Friday, September 28, 2007

Well, that was a surprise!

We went out to dinner tonight at the new Familia Mexican Buffet (6000 Shingle Creek PKWY, Brooklyn Center, MN) that replaced our old favorite restaurant, Vallartas. We'd been hearing good things about it and, since we obviously like Mexican food of the sort you don't get at Taco Bell, we checked it out.

When we walked in the door, our old friend Zoe, whom we haven't seen in several years, met us at the door. We quickly discerned that she was working the front counter and we were chatting, trying to stay out of the way of her work and the other customers, when she offered to make our dinner her treat. "I can do that, you see," she said, "because I own the place."

That's the greatest thing I ever heard. My wife and I chorused, "That's wonderful!" and Laurie managed to follow up with more enthusiastic remarks. She show us to our seats and went back to mind the door for a bit. Then came back and caught us up on what she's been up to.

She showed us an article in the local business newsletter, which I won't exerpt. My first thought was to post the whole thing (of course). Maybe I can find an article.

Just a minute. I have to read a Blues Clues book to somebody.

OK. Where was I?

Oh, yeah: searching the web for an article about them.

Oh, dear... No web presence at all. I guess this is it, so I'd better make it good, eh? I'll tell you about the food then. And maybe I will put up that article afterall, because it talks about Zoe, her daughter and her son-in-law, the chef.

It's a buffet, so there the makings for quite a variety dishes. You can't have Mexican food without tortillas: there were both flat and curled hardshell corn tortillas, and hot, steamed softshell tortillas. So you could make any kind of thing you wanted with the ground beef, steak fajita (chopped - or do you call that "cubed" steak, onions and green peppers, chicken fajita, ...hmm. That table is a bit harder to describe than one sentence can handle. There was some Mexican spiced chicken... I wish I'd asked about those big fish; I'll have to do that next time (and there will be a next time).

Well, here: I had four of the big prawns, a chicken taquito, refried beans ("refried in pork lard"!*), two fajitas, spanish rice. On the fajitas I put the chef's wonderful, fresh pico de gallo (I think I spelled that right. For anybody who's actually more of a philistine than I am, pico de gallo is basically chopped tomatoes, onions and...uh...cripe, I eat the stuff all the time...that spice they use that tastes like hot steam... Ah, move on.) and (also very fresh) guacamole.

Guacamole! I love guacamole! This guy just chops up avacados and mixes 'em with onions (He seems to be picky about the onions - tasty, but not too hot. But don't worry about the "hot." They've got that covered too.) and God knows what else. (Thank Him, the Mexican illegal, whom we helped make legal, taught my wife how to make great guacamole. And pico de gallo and a couple other things - frijoles charros e.g. And taught us how Mexicans eat their meals. Or at least Guadalajarans.)

All right, after that double-aside, I lost my train of thought.

*Christians, Pagans and non-PC Godless Heathens of the world! Unite!

Time for the extended quote. We'll see if I can format this in anything like a formal style.
Promoting Commerce and Community in Brooklyn Center
Vol. 3 Issue 3 FALL 2007

That's where I live, here, in Minnesota. By the way, their card says "locally owned and operated." Yeah. Our old buddy moved two blocks up and two blocks over from us and never bothered to mention it to us. But I won't get pissy.

Here's the article - no byline:
Featured Business
Familia offers
Mexican cuisine

People in Brooklyn Center who have been craving authentic Mexican food should check out Familia Mexican Buffet in the Shingle Creek Center.

The new restaurant opened Aug. 31 in the space formerly occupied by Vallarta's, 6000 Shingle Creek Parkway, just across the street from the Brookdale Hennepin Area Library.

Brooklyn Center resident Zoe Lord is the business end of the restaurant project. Her daughter, Donia Martinez and son-in-law Jesus Martinez, also city residents, are providing the restaurant expertise.

Lord is a retired accountant who concedes she has no restaurant background. She is relying on Donia's 14 years of restaurant experience and Jesus' talent in the kitchen to take care of the food end of the business while she oversees the finances.

