« Say their names | Main | It's the Cruelty Stupid »

March 29, 2019

Comments

Presumably you think the same about Warren?

I do, but there's room for disagreement. Seven years younger is a lot once you're in your seventies.

I hope your eye heals well GftNC.

I also want someone that isn't going to do the whole "look forward not back" thing, but instead is going to pursue accountability for crimes 2016-2020.

Sure, look forward, AFTER crucifying the criminal fnckers.

Sanders and Biden are too old to do the job.

If Warren is too old for the job (and I'm not sure I agree with that, but just for discussion) then clearly Sanders and Biden are. Not only are they older than she is. Consider also the differences in aging between men and women. Even if she was their age, she still might not (or might) be too old just because they are.

Again, and almost as repetitively as wrs, what Janie said.

Thanks Pro Bono.

After this morning's alarm, when I woke up with what seemed a permanently paralysed eye pointing sideways/outwards, not one of the litany of possible side-effects they warned me about, I'm very happy with the things they did warn me about (mostly a huge air bubble floating in that eye, which apparently will take a week or so to dissipate). I comforted myself about the wall-eye until I got the call back from the consultant that it was probably the aftermath of the local anaesthetic, and so it proved. Everything else I can cope with.

On the issue, I agree with wj, and I am in complete agreement with Snarki.

A little something for those who think all Republicans are Trump fans.
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2019/04/04/california-lawmakers-sue-trump-administration-as-border-county-cares-for-11000-asylum-seekers/

Fun quote on San Diego County's suit: "The county board voted in February to sue the Trump administration over the program’s [relocating asylum seekers inland] end. The vote was 4 to 1, with three of the board’s four Republicans joining one newly elected Democrat in supporting it." That's 3 to 1 Republican opposition to Trump administration policy. But then, unlike Congressmen, local officials see the real world up close and personal.

Sure, look forward, AFTER crucifying the criminal fnckers.

Be careful what you wish for. Once politicians start outing each other's crimes, they may have trouble finding a stopping point.

I like Bernie. But I feel his time has passed.
I like Warren better this time, but there are many others to consider.
Any Dem will do in a storm (yes, we have one), and they need to win the general.

Then they step aside and appoint AOC as "interim temporary acting president".

Now the GOP may squawk, but if they fight the release of p's tax returns all the way, and the SC goes along with this sham, then they have demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that they consider the Constitution nothing but a "scrap of paper" (to borrow a term - Bush v. Gore was the opening shot in a battle for the very soul of this country).

Be careful what you wish for. Once politicians start outing each other's crimes, they may have trouble finding a stopping point.

Personally, I'm pretty much in favor of all crimes getting "outed". Tell me which crimes you believe should not see the light of day. I am curious.

But I guess it all comes down to which crimes are indeed really crimes. There's the rub.

Once politicians start outing each other's crimes, they may have trouble finding a stopping point.

Yeah, they might have to open up about all the crimes they have engaged in -- which would constitute an obvious stopping point. All their crimes. Oh, the horror!

Once politicians start outing each other's crimes, they may have trouble finding a stopping point.

Personally, I'm pretty much in favor of all crimes getting "outed". Tell me which crimes you believe should not see the light of day. I am curious.

It’s not the job of a President (though Congress does have that role).

The most a new President might do is order the publishing of the Mueller report in its entirety.

I’m any event, I look forward to the SDNY indicting ex-President Trump.

It’s not the job of a President (though Congress does have that role).

I feel you are reading a bit too much into my generic response to Chas WT's generic claim regarding "politicians" in a general sense and "outing crimes" as the specific office of the Presidency was not mentioned by either of us.

But neither here nor there. I might add as an aside however, that the President is the chief executive who picks an Attorney General (and other Justice Department managerial staff) who in turn oversees a department that is specifically tasked with "outing (some) crimes", and the overall direction of which crimes get "outed" is directly influenced by his personnel and policy proclivities. So yes, the President is not directly involved with "outing crimes", however he does have an important role in determining which crimes may get outed and which may just, for whatever reason, go unnoticed.

CharlesWT: Personally, I'm pretty much in favor of all crimes getting "outed". Tell me which crimes you believe should not see the light of day. I am curious.

Nigel: It’s not the job of a President (though Congress does have that role).

Actually, seeing that "the laws are faithfully executed" is exactly the President's job. Explicitly in his oath of office, in fact. (Admittedly, you'd never know it from the current administration. But most in the past have done rather better. Not as good as one might wish, perhaps, but way better.)

Tell me which crimes you believe should not see the light of day. I am curious.

I personally wouldn't mind seeing any and all politicians who have broken any law or regulation, good or bad, being outed.

But, it's possible, from a libertarian point of view, to have mixed feelings about the impact of such outings on the public. Libertarians think everyone should always have a skeptical view of government. But, when people lose confidence in government, they just seem to want more government to fix what they see as not working.

