It would be funny, if…

The Times yesterday (paper, not online) had a run-down of some of the Sarah Palin videos on the web. There’s the Saturday Night Live version of the VP debate. The “maverick-ing” is to die for.

Then there’s a “trailer” for the film “Don’t cry for me Alaska”. Actually, I don’t find it that funny, but judge for yourself. I think this one about John McCain’s age is better.

On Huffington Post (a liberal online news site) there’s a clip from a talkshow with Alec Baldwin. I really don’t like Alec Baldwin as an actor – I think he seriously lacks talent. But as an impersonator he does pretty well. See him wink and charm as Sarah Palin here. And if you didn’t see the debate and have doubts whether she’d really do that, look here. I saw the debate myself – she really did wink more than once. And for good measure you also get one of her many mavericks here.

Ever wonder about what a Maverick really is? Here’s the answer from m-w.com:

Samuel A. Maverick † 1870 American pioneer who did not brand his calves

1. an unbranded range animal ; especially : a motherless calf

2. an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party

Several of these links are called something with tinyurl.com. Ever wondered what that is? Well, it’s a kind of shortcut you can use, when you want to direct people to a website with a very long URL. Anybody can use it. See Wikipedia’s explanation here.

Here’s Obama’s latest TV ads. And here’s McCain’s. If you watch the “Dangerous” ad on McCain’s site, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the quote is somewhat out of context. Here’s from Huffington Post:

The issue stems from a remark the Illinois Democrat made in August 2007, in Nashua, New Hampshire. Speaking to supporters, the Senator called for an increase of U.S. troops in that war zone because, without the influx, operations were being limited to air raids that resulted in many preventable civilian deaths.

“Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban,” Obama said, “so we’ve got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan], and that requires us to have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages, and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”

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Ministry of Food

Last night, before I settled down to watch the vice-presidential debate, I watched the first of a new series of programmes with Jamie Oliver. I don’t know if it’s become less trendy to like Jamie Oliver, but I actually like him more and more. His life could be easy – very easy. But he’s chosen to rant (his own expression) and thus to make enemies, because lots of people hate ranting. (I do a bit of ranting myself, so know what he’s talking about). He rants about food obviously. But his concern is a country where people have forgotten how to cook. They don’t know what real food tastes like and they certainly don’t know how to shop for it, prepare it, even eat it!

He visited a couple of single mums on welfare. One of them had her children eating out of Styrofoam boxes on the kitchen floor – who needs a dining table, when there are no real meals? – her 4-year old daughter had never tasted a home cooked meal in her life. Jamie took a look in her fridge. The vegetable drawers were filled to the brim with – chocolate bars! And there was not a trace of any vegetables, any fruit, any kind of real food in the house.

That’s what he’s determined to change. He wants all of us who can cook to take it upon us to teach other people to cook. He’s even put it into a system. Read about it on his Ministry of Food homepage.

I want to teach some people to cook. I want to take part in this. I’m often surprised at what people have – and maybe even more at what they have not – in their fridges and kitchen cupboards. And at what’s considered “a meal”. When Dane tells me what some of the other children have in their lunch boxes, I’m genuinely shocked. It’s cheese dippers, white sandwich bread with square slices of “ham”, so-called yoghurt (15-25% sugar), rarely fruit and certainly no veg.

I know it’s quite unlikely that any of my readers 1) can’t cook 2) want to learn 3) live near here. But – if that were the case, please drop me a line and we’ll set up a date for a cookery class with a nice meal at the tail end.

If you live far away or just can’t be bothered to have me as a teacher, but still want to improve your cooking skills, I can only once more recommend the excellent Videojug, where you can learn to cook a wide variety of lovely meals. Bring you laptop into the kitchen – and cook!

Btw. what kind of food do you think Sarah Palin cooks for her family?

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Are we saved by the bell?

Oh my, a lot of water under the bridge since my last post. It’s certainly a fast-moving world we live in! Reading it now I can see that my previous post could sound like I am like those “staunch Republicans” who weren’t in favour of any intervention at all. But I am, just didn’t like Paulson’s original plan. I still don’t love the plan, but then, who does? There  was a great quote in the New York Times the other day from a Texan Republican. He said that voting for the plan would be voting yes to “the slippery slope to socialism”. HA! That’s so funny!

Here’s the article and here’s the full quote:

Early in the House debate, Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, said he intended to vote against the package, which he said would put the nation on “the slippery slope to socialism.” He said that he was afraid that it ultimately would not work, leaving the taxpayers responsible for “the mother of all debt.”

