Max’s mom’s coffee flavoured liqueur

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

black russian

Black Russian

 

There are three reasons I can think of for making your own kahlúa at home.

The first is my mom’s reason: she wants it decaffeinated so that she can drink black russians in the evening and still get a good night’s sleep.

The second is Scouseman’s reason: he lives in a place where vodka is a lot cheaper than kahlúa, he likes white russians, and he would like to save money.

The third is just because it might be fun on a rainy day and, if you’re like me, you’ve probably got a couple of bottles of over-proof vodka lying around the house.

Here is Max’s mom’s recipe – sorry about mixing American and metric measures:

  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 12 slightly rounded teaspoons instant coffee (regular or decaf)
  • 750 ml 100 proof vodka
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Dissolve sugar in water and then dissolve coffee into mixture.

2. Bring to boil and let simmer 60 to 90 minutes – uncovered.

3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

4. Add vodka and vanilla.

Makes almost 1.5 litres.

Black Russian: 2 parts vodka to 1 part kahlúa, serve over ice.

White Russian: 2 parts vodka to 1 part kahlúa, over ice, add cream and more kahlúa to taste.


Brazil sticks it to the Church

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

rio jesus

 

The BBC story that caught my ear this morning was that the Brazilian government had announced that it will soon make oral contraceptives widely available. The government is even going to subsidise the pills so that the poor can also benefit.

The announcement unto itself might not necessarily have been world newsworthy, but the reaction of the Catholic Church apparently was. The Catholic Church is objecting to Brazil making oral contraceptives available and affordable because birth control leads to promiscuity.

That’s pretty rich coming from a bunch of celibate priests.

I have decided to take it upon myself to set the record straight because while I might not know more about promiscuity than some people, I can safely say I know a lot more about it than Ratzinger and his cronies.

So once and for all, these are things that do not lead to promiscuity: availability of birth control, sex education in school, video games, explicit song lyrics, and bare breasts on the beach.

These are things that may lead to promiscuity: natural instinct, natural sexuality, natural urges. Please note the frequent occurrence of the word ‘natural’.

I am an atheist and I have never believed in the concept of sin. However, for all of you religious people out there – if your god didn’t want us to do it, why did s/he make it feel good, and why did s/he make sure that we had these natural urges, which are often uncontrollable? If sex were just for procreation, then we would be more like animals and only go into heat once a year.

Remember kids – sex is not evil, but unwanted pregnancy is.

 

 

The BBC story is here.


Большая чистка

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

chavez silencio dictado

 

Bolshaya Chistka, or the Great Purge

Venezuelan dictator Hugo “Fidelito” Chávez is on his way to closing down a second television station within the space of a few days. First he closed Radio Caracas TV for allegedly trying to undermine the government, and now he is going after Globovision for allegedly inciting the people to kill him. But it’s not because he’s paranoid or anything like that, they really are out to get him.

Chávez has an interesting history with television, a twisted love-hate relationship. Obviously he loves state-controlled television, which never wavers in its support for him. But Chávez hates private television, not least because it has already once been a fundamental factor in his overthrow – see The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Oh yes, Chávez is also suing CNN for allegedly linking him to al-Qaeda. But I think that’s just for fun.

Many people have been protesting the closure of RCTV; on the other hand, many people have been supporting it. The latter group are idiots.

Benjamin Franklin once said:

In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Who ever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.

Which is always interpreted to mean that a free press is essential for liberty, something that by now all educated people know is true.

Chávez is currently only about 4 months into the 18-month dictatorship he was granted. I am certain that by the end of it, there will not be a single truly independent publisher or broadcaster left in Venezuela. ¡Adiós, la libertad!


Turning the tables

Monday, 28 May 2007

ledger gyllenhaal brokeback

 

A tribunal in Melbourne has decided that a local gay pub has the right to ban heterosexuals from its premises.

I initially heard the story on BBC this morning, and I did have to stop and think about it in order to decide whether or not I agreed with the tribunal’s decision. And in the end, I did agree. The factor that makes this situation different from the pre civil rights American south, or Nazi Germany, is that groups of heterosexuals had been going into the pub to ridicule and bully the gays. For any of you that have witnessed large stag groups and hen parties in Prague, you can imagine how offensive and frightening that could have been.

Later in the morning, I got an email from Opie, in which he asked me for my thoughts on the matter and on the fact that Australian civil libertarians were supporting the decision. He added:

I am pretty tolerant towards everyone, but this just strikes me as contradictory. (Can I now start a white lapsed Catholic, heterosexuals only club there? Feel free to start one for whatever group you so desire.)

I emailed him back:

I also heard the story this morning. As a libertarian and anarcho-capitalist, I am in favour of a private business being able to decide its policies for itself. And if hen parties and stag groups had been going into the bar to ridicule the gays, they deserve to be banned. Here in Prague, bars post signs saying “No stag parties”. We don’t have a problem with that.

The rest of the conversation went like this…

Opie:

So if private businesses bar blacks, gypsies, others, etc that’s OK?

My thoughts are that stag/hen parties should be incentivized to go elsewhere. Perhaps put a limit on the number of people allowed in and at the 1st sign of trouble, throw ’em the fuck out.

This just strikes me as a slippery slope and a bad precedent.

Max:

A private business should be able to bar whomever they want. But would you go into a bar that had a sign on the door saying “no blacks allowed”? I would not. Especially if the sign was instead “Juden verboten”.

The real answer is that groups of hetero women or men should not use the gays as a source of amusement. Gays are not monkeys in the zoo, after all. My feeling is that the bar owner should be able to decide whom he lets in, and it’s up to him how he does it. And all heteros would not be barred; the idea is to keep out groups that make trouble. And remember, barring the dominant social group in order to protect a persecuted minority group is different from barring that same minority group just because you don’t like them.


Bye-bye rights and freedoms

Sunday, 27 May 2007

bush wave

This bill brings us closer to an immigration system that enforces our laws and upholds the great American tradition of welcoming those who share our values and our love of freedom. – “President” George W. “I’m a fucking moron” Bush

This bill brings us closer to a surveillance society with serious privacy issues and a loss of administrative accountability. – Max

The bill, S. 1348, the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill, is currently being debated in the upper house of Congress. Section 302 of the bill addresses “employment verification”, which will affect not only immigrants, but everyone who works in The New Amerika, whether non-citizen or citizen.

I vaguely remember having to prove that I was eligible to work in The Amerika whenever I went for a new job. I think I had to fill out a federal form (I-9), and show my driving licence as ID and my social security card to show I had the right to work. Fair enough. That process will remain the same, except that “for US citizens, documents that meet both identification and employment authorization will now only include US passports, a new biometric tamper-resistant, machine-readable passport, a REAL ID compliant driver’s license.” And employers will now be required to retain copies of the presented documents.

Then comes the more ominous aspect: the Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS), which is already administered jointly in pilot form by the Department of Fatherland Security and the Social Security Administration. Under EEVS, the personal information handed over to the employer by every single employee, new or current, will be entered into a database for verification. All of that may or may not work. Apparently the pilot program, which is on a relatively small scale, has a lot of bugs. One of the biggest worries is that the system will produce a list similar to the ‘no-fly’ list, and some of us will be mistakenly and unfairly blackballed from working.

Fatherland Security will receive all of the data for verification, including our social security numbers, and will not be required to delete the information from their systems after the verification process has been completed. Fatherland Security, and its contractors, will also have access to confidential taxpayer information from the IRS’ databases. Even if you are not a paranoid person that wants the government to know as little as possible about you, you could still be a victim of identity theft or other fraud. The government’s databases are notoriously insecure.

The bill also prohibits any meaningful judicial review, which means that Fatherland Security, or whatever other authority is involved, will not be held accountable for unlawful acts. The principle of judicial review has existed since Dr. Bonham’s Case of 1610, and has been essential in American constitutional law. The purpose of judicial review is to let the courts intervene if a public body has made an error of law. Without judicial review, we will be powerless to correct wrongful decisions, whether made purposefully or mistakenly, by Fatherland Security.

Both Republicans and Democrats are backing the bill.

CNET News
ACLU
Greg Siskind’s summary of the bill

Thanks, Monkey.


Nothing has changed

Saturday, 26 May 2007

school house rocks bill

Yesterday I woke up to the news that Congress had passed the new Iraq spending bill and – surprise surprise – any mention of troop withdrawals had been redacted right out of it. Or, as the New York Times summarised it:

Approves $100 billion to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. Does not set a timetable for troop redeployment.

I am aware that the earlier version of the bill, passed by Congress and vetoed by Bush, called for troops to be out of Iraq by September 2008. From a definite date to no mention at all – what the hell? That move puts the Democrats on a level with the Vichy government of France. And this is what they had to offer as explanation for their capitulation:

  1. They didn’t have enough votes to override the veto, and
  2. They had to pass a spending bill or the troops would suffer.

Lame. So they could not override the veto and pass the original bill – fine. But that should not necessarily have led to erasing the issue of troop withdrawal completely from the legislation. I just checked my dictionary, and the words ‘negotiate’ and ‘compromise’ are both still in there.

According to the BBC, the Democrats did score a compromise for sacrificing more of our soldiers. And I am sure that the brave men and women of the US military will be relieved to know that while they are over in the Middle East fighting for oil, or whatever, back on the home front, the minimum wage is being raised. Well done, Mrs. Pelosi & Co. It’s good to see you’re making such a difference.

The second excuse is even stupider than the first, and my only response is a question. Why is it that Congress had to cave in and not that motherfucker in the White House?

I love being right.


As tears run down my face

Saturday, 26 May 2007

frodo.jpg

Frodo

the best dog I ever knew

“Why the long face, Frodo?”

15 December 1993 – 25 May 2007