Making Cheese with Dad

I went home with my wife for Father’s Day and we did the usual thing where I went to my family’s house while she went to hers.

My dad and step-mom kept with their usual Sunday routine of going to the local Farmer’s Market and making omelettes for brunch.

I’m no omelette fan, but I had some scrambled eggs with them.

After brunch we went on a hike up to the Dish in the Stanford hills.

When we got back my dad made some pizza dough for later.

My dad had already made some plans for the day to go to a Sufi meeting.

My dad has been into eastern religions as long as I’ve been alive. I don’t remember when he started being a Sufi, but he has been for a while now.

Sufism is sort of a mystical interpretation of Islam.

It shares a lot in common with Buddhism so I’ve always described it as a mix of Buddhism and Islam in the past.

What is the religion about? That’s a complicated question. It’s about meditating and praying to figure out what God wants you to do in your life.

There’s also some stuff about dancing in circles, but my dad’s Sufi teacher doesn’t subscribe to that part of Sufism.

The meeting was fun. We talked about particulars of the mystic traditions that are a little hard to describe in writing (sorry!). I’d go to it again if it was in Davis, but it isn’t.

When we got back from the meeting my dad and I made some cheese.

My dad loves making things of all sorts, so why not make some cheese to go on our pizza!

If you haven’t made cheese before, it’s super simple. Cheese is made by adding some enzymes usually taken from animal stomachs to hot milk to curdle it (our enzymes were made by plants somehow).

The milk separates into curds (floaty cheese bits) and whey (gross yellowish liquid). We started with a gallon of milk

We took the curds out of the whey which when put together were about the size of my head.

We squished the liquid out of the curds until they were about the size of two baseballs.

And that’s pretty much it. We added some salt to the cheese and then slapped it on a pizza.

The pizza was great!

We watched some old Wallace and Gromit cartoons after dinner.

Presents fell somewhere in the day as well. I got my dad a graphic novel by one of his favorites authors (sadly he already had the one I got) and two Conan comics!

We waved goodbye and I headed over to pick up my wife at her parents’ house before driving home in the dark.

Happy Father’s Day!

-GoCorral

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Obama Asking Congress for War with ISIS

Looks like I’m going to write something political again because today President Obama asked the US Congress to declare war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

ISIS is a group that grew out of al-Qaeda in northern Iraq. Since its impossible to truly wipe out a terrorist group, they continued to operate during US occupation and after Bin Laden’s assassination.

When the Syrian Civil War broke out in 2011, ISIS took advantage of the situation and moved into eastern Syria.

ISIS has since absorbed or eliminated most of the other rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War, making the Civil War essentially a fight between Assad’s forces and ISIS.

The US has been providing training and weapons among other things to the original Syria government led by Assad.

The US has also been helping Assad with bombing raids and drone strikes on ISIS targets.

That’s about the limit of aid Obama can provide without going to war. The congressional acts that allow the war on terror don’t allow the President to deploy soldiers directly on the battlefield in Syria without a declaration of war from Congress.

Obama is now asking for that declaration.

Congress has said they will debate it and the discussion could take months.

Congress has been quick to declare war in the past when the President requests it, making the very existence of debate a sign that the USA probably won’t go to war.

And I don’t think we should be going to war with ISIS.

There are good reasons for going to war against ISIS. The group/country’s leaders are despotic theocrats.

Among the traditional offenses such a regime commits they’ve also made the Arabic acronym for ISIS, DAESH, illegal to pronounce as one word. You have to sound it out D-A-E-S-H. This is because Daesh is similar to the Arabic verb for “crushing opponents” which makes the regime sound evil? And what better way to not seem evil than to whip people who dare to pronounce your country’s acronym incorrectly! -_-

Going to war against ISIS could also lay the groundwork for forming the nation of Kurdistan for the Kurd population in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The Kurds have long been discriminated against either directly or through gerrymandering as a racial minority in the other countries, but that could change if they were given their own country.

So all that stuff is well and good. The UN is involved for those reasons.

But why is the USA involved? What do we get for declaring war on ISIS?

Well, we help out US allies, Iraq and Israel by keeping the region temporarily stable around them.

But we have allies for reasons right? What do Israel and Iraq give us in exchange for this help?

Well… As far as I can tell, they give us space to build military bases so that we can keep a presence in the Middle East region. And that presence is needed so that we can protect Israel and Iraq.

Wait, what?

I’m sure there are other reasons besides that, but that’s how it looks to me.

Another issue with helping the Syrian government is that we are helping Assad, a hereditary dictator. We call him President of Syria instead of King of Syria because it is polite to do so, not because he actually won any fair election to the presidential office.

Our continued presence in the Middle East helps root out terrorist organizations, but it also helps to create them. The US involvement in the Syrian Civil War has been with indiscriminate strikes. As much as we’d like to think that bombs and drones only hit military targets, they still harm more civilians than ISIS militants. And what do those civilians and their families think when the US bombs them? “I hate those Americans! The ISIS people hate them too! Maybe I’ll go join them after all!”

Those are the big points on the topic that I’ve landed on when debating with myself. My opinion is that the USA should not go to war in Syria. In fact, I wish we’d provide less aid to Assad by not bombing or performing drone strikes as those harm civilian lives.

But as with everything political, the situation is more complex than that. Would allowing ISIS to freely take over Syria result in the loss of more civilian life? Maybe.

My ill-informed mind can’t provide all the answers on this topic, so I’d encourage you to learn more on your own by visiting CNN’s website. They have a lot of cool videos that can tell you more.

-GoCorral

Bible Videos

A still from one of DarkMatter2525's videos on Genesis.
A still from one of DarkMatter2525’s videos on Genesis.

Today I found this series of videos on Youtube made by DarkMatter2525.

His videos look at Biblical stories from a modern perspective.

Is the same logic that was true thousands of years ago true today?

What happens if you look at the mythological stories from a different perspective?

One of the ones I’ve watched so far is about how the world would’ve turned out if Adam and Eve never committed original sin.

Since death doesn’t exist without sin, the world just fills up with people until there is a second crust around the Earth made of animals and people.

The people don’t need to eat because they can’t die.

Eventually God gets fed up and force feeds Adam the apple.

The point DarkMatter2525 was trying to make is that Creation makes no sense if original sin isn’t included.

People would multiple with no end and a lot of the carnivorous creatures that are designed to eat other creatures would seem odd in a world where such an act isn’t possible.

Why does a lion have sharp teeth and killing claws if it doesn’t hunt its prey?

I grew up watching Veggie Tales videos at my friend’s house, so its especially interesting for me to see cartoon Biblical stories from a more adult perspective.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed