Daily Archive: 11/21/2012

Nov 21 2012

Eel, the Other White Meat

‘A Thanksgiving Eel’

by Drew Christie

Drew Christie is an animator, filmmaker and illustrator who lives in Seattle. His previous Op-Docs are “Hi! I’m a Nutria” and “Allergy to Originality.”

The main purpose of this Op-Doc video is to look at the supremacy of one Thanksgiving dish (turkey) over another (eel) and to examine people’s reactions and thoughts on the issue. Sadly, because I live on the West Coast of North America, where there are no native freshwater eels, I will not be eating eel or eel-stuffed turkey on Thanksgiving.

Give Thanks for … Eel?

by James Prosek

AS the story goes, Squanto – a Patuxet Indian who had learned English – took pity on the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony who had managed to survive that first brutal winter, and showed them how to plant corn, putting a dead fish in each hole where a seed was planted. But before that, before the ground had even fully thawed, he taught them a perhaps more valuable skill: how to catch a fatty, nutritious fish that would sustain them in the worst of winters. And this food item, likely on the table of that first Thanksgiving, would have carried special significance to those remaining colonists. Eels – a forgotten staple of our forefathers. [..]

Eels don’t like cold water, and spend the winter balled up, bodies twisted together in the mud. In the frigid months they were usually caught with fork-like spears, the eels pinned between the tines. The fish proved essential to the endurance of the Pilgrims, and it is fitting that a river near Plymouth Colony was named Eel River. [..]

But the eel is also disappearing, thanks largely to a multibillion dollar market driven by Japan’s appetite for the fish. Juveniles caught in river mouths are shipped to farms in China, where they are raised to edible size and then flown to sushi restaurants around the world – giving eels one of the least sustainable routes to market of any fish, wild or farmed. What’s more, global warming, dams and pollution have taken a heavy toll on eel populations in North America and Europe. [..]

Let’s be thankful, then, for the beautiful but forgotten Thanksgiving eel. And let’s accept responsibility for preserving the fish that did so much to sustain the newcomers to these shores so many years ago.

James Prosek is the author of “Eels: An Exploration, From New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World’s Most Mysterious Fish.”

White meat? Or eel?

Nov 21 2012

Beat Sweetener

One Interesting Thing About Paula Broadwell’s Petraeus Biography

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

POSTED: November 21, 1:50 PM ET

The book is so one-sided that it is almost supernaturally dull, and I was forgetting about it just minutes after I put it down.

Then it hit me – it was an interesting book, after all! Because if you read All In carefully, the book’s tone will remind you of pretty much any other authorized bio of any major figure in business or politics (particularly in business), and it will most particularly remind you of almost any Time or Newsweek famous-statesperson profile.

Which means: it’s impossible to tell the difference between the tone of a reporter who we now know was literally sucking the dick of her subject and the tone of just about any other modern American reporter who is given access to a powerful person for a biography or feature-length profile.



The real scandal in the Petraeus episode isn’t that a would-be journalist was sleeping with her subject, it’s that lots and lots of other journalists are doing the same thing – metaphorically, anyway.

Decades ago, when people like Sy Hersh were the go-to-profilers of influential people, journalists reflexively distrusted power, and any reporter, male or female, who wrote a blowjob profile (that’s what we call them) of a politician or tycoon was looked down upon as a hack and a traitor. But these days, you can’t tell the difference between your average profile of a Senator or CEO or a four-star general and an ESPN feature about a day in the life of Lebron James.

Nov 21 2012

Walmart Black Friday Strike

Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving. It marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season with grand bargains and the feeding frenzy of consumers to find the best price on the most desirable gifts for the holiday. The term originated in Philadelphia as a description of the crowded stores and heavy traffic the day after Thanksgiving. It later took on the meaning that it was the day retailers begin to turn a profit and are “in the black.”

It has taken on a new meaning for retail workers in the “big box” stores, who are now being forced to work and forgo their Thanksgiving holiday evening because the largest retailers, specifically Walmart, decided to open at 8 PM on Thursday. Most of these retail workers barely make a living wage, the typical employee is paid $22,100 a year, slightly below the federal poverty line for a family of four (which is at $23,050 in 2012). Walmart workers, although not unionized, have banded together to strike the retailer on Black Friday. Here is why:

   – WHY WORKERS ARE STRIKING: Workers – organized by non-union OUR Walmart – are protesting that Walmart continues to pay low wages and cut benefits, even while it is making billions of dollars in profits. The strikes that have occurred are the first in the 50 year history of the company. Workers have demanded “more-predictable schedules, less-expensive health-care plans and minimum hourly pay of $13 with the option of working full-time.” The company is increasing employee contributions towards its health plan in 2013. Walmart made $15 billion last year, and paid its CEO $18.1 million.

   – WALMART’S RESPONSE: The company has claimed that it is “not aware of any major disruptions that are going to happen Black Friday.” However, it has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the protests are being orchestrated by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which Walmart claims is a labor law violation.

   – WHY NOW?: Black Friday is not only one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but Walmart and other large retailers have steadily increased their Black Friday hours to extend into Thanksgiving Day. This year, Walmart’s “Black Friday” starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, so workers will miss Thanksgiving evening with their families. Employees claim “they weren’t given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning.”

The argument that Walmart cannot afford to raise pay and benefits claiming it would hurt their ability to keep prices low has quite a few holes. A study made by Demos show that by increasing wages not only do the workers benefit but so does industry and the economy as a whole:

   A wage standard at large retailers equivalent to $25,000 per year for full-time, year-round workers would increase GDP between $11.8 and $15.2 billion over the next year.

   As a result of the economic growth from a wage increase, employers would create 100,000 to 132,000 additional jobs.

   Effects on Retail Sales: Increased purchasing power of low-wage workers would generate $4 to $5 billion in additional annual sales for the sector. Much of the increased consumer spending by low-wage workers after the raise will return to the very firms that offered the raise. The average American household allocates 20 percent of their total expenditures toward retail goods, but for low-income households that proportion is higher. A raise for workers at large stores would bring billions of dollars in added retail spending back to the sector. Our study finds that:

   Assuming that workers do not save money out of their wage income, the additional retail spending by employees and their families generated by the higher wage would result in $4 to $5 billion in additional sales across the retail sector in the year following the wage increase.

The wage increase would hardly effect prices:

   The potential cost to consumers would be just cents more per shopping trip on average. If retail firms were to pass the entire cost on to consumers instead of paying for it by redirecting unproductive profits, shoppers would see prices increase by only 1 percent. But productivity gains and new consumer spending associated with the raise make it unlikely that stores will need to generate 100 percent of the cost. More plausibly, prices will increase by less than the total amount of the wage bill, spreading smaller costs across the entire population of consumers. The impact of rising prices on household budgets will be negligible, while the economic benefits of higher wages for low paid retail workers will be significant. Our study finds that:

   If retailers pass half of the costs of a wage raise onto their customers, the average household would pay just 15 cents more per shopping trip-or $17.73 per year.

   If firms pass on 25 percent of the wage costs onto their customers, shoppers would spend just 7 cents more per shopping trip, or $8.87 per year.

   Higher income households, who spend more, would absorb a larger share of the cost. Per shopping trip, high income households would spend 18 cents more, for a total of $36.80 per year. Low-income households would spend just 12 additional cents on their shopping list, or $24.87 per year.

As David Dayen noted reporting this at FDL News:

I would personally rather pay 15 cents more per shopping trip rather than pay the costs of a working individual who nevertheless has to go onto Medicaid or collect food stamps. What’s more, as a result of the economic boost from higher wages, I would probably make more money myself, so this would all come out in the wash. Prosperity for retail workers would really mean more prosperity for all.

