Saturday, June 28, 2014

Now I know why the West is going under…

This morning, dear reader, young Hannibal and fair Ivana stumbled into my kitchen study in search of sanctuary from parental supervision, and as I carefully put aside the brittle cuniform clay fragments of the Gilgamesh Epos which I was translating for breakfast (they break things, these youngster, they break things of invaluable worth…!), they settled down into the more comfortable chairs at the kitchen table and opened their survival kits.

Both took out their tablets; Hannibal one of chocolate, his sister one of Apple. They opened their priced possessions and went to work. I refrained from looking at the boy (Hannibal chewing is one of the less pleasant sights this universe offers), but I did shoot a passing glance at Ivana’s digital activities. And as these new-fangled gadgets no longer have a top which blocks the outside view (as the old, paleolithical ‘laptop’ at least still had) I could not help but perceive what was on the screen. This what I saw:

Now, ever since I helped my good old buddy Oswald with the preliminary chapters of his Untergang des Abendlandes (God, that man was a bad stylist! He would never have made it to his persisting fame without my skilled editor’s help!) I have been a sucker for numbers and mathematics in general. So you’ll understand, dear reader, that this picture fascinated me immediately.

            ‘Dear girl, what in the world is that?’ I asked the fair Ivana.
            ‘Facebook,’ she answered with the unmistakable tone of ‘mind your own damn business old jerk’.
            ‘No, I mean the numbers… Those numbers there…’ I said, pointing cautiously towards the picture (for all I know these screens may explode on touch…)
            ‘Ah, thát. That’s a stupid riddle some dork posted. Says most people will come up with the wrong answer. But it’s simple comme bonjour… A child could do it. Why: even an utter imbecile can do it! You, Hannibal! Stop smearing chocolate all over them shards and calculate this equation…!’

Hannibal dropped my now totally illegible baked clay Gilgamesh, hopped over to his sister’s spot, and studied the Facebook page for 30 seconds over her shoulder.
            ‘Why, that’s easy!’ he exclaimed triumphantly. ‘The outcome is 111,111!!’
            ‘Oh you stupid nerd!’ the fair Ivana exclaimed. ‘Can’t you do anything right? It’s 63, you moron de la frontera!’

I frowned, dear reader. I frowned like nobody frowned ever since they told old Chris Columbus he had not landed in Japan but on the coast of Columbia…
            ‘Mind if I look at that a moment?’ I asked.
            ‘Be my freaking guest,’ the fair Ivana spoke, and turned her tablet 180º towards me.

Well, what shall I say, dear reader? Two immense Oh Weh Erlebnisse were mine in the course of a mere ten seconds. The first was that neither Hannibal nor Ivana had discovered the correct answer. That was small surprise, since they go to school in Spain. But worse still: beneath the posted picture were 131 answers, and not only did these answers vary incredibly and astonishingly, but out of the 131 replies, the correct solution GOT ONLY 32 VOTES!!! With which it came in third!!!

Would you believe it? Can it really be true…? I now understand, dear reader, why the West is sinking. Why its 2,500 year culture is finally going down the drain, swept into the sewers of oblivion by lousy education, Hollywood morality, the Musical Industrial Complex and the tongue of Miley Cyrus… The word ‘mathematics’ has its origin in the Greek for ‘That which is learned’. And there’s the crux: it is learned no longer! Our digital young are almost totally ignorant of even the barest numbers!

Bitter, bitter tears did I shed over lunch, dear reader, thinking of the Hochkultur we inherited from Imhotep, Pythagoras, Euclid, Archimedes, Brahmagupta, Khayyam, Galileo, Gauss, Descartes, Schicklgruber, Newton, Leibnitz, Euler, Einstein, Gödel, Escher, Bach and many, many more… And I am almost ready to throw in the towel and give up my belief in Human Kind.

But perhaps you can help me, and save me, and solace a sad old man. Perhaps you, my dearly beloved readers of taste, sophistication, maturity of years and old-time education WILL score better than the Facebookies who performed so dismally this morning?

So here is the challenge I put to you: calculate the outcome of

7 + 7 : 7 + 7 x 7 – 7

and post it below in the comments (preferably under your own honest name). As soon as I have 25 answers, right or wrong, I will tally up the outcome, and publish the correct solution, with its (simple simple simple) explanation.

And, just for your amusement, here is a summary of the answers I found on Facebook:

0 – 1 – 7 – 14 – 47 – 49 – 50 – 54 – 56 - 91 - and last but not least ‘Albania’.

One of which is actually correct. And one of which I found hilarious (guess which?)