Presidents of course put their thumb on the scale by their choice of AG, and help steer the policy direction of the Justice Department, but the idea that they should direct the prosecution of their predecessors, however much those individuals might deserve it, is disturbing to me at least.

I worry that if Biden does run, he will divide the party.

Here are two articles, both of which I have some sympathy with, but whose theses are strongly antithetical:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/joe-bidens-affectionate-warmth-what-makes-him-great/586435/

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/joe-biden-lucy-flores-tactile-gray-areas.html

IMO, the public execution of war criminals (lookin' at you, Dubya) would provide a strong incentive to "not do war crimes".

Heads of state should be on the hook, literally, for harsher judgment. It's not like they were forced to take the job.

I would not have minded, if Obama on his first day in office had ordered the arrest and extradition to The Hague of several members of the GWB administration* with a letter attached that it would be impossible to properly do a war crimes trial in the US with top US officials as the defendants and that thus the conditions for a trial in The Hague were fulfilled.
It would have cost him his office of course but I doubt that the US would have gone to war with the Netherlands over it (by applying the 'Invade The Hague' Act of 2002).

*and a few from Clinton's time too plus Kissinger.

but the idea that they should direct the prosecution of their predecessors, however much those individuals might deserve it, is disturbing to me at least.

As near as I can tell, the "outing of crimes" by politicians is generally confined to the outing of the trespasses of their current political opponents, because there is a real or perceived current political advantage to be gained by doing so.

As for those "predecessors", well, if you believe initiating wars on false pretenses, condoning and/or authorizing torture, and deliberately lying to home loan borrowers are not crimes worthy of "outing" then there's not much more I can say.

But I do not believe you actually believe those things.

Best to you, sir. Good luck with that Brexit dilemma/circus.

"Libertarians think everyone should always have a skeptical view of government."

Count that bullet point on the libertarian bucket list now fulfilled.

No one, including libertarians, is going to like the consequences of that fulfillment.

if you believe initiating wars on false pretenses, condoning and/or authorizing torture, and deliberately lying to home loan borrowers are not crimes worthy of "outing" then there's not much more I can say.

I said no such thing.

But it is not up to Presidents to prosecute. Would you have Trump have that power ? He has corrupted the justice system sufficiently without it.

I said no such thing.

I never said you did. Jayzus. Are you actually reading what I write?

But it is not up to Presidents to prosecute.

NOBODY HAS MADE THAT CLAIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please stop.

Libertarians think everyone should always have a skeptical view of government.

Unless, of course, it is a government you happen to like.

Libertarians think everyone should always have a skeptical view of government.

Unless, of course, it is a government you happen to like.

Well without that, how do you differentiate a full out libertarian from an anarchist? Seriously.

My sense is that, except for the extremists, libertarians are actually good with at least some government. But it's difficult to get the true believers to get concrete about which government functions they are OK with.

Unless, of course, it is a government you happen to like.

Which is OK since there'll never be a government that we will happen to like.


My sense is that, except for the extremists, libertarians are actually good with at least some government.

A debate between two libertarians:

"For the nonce, there is no daylight between the policy prescriptions favored by the gradualist anarchist and the minarchist. We should rightly be part of the same libertarian coalition for free minds and free markets. I assure you, the lowest-priority items on my government-smashing to-do list are the elements of the night watchman state that most minarchist libertarians would like to preserve.
...
"Confusing libertarianism with anarchism is no way to build a successful, influential social movement, which is ultimately what I'm after. We want to help make the world more free, more peaceful, and more prosperous by reducing the size, scope, and spending of government and empowering individuals to pursue happiness as they see fit. At worst, "taxation is theft" is a bullet-proof conversation stopper, like wearing an "Ask Me about My Herpes" T-shirt to a swingers club."

Debate: Be an Anarchist, Not a Minarchist: Should we be satisfied with limited government rather than no government?

So, an anarchist would divulge their herpes infection, but a libertarian wouldn't?

Maybe Frank Luntz could be a help to you guys in your word choices.

"Don't say 'herpes', say "Surprise!", but only if asked directly.

Also, don't tell anyone that taxes will be cut so deeply that we'll have to do away with research on and prevention of socially transmitted happiness.

I'm curious.

If a no-government condition comes to pass, and the rest of us don't like THAT, how will anarchists, monarchists, and libertarians force us not to form government as part of OUR pursuit of happiness?

Minarchists, natch.

A monarchist would cut off our heads.

If a no-government condition comes to pass, and the rest of us don't like THAT, how will anarchists, monarchists, and libertarians force us not to form government as part of OUR pursuit of happiness?

Within a libertarian society, you should be able to form any associations, institutions, or governments you like as long as everyone who is a party to them is so of their own free will.

