North Korea is the funkiest place on Earth. Dear leader said so.
I ’m fortunate to have a Thai food market within walking distance. Finding frozen giant water bugs in the freezer section makes me think they cater to people who know hat they’re doing. It seems they’re the species Lethocerus indicus, and that you need them to make a really authentic chili sauce to go with fried mackerel.
I also came across an article on the history of Pad Thai (via). Apparently it was a dish invented as part of a nationalist modernization campaign, and aside from the patriotism imputed to it it’s not really distinctively Thai. It also seems that the bright orange American stuff is that way due to the use of ketchup.
While surfing I came across an online copy of the Louisiana literacy test at the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website and tried taking it to see precisely how unfair it was. I failed. I failed in multiple ways. The instructions say “You have ten minutes to complete the test,” but it took me twelve because of the ambiguous and confusing questions. It took me a bit to parse question 27, “Write right from the left to the right as you see it spelled here,” so I’d lay good odds someone with a fifth grade reading level would have it worse. I also got it wrong by printing “right” instead of writing out the whole phrase in cursive. Since any mistake means you flunk the test that’s strike two. Question 20 says “Spell backwards, forwards” which can be interpreted several ways, and no doubt whichever way I picked would turn out to be wrong if I were black. Quite a few of the questions are like that. Then there are questions that aren’t even a even a grammatical sentence, like number 30 which says “Draw five circles that one common inter-locking part.”
Just to remove all doubt that Louisiana is dealing from the bottom of the deck, question 25 is a noted word illusion:
The great state of Louisiana was about a step a way from just asking “Are you black, yes or no?” and failing the yeses.
This piece by Alan Jacobs in The American Conservative of all places captures quite a bit of my feelings about American gun culture, especially this part:
“But what troubles me most about this suggestion — and the general More Guns approach to social ills — is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man” in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now — but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.
Whatever lack of open violence may be procured by this method is not peace or civil order, but rather a standoff, a Cold War maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Moreover, the person who wishes to live this way, to maintain order at universal gunpoint, has an absolute trust in his own ability to use weapons wisely and well: he never for a moment asks whether he can be trusted with a gun. Of course he can! (But in literature we call this hubris.)”
This column from the Portland Press Herald happens to have a case study of such paranoia in action:
“Welcome to Justin’s world – and that of all those other gun owners whose love for their weaponry is rooted not in Maine’s time-honored tradition of hunting, not in the camaraderie of the shooting range or the thrill of owning a rare collectible.
No, this is a world of pure paranoia. A world where the bad guys, however invisible, might be anywhere. A world where your personal safety is directly proportional to how much firepower you’re packing – and if that scares the hell out of everyone around you, well, that’s just not your problem.”
Today in DC was the Trucktoberfest food truck festival over at the Union Market. First up was Takorean, a truck I’d heard about before that as the name suggests serves Korean BBQ in taco form. I was looking forward to trying it and I wasn’t alone, the line to order was something like a half hour long. I had the bulgogi taco and it was quite good, almost worth the wait. Next door was DC Empanada, another truck I’ve wanted to try. Again the name sums up the food, as they sell empanadas. I tried their daily special El Matador empanada, one filled with chorizo, potatoes and spices. It was hot, crisp and very good. Wandering around I next tried Stix, a truck that specializes in food on sticks. I had their firecracker shrimp, which consisted of a skewer of five large shrimp, two slices of crusty bread and a tub of spicy sauce served in a cone of brown paper. The presentation was nice, as was the food. I finished the day at the Tapas Truck, yet another truck with a straight-forward name. Here I had a chorizo sandwich with chimchurri sauce and a side of garlic fries along with a Coke to drink. I pretty much inhaled the fries. The sausage I lingered over while I watched the sunset.
Overall a nice dinner.
I’m a regular reader of the online comic Girls With Slingshots, which recently had this comic:
Those cookies sounded damn tasty, so I looked around for a recipe on the internet and found one. They were indeed awesome. Then I learned that the comic’s creator was going to be at the Baltimore Comic Con (and simultaneously learned that there was a Baltimore Comic Con). Being so close I had no excuse not to go, and of course I brought some of the pear ginger cookies to give to Ms. Cosetti. Unfortunately she’s gluten intolerant and couldn’t actually eat them. However, I got a second chance since the she was also attending the Small Press Expo in Bethesda the next weekend. kind enough to draw a skecThis time I made a gluten-free version, and she was kind enough to draw a sketch in return. I requested a drawing of McPedro attacking a vampire watermelon. Why? Because I just learned about that crazy bit of folklore and it seemed appropriate for a talking cactus to fight one.