Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hell Just Froze Over

Because I'm sticking up for a reality show.  A reality show I've never seen, and yet, whether rationally or irrationally, I despise.  And in doing so, I'm going against one of my absolute favorite politicians, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

You see, earlier this week, Gov. Christie blocked Jersey Shore from receiving a small (just under half a million dollars) tax credit that's designed to entice film and TV to come to the state and spend money.  And that's what this reality show did--along with countless other vapid twentysomethings who want to party with Snooki and the Situation and a bunch of other people whose names I don't know but everyone else seems to.  And their dollars are worth the same as everyone else's.  Not so fast, say Christie (and other N.J. leaders).  This show spreads "misconceptions about the state and its citizens."

Imagine, for a moment, if Boardwalk Empire were shot in Jersey (it's not), and Christie made a similar statement against it--saying it spread misconceptions about the state and its politicians.  Let's even take a real leap and assume that such a statement would be true.  Now let's imagine the reaction to Christie pulling the tax credit from the show, hoping that the reaction would be to shut down production, or at least force it to move.  There would be outcry, because this would be government censorship--a state government stifling creativity.

Now, I don't know if trying to shut down Jersey Shore is stifling creativity--quite the opposite, in fact--but the simple fact is that it's government censorship, plain and simple.  Would the world be a better place without drivel like this on our TVs?  Probably, but that's something for the market to decide, not the governor, judiciary, or legislature.  In a situation like this, I'm with Voltaire (as channeled through Evelyn Beatrice Hall): "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Of course, Snooki and company could always pack up and head on down the road to Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania for the next season of their nonsense.  That, even I might tune in to watch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Salt and "Bathery"

This is why I hate my local paper.  It would be one thing if this story were an isolated incident, but it's sadly typical agenda-driven pablum:

Story on "bath salts" used to get high

Reading this story and its sympathetic tone, you would think that someone had kidnapped these "users" and gotten them high and addicted against their will.  That would be a reason to pity them.  They didn't even use them for their stated purpose as bath salts.  That would be perfectly reasonable.  They didn't use them for an innocent-but-incorrect purpose (like potpourri) and accidentally get themselves high.  That would be understandable and forgivable, if stupid.  No, in the first line of the story, the intended object of our pity admits to putting the chemical into a syringe and injecting it into herself.  Unless she's a diabetic and mistook the "salts" for some off-brand of insulin, that means that she was a drug user whose sole aim was to get high, and that, to me, is deserving of nothing but heaps of society's scorn and contempt.  But that's not even the most offensive part: it seems to me, and several people who commented on the story, that the News-Journal is using "high on bath salts" as an excuse to defend a piece of garbage cop-killer who should have been squashed like a bug before he ever had the chance to see the inside of a jail cell, let alone a courtroom.  It's painful to see my only substantial source for truly local news taking such a soft stance and treating criminals as people to be pitied and coddled, instead of feared and punished.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Beast's Cookbook: Chicken with Cashews, Peppers, and Broccoli

Haven't done one of these in a while, but here's the recipe for an easy stir-fry that's become a Saturday night post-Scotch favorite. Of course the kernel of the recipe came from some website (I've forgotten which), but I've added enough unique touches that I'm comfortable claiming this as my own. This serves enough for the whole family, or for a big eater like me to eat the leftovers for the rest of the week.

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (I use the thin-sliced)
1 large broccoli crown
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 handfuls of cashews (I have pretty big hands)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (just enough to coat the skillet or wok)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (approximate)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 teaspoons corn starch

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and the bell pepper into strips. Pull the broccoli florets off the crown. Coarsely chop the onion. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth and cornstarch and whisk until combined.

Heat the oil in a skillet or wok. Add the broccoli and peppers and stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until they begin to wilt. Add the garlic and onions and stir-fry another 1-2 minutes, until the onions just become translucent.

Add chicken, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and sugar, and stir-fry, combining, about 5-7 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add broth/cornstarch mixture and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring, until sauce thickens. Add the cashews and cook another minute until the cashews are hot and browned. Serve over white rice.