Up with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes discussed the Black Friday strike by Walmart employees with guests Greg Fletcher, a Walmart associate in Duarte, CA; Heather McGhee, vice president of Demos; Raymond Castillo, a member of Warehouse Workers United; and David frum, CNN contributer.

Nov 21 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: Time to end the war on drugs

With his final election behind him, and the final attack ads safely off the air, President Obama now returns to his regularly scheduled programming – governing. Yet, the chatter about his second term agenda, from deficit reduction to immigration reform, ignores one critical issue: ending our nation’s inhumane, irrational – and ineffective – war on drugs.

Since its launch in 1971, when President Nixon successfully branded drug addicts as criminals, the war on drugs has resulted in 45 million arrests and destroyed countless families. The result of this trillion dollar crusade? Americans aren’t drug free – we’re just the world’s most incarcerated population. We make China look like Woodstock. We’re also, according to the old definition, insane; despite overwhelming evidence of its failure, our elected officials steadfastly refuse to change course.

Laura Flanders: Austerity: A Violation of Human Rights?

Have you ever wished there was a set of standards by which budgets could be assessed that didn’t have to do with deficit hawks and stimulus sparrows pecking each other’s eyes out in the constricted ring of corporate opinion?

A noble little park opened in New York City last month: Four Freedoms Park. In the coverage of the Louis Kahn structure (which seems to rise like a ship out of Manhattan’s East River), remarkably little was made of the title. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1941, “the Four Freedoms” are core requirements for humane political and economic existence [..]

But human rights standards aren’t only for international actors, says economist Radhika Balakrishnan. We could do with some good human rights lawyers in the budget debate in Washington. Balakrishnan is the director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She is also co-editor of Economic Policy and Human Rights: Holding Governments to Account.

Amanda Marcotte: Ohio Is The Latest Battlefield in the War on Contraception

This year’s UN Population Fund’s annual report reiterates the long-accepted fact that access to contraception is a basic human right, making women’s rights and women’s health at the center of development. The document reflects a growing worldwide understanding that, as bell hooks titled her famous book, feminism is for everybody. When women can control their birth spacing and family size, they and their families have more economic opportunities and can better provide for the children they do have. No duh, right?

Well, unfortunately, the anti-choice movement in the United States presents the biggest obstacle for getting our country to embrace this common sense understanding of the value of contraception. Yes, they are coming for your birth control.  

Heather Mallick: Fiscal Cliff or Austerity Bomb, Time for Obama to Show Courage

The “fiscal cliff” allegedly approaches, as if the U.S.A. spends its days and nights in a Road Runner cartoon. Tax cuts expire but automatic spending cuts kick in, and that just might resend America into recession.

But a better name for it would be the “austerity bomb,” as economist Paul Krugman has written. Americans would be blowing themselves up with a weapon of their own making. Stupidity is a weapon. How ironic it would be if sheer foolishness and the “selfishism” cult did the damage.

Why am I even writing “Americans”? It’s Republicans vs. Democrats and it’s time for the victorious Democrats to start actual governing instead of catering and pandering to the countrified primitives that the Republican party has become.

It’s time for President Barack Obama to take the stand he should have taken in his first term: no more bowing to Tea Party Republicans eager to hammer the economy into the ground to back a disgraced ideology, that taxation is bad, government is emasculating and its spending toxic.

Michelle Chen: Coal Communities at the Pivot of Dirty Industries and Clean Energy

To environmentalists, King Coal is headed for ruin, and the country’s old, dirty coal-powered plants symbolize the industry’s last dying gasps. But in an uncertain economy, coal is the only thing many working-class communities can cling to for stability.

That’s why when environmentalist tout the vision of a renewable energy future–lush with solar panels and wind turbines–regions that have long depended on the coal economy see only a dark cloud on the horizon. A new report from the environmental group Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which makes a convincing economic and ecological case for phasing out an outmoded component of the coal industry, is unlikely to get a warm reception from them, either.

