Listen to the Republican Vice Presidential nominee exhorting worshippers to pray for a pipeline. I have little standing in matters of faith, but it strikes me as oddly unChristian to mock community organizing amongst the downtrodden . . . and yet pray for the construction of an oil pipeline.


Oddly unChristian, yet completely in line with today’s Republican Party. They mock Al Gore, they mock John Kerry (and his Silver Star and three Purple Hearts), and now they mock Barack Obama.

Only Sarah Palin – who lobbied for the Bridge to Nowhere, and raised taxes in Wasilla, and left her tiny town, which had been debt-free, $22 million in hock, and says she got a D in macro-economics at the University of Idaho – only she has what it takes to cope with our country’s enormous economic challenges and regain the respect of the world. She and her running mate, the hot-tempered ‘maverick,’ fifth from the bottom of his class of 899, whose campaign is run by lobbyists and who voted 95% of the time with George W. Bush.

To augment her prayer and facilitate the pipeline, Governor Palin has sued to strip the polar bear of its Threatened Species status (tell that to your 10-year-old and ask her how she wants you to vote in November), ignoring the scientists (here we go again) – or worse. ‘Essentially, she lied,’ said University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner, according to ABC News.

Both she and Senator McCain are fine Americans and remarkable people. But they are running this campaign out of the same mocking, dishonest Republican playbook (Obama is ready to lower almost everyone’s taxes, not raise them), in the urgent Republican hope of getting four more years.


The fastest way to grill, roast, bake, boil or broil something, of course, is to microwave it. This makes Charles a little crazy – he even roasts toast, which can’t be an efficient use of energy, though it’s darn good toast – but I am the kind of guy whose artichokes take six minutes instead of 45, and whose baked potatoes, back when I ate baked potatoes – likewise. (The truly fastest way to grill, roast, bake, boil or broil something, is not to cook it in the first place. Those readers trying to lose weight, save money, or accustomed to scraping extra mashed potatoes into the garbage, have doubtless considered this.)

But if you are one of those gourmets who insist on boiling things, I have a suggestion. Get one of these, if you don’t already have one – a kettle – and bring your water to a boil fast, without a lot of heat escaping, and with a whistle to alert you to when the water is boiling*, so you don’t keep it boiling longer than you have to, steaming up your kitchen, and, if you’ve lost track and become engrossed in a rerun of Law and Order, boiling all the water away, only to realize it when you begin to smell metallic fumes – which can’t be good for you, and which can set off your smoke detector and scare you half to death, and lead to your falling off whatever you’ve climbed on to try to silence the damn thing – and then, with your pot molten and bone dry, have to start the boiling process all over again. (Not that this has ever happened to me.)

Okay? Let me recap. You boil water in a kettle. And now the kettle is whistling. You return to the kitchen, deftly shift the kettle off the hot burner (which you leave burning), switching it for the dry pot of pasta or potatoes or shrimp or whatever you were going to boil . . . even as you pour two or three quarts of boiling water from the kettle into that pot, over the pasta, potatoes, or shrimp.


You’ve saved time, money (by using less energy), and, in a tiny but real way, lived a little lighter on the land.

The engineers in the crowd will note that much the same result could have been achieved simply by using a lid. But (leaving aside whatever extra heat escapes from under the lid that a sealed kettle would retain), the problem with this is that, to know when the water has reached its boil – sans a kettle’s whistle – you have to stand there in the kitchen and watch the pot.

I will not insult this readership by supplying the next line.

*I think the model I linked you to has a whistle, but it doesn’t say.


If you happen to live in the New York area and want to help Barack Obama, check this out. It could be fun.

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