July 1 begins the “Don’t Say GAY” law for Flori-duh schools. The first victim is unfortunately light. Rainbow images (aka, the visible spectrum) are explicitly banned from public schools, in the form of stickers, clothes, jewelry, what have you. Is this a symbol of the darkness that is falling across our once free country?
I hope some film class includes the classic Hepburn-Grant movie Bringing Up Baby, where Cary Grant, while wearing a woman’s robe, jumps in the air and explains, “I just went GAY all of a sudden.” I would feel bad about Physics teachers who can’t show a picture of the visible spectrum, but it is hard to imagine a physics textbook that doesn’t have one. The optics wouldn’t look right.
Even better, teachers of Florida, resign in masse. Let the Goobernor deal with that.
In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson was “commanded” by Supreme Court Justice–and his cousin–John Marshall to appear at the trial of Aaron Burr, who was charged with treason (Marshall was the presiding judge at the trial). Jefferson said, thanks but no thanks, and replied to Marshall thusly, essentially saying “make me.”
As to our personal attendance at Richmond, I am persuaded the court is sensible that paramount duties to the nation at large control the obligation of compliance with its summons in this case, as it would should we receive a similar one to attend the trials of Blennerhassett and others in the Mississippi territory, those instituted at St Louis and other places on the western waters, or at any place other than the seat of government. To comply with such calls would leave the nation without an executive branch, whose agency nevertheless is understood to be so constantly necessary that it is the sole branch which the constitution requires to be always in function. It could not, then, intend that it should be withdrawn from its station by any co-ordinate authority.
Note the use of the words “co-ordinate authority,” which is the polite Jeffersonian way of saying, “you’re not the boss of me.” Jefferson held that, in line with the Constitution, that all branches of government are co-equal, and that no un-elected official, or any other kind, was going to be allowed to issue kingly orders down from on high. Jefferson thought that it should take two out of the three branches of government, to over-rule the third. For what it’s worth, after Jefferson refused to be Marshall’s errand boy, Marshall found Burr to be not guilty.
After his retirement, Jefferson was not so polite about judicial kings-in-the making. From one of his private letters, he explained:
At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office.
This is what happens when you download every free translation of a German writer, without paying any attention to the titles. The book is actually a series of twenty four interrelated poems, all about Goethe’s sporty Italian mistress, and the things they got up to in and out of his garden in Rome. By the time I finished the first poem, I knew I was in for some serious laughs.
Perhaps the bawdiest thing to emerge from the 1780’s, this poem begins, and centers on, an old wooden figure of Priapus, the Greek and Roman god of gardens and fertility, that Goethe finds in his garden. The speaker in the last poem is appropriately Priapus himself, and I will include a section that is acceptable for polite society. It turns out that it’s not easy to be a really old god.
Faggots are heaped all about me against the cold of the winter,
Which I hate for the crows settling them down on my head,
Which they befoul very shamefully. Summer’s no better: the servants
Empty their bowels and show insolent, naked behinds.
Filth, above and below! I was clearly in danger of turning
Into filth myself, toadstool, rotten wood!
Now, by your efforts, O noblest of artists, I shall recover
With fellow gods my just place. And it’s no more than my due.
Jupiter’s throne, so dishonestly won, it was I who secured it:
Color and Ivory, marble and bronze, not to mention the poems.
Now, all intelligent men look upon me in kindness. They like to
Form their own image of me, just as the poet has done.
Nor do the girls take offense when they see me–by no means the matrons.
None finds me ugly today, though I am monstrously strong.
Not surprisingly, this poem was censored, but by the writer himself. It was meant for an audience of one, his friend and fellow poet Friedrich Schiller. Literary and musical types will remember Schiller as the author of the “Ode to Joy,” which is the basis of the great ending of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It may not be a coincidence that that poem was also censored, as the original title and subject was “An die Freiheit” (Ode to Freedom), instead of “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy). The German authorities thought that whole freedom thing was too hot to handle.
Our celebration of freedom will be here in a week. Just don’t read this poem anywhere near Disneyworld.