"I'm the one writing the checks," she said laughing.

Lord said she had two goals for the restaurant project - "to have retirement work for me and to set my daughter up in business. I'm too young for Social Security."

Few renovations were done to the restaurant space. The colorful murals are gone as are the vinyl booths. Lord has opted for a more casual, rustic look with lots of personal touches, decor drawn from images of Mexican ranch houses. Many of the items decorating the walls were given to the family. She stresses that this is a place for families. "This is a place you can bring your kids," she said.

Unlike Vallarta's there will be no alcoholic beverages available at Familia Mexican Buffet. The emphasis is on the home-cooked food at reasonable prices. 'It's food found in Mexican homes," Lord said. "It's not Chi Chi's, not Tex-Mex, not Taco Bell."

I should call myself The Philistine Gourmand (c. 2007, I'll register that when it's time to sue - this is the proof that I thought of it first). I retain the "philistine" by the simple fact that I like all of those people's food. I get to call myself a gourmand because I know the difference. BTW, TB's guac is pretty good. Lot of salt and lime, but still good. Good onions. Here and now, anyway.

This isn't any of those, for sure. It's a lot more like the Mexican home cooking that I've had the pleasure of experiencing. I told you about the pork lard refried beans. Best tasting refried beans I've ever had! Those who know lard, know I'm not kidding. Those who don't: listen up! Anything cooked in lard tastes better than anything cooked in any other oil.

God wants you to eat lard!

OK, back to our story:
Diners select from an assortment of grilled meats, a variety of vegetables, cheese for fixing your plate the way you want," she said. Desserts include simple cakes, cookies and fruit on the cold buffet.

In addition to the buffet, take-out also is available. Daily entree specials are featured as is home-made soup. Lord said Jesus loves to make soup.

Familia Mexican Buffet is open 11 to 9 p.m. daily. The phone number is 763-503=6123.

Hahaha! Oh, why is there no byline? Somebody deserves a horse-laugh for that awful pun!

But, you know what? If it hadn't been there, I would never have considered posting the article on the web in its entirety, as I've done.

BTW: Hey! BC Buzz! For a penny a word, I'll blog your whole issue! For a nickel a word, I'll figure out how to reproduce your print issue on a web page!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oop! I'm doing another extended quote.

From Bryan Caplan's The 4 Boneheaded Biases of Stupid Voters
(And we're all stupid voters.)
in Reason Magazine.
The root error behind 18th-century mercantilism was an unreasonable distrust of foreigners. Otherwise, why would people focus on money draining out of “the nation” but not “the region,” “the city,” “the village,” or “the family”? Anyone who consistently equated money with wealth would fear all outflows of precious metals. In practice, human beings then and now commit the balance of trade fallacy only when other countries enter the picture. No one loses sleep about the trade balance between California and Nevada, or me and iTunes. The fallacy is not treating all purchases as a cost but treating foreign purchases as a cost.

Anti-foreign bias is easier to spot nowadays. To take one prominent example, immigration is far more of an issue now than it was in Smith’s time. Economists are predictably quick to see the benefits of immigration. Trade in labor is roughly the same as trade in goods. Specialization and exchange raise output—for instance, by letting skilled American moms return to work by hiring Mexican nannies.

In terms of the balance of payments, immigration is a nonissue. If an immigrant moves from Mexico City to New York and spends all his earnings in his new homeland, the balance of trade does not change. Yet the public still looks on immigration as a bald misfortune: jobs lost, wages reduced, public services consumed. Many in the general public see immigration as a distinct danger, independent of, and more frightening than, an unfavorable balance of trade. People feel all the more vulnerable when they reflect that these foreigners are not just selling us their products. They live among us.

It is misleading to think of “foreignness” as a simple either/or. From the viewpoint of the typical American, Canadians are less foreign than the British, who are in turn less foreign than the Japanese. From 1983 to 1987, 28 percent of Americans in the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey admitted they disliked Japan, but only 8 percent disliked England, and a scant 3 percent disliked Canada.

