December 22, 2012 archive

Dec 22

Cartnoon

Credit and Christmas.

Dec 22

A Conservative Judge Makes the Case for Gun Control

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In the light of the Sandy Hook tragedy, stricter gun regulation should be a no brainer. Apparently there are still many who are willing to place the blame on anything but the easy access to an semi-automatic assault rifle with multi-round clips. In the Los Angeles Times, Larry Alan Burns, a federal district judge in San Diego, who recently sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson, makes the case for new gun control legislation.

Burns is a self-described conservative, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, and he agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller, which held that the 2nd Amendment gives Americans the right to own guns for self-defense. He is also a gun owner.

But while sentencing Loughner in November, Burns questioned the need for high-capacity magazines like the one Loughner had in his Glock, and said he regretted how the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. On Thursday, reacting to last week’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Burns publicly called for a new assault weapons ban “with some teeth this time,” in an op-ed published by The Los Angeles Times.

Lawrence O’Donnell reads Judge Burns’ op-ed in its entirety.

A conservative case for an assault weapons ban

If we can’t draw a sensible line on guns, we may as well call the American experiment in democracy a failure.

Dec 22

On This Day In History December 22

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 22 is the 356th day of the year (357th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are nine days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1808, Ludwig von Beethoven’s 5th Symphony makes its world premier in Vienna.

Also premiering that day at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna were Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, and the Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68-the “Pastoral Symphony.” But it was the Fifth Symphony that, despite its shaky premiere, would eventually be recognized as Beethoven’s greatest achievement to that point in his career. Writing in 1810, the critic E.T.A. Hoffman praised Beethoven for having outstripped the great Haydn and Mozart with a piece that “opens the realm of the colossal and immeasurable to us…evokes terror, fright, horror, and pain, and awakens that endless longing that is the essence of Romanticism.”

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That assessment would stand the test of time, and the Fifth Symphony would quickly become a centerpiece of the classical repertoire for orchestras around the world. But beyond its revolutionary qualities as a serious composition, the Fifth Symphony has also proven to be a work with enormous pop-cultural staying power, thanks primarily to its powerful four-note opening motif-three short Gs followed by a long E-flat. Used in World War II-era Britain to open broadcasts of the BBC because it mimicked the Morse-code “V” for “Victory,” and used in the disco-era United States by Walter Murphy as the basis for his unlikely #1 pop hit “A Fifth Of Beethoven,” the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony have become a kind of instantly recognizable musical shorthand since they were first heard by the public on this day in 1808.

Dec 22

Popular Culture 20121221: Christmas Songs

I apologize for not being around much lately, but I have been busy doing Christmas baking and sorting out some personal issues.  Monday I shipped off two boxes of goodies, one to the former Mrs. Translator for her and the two sons that will be able to spend time with her for the holidays, and the other to Eldest Son and his bride who are unable to come home for Christmas.

Contents included Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White “Chocolate” Chip Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies, a family Christmas tradition.  I got word from both of them that they each got their goodies in good condition on Wednesday.  Hat tip to the USPS for providing excellent service and a very good price with Priority Mail.

There are some really good seasonal songs playing these days, and I shall share some of them with you tonight.  Most of them are from my childhood, and many of them are from Goodyear’s Great Songs of Christmas, Volume 5 from 1965, so I would have been eight at the time.  I rooted around through my vinyl and alas no longer have the record.  Others are from different sources.

Dec 22

End of the World Menu- Part Two

The second menu from Epicurious.com is the End of the World Disaster.  Depending on how much and how fast you drink and whether or not you hydrate before bed and have to go to work tomorrow it could turn out to be just that as it features three drinks that I’ll arrange in order of destructive magnitude- the Tropical Storm, the Hurricane, and the Earthquake.  There’s also a drink inspired soup/appetizer Bloody Mary with Shrimp and Pickled Vegetables, Fire and Spice Nuts (to encourage more drinking), Iceberg with Bacon and Blue Cheese, Beef and Snow Peas, and Volcano Surprise.

Tropical Storm

(8 servings)

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 3/4 cup high-proof dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons Campari
  • Orange wedges
  • Maraschino cherries

Mix ingredients in a pitcher. Cover and chill for 4-12 hours. Divide among ice-filled glasses. Garnish with orange wedges and maraschino cherries.

Hurricane

(Serves 1)

  • 1 ounce light rum
  • 1 ounce dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar, or to taste
  • Ice cubes

Mix all ingredients except ice in shaker. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add ice cubes, shake well, and strain mixture into a cocktail glass.

Passion fruit syrup can be hard to find, juice might be a little easier (you would need to use more or make a separate step out of reducing it).  In a pinch you can substitute Grenadine.

Earthquake

(Serves 1)

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce Pernod
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bloody Mary Soup Shots with Shrimp and Pickled Vegetables

(Serves 8)

  • 32 peeled deveined cooked medium shrimp
  • Pickled vegetables (such as carrots, celery, green beans, or olives)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or, you know, whatever)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt

Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in large bowl. Thread 1 shrimp and 1 vegetable on toothpick. Repeat with remaining shrimp and vegetables. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place tomatoes with juice, green onions, 1/2 cup broth, Worcestershire sauce, vodka, horseradish, celery salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, thin with additional broth by tablespoonfuls. Season Bloody Mary mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to pitcher, cover and chill.

This tomato-Worcestershire-vodka soup gets served in shot glasses for fun. Garnish each with shrimp-vegetable skewer. Serve remaining Bloody Mary mixture and shrimp-vegetable skewers alongside.

Skewers and soup can be made 1 day ahead. Look for the pickled veggies near the jarred vegetables in the supermarket.

Now that you’re thoroughly smashed, some food below the fold.

Dec 22

If the right to life is not respected, the others lack meaning.

is usually the case, I was searching for stories to cover for my columns.  I stumbled across an editorial in the Washington Blade, entitled We must protect rights of transgender people.  Well I’m all for that.  That is the theme about which I write most…especially so over the past week.

I do have to acknowledge some disappointment over the reception those stories have received.  In my world, human rights have priority #1.  Everything else comes tumbling after.

The Blade editorial focuses on two reports released earlier this month which “paint a disturbing picture of the global status of trans communities – a portrait of human rights violations, violence and marginalization.”

Well, duh.  If you haven’t gotten that much out of what I have been blogging about since 2005, then apparently we have been miscommunicating.

I’m going to cover one of those documents.  I guess I’ll save the other for a rainy day.

Let me note up front that the report covers life to the south of our own country, which concerns me because that usually means nobody will be interested.  But there is no reason to embrace American exceptionalism on this issue.  The United States suffers some of the identical problems as our Latin American neighbors when it comes to the treatment of transpeople.  Indeed some of them do much better than our country.

Yet these reports show how trans people are subject to especially extreme abuse, from many angles.  Lest anyone use these stories as reason to rejoice for not living in one of “those barbaric countries” it’s worth noting that the U.S. racks up one of the higher murder rates of trans people worldwide.  Routine police mistreatment and abuse of trans women in one neighborhood of New York City was recently documented – with stories remarkably similar to those told in Bogota, Johannesburg or New Dehli.

It is also important to note that much of the political agenda advanced in the name of LGBT rights – whether same-sex marriage or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – have little relevance to these communities.  A marriage license won’t stop a bullet.  As noted in a statement put out on Dec. 17 by 50 organizations, the LGBT rights movement needs to better address issues of criminalization of trans people.

Washington Blade editorial