Thursday, January 14, 2010


Here's some good stuff I picked up in my reading yesterday that is still fresh enough for you to check out.
by Charlie Leck

You know, this morning I took a look at the left over French baguette from dinner two nights ago. It was hard as a rock. What a waste!

That’s the attitude I had when I set up a little place to live in Paris as a young man, searching for F. Scott, Ernie and Sylvia Beach. One morning, George, the fellow who lived in the flat next door, saw me taking a stale hunk of baguette to the trash. He nearly flipped out and struggled to tell me that this was not the French way.

“Mais non, Monsieur,” he shouted to me. I looked at him in wonder and couldn’t imagine what had stirred him up so.

“Vous ne devons pas gaspiller le pain,” he continued (You musn’t waste the bread!). “Venez!”

He motioned me to follow him into his flat. I watched him fire up his oven and push it up to broil.

“Je vais vous montrer quoi faire! (I’ll show you what to do!).

He sprinkled a little water on both sides of the bread and then, with a sharp knife, slit it long-ways right down the middle. He slapped a little butter on the inside of both slices of the bread and slid them under the hot fire.

After a moment, he smiled at me and had me peek through the little crack he left in the oven door.

“Regardez! Le pain est au coeur de la vie,” he said to me with a big smile, speaking slowly so I might follow. “Nous Français ne jetez jamais de pain! (We French never discard our bread!)

The bread browned up beautifully before my eyes. George removed it carefully by stabbing it with a fork. He pulled the slices from the oven and put one on a plate for me and another for himself. He had steaming cups of hot chocolate ready. He motioned me to sit down. He pushed the butter toward me.

“Plus de beurre sur le pain!”

Yes, yes. More butter. I spread a healthy (or unhealthy) amount across the long piece of baguette. George pushed some kind of jam toward me also and pointed at it.

“Confiture de fraises,” he said, pointing toward my slice of bread. “Avec de beurre!”

We sat and ate the French toast together and both of us smiled with pleasure. We sloshed down our hot chocolate – chocolat chaud! The baguette was better than even the night before.

“Merci, mon ami,” I said to George, “merci beaucoup! Le pain est trés bon!”

“Allon-mous aller aux courses de chevaux?” George asked me if I wanted to go to the horse races. It was a daily activity for him. He tried to make a living that way. By the looks of his dismal garret apartment, he wasn’t doing too well.

He was not exactly the fellow I’d come to Paris to meet up with, but perhaps this is how John Dos Passos got started as well.

“Oui,” I stuttered out, “trés certainement, allons!”

So, below I’ve browned up for you some day-old baguette. It is still delicious and maybe, upon reflection and after this bit of browning, even better than yesterday, when it broke in the papers.

China is clearly lagging behind where we had hoped it would be in terms of granting both human rights and freedom of information to its people. We, half-way around the globe, need to remember that China is not a democracy or a republic and is, therefore, in the precarious position of needing to protect the position of national leaders who would be threatened by too much information spread among the people and certainly by granting human rights too freely.

“This is not your father’s China,” as I once said here in a blog; however, it is also not yet a free and open society.

One of the mega-corporations has stepped up to challenge China by informing the nation that it is willing to pull its sizeable investment out of there and leave the nation before it will allow it’s systems to be hacked, attacked and abused by the government. It’s a brave stance and we need to watch the story closely. [You can read the NY Times story about Google challenging China by clicking here!]

Someone at the NY Times (in an editorial) has sprung a marvelous idea. Let’s wallop the crazy, astronomical corporate bonuses with an astronomical mega-tax in return. That’s a way to attack our deficit! What a great idea! The paper also endorses a White House idea to levy a substantial tax on large banks to make up for the bail-out money that had to be spent to stabilize an industry that had been run very poorly in the first decade of this century. Go for it! [Read the NY Times editorial!]

The New York Times carries a feature story this morning about the rush by non-Jews to buy kosher food. The story indicates that only 15 percent of purchases of kosher food are for religious reasons. I honestly don’t know a great deal about kosher foods and this article was helpful to me. You might enjoy learning a bit about the subject, too. [You’ll find the NY Times story here!]

Sensa is a diet fad! I’m married to the greatest woman in the world. She’s spectacular in a thousand ways. However, she’s got this weakness. She just believes every advertisement she sees or hears. I try to keep her away from commercial television and radio. I urge her to stick to her iPod and her Audible books and to public broadcasting only. Recently, in an effort to help me get hold of my exploding weight problem, she purchased some Sensa for me. She heard, on an ad, how miraculous, quickly and easily it works. With Sensa there is no need to exercise or change the foods you eat. Sprinkle some of the miracle product on top of your food and, voila, you will begin to lose amazing amounts of weight.

Do you believe that claim? If you do, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn I want to tell you about. (Boy, I love that one and it’s as old as I am and my old man said it a thousand times within my hearing: “I’ve got a bridge to sell you, boy!”) Keep those bridge salesmen away from my wife.

No charge for Sensa for the first month. Completely free trial. Only problem is that the second, very expensive month is already posted on our credit card and we’ll have a dickens of a time getting it back. Sucker punched again.

You can read a thousand reviews on-line (try googling) about why Sensa doesn’t work. The Fitness Shack blog has one of the best of them, but that’s only the beginning. In a year or two you’ll never again here the word Sensa, but its current promoters will have made off with millions by then.

Here’s a cute one for you: “If you’ve got any sensa, don’t buy Sensa!” (I’ve got ‘em by the thousands, you know!)

Oh my god, I’ve heard that crap from people a million times! I mean, you know, I’m talking here about what Harry Reid said ages ago (2008) about Barack Obama’s good chances of election because he was “light skinned” and basically free from the “Negro dialect.”

A bunch of people out there have brought that up again and suggest that Reid ought to step down from Senate leadership! Here’s the problem: If everyone who said something stupid like that had to step down from what they’re doing there’d be several million vacant leadership spots in the country. I sure would have to stop pretending to be a blogger.

There’s a real good take on this issue on AlterNet, a really significant alternative news source.

Boy this is an interesting one! None of us thought it would be. We thought it was a “walk-off” victory for the Democrat Martha Coakley. Instead, we’ve got a very close race and anything could happen in the election on this coming Tuesday.

What the heck happened? Well, first of all, her opponent, State Senator Scott Brown, has proven terribly capable. He did a great job in a debate between the candidates and he is well received on the campaign trail. Even if he loses, but makes it a close race, eyebrows are going to be raised and questions asked about how it could happen in such a heavily Dem state. A lot of fingers are going to be pointed at the President. [If you’re interested in this there’s a really good story about the race in the Washington Post.]

Hey, don't throw away that day-old baguette!

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