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By TheophileEscargot (Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 02:29:59 AM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Persuader", "The Enemy", "Foxglove Summer". Watching: "Locke", "The Heat", "American Hustle". Links.

What I'm Reading
Persuader Lacklustre and predictable entry in the Jack Reacher series. Slight novelty is that it's written in the first person, but lacks the ingenuity of some of the others.

What I'm Reading 2
The Enemy by Lee Child. Slightly different Jack Reacher novel. This one takes place much earlier when Reacher was still a military policeman in the US army, investigating a death. I liked this one a lot more than the last: had a decent mystery and it's interesting to see him in his natural environment. Also had more tension as he faces hostile colleagues and superiors as he digs up dirt: sometimes things seem a bit too easy for him.

What I'm Reading 3
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch is the latest in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series about a magicician/cop in the Metropolitan Police. Another good entry in the series: in this one he ventures out into the countryside.

Would be nice if the long-term plot unfolded a bit quicker though: we're drip fed a few more bits of information but there are some frustrating loose ends like the bee-lady.

What I'm Watching
Locke. Was surprised, but this movie really seems to live up to the hype. It's tightly constrained: just one man in a car driving from Birmingham to London, talking into his carphone while trying to sort out problems in his job and personal life. Despite that I found it incredibly tense and gripping.

While I don't have any illegitimate children that I'm aware of I did find it struck a chord as the character tries to cope with conflicting demands from his work and family.

Definitely worth watching.

What I'm Watching
The Heat. Mismatched cop comedy movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Bit predictable but moderately entertaining.

What I'm Watching
American Hustle is an excellent movie about a minor con artist enlisted by the FBI to expose a politician in the Seventies. Well acted, tense, good characters, nice period feel and plenty of twists: well worth watching.

I cooked Christmas dinner again for me, vegetarian wife and the baby. Roast chicken pieces, roast potatoes parsnips and carrots, steamed broccoli and sprouts, Yorkshire pudding. Went pretty well except the Yorkshires took too long and had to be served halfway through the meal, I think the problem was that I had to keep opening the oven door to do other stuff. Herring's advice to shake the potatoes around in the pan after parboiling them seems to really help, but I also made sure to add them to hot fat pre-heated in the pan in the oven, and did them hot at 220C: really nice and crispy this time.

Socioeconomics. Economic history: The legend of the free labour market. Applying the Gini index to airplanes. Taxation and earnings as share of GDP. (tax and total earning is stable, but more people are sharing those earnings getting less each) Germany's infrastructure rusts. The rise of the highly skilled low paid worker.

Politics. Anti-police poster campaign by Strike magazine. The fatal contradiction at the heart of the Tory message: there is no money, except for people we like. British politics is heading back to 1974

Sci/Tech. The Lava Layer anti-pattern. Synapses may work a different way than thought.

Random. How I defeated the Tolkien estate. 7 Female CEOs Who Inspire Us All To Be Cogs In The Capitalist Machine. The life of Pamela Colman Smith. Illicit records made in Soviet Union out of X-ray plates.

< Diary: w/e 07th Dec 2014 | Year end diary >
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+1 by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 08:29:29 AM EST
 I loved the Tolkien estate piece.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

Not having worked in academia by marvin (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 11:28:33 PM EST
"I ultimately left academia to pursue a career in the friendlier and more lucrative and efficient world of federal government bureaucracy."

That is deeply horrifying if even remotely true.

[ Parent ]
I guess... by ana (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Dec 30, 2014 at 08:27:39 AM EST
 you could say I sort of did that.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
The German infrastructure piece... by Metatone (4.00 / 2) #2 Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 01:34:36 PM EST
is interesting. Looking at the history of the UK and seeing Germany repeat some of our mistakes - maybe it's like the Minsky moment cycle - every country forgets that it built the economy on good infrastructure and stops investing in it...

On roast potatoes... by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #5 Tue Dec 30, 2014 at 06:05:53 PM EST
They sell "Red Rooster" brand spuds in most supermarkets - these are pretty much the best IMHO.  Otherwise, any floury potato is pretty good (Maris Piper etc).

The key is uniformity of size but you adjust for that by having the larger ones at the edges of the baking tin.  Also - sharp edges crisp better.

Heat oil to 220c, ladle the fully drained spuds in so as to minimise splashing (better slightly cold spuds than slightly wet spuds here).  Oil should cover them to ~1/3 to 1/2 up the potato.

Oven down to 200c when they go in, give them ~20 mins and if golden brown, get them out of the oven and turn them with tongs so the brown side is down.

When the tops go brown again, fish them out into an empty baking tray lined with kitchen roll.

Oven down to ~100 until ready to serve - this drains the last of the oil off them and gives extra crunchy outsides while remaining fluffy in the middle.

Eh Voila!  Breaker's Thrice Cooked Potatoes.

If you've done too many, cut the crunchy bits off and leave them out of the fridge overnight somewhere warm and dry ot ehy'll go soggy in the fridge.  The inside parts can be refrigerated. 

Next morning, mash the insides up with any leftover veggies (and finely chopped leftover meat if permissible), form into patties and shallow fry in butter or ghee if feeling exotic. 

Sprinkle bashed up bits of the crispy bits on top and serve with brown sauce or any leftover gravy.

All the best for you and yours in 2015 TE.  Hope it's a good one for you all.

American Hustle by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Dec 30, 2014 at 07:58:04 PM EST
 Many of the exterior shots were filmed about three miles from my house in Worcester, Massachusetts. I found it weird to see places I've known all my life on film. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Spuds by Herring (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jan 04, 2015 at 01:00:41 PM EST
This year, I tried a Nigella trick of getting coked off my headsprinkling the spuds with semolina. It does work. Also as many mentioned having hot fat in the oven ready to go.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

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