What will all of us do at four-way stop sign intersections?

Have a panel discussion on Free Will as traffic backs up?

Or will we get out of our cars, cut off our slausons and continue on our journeys slausonless?

Libertarians think everyone should always have a skeptical view of government.

I certainly do, to a reasonable degree (says me). But I'm skeptical of every other kind of solution to whatever problem, too.

From CharlesWT's quote (not his own words):

We want to help make the world more free, more peaceful, and more prosperous by reducing the size, scope, and spending of government and empowering individuals to pursue happiness as they see fit.

If you replace everything after the word "by" with something along the lines of "whatever best gets us there, knowing nothing is likely to be perfect," I'm right there with the quoted libertarian. I just don't get this obsession with reducing government as the one thing that's going to make everything great, as though government exists in opposition to the desires of humanity rather than as something humanity has chosen to pursue its desires. I'm still waiting for an example of a complex and ordered society that works with little to no government.

Within a libertarian society, you should be able to form any associations, institutions, or governments you like as long as everyone who is a party to them is so of their own free will.

But I look at, for example, Somalia. And that's not how things worked out.

I'd be interested in a libertarian take on why not. My own guess, for what little it's worth, is that something like the libertarian vision is only viable when everybody is already committed to it. And I mean "everybody" in the sense of "not enough dissenters to form an army and take over" -- which warlordism is what we see in Somalia, much of Afghanistan, etc.

I'm still waiting for an example of a complex and ordered society that works with little to no government.

The late nineteenth-century UK has been described as having been a night-watchman state that didn't provide much beyond the military, the police, and courts. The twentieth century and the ensuing wars changed that.

On Robinson, Buttigieg and Sanders, with a bit about Samwise Gamgee

In sideways order— I will probably vote for Sanders in the primary and whoever the Democrats choose in November. Sanders is too old and probably has something embarrassing in the tax returns, but I prefer him to the others, though Warren would be okay. Warren should be doing better than she is. We Sanders supporters like him because he is social democrat in his gut and not just as the polls shift. Where he does shift it is often in response to pressure from his left, as on Palestine. He did this early. We like that we can bend him to our will.

Robinson and Buttigieg— Robinson is one of my favorite political writers because he is leftist and writes long pieces arguing for his positions. I found his piece on Buttigieg convincing on the foreign policy bits ( where he has been criticized by others) but I am on the fence regarding his actual record as Mayor because I know nothing about that and couldn’t judge the fairness of the piece without doing a lot more reading.

On Sam’s judgement of Aragorn— Sam was wrong. Sam was arguably the best person in Middle Earth, humble, courageous and decent, but he imbibed a few prejudices from his old gaffer. He does this again at a crucial moment when Sméagol is on the verge of repentance and Sam misjudges the situation and snaps at him.

(My IPad knows how to spell Sméagol. Interesting.)

The late nineteenth-century UK has been described as having been a night-watchman state that didn't provide much beyond the military, the police, and courts.

A friend of mine once described me to my future wife as the best combination of brains and brawn. That's me! I have been described that way, after all.

But let's take that description (of the late-19th-C UK, not me) as being accurate. That's it? Might there have been a particular set of conditions at the time that allowed this to be true? Do they apply anywhere now? Did they apply anywhere else at any other time? IDK.

Donald -- Sam was wrong about Aragorn, but he was right to ask the question. (He was unqualifiedly "wrong" in snapping at Gollum, and on the consequences hung a world. But that was pure emotion, fed by hunger and fear and exhaustion, which the question at Bree was not.)

On the rest, I won't go on arguing after this, and I only want to address the tip of this iceberg again.

I don't "trust" Nathan Robinson any more than he wants us to "trust" Buttigieg. I think the paragraph lj quoted is cheap and nasty and has very little to do with Buttigieg and everything to do with Robinson's own self-promotion.

Yes, the "meritocracy" is one of the main pathways to power in this country, but without the meritocracy, we'd have what, a hereditary oligarchy? I myself benefited from the shift to a "meritocracy": child of poor working class/rural parents, getting a top-notch college education that I could never have afforded otherwise. And it's a bit rich for someone with Robinson's credentials to be dismissing Buttigieg for his, and citing Chomsky, who spent his working life ... where?

MIT isn't the Ivy League, but it may be an even purer expression of academic meritocracy. That, however, is a conversation for another day. Or never.

But let's take that description (of the late-19th-C UK, not me) as being accurate.

I would prefer not to. It is a totally inaccurate characterization of British political society at that time.

I would prefer not to. It is a totally inaccurate characterization of British political society at that time.

In that case, we'll assume I'm the best combination of brains and brawn. Deal?

That's always been my assumption...

The libertarian vision is not viable. Because of healthcare*.