Tamara Draut: Subprime Students: How Wall Street Profits from the College Loan Mess

Five years after Wall Street crashed the economy by irresponsibly securitizing and peddling mortgage debt, the financial industry is coming under growing scrutiny for its shady involvement in student loan debt.

For a host of reasons, including a major decline in public dollars for higher education, going to college today means borrowing-and all that borrowing has resulted in a growing and heavy hand for Wall Street in the lending, packaging, buying, servicing and collection of student loans. Now, with $1 trillion of student loans currently outstanding, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of the same problems found in the subprime mortgage market-rapacious and predatory lending practices, sloppy and inefficient customer service and aggressive debt collection practices-are also cropping up in the student loan industrial complex.

This similarity is especially striking in the market for private student loans-which currently make up $150 billion of the $1 trillion of existing student loans.

Jennifer Hough; Senseless Death of Irish Woman Exposes Grim Reality for Women

For three days, Savita Halappanavar suffered agonizing pain, asking repeatedly that a 17-week-old dying fetus be removed from her body.

For three days she lay in a hospital bed getting sicker and sicker, until eventually she succumbed to septicemia.

While it sounds like a scene from the Dark Ages, this is what happened to Savita, a 31-year-old Indian immigrant living in Ireland, last month.

Everyone wants to know how could such a thing happen in a modern 21st-century nation. In a society much like Canada’s, with the same values, language, health and social structures.

Nov 21 2012

Laboring Under This Administration’s Anti-Labor Ties

And no, I’m not talking about the past anti-labor ties like former COS Rahm Emanuel who called labor unions “f-ing retarded” and condescendingly opined about “where are they going to go?” if they expect more from Democrats. No, I’m not talking about the NAFTA and China PNTR hatchet man that helped crush US industry before he became mayor of the President’s home town of Chicago attacking the teacher unions that helped elect this President. And I’m not talking the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and JP Morgan Executive that also worked with Rahm and the Clinton administration to pass NAFTA either.

Of course, there still are plenty of anti-labor ties to choose from such as Jeffrey “China! China! China!” Immelt who serves as chairman of his outside panel of economic advisers while retaining his post as chairman of the board and CEO of the GE; the non tax paying conglomerate that outsourced its X-ray division from Wisconsin to China. Of course I don’t need to which brings me to the main point of this piece.

(h/t Rick Pearlstein)

Nov 21 2012

Turkey Loaf

Yoob a dinkadee a dinkadoo a dinkadee

A dinkadoo a dinkadee a dinkadoo

Morp!  Morp!  Morp!

Us Scandinavian Bachelor Chefs (h/t CompoundF) frequently find ourselves in the position of needing a last minute substitute for real food because planning ahead is not one of our strengths (if it were we probably wouldn’t be Bachelors anymore).

Here’s a recipe that is not too fussy and can be thrown together at the last minute and great expense as a cheap imitation of inferior quality.

You will need-

  • Ground Turkey
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Onion (chopped coarse)
  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Garlic Powder
  • Bell’s Poultry Seasoning
  • An Egg
  • Dry Packaged Instant Turkey Gravy

Optional (of course the more you add the better it will taste)-

  • Walnuts (chopped coarse)
  • Canned Mushrooms (stems and pieces, chopped coarse)

The goal is simple, to create a reasonable taste facsimile of a Turkey dinner with stuffing and gravy without days of defrosting and hours of cooking time.  It is somewhat pricey as ground Turkey often costs as much as ground beef or more.

The primary problems to overcome are cohesion and dryness.  I’m going to recommend what seems like a lot of fat but Turkey is quite a lean meat.  I’ll be working with approximately 2 pounds of Turkey as a base (that’s how much the local Super Market puts in a package), you adjust the other ingredients for taste and volume.