Today the Congress has luckily come to their senses and they’ve voted yes. So maybe all the Wall Street hysterics can calm down a little and realise that our society can’t really function if we can’t borrow money from each other. I thought those guys coveted Capitalism! But it’s probably only when the money flows into their pockets. Isn’t it funny how the state is always supposed to bail out banks in trouble? Who’s ever heard of banks easing the terms or lowering the rent a little to help out the state in a pinch?

On a related subject a friend posted a great video on Facebook the other day – it’s Sarah Palin explaining the bailout plan. It’s hilariously funny. If you can decipher what she’s actually saying (or what she means for that matter), please post it in a comment. On Supreme Court decisions, here’s her first answer. And here’s her answer after a couple of days of intense rehearsals. Impressive. But is it coherent?

A kind person has made a 10 minute version of last night’s vice-presidential debate with extra emphasis on all the gaffes. See it here. We’ve recorded the whole thing and when I’ve finished this post, I’ll go watch it with my husband. Better than any movie! But – before we get carried away I’ve found a very useful site. About.com has apparently taken over Urban Legends. That doesn’t make the site any less great. I WARMLY recommend it whenever you hear something or read something that has a bit of a false ring to it – or if it’s just too good to be true. Anyway, they’ve collected all the stories floating around the web about Sarah Palin and tells us which ones are true and which ones aren’t.

And now I need to go sit in the sofa. I’m so full! Made pizza tonight and ate too much. Also made a nice carrot cake. Will I find room for it?

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American television

 I’m often a bit behind in reading The Sunday Times. It is not always that you can devote an entire Sunday to the devouring of The Times. So this morning while I was having breakfast, I read the Culture section. After an interesting article about Baz Luhrmann‘s new film Australia (see trailer here), I got to the previously mentioned AA Gill commenting on British and American television. If you’re interested, you can read the bit about British television yourself here, but I’ll quote his bit about American television. I really wish I could have written it that way myself – we often thought and discussed along those lines while we were there:

 

I have spent the past fortnight in America, immersed, or submerged, in rolling news. There is something numbly comforting about the repetitious lapping of CNN. They say that, after the initial gagging and panic, drowning is quite a pleasant way to go, and that’s rather like watching Fox News — as you drift into unconsciousness, other people’s lives flash before your eyes. The rolling news channels give you the impression of being constantly informed while actually telling you very little. The world sidles past like a great river, and you never have to get wet. Disasters and basketball matches, comic animals and those strangely misshapen commentators all float away with equal inconsequence.

I was reminded again of two strange truths about American broadcasting. One is the astonishing number and variety of snake-oil medicinal commercials, not just advertising patent medicines but whole new diseases. Medical care is one of the main broken bones of contention in the coming American election, but nobody has actually pointed out that getting the halt, the flatulent, the palsied, the breathless and the hypochondriacs to pay for television is a very weird way of financing the entertainment and gaiety of a nation.

 

Brilliant powers of observation!

In a couple of hours I fly with boring Sterling to Copenhagen. Btw. if you’re NOT in Denmark, but want to fly there, Lastminute.com is always, ALWAYS, cheaper with the Sterling tickets than Sterling themselves. This particular ticket (out Thursday and back Sunday) I got for £100, whereas Sterling wanted £300. Don’t even mention SAS

Am going to participate in a 90th birthday celebration in the family. It really is something, isn’t it, to reach 90 and still have all your faculties?

So, see you on Monday…

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Double standards

I was recently enlightened on a new blog on The Times’ page. It’s called Alpha Mummy and it’s full of good stuff. Some pretty clever writers who do a lot of reading, off line and online.

Here’s on the double standards women political candidates are subjected to. It’s the Tonight Show again. I’m afraid I find him very, very funny. He must have some fantastic researches to always find just that clipping that gives his current victim away. And the fact that he always lets them give themselves away. He just sits there, leering…

Here’s an entirely different post about influential and infamous women from ancient times till now. If I tell you that both Lucrezia Borgia and Carla Bruni are mentioned, will you click through?

And here’s an article written by an American Republican woman in The Times, which more or less answers the question I asked a couple of days ago. What are the not-so-religious etc. Republicans going to vote now? The sad answer probably is: They are not. Since they can’t bring themselves to vote for Mr. Obama, they’ll just stay home and do nothing. And if McCain/Palin win, they can sit on their high horses and say that they didn’t vote for them. No, but they didn’t vote against them either.

On the day – may it never come – when Mrs. Palin is president of the United States and wreaks havoc of all the remaining things we love about America, what will these people say in their defense?

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BBC

Yesterday was the Times, today it is the BBC. Another love of my life – if you’ll allow me to go a bit overboard. On TED talks the creator of BBC online, Jonathan Drori, tells us quite a few things we thought we knew…

Why is it hotter in the summer than in winter?

