to that of another without taking into account the underlying differences which may make the comparison patently invalid."

I don't like the idea of the Obama administration handing out talking points; I think talking points are the lazy way out and are for people who don't really have an argument. But if you look at the evil, evil document that Illinipundit posted, all it's really encouraging you to do is "have a quick conversation with the local staff, tell your personal story, or even just drop off a customized flyer and say that reform matters to you." And it offers to provide you with "the address, phone number, and open hours for the office, information about how the health care crisis affects your state for you to drop off (with the option of adding your personal story), and a step-by-step guide for your visit."

Really, that doesn't sound like much to me. I've never visited my Congressional office and I can definetly see how that might be a bit intimidating. I don't know the protocol or procedures involved. (Did you know letters to your Congressman are properly addressed to "The Honorable So-and-so?")

When you really get down to it, the Obama campaign is nothing more than asking people to politely contact their own, local representatives and make their wishes known.

The opposition is not.

  • In Tampa, Florida, a town hall meeting had to be cut short because of shouting in the meeting, after the mob of 1,000 people was banging on the windows, and after a violent fistfight broke out in the entryway.
  • The SEIU is getting death threats by phone and -- believe it or not -- Twitter.
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) has said "the time for polite town halls is 'over.'"

I'm all for people talking to their reps and voicing their opinions, even if I disagree with them. But these tactics show that the right-wing is not attempting to participate in the health care discussion, they're attempting to disrupt it.