Objective measures like the volume of trade or the trade deficit are often secondary to physical, linguistic, and cultural similarity. Trade with Canada or Great Britain generates only mild alarm compared to trade with Mexico or Japan. U.S. imports from and trade deficits with Canada exceeded those with Mexico every year from 1985 to 2004. During the anti-Japan hysteria of the 1980s, British foreign direct investment in the U.S. always exceeded that of the Japanese by at least 50 percent. Foreigners who look like us and speak English are hardly foreign at all.

Calm reflection on the international economy reveals much to be thankful for and little to fear. On this point, economists past and present agree. But an important proviso lurks beneath the surface. Yes, there is little to fear about the international economy itself. But modern researchers rarely mention that attitudes about the international economy are another story. Paul Krugman hits the nail on the head: “The conflict among nations that so many policy intellectuals imagine prevails is an illusion; but it is an illusion that can destroy the reality of mutual gains from trade.”

Yeah, yeah, you can't outsource Defense, but look back at that first paragraph and you'll guess what I say about that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Herb, you're awesome!

From The Right to Ignore The State, by Herbert Spencer as posted on
Upholders of pure despotism may fitly believe state control to be unlimited and unconditional. They who assert that men are made for governments and not governments for men, may consistently hold that no one can remove himself beyond the pale of political organization.

But they who maintain that the people are the only legitimate source of power — that legislative authority is not original, but deputed — cannot deny the right to ignore the state without entangling themselves in an absurdity.

For, if legislative authority is deputed, it follows that those from whom it proceeds are the masters of those on whom it is conferred; it follows further, that as masters they confer the said authority voluntarily; and this implies that they may give or withhold it as they please.

To call that deputed which is wrenched from men whether they will or not, is nonsense. But what is here true of all collectively is equally true of each separately. As a government can rightly act for the people, only when empowered by them, so also can it rightly act for the individual, only when empowered by him.

If A, B, and C debate whether they shall employ an agent to perform for them a certain service, and if whilst A and B agree to do so, C dissents, C cannot equitably be made a party to the agreement in spite of himself. And this must be equally true of thirty as of three; and if of thirty, why not of three hundred, or three thousand, or three millions?

That's section 3: The Only Legitimate Source of Power. The next section is called The Immorality of Majority Rule. And, before you call ol' Herb a Fascist, or whatever you're going to call him, here're a couple of the points he makes:
We deny the right of a majority to murder, to enslave, or to rob, simply because murder, enslaving, and robbery are violations of that law — violations too gross to be overlooked. But if great violations of it are wrong, so also are smaller ones. If the will of the many cannot supersede the first principle of morality in these cases, neither can it in any. So that, however insignificant the minority, and however trifling the proposed trespass against their rights, no such trespass is permissible.

Agh! Chaos! Law of the jungle! AAAAaaaggghhh!!!

Oh, and here's a great aphorism to sear into your soul: "The man whose character harmonizes with the moral law, we found to be one who can obtain complete happiness without diminishing the happiness of his fellows."

'Liina and I went to the Twins final home game yesterday.

Good game to watch for the home fans. The Twins won 7-1.

Something you don't think about, though, is that it can be a dangerous thing to be a spectator at a baseball game. The first foul ball into the stands absolutely drilled the guy behind me. Actually two rows up and two seats over. It zipped by about three feet from my daughter's head, bounced off him down to the floor under the empty seats between him and us, a guy to the left dove for it, knocked it to me, then he snatched it brutally from my hand.

Then he chivalrously offered it to 'Liina. No doubt, because she was the cutest little thing around.

I wouldn't have begrudged him keeping it. He worked the hardest for it.

Jim was his name. What a nice guy!

For the rest of the game, though, I kept a close eye on those left-handed batters. They pretty much shelled our section, but no more fouls came that close. Good thing: I really didn't want to have to bare-hand a bullet like that one.

The guy who got hit was all right. I wish I'd asked him where it hit him.