See the video, if you want the answer. And don’t think you know it.

I wake up with the BBC every morning. Not on the radio, but as a news update on my phone. You can choose the areas you want info about, and – even better – not want to know about. that means that I don’t have to read one word about sports! I get some of my technology info from the BBC – the other day we watched (on TV, but you can see it online) an interview with Google’s first employee. He’s still there! And their science news are very good, as is the medical news.

That’s all from me today folks, I need a screen break…

PS: A few sports news I do like, and the fact that Murray beat Nadal in the US Open semifinals, made it to the main news. In 40 minutes time (that’s 10 o’clock PM our time) you can follow the final between Murray and Federer live on BBC Online – not as video, but as blog-like updates every five minutes. Quite cute.

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Ms. Palin revisited and other odds and ends

A friend of mine sent me this very funny episode of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. You won’t be surprised to hear that his subject is Sarah Palin.

Inspired by the renewed debate about abortion, Slate has a really good article about the statistics surrounding this. And the history of the debate. The Republicans are talking about challenging Roe vs. Wade, the historical Supreme Court case about the right to abortion. I’m sad to see though, that the far right has succeeded in planting the term Pro-Life (like they also planted the term Political Correctness), so that even liberal Slate uses it. They are NOT Pro-Life. They are Anti-Abortion. It is NOT the same thing in my opinion.

In yesterday’s Guardian there was a good, although sad article about how the number of women in the highest positions in society is dwindling fast. There are good insights and some stabs at an explanation. The super famous and wildly successful businessman Sir Alan Sugar is quoted:

“he said that as an employer he would like to be able to ask women at interview “Are you planning to get married and have any children?”, adding that the fact that this was legally prohibited gave businesses an easy option: “Just don’t employ them.” “

Is this sad or what?

I wrote recently about intellectual property and copyright. The record industry always claims that it’s doing for the artists. That’s such a joke! And I feel sorry for the artists who believe it. Here’s a story from Boing Boing about how prolonged copyright in Europe benefits – yeah well, who do you think. Clue: it’s not the artists.

On happiness, this time the Danes’. Again. The article is written by a Brit living in Denmark. And so, why are Danes the happiest people on the planet? Because we have such low expectations to life! Take that. Link found on New York Times’ Idea blog.

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Betting on the end of the world

(not ONE word about the presidential election over there in America)

I knew that people bet on practically everything, but a bet on whether the Large Hadron Collider at CERN will destroy the Earth was new to me. But, here it is. And check the prizes for winner and loser. Very subtle, very funny. There’s even a video showing what it’s going to look like for the lucky few who might be out in space that day.

On Slate there’s a really good and informative review of Chrome. The bit about every single operation being independent of each other sounds wonderful – oh how I hate that I can’t do something in one tab (or only at crawling pace) while I’m loading a film or downloading an application in another tab. And how I hate that Firefox slows my computer down. So when Chrome is ready for Mac, I will surely try it, in spite of the quirks it quite obviously also has. Or maybe, as the Slate writer suggests, Mozilla will hurry and correct these obvious flaws in an otherwise great browser.

Today’s final post is unusual. It’s called the Walls of China. Notice the plural. It’s very short, but has a poignant point…

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He might be old, but he looks even older…

Here’s a commercial from the Obama camp, which might do the trick. Isn’t it great that Mr. McCain has actually been filmed while bragging about voting 90% of the time with Mr. Bush (or W. as the American media love to call him)! Ezra Klein had it.

That American politics really are different from politics anywhere else is no news. Here’s an article from Politico about “the Jewish Problem” (not that Jewish problem, the Republicans’ Jewish problem). And why is that interesting? Well, it’s interesting because it – from one corner of this huge arena of stuff that’s not politics – shows why real politics are so relatively unimportant in the US presidential elections.

Ezra Klein is at the Republican Convention (also called the GOP convention, GOP being short for Grand Old Party!!!) and reports from all the speeches. He tells us that the theme of Mr. McCain having spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton isn’t exactly being played down. And that several of the speakers seem to think that having endured torture will make Mr. McCain a better leader. And he quotes this freezing comment from one of his readers:

So torture builds character that leads to leadership.

I can only imagine the sign above Gitmo:

“Welcome future world leaders”

Ezra Klein also points to the front page of US Weekly.

I almost begin to feel sorry for the woman!

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Chrome

Here’s the inside news on the Google browser, Chrome. And here’s Google’s own post announcing it. I don’t (yet) see features that I’ve desperately craved, so I’m not going to install it just yet. I’m overly happy with the latest version of Firefox, which has several new features that I use a lot. Here’s a link to the mentioned “comic book” explaining the thinking behind the new browser and it’s features. It’s quite good and informative, although rather nerdy! Chrome was released earlier today and I’ve had a peek at some early adapters’ response and they seem to think that this is the future! Take a guided tour of it here.

