I forgive

~ February 20th, 2018 1:19 pm

“Make sure the person whom you think wronged you is the person who wronged you,” says Charles L. Griswold, a philosophy professor at Boston University. Forgiveness means abandoning anger, and that can be long, hard work — possibly a lifetime’s worth. So before you embark, clearly identify perpetrator and transgression, and make sure the situation calls for forgiveness and not something else, like mercy.

Despite a seemingly endless supply of self-help and religious literature that urges bountiful forgiveness, be careful about offering it up willy-nilly. “Don’t act in a way that condones or enables further wrongdoing,” Griswold says. But take action. Studies find that anger, vengefulness and all the negative ruminations that come with not forgiving can damage the human organism, especially the heart. Indeed, so-called forgiveness interventions (essentially practice sessions) have successfully reduced symptoms in patients with coronary artery disease, chronic pain and even drug addiction.

Researchers disagree about exactly what constitutes forgiveness (though they concede that it involves “reducing unforgiveness”). While many theologians and philosophers think it can be unilateral, Griswold holds that forgiveness should be bilateral: For a victim to truly let go of his or her anger, the perpetrator must first admit responsibility. You can ask for an apology, he says, but you won’t always get one. Both parties should use direct and specific language. “Clarity is of the essence,” Griswold says. “If you fudge what it is that you’re doing, the process hasn’t been successfully completed.” And if the person who mistreated you is dead, has disappeared or is just an unrepentant jerk? “You have to find other ways to put aside your anger,” Griswold says.

Many religions teach forgiveness, but being devout is not required. Griswold has written about forgiveness in secular contexts because he believes that forgiving is one way our species can express true moral virtue. Humans hurt one another in tiny and immense ways, over and over, but we have also worked out this simple — yet sometimes profoundly difficult — act to free one another from some impact of that harm.

This for my last meal, please

~ February 20th, 2018 11:46 am

There’s a certain kind of dark-crusted sourdough bread I’m incapable of resisting. A sixth sense alerts me anytime I veer within a three-block radius of a bakery offering tangy country loaves with mahogany crusts. Without fail, I’ll make my way inside and buy one, even if there’s already half a loaf growing stale on my countertop.

Hello, my name is Samin, and I’m an artisanal-bread hoarder. The only way I can justify the addiction is to challenge myself to use up every bit. I’ve made endless variations of crumbs, croutons, pudding and panzanella. But the most satisfying (and efficient) use I’ve found for the glut of stale bread at my disposal is panade. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re not alone. Richard Olney, the 20th-century food writer who championed French country cooking, lamented the dish’s disappearance from cookbooks when he sang the praises of panade in The Times in 1974.

Like Olney, I believe that “the ultimate panade is the onion panade, the ancestor — and still the best — of onion soups.” We each begin by browning onions to a rich caramel color. Then we slather them over slices of dry country bread and sprinkle with generous amounts of Gruyère and Parmesan. Here, our recipes diverge: Olney carefully adds salted water, while I prefer to douse the whole thing with an absurd amount of chicken stock. Each of our versions is cooked slowly, then topped with more cheese and gratinéed. The result is sweet and savory, rich and comforting.

A triumph of upcycling, this panade is basically French onion soup without the soup — just bite after bite of cheesy, onion-and-stock-soaked bread. It’s so good I’d argue it’s worth it to buy a loaf of fancy bread right now just to let it grow stale. Then you can try the recipe. It’s also worth trying because it’s an easy way to learn a fundamental cooking lesson: Water carves a unique path — sometimes visible, sometimes not — through every recipe, whether it’s listed as an ingredient or not. Learn to identify these paths, to anticipate their twists and turns, and you’ll be better equipped to cook any ingredient, using any cooking method, with or without a recipe.

It’s easy to discount water’s importance in the kitchen. After all, it has no flavor, and more often than not it’s left off ingredient lists, making it seem like an afterthought. Yet water is an essential element of almost everything we cook and eat, and it affects the flavor and texture of all our food. This is in part because many ingredients — including all fruits and vegetables — contain some water, which they’ll start to release when they’re cut, salted and heated. And water affects how an ingredient will brown. The temperatures required for caramelization and browning almost always far exceed the boiling point of water. So the presence of water on the surface of a food, or on the bottom of a pan, is a signal that browning can’t yet occur. And in a lidded pot, steam — water’s gaseous alter ego — will condense, return to its former state and drip back inside.

Remember this when you set out to caramelize the huge pile of onions for your panade, and use it to your advantage. Slide the heap of onions into the heated oil, and add a pinch of salt, which will begin to draw water out. Give the onions a stir, release some steam and set the lid on the pan. Let the onions wilt and soften. Now that you’ve drawn the bulk of the water out of the onions, remove the lid, increase the heat and let that water cook away so that browning can commence.
Water also affects flavor in a simpler way: Add it to dilute, and remove it — or let it evaporate — to intensify flavor. When introducing his panade recipe, Olney emphasized that the precise measurements don’t matter much.

