Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Hither, Yon, and Beyond

I think this will be another one of those random stream-of-conscious blog posts. Too much going on, and too many ideas clamoring to get out. And I. Must. Blog.

I’m very excited about an upcoming interview. It’s not another NARN one, though I haven’t given up on that, despite some rejection.

Thanks to Scott from Pinkmonkeybird, I’m meeting with a long-time local Republican grassroots level activist. I’m using the interview to test my theory that Bush is going to do better than expected in Minnesota this year, because the Republicans are better organized, and focusing on getting out the vote to an extent not seen in previous presidential elections. Ergo, I wanted to speak to someone who could give an insider, ground-level view of what this campaign is like compared to others in the past. If you've read my posts about Common Tator in Ohio, my desire was to find a Minnesota equivalent. Scott is working his tail off in volunteer efforts this campaign, and was able to hook me up with someone who seems to fit the bill perfectly.

Plus, we’re doing the interview in Uptown, which is awesome both for the irony (Uptown is the cultural heart of local liberalism), and for the fact that it really does have great character. I’m inspired by the motto of the Our House blog, “Live like a Liberal, Vote like a Republican.” Can’t let the other guys have all the fun.

Not that I’m complaining at the moment. Dinner tonight was veal-chops with Marsala mushrooms, truffled Yukon potato puree, served with an unfamiliar Chianti that proved a steal at 9 bucks. Riiiiich food. And I’m not talking about the price. (Incidentally the six month old loved the truffled potatoes. She likes garlic too. She's a tiny foodie in the larval stage.).

Next topic.

The “anonymous” guy in my symposium post comments section seemed fun at first. Until I realized he was behaving like one of those types who hides behind anonymity so he doesn’t ever have to stand for anything. He can just criticize everyone else and never has to worry about defending his own assertion . Too many wasted hours in the mid to late 90’s (and early 00’s on Free Republic) spent dialoging with that sort of person.

Doesn’t bother me so much about the one guy. For all I know, he was in a mood and isn't always like that. It bothers me because he represents a dangerously common type. A child of post-modernism. Deconstruction as an end in itself.

There but for the grace of God go I. I flirted with this stuff in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Set it aside mostly after I left college. But didn’t truly understand the harm of it until much later.

You can’t build anything with that mindset. Not an ideology. Not a house. Not a government. Not a life.

If all you can do is criticize other opinions, what will you do when forced to really choose? Real-life choices are almost never ideal or perfect. They all have a downside. Noticing what that is is important, but insufficient for making decisions. Most college-aged minds (with a few notable exceptions), no matter how bright, don’t yet conceive of that.

This discovery incidentally is what broke my brief attraction to third parties in U. S. politics. They are largely built on the seduction of being able to attack any viable choice for leading the nation. They don’t pay much attention at all to making a realistic impact in the direction they desire. They just carp from the sidelines, and feel superior by proclaiming you can’t blame them. They voted for… some moonbat or whacko who got about 2 percent of the vote in a good election.

In other words, they dropped out of their civic responsibility, but didn’t have the common decency to shut up when they did. Like a husband who notices the dirty floor, but refuses to get out the vaccuum (umm.. no special reason that analogy came to mind).

As always a caveat… There is typically a core within any third party who truly do believe they’re making a difference; and are just on the cusp of a big breakout where they’ll finally make a difference. I pity these people, because they're deluded. But I sincerely respect their sense of civic responsibility (and they typically hate it when I condescend that way, but that's my honest opinion).

I keep meaning to blog about the two-party system. Someone needs to finally give a positive opinion about it. But everytime I try it seems to require addressing so many side issues jut to make the basic case that it never gets done. Some day. Maybe. When the election is over. And the kids are healthy. And I forget what a painful process it is to write it all out.

In short, I think our two-party system is a good and healthy thing. And anyone griping about how we truly need a third choice is basically telling me they either don’t understand how our political system works, or that they’re one of those people who just likes to complain. It’s not limiting ideologically. It’s simply less prone to radical ideological shifts after a single election. But it does not stifle any political points of view. Just keeps the truly unpopular ones marginalized, and prevents popular ones from leaping very far without a chance to look.

No transition here. Just a placeholder to let you know one ought to occur between the last paragraph and the next one.

We pickled three dozen jars of veggies a couple of weeks ago. Mostly green tomatoes (not a usual pickling choice in these parts, but it’s a family legacy from my Great-Aunt Polly), a few cucumbers, and some celery. We’ve developed the recipe together after a couple of previous tries. White vinegar and pickling salt, fresh dill, dill seed, coriander, black pepper, a fresh bay leaf, and a couple of fresh garlic cloves. We always add a stalk of celery to each jar (that’s from Aunt Polly), and I add fresh jalapenos to a few.

A jar of sliced cucumber pickles popped open today on its own just two weeks past sealing. So we had to try them, even though we normally wait at least a month after sealing the jars. Wow, are we getting good at this. It’s not like I can find decent pickled green tomatoes many other places (there are a few, but nothing comes close to how good these are – no kidding). But I think our pickled cucumbers are even better than the tomatoes. And we never do more than a few jars of those.

We got started by me trying to recreate my Great Aunt Polly’s recipe for “Dilly tomatoes” – which she never wrote down, and died without passing on. It has evolved into something very much our own, but still retaining Aunt Polly’s basic approach.

I even have a fan. My sister lives in the NYC area, where there is a larger Jewish community than here. Apparently pickled tomatoes are popular in NY Jewish families. So my sister let a Jewish friend try some from a jar I had sent her. She loves pickled tomatoes, and seeks out the best at various Jewish delis around NYC. She proclaimed ours the best she’s ever had. I’ve never met her, but we now always send an extra jar or two along for our “fan” when we make the annual shipment to my sister (who was as fond of Aunt Polly’s pickles as me).

Another transition is missing here.

I still intend to do a little report on a slice of the Hugh symposium posts. I’ve actually read a decent number of them by now.

And incidentally, boo to those of you who ignored the 250 words or less rule. I agonized over that one. And found it insightful to boot.

You folks remind me of the time I tried to show off in my Freshman English class in high school. The teacher gave a writing assignment which was to cover the front of one page only. I covered both sides of the page because (much like now) I had a tendency to be wordy, and had always been praised for it in the past. Boy, was I ever shocked when I got down-graded for writing more than the assignment for the first time ever. When I asked the teacher why, she explained that learning to be concise was important, and that was one of the points of the lesson.

So I’m officially downgrading any post, no matter how good, which went beyond 250 words. When I do my highlight, you’re all disqualified (and some of you were pretty darned good too, so this truly does hurt me more than you).

Enough for now. Off to check out the blogosphere before bed.


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