Wednesday, May 31, 2023

A step that's long overdue


I note that former President Trump has spoken out against birthright citizenship.  In this case, I think he's correct.

Former President Donald Trump pledged Tuesday to enact an executive order ending birthright citizenship guarantees for children of illegal aliens if he regains the White House in 2024, despite past constitutional objections and failures to follow through on the move.

Trump, 76, said the agenda for his second nonconsecutive term would end both birthright citizenship and so-called “birth tourism” in the US on his first day in office — a proposal he also floated before and during his first term in the Oval Office.

. . .

“My order will also end the unfair practice known as ‘birth tourism’ where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the planet squat in hotels for their last few weeks of pregnancy to illegitimately and illegally obtain US citizenship for the child, often to later exploit chain migration to jump the line and get green cards for themselves and their family members,” Trump added.

“It’s a practice that’s so horrible and so egregious, but we let it go forward. At least one parent will have to be a citizen or a legal resident in order to qualify.”

There's more at the link.

The problem is, he spoke out against it during his term in office but did nothing to stop it.  The then-Speaker of the House was adamant that it would be an unconstitutional step in the light of the 14th Amendment.  That problem could have been overcome by taking the appropriate measures, but was not further addressed.

I'm an immigrant myself, and am now a proud American citizen, but I jumped through all the legal and regulatory hoops to get there, including supporting myself while going through the process rather than relying on government aid and support.  I think it's unconscionable that so many people use this loophole to short-circuit the process.  Frankly, the United States can't afford the burden they represent on our society.  With literally hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens flooding into our country every month at present, how many of them will have children within a year or two, thereby "anchoring" themselves here despite their illegal presence?

I don't trust politicians' promises.  This one sounds good, but we've heard it before.  Will it be translated into action?  I won't hold my breath...


So much for dieting and fasting...


Given my ongoing struggle with a liquid-only fast and carnivore diet, this Circle And Square comic hit me right on my funny-bone.  Click the image to be taken to a larger view on the comic's Web page.

I think I need a cheat day for chocolate fudge brownie ice cream...


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Low-cost, low-tech gun "safes" ... aren't


A very worrying report comes out of Iowa.

An Iowa family wants a safe taken off the market after their 6-year-old opened it and took a gun to school, KETV reported.

. . .

As gun owners with a little boy in the house, the Shenandoah, Iowa family bought a safe to make sure their gun was secure. Only a registered fingerprint can unlock it. At least that's what the family thought.

"We put those safeguards in place. We did our best. We thought we were doing what we needed to do to protect our family and community. And unfortunately, it just didn't happen in this scenario," said the 6-year-old's father.

In early March, the man's 6-year-old son was on the school playground at recess when teachers found a gun in his backpack.

"They confiscated a gun from a student and they needed officers out to the school," said Shenandoah Police Chief Josh Gray.

Gray said he contacted the boy's parents, who insisted the gun had been in a locked safe.

"He just saw the safe and then he put his thumbprint on it and it opened right up for the kid," Gray said, confirming that the safe, sold by a Chinese company named "BBRKIN," unlocked for the 6-year-old.

Police went to the home to check the safe.

"The father was more than willing to work with us, show us anything we wanted to examine," Gray said, adding that an officer examined the safe. "He went to go put his thumbprint on the safe, and right away, as soon as my officer did that, the safe opened right up for him, which it's supposed to be just for that owner and his thumbprint."

In fact, the family quickly discovered any fingerprint, or even toe print, unlocked the BBRKIN gun safe.

There's more at the link.

To make matters even worse, it appears that the manufacturers had been aware of the problem, and had updated their safes to fix it - but without telling purchasers of the earlier version about it, and without upgrading or repairing their defective safes.  The potential for tragedy is obvious.

Sadly, it's no longer possible to believe manufacturers' claims about their products without checking them first.  Nowadays, if I buy anything made in China, I test it to make sure it does what it says it will, without any problems or inherent risks, before I trust it.  As an example, I'm currently working on a comparison article dealing with camping and "bush" knives, hatchets, tomahawks, etc., comparing my African experiences with those encountered in this country.  Most of the products I'm looking at are Chinese-manufactured.  It's pleasantly surprising how many of the low-cost tools are not bad quality at all, and very usable.  However, it's less pleasantly surprising to find that others are basically made of cheap pot-metal, brittle and unsound, and break in use.  That could pose a real danger to life and limb when one's out in the boonies, far from medical assistance.

If you have a lower-cost gun safe, one using biometric factors to open its door, you might want to check and double-check whether it's reliable in keeping out anyone except authorized users.  Lives might literally hang on the result.


Rights? Yeah, right!


Sent to me by an anonymous reader:

Blame "special rights" on so-called "identity politics", which emphasizes division at the expense of unity in the body politic.  Same goes for politics in general.  Those who look to divide citizens against one another are seeking to "divide and rule", and (in the process) destroy national unity.

Rights are either universal, for every individual and group, or they're not rights at all - they're privileges.


Monday, May 29, 2023

True dat


From Marc Adkins on MeWe:

That's very, very true.  I've learned the hard way that if I ask God to do something, more often than not the answer comes, "Well, get busy!"  He has hands and feet and muscles on this earth;  also a mind, eyes, ears and a voice.  All of them are temporarily ours, borrowed from Him until we have to return the gift.  He's going to use them, too;  and if we don't let Him, we shouldn't be surprised when our prayers are answered a lot more slowly, and a lot less frequently, than we might wish.  Sure, He adds grace to the mix, but it all begins with our willingness to get our hands dirty and do what He asks us to do.

It can also take long-term hard work and dedication.  Old African proverb:

Q - "How do you eat an elephant?"
A - "Mouthful by mouthful!"



To all my comrades who did not come home


I said it all back in 2010.  I referenced that in relation to more modern combat, and the US Navy SEALs, a couple of years later.

I still remember you.


Memes that made me laugh 161


Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Sunday morning music


The music label Brilliant Classics is known for bringing out recordings of rarely heard and hard-to-find artists and music.  I've featured some of them on this blog before.

While visiting their Web site last week, I was intrigued to come across a new album by pianist Jeroen van Veen.  It takes 17 pieces from composer Yann Tiersen's collections "Eusa" and "Kerber".  It's called "Island", and is scored for piano only - no other instruments or orchestration.  That's very refreshing in an age where people seem to think that the volume of sound, rather than its clarity or purity, is what's important.

Brilliant Classics notes:

Yann Tiersen’s (b.1970) music traverses genres from French folk music and chanson to minimal, avant-garde and post-rock. The French composer and multi-instrumentalist is primarily known for writing the music for the film Amélie. In 2016 he made the album EUSA, then in 2021, he ventured a step further towards electronic music with his new album Kerber (2021). The latter is a beautifully structured, immersive and thoughtfully constructed electronic world, composed on the island of Ushant where Tiersen now resides. The title of each track on these two albums refers to a specific place on Ushant. Kerber, for example, is named after a chapel in a small village on the island. Some offer the perfect soundtrack for contemplation on a long walk or staring out of a window on a train journey. Others seem predestined to be background music for study or relaxation. With each song, your imagination can easily conjure a scene from a movie: a breakup after a fight in a cosy café or a nature documentary showing two baby birds opening their eyes for the very first time.

After a frightening experience with a mountain lion in California, Tiersen came to a realisation. He needed to discover himself more intimately, and to do that, he needed to better know his home, Ushant. In order to understand his home and discover himself, he decided to draw a musical map of the island, of which EUSA is volume one; it contains ten piano works about ten places on Ushant.

‘I think there is a similarity between the infinite big and the infinite smallness of everything,’ explains Yann Tiersen. ‘It's the same experiment looking through a microscope as it is a telescope.’ This exploration of the micro and the macro has permeated much of Tiersen’s career, and Kerber once again shows the vast expansiveness and intricate detail of his work.

This isn’t a collection about isolation; it is more an expression of being conscious of your immediate environment, and your place within it. For Tiersen, this approach extracts the same degree of profundity as spending the evening studying the stars – which he himself does. ‘You can look at things that are thousands of light years away and relate your own existence to this really cosmic element,’ he says. ‘But you get that same feeling with the things all around you.’

‘A leading exponent of minimalism today’ (Fanfare). Pianist Jeroen van Veen has selected to perform the principle 17 works from these two of Tiersen’s albums for his own Island album.

There's more at the link.

Here's the album, courtesy of Brilliant Classics' YouTube channel.  I've enjoyed it very much.

The album is available on Amazon.  I like it enough that I'm going to buy a copy, to support the composer and the artist.


Saturday, May 27, 2023

Saturday Snippet: Currying favor


I'm a curry fan.  South Africa had (and still has) a large Indian population, the result of laborers being sent to that country from India in the late 19th century to work on farms and transport projects.  (Mahatma Gandhi spent more than two decades in South Africa, and began his work as a lawyer and activist there.)  The Indian population brought its curries with them, and in South Africa they mingled with Malayan curries brought by earlier generations of slave laborers.  The result is a rich blend of flavors, savors and textures that remain favorites with many South Africans.  (Those of you who know that heritage will doubtless salivate at the thought of Malayan-inspired bobotie, the bread-based bunny chow and other well-known dishes.)

I've been known to cook curries myself, although mine tend to be a bit too spicy for American palates.  (Soon after we married, I managed to reduce my wife and our housemate to tears and copious perspiration with what I regarded as a medium sort of curry.  They were not impressed!)  On the other hand, it all depends on the kind of "heat" one is used to with one's food.  A healthy Texas chili can reduce me to spluttering incoherence as I gasp for air.  (I'm sure many readers are familiar with the well-known, albeit [hopefully] apocryphal story of the Texas chili competition.)

Be that as it may, I like curry.  I was therefore delighted to come across a book titled "660 Curries:  The Gateway to Indian Cooking".

It's perhaps the most comprehensive coverage of curries around the world that I've ever read.  I plan on picking recipes from it at random now and again, and inflicting them on encouraging my wife and our friends to try them.  I'll let you know how that works out!

Because many Americans don't understand the background to curries and how they developed, I thought it might be fun and educational to quote the book on how they came about.

What is a Curry?

Before I try to define that word, let me create an image for you from my college days in India, when I was pursuing a degree in chemistry. As I busied myself in the laboratory, I happened to knock a mercury thermometer onto the tile floor. Tiny pieces of glass and droplets of liquid mercury dispersed, and I tried to pick up the pieces. The glass was easy, but not the mercury. The shining, silvery liquid was elusive (not to mention dangerous) and defied containment and form (we had no mercury spill kits back then). It moved freely with even the slightest nudge and affected everything it touched. Which brings me back to the task at hand: Defining curry is like trying to grasp liquid mercury and gather it into a neat pile.

The word “curry” itself is unknown in the Indian vocabulary. It doesn’t appear in any of India’s twenty-three officially recognized languages and sixteen hundred dialects. Words like kari and kadhi refer to sauce-based or gravy-laden dishes that existed in India well before the Aryans got there—and with a civilization that spans six thousand years, you can well imagine their longevity. James Trager, in his book The Enriched, Fortified, Concentrated, Country-Fresh, Lip-Smacking, Finger-Licking, International, Unexpurgated Foodbook (and I thought I was the hyphen king), mentions the seasoning habits of the Mohenjo-Daro people who lived in the Indus Valley c. 4000 B.C. They used mortars and pestles to pound the sun-dried “seeds of mustard, fennel, and most especially cumin and the rinds of tamarind pods” to create the “earliest curry powder” (the use of the term “curry powder” here applies modern terminology to an ancient, but very real, spice blend). Kari, a Tamil (southern Indian) word that was widely in use by 1500 B.C., according to the renowned Indian food historian K. T. Achaya, meant animal meat stewed with “wet dressings” and spiced with black pepper. From where I sit, I see the transformation of kari to curry as the possible result of mispronounced happenstance.

Perhaps, as some believe, it was King Richard II’s palace cooks who invented the word “curry” in Britain around A.D. 1390, as they built layers of flavors and textures with sophisticated spicing techniques that involved cloves, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cardamom, among others. Some of these recipes are well documented in the book The Forme of Cury (published in the late fourteenth century). Since there is no evidence that they knew either the word kari or kadhi in the 1300s, how then did the English know to bastardize those terms to “cury”? Well, the British were involved in the spice trade before they set up shop in India in the early 1600s. I can only speculate that they picked up one of the Indian words and adapted it to “cury.” After all, it was the British who tried to capture the flavors of a kari years later with a generic blend of ground spices called “curry powder.”

In spite of this theory—and a raft of others—concerning the origination of the word “curry,” there is an agreement that the concept of this sauce-based, spice-laden dish has been India’s legacy for thousands of years. Spices, you see, are the backbone of these dishes, and with India’s six-thousand-year tradition of using them in cooking, I consider the Indian subcontinent to be their master. Indians toasted, roasted, pounded, and mixed their spices to provide complex flavors to the sauces that bathed, swathed, steeped, stewed, and simmered meats, vegetables, and legumes well before the Europeans did.

So, what is a curry? In England and the rest of the world, “curry” describes anything Indian that is mottled with hot spices, with or without a sauce, and “curry powder” is the blend that delivers it. In keeping with my culture, I define a curry as any dish that consists of meat, fish, poultry, legumes, vegetables, or fruits, simmered in or covered with a sauce, gravy, or other liquid that is redolent of spices and/or herbs. In my India, curry is never added—it just is! In order to share this with you, I have focused on recipes that are accessible to the home cook. To help navigate, you’ll find comprehensive ingredient glossaries, cooking tips, clearly explained cooking terms, and appealing yet simple spicing techniques. Welcome to a saucy repertoire and a world beyond curry powders.

The Elements of a Curry

“Flavor” is a complex word—although maybe not quite as multifaceted as “curry.” It seems so very simple to us when we use it to describe what we eat and drink, interchangeably with “taste.”

Wikipedia describes “flavor” as “the sensory impression of a food or other substance, determined by the three chemical senses of taste, olfaction (smell), and the so-called trigeminal senses (a merging of the ophthalmic, maxillary, and mandibular nerves), which detect chemical irritants in the mouth and throat.” You weed through all that scientific talk and end up at the old adage “You eat with all your senses.”

When I create curries in my kitchen I look for that perfect balance of sizzle, taste, smell, texture, and visual appeal. My workspace becomes an aromatic laboratory as measuring cups judiciously dole out onions, garlic, and ginger, spoons sprinkle salt, turmeric, and spices, cooking gadgets mince and puree, and pots and pans hold frying or stewing vegetables, legumes, and meats.

In the Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson defines “flavor” as the combined effects of taste and aroma. Using that as my guide, I decided to analyze the composition of an Indian curry by examining its taste and aromatic components. I also broke down the elements that give it form, texture, and body. My reason for doing this is a simple one: I wish to share with you all my available tools in order to empower you to create and shape your own curries. So come along; we have much to do.

When you spoon a curry into your mouth, your taste buds identify its ingredients as being bitter, sour, salty, and sweet (the four primary taste elements). More recently, scientists consider umami (a Japanese term) to be the fifth primary element. Speak to Asians and you will find that they consider the additional elements of pungent (hot) and astringent to be equally significant.

There are ten thousand taste buds in your tongue that recognize the primary taste elements. It is true that there are specific parts of the mouth that taste one element more so than any other, but it’s not all that cut-and-dried, as those taste centers (and their sensitivities) change with age. Children are very responsive to pungent chiles and bitter greens, but those same areas have diminished capacity when those babies and toddlers enter their second childhood phase, more commonly known as the senior years. Taste does not work in isolation, as temperature and aroma play pivotal roles in how you experience flavor.

Bitter In general, and I know that generalizing is risky, Americans and Western Europeans find the bitter taste to be very unpleasant. But the same taste is manna to the palates of Southeast Asians and folks from the Indian subcontinent. The Bengali-speaking community, in addition to others from eastern India, usually starts a meal with bitter-tasting curries or perhaps slices of bitter melon, salted and pan-fried. Other regions mask the bitterness so it plays a supporting role in balance with the other taste elements. Spices, herbs, and other ingredients that infuse bitterness in our curries include fenugreek, mustard, amaranth, turnip, and bitter melon, among many others.

Sour Many of us love sour tastes, even though their lips-puckering quality provides slight discomfort. My eight-year-old son, Robert, constantly begs for a piece of lime to suck on, as he draws pleasure not only from its tartness but also from my reaction. The acidic component in Indian curries is a strong one, and each region has its favorite. Tamarind sours its way into the coastal areas along the south, west, and east, while kokum and kudampuli provide smoked acidity in a few communities along the Konkan coast on the west. The Sri Lankans, just south of India, steep kudampuli (they call it goraka), while the Goan Christians use palm, cashew, malt, and distilled vinegars in their Portuguese-influenced fare. Tomato, a late arrival on the scene (late eighteenth century A.D.), spread instant acidic joy, saucing its way into every region. Yogurt and buttermilk blanket all of India, while limes, unripe mangoes, and pineapple give sour comfort to some northern, northwestern, and southern communities. Gongura leaves are a favorite in south central India, not because of their close relationship to the marijuana plant, but because the tart-tasting leaves impart valuable nutrients to curries and provide acidic balance to hot chiles.

Salty In many ways, I consider this the most significant taste element. Salt is the catalyst that lets you taste everything else (when recipes say “Salt to taste,” this is what they mean). Of course you can oversalt something, and that can be a downer (but definitely an upper when it comes to your blood pressure)—which makes me want to get back on that soapbox of mine, preaching the virtues of balance in the world of Indian curries. Two main ingredients in Indian curries bring forth the salty taste: salt and black salt.

Sweet In the world of Indian curries, ingredients that infuse sweetness in a sauce tone down its bitter and hot tastes. This is especially true in curries from the eastern regions, where folks love bitter things. Each region has its sweetener of choice, some more complex-tasting than others.

A multitude of ingredients sweeten our curries. Jaggery, white granulated sugar, and both dried and fresh fruits sweeten the pot, while spices like fennel, nutmeg, and mace start by sweetly tempering the oil.

White granulated sugar imparts a one-dimensional sweetness to curries, and that’s fine when you want a nonassertive sweetness to sit on the sidelines while bolder flavors bask in the limelight. Jaggery, which also comes from sugarcane but more closely resembles brown sugar, imparts a more complex flavor.

Umami To define umami, a Japanese term, I resort to describing its coating effect, its succulence that drapes the tongue. Glutamate (also known as free glutamate), an essential amino acid, is the reason for umami. Its best-known form is deeply entrenched in the foods of China, in the additive known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). In Indo-Chinese fare, MSG (known as ajinomoto in India) is sprinkled on every curry. Knowing that many are allergic to this flavor enhancer, I have chosen to exclude it in my Indo-Chinese curries. If you like, you can throw it in (instead of the salt) in those recipes. Free glutamate is found in aged cheeses, meats, fish and shellfish, mushrooms, dairy products, nuts, legumes, and tomatoes. With the exception of aged cheeses, all these foods play a gargantuan role in Indian curries, asserting their protein-rich presence and contributing umami.

Beef, lamb, pork, fish, shellfish, chicken, duck, and quail are some of the proteinaceous products in curries. The succulence that they supply is a big factor in the curry’s flavor. Each protein source tastes different, and you can take the same sauce and simmer a different meat (or even a different cut of the same meat) in it to experience a completely new taste sensation.

Mushrooms are a meat analogue, in terms of texture and chewiness. No wonder many vegetarian curries use them for that satiating trait. The recipe for Cheese-Stuffed Mushroom Caps with a Creamy Onion Sauce (see recipe) shows a contemporary way of using traditional ingredients, while Mushrooms and Peas in a Fenugreek-Cream Sauce (see recipe), a northern Indian classic, demonstrates mushroom’s role as the meat stand-in.

The free glutamate in whole milk, yogurt, cream, and clarified butter fulfills the umami experience. Dough-soft milk solids (Khoya) are silky, rich, and smooth. This protein-rich medium is lower in fat than cream, and when pureed with yogurt and simmered as a sauce, it acts as a stabilizer, preventing the yogurt from curdling, as it is apt to do. At times cream and half-and-half act as heat diffusers in a curry, wrapping around the sauce to tone it down. When you employ ghee (a special form of clarified butter) as a cooking medium to sear and stir-fry ingredients, it yields a mild taste. But fold the ghee in just before you serve the curry, and it drapes a buttery, fatty coating on your tongue. You don’t need a lot—even a tablespoon or two is enough to provide succulence.

