House of Eratosthenes

Some good stuff on House of Eratosthenes this morning.  On Hillary Clinton's strange testimony this week:
We have our Secretary of State . . . reminding us that the whole point is to find out what happened, and therefore “what does it matter” . . . what the h--- happened.  Sheer nonsense.
And on the weird treatment of science in political disputes:
But it bears repeating, science has nothing to do at all with what we “must” do.  Science is all about what is.  One steps outside of the domain of science, usually slamming the door behind him, and forgetting the key, the minute one starts pondering the thing-to-do.  With the climate change deal, a lot of people tend to forget that. 
[I]n classical times “science” was used to describe a process, and in more recent times it is used to describe an orthodoxy of institutionalized beliefs, and a coterie of elites maintaining them. 
. . . 
Time after time, I see lefties “proving” that they deserve to be the one Alpha Dog of the pack — and not taking the trouble to prove much of anything else.  They start babbling pure nonsense.  Like “It’s our job to find out what happened here so it never happens again, and what difference does it make who did this thing we’re trying to prevent from ever happening again, or why they did it.”  Arguing about security procedures and climate science . . . the way Arctic wolves would, if they could talk.

Maybe we have a Constitution after all

A federal appeals court has found that when the Constitution says the President can make recess appointments, that means he actually has to wait until a recess to do it.  He can't just act during what feels like a recess to him, on the ground that the appointment is really important and Republicans aren't being nice to him.

Conan, Master of Arts

A helpful article from McSweeny's medical journal entitled, "FAQ: The 'Snake Fight' Portion of Your Thesis Defense."
Q: Do I have to kill the snake?
A: University guidelines state that you have to “defeat” the snake. There are many ways to accomplish this. Lots of students choose to wrestle the snake. Some construct decoys and elaborate traps to confuse and then ensnare the snake. One student brought a flute and played a song to lull the snake to sleep. Then he threw the snake out a window.

Q: Does everyone fight the same snake?
A: No. You will fight one of the many snakes that are kept on campus by the facilities department.

Q: Are the snakes big?
A: We have lots of different snakes. The quality of your work determines which snake you will fight. The better your thesis is, the smaller the snake will be.


Q: So then couldn’t you just fight a snake in lieu of actually writing a thesis?
A: Technically, yes. But in that case the snake would be very big. Very big, indeed.
Oh, so that's what happened.

Guns and budgets

From Instapundit, quoting a friend:
If Republicans want to stop gun control legislation in the US Senate all they have to do is attach a budget to it and Harry Reid will ensure it never comes up for a vote.


Paul A. Rahe addresses a question about whether there is a non-Marxist literature on what occasions revolutions (he misses Hannah Arendt). Are there leading indicators that suggest a revolution may be coming?
One key indicator is that those with access to the levers of power within the ruling order cease to believe in the religion or ideology that legitimizes the regime. Another is that their underlings also gradually abandon the beliefs that render respectable the rule of their masters.
For some reason, he goes on to talk about China.

Mourning at the Morning of the World

There is much to mourn at this hour. We watch the nation fall ever farther from the moral life that formed it, and informed it at its darkest hours.

Since I am quoting Dunsany, though, it is worth remembering that he was an ally of the ancient things. The ancient things renew.

"The swans are singing again," said to one another the gods. And
looking downwards, for my dreams had taken me to some fair and
far Valhalla, I saw below me an iridescent bubble not greatly larger
than a star shine beautifully but faintly, and up and up from it looking
larger and larger came a flock of white, innumerable swans, singing
and singing and singing, till it seemed as though even the gods were
wild ships swimming in music.

"What is it?" I said to one that was humble among the gods.

"Only a world has ended," he said to me, "and the swans are coming
back to the gods returning the gift of song."

"A whole world dead!" I said.

"Dead," said he that was humble among the gods. "The worlds are
not for ever; only song is immortal."

"Look! Look!" he said. "There will be a new one soon."

And I looked and saw the larks, going down from the gods.

"The Assignation"

A very short story by Lord Dunsany, one of the greats of his age.
Fame singing in the highways, and trifling as she sang, with sordid adventurers, passed the poet by.

And still the poet made for her little chaplets of song, to deck her forehead in the courts of Time: and still she wore instead the worthless garlands, that boisterous citizens flung to her in the ways, made out of perishable things.

And after a while whenever these garlands died the poet came to her with his chaplets of song; and still she laughed at him and wore the worthless wreaths, though they always died at evening.

And one day in his bitterness the poet rebuked her, and said to her: "Lovely Fame, even in the highways and the byways you have not foreborne to laugh and shout and jest with worthless men, and I have toiled for you and dreamed of you and you mock me and pass me by."

And Fame turned her back on him and walked away, but in departing she looked over her shoulder and smiled at him as she had not smiled before, and, almost speaking in a whisper, said:

"I will meet you in the graveyard at the back of the Workhouse in a hundred years."
But read on, for "Charon," and the story of the Sphinx and Time.

The communal fire

Last night we tried something so obviously wonderful that now I can't understand why we haven't been doing it all our lives.  We brought home a bag of unshucked oysters, had a bunch of neighbors over, and spent the evening around a fire pit grilling the oysters, shucking them, and eating them with a variety of condiments my husband whipped up yesterday morning.  (The lime-chili-cilantro sauce has to be tried to be believed.)

The oysters came fresh from the local bay.  Unshucked, they cost a small fraction of what we're used to:  $30 buys a 100-lb bag (more than 300 oysters), while a gallon of shucked oysters (perhaps 100) is fetching $54 these days.  Shucking is a breeze when the oyster has been grilled.  When the shell pops open a fraction, you know the oyster is done.

The free-standing metal fire pit, a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, is a welcome addition to our patio.  Besides providing a fine focus for a friendly outdoor party at this pleasant time of year, it let us burn up some deadfall wood and produce ashes that we'll use in the garden.  And of course we had s'mores.

Lime Chili Cilantro Sauce

6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 TB fresh cilantro, minced
4 green onions, minced
1/3 cup Asian chili paste
2 TB sugar
1/2 tsp lime zest, minced
1/3 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
1-1/2 TB pickled ginger, minced

If you're starting with raw shucked oysters, you can spoon this sauce over them before grilling, and you can add the reserved oyster liquor to the sauce.  For grilling in the shells, we just cooked and opened the oysters, then let the guests spoon a little sauce over the top.  It's good on all kinds of things, not just oysters.  Its explosive flavor is a crowd pleaser.

A Delightful Interlude

If you are among the people who occasionally receive presents from me, do not follow these links because you'll ruin some upcoming surprises.

For the rest of you, is this not perfect?

I like this one, too. Also this one.

And one for Eric Blair.