I wish I'd brought the camera, though. When we went to chase down the cotton-candy guy, I dropped my wallet and had to go back down the stairs to get it. I let 'Liina go on ahead. When I turned back there was this Norman Rockwell scene where the little curly, red-haired girl is tugging on the knee of the bemused cotton-candy salesman.

Would have made a great photo.

Friday, September 21, 2007

You guys know Doug Bandow?

He's got a pretty good article, Desperately Searching for a New Foreign Policy, over at
Already journals and magazines are running articles on reestablishing American leadership, restoring trust in Washington, and regaining the moral initiative. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) might be demanding withdrawal from Iraq and former Gov. Mitt Romney might be edging away from President Bush's failed war, but both promote a foreign policy vision that looks remarkably like that of the administration, with the U.S. as dominant power, possessing an expanded military, and ready to intervene any where at any time for any reason around the globe.

They, and most of their competitors – with the notable exception of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) – seem to be saying, "trust us." Turn the keys to the U.S. military over to them and let them wage war whenever they desire. Admittedly, it's hard to imagine that doing so could turn out worse than it has under President George W. Bush. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) probably would have had us at war with North Korea had he been president; former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) seem ready if not anxious to attack Iran. Ironically, Iraq truly would be a cakewalk compared to conflict with Iran.

The time for "trust me" global imperialism is over. Americans need to change their government's foreign policy as well as their elected officials. The fact that the U.S. is the strongest nation on earth does not require it to attempt to micro-manage the world. Advocates of a new, militarized imperium constantly claim that America has such a responsibility because it has the ability, but that's nonsense.

Washington has proved that it is unable to run the world, despite its attempts to do so. But ability and competence are not the most important considerations. The wealth and especially the lives of Americans should not be squandered in national crusades, no matter how grandiose or humanitarian they might sound.

The principal responsibility of those chosen to lead this great country is to protect the lives, liberties, and prosperity of Americans. The interests advanced should be truly national: the job of the U.S. government is not to enrich U.S. corporations, open new markets for American businesses, enable U.S. ambassadors to order around foreign politicians, determine the political systems of other states, or even attempt to save foreign peoples from oppression.

My emphasis.

I never did get the "Because we can, we must" argument. I can kick the crap out of you, so I have to make sure you do whatever I want?

Politicians can't be trusted with that power.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wow! The Equinox is on the 23rd!

Autumnal Equinox Sep 23 2007 09:51 UT [4:51 AM CDT]

Seems kinda late. What's up with that?

Articles celebrating the 50th anniversary

of the publication of Atlas Shrugged have been published in the New York Times and the LA Times.

Undate: that LA Times article kinda sucks. That guy's a professional writer?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

HillaryCare 2.0: More of the Poison that Is Killing Our Healthcare System‏

I'm posting this. I think it's right on the money. That title is a quote, btw. Here's the rest of this letter to the editor from the Ayn Rand Institute:
Dear Editor:

Like all other “universal healthcare” schemes, Mrs. Clinton’s is guaranteed to lead to disaster if implemented, because it ignores the basic requirement of medical progress and falling prices: freedom for doctors, patients, and insurance companies.

The problem with our current system is that government coercion has infected every facet of medicine, dictating everything from how many doctors are allowed to be licensed to which medical professionals may perform what procedures, to what procedures insurance companies must provide on their plans. And yet Mrs. Clinton seeks to solve our problems with more coercion. For example, her new “guarantee” that “your insurance company will be required to renew at a price you can afford” is a veiled call for price-controls--and a prescription for insurance companies to be exposed to a bankrupting combination of huge liabilities with comparatively low premiums.

If anyone is interested in fixing American healthcare, there is only one solution: get the government out of it.

Alex Epstein
Analyst, Ayn Rand Institute

Copyright © 2007 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

Well, once again, I seem to have raced ahead of their postings on their website, but this is where you'll find this.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Note to self

Read this when you get the chance: David King's Guide to Objectivism.