We tend to overlook the importance of nuts as proteinaceous, umami-satisfying ingredients in the world of curries. Cashews, pistachios, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, and peanuts (which are actually a member of the legume family but are placed in this category for their nutty trait—crazy, isn’t it?) are tapped for their hearty taste, nutty aroma, and sauce-thickening qualities.

Pistachios and almonds are imported from the Mediterranean countries, and they are used sparingly in curries in India because of their cost.

Poppy seeds and sesame seeds both have a nutlike quality that contributes to umami.

In a country that boasts of over sixty kinds of lentils, beans, and peas, legumes provide valuable protein, infusing curries with the creamy, satiating quality so essential for that umami experience. When certain legumes are toasted and roasted, then blended with spices to create signature blends like Sambhar masala, you realize how that is possible.

Pungent (hot) This very Asian taste element is a key one in my world of curries, and it is one that instills fear (and dislike), especially among those who wince at the mention of curry. Don’t worry, the pungency is balanced out by the presence of other ingredients that diminish its presence. Black peppercorns, chiles, ginger, and cloves all breathe fire, but they all have different hot points in your mouth. Peppercorns are throat-hot, chiles cover the lips and sides of the tongue, ginger has that nose-tingling thing going, while cloves exude numbing heat.

Astringent This particular group of ingredients is in your face, hard-hitting, and pushy. They are not a primary taste element, but their presence in a curry is definitely noticeable. They are always used in minute amounts, since a little goes a long way. When you look at words like “harsh,” “severe,” “caustic,” and “acerbic,” used to describe the taste of astringency, ingredients like asafetida, turmeric, teflam seeds, and baking powder come to mind. Don’t shy away from sprinkling these ingredients into sauces and spice blends, as they are essential flavor-building elements.

Aromatic The sense of smell is a powerful force, and aromas leave imprints in your memory bank that last for a lifetime (the smell of honey elicits a bitter taste memory for me because I was given crushed pills swirled in honey during a childhood illness). Smell helps us analyze taste. If we have a cold and can’t smell, it affects our taste, since we can truly “taste,” in the technical sense, only a few things. Smell helps the taste buds “taste” hundreds of ingredients, and this group of aromatic spices and herbs breathe life into our curries. When you enter a kitchen where the aroma of spices hangs in the air, it sets off a tasty anticipation of what’s to come.

Among India’s favorite aromatic herbs are bay leaves, cilantro, curry leaves, dill, fenugreek, and mint. In the world of spices, these rule the roost: cardamom, cumin, coriander seed, and cinnamon. I call them the high C’s, as their presence is felt all over India in thousands of dishes. Another spice, ajowan, or bishop’s weed, drapes curries with an aromatic heat, and I include it with this group. And let’s not forget the sensuous “s” (or maybe it should be $) spice that colors a perfumed trail—saffron.

Oils, liquids, thickeners, and stabilizers When I think about curry as a structure, I look at these ingredients as its essential building blocks (its infrastructure) while the spices, herbs, and other flavorings are what make the house a home. You can’t have one without the other.

The dribbling of oil into a pan usually is the start of a curry buildup. Sometimes the oil is insignificant from a flavor standpoint, its role being that of a provider of fat to sear ingredients. Flavorless oils with a high smoke point (the temperature at which oil starts to smoke) are essential for sizzling whole spices and searing meat, fish, and poultry before we stew them in sauce. Vegetable-based oils, including canola (which is not rapeseed oil, although it is often described that way), work perfectly for this. Low in saturated fats, they also have a reuse quality that I like, especially when I deep-fry nonmeat ingredients (meats leach a lot of liquid into the oil, lowering its smoke point). Peanut and corn oil also work well for this purpose, but if you are allergic to peanuts, it’s best to avoid the oil too. I recently sampled rice oil and found it to be part of this “flavorless” category, and since it is rich in antioxidants, contains no trans fat, and has a smoke point of 490°F, it too suits my cooking style, although I don’t find it readily available.

Every region of India has its favorite oils, many of which not only provide fat for searing and sizzling but also infuse flavor. When you look toward the southwest and Sri Lanka, you find that cooks use coconut oil in their curries. The dried meat from the coconut yields an amber-colored oil, rich with buttery taste and saturated fats. There are many schools of thought as to whether this is good for you or not. One school points out that coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (fatty acids), which are not stored in the body as fat as readily as the long-chain triglycerides found in other oils. The lauric acid in coconut oil also makes it appealing for some because of its ability to fight infections; this is the same acid found in mothers’ breast milk. When you taste the rich covering of coconut oil drizzled atop Mixed Vegetables with a Potent Coconut-Chile Sauce, you will see why we adore it.

The southeast prefers unrefined sesame oil, called gingelly oil, for its delicate nutty taste that is crucial to many of their curries. Mustard oil, much valued in India’s northeast, north, and northwest, is essential for a vital, bitter taste in their curries. Ghee is also crucial to many of our curries. It is great for deep-frying because of its high smoke point. Just before you serve a curry, drizzle a tablespoon tablespoon or two of ghee over it to experience that “tongue-coating,” satiating quality we look for in our meats.

Once you perfume an oil with spices, it’s hard not to notice the role of garlic and onion in providing fodder for the subsequent layer of sauce. Garlic and onion, indigenous to the regions in and around Afghanistan and Egypt, were considered by the Aryans in India to get in the way of seeking spiritual joy. Garlic, even now, is markedly absent in certain communities (the Jains in the northwest and the Brahmins in the south). In fact, garlic had no place in my mother’s Tamil kitchen. However, it is used in many other regions. When ground into a potent paste, it marinates strong-tasting meats, and when stewed with lentils, it delicately flavors them and imparts valuable nutrients.

Onions have a similar role, and although there are many varieties, the red onion is the most common in India. I use only red onions and shallots in my curries, but feel free to employ any kind that appeals to you. When consumed raw or pureed, onions taste pungent, but when stir-fried long enough so that the starches change to sugars, their sweet personality takes over, giving a curry incredible sweetness. And when chunky onions brown and stew in an onion sauce, I find them meaty and very tasty.

Next in the lineup is the array of liquids that bulk up the curry’s base (I always tell my students that if it weren’t for liquids, there would be no Indian curries). The obvious and most pervasive of all the liquids is water. Many of our legume curries use water to cook the grains, with a simple seasoning of spices to give flavor to the water. Acidic liquids like tomato sauces, pastes, and purees dot the curry landscape, providing not only valuable moisture but also tartness and color. Dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk, cream, half-and-half, and reduced milk solids not only provide a sauce base but also lower the hot tastes in curries.

When nut purees get involved, they provide not only the textural element but also the sauce for the meats to stew in. Vegetable and fruit purees breathe abundant flavor in curries. Legume purees supply the proteins for potatoes and, in conjunction with vegetable purees, they shine in the Parsi community’s signature Chicken Simmered in a Pumpkin-Lentil Sauce with Fenugreek. Smooth coconut milk is the medium for simmering vegetables like potatoes and carrots, while vinegars poach shrimp.