It's not possible for everyone to accumulate enough wealth to pay for their healthcare. It's not human to leave the sick untreated. The well have to help the sick, and we need government to make that work.

(I just read two libertarian tracts on healthcare. The paucity of their arguments spoke loud.)

*And for other reasons, but this one is sufficient.

Yes, the "meritocracy" is one of the main pathways to power in this country, but without the meritocracy, we'd have what, a hereditary oligarchy?

I know it's hard to imagine a young person clear enough and determined enough to actually knuckle down and do it, but theoretically if you were an idealistic young person who wanted to change the world, plotting a path through the Ivy League, a Rhodes Scholarship and McKinsey would be an excellent way to understand the status quo from the belly of the beast, and additionally would give you the tools and the credentials to actually get yourself into a position to effect the change. Particularly if, as Janie implies, you are not born into the ruling class. I knew someone who did something very similar, including the Rhodes Scholarship, but then died in his 20s. He was a tremendous loss to his country, as an astonishing variety of people said at his obsequies.

“On the rest, I won't go on arguing after this, ”

That’s fine. The important thing here is that we agree about Sam.

I’d also note that the mean lig expectancy in late nineteenth century England was in the mid 40s.

Government might have been limited in modern terms, but so were a great many other things.

Life expectancy.

Typing on a tablet is an imprecise thing.

Between monarchy/mercantilism and democracy/welfare state, there was about a 50 year period between about 1825 and 1875 that was pretty laissez-faire. Which, with the corn laws and the attitude that it wasn't the role of government to provide relief to people, lead to quite a few deaths.

By 1890 public employment had reached about 3.5%, a fraction of the 16.5(currently) to 21.5% in recent years.

I fail to grasp how "laissez-faire" and "corn laws" (abolished 1846-9) go together.

"Are there no workhouses?"

No thanks.

Looking at my previous comment, I meant it as friendly, but it might come across as sarcastic. That wasn’t the intent.

I would try to participate in the 19th century British economy discussion because I read Karl Polanyi’s “ The Great Transformation” once, but it was a long time ago. I remember something that resembled a universal basic income didn’t work out so well.

mean life expectancy in late nineteenth century England was in the mid 40s

Perhaps everyone knows this, but that doesn't mean that it was normal to die in one's forties. Child mortality (before five) was about 25%. Now it's about 0.5%.

Donald - I took it as friendly, not sarcastic at all.

In fact, I was worried that my saying I wouldn't continue to argue might have come off as stand-offish or unfriendly. It wasn't meant that way. I don't like myself (or anyone else :-) when I descend into arguing for the sake of arguing, so I wanted to pledge (to myself if no one else!) not to do that.

There's obviously a lot to be said about our current situation, and maybe we'll say some of it later. But for me, not today.

that doesn't mean that it was normal to die in one's forties. Child mortality (before five) was about 25%.

Noted, but still, no thanks.

I'm sure you weren't trying to argue the opposite, but nonetheless.

Nobody likes it when government does stuff that bugs them. I don't, and given where I live it's kind of a daily occurrence.

There is a reason that every settled human civilization has evolved a government. Every single one, for the last 10,000 years. Several of the less-settled human civilizations, likewise, if they managed to evolve into communities bigger than an extended family group.

Libertarians appear to aspire to Locke's state of nature. That was something Locke made up, a stalking horse he used to argue for the necessity of government. Which really ought not to have been needed, it's like arguing for the necessity of talking, or cooking, or agriculture, or (in the context of more recent millenia) writing.

Man is a political animal, said Aristotle. Governments are something that humans do when the size of their community reaches a certain critical mass. We can b*tch about it, and complain that none of us chose to be born into whatever form of that we actually were born into, but it's basically like b*tching about being born into a family.

If you look at human history since the agricultural revolution of the late stone age, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that governments are a thing that humans do. Like they talk, or form family groups, or cook their food rather than eat it all raw as they find it.

I'm open to counter-arguments, but citing as an example one of the pre-eminent European capitalist/industrial empires is not really persuasive.

Ask any 19th C resident of the Indian sub-continent how hands-off the UK government was. Or any 19th C Irish person. Or ask any kid working a 12 hour day in a factory or a mine how beneficial the whole laissez-faire arrangement was.

Some governments are better than others. No government does't appear to be a human reality. Hands-off minimal "night watchman" government is great if you are living in a community of saints.

Is that the circumstance we find ourselves in?

The solution to bad government is not less government. A small amount of bad government can be a very very bad thing indeed. A sufficiently small amount of even good government can be not much more than wishful thinking.

The solution to bad government is better government.

Perhaps everyone knows this, but that doesn't mean that it was normal to die in one's forties. Child mortality (before five) was about 25%. Now it's about 0.5%.

True, but not necessarily relevant to the argument. Probably the growth of government had something to do with the decline in child mortality. There is the NHS and its predecessors, as well as, no doubt, some public health measures.