The most labor intensive part of preparation is chopping the onion(s).  Depending on how strong the flavor (in decreasing order- yellow, red, sweet) you’ll want to prepare about half the volume of your meat.  If you use yellow and are sensitive to onions (I am) you may want to saute them a little to take some of the harshness out.

The most time consuming part is the bread.  Toast it a bit (hey, if you have enough time to stale it you most likely don’t need this recipe), smear generously with butter and shake quite a bit of garlic powder on top.  Cube.  You need about 3/4 of the volume of your meat (6 slices or a little more).  Crusty European breads work much better than Balloon breads because the goal (as with meat balls) is to lighten the texture of your finished dish.

Mixing

I put the other ingredients in the bottom of the bowl with the meat on top but I don’t think it makes any difference.  The important thing is not to over mix because the loaf will get gummy and dense.

A cup or more of Dried Cranberries (I like them), Onion, Garlic Toast, 4 Tbls Butter (chopped), Ground Turkey, 1 – 3 Tbls Bell’s Poultry Seasoning (the primary flavor is Sage in case you can’t find it), an Egg or 2 to bind.

Mix gently, completely, and not too long with your fingers.  Now is the time to add your optional ingredients, if using Mushrooms include the liquid too.

Cooking

I like loaf pans, others mound on a sheet.  Grease for clean release.  It leaks a bit so you’ll want a lip to catch the drip.  In any event at least an hour at 325 – 350 until the internal temperature reaches the recommended level for poultry or brown on the top and gray through the thickest part.

Rest 5 – 10 minutes while you prepare the gravy, slice and serve.

Thanksgiving on a stick.

Nov 21 2012

On This Day In History November 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 21 is the 325th day of the year (326th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 40 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, Ella Fitzgerald wins Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. A young and gangly would-be dancer took to the stage of Harlem’s Apollo Theater to participate in a harrowing tradition known as Amateur Night. Finding herself onstage as a result of pure chance after her name was drawn out of a hat, the aspiring dancer spontaneously decided to turn singer instead-a change of heart that would prove momentous not only for herself personally, but also for the future course of American popular music. The performer in question was a teenaged Ella Fitzgerald, whose decision to sing rather than dance on this day in 1934 set her on a course toward becoming a musical legend. It also led her to victory at Amateur Night at the Apollo, a weekly event that was then just a little more than a year old but still thrives today

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the “First Lady of Song” and “Lady Ella,” was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves (Db3 to Db6), she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

She is considered to be a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 14 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.

Nov 21 2012

Buy More Turkey!

Gobble, gobble.

Too soon?

Now I’ll admit that most of what drives this particular post is my New England skin flintiness and it’s  hard to find meat cheaper than Turkey even when it’s not on special.  Indeed the problem for most people is its abundance as in, what do you do with the 15 pounds of it you’re too sleepy to eat?

I have an easy and tasty solution that will tide you over until the briskets of spring are available.

Pulled Turkey (sometimes called Turkey Hash) is easy to prepare and freezes well.  Basically you take all the bits and scraps you can pull off the bone (or shred larger pieces by hand) and remove all the tendons and cartilage and fat and uncrispy skin so that you’re left with a pile of pure stringy meat.

Now you can freeze it right at this point in individual recipe size portions in case you’re a big fan of Turkey salad or other treatments that don’t require visually attractive slices.  I do it to save freezer space.

My ultimate destination is a pot of gravy which I make in my typical fashion from a dried mix heated and whisked for a few minutes before dumping the meat (frosted or defrosted) into it for warming to serving temperature.

If it is shortly after Thanksgiving there is usually some leftover stuffing around but it works equally well over egg noodles or rice.  In a pinch or a hurry just a slice of bread will do and you can call it an open face Turkey sandwich.

The simplicity belies the taste (if you happen to like Turkey) and last time I checked 2 cups of gravy mix (prepared) went for $1.50.

Hard to beat.

Tomorrow- Turkey Loaf.