Random Conjectures

"Act locally; bitch globally."

Month: September, 2017

Uncle Boris’ Voodoo Saloon

Well, here I am again, peddling some more food porn. Part of the reason, I suppose, is some of the things I have been reading lately. One of those things has been a recent article from the Harvard Business Review. The take-away idea from that article is that only 10% of the American public likes to cook, while the other 90% is about equally divided in either actively loathing the process, or just being indifferent to it.

In typical Harvard Business School logic, what the author of this disquieting article wants his audience to conclude is that supermarkets and grocery stores should re-organize, and exclusively give the people what they want, and good and hard too: only pre-packaged crap that can be quickly reheated and put on plates. The author even goes so far as to praise this Reuters’ article, which in turn is an encomion of the latest food technology, in which packaged, sterilized food-like substances with unlimited shelf life will replace that nasty real stuff that tends to spoil and reduce market value. Even better, this stuff can be shipped by Amazon drones, and we can cut the middle-man of the local markets right out of the picture.

I dunno about you, but two images which immediately come to my mind are visions from that demented genius, Terry Gilliam, who turns his jaundiced eye toward the immediate future. The first is from his movie, Time Bandits, where one of the running gags in this delightful piece of mockery is The Moderna Wonder Major All-Automatic Convenience Center-ette”, an automatic kitchen which the young hero’s mum praises as being able to ‘turn a block of ice into Boeuf Bourgignon in eight seconds.’

The second image comes from Gilliam’s somewhat darker film, Brazil, where the only existing haute cuisine in that alternate future is several scoops of… No, I can’t bear to say it. You’ll just have to watch it for yourselves, all seven or eight of you. Read the rest of this entry »

Dinner for Sixty



-Boeuf Bourgignon (bacon free, gluten free) for 20;

-Coq au Vin (ditto) for 16;

-4 Quiches (9″, mushroom, onion, shallots, and bacon and shallots) for 16;

-Uzbeki lamb pilaf for 8;

-Basmati rice side dish for 60;

-Hand roasted, freshly ground Colombian coffee for 60.

It’s a long story.

For the past two years since my wife Beth died, my one live entertainment has been to listen to these guys, Simon and James, when they play the local pub at Pedro, about twice a year, in the summer and the winter.  It’s about a mile from where I live, so I usually get a reservation at the bar, tip the bartender a ten at the beginning of the affair, with the promise of another if the service is any good. It always is, for some reason.

So, between the food, which is okay, the beer, which is better but more expensive, the cover charge, and the tips to the musicians, it comes to quite a bit. As I am rather impecunious, I doubt that I could afford such more than twice a year. But Simon and James play a variety of trad music that I seldom hear in LaLa Land, so I find it to be worth it.

I’ve gotten to know Simon somewhat these last two years, and I wanted to buy some of his CDs before he performed the next time. So, I messaged him on Facebook to ask how I could do that. He told me that he would be in LA in early August, and we could meet at a mutual friend’s house to do the deal.

“Why can’t we do it when you’re at the local pub?” sez I.

“Because the pub hasn’t picked up my gig for this summer,” sez he. Read the rest of this entry »

The Blood is the Life: An essay regarding a diagnosis of the ills currently plaguing the Roman Catholic Church


Many of us have noted that not all is well with the Roman Catholic Church. Some are rejoicing over its supposed schism, heresy, or apostasy. Others of us sorrow over its sickness, as one would the illness of one’s mother. We wish there were some way it could be cured. Still others sorrow, but conclude that there is no cure: the only thing left now is to abandon ship, leave the impending shipwreck, and seek refuge in a Church which still lives, wherever that might be found.

Since I for my part believe that the Church of my youth both can and should be cured, I offer the following meditation. I would ask that those who read it consider what I have to say, accept it to the extent that it is true, and correct it where it is false. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Year: Progress Report

Those six or seven of you who have been following this wretched little weblog, especially during the month and a half gaps between entries in it, will probably recall that I have been making attempts at a Remedial Education. Briefly, I’ve been attempting to construct a modern Trivium of Grammar (Linguistics, Language Acquisition, and Philology), Dialectic (Deductive and Inductive Logic, Algorithmic, and Heuristic), and Rhetoric (Classical and Modern Rhetoric and Poetics).

I have also been attempting to construct, at least for myself, a modern Quadrivium of Arithmetic/Algebra/Number Theory, Geometry/Topology, Astronomy/Physics, and Music/Theory/Voice/Composition.

On the other hand, I have been afflicted by several impediments, including but not limited to what appears to be a case of C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) secondary to witnessing the death of my first wife, Carolyn, 23 years ago, and nursing my second late wife, Elizabeth, at her sick bed and then her death bed just two years ago. Oh, that, and losing a liter and a half of blood because the ER was too busy and/or incompetent to stop a bad case of abdominal bleeding for TWELVE HOURS after check in, back in late April.

In consequence, it has taken me nearly four months to recover from the blood loss. During most of that time, I was unable to pursue ANY of my studies. I have only now begun to resume them.

And, on what Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle would call the Gripping hand, according to the weird little religious cult I belong to (Eastern Byzantine Christianity), September 1st is the beginning of our liturgical year. So, at least for me, now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions. As it is also a time of harvest, it is also time to review what accomplishments I have actually made. So, here goes… Read the rest of this entry »