Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cheap Food

Some people complain constantly about the cost of food.  Sure, sometimes weather factors make the prices of some foods go up a lot, but the choices available to the modern American are remarkably broad, IF one is willing to do a bit of work and cooking.  One can be a lazy bum and whine for a prepared food to pop into the toaster oven or microwave, or one can get off one's butt, use one's hands and fix something cheaply.

Here's a recipe for Johnny Cakes, a very simple, energy filled side dish for a couple fried eggs.  "Johnny Cakes" is the slang name for a food of the common pioneer family in Rhode Island and other New England colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries.  See  - that box pictured is the same as the one from where this recipe came, except I cut the salt in half and used olive oil instead of grease/lard.  I've adjusted it to make the serving size suitable for one man.

Johnny Cakes

1/2 cup corn meal (white or yellow)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cups boiling water
2 Tbl. olive oil

Preheat a large skillet to medium high (380F for electric fry pans).  Mix dry ingredients well in small/medium bowl.  Add olive oil to skillet to heat.  Then add boiling water to mixed dry ingredients and mix thoroughly; it will be thick.

Drop mixture onto skillet in one (heaping) tablespoon sized lumps.  Do not touch or turn for six (6) minutes*.  At six (6) minutes, turn over & cook for about five minutes.  This will yield 4-5 golden brown Johnny Cakes.

*The recipe on the box says this, but mine stick a little (I am not using a Teflon skillet), so I lift them a bit midway - yes, I'm fussing.

Calories are about 240 plus the olive oil absorbed, making them about 480 total, or perhaps 120 calories per Johnny Cake, about the same as a slice of bread.

Yellow corn meal from Quaker Oats works fine.  A 24 oz. container cost $1.69 at the supermarket last time I bought it; that package will provide about enough for 10 meals per above.  The cost of the corn meal is thus less than 20 cents.  Good enough olive oil for this use costs about $10 for 1.5 liters at Costco, thus 2 Tbl. costs about 20 cents, too. [There are about 50 servings with size 2 Tbl (= 1/8 c) in 1.5 liters.]  Add in 10 cents for the energy used in cooking.

Cost - about 50 cents.

You can store the corn meal in the refrigerator indefinitely in a sealed container. 

This morning I will make this recipe to have with a couple fried eggs (over medium).

PS:  It occurred to me this recipe gives about 500 calories for 50 cents, thus providing 10 calories for each penny.  Thus a 2500 calorie per day energy requirement for a human being costs $2.50 using it.  One would have to add to that for protein (milk, eggs, cheap cuts of meats, etc.), fruits & vegetables (apples, oranges, cabbage, etc.), but you can see that the cost to feed people can easily be less than $5/day.

Word of the Day

"Pleonasm" - noun [$10] T. S. Eliot
Pleonasm means the use of more words than are needed to give the sense (e. g. 'see with one's eye's).
Sentence:  I remember using a pleonasm as a young boy in arguments with my brothers:  "You stupid idiot!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Word

I expect a downgrade, a default and economic turmoil.

I own no US Treasury securities either directly or in mutual funds.

Word of the Day

"Pillock" - noun [$10] British slang
Pillock means a stupid person; a fool.
Sentence: The Republican party seems dominated by delusional pillocks and determined to destroy the honor of the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wrong Battle ... Wrong Weapon

The Republicans are fighting on poor ground with poor tactics.  They will lose badly and damage the nation.

At Gettysburg, Lee chose the wrong ground and the wrong weapon.  He had a delusional faith in the power of his men, and had little respect for the Yankee men.  Thus misguided, he chose to attack heavily defended positions uphill over poor ground on Day 2 at the Devil's Den and Little Round Top.  He lost.  On Day 3 he ordered Pickett's Charge, a perfectly idiotic attack over a mile over open ground uphill.  Even if the charge had broken the Federal lines, those men were unsupported and there was no follow-thru.  Lee's only hope was a panic by Federal troops.  That didn't happen and was delusional.