Perhaps everyone knows this, but that doesn't mean that it was normal to die in one's forties. Child mortality (before five) was about 25%. Now it's about 0.5%.

byomtov: True, but not necessarily relevant to the argument.

I took the relevance to be that a life expectancy (at birth) of mid-40s didn't mean that adults could expect to die at that age. Looking at life expectancy at, say, age 18 would give a much more accurate picture of how long people (meaning people old enough to think about it) expected to live.

Which would inform the point of the discussion: what "life tenure" for Supreme Court justices would have meant to the folks who were drafting the Constitution.

It's good to know that attention to critical issues has not been totally lost in the flurry of politics as (now) usual:

45 percent of registered voters approve of pineapple as a pizza topping, according to a poll by Public Policy Polling. Thirty-five percent disapproved, and 20 percent were not sure.
Nearly half of Americans embrace an abomination. Truly the end of civilization as we know it is upon us.

H/T FiveThirtyEight

I come from people who are apt to say, like my brother, "Onions? That ain't pizza."

Pizza a la my grandma, who was born on a farm outside Naples: a thin crust topped with tomato sauce, salt, black pepper, garlic (or garlic salt in a pinch), Parmesan cheese, and oregano. Keep that smeary mozzarella away too. Basil might be okay, but my dad didn't like basil, so it doesn't figure in my early memories.

Don't tell my brother, but I have been known to put broccoli and walnuts on a pizza. Onions, mushrooms, really, anything savory.

NOT PINEAPPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

wj is totally right, this country has gone to the dogs.

The EIA released the preliminary 2018 electric power generation figures last month. Summary table is here. Numbers are the share for the individual interconnects, not for the US as a whole. For the first time, in all three US power grids, low-carbon sources and natural gas both had a larger share than coal. I split the low-carbon into renewable and nuclear because the mix is so different in the three interconnects.

Lots of things you could say/ask about this table. Despite two years of effort, the Trump administration has not been able to stop the move away from coal. In terms of emissions, the median power plant in the US is now gas-fired. Why does the West have so much renewable power? Why is nuclear an Eastern thing? What's with Texas and natural gas?

Basil might be okay, but my dad didn't like basil, so it doesn't figure in my early memories.

No, basil doesn't belong on pizza. Pesto (instead of tomato sauce), on the other hand, is delightful.

Why does the West have so much renewable power?

In a word: hydro.

It's been a significant part of the power generation mix here forever. Wind and solar are the growth areas, but hydro is still the base for high renewable generation here.

The West built lots of dams for the water -- we've got lots of water, but in the "wrong" places both for people and for agriculture. But once you've built a dam anyway, the cost of generators is small. And the running costs are low, since you don't need to buy fuel.

For the record, I know the answers to all the questions that I posed.

In 2019, the share of wind power in the West will almost certainly pass nuclear there. Both because more wind farms will come online, and because Diablo Canyon will be down to one reactor for most of the year for refueling and associated maintenance. Been a fairly wet winter -- it's possible that low-carbon's share in the West will be above 50% this year.

NOT PINEAPPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

This human interest story caught some attention recently.

"Ranch girl" seems like a lovely young woman, and I appreciate and applaud her aplomb and her sensible immunity to being overawed by a political candidate.

But the whole story just brought me up short. I don't understand the connection between ranch dressing and pizza. Not in the coastal elitist foodie snob sense, just at all.

What the hell do you put on pizza that requires ranch dressing? Isn't it, like, a salad dressing?

Would you put mayonnaise on pizza? Or mustard? Or butter? Or Worcestershire sauce? Chocolate syrup? Whipped cream?

Where does this end?

We're just trapped in a world we never made.

Where does this end?

In a world where deep-fried butter on a stick is a thing, I don't think it does.

I do have ranch sometimes instead of blue cheese when I have buffalo chicken pizza. But, really, ranch goes on everything.

What the hell do you put on pizza that requires ranch dressing? Isn't it, like, a salad dressing?

In some places, an order of pizza automatically comes with salad. For which you might want ranch.

What I find sad (or maybe extremely irritating) is that you are subject to having your image spread around the world, without your consent, for doing nothing more than going to a restaurant. I suppose people get accustomed to privacy being a foreign concept. But I don't have to like it. And I don't.
/curmudgeon

Time to go back to coal fired trains and ships. It's just a matter of time befor Trump proposes the building of new battleships (MAGA class), why not with combined nuclear and coal power plants (not to forget tar sand derived fuels)? Coal build America, so now let it also tear it down.

I suppose people get accustomed to privacy being a foreign concept.

Sadly, it's been almost 25 years since I was the resident futurist at one of the big telecoms, writing internal white papers about the end of personal privacy.... There are times when I didn't like being right.

