For the student of politics and public affairs, there are few fields so richly rewarding as study of historical figures. We find that the same circumstances, the same problems, and the same challenges present themselves again and again; and the solutions crafted in one era, even if not fully applicable to another, at least provide us some rudimentary guidance.
I was in a grocery store the other day and saw a package of smoked pork neck bones. I don’t recall ever eating them before; but they were enticing, and I had a good intuition on how they might be prepared. Slow-cooked with spices and black beans, I thought, and they might evoke memories of Brazilian feijoada. Now before you rap my knuckles, understand that I am not saying this is anything that approximates feijoada: I know that the real thing requires multiple steps and is a very complicated dish. I only say that this dish may evoke memories of that venerable Brazilian dish. Decide for yourself. In any case, this is a simple matter to prepare, is very inexpensive, and is undeniably delicious.
I’m going to share an easy and satisfying recipe that I threw together yesterday. It doesn’t have a name, and I didn’t get it from any recipe book. I’ve been experimenting with this very useful Instant Pot pressure cooker lately, and thought readers might want to hear about this. If you don’t have one of these, you should consider getting one. Even if you don’t have one, you can make this recipe on the stove in a pot, although the preparation time will be longer. It’s very easy, and you can substitute different ingredients, or add additional ingredients. It’s all up to you.
Before one can philosophize, one must eat. And so we turn now to the subject of eating. I wanted to share this recipe because I think it is inexpensive, flavorful, and simple to prepare. It requires no further justification.
If you’re feeling down and have two hours to spare watching an old sporting event, here is something guaranteed to lift your spirits. It is the hockey game played between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York. I wanted to post this game for several reasons.
The ancient town of Cumae was the oldest Greek colony in the west. It was founded in the last quarter of the 8th century B.C. From the town’s acropolis one can see the island of Procida and its smaller islet of Vivara; farther away is the island of Ischia. Mycenaean artifacts have been found on these islands, proving the presence of Greek colonists in the area in the 8th century. We are told that Ischia was called Pithekoussai in Greek, which means “island of the monkeys.”
This was one of the best drives of my life. If you ever have the chance to see the Amalfi Coast, see it. This is not some ride through the same sea-side villages you’ve seen in other places: it is something very different. It’s a community that is literally built into the cliffs and rocks that overlook the sea, and this gives it a feel of something like a human bat colony, or an ancient hive. Photos can never really do it justice, but I hope they can give the reader an idea of what to expect.
Historical opinion is often divided on the subject of famous military commanders. The good favor of historians may be divided with regard to their abilities, their judgments, and their battlefield results; and this favor can shift with time as readily as sand drifts aggregate and dissipate in the desert. Douglas MacArthur is one example. Some see him as a brilliant strategist and tactician, using sophisticated combinations to outflank and out-maneuver his opponents; others see only a vain egoist whose achievements were obscured by his personal flaws.
In this podcast we discuss David Mamet’s 2008 film Redbelt. This is a great movie, and a worthy addition to his long line of films that explore the moral and ethical problems that men face as they try to reconcile their personal creeds with the world’s corrupting influences. How we resolve this struggle will define what kind of man we are. Mamet instinctively understands the necessity of masculine virtus in a world characterized by shifting loyalties, fair-weather friends, and moral corruption; this makes him, in a sense, the most “virtuous” filmmaker today.
I recently picked up an interesting cookbook at a used book sale: George L. Thomson’s Traditional Irish Recipes. Thomson apparently traveled all over the country to select the most traditional representations of the nation’s cuisine. Hearty and relatively straightforward in preparation, many of these recipes make great additions to your kitchen arsenal. I’ve decided to present a few of them here. The average person may find it difficult to obtain traditional Irish ingredients like eel, cockles, nettle tops, and carragheen moss, so I’ve made an effort to pick recipes that are likely to be more practical. I’ve prepared each of these dishes and can tell you that they are very good.