Yours, MathemathicAl.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cookbook: Aioli Potatoes

Impress Through Simplicity and Please Through Ease! How often have I told you, dear reader? The best way to triumph when throwing a dinner party is by serving food easy to make, easy to preserve, easy to serve and easy to take. And yes: that’s a deliberate rhyme! Wisdom, you see, ALWAYS rhymes; on paper as well as in the kitchen!

Now how does this timeless insight translate into your choice of dishes? Well, as you are surely aware, most hosts and hostesses built their menu around the plat de resistance, the roast, or fowl, or stew or splendid platter of fruits de mer which is meant to catch the eye of the guests and generate the Ooohs and Aaahs that every cook so deeply craves for.

That, however, is the easy bit.

The real trouble starts with the side dishes. An elaborate, decorative salad is still easily invented or copied from a cookbook or a website. A worthy sauce is whipped up in a matter of moments. But what about the starch? The stuff that fills the hollows left in the ravenous stomachs when all those sophisticated frills and extras have been consumed? There, most of us reach a horrid level of despondency and despair. Pasta? Boiled potatoes? White rice? Oh, it is all so very prosaic…!! So bland. So tasteless. So very much out of tune with your other efforts!

You will want a filling side dish with spunk. With phenomenal flavour. With character and personality. And so I offer you today a marvellous option: Al Mittington’s Aioli Potatoes, tremendously easy to make, and – as it must be served cold anyway – a little godsend for the hard-pressed dinner-throwing chef who has no time to spare.

Some 6 hours before dinner time, boil 1 large new fresh potato per guest, cut into slices as thick as, say, your copy of Death In Venice. Once done, put these potatoes into the recipient in which you plan to serve them, and let them cool off.

Chop an onion into slices. Fry these, ever so slowly, in sweet butter in a frying pan. It is essential that neither the butter nor the onions burn. Once the onions turn glassy, toss in a teaspoon or two of sugar. Let it fry a fair while longer, until the onions are perfectly limp and only a little brown. Now simply spoon them on top of the potatoes, and let them cool as well.

Next make the sauce (which is a simplified form of the world famous Aioli al-Fredo, therecipe of which I revealed long ago). For every potato you boiled, put a generous tablespoon of quality Mayonnaise into a bowl. Peel and then crush half a modest clove of garlic.

(NOTE BENE: The one and only one rule to this recipe is: UNDERDO the garlic by all means. At least at first. You can always add garlic later if you really think the sauce lacks strength. But raw garlic is the Big Bertha among alliums; and – as they say – you can’t get the garlic paste out of the tubers again…)

Add the crushed garlic to the mayo. Add salt, some fresh white pepper, and a small spoonful of mustard. Toss in a tablespoon of milk for every potato as well. Stir diligently. If the sauce is very thick, add some more milk, but do not overdo it.

Once the potatoes & onions are perfectly cold, spoon in the sauce, and stir until the sauce covers every potato on every side. Chop – if available – some fresh chives, or fresh parsley, or fresh dill. Sprinkle on top. Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve dinner.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bravo Europeans !!

Yesterday the largest part of the European electorate voted… no, not with their feet, but with their backsides! Out of disinterest or – as in my own case – out of deliberate passivity in protest against the anti-democratic nature of the EU, they decided to stay home. To vote in a democracy is a solemn civic duty. But to vote for a sham parliament only legitimizes the robbery of democratic rights, and hollows out the people’s political entitlement.

Participation in these 2014 Eulections was a miserable 43.1 %. This was immediately pounded upon by the Europhile politicians and media as a triumph. You see: participation is the last elections was lower. Much lower. A full… 0.1 % ! Yes indeed! You astound reader, I am sure you do. The popularity of the Union has risen vastly…

Of course, before we take this as a sign of growing EU-love, let’s not forget that the number is a little inflated, since in various countries of the Union (Belgium, Luxemburg and little Malta), the voter has no choice. Voting is obligatory. Thus, 90 % of voters turned out in Belgium and Luxemburg, where you get fined if you stay away. Of course these countries only contain some 2 % of the European population, but it still means a distortion; therefore, to take those 43.1 % as a reliable measure of Union patriotism is pretty questionable.

Vintage Europhiles like Mr Verhofstadt and Mr Barroso were quick to jump upon the rostrum to proclaim a Victory for the European Project. You see, Euro-hostile parties had only scored about 225 out of 750-something seats in the sham parliament, less than a third! And if you compared that with all the other parties put together – never mind that it then contained such incompatible bedfellows as conservatives, liberals, socialists and greens – the pro-European vote was clearly overwhelming.