But, really, ranch goes on everything.

And there, my friends, is the fundamental divide that plagues our nation.

And there, my friends, is the fundamental divide that plagues our nation.

Even within families. I took the granddaughters to Chick-Fil-A last week (ever popular because of the inside playground they all have). Granddaughter #1 is a staunch fan of ranch dipping sauce; granddaughter #2 will have nothing to do with it and demands polynesian.

Both, however, are big fans of the policy of returning the unopened kids meal toy in exchange for an ice cream cone.

Pineapple on pizza is as great a controversy as Brexit, and for both, there is only one correct answer.

Regarding tech monopolies and privacy, there’s an interesting, though disappointingly short interview with Europe’ competition commissioner here:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/franklin-foer-interviews-margrethe-vestager/586573/

She is a smarter politician than any we currently seem to possess.

I am not a fan of ranch dressing - it seems somehow appropriate that the original manufacturers were acquired by Clorox.

Open thread, so foodie diversion:

I've never tasted ranch dressing, but the recipes I have looked at seem awfully rich and creamy; I generally prefer vinaigrette-type salad dressing, although blue cheese has its place (iceberg wedges - staging a comeback with snobby foodies who have scorned iceberg for decades), and I suppose Caesar dressing (which I adore) is essentially mayonnaise based, but saved by the strong flavourings of garlic, anchovies, parmesan etc. I am very interested in regional American food preferences: when my eldest sister (who has been much married) was once married in Denver, and into a foodie family at that, during the week-long festivities I don't think we were ever served any green vegetables at all, so that we fell like ravening beasts on the starter of Caesar salad at the wedding lunch. And, in the old days (I think it may have changed now), Americans in general were famously so offal-averse that when I went with a group of American friends to a French restaurant in London and ordered kidneys, the chef came out to inspect the (as he thought) American who had actually ordered offal.

I don't usually eat prepared salad dressing - like GftNC, I usually make a vinaigrette. But sometimes I'm in the mood for something creamier, and this recipe seems like it would be pretty tasty.

I have certainly eaten plenty of ranch dressing at restaurants, and it isn't objectionable to my taste. I love mayonnaise based dips and sauces, so there's that. (Nothing better than aioli, except when you're in the mood for sriracha mayonnaise.)

As to American taste preferences, most people I know (and I) eat from a large variety of cuisines, and enjoy the opportunity to do so. If I have a favorite cuisine, it is Vietnamese (and herbed mayonnaise on a banh mi is - yum), but it's hard to say that, because I would be hard pressed to choose a cuisine that I would want to live without. I've found that people from other parts of the world are often less adventurous about trying foreign cuisines than Americans are. Perhaps we used to have a bad reputation with regard to variety, but Italian and Chinese people I've known are much more provincial about what they prefer to eat than people I know. This may not be as true in the midwest, or places where immigrants haven't recently settled.

As to offal, yeah, most Americans aren't used to eating it. I like it sometimes, although I rarely cook it myself. I try not to eat mammal meat, but I make an occasional exception for offal if I'm at a restaurant with a reputation for doing it well. The now disgraced Mario Batali was known for it, and I ate sweetbreads at Babbo.

Food is something we all need, and I'm so grateful to live where so much culinary diversity and delight is available. Just one more reason I'm mystified by people who are anti-immigration.

Rather than "people I know" I should have said "Americans I know". Hope it is obvious that we're all equally "people", but since some these days don't seem to think so, I wanted to make sure I clarified!

My favourite pizza is with anchovies and olives, I think it's called Napolitana - without Mozzarella is an interesting option.

Pineapple doesn't belong on pizza IMHO, that's what the Germans invented "Toast Hawaii" for:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toast_Hawaii

As for offal, I used to really like it, especially tripe salad, ris de veau and andouilette - the latter is a bit of an acquired taste, though, to put it mildly:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andouillette

But I'm eating less and less meat these days.

Americans in general were famously so offal-averse that when I went with a group of American friends to a French restaurant in London and ordered kidneys, the chef came out to inspect the (as he thought) American who had actually ordered offal.

When I was growing up (California, mid-century), kidneys and liver were unexceptional as entrees. (I really dislike the taste of liver. But that was a personal foible.) Other organ meats didn't appear much, but those two were routine.

I can't recall ever raising eyebrows when ordering them in a restaurant. Of course, many restaurants don't have them on the menu. But then, few offer prime rib either....

Italian and Chinese people I've known are much more provincial about what they prefer to eat than people I know.

This was definitely true of Italians I knew: one Neapolitan refused to go to a Chinese restaurant in London because the idea, for example, of noodles as opposed to pasta was so unacceptable to him - quite funny in view of the (disputed) origins of pasta (Marco Polo-China). But the Chinese I know (admittedly HK Chinese, not mainland Chinese) are extremely interested in and keen on different cuisines - worldwide as well as other regional Chinese.