“The important thing,” he wrote, “is that there should be lots of onion, lots of bread and lots of cheese in relation to the amount of water.” Increase the proportion of liquid, and you’ll turn this dish into a less filling — but no less delicious — first course: soup. Because I’m always looking to boost flavor, I’m quick to replace water with stock, as I urge you to do with this dish. But no matter what you’re cooking, you can consider replacing water with another, more savory liquid, be it chopped canned tomatoes, coconut milk or wine, to weave in an extra strand of flavor.

And no matter the ingredient, water determines texture too. Let food absorb water — or simply retain the water it already contains — and it will be, well, moist. Cook the water out, and food will wilt or become dry, crisp or crunchy. Cook delicate proteins like eggs, fish, chicken breast and steak carefully, and they will emerge from the pan tender. Overcook them, and water will escape from within, leaving behind rubbery eggs and leathery meat. To increase the margin of error for meats that tend toward dryness, brine them before cooking to plump them with a little extra water. Starches like pasta, beans, rice and stale bread soften as they absorb water and cook.

In this panade, the drier the bread, the more liquid — and hence more flavor — it will absorb, and the more completely it will transform. As it sops up the caramelizing juices and umami-rich stock, the once-glassy crust becomes chewy, and the once-chewy crumb becomes a soft sponge for cheese and onions.
If you make better decisions about how to use water while you’re cooking, only one liquid choice will remain once you sit down to eat. As Olney advised, it ought to be among “a young dry white wine, a slightly chilled Beaujolais or an icy beer.”

I want off this boat, right now, as soon as I finish throwing up

~ February 20th, 2018 11:35 am

“Don’t fight it,” says Alexus Kwachka, a commercial fisherman from Kodiak, Alaska, who still gets seasick even after 30 years of traveling between the Bering Strait and the Gulf of Alaska. “Go to the rail and puke as soon as you can.” Do so over the leeward side of the boat, facing downwind. Don’t feel ashamed. For Kwachka, it helps to keep the mood light. He tells the crew he’s going to “look for Buicks,” vomits over the side and then sneezes. “That seems to reset things,” he says.

Scientists don’t entirely understand how motion sickness is triggered or why humans and other animals (fish included) experience it. They do know it stems in part from sensory conflict, like discord between visual input to the brain and signals sent from the parts of the inner ear responsible for balance. Some research suggests that facing forward and focusing on a distant point on the horizon can minimize symptoms. Because the placebo effect on seasickness is particularly strong, the prevention measures you believe in are more potent. Kwachka has seen people try everything from chewing ginger root to wearing special bracelets. If you do feel ill, fresh air helps. Drugs, too, but the sedative effects of most anti-motion pharmaceuticals are incompatible with making your livelihood at sea. The most effective treatment is exposure; militaries in many countries run weekslong motion-sickness desensitization programs.

Generally, the more lurching and vertical the motion, the worse you’ll feel. On a few occasions, though, Kwachka has been out in truly perilous storms with 40- and 50-foot ocean swells. In those conditions, adrenaline is likely to override everything else. “If your life is in jeopardy, seasickness is the last thing you’re focusing on,” he says. As is true of most things, your psychological state matters: While nearly every human is susceptible to motion sickness, people prone to anxiety and neuroticism are more so. Discussing your symptoms may worsen them, while calm breathing can have the opposite effect. Try to relax. “As a species we want to be in control of just about everything,” Kwachka says. “On the water you need to let go.”

Another Presidents’ Day…but no president

~ February 20th, 2018 10:15 am

2/20/2018 We Have a President Who Won’t Defend Our Nation-Mike Barnicle

All through the past week, it seemed as if the nation was slouching through each day burdened by the whiplash of headlines that defined hourly a new, distorting definition of what it now means to be president of the United States. It began Tuesday, when Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats informed the U.S. Senate intelligence committee that “frankly, the United States is under attack.”

Coats sat at a long table alongside the directors of the CIA, the FBI, and the head of the National Security Agency. All were in agreement: Russia had declared war on our country.

The president, Donald Trump, did nothing. This is the first time across all the dust-covered years of our history, centuries filled with courage and honor, that the elected commander in chief chose to tweet instead of plan to defend the country.

Tuesday became Wednesday and the Senate used the time to prove it has evolved into an assembly paralyzed by partisanship, polarization, and a politics so petty and cynical that even an overwhelmingly popular policy—allowing thousands brought here years ago by their parents—could not gain approval to stay. Dreams of simply being able to continue living the lives they’ve led for years, crushed and nearly dead.

The president, Donald Trump, did something. He poked and prodded open wounds. Pulled at scabs of intolerance and resentment. Lied and kept changing his position on the issue of “The Dreamers” and the more he lied, the more he tweeted, the more he defined who he is: a man of no substance, no real feeling.

Then on Wednesday, a school door opened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and the latest merchant of death, a 19-year-old man, stood in a corridor holding an AR-15. Within minutes, hallway floors were slippery with blood as the shooter roamed room to room with full magazines and a weapon that sounds like a cannon when fired indoors.