Once you understand the liquids that create waves in the curry’s sauce, you can start thinking about its body, thickness, and viscosity. Some curries are meant to be thin-bodied, and some are naturally thick because of the inclusion of a nut, vegetable, fruit, or legume puree. Then there are a few that need to bulk up, and for that we look to flours made from chickpeas, rice, and wheat. Starches help too: Some curries employ cornstarch, and other harbor potatoes as a natural built-in thickener, especially when you mash a few of the cooked tubers.

So now you know all the elements that shape a curry. Each ingredient is described further in the Glossary of Ingredients and I encourage you to have a read-through. I have also included a Shopping Cheat Sheet that tells you an ingredient’s name in English and Hindi. As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Do experiment on your own if you are so inclined. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of curries right here for you to savor.

That's the background information.  You'll have to buy the book to get to the recipes - which are pretty mouthwatering!  If you enjoy experimenting with new food ideas, and particularly if you like curries, I can't recommend this book too highly.  I think I've got years of fun experimentation ahead - that is, if my wife will allow me near the kitchen after she reads this!


Friday, May 26, 2023

Enlisted wisdom


From Moses Lambert on MeWe, an oldie but still a goodie.  Thanks, Moses, for reminding me of it.

A Marine General was about to start the morning briefing to his staff. While waiting for the coffee machine to finish brewing, the General decided to pose a question to all assembled.

He explained that his wife had been a bit frisky the night before, so he failed to get his usual amount of sound sleep.

He posed the question of just how much of sex was “work” and how much of it was “pleasure”?

A Major chimed in with 75%-25% in favor of work.

A Captain said it was 50%-50%.

A Lieutenant responded with 25%-75% in favor of pleasure, depending upon his state of inebriation at the time.

There being no consensus, the General turned to the Private First Class making the coffee, and asked for his opinion.

Without any hesitation, the young PFC responded, “Sir, it has to be 100% pleasure.”

The General was surprised and, as you might guess, asked why.

“Well, sir, if there was any work involved, the officers would have me doing it for them.”

The room fell silent.

God Bless the enlisted man.

No s***, Sherlock!


An interesting comparison


Red Side has produced a fascinating video comparison of the fastest man-made objects (so far).  It's quite entertaining.

I was amused by its reference to an ultra-high-speed manhole cover, launched during Operation Plumbbob in 1957.  It wasn't actually a manhole cover, but a 2,000 pound steel cover plate over a 500 foot borehole used for a nuclear test explosion.  It's presumed to have been vaporized during its passage through the Earth's atmosphere after the big bang.


Health scares and climate change - all part of the same giant scam


A tip o' the hat to reader Deborah H. for sending me the links to the excerpts below.

It seems that the World Health Organization is in bed with the climate change scaremongers, and they're all trying to leverage health care as yet another front in their assault on people's rights and freedoms.  The Gateway Pundit quotes Michele Bachmann, who's at the World Health Assembly in Switzerland.

WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who lied to the world about the COVID19 pandemic origins and mortality rate, is demaning the WHO hold “sovereignty” over all member nations due to the global warming climate crisis.

. . .

Today was the Sustainable Roundtable at the World Health Assembly on Climate Change. And so, believe it or not, the centerpiece of today was forcing all these delegates to listen to none other than John Kerry from the United States. He was introduced by his daughter, Dr. Vanessa Kerry, who, by the way, is the head of the Global Seed Foundation, and she is a recipient of millions of dollars from the Clinton Health Initiative. So there’s this incestrous relationship of organizations and money. But the big thing today is this the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said that the climate crisis is a health crisis. He said the climate crisis is their priority. Climate is the number one mission of health care. So one of the doctors in charge of the environment and climate at the World Health Organization said very clearly that we were focused on infectious diseases, but now we’re going to be moving away from infectious diseases, and we’re going to focus now on climate change.

So all of these climate change people who saw they were going to establish global government through climate change, now they see after the pandemic, and that works so well for the World Health Organization to try to control people’s lives.

Now they see that the platform, if you will, for global government is coming through health care. So the climate change people are jumping square in. They were given the centerpiece stool today, if you will. They were all cheered by the head, Tedros Ghebreyesus, saying the same thing that John Kerry was saying. And John Kerry said, well, I never thought about health care before. I never thought health care had anything to do with climate change until my daughter Vanessa, his 46 year old daughter, taught him to turn on the light bulb and realize that really the centerpiece of health care is climate change and that climate change causes the health care problems in the world.

There's more at the link.

It's all a gigantic lie from start to finish, of course.  Whenever you see anyone, or any group, or any official body, demanding control over people's and nation's lives in order to deal with some threat or other, you can be sure they're not trying to increase our safety.  No, they're trying to increase their control over us.  What's more, whenever the "threat to safety" they're pontificating about has passed, you may be sure they won't surrender the control over us they've gained by exploiting it.  Freedoms once lost are almost never restored unless those wanting them are willing to dig in and fight for it.

The problem is, there are many in the USA who are blinded by corporate and political propaganda.  They're so indoctrinated into believing that "the government is here to help us" and "the science is settled" and "we can trust our leaders" that they no longer even question such demands.  Instead, they demand that the rest of us, those with our eyes open, must abandon our rights and freedoms and knuckle under to those trying to dominate us and destroy our society.

T. L. Davis puts it well.

There are things that once unloosed can no longer be restrained. A federal police force is one of those. A concession of liberty to the prospect of safety is another. These things were warned of, but discounted when convenience was threatened.

Should we have a police force that can cross state lines to arrest bandits who found peace and safety in states where they’d committed no crimes? Yes, do it, why not? Should we have a police force that can protect people of one political party from answering for crimes and vigorously investigate the slightest abnormality of those in another political party? No, of course not. But they’re the same thing, the same question asked in different ways. A government that can give you all the answers can make all the rules.

Should we institute a seat belt law to protect people from their own bad decisions? Yes, do it, why not? Should we empower the health organizations to lockdown people in their homes to protect them from spreading a dangerous virus, even if they don’t have it? No, of course not. But they’re the same question asked in different ways. A government that can protect you from yourself can demand anything.

The roots of everything horrible come from minor concessions of liberty for safety’s sake. Those who see the roots when they appear and rave on about the principles that are being violated are discounted and ridiculed as being reactionary and paranoid. Yet, a decade or two later all of the histrionics are justified, but by then, who cares?

The pandemic was a test that Americans failed and now, a few short years later, the WHO is taking that test as a green light to proceed with a world government where local police forces and medical systems will be used to trap and enslave you to achieve climate change goals. Climate Change, they say, is the root of all health issues in the world and so all 194 nations who are signatories to the WHO treaty being negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland, home of the WEF and other nefarious global actors, will forfeit their national sovereignty in order to allow the WHO to make and enforce health-related restrictions on the world’s populations.

