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Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday links

This is (almost) a public service announcement: if you get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, you can use the unlimited 2 day shipping (plus streaming of TV shows, movies, and music) all though the holidays, and cancel afterward if you don't want to continue!

December 2, 1823: the Monroe Doctrine, the announcement forbidding countries outside of North and South American to interfere in American affairs.

Want your hoo-ha steam-cleaned but don't have a spa nearby? Here are the do-it-yourself instructions.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include Winston Churchill's birthday, the effectiveness of polygraph tests, the obscure British comedy sketch that's the most-repeated TV program, and the Museum of Bad Art.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 2, 1823: the Monroe Doctrine

The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered subjects for future colonization by any European powers. 

~ President James Monroe (1758-1831) (7th State of the Union address, 2 December 1823 - the "Monroe Doctrine" (wiki)) 

President James Monroe
We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.

~ Ibid. (a more formal statement of the Doctrine)

The Monroe Doctrine means what it has meant since President Monroe and John Quincy Adams enunciated it, and that is that we would oppose a foreign power extending its power to the Western Hemisphere, and that is why we oppose what is happening in Cuba today. That is why we have cut off our trade. This is why we worked in the OAS and in other ways to isolate the Communist menace in Cuba. This is why we continue to give a good deal of our effort and attention to it. 

~ President John F. Kennedy (wiki) (1917-1963) (news conference, 29 August 1962)*

There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust. 

~ Demosthenes (wiki) (ca. 384-322 B.C.) (Second Philippic, sec. 24)

John Quincy Adams,
 author of the Monroe Doctrine
Today is the anniversary of the proclamation of the "Monroe Doctrine" (wiki) in the Seventh State of the Union address of U.S. President James Monroe (wiki) (served 1817-1825) in 1823. Formulated largely my Monroe's secretary of state, John Quincy Adams  (wiki) (1767-1848),** the Doctrine stated that the American continents were no longer open to European colonization and that the United States would view with displeasure any further European intervention in the Americas.

The Monroe Doctrine consisted of four main points:

1. The United States would remain neutral in European affairs and not get involved in European conflicts.

2. The United States would not interfere with current European colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

3. No European nation would be allowed to establish a new colony in the Western Hemisphere.

4. If a European nation would try to interfere with a nation in the Western Hemisphere, the United States would view that as a hostile act and respond accordingly.

Although never formally recognized in international law, the Doctrine has been successfully invoked regularly times and became a key principle of American foreign policy.*** As imperialistic tendencies grew, however, the Monroe Doctrine was viewed with suspicion by Latin-American countries, who associated it with the possible extension of U.S. hegemony - and it has been used a half-dozen times to justify U.S. intervention in Latin American affairs. 

* N.B. The Cuban Missile Crisis (wiki) followed about a month and a half later.

** Adams succeeded Monroe as the 6th President of the United States in 1825.

*** Perhaps the most flagrant "violation" of the Monroe Doctrine took place in 1862, when France invaded Mexico and installed a puppet government under the emperor Maximilian. President Lincoln was powerless to intervene because of the ongoing U.S. Civil War. Maximilian was deposed and executed in 1867.

Here's a brief video explanation:

The above is based on Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his distribution list, leave your email address in the comments.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday links

This is (almost) a public service announcement: if you get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, you can use the unlimited 2 day shipping (plus streaming of TV shows, movies, and music) all though the holidays, and cancel afterward if you don't want to continue!

Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874: here he is on Islam, and here's the story of his "Iron Curtain" speech.

How Alchemy Has Been Depicted in Art Through the Ages.

A video tour of the (excellent) Museum of Bad Art.

How An Obscure British Comedy Sketch Became The World’s Most Repeated TV Program.

Do Polygraph Tests Actually Work?

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include World War 1 man-lifting kites (for aerial reconnaissance), nickname origins, how to modify your baseball bat into a zombie-killing weapon, and an airplane crash supercut.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Vegan Free-Range Christmas Trees

From a few years ago in Portlandia (the place, not the show), apparently, which makes this a great marketing play.