And – speaking of the future, I’ve checked yet another speech at TED.com, recommended by Stephen’s Lighthouse. This one is by the writer, web evangelist and former editor of Wired Kevin Kelly. The Web as we know it has been around for 5000 days. He takes it upon himself to predict what will happen in the next 5000 days. It’s very interesting! There’s a lot of exabyte and terabyte in the beginning of his talk and I’m useless with numbers of that magnitude. They mean nothing to me. But later on he gets to content. And as you probably know – content is king… or at least that’s what a lot of people used to say in the 90’es.

There’s only one machine

The Web is its OS

All screens look into the one

No bits will live outside the web

To share is to gain

Let the One read it

The One is us.

That’s quite powerful, so I’ll leave it at that and say Good Night!

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What did we have for dinner II

A couple of days behind… Day before yesterday we had leftovers. There was a bit of the couscous left and also some of the Jamie Oliver dish from the previous day. Together with other bits’n’bobs it made an OK dinner and left us with good conscience!

Yesterday was Saturday and the weather was gorgeous. David’s sister and brother-in-law are always full of initiative (thank you, L & R!!) and called in the morning to suggest that we went for a boat ride on the Thames. So we quickly threw a picnic together and met up at a boat yard. Here we hired a 10-seater motor boat and took off. We sailed up and down the Thames for four most enjoyable hours, going through two locks on the way. Later we had dinner together in their garden and it was, tada: Leftovers! A bit of this and a bit of that out of various fridges combined with leftovers from the picnic and there was food for 11…

 

More pictures on Flickr.

Today is Sunday and traditionally you have a Sunday Roast here. So I decided to try out the previously mentioned Videojug for recipes for this most traditional meal. And it worked out a dream! My stomach is still happy… I made Rustic Roast Chicken with Crispy Roast Potatoes and Gravy. It doesn’t always have to be posh to be good, although I readily admit to loving all sorts of “fancy” ingredients. Having seen it on video just once makes it stick in a different way than reading a recipe. Try for yourself! And bon appetit.

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How to…

I think I read about this wonderful site in The Times, but can’t be sure, it’s a while ago.  Go spend some time there. Check the film about sleeping comfortably with your partner. And to the new (or old as it is) owners of Iphones there are also helpful films. Send a link to the people you know who claim they can’t cook.

And – speaking of food: What did you have for dinner tonight? Anything interesting? Wholesome? Satisfactory? Not? Well, I did for once. That’s the awful thing about holidays. Either you eat out expensively and it is (or at least should be) enjoyable. Or you eat out inexpensively and it is rarely enjoyable, rarely healthy, rarely anything other than filling! Or you make something quickly at home, because it’s the holidays and you can’t be bothered to cook. Or at least that’s how it is for me. And it’s stupid really, because when else do you have this much time to cook a wonderful meal?

It can’t be sushi every day…

Back to what we had for dinner: Couscous mixed with lightly fried vegetables, sundried tomatoes, apricots, pinenuts and coriander. Fried scallops on top. Quickly made, tasted lovely and there’s more in the fridge. Why is it that I don’t pull myself together and make something simple yet wholesome like that more often? Too frequently I fall back to the good old meat, potatoes & 2 veg. Fine. But BORING and often too expensive. Tomorrow night a friend is coming for dinner, so I’ll cook a proper dinner. Will report back to you…

Here’s a couple of websites I go to, when I’m drained of inspiration but still haven’t given up: Epicurious, I think the biggest on the web. They have a section called Quick & Easy. Good Housekeeping and Sainsbury’s are behind Love your Leftovers. Quite good! Then there’s the Recipe of the Day from the New York Times. But that’s not exactly for your Monday night with the family. Good inspiration though! And I can recommend How to Cook like your Grandmother. Fabulous, when the elderly relatives come for dinner. Very untrendy and ever so American is Every Day with Rachel Ray – 30 minutes recipes. But they do work and they do take 30 minutes to prepare.

Finally a little jab about the credit crunch. Oh, I do feel sorry for the young families who can’t get a mortgage. And even more so for those who got one, but can’t renew it. And yes, we can also feel the rise of the petrol prices and food prices. But dear friends – relax a little. Unemployment rates are not skyrocketing, inflation is not exactly worrying and it’s not like the banks are rolling over in death cramps. So why not just take the opportunity to ask ourselves an extra time before we buy anything, whether it’s really something we need or which will make us truly happier? And I think I’ll start buying groceries weekly at Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s and have them delivered. That way I have to plan meals better and will use less petrol.

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