The Republicans have cast aside their honor and integrity to draft the bond and noteholders of American debt into their fight with Obama over spending.  Yet debt represents money lent to cover PAST spending, not future spending.  They risk the credit and honor of the United States of America for their "game".  Do they offer a shared sacrifice?

No.  Have they offered a 20% cut in Congressional pay?  No.  Have they offered a cut in pay and benefits for the bloated Federal workforce and the doubly bloated government contractors?  No.  Instead, they want the creditors of America to be their human shield.

What cowards!

Last month, Minnesota and the California Republicans showed the way.  Fight spending by shutting down the government - shut off the SPENDING.  In the Spring, instead, the Congressional Republicans past a stopgap budget.  This October 1, they could refuse to pass appropriations for real spending without a budget deal.  That would be using the right weapon in the right battle.  The Minnesota and California events proved those tactics are a winner.

The Congressional Republican leaders and their Tea Party fire-eaters are being fools, as was Lee at Gettysburg.  If they persist in this delusion of glory, they will cause immense damage to their cause.  Just like Lee did almost 150 years ago.

Go around to the right and fight on good ground.  Pass a debt limit increase and prepare to shut the Federal government down on October 1.  That's good ground and the public will support it this time.

Word of the Day

"Dudgeon" - noun [$10]
Dudgeon means a feeling of offense, resentment; 'in high dudgeon' means very angry or angrily.
Sentence:  America's creditors will permanently have much dudgeon if used as a human shield in an internal political fight.

Monday, July 25, 2011

USA ... Aa/AA

Get used to it.  The credit of the United States of America - the government, not the people - is not top notch anymore.  The national honor has been besmirched by just about every "leader" in the Dark City.  Does anyone really think that a re-run of the Great Depression of the 1930s would not bring a default ... and not just a technical one? 

Now the knaves in the Dark City are bickering when there is record demand for US notes and bonds.  In a Great Depression scenario, that demand would not exist.  In a "worst case" scenario, interest rates for government debt would be higher.  At that higher cost of funds, government spending would be even more ... much, much more.  And spending on aid for the poor and indigent would be more ... much more.  In that world, a true, Greek-style default would certainly happen.

USA is a Aa/AA/AA and is not a triple "A" anymore.

100 years of strong economic performance has been squandered. 

And who did it?  The knaves in the Dark City.

Word of the Day

"Alterity" - noun [$10] from 'alter'
Alterity means the essence of someone's or something's changed state.
Sentence:  Obvious to anyone not complacent is the alterity of the credit of the government of the United States towards weakness.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday's Word

Word of the Day

"Dewlap" - noun [$10]
Dewlap means 1. a loose fold of skin hanging from the throat of cattle, dogs, etc.; 2. similar loose skin round the throat of an elderly person.
Sentence:  Having a dewlap might correlate with wisdom, if one retains memory.  To retain memory, learn a language and eat pistachios and smoked salmon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Word

My sentence is a cop-out, I admit.

Word of the Day

"Majolica - noun [$100] also spelled "maiolica"
Majolica means 1. Italian earthenware covered with an opaque glaze of tin oxide and usually highly decorated; 2. any earthenware having an opaque glaze of tin oxide.
Sentence:  Specific examples of faience are delft and majolica.  I came across the term "majolica" by reading a book about art in renaissance Florence.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TGIF, a Tidbit and a Word

Is the folly of the Republican tactics regarding the debt limit now apparent to all?

I'm sure we will soon heard about the need for "shared sacrifice".  Let's start by cutting the pay of Congress and ALL government employees making more than $100,000 by 20%, and requiring similar cuts by ALL government contractors.  That will make the hogs at the trough squeal.

Word of the Day

"Faience" - noun [$10] French faience from Faenza, a city in Italy (originally denoting the pottery made there)
Faience means decorated and glazed eathenware and porcelain, e. g. delft or majolica.
Sentence:  In the 17th century, Dutch manufacturers in Delft copied and undercut the prices of Japanese porcelain to create their "own" Delft-style of beautiful porcelain that now sometimes appears in museums and can still be purchased.  Perhaps that is an early example how trade and economic 'evolution' works.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hooray for our Values

For as long as I can remember, many so-called liberals have flagellated our "western values", demeaning 2,500 years of intellectual and cultural growth as that of "dead white males".  They spout what is wrong with us.  But do THEY truly have an absolute value system or are they posturing to get power for themselves?

By "Western" values I mean those that predominate in developed nations such as the US, Canada, and Europe (all of Europe including the east); perhaps Japan and urban areas in South America and a few other nations qualify, too.  I don't know enough to set the boundary line.

What have Western values accomplished in the past 1,000 years?  Let me list some successes:  unprecedented human freedom, elimination of tribal prejudices, emancipation of all people, and particularly women, and by empirical observation, unprecedented human happiness, compared to the non-Western areas.  How do I adduce the latter?  The observed desire of people to move physically and (if permitted) emigrate to nations with those western values.

What still exists in the non-Western regimes?  The predominate cultures still are tribal and virtually enslave women; some are often dominated by religious cultures that limit human thought.  For Western cultures, tribalism has ceased to be a social factor for at least 1,000 years and religious oppression began to disappear slowly about 500 years ago.  Slavery disappeared about almost 150 years ago.  Freedom for women became predominate about 80 years ago.

Since then, the economic and technological growth has been enormous.  What else would one expect, when the chains are loosed from over half the people in the West, letting them strive for the benefits of themselves and their own families?

In much of "the east", virtual slavery of women still exists.  An full page article in the Financial Times of Monday, July 11, describes the slavery of huge numbers of women in India, China, Vietnam and other nations of Asia:  they are "bought" while young and forced to bear children for the sons of more wealthy, those same people who have been aborting girls from their own marriages in a cultural preference for sons.  Millions of women are living in virtual slavery.  And in places like Saudi Arabia, women are virtual household slaves, being denied the right to drive a car.  Similar religious oppression of women exists in much of northern Africa and south Asia.

Yet, where are the shouts and protests of the liberals and human rights activists in the US and Europe?  It's so silent I can hear the crickets.

Tribalism predominates relations, too, in much of those areas.  Caste bigotry prevents modern economic activity for all.

A nation cannot overcome poverty while losing the productive output of more than 1/2 of its people. A nation cannot overcome poverty without breaking tribal and caste barriers that limit free exchange of ideas, goods and service.

We need to be proud of our values and should endeavor to export them.  Too long people in the west, seduced by desires for power or money, have countenanced those despicable cultural values. Let's stop it and proclaim all that is good about how we live.

Our values make us what we are, and it is truly pointless to send aid without coupling it to instructions, yes, instructions, about how thoses places need to change in order to join the modern world.


After a week of study of charts, earnings, and review of general prospects, Mrs. B sold some stocks Friday morning that were performing with high mediocrity.  Krypto's model did not give a signal, but she wanted to clean her portfolio. The funds went to cash to await better prices for either equities or municipal bonds, whichever comes first.

Word of the Day

"Recherché" - adjective [$10]
Recherché means 1. carefully sought out, rare, exotic; 2. far fetched, obscure.
Sentence:  (A) [from Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, page 148 re the poem from Four Quartets, "The Dry Salvages"] "... it bristles with recherché words, such as 'haruspicate' or 'scry', 'sortilege' ..."  (B) Bunkerman's Word of the Day may soon descend to recherché words as 4+ years of daily words have used many of the more 'common' $10 words, or he'll have to start re-using them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

TGIF and a Suitable Word

Is not the failure of the budget+debt limit talks apparent to all but the delusional?

Word of the Day

"Adduction" - noun [$1000]
Adduction means 1. the action of bringing a thing to something else; 2. the action of adducting; in Physics, the opposite of abduction; 3. the action of adducing or bringing forward facts or statements.
Sentence:  The failure of the Republican adduction tactic that brought long term budget plans into the decision on raising the debt limit is now complete.  Its failure was predicted here.  Pass a clean law to raise the debt limit now, before that foolishness causes long term costs on the American taxpayer and hurts the plain people more.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Attention Puzzle Do-ers

Much has been written about keeping one's mind active, and that such will (might) defer mental weakness in old age.  Many people do puzzles such as crosswords or sudoki.  What do you have after doing a puzzle?  Nothing.

Here is a better way to exercise your mind:  Learn Ancient Greek.  Here's how to do it.  A very fine, enjoyable book aptly titled, Learn Ancient Greek, will help you.  The book was written by Peter Jones [ISBN 0-7156-2758-9] and it WILL help you learn to read and translate the ancient Greek language in which Socrates, Aeschylus, Sophocles and even the New Testament was written.

I know - I have finished 17 out of 20 chapters, with the last three mostly more translation exercises.  The selections are from Antigone, Plato and the Gospel of John.  Peter Jones teaches basic pronunciation, grammar and the common words.  He focuses on reading and recognizing the usage of a word, which he presumes you will use a dictionary to find the meaning of its stem.  His lessons have humor and are practical.

Once you know the basics, you can find great texts in Ancient Greek from the Loeb Classics Library of Harvard University Press for $24 each, including the translation in English on the opposite pages.  Also, the Cambridge University courses for more study of Ancient Greek are available on Amazon, including CD recording on its pronunciation.

Put that puzzle down and Learn Ancient Greek!

Word of the Day

"Scaramouche" - noun [$10] a Mencken word.
Scaramouche means a character of the Italian theatrical form known as commedia dell'arte:  an unscrupulous and unreliable servant.  His affinity for intrigue often lands him in difficult situations but he always manages to extricate himself, leaving an innocent bystander as his victim.
Sentence:  The debt ceiling 'talks' participants all seem to be scaramouches with the plain people - Joe & Jane Average, as their victims.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday Word

The puppet show in the Dark City continues, showing all there is no honor or integrity in that swamp.

Word of the Day

"Lour" - verb & noun [$10] Used several times in the translation of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" (Blackstone Audio, Inc., translated by Frank Justus Miller); pronounced 'lou er' with that 'ou' as in 'house'.  Alternate spelling is 'lower', with that 'ow' as in 'how'.
Lour means (verb, intransitive) 1. frown, look sullen; 2. (of the sky) look dark & threatening; (noun) 1. a scowl; 2. a gloomy look (of the sky, etc.).
Sentence:  The budget talks have a lour outlook or seem to be a puppet show, depending on one's view of them as real or farcical.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Language Connections

Your writer's studies of the ancient Greek language continue.  I can now translate much basic Greek prose with the aid of a dictionary, including a good bit of the New Testament (which was originally written in ancient Greek).  By simply learning how the language is pronounced and focusing on grammar and reading skills, progress in learning a foreign language is much, much faster than trying to learn to speak it (as an adult).

Books that I have for French and German reading state that about 180 hours of effort are needed.  Diistributing that effort over 1/2 to 1 hour sessions works best.  Thus you, too, can learn to read a foreign language as an adult in less than one year.  Try it!  Remember, use read-only mode.

Word of the Day

"Dryad" - noun [$10] Mythology.
Dryad means a nymph inhabiting a tree; a wood nymph.
Sentence:  If no naiads appear, perhaps the Epicurean canoeists will encounter a band of dryads in the forests surrounding the lakes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Book

Grant and Sherman:  The Friendship that Won the Civil War.  Charles Bracelen Flood ISBN-13 978-0-06-114871-2

This excellent book provides much insight to the crucial leadership of the Northern armies and navies that led to their victory.  Far too much attention in Civil War history goes to the early years of the northern Virginia sector and Lee's success in holding off the North.  The war was won, however, by Grant & Sherman and the western armies and the navy.

