Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Case for Democracy Natan Sharansky

Sharansky argues that the best weapon against tyranny is the creation of free societies. He argues that the West can and should intervene, using the tactic of linkage. If a tyrannical regime (presiding over a "fear" society) wants to trade with free societies, such trade must be linked to them changing their human rights record: the population must be able to express their views freely without fear of reprisal.

The most uplifting aspect of the book is Sharansky's narration of the collapse of the soviet union. The most depressing aspect is the hash that he considers everyone - Europe, the US, successive Israeli governments - has made of moving towards a separate Palestinian state. I was feelling quite optimistic about the role of the security fence in removing terrorist violence, but he reminded me that leaving the Palestinian regime to continue as a "fear society" condemns its people to more years of poverty, doublethink, and propaganda.

He makes no connection to the micro-level, but I think his message applies there to. Just as a free, democratic society functions better than a fear-filled dictatorship, which inevitably carries the seeds of its eventual implosion, so a family with authoritarian parents is doomed to disaster as the children defect to freer climes as soon as they have the physical and mental power.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

random recipe

I was waiting for the groceries to arrive, but needed to make supper.

So this is what I did:

fry a couple of onions and some garlic while thinking...
add about 2lb lamb mince and brown.

In a great wave of inspiration, add a teaspoon of ground cumin, same of ginger, same of coriander. And a chopped up dried red chilli.

Then (on a roll now) add a tin of tomatoes and a small tin of tomato puree. Throw in some cardamom pods. Pepper. A beef stock cube (I thought it needed beefing up)

Cook for about 20 minutes, while thinking what on earth to do with this mixture. Add a tin of black-eyed beans in desperation.

Put a good dollop of live yoghurt in the bottom of a lasagne dish; soften some lasagne sheets in boiling water and put on top. Shove in the random lamb gloop, put on another layer of lasagne and then another layer of yoghurt. No cheese on top (didn't I say? We were waiting for the grocery shopping to arrive... and one of the guests is lactose intolerant)

Cook for about 40 minutes in a medium oven.By the time it was ready, the groceries had arrived so instead of the anticipated frozen peas, we had broccoli. This dish was a HIT!!!

I wanted to record it for posterity. If I had more minutes, I'd do some half-cocked tie in to parenting ;-)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

leaving food on your plate

It was always the starving children in Africa whose welfare my generation was invited to consider when threatening to leave food on our plates. As I watched a mother cajole her child into eating "just two more mouthfuls" recently, it struck me anew how illogical it is to force a person to eat food when they do not have portion control. Noone can guess correctly for another person how hungry they are (children should not be forced to eat food they do not like either, but that is another question for another day).

This is one reason why I am firmly outside the puree-up-vats-of-boiled-vegetables-and-spoon-it-into-the-child's-mouth school of solid food introduction. When the baby smiles or opens hir mouth to burble something, in pops another spoonful of slop. Much better to keep on with the breastfeeding and let the child develop the hand-eye coordination to get as many spoonfuls of yoghurt or handfuls of cooked carrots into hir mouth as se wants to eat/taste/play with.

Controlling what one puts in ones own body is important.