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Archive for December, 2013

An Inspiring River Tale

Red Wine braised brisket / Southern Living Magazine


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil $
  • 3 large white onions, cut in half and thinly sliced (6 loosely packed cups; about 3 lb.)
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar $
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry red wine $
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 (10-oz.) package cipollini onions, peeled


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle all sides of brisket pieces with salt and pepper. Cook brisket, in batches, in hot oil in an ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until browned on all sides (about 15 minutes). Transfer to a plate, reserving drippings in Dutch oven.
  2. 2. Add white onions and shallots to hot drippings in Dutch oven, and sprinkle with sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 25 minutes or until onions are soft and caramelized. Stir in wine, 1 tsp. rosemary, and brisket. Top with cipollini onions; cover.
  3. 3. Bake at 350° for 4 hours or until brisket is tender. Remove from oven, and let stand, covered, 30 minutes. Transfer brisket to a cutting board and onions to a large bowl, reserving liquid in Dutch oven. Cover brisket and onions loosely with aluminum foil.
  4. 4. Bring reserved liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring often; boil, stirring often, 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Stir in cooked onions and remaining 1/2 tsp. rosemary.
  5. 5. Cut brisket across the grain into thick slices. Serve with onion mixture.

Charles Pierce, Southern Living 


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Obama Administration Claims Website is Fixed 

A Record Breaking Year for Inaction / Washington Post

113th Congress, going down in history for its inaction, has a critical December to-do list


The good news for Congress as it heads into the final workdays of the year is that, for the first time in five years, there are no edge-of-the-cliff December crises threatening to bring the country to its knees.

The bad news is that whatever gets done in December will still be part of a year with record-low congressional accomplishment.

 From the confirmation of a new Federal Reserve chairman to the expiration of dairy pricing rules, House and Senate leaders head into the final month of 2013 with a checklist that is short but critical. But even a final burst of activity would do little to change the historic arc of this calendar year under the Capitol dome.

According to congressional records, there have been fewer than 60 public laws enacted in the first 11 months of this year, so below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever. In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted, the record low in the post-World War II era.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), pressed about what his majority had to show for its work in 2013, told reporters in mid-November that the GOP was most proud of putting a brake on tougher regulations on business and impeding efforts by President Obama to push a more liberal agenda on the country.

“Listen,” Boehner said, “we have a very divided country and we have a very divided government. And I’m not going to sit here and underestimate the difficulty in finding the common ground, because there’s not as much common ground here as there used to be.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) cited congressional dysfunction in his decision to break precedent and change rules regarding presidential nominations so that a simple majority could advance a confirmation to a final vote. He laughed last week when a radio interviewer asked whether the fallout from his unilateral move would lead to fewer accomplishments, suggesting that was not possible.

“More dysfunction? I mean, gee whiz,” Reid said to public radio interviewer Diane Rehm.

With those low expectations, it is unclear how much can get done as the GOP-controlled House and Democratic-run Senate continue to be at loggerheads on the most basic of functions.

Take their schedules, with each chamber slated to be in session two weeks and then breaking for the holiday season.

Rather than syncing up those final two weeks, the House comes in Monday and expects to adjourn for the year by Dec. 13, while the Senate does not return from the Thanksgiving break until Dec. 9 and has Dec. 20 as its tentative departure date.

That leaves only a few ­mid-December days for in-person negotiations among top congressional leaders.

And that has left hopes mixed as to whether the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), can reach a broader pact that will set a budget framework for federal agency spending for the rest of the fiscal year. Both lawmakers have expressed optimism in the past few weeks, but that is largely because they have narrowed the scope of their aspirations. Their talks now focus on just a few possible trade-offs that give agencies some relief from the sequestration caps set in the 2011 Budget Control Act in exchange for some savings drawn from entitlement programs.

Are “Selfies” Selfish?

The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News last week:


Pope Francis took one. So did Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama snapped one with her dog. And of course, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have been over-devoted practitioners. Justin Bieber even created a website for it.

We’re talking selfies — a digital self-portrait shared through social media — which Oxford Dictionaries selected as its word of the year. After Oxford University Press made the announcement, the Mars Rover took a selfie and sent it back to Earth.


Not only have selfies become ubiquitous in these days of Instagram and Twitter, but selfie is one of those rare words that encapsulate a society at a specific moment. It is the word of our times, a reflection both of who we’ve become — increasingly narcissistic and insular — and how we got there. With such growing narcissism and insularity, is it any wonder then that civility is fading, that the people who operate our institutions seem unable to meaningfully engage in dialogue, much less compromise?

Oxford traces the earliest known use of selfie to a photo taken by an Australian man who drunkenly tripped and busted his lip, then posted the photo and the story on Sept. 13, 2002, in an Australian Internet chat room.

“Sorry about the focus,” he wrote about the photo. “It was a selfie.”

With all due respect to the learned folks at Oxford, perhaps the roots go back even further. Just try substituting an sh for the e at the end of the word.

Copyright the Dallas Morning News