I've found that people from other parts of the world are often less adventurous about trying foreign cuisines than Americans are

This definitely no longer applies to Brits, although it probably did in say the 50s. Even leaving aside the wholesale adoption of Bangladeshi curry etc, one of the great glories of and contributors to e.g. the London food scene is the astonishing diversity and authenticity of cuisines on offer.

My late husband loved offal so much he would make a point of ordering it whenever it was on the menu, sometimes for both his starter and his main course. He wasn't mad on tripe, but andouillette, brains, hearts, sweetbreads etc: they were all grist to his mill. Brains start freaking me out after a few bites, but I love liver, kidneys and particularly sweetbreads (ris de veau more than lambs'). It's most annoying how this stuff has moved from cheap (because not to most people's taste) to expensive (because fashionable now with foodies, also in the US, particularly after the success of St John's "Nose to Tail Eating".) It never had to make this journey with me: probably because of being brought up in Hong Kong I mainly lack the squeamishness reflex.

probably because of being brought up in Hong Kong I mainly lack the squeamishness reflex.

I forgot that you grew up in Hong Kong. I was only there for a few days, and can imagine that your multicultural experience was extremely rich. What food, both to eat and to see!

And, yes, I agree that the UK (at least London) is now a heaven for people who like all kinds of food. People I've known from the Chinese mainland (which are all of the Chinese people that I've known) strongly prefer Chinese food to anything else.

I was never offered offal in my household as a child, except for liver and tongue. Some Irish-American families I knew had kidneys on a regular basis. Most people I've chatted with about this have never eaten any offal but liver.

After trying brains on my first trip to France as a teenager, II wasn't tempted again.

I've been in restaurants in Texas that had mountain oysters on the menu. Never had any desire to order any though.

In my family, whenever we had chicken, there was an argument over who got the heart - all of us kids wanted it. (The other organs, not so much - but they all got eaten.)

By mountain oysters, CharlesWT, I think I understand you to be talking about testicles? I've never had them, although I know many people think that's what sweetbreads are a euphemism for, but they are of course the thymus and pancreatic glands.

Yes, the food in HK is spectacular, particularly if you break out of the expat straitjacket as my family majorly did. But the food culture I long for most is that of Singapore, a police state in which I wouldn't like to live, but home to some of the most fabulous, diverse cuisines in the East, including Chinese. And further to the squeamishness point, as I'm sure you know, the Chinese say (of pigs, but the principle applies to all creatures) "we use everything but the squeak."

I've been in restaurants in Texas that had mountain oysters on the menu.

Called Rocky Mountain oysters here. Stand 144 at Coors Field in Denver has been serving them since the ballpark opened. Steady if not booming business.

When I was a kid in Iowa these many years ago, beef offal -- at least tongue, heart, liver, and kidneys -- was available at any butcher shop.

Pineapple, smoked salmon, rosemary asiago.

Call it a flatbread if it makes your purist knee jerk, but damn is it tasty.

"chicken-bacon-ranch" pizza.

Pretty good, IMO. Might be the bacon.

Ranch dressing used to be called 'buttermilk' dressing, but the kids (now hitting 70 or so) didn't take to the idea of 'buttermilk'.

Ranch dressing used to be called 'buttermilk' dressing, but the kids (now hitting 70 or so) didn't take to the idea of 'buttermilk'.

They apparently weren't told that buttermilk is the best hangover cure ever.

A couple of years ago my wife and I were in Umbria. We were staying near Montone, and went there for dinner one night. We looked for, and found, a small family restaurant that served authentic Umbrian cuisine.

The charming young daughter of the owner came to the table and read us the specials in delightfully accented English. Lamb was on offer. I love lamb.

I'll have the lamb, says I.

Oh, you like the lungs and hearts? She seemed somewhat... surprised.

I'll have the boar!, says I.

The boar was great.

I'm dying to know what your wife had, russell. Did you share?

I reread my comment and realized that not everyone does what I do with my family (and close friends). We try to share everything in order to sample as much of the menu as is possible. The waiters don't even give us a side eye - we are obviously enjoying our time so much.

There's nothing wrong with ranch dressing in itself. But a buttermilk product with a shelf life of months is not food.

But a buttermilk product with a shelf life of months is not food.

An awful lot of what's on the grocery shelves, at least in the US, is not food. [Rant about poor health, poor health care, and the sacredness of profit deleted, I don't have time.]

Anyhow, I love the subtitle of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

"Eat food" blew right by me at first. Then I realized what he meant.

We try to share everything in order to sample as much of the menu as is possible.

We don't necessarily share, unless it is the current fad for "small plates" (i.e. tapas-style eating), but we always trade tastes, and look rather suspiciously on those who don't!

sapient: thanks for the tip about buttermilk as a hangover cure! Alas, the stuff we get in the UK is thicker than the contents of the big cartons I used to get in the US, and cannot therefore be used as a (delicious I always thought) drink. What resemblance it bore to the liquid left in the churn after butter-making was always unknown of course.

My memory of liver is that it tasted like someone collected all the dust in their house, moistened it so it would stick together, and cooked it. It's been a really long time, so that could be a childish impression that would no longer hold.

Liverwurst, on the other hand, is one of the most delicious substances on the planet, IMO. I almost never eat it anymore, but I still love it when I do.

We don't necessarily share, unless it is the current fad for "small plates" (i.e. tapas-style eating), but we always trade tastes, and look rather suspiciously on those who don't!

Actually, more like that for us too, but enthusiastic tasting! It makes me happy to think of those happy occasions.

Dairy products in the UK are amazing. I would happily do without buttermilk for clotted cream. I have tried to make it myself, but it was not the same. I'll take this as an inspiration to try again.

hsh: it sounds like you were given what is the bane of most offal cooking: overcooked liver. The only liver which is really really nice to eat qua liver (as opposed to pate etc) is calves liver or (more affordably) chicken liver, cooked in butter and still a deep blush pink in the middle. Lamb's liver or pig's liver can be nice, also pink, but they are really for confirmed offal lovers only. Lambs' and calves' kidneys should likewise be pink in the middle, also hearts, and the only fully cooked kidney which is palatable I think is in steak and kidney pie or pudding. Given your liking for liverwurst, I bet if someone gave you properly prepared liver you would like it!

hsh gives me the courage to say: I hate liver. I'll eat chicken gizards, but that's about it for organ meats. It was one of the fascinating things in China, though, to see everything but the squeak laid out in the shops.

Despite the fact that my rural Baptist relatives considered the peasant food of my immigrant Italian relatives to be exotic, both sides of my family were pretty conservative eaters, staying firmly within their comfort zones.

Even though my mom learned to cook the Italian food of my dad's heritage, he had a lot of strong dislikes that shaped what we ate: no lamb, for instance, and no basil, plus he didn't like greens. His mother, on the other hand, always had a pot of "minest" on the stove: boiled greens in a broth with garlic. She lived to be 92, he died at 71. Is there a connection? Who knows.

The only time anyone ever made liver for me that I could choke down was when a Japanese friend in grad school breaded some chicken livers and fried them lightly with garlic and soy sauce.

And speaking (again) of garlic, let me quote (again, surely) the chapter on "Foreign Cookery" in the Alice's Restaurant Cookbook:

Don't be intimidated by foreign cookery. Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good. Now you are an international cook.

"Garlic makes it good": words to live by.

"Garlic makes it good": words to live by.

Hear hear!

Two things:

1. Liver is fine. No need to mention foie gras, just chopped chicken liver which, we might say, is not chopped liver.

2. The widespread deanchovization of this dish is a plague. I can accept, very grudgingly, the de-egging, for safety reasons, but romaine lettuce by itself is not a Caesar salad. It's romaine lettuce.

The widespread deanchovization of this dish is a plague. I can accept, very grudgingly, the de-egging, for safety reasons, but romaine lettuce by itself is not a Caesar salad. It's romaine lettuce.

Agreed, (and often they de-garlic it too!) except I am more hardline than you (surprise surprise) on the egg question.

I consume a meal of chicken livers every few months or so. I dry sauté them so they form a caramalized crust, maybe coat them in a little flour beforehand. Then I make a sauce using a little consommé and fresh tarragon. If I have some on hand, I fry some sliced shallots as a garnish.

I like to order fois gras in good restaurants.

In other awful offal stories, in the far northern province of Luzon, I was offered a plate of unpurged goat intestine in some sort of sauce. Not bad, but I try not to think about it.

Next up was stir-fried insects. Tolerable.

Just got back from Miami and the Keys. Practically lived on ceviche, which I could live on. The lime juice "cooks" the fish. Yum.

Also had a meal of grilled hog fish, a snapper variation. Very good.

When I traveled in India years ago, I lived on a diet of bananas and bottled beer because all else caused me severe dysentery. But I love Indian food and for some reason intestinal complaints have never blunted my intestinal fortitude when offered a plate of mystery food.

I make an anchovy paste and spread it on toast.

I've been known to stand in front of an open fridge eating the whole anchovy fillet out of the tin.

Yes, much of life has been deanchovied.

hsh: it sounds like you were given what is the bane of most offal cooking: overcooked liver.

That is a distinct possibility. I can imagine my mom thought it had to be cooked thoroughly for health reasons, despite her habit of sampling raw meatball mixture, and allowing me to do so, before cooking the meatballs. (It was the closest thing to steak tartare I ate as a kid.)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad