Traverse City Record-Eagle


Here's what I think about that

Todd SearsJust some snips from my notebook. Observations, opinions and thoughts. Nothing important. Harmless, really.

“Guards…seize him!” A phrase which is woefully underused in our society. I would like to have guards around me so that they could seize people that I deem seizable, usually for being stupid. Then they’d be put in a dungeon, or something.

Small Dogs. Dogs should be over 25 pounds. Real dogs should be over 50 pounds. If they are not, they are at risk of being punted. Small dogs fall into the “if you’d wanted a cat, you should have gotten a cat” category.

Teachers. I teach critical thinking, logic, argument, cognitive bias and structured analysis to adults. I’ve never taught in my life. It is the most demanding gig I have ever had, and crazy fun. Drained and sapped at the end of the day, but good fatigue. Our public teachers should get paid more. They deserve it.

Obama. Wunderkind. Right; got it. His inexperience is troubling, though, especially in the geo-political realm where we see Russia getting its mojo back and an ascendant China. I’d like to see some more specific policy positions over the next months. Great orator. McCain will struggle to keep up in the debates. No one will be surprised when Barry makes John look wooden and bewildered. BHO will win in November by 4-6 percent. Biden an understandable if uninspired VP choice.

The Third Culture. A concept worth considering. Makes the meaningless cookie-cutter pundits’ political cut and paste blather we experience daily seem like what it is: The Archies, in a world which needs Bach. Seeking out interesting new people and ideas and believing they are important. Imagine. We need to amp up our collective game.

Equestrian Sports. Should not be in the Olympics. The athlete in the event should be human. No? If we must have horses, let’s play buzkashi. The Afghans would always win, but so what. That’s riding.

Pasta Sauce in a Jar. Never. I’d rather dine on rendered Manchurian toad fat. Buy fresh and make your own. It’s easy.

Existential Risk. Is of great concern. Humans, especially American humans, aren’t very good at taking the long view of things. Caution is warranted in the realm of nanotech, AI, warming, biotech. We’re all probably amusing avatars in a game built by a hyper-advanced race anyway. That would explain a lot. The meaning of life? Amuse others. The end of humanity? The switch is flipped. See ya in the metaverse, or maybe I already do.

McCain. Big respect for his service, sacrifice, and heroism. Extra points cuz he’s Navy. Unfortunately, neither original nor bold. And his age is a real and significant issue. So is his propensity to redden up and act on impulse. Stop pussy-footing around it. Sarah Palin? Feels sort of desperate at first, but could turn out to be pretty savvy. Michael Palin would have been an excellent choice, too. The Maverick has turned into Hoss. I’m so sick of cowboys.

Libertarianism. A very cool economic theory. Worth exploration. The free market works well enough, but it is also the institution that gets our kids to drink Gatorade with colors that don’t exist in nature. The market does not get everything right, however free. “Informed” self-interest is a pipe-dream, especially when the interest part of that is defined by a machine driven exclusively by profit, and not ethics or altruism. Ron Paul was always the most fun of the bunch.

The Large Hadron Collider. We obsess about Michelle Obama’s angry blackness, but we don’t care about a new experimental complex at CERN which may actually discover where mass comes from. Do you know that we don’t even know what mass is? Probably not. Do you know Oprah has a weight problem? Probably. Sad. Strangelets and super-symmetry trump the dull void hum of Fox, CNN and E! every time.

Moving the Family to Leelanau County. Still up in the air. My father-in-law is researching an old farmhouse and some land for sale, so we’ll see. I hope it works out.

Knowledge. Take 20 minutes, sit down with a pen and a piece of paper, and see if you can define it. And don’t go search Google and hit Control-C. Just sit there and do it yourself. Everyone should think about this and try to work it out on their own, at least once in their lives. Enjoy a glass of wine or a pint of ale while you do.

NASCAR. I still don’t get it and likely never will. And I’m OK with that.

South Ossetia. If I were Putin (oops, I mean Medvedev), I would have acted too. Georgia got all full of themselves, feeling emboldened by a NATO “sure thing.” Cocky. And stupid. U.S. missiles in Poland, gray-hulls all over the Black Sea, and a surging alliance push to the Russian South and West. We see relationship-building and strategic engagement. Vlad sees neo-containment.

British Radio Personalities. The worst in the world. Except for Terry Wogan, of BBC 2, who is great; and Melvyn Bragg, of BBC 4, who is a world-class elitist, pompous, arrogant jackass, but talks about interesting things with his guests. They interrupt songs mid-tune, drone on about bad restaurants, snort mindlessly about Labour, Tories, and Lib-Dem inadequacies whilst reading the headlines off of loudly crinkling papers, and bore us with their tales of some recent holiday to the Costa del Sol, or Greece, where they no doubt wore Speedos and bikinis, and revolted even the heartiest of Mediterranean folk with their pasty and phosphorescent plumpness.

Cities. The countryside is eminently more preferable. Going to the city and folding in with the heaving, seething mass of others inevitably makes me feel like part a virus cluster. I don’t like feeling like part of a virus cluster. Individual people are usually pretty nice though, but in small groups. Is a misanthrope someone who does not like People? or people?

Pi. Fascinating thought that there may be a message in there. And Sagan wasn’t the first to say so.

Please feel free to laud, chide, scold, or just say “hey” by leaving a comment below or emailing me at

  • Webmaster Jeanne Hubbard

    Care to post a pasta sauce recipe? Would love to know how you make yours.

  • Todd

    Sure. But I always wing it, so the amounts are just an estimate. I use a heavy La Creuset type dutch oven. They conduct really well, though, so keep your heat down.

    Heat 4 Tbsp olive oil.
    -Add 1 heaping Tbsp crushed garlic and one medium onion, chopped.
    Heat for a couple of minutes.
    Add 3 Tbsp fresh chopped coriander,
    1 tsp crushed red pepper,
    1 Tbsp dry basil,
    1 tsp dry oregano.
    1.5 tsp salt, and
    a healthy dose of resh ground black pepper. Stir briskly.

    Add 1.5 lbs. hot Italian sausage, de-skinned and broken up. Cook ’til brown. Add a healthy few splashes of red table wine. Allow to reduce.

    Add 3 cups chopped fresh Roma tomatos (really soft and ripe)
    1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
    1 can tomato puree

    Respice with all the same ingredients you used above, but half the amounts. Bring up to a burble slowly, reduce to a simmer for 2-3 hours.

    Love this with rigatoni. Also, don’t use that sawdust grated cheese. Go crazy and get a hunk of fresh pecorino and grate it by hand. If anyone tries this, please let me know how it turns out.

  • Bob

    I think that the dungeons do not have enough room for that to work.

    In defense of small dogs, have you ever seen a dog fly from a horse’s tail after driving it to the barn, or spun in circles until you drop with your dog flying on the end of your outstretched belt? No fat old lab will ever do that. That being said a childhood full of lab and golden pups raised to be sent to leader dog training teaches me that they are hard to beat.

  • sll

    …Words remain spelled the same, it is their meaning that became amiss as “Lost Reason In the land of Nod” Them there devious eyes, shapely head, sheepish knowing done it grin, you little devil you, the face of a mother nature anyone could love…Move the family here, teach and impart the Hidden Wisdom Of speech, we Need some Logic to our Thinking as all our thoughts are preFormed con~cieved Ideas that beCome Act you All and Use you All… give me a Good Reason for my own Sanity Again.!

  • Webmaster Jeanne Hubbard

    I will definitely try your recipe, although fresh coriander is not something I see a lot around here. I’ve got plenty of fresh basil and oregano, though. I suppose it would be okay to swap the dry/fresh with some adjustments to the amounts…

  • Gerry Sell

    Wait, wait – I have a really good recipe for rendered Manchurian toad fat! AND a definition for “knowledge.” Knowledge is the inevitable consequence of paying attention. (Hey Todd! Nice to see you again!)

  • Todd

    Can’t wait to see the recipe, Gerry. Do you use the one with fried sage leaves and melba toast? And thanks for your knowledge def. I shall use that in class.

  • Troy Keith

    Big dogs rule.. used to have an English Mastiff – best dogs in the world. Now we’ve got a crazy rot/lab/mutt mix and we’ve been a little remiss in the grooming department lately.. When my wife commented on his claws last night, our youngest said, “Why don’t we get a pedophile? You know, that nail file for dogs in the commercials”.

  • Todd

    Mastiffs. Nice. I love English, and the Neopolitans, too. I had a line on a Leonberger breeder with pups down on the Channel Islands, but my wife vetoed it. She is a Leelanau farm girl, and is accustomed to dogs being outdoor pets, and rather smaller than a Leo. Me, a suburban Connecticut punk brought up with Goldens, thinks dogs are part of the core family and should be indoor animals (and allowed on beds). Fundamental philosophical difference there. Which I’ll never win.

  • sll

    as a child I thought Pi meant pie, seriously consider teaching a class if you move here, it would be something unique for the area, ….I sometime think of knowledge as wormwood and understanding a herb, I use Newmans organic pasta sause, tastes a little bland, no time consuming preparation. easy to digest.

  • Todd

    Hi, sll. Thanks for the note. Isn’t absinthe made of wormwood? Interesting flavors of Knowledge could be generated from that, I’ll bet. And Understanding as an herb. Which one? Sage? Yeah, you know teaching at a place like NMC would be a superb job. I’ve discovered I really enjoy teaching the post-HS crowd. A little logic, a little philosophy, some lit, some critical thinking, a does of comparative religions. ‘Twould be cool. Doesn’t seem to be such a high demand for that kind of stuff, though. At least I don’t see them looking for adjuncts on their website. Alas. But England is nice. No complaints.

  • sll

    I definitely have to have it flavored, cant down to much of it at a time…” it can maketh one mad “or sick, just conjured up speculation and not death to the soul, But hiding in this absinthe are the words the sin, and may be Why man was told to abstain from It to begin with in the first place ? how clever you are ! I do however enjoy the scent of sage, it lingers awhile, best to preserve it in a cool dark space, maybe a cave if you have one. Enjoy all herbs, creates food to be more palatable and delectable, love apple pie!…

  • Gerry

    Oh, Todd, I just got back to following up on all the links in this post, and here is what I want to know:

    Do you think that nice Mare knows about the buzkashi wedding connection? Should we warn her? (Mare, if you want people who can sling dead goats at your reception, I think we have some up here in Antrim County. Oh wait, those are bulls. Never mind.)

    Is it possible that the Edge Foundation is just a filament of the computer simulation we’re all living in? Or would it be vice versa . . . I find all this very worrying. I just got my arms around the idea that the human genome is strikingly similar to that of the chicken, and now I find out none of this may matter anyway.

    What do you suppose would be the effect of a strangelet zipping right through the Large Hadron Collider at a critical moment? Talk about worrying.

    Do you suppose that politicians have been reading about supersymmetry and concluding that the way to keep expanding the tax kitty is to posit a metaphorical anti-matter, thus doubling the number of particles (i.e., dollars)? This would explain the recurring theme of an Enemy that is Out to Get Us.. Also the black hole of federal budgets. All this floundering around in physics is quite bracing – must try it more often.

    Did you notice all the references to food in the responses? We are obsessed with it, even when we’re not hungry. Do you think this means anything? Me neither, just asking.

  • Todd

    Hmmmmm. Reading Mare’s posts, I have to say that she seems far too nice to even be exposed to such ideas. And I don’t know her fiance, but if he happens to be an Afghan warlord, no offense intended.