Students screamed. Ran. Died. The gunman’s appetite waned within minutes, and minutes were all it took to hang a casualty count of 17 on a disgraceful scoreboard filled with so many past massacres that the total is often lost. The numbing reality is that the most powerful country the world has ever known is so weak it cannot stop murders committed with ease by people who simply have to show up and squeeze a trigger.

The president, Donald Trump, said nothing. He tweeted his sorrow and regret that more students did not come forward with warnings about the demons inside the teenager who escaped from the school in a pack of fleeing students before stopping for
a cold drink at a Walmart.

On Thursday, a nation’s eyes filled with tears as the wails of survivors, the unrelenting pain and grief of parents, pain that will never diminish or disappear, all tumbled together alongside the unsurprising absence of courage from so many politicians that it was easy to sense the nuts and bolts of the Republic, the foundation of our democracy, the rules, the morality, the compassion, the deeply ingrained characteristics that have kept the light that is America shining so brightly for so long, to feel
all of it coming loose in a slowly moving earthquake whose disruptive core is located in the Oval Office.

The president, Donald Trump, appeared on TV. He forgot to use the word “gun.”

Friday dawned with dead young students being prepared for burial in Florida. And in Washington, Robert Mueller, who has worn the nation’s uniform in war, headed a Homicide Unit, and changed the culture of the FBI in the wake of September 11th, announced the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian business outfits for conspiring to conduct cyber-warfare against the United States. The men who sat at the table Monday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee no doubt
nodded in agreement.

The president, Donald Trump, did not. He began to tweet, an activity that would consume him most of Friday, through the weekend and nearly all Sunday morning. His tweets became increasingly deranged.

He ended the week having done nothing to defend the country. He ended the week thinking only of himself, not an unusual event. He ended the week as he began it, wrapping himself in a fantasy that is slowly drifting away.

So we have the dead children in Florida. We have those living at the margin, people who gave one of the few things they truly own, a vote, to Trump and they too will be disappointed by this man who has no beliefs, no emotional IQ, no understanding of the history and honor necessary to lead this wounded nation. We have others who have been here for decades and want only the opportunity to stay and participate in the only country they’ve ever known. And we have 535 individuals in Congress,
a majority of them having dropped their duty to represent a common good.

And now we have another President’s Day.

But this time we do not have a true and trusted president.

This is code red.

~ February 20th, 2018 10:04 am

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now
Thomas L. Friedman FEB. 18, 2018
Our democracy is in serious danger.
President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here’s an imperfect but close analogy: It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”

At a time when the special prosecutor Robert Mueller — leveraging several years of intelligence gathering by the F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A. — has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups — all linked in some way to the Kremlin — for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, America needs a president who will lead our nation’s defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.

What would that look like? He would educate the public on the scale of the problem; he would bring together all the stakeholders — state and local election authorities, the federal government, both parties and all the owners of social networks that the Russians used to carry out their interference — to mount an effective defense; and he would bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Putin — the best defense of all.

What we have instead is a president vulgarly tweeting that the Russians are “laughing their asses off in Moscow” for how we’ve been investigating their interventions — and exploiting the terrible school shooting in Florida — and the failure of the F.B.I. to properly forward to its Miami field office a tip on the killer — to throw the entire F.B.I. under the bus and create a new excuse to shut down the Mueller investigation.

Think for a moment how demented was Trump’s Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

To the contrary. Our F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud. They’ve uncovered a Russian program to divide Americans and tilt our last election toward Trump — i.e., to undermine the very core of our democracy — and Trump is telling them to get back to important things like tracking would-be school shooters. Yes, the F.B.I. made a mistake in Florida. But it acted heroically on Russia. What is more basic than protecting American democracy?

It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it.

Donald, if you are so innocent, why do you go to such extraordinary lengths to try to shut Mueller down? And if you are really the president — not still head of the Trump Organization, who moonlights as president, which is how you so often behave — why don’t you actually lead — lead not only a proper cyberdefense of our elections, but also an offense against Putin.

Putin used cyberwarfare to poison American politics, to spread fake news, to help elect a chaos candidate, all in order to weaken our democracy. We should be using our cyber-capabilities to spread the truth about Putin — just how much money he has stolen, just how many lies he has spread, just how many rivals he has jailed or made disappear — all to weaken his autocracy. That is what a real president would be doing right now.

My guess is what Trump is hiding has to do with money. It’s something about his financial ties to business elites tied to the Kremlin. They may own a big stake in him. Who can forget that quote from his son Donald Trump Jr. from back in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” They may own our president.

But whatever it is, Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so naïve about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the F.B.I. and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.

That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.

The whole world is watching

~ February 20th, 2018 9:57 am

We know what will happen next

~ February 16th, 2018 7:55 am
We know...

Thank you Boston Globe

You have 4 pillars on immigration. Here are mine on Guns.

~ February 16th, 2018 7:44 am

From his favorite paper, comes this editorial: New York Post

and from it, came these 4 action items that I agree with totally:

1. Reinstate the federal assault-weapons ban, or at least revive its key features.
2. Raise the age to buy firearms.
3. Target bump stocks.
4. Kill the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

This would be a great start!