It is – yet once again - quite an exercise in shamelessly staying blind and deaf to what is really going on. After all, is there not reason to argue that many of the near 60 % of abstainers are clearly lukewarm, if not straightforward hostile, to this megalomaniac project? One reason to think so is that they stayed home despite the most vehement campaigns to get them to come vote. Another that, in the past, WHENEVER a proposal was put to them in referendum by our Brussels Masters, the answer was inevitably a resounding NO. A rejection which in all cases – France, the Netherlands, Ireland various times – was then cheerfully ignored by the hollow men in power. The Project Must Go On… Some democracy!

Meanwhile, across this disjointed Union of ours, weird, or roguish, or extremist parties have not only grown substantially, but in various places have simply won the elections, becoming the first political force on the national scale. In France, the Front National won with over 25 %. In Britain, the far more respectable Ukip took 30 %. In Greece, the radical left wing Syriza scored 26.5 %, apart from a scary 9 % for the SA-style Golden Dawn bunch… Much the same, if not as scary, took place in Italy, in Austria, in Denmark, in Hungary, and in the Netherlands, where Europhiles enthusiastically danced over the TV screen to the news that Mr Wilders’ PVV had ‘only’ scored 4 seats and 13 % of the vote; the party had been expected to win 5 seats and 20 %. Some Victory! King Pyrrhus could not have improved upon Europhile performance!

Oh, it is such a pleasure to see such parties back in the European political landscape again, after an unbearable absence of near 70 years! We have missed them so badly, yearned so deeply for their crackpot racial theories, their love of Leaders, their slash, burn and strip economics and their ‘solutions’ to the problems caused by crime! Let us all rejoice that we may soon see easy answers to complicated problems again, clad in uniforms and boots, holding rallies and razzias, burning books and smashing shop windows...

But to whom do we really owe their rise, dear readers? To the evil intentions and the stupidity of the voters? You must be a true democrat if you believe that… ‘The electorate is always right,’ I hear you mumble, ‘as long as they vote the way I want them to…’ The attitude makes one think of a T-Ford in another colour than black…

The Eurochamber's predecessor: the Weimar Parliament

Let me try to explain it one more time. We owe the rise of suspicious movements to the boundless arrogance of the respectable political parties. All of these, of all political convictions, left, centre and right, are blindly pro-EU and want an ever closer Union, with ever more powers, ever more money, and ever more countries. However: an overwhelming part of the European populations wants a stop to this tendency. They want the EU to be pulled to a halt. They want no more steps towards a Federal Europe, less power to Brussels, less money to its institutions, and no more new countries for a long long while (no Ukraine, no Turkey, no Tunesia or Morocco).

And now comes the crux of the matter: if you wish to vote against the automatic Ever More Europe, whom do you vote for? All the respectable parties want more of it. That leaves… Well, you guessed it.

If you wish to get rid of the fascists, then heed the wishes of the people, you oafs!

Sadly, the European leadership in Brussels, and their elected lackeys in the various capitals, have already given unmistakable signs that they will not heed these things. That they will not listen, will once again ignore the message, will go forward with what they tell themselves is good for the people in spite of the people. They also are great democrats…

And how do you think the electorate is going to react to that?? Different, right?

Oh, yes: we are living in Interesting Times. Brace yourselves, dear readers. We ain’t seen nothing yet…

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to vote in the coming ‘Eulections’

Bakunin once made the neat remark that to participate in the established political processes of the oppressive state, such as elections, is to capitulate to the system. And even though I’ve had my brush with dear Mikhail Alexandrovich and his rowdy followers (I could tell you a few juicy stories from my days in the Bakuninist-run Andalusian village of Castro del Rio during the good old Spanish Civil War…), I must for once agree. DO NOT VOTE for this hollow shell of a EU parliament. To vote in this election implies that you accept their waste, corruption, theft of sovereignty, destruction of social rights, reduction of benefits, and the erosion of your hard-fought democracy! Let the Eurogues NEVER enjoy the triumph that more than half of the electorate legitimizes their swindle! Do not give them that satisfaction! Do not give them a mandate! Give them instead the finger!

NOTA BENE: Alfred B Mittington is NOT against voting. On the contrary. Voting is a civic duty when done in a veritable, functioning Democracy, where the leadership is accountable, the Constitution calls the shots and the executive is at the mercy of the electorate. This is nowhere near the case in the Byzantine EU. If you wish to learn how your vote is truly valued by the Brussels Beurocracy, just take a quick look at this here footage of only 6 years ago! 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Whom to vote in the coming ‘Eulections’

Now that we have all watched with breathless attention and boundless fascination last Thursday’s Great Debate between candidates for the post of President of the European Commission (not to be confused with the President of the Council, of the Euro group, of the Euro parliament, of the Eurozone… Oh, well, you know: with any of the countless other Presidents in this austere democratic Union of ours), it is surely beneficial to paint the portrait of the three men who stand a chance to be elected to the job presently held by Mr Ali Babarro--- … I mean: by the excellent Mr José Manuel Durâo Barroso, who is stepping down at the end of the month.