    The Big Sim- Yeah. You and I are just really well-rendered, if fun, parts of some grande game-play. And that lovely mozzarella sandwich you taunt me with? Digital. But I really enjoy eating ice cream with my digits. So there’s that.

    As for supersym and anti-matter. Call me perverse but I get a silly sense of enjoyment in knowing that Troy and I will probably end up canceling out each other’s votes in the election this November. It’s Bob we have to worry about.

    Food? What better thing to be obsessed with. And damn it. Why am I in the mood for nachos? Gotta go make some. It won’t be chicken, though. Too similar to us, you see.

  • sll

    Hi Mr.Todd, took me awhile musing through some of my 1600 recipes BUT I did find One, two then three, I must confess though that the fried sage just made me a little uneasy BUT I substituted One Whole Raw Organic Garlic bulb instead. It dis-spells worms, parasites and other stuff. After my refreshing glass of buttermilk, I think to maybe share my apple pie!

    Knowledge may Create One to be Power full and Strong BUT
    Understanding Creates One to be Wise and Invincible;
    Eventually All being Strong do beCome Weak,
    this Is the Purpose Of youth Given to age with Experience so
    that Knowledge will beCome New aGain with Greater Wisdom…

    Knowledge does Not Give us Good Reason to Believe In,
    you only Hear of its Idea and Know its Purpose is Necessary Until
    you Understand Truth yOur Self…sELF…

    Knowledge is yOur Strength underStanding is yOur Confidence…

    …and Believe it or Not, I think I found a recipe for PI, if your interested I will post it for you, it is a little complex, probably not as tasteful as a deli sandwich.

  • Anita Sears

    Yes, your sauce is good BUT ~ Coriander?? What about onions?? What Italian nonnie taught you
    to make a lovely sauce

  • sll

    … was musing thru the sause recipe of Todd’s, your family must eat very well, actually my sauce is more of a watered down version, the recipes I think must be old and of memory, trial and many errors, I remember to wright them, I am a simple single cook, certainly not a gourmet by anyone standard…I eat what I can cook and stomach… I wonder what ever did come first soup or sause as I ponder the desirable tomato as a primordial fruit. Coriander for me is best served with fish, onions I prefer raw for taste, to bland and loss of flavor if cooked, I tend to hold a piece of bread in my mouth as I slice and dice preventing my eyes to tear… still have a good recipe for PI, I do Think! nice to meet you…

    a snake in the tree or a worm in its fruit;
    the wormwood tree bears both deviously…
    ( delights and delicacy )

    the mind cannot Think or Reason alone,
    that is Why we are given a Loving heart to Understand…
    ( mind’s Eve )

    Do fairies have tails?
    a naive Eve and the Beginning of Fairytales…

    to Know a story, you must First Learn How two
    Reason with its Clever words…
    ( mind’s Eve )

    …will back to the garden.

  • Todd

    Mom- I did say onions. You’re just trying to make me feel guilty about the coriander. Try it. It works well.

  • sll

    Luv ya son…

  • Joe de Oundle

    Todd, you clearly have not embraced life in the UK as you have no dog to wander the hills with you…and the best dog would be a Westie….well maybe a Westie for Misty Meadows and such…but come on you cannot comment on what is and is not a real dog seeing that you do not even have one. I’ll lend you mine if you want to take Stella hiking with you. Nothing too steep though. ;-)

  • FoodieWithFamily

    I agree about the dogs. I have one who tips the scales at 45 lbs and another who breaks the scales around 90 lbs. Them's dawgs.

    …And for your consideration I present the also woefully underused interjections, 'phooey', 'flummery', and 'colsarnit'.

  • FoodieWithFamily

    I agree about the dogs. I have one who tips the scales at 45 lbs and another who breaks the scales around 90 lbs. Them’s dawgs.

    …And for your consideration I present the also woefully underused interjections, ‘phooey’, ‘flummery’, and ‘colsarnit’.

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