By covering the correspondence of Grant & Sherman and their early campaigns, this book illuminates crucial insights they had and how their knowledge developed.  One factor that is much underappreciated is Grant's use of the riverine Navy.  This resource let him move a hundred or more miles quickly with more supplies than any land movement could make.  Of all Civil war generals, Grant made the most effective use of the river Navy.  He developed good working relationships with key naval commanders and was fortunate in their quality and aggressiveness. The river Navy was Grant's special weapon and he used it well.

So far I am about 1/2 through the book and am enjoying it very much.  Give it a try!

Word of the Day

"Naiad" - noun [$10] (pl. naiads or -des)
Naiad means (Mythol.) a water nymph; the larvae of a dragonfly, etc.; 3. any aquatic plant of the genus Najas with narrow leaves and small flowers.
Sentence:  I wonder if the Epicurean canoeists will meet any naiads on our sojourn in the Canadian lakes?  Probably not. But I'll hear again about the time Big Al, etc. ran across a campsite of French models frolicking in the water :)

Friday, July 8, 2011


Krypto is closer to doing some selling across the board, but not quite yet.  No reason to jump the gun on The Machine.

By the way, based on the FT article about hedge fund performance, she is kicking their butts ... again.  Man's Best Friend :)

Word of the Day

"Mucilage" - noun [$10]
Mucilage means 1. a gelatinous or viscous solution obtained from plant roots, seeds, etc. used in medicines and adhesives; 2. (N. Amer.) a solution of gum; 3. a viscous secretion, e. g. mucus.
Sentence:  Pioneers and early settlers in America used plants and roots to make medicines as mucilage or powders; a doctor in pioneer settlements often made and sold these medicines as part of his business.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Tidbits

And so it goes on ...

Head of Department of Justice Antitrust division goes the big name NYC law firm.  This exemplifies why government regulations mostly help the Ruling Classes:  those persons doing the regulating and enforcing want to collect on the big pay checks after leaving office.

Connecticut requires private employers to provide paid sick leave.  Wonderful:  another hidden tax on employers.  Is there any wonder why jobs are scare?

Your author has gotten very jaded.  The endless corruption - both explicit and implicit - in the Dark City and by the Ruling Class and the Media complicity in keeping it quiet are quite sickening.  The social compact between the plain people and the managerial and professional classes is broken.  For 40 years all the gains in productivity have been taken by the Ruling Classes on top and their enablers.  The plain people have gotten no income gains.

The connection between a "job" and social benefits needs to be broken.  America needs an political Alexander the Great to cut that Gordian Knot.  Don't "reform" that relationship, simply totally slice it.

A job should simply be a job - pay for work.

Social shared benefits should be simply provided at a reasonable level.  Face reality:  America is not going to let people die on the streets either from illness or from starvation.  America is a wealthy nation and should provide shared benefits on a universal, insurance style basis that exists from birth for all.

Pay for the shared benefits with a simple VAT or National Sales Tax.  That system makes imports pay a fair share.

Word of the Day

"Dolor" - noun [$10] literary
Dolor means sorrow, distress.
Sentence:  The plain people will continue to bear individual and collective dolor until a new social compact is created:  clean away the cluttered, current system and adopt free fraternalism.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Action

Krypto checked her model and finds no orders ... yet.

Word of the Day

"Glean" - verb, transitive [$10]
Glean means 1. collect or sample together (news, facts, gossip, etc.) in small quantities; 2. a. (also absol.) gather (ears of corn, etc.) after the harvest; b. strip a field after harvest.
Sentence:  Investors must glean useful facts from many news sources, and information about the levels of actions of others, in order to form a reasoned opinion about market valuations.

Friday, July 1, 2011

TGIF, a Tidbit and a Word

Krypto's model shows no moves, yet.  On a further rally to new highs, the June buys from the machine would likely be taken off by the machine.  Obey the machine.

Word of the Day

"Prevaricate" - verb, intransitive [$10]
Prevaricate means 1. to speak or act evasively or misleadingly; 2. quibble, equivocate.
Sentence:  "Leaders" in the Dark City mostly either prevaricate or lie blatantly; the truth is a rare occurrence, especially when they say they are talking the truth.