Monday links

Six ways to modify your baseball bat into a zombie-killing weapon: real versions and an infographic.

Back When Your Thanksgiving Dinner Walked Hundreds of Miles to Market: The forgotten history of turkey drives.

What not to watch just before flying: this airplane crash supercut.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the history of mirrors, a video compilation of every gadget from every James Bond film, in chronological order, why eating boogers may be good for your health, and kids re-enacting the first Black Friday.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Airplane Crash Supercut

What not to watch just before flying: this airplane crash supercut. The movies included here are listed below the video.

Watch full screen!

World War Z
Fight Club
Final Destination
Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
The Grey
Almost Famous
Final Destination 5
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Donnie Darko
Snakes on a Plane
Air Force One
Iron Man 3
Passenger 57
Home Alone
Twilight Zone, The Movie
Breaking Bad
Superman Returns
Executive Decision
Cast Away
Wayne's World
Die Hard 2
Con Air

And just in time for Christmas, 30 day free trials of Amazon Prime:

My easy quiche recipe

For those of you who asked:

All measurements are approximate - add as much bacon (chopped/cooked yourself and/or packages of bacon bits, as long as they're the real kind), onion, or veggies as you like, and if you like them or have them around, you could add finely chopped mushrooms andor leeks and/or red, orange or yellow sweet peppers (I think the flavor of green peppers would be too strong). I haven't made this with chopped spinach but I'm sure it'd be good - just made sure it's chopped fine and , if frozen, drained dry.

The amounts/types of cheese I mention below are my personal preference, after quite a bit of experimentation. I prefer quiche to taste like Swiss cheese; the provolone gives you a somewhat more complex flavor, and the Parmesan adds some nuttiness. You don't need fancy parm for this - I use the Safeway brand of mixed Parm/Romano, but use whatever cheese you like or have around.

The only quantities that are set in stone are the 8 large eggs and 2 cups of half and half. That amount of liquid, on top of the other ingredients, makes exactly enough to fill 2 deep dish frozen pie crusts to the brim. If you want to use smaller crusts, you may be able to make 3 quiches.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For 2 frozen deep-dish pie crusts:

1/2 pound bacon, chopped
~2 oz packaged real bacon bits (I use these)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 lb asparagus or broccoli (small cut so they cook through while the quiche bakes)
~8 oz shredded Swiss-style cheese (Swiss and/or Jarlsberg and/or Emmentaler and/er Gruyere)
~4 oz shredded Provolone 
~2 ounces grated Parmesan/Romano mixture cheese

8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
Fresh nutmeg
Salt and pepper


Cook the chopped bacon until crisp, and drain on paper towels.

In a large bowl, mix both kinds of bacon, onions, veggies, and all of the cheeses. Stir it around to combine well and place half of this mixture in each pie crust, spreading it around evenly.

Pour the eggs and half-and-half into the now-empty bowl, and fresh-ground pepper to taste (I don't add salt, because with the cheese and bacon I find it salty enough, and you can always salt it at the table), grate some nutmeg over it (maybe 1 teaspoon if you're using the jarred stuff), and whisk thoroughly. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the cheese mixture that's sitting in the crusts, a little at a time so it gets down into the cheese - if you pour too quickly it will just spill over the top. I'll all fit - just go slowly.

Bake in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 35 - 45 minutes (check after 30 minutes, then keep adding another 5 minutes at a time) until done, It'll be pretty brown, not lightly browned, by the time the eggs are set - they should no longer be jiggly in the middle.

Cool on a rack for 30 minutes before cutting.

This keeps in the fridge for several days, and freezes really well. When you want to reheat, microwave for 1 minute (1.5 if frozen) then place in a dry skillet oven medium heat for a few minutes - otherwise the crust will be somewhat soggy (but edible).