. . .

Now you can say: “To hell with that,” but it won’t change anything unless you change, unless you are committed to keep it from happening and now would be a good time to start making that clear. Build up your resolve, set your mind that at the fall test run, you bring everything to the table. It’s time to stop being good little boys and girls.

Again, more at the link.

Whenever anyone says to you that you "must" obey because "it's the law", remember that the law is merely another tool in the toolbox of those who seek to ride roughshod over our rights, our freedoms, and our constitution.  Congress could pass a law tomorrow dictating that the sky is red, rather than blue, and providing for draconian punishments for anyone who insists that it's really blue:  but that law would not change the facts, not affect the truth in any way.  Just because something is a law doesn't mean that it's right, or worthy, or factual, or justifiable.  As nations and peoples have learned over many, many centuries, "might makes right" as far as dictators are concerned;  and laws they can enforce using police and (if necessary) military powers, whether or not they're ethically or morally justifiable, are just one more example of that.

That's why the WHO wants new powers that they can enforce over member nations, even if that means disregarding the legal, constitutional rights of their citizens.  That's why climate change activist groups and leaders are jumping on the same bandwagon and arguing for the same thing.  They all see it as yet another tool in their toolbox to seize and retain power over us, regardless of whether or not we agree with them.

And if we allow them to get away with it, we'll have handed over our future to those who care only about their own - not ours.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

What a name for a weapon!


It seems the US Air Force has deployed a new signals intelligence device, a wing-mounted electronic warfare pod, on its MQ-9 Reaper UAV's being flown in Poland to monitor activities over the border in Ukraine.

What gets me is its name.  Apparently it's called the ALQ-167 Angry Kitten.  Details at the link.

I've met lots of kittens during my life.  I don't know that I've ever considered an irritated, or angry, or PO'ed kitten to represent any real danger.  Was this the best choice of name they could come up with?

Regardless, it made me smile.  "Hey, enemy!  MEEEEOOOW to you too!"


South Australia police have a new doggie task force


Do note the acronym made up from the first letters of the words in the new task force name, and pronounce it as a single word . . .


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

True dat


Gab user Rich Shappard posts this image:

Based on many years' experience as a pastor and chaplain, allow me to assure you, that's very, very true.

I'd guesstimate that of the sexual predators and child molesters I encountered in prison, well over half - perhaps as many as four-fifths - had been molested or abused as children themselves.  It permanently warped and twisted them, so they were never able to break free of those early bonds of evil that had been laid upon them.  It's all very well to say that free will is involved, that they could always have refused to follow such inclinations by strength of will . . . but sadly, it's not that easy.  Such psychological damage can and does cripple many people, making it impossible for them to turn away from what has been done to them.  Many people don't realize this.

That's why I've said all along that there is no cure for pedophilia, and no cure for similar sexual predators.  It's simply not possible.  There are only three possibilities in my experience:

  1. For those with the strength of will to do so, they have to stay away from vulnerable people so that they don't put themselves in temptation's path.  This is, of course, not always possible, so there are times that only their own strength of will will help.  If they have it, great.  If they don't . . . not so much.
  2. Those who can marry happily, and find a partner that will accept them and their psychological burdens and work with them to help them adjust, may find the peace of mind needed to overcome their past.  That doesn't often happen, and it takes a very special kind of partner.  Sadly, it's been my experience that "damaged" people (i.e. the victims of pedophilia, etc.) often find each other and form partnerships where their mutual damage translates into mutual predation upon others.
  3. Those who don't fall into either group above are often beyond worldly help.  Even psychologists and psychiatrists, although they can explain their conduct to them and help them to understand it, can't provide the inner motivation to make them want to change.  We pastors and chaplains face a similar problem;  we can talk about Divine grace until we're blue in the face, but unless the person is willing to make a serious, life-changing commitment to seek and use that grace, our words won't get them anywhere.  For such people, all too often, the only "treatment" possible is incarceration, to keep them away from their potential victims;  and even that isn't a perfect solution, because sooner or later they're going to be released from prison, and many of them won't be able to stop themselves reverting to pattern.
It's a tragic situation for their victims, and in some ways equally tragic for the perpetrators.

It's facile to say "just shoot them".  There are, and will be, too many others to take their place.  We can't kill our way out of this problem.  It takes parents who are actively involved in raising their children, who establish bonds of trust with them and encourage them to tell them about any encounters with this sort of thing, who can help them avoid the worst of the problem.  Today, we do our kids a disservice if we don't educate them about the risks involved, and what to do about them.

We can also make sure that they aren't exposed to "grooming" behavior (including "drag queen story hours" at libraries, "woke" schools and education authorities that actively encourage deviant behavior, and other such threats).  Yes, that means we have to get involved.  Yes, that means we may have to abandon more attractive and interesting uses of our time in order to protect our kids by our involvement.  That's what parenting - proper parenting - is all about.


Er... um... what can I say?


This was Finland's entry in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.  It's by an artist (?) named Käärijä, and is titled simply "Cha Cha Cha".

Y'know, back in the day I learned the traditional cha-cha as part of ballroom dancing instruction in preparation for my Matric dance, our school-leaving celebration.  The video above has about as much to do with the classical cha-cha as I have to do with Mata Hari!  And what's with the ribbons "controlling" the dancers as if they were reins on horses?

Wars and insurrections notwithstanding, I've clearly lived an overly sheltered existence . . .


It runs in the extended family...


What chance do any of the kids and teenagers in this family have, when their not-so-much-older "elders" are setting examples like this?  Why are we surprised when entire families turn out to be antisocial criminal discards?

The Charles County Police Department said officers patrolling in Waldorf, Maryland, at about 1 p.m. on May 16 saw two Hyundai vehicles in front of a business. A computer check revealed they were reported stolen.

When the officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop, the drivers of the two vehicles sped off.

At the same time, a dispatcher took a 911 call about a group of suspects that entered a business and stole merchandise before fleeing in two vehicles that matched the cars the officers were attempting to stop.

The suspects got out of the vehicles at a Park and Ride lot and attempted to hide, though the officers were ultimately able to apprehend them without any further incident.

From the two vehicles, police arrested 18-year-old Deshaun Deamonte Whitaker and 21-year-old Vincent Lee Alston, both of Washington, D.C., who were both charged with theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and rogue and vagabond.

Whitaker was released on $2,000 bond and Alston was held without bond in the Charles County Detention Center.

Four juveniles were also arrested and charged with theft and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Police said a female guardian was set to pick up the four juveniles, but the guardian and two other females arrived in what appeared to be another stolen vehicle, which left after the three women were dropped off at the police station.

Officers located the vehicle on a nearby street, which reportedly had a broken back window and steering column damage. When the officer ordered everyone out of the vehicle, the driver fled, nearly hitting one of the officers.

All the occupants got out of the vehicle after the driver drove a short distance, and it was determined the vehicle was stolen from another jurisdiction.

Anthony Matthew Stewart, 19, of Washington, D.C., was driving the vehicle and arrested after a brief chase on foot. He was charged with first- and second-degree assault, unauthorized use of a vehicle and providing a false name to police. Stewart also reportedly had active warrants for his arrest.

Also in the vehicle were three juveniles who were apprehended. One of the juveniles, a 16-year-old boy, had active arrest warrants, and a 13-year-old girl was reported missing from another county. All three juveniles were charged with theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

The three women who picked up the four juveniles earlier that day – Carlisa Monnae Blackeney, 18, of Washington, D.C., and Mahkiyh McQuinn-Woodly, 18, of Hagerstown, Maryland – were charged with theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, providing a false name, and rogue and vagabond.

There's more at the link.

If I'd begun to behave like that - heck, if I'd even begun to think about behaving like that - my parents would have straightened me up good and proper.  There'd have been no nonsense about it, including a thorough beating and even handing me over to the police if necessary.

Here's an example.  Shortly after I began to notice that girls were different from boys, my father called me into his study and told me, "Son, I notice you're making eyes at the girls these days.  I just want you to know that if you ever make any of them pregnant, I'll pay their medical bills."

I was startled, and said something inane like, "Gee, Dad, that's nice of you - but why?"

His answer shook me back on my heels.  "Well, you won't be able to take responsibility for them, because by then I will have killed you."

He wasn't joking.  That man had come through years of combat in World War II, and hadn't forgotten a thing he'd learned.  Neither had his fellow veterans, whom I knew would be more than willing to help him carry out his threat if necessary.  Talk about a "straighten up and fly right" warning!  (I did.)

I daresay the kids in the above report never had that.  It's almost certainly too late to save them from a life of crime and increasing desperation - barring divine intervention, that is.  They were probably never raised right (almost certainly didn't have a strong nuclear family at all to teach them right from wrong), and it's too late to reverse that process now.  They've gone feral.  I wonder how many previous encounters with law enforcement each of them had?  I daresay the list would be quite long, if it weren't politically incorrect to draw it up in the first place.

These are the critters inhabiting our cities these days.  You don't want to live among them, unless you really want to experience Heinlein's "crazy years".  (I don't, but I suspect we won't have much choice, because our society has let this sort of trash go on too long.  Absent some very serious, wholesale, ruthlessly enforced house- and neighborhood-cleaning, it's probably too late to stop the rot by now.)  If you haven't already left big cities, it's high time you began the process.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Divemedic offers sage advice on your ammo stash


In an article titled simply "How Much Ammo?" Divemedic offers his opinion on how much ammunition you should be stockpiling against the day that it may no longer be available.  I generally support his conclusions.

Some people seem to think this is a silly question;  that there'll always be ammunition available in stores, and from US manufacturers.  That's a dangerous assumption.  There have been innumerable threats made to shut down online ammunition vendors, and some states no longer allow it (or surround it with so many restrictions and conditions that it's burdensome and time-consuming to meet them all).  There's also the ATF's ongoing crusade to shut down as many firearms dealers as possible, based on paper problems rather than actual crimes (which they get to define as such).  Finally, every shooting increases pressure on supermarkets such as Walmart to stop selling ammunition at all, removing a major source of supply from the market.  As such pressures ratchet up, the day may come that ammunition becomes vastly more expensive than it is now, with a much reduced selection and severe restrictions on how much you can buy.  It's to safeguard against that potential problem that we should maintain a useful reserve of ammunition for ourselves.

I emphasize the utility of .22 Long Rifle ammo and weapons.  You can get .22LR adapters to fit AR-15 rifles and others, and there are many .22LR handguns that handle in ways very similar to defensive handguns.  Furthermore, .22LR is relatively cheap compared to centerfire ammunition.  If you accept that a minimum (I emphasize, minimum) annual training requirement is 500 rounds (which is nowhere near enough to maintain full competency with rifle and handgun), then I think putting aside ten years' worth of .22LR is not a bad idea.  Personally, I plan on at least 1,000 rounds per year, and want more than a decades' worth of ammo on hand to support that.  YMMV, of course.  That can substitute for quite a lot of centerfire ammo, but not all.  After all, the recoil, report, etc. of full-house rounds is much greater than rimfire, and one has to become (and stay) accustomed to that.  I'd say that for every 10 rounds of rimfire ammo we fire, we should be shooting one round of centerfire ammo.  Again, YMMV.

There's also the unpleasant thought that if a state of emergency is declared, the authorities may try to confiscate guns and ammunition from civilians.  We all know what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and "woke" states in particular probably won't hesitate to do the same thing given any excuse that comes to hand.  I therefore suggest that one should conceal at least part of one's stash in a safer place, where it's less likely to be found and more secure against confiscation.  How you do that is your business.  I think off-site storage is probably a good starting point - and I don't mean a storage unit, because those are most likely to be targeted by both looters and law enforcement during a crisis when they're looking for stuff.  The same goes for storing stuff with friends - their homes are just as likely to be searched as yours is.  Use your imagination.  Think outside the box - and stash enough ammo and firearms that if all the rest of yours are no longer available, you'll still be able to defend yourself and your loved ones.

(I'm not encouraging you to break any laws that may forbid such steps, of course.  I'm not going to condone criminal conspiracy.  Perish the thought!)


Target needs to experience a Bud Light movement


It seems to me that Target, the well-known department store chain, is actively working against normal people and seeking to impose an anti-Christian, "woke", sometimes blatantly pro-perversion ethos on its customers and our nation.  Not content with "selling 'tuck-friendly' bathing suits, LGBTQ onesies for babies, 'trans power' T-shirts [and] drag queen books for young children", the chain has now hired an openly Satanist designer to offer LGBTQ gear in its aisles.

Target describes all the products as: "All items were designed for all bodies, regardless of gender identity and presentation. We added design features to help make the fit customizable for you. Our hope is for all guests to find clothing that makes them feel comfortable and affirmed in their identity. We understand that fit is incredibly important and will continue to evolve and improve on fit needs for the LGBTQIA+ Community."

In the product descriptions, Target credits the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, and boasts of having over a 10-year partnership with GLSEN.

"GLSEN leads the movement in creating affirming, accessible and anti-racist spaces for LGBTQIA+ students," the retail behemoth glowingly said. "We are proud of 10+ years of collaboration with GLSEN and continue to support their mission."

There's more at the link.

The garments are from a company called AbPrallen, run by someone who gives his name only as "Erik".  I'll let him describe his beliefs in this description of one of his T-shirts.

Satan Respects Pronouns Tee

Satan loves you and respects who you are. You’re important and valuable in this world and you deserve to treat yourself with love and respect.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about The Satanic Temple, and to a lesser extent, The Church of Satan, how they’re so frequently misunderstood and demonised (pun not intended) and how LGBT+ people are so often referred to as being a product of Satan or going against God’s will.

Satanists don’t actually believe in Satan, he is merely used as a symbol of passion, pride, and liberty. He means to you what you need him to mean. So for me, Satan is hope, compassion, equality, and love.

So, naturally, Satan respects pronouns. He loves all LGBT+ people. The Church of Satan openly accepts LGBT+ people, it has done since it was created in the 60s and the more recent Satanic Temple accepts them too, with open arms.

I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of “creepy” or “weird” things being presented as soft or cute and personally I think Baphomet, a mystical deity, looks very charming in their pastel colours; Baphomet themself is a mixture of genders, beings, ideas, and existences. They hardly fit into binary stereotypes.

Again, more at the link.

So, Target regards a person with those views as someone who's ideally positioned to sell products to their customers;  and those who buy those products are, with their consumer dollars, supporting those views and enabling "Erik" to go on propagandizing them.

Do you really want your dollars supporting either the store, or its product vendors?  I most certainly don't!  In fact, I consider it blasphemous for any seriously believing Christian (or Muslim or Jew, for that matter) to support them.  It's certainly in diametric opposition to our classical faith.

We've all seen how former drinkers of Bud Light are punishing Anheuser-Busch for going "woke" in their advertising.  I think it may be time for right-thinking consumers to boycott Target as an expression of their rejection of everything this range of products (and all other related products) stands for.  What say you, readers?


The cult of death is on our streets


I'm sure many readers are aware of the "Santa Muerte" quasi-religious phenomenon that's growing in popularity in Mexico, particularly among the drug cartels and their foot-soldiers.  The term is usually translated as "Saint Death" or "Holy Death".  The image below, showing a statue of Santa Muerte, is courtesy of Wikipedia.

It's often dismissed as "folk religion" or a hangover from Aztec rituals.  Unfortunately, it's anything but.  It's become a cult among the hard-core narco-criminals of the cartels, and its appearance in a region is usually a sign that they're moving in there.  Indeed, a Santa Muerte shrine was recently found at a traffic rest stop in northern Texas, not far from where I live.  There was blood smeared on the statue and the makeshift walls of the shrine, clear signs of a "faith offering" to the cult.  (Fortunately, the person who found it dismantled it and discarded the remains.  It's not the kind of thing you want your kids to see.)

Ten years ago, the FBI sponsored an overview of the cult.  It remains largely valid today.  It treads warily when it comes to saying outright what many law enforcement professionals already know from personal experience (political correctness prevents that, sad to say), but it offers a very clear warning to those prepared to read between the lines.  Here's an excerpt.

The criminal insurgencies waged by the cartels and gangs, centered on a strategy of securing nongovernmental interference with their illicit narcotics and other criminal economic activities, have received much attention and debate. Far less has focused on some of the darker spiritualistic parts of the drug wars.

One component entails the rise of the cartel and gang narcocultura (drug culture) variant of the Cult of Santa Muerte (literally translated as “Holy Death”). This variant of the cult promotes greater levels of criminality than the more mainstream and older forms of Santa Muerte worship. Sometimes it can be so extreme that it condones morally corrupt behaviors—what many people would consider as resulting from an evil value system that rewards personal gain above all else, promoting the intentional pain and suffering of others, and, even, viewing killing as a pleasurable activity.

While addressing the rise of such dark spirituality requires a balanced perspective (e.g., avoiding a repeat of the Satanism scare of the 1980s), enough ritualistic behaviors, including killings, have occurred in Mexico to leave open the possibility that a spiritual insurgency component of the narcotics wars now exists. Not all of the narcotics leaders, their foot soldiers, and assassins have remained religious or, alternatively, embraced secularism. But, evidence suggests that the numbers of defections to the cults that worship a perverted Christian god (e.g., La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios) and the various unsanctioned saints (e.g., Jesús Malverde, Juan Soldado, and Santa Muerte) have grown for years.

This rise in deviant spirituality has not come as a surprise. Mexico still contains a significant population of persons living in poverty and feeling disenfranchised by a government system perceived as being based on patron-client relationships and the influence of wealthy ruling families. This underclass produces a disproportionate amount of unsanctioned (folk) saint worshipers—though only a small percentage of them end up as killers for gangs and cartels. Still, many of these men and women who brutalize, torture, and kill others need a way to rationalize their activities. If not offered solace via mainstream Catholicism, they will seek comfort elsewhere. While the adherents of a more benign drug saint, such as Jesús Malverde, can engage in nonreligious killing, others who worship Santa Muerte increasingly appear unable to separate their criminality from their spiritual beliefs.

For U.S. law enforcement agencies, the rise of a criminalized and dark variant of Santa Muerte worship holds many negative implications. Of greatest concern, the inspired and ritualistic killings associated with this cult could cross the border and take place in the United States.

There's more at the link.  For "leave open the possibility" read "establish the certainty";  for "could cross the border" read "has crossed the border".

Given the literal millions of illegal aliens crossing our borders in an unchecked flood, you may be absolutely sure that tens of thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of criminals, cartel traffickers and gunmen, etc. are among them.  Just ask the Border Patrol how many convicted criminals (including previously deported felons) are among the influx - and remember that the BP's statistics are only for those they catch.  Tens of thousands more slip through their dragnet (such as it is) without being caught.  They're bringing their devotion to Santa Muerte with them, and seeking to spread it locally.  I'll guarantee that in any Mexican-dominated suburb or area in the USA, you'll find more than one shrine to Santa Muerte (most carefully hidden, but an increasing number openly displayed);  and I also guarantee that many of her devotees will be narco-criminals.  It's like the song says about love and marriage;  you can't have one without the other.

This is of particular importance when it comes to our own safety and security.  The presence of an active population of Santa Muerte devotees in or near your area is a guarantee that crime is on the increase there, and will almost certainly become more violent, predatory and vicious.  Law enforcement professionals with whom I've recently spoken tell me that they can't say this out loud, because it's not politically correct in our "woke" day and age:  but they all agree that they've encountered murders and torture scenes where the crime was specifically committed with reference to Santa Muerte (i.e. invoking her name, including carving it into the bodies of victims;  chanting her praise while raping, torturing and killing victims;  and taking body parts of the victims to decorate her shrines).

Folks, be on the lookout.  This is a real and present danger to our security in our homes and neighborhoods.  Santa Muerte's devotees are violent, vicious and without remorse or compassion.  If you see or hear any evidence that they're active near your home, you should be "upping your game" to cope with that threat;  and, if possible, you should remove yourselves from the danger zone.  That's your choice, of course.  Just remember that if you live in an area controlled by "wokeness", any effort to defend yourself against this cult and its followers may be used against you in a court of law.

I'm sure readers can provide more information about the Santa Muerte cult.  Please do so in Comments.  Meanwhile, please go read that FBI article, and do a search for more materials - and DO NOT believe or trust the "politically correct", mealy-mouthed gloss on the subject found in too many sources.  The reality is pretty grim.