For yes, dear reader, you astound, but this time around, we will ourselves elect the President of Europe…! Well… That is to say… Sort of… Kind of… In a manner that does not unduly increase the say and influence of the electorate, naturally. For this is not Africa (to quote the charming Ms Shakira); it is Europe, silly, a backward continent still in the process of developing its democratic institutions…!

Three are the candidates that stand a chance to be elected, and we will take them in alphabetical order.

First of the three is Mr Jean-Claude Juncker. He is a Christian Democrat from Luxembourg, and has held many European jobs for many a year. His most outstanding qualities, in my humble view, are that I have never seen him angry (which is more than you can say of the other two…) and that he has at least a sense of humour (ibid). Or perhaps I rather ought to say that he has a teflon brazenness which makes you shake your head, grind your teeth and smile sourly. Thus, at the height of the financial crisis caused by Lehmann Brothers and the evil €uro, he remarked affably: ‘Well, we leaders know what we have to do… We just don’t know how to get re-elected if we do it!’, showing you clearly where the gentleman’s priorities lie. Also, it is whispered in the murky corridors of gossip, that he – a prominent clog in the machinery that forbids Europeans to smoke in the workplace and the bars and the train-stations and (soon) on their own balconies – that he then, lifted that ban during the lengthy crisis sessions of the Eurogroup he presided, because he loves to light up himself every so often. Some piggies are more equal than other piggies, after all… And the rules we slab on the taxpaying plebs should not apply to us Euromagnificos, right??

Mr Juncker’s program? Well: more power to Brussels, more money to EU institutions, and ever more countries into the ever closer Union.

Next we have Mr Martin Schulz, the Socialist candidate from Germany. He is a solid man, a former bookseller (oh, he might have done so much good if only he had kept at his former trade…), with an awkward smile he must have practiced for hours in front of the mirror and a rhetoric which never surprises. Due to his looks and his last name, he always reminds me awfully of one of those eager, greedy and unwise German jungle explorers in an old black-and-white Tarzan movie, who turns on the helpful ape-man as soon as he’s seen the buried treasure, and ends tragically at the bottom of a mine-shaft or under a hail of native assegais… Normally, Mr Schulz is self-control incorporated; but if you wish to get a peep at his deeper temperament, do take a Youtube look at one ofhis clashes – as Speaker of the House! - with political enemies in the Europarliament, and learn what the words Pent-Up Anger truly mean…

Mr Schulz’s program? More power to Brussels, more money to EU institutions, and ever more countries into the ever closer Union.

Lastly we have Mr Guy Verhofstadt. The liberal candidate from Belgium, Mr Verhofstadt is easily the ugliest and the most unpleasant of the lot (the former of which is not of course his fault.) He is impulsive, he is driven, he is a True Believer in the tight, iron-clad, obligatory Federal Europe of his Flemish dreams. And he does not suffer opposition lightly, most democratically roaring over fellow MEP’s who have the word in the Euro-parliament, and exploding into furious and often infantile diatribes that barely deserve the word well-bred (watch, for instance, this one delivered in horrid English and the ad hominem mode). He is, in short, like the obnoxious brother-in-law that your sister inexplicably married in a moment of mental weakness, and who is sure to disturb any pleasant family celebration with his unstoppable rants and nagging remarks… Is this the sort of character we need in the Euro-President of us all? You, dear reader, may answer that question for yourself.

This Guy’s program? Guess what? More power to Brussels, more money to EU institutions, and ever more countries into the ever closer Union.

The differences between these various programs are so very pronounced, dear reader, that you surely will have an awful time choosing between the three of them! But fortunately, you do not have to choose between the three of them! In their endless democratic wisdom, Our Leaders have decided that we will not need to elect the candidate directly. You will look in vain for their name on your ballot sheet. You cannot vote for any of them. Instead, you are simply supposed to vote for the locally superfluous national politico of the same political family, ideology, and program, who will then be packed off to Brussels to put a plutocrat ending to his or her insignificant career. They will then vote, in your stead, for the candidate of their choice; after due consideration, negotiation and – I imagine – the necessary quids pro quo…

Is it any wonder that in most - if not all - of the participating countries, these ‘elections’ have degenerated into little more than a decaf plebiscite on the performance of the sitting national government, in which the word ‘Europe’ is continuously repeated as a miracle-making mantra, but is completely absent as an issue?

It is, dear reader, an electoral farce. And perhaps we should ask General Pinochet to come and ‘bring Democracy’ to Europe…