When the brick oven is about 900 degrees F, a pizza like this cooks in a minute. This is Melanie’s favorite pizza, and no one is allowed to make it but her. I have quizzed her on the order of ingredients, as she has her own special process.
Pizza Crust made with Italian “00” Flour
Pizza Sauce (see Tomato Sauce recipe on this site)–just a little
Mushrooms and Black Olives
Italian Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Peppers and Vidalia Onions
Rotate the pizza every fifteen seconds or so, or be ready to say “Don’t eat the burned part.” That also keeps the crust from catching fire.
Like a folk tale, the elements of this pizza must be deployed in the proper order. As far as fiery pizza goes, I had to let the fire cool down from 1083 degrees F before I could make the second one, a pepperoni pie. The rebuilt brick oven is turning out to be a flamethrower.
Need a late spring/summer blooming temperate forest shrub? This native could be the ticket. Two varieties of this species spread out the bloom period for a potential month and a half, and the plant doesn’t care if the highs are in the seventies, or like today, in the nineties.
In the wild, Bottlebrush Buckeye is found primarily in Alabama and Georgia, but it is now grown in Zones 4-8. The plant pictured is the earlier blooming “species” variety that was at peak bloom last week, when it was pummeled by 4+inches of rain in one day, and it still looks as pictured. Soon the second variety, often sold as var. Serotina, will begin to bloom, and will continue blooming into July. We have one of those as well, and it will bloom into July. Northern gardeners have reported later periods of bloom stretching into August.
A huge population of wild var. Serotina plants are growing just about three miles from here, south of Garden City, right along the edges of US Highway 31. Every few years Alabama Power will cut them down to the ground under the power line that runs to Blount Springs, which somehow or other rejuvenates the plants. Within in a few years the blooms will be spectacular, with limestone boulders interspersed with hundred foot long colonies of plants, and blooms hanging out over the road from steep hillsides. Unfortunately this section of highway is known for some spectacular wrecks, though they have never been attributed to drivers rubbernecking the plants.
My friend Torsten Fisch, who has been back in Deutschland for a good decade now, had a way with words, in multiple languages. A typically stiff Mercedes engineer who worked at their manufacturing facility in Vance, Alabama, after shots of Jägermeister he would cut loose with some epic rants, such as the following–
I don’t know what is wrong with you people in Alabama. As of the year 2000, the prostitutes in Germany have more rights than you do. They have social security, free healthcare, and a union.
Well said, with a German accent.
He also liked “Size matters. Bigger is better,” which perfectly sums up the Mercedes philosophy. If that is true, oven #2 is far better than oven #1. Here’s the pre-tornado version of the old oven–
The new oven is ornamented with Soldier (upright) and Sailor (ends facing forward) bricks, and a wider facade. The chimney is also taller, which should give me sufficient pitch to install a wood shingle shed roof. The walls of the yet to be constructed new enclosure will be wood shingles as well, which will require partial covering of some of the eye candy ornamentation of the chimney. At least it will then look less like a Mayan temple or a Ziggurat.
Plan for today was to grout the last section of Travertine tile that covers the front apron, but after two and a half inches of rain this morning, it’s off to plan B. Another new addition will be kitchen herbs for the outdoor kitchen, with some choice cultivars.
Today, besides transplants, I am sowing pots of Genovese basil and Italian parsley. Maybe I will be done with all the masonry work by the time they germinate.
Few people remember the renowned “Pink Slime” lawsuit between a company named Beef Products Inc. and ABC/Disney. BPI sued ABC/Disney for referring to their product they called “lean finely textured beef” (processed beef trimmings treated with ammonia) as “Pink Slime” during a 2012 broadcast. BPI sued for $1.9 billion in damages for lost business. They settled for a payout of $177 million.
The back story is even better. LFTB was for years regulated as being suitable for “limited” human consumption in the US, though it was and still is banned by the EU. Along came the corporate friendly GW Bush administration, and suddenly in 2001 the ammonia treated beef was allowed to be sold country wide as a beef product, without being included on the ingredients label. In 2002 USDA microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein came up with the descriptive term “Pink Slime,” and emailed his colleagues that “I do not consider the stuff to be ground beef, and I consider allowing it in ground beef to be a form of fraudulent labeling.” Zirnstein was overruled, naturally.
By 2004 the rules concerning LFTB were relaxed even further by the USDA, and school hamburgers were allowed to contain up to 15% LFTB, without any labeling. By 2008 students were unknowingly eating 5.5 million pounds of LFTB per year, until there was a temporary suspension of use due to E. coli contamination. However, it was only temporary, until August of the same year, when E. coli was found in LFTB products for a third time, and the USDA stopped shipping to schools. By this time an estimated 75% of US hamburgers include LFTB.
By 2011 the stuff begins to hit the fan, as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is the first nationally broadcast media production to highlight the widespread use of LFTB in school lunches. Then comes the 2012 ABC news story and the subsequent lawsuit. Finally, in 2018 BPI gets to take a victory lap–the USDA ruled that their new and improved beef product, without the fine texture, could be labeled as “ground beef.” Just don’t call it LFTB or “Pink Slime” anymore.
What has this got to do with the news industry? An old nickname has been re-born, as corporate sponsored propaganda packaged as news (most of what’s broadcast) has been dubbed “pink slime.” The slime part is easily understood, and the pink makes it memorable. The analogy is to insist that your name for something is the right one, reality or no reality, and sue any one important who disagrees. Remember the old joke about the news? The news industry treats citizens like they’re mushrooms, by keeping them in the dark and feeding them manure.
So money as speech is reaching its logical conclusion. The best example was the multi billion dollar lawsuit over the meaning of the word sugar. It was Big Ag (corn syrup) vs. Big Sugar (cane and beets), with Big Sugar winning. Corn syrup is still corn syrup, not sugar. Big Ag vs. your average citizen–not happening, as it isn’t worth either’s time. Just lay out the facts and let the people choose. Enough of them will pick slime, as long as they don’t know what it really is.
Wild birds don’t get taken in by scares about bird flu or other corporate derived scams, such as inflated gasoline prices (see under the heading “Windfall Profits”). They just go about the business of being birds, and will take advantage of every structure we build, freeloaders that they are. I really can’t blame them, since we invaded their spaces.
First example has the be the earliest nesters, the Bluebirds. They regularly take advantage of the old Bluebird nesting box I made, at least when it is not inhabited by flying Squirrels, which actually prefer the Wren nesting box. Our new family fledged in April, which I know to be the month because one of the fledglings almost flew into the back of my head, while on one of its training flights. Never fear–father Bluebird was right behind him, teaching by example. Junior has now discovered our bird bath, and slings water out of it like an outboard motor.
A perennial spring inhabitant of our house are the Flycatchers, who prefer nesting in the structure under our deck. This year they changed from nesting under our porch, to nesting just outside and left of our door from our walkout basement, onto our patio. The nest was masterpiece of bird architecture, and before we knew it there were four bird sized fledglings staring down at us every time we walked out of our door. The last few days they would sit up on the edge of the nest, and examine us with a sour expression, while the mother chirped at them from understory bushes nearby. My translation was from Flycatcher to English: You fat kids get out of there, and come and learn how to catch your own food.
One day, the biggest kid was gone, and there were only three. The mother kept chirping at the others. By noon the next day, there were two. By sunset, there were none. Happy fly catching to all of them.
Hummingbirds are a whole different story. They nest here, but only a storm blown nest will give away the location. Their favorite appears to be a white Oak right outside of our house, which we saved from our dipstick fill dirt people who piled dirt up three feet around it. We excavated it from that, so we claim it as part of our structure. Multiple Hummers are now chasing each other all around our house, probably charges from a nest around there.
And then there is the king of the birds, the Wren. To my knowledge they have never nested in our wren box, preferring to go their own way. They normally nest in our hanging Boston Ferns on our porch, but a wren is going to wren. This year they nested in the regional flower of the rural South, a satellite dish. This deserves a great Irish song by The Chieftains, “The Wren in the Furze.”
The wren oh the wren he’s the king of all birds,
On St. Stevens day he got caught in the furze,
So its up with the kettle and its down with the pan
Won’t you give me a penny for to bury the wren.
A Furze is a prickly gorse bush, akin to the native Hawthorne I grew from seed, which is 6′ and climbing. The Wrens are having better luck with the satellite deesh.
Which brings me to the problem with people. Like birds, we normally raise the alarm when danger is near–just think of Crows when a Hawk is around. According to our corporate media, I should instead be one of three things–exhausted, reeling, or broken, or a combination of all of them. The cliche department left off the ringer, which is pissed off, which I am regularly. Therefore I propose a new trans controversy, which is trans-species.
I am planning on identifying myself as a bird, since I don’t fit in to the current news industry narrative of what people should be feeling. With a few exceptions, such as cowbirds, birds are noble, useful, and incredibly resourceful creatures. They don’t contribute to anthropomorphic climate disturbance, or purchase weapons of mass destruction. They rarely utilize weapons of mass distraction, also.
I’ll be proud to be a bird. Like in the old Woody Allen joke, we need the eggs.
Having a supply of windblown wood that could last at least one lifetime, is not all bad. A case in point is the first dish out of the rebuilt brick oven, some glazed Salmon with herbs. I also took the advice of the authors of a new British book on brick oven cooking, and bought a battery powered infrared digital thermometer. The one I found records temps up to well over 1100 degrees F, which is very helpful, as I will later explain.
1 Fillet of Wild Salmon
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Juice (We have two Gallon freezer bags full of last year’s Myer Lemons)
Maple Syrup to taste
Fresh Fennel, Dill, and Parsley
A good ridged cast iron skillet is the perfect cooking device for this dish. I didn’t even bother mixing the glaze together in a bowl, and just put them on the fish in the order listed above. The cooking is just as simple.
I built a stick fire out of long deceased yellow pine limbs, and in no time it registered at 1000 degrees F. The plan was to let the back wall heat up to 250, and then put in the Salmon. I pushed the fire to the back when the temp was reached. Then I roasted the Salmon until the pan hit 200 degrees–the thermometer has a laser pointer, so you know what object you’re measuring. Time for a check (see top picture). The left hand piece flaked well–done!
Should you burn pine in a brick oven? The Brits say definitely no, the Americanos who published the design for the oven I built say burn nothing but pine. Going by the results, in an oven, nothing matters but heat, as opposed to a smoker or smokehouse, where the smoke is a flavoring agent. As long as it is not treated–and I had a relative who built a fire once out of treated wood, and was rewarded with a no expenses paid trip to the hospital–it doesn’t matter. I happen to have a few tons of pine blown down and lying on the ground, so pine it is for the near future. If that hurts anyone’s feelings, I offer my sincere tots and pears.
“It is this,” I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my roquelaire.
–EA Poe ,”The Cask of Amontillado”
Roasted salmon this weekend, pizza next–the oven is officially back from the ashes. The soldier row of bricks on the top of the facade is to be carried around on all four sides, and I have a cunning plan for some brick buttresses on the remaining two feet of chimney, that yet have to be added. Insulation makes this thing even better.
I have removed the form, and the dome oven insulation still needs more concrete. The goal is a solid layer of insulation about five inches thick. According to the bread builders book, an oven this size could produce 36 loaves of bread with just one good fire. Speaking of baking, I also rescued the old oak baking door for this new cathedral of fire–
I will finish this Celtic knot carving as a medallion, brittle splitty Oak notwithstanding. Carving will be a suitable pastime for our too hot summer weather. Morning work outside, afternoon work in the cool workshop. Eat when you’re hungry. I might as well end with a poem about the most famous proponent of the great replacement theory, one Herr A. Hitler.
Adolf Hitler’s facial hair,
Is a very curious affair.
Such a small toothbrush
For such a big mouth.
Maybe one of our juvenile little Hitlers will replace him in the hottest level of hell.