Author: Vaquero

Inequality

Inequality is generally considered a bad thing, although it is obvious that some view it as an inherent quality of humanity and society. Those, of course, are usually people who consider themselves superior to others and want to maintain their privileged status. Walter Scheidel’s “The Great Leveler” makes the point that in the global history from the Stone Age to today, inequality never dies peacefully. The ‘Four Horsemen’ of leveling: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues―have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich.

Nothing less seems to have worked but the Jewish custom of Sabbatical Years and Jubilee Years offers a hint of how a peaceful resolution might be effected.

The chief driver of inequality has always been debt (which existed well before money was invented and need not be financial – see David Graber’s “Debt: The First 5,000 Years”). What would be the consequences if absolute equality – wealth and power – were periodically enforced?

The results would vary by country, as does the level and severity of inequality worldwide, but my guess for the United states is that there would be a significant improvement in the circumstances of about 40% of the population, a modest improvement for the next 40%, a modest decline for the next 15-18% and a serious decline for those in the top 2-5%.

Even assuming such a redistribution were possible and desirable, the first thing to notice is that – at least in our current world – the process implies an entity with sufficient authority and power to make it happen. And that the last step of such a process would consist of the enforcing entity to give up authority and power.

Pecan Pies etc

Pecan pie is a type of Chess Pie, based on sugar, syrup, butter and eggs and there are many variations (including Vinegar Pie). It’s hard to find a good one in restaurants North of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The type and ratio of sugar and syrup determine how rich/hearty it turns out.
If you like extra rich, use molasses and dark brown sugar.
If you like it lighter use white Karo corn syrup and a lighter sugar.
You can experiment using honey, maple syrup, white sugar.
Traditionally pecan halves are intact but some folks like to chop and mix in, ‘decorating’ with halves around the edges.
I cover the bottom of the pie crust with pecan halves. They rise to the top during baking.

I prefer a fairly light pie, so my pecan pie recipe is:

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light Karo
1/4 cup butter
3 large eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans
1 pie crust for 9″ pie pan.
Put pie crust in pan
My wife & son make crust from scratch but I don’t unless I’m making several pies.
I use pre-made crust but move it from freezer to fridge a day in advance.
(Doesn’t keep longer than about a week in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 375°
Beat eggs in large bowl & set aside.
Combine sugar, syrup, butter & salt in saucepan.
Heat until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly – won’t take long.
Add small amount to beaten eggs and mix well.
Add the rest of the hot mixture and mix well.
(If you dumped all the hot mix into the beaten eggs at once, you’d end up with sweet scrambled eggs).
Pour into pie crust.
Bake 40-50 minutes until center is just a bit jiggly when shaken.

Variations:
Haven’t tried using honey but I’ve made a Maple Walnut Pie with maple syrup, light brown sugar and walnuts.

I’m lucky to have family living in the middle of a pecan orchard, so I get pounds for free every year. If you are fresh out of pecans, you could substitute other nuts or try the following:

Poor Man’s Pecan Pie

1/2 cup grape-nuts
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup brown sugar (I use light brown)
1 cup corn syrup (I use white Karo)
1/4 cup butter
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 unbaked pie crust for 9″ pie pan

Preheat oven to 375°
Lay pie crust in pie pan.
Soak grape-nuts in the 1/2 cup warm water.
Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter & salt in saucepan.
Bring to quick boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved & remove from heat.
Beat eggs until foamy, Add small amount of hot syrup to eggs, beating well.
Ad remaining hot mixture, mixing well.
(If you dumped all the hot mix into the beaten eggs at once, you’d end up with sweet scrambled eggs).
Stir in the softened grape-nuts.
Pour into pie crust.
Bake 45-50 minutes until center is just a bit jiggly when shaken.

Variations:
Couldn’t find Grape-Nuts last time so made it with AllBran. Worked fine.
Some recipes call for rolled oats, oatmeal raw or instant, whatever.
Suspect you could use most anything bland and able to soak up moisture – diced bread, etc.

Not Facebook

   First we had bulletin boards, followed by open forums which soon evolved into subject-specific forums. Then we had blogging 1.0, which sometimes morphed into group blogs – Blogging 2.0 -usually with wide-ranging content, . Then Corporate America decided to monetize the work of bloggers and techies got a piece of the pie adding unnecessary bells and whistles to give us Blogging 3.0. Since no one could figure out what Blogging 4.0 should look like, we gave up and Social Media Media arrived, demonstrating a serious misunderstanding of the meaning of “social”. We find ourselves saddled with Twitter, which I’ve never had much use for and Facebook, which is becoming increasingly toxic on many levels and whose business model and corporate practices are getting downright repulsive. .

   I do, however, enjoy and benefit from contact with others. Therefore, I have established this post to provide an open comment thread to share information and observations.

   You may comment here by providing a name/email address. The email address will NOT be publicly displayed and comments will be moderated to preclude spammers.

Interview Test

    When I worked for SIAC, the IT subsidiary of NYSE/AMEX, we used to keep an MVT Abend Dump around to use when interviewing prospective programmers and Systems Programmers.

    We’d hand the dump to prospects and wait for their reaction. The guys who said, “The program bombed”, without looking deeper were immediately crossed off our list. We finally interviewed a guy who spent 10 minutes examining the code and scratching his head before admitting, “I can’t figure it out. It’s impossible. That failure couldn’t have been caused by that instruction”.
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Family Tales

A life: Cynthia Weed Steele

My mother, Betty (Steele) Wallace, wore many hats over the years – reporter, Clerk of the County Court, columnist & de facto editor, high school English teacher and author. Born on a small ranch in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, of pioneer stock and into a world of ranching, mining and timbering, she had a deep understanding and keen appreciation of those who migrated to the area and built the communities. Some of those communities faded into ghost towns, some continue to prosper. The people who built that part of Colorado are long gone, but Betty had known a good many of them, went to school with their children and knew every family in the Gunnison Valley – their history, virtues, faults and quirks. For several years, she wrote a weekly column in the Gunnison News-Champion, telling the stories of the area’s early citizens. She called it her ‘pioneer series’ – interviews of the original settlers or their children; ranchers, saloon keepers, miners, storekeepers, prostitutes, preachers and politicians. One of the people she interviewed and wrote about was her mother, Cynthia (Weed) Steele. This is mother’s column on my grandmother, published in the Gunnison News-Champion, April 6th,
1950.

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