Salt-Rising Bread (story and recipe)

Posted on December 18th, 2012 in Commentary,Recipes by EngineerBoy

Heaven-scented memories…

When I was a kid in the 1960’s in Southern California, we would buy loaves of Van De Kamp’s Salt Rising bread at the grocery store.  The whole family *loved* this bread, it smelled heavenly while it toasted, and tasted even better.  The ultimate was to pair it with Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Preserves…yum!

We then moved to Texas, and found that the same bread was available here, too!  But, alas, after a couple of years all the Van De Kamp’s products disappeared from the shelves, including our beloved salt-rising bread.  This was the early 70’s, and over the next few years we would get our salt-rising fix by bringing home a bunch of loaves any time we traveled to California, which was usually once or twice a year.  We didn’t get to have it all the time, but it turned into a special thing since we only got it once in a while.

But then it disappeared in California as well, as Van De Kamps stopped producing salt-rising bread some time in the mid 70’s, then eventually went out of business completely.  And that was the last of the salt-rising bread for me, for the next 30 years, or so.  Then 5-6 years ago I got a wild hair to figure out how to make it myself, and turned to the internet.

What I found was that the King Arthur Flour Company actually sold a Salt-Rising Bread Yeast, and I ended up buying some and making salt-rising bread at home.  It was good, but it’s a two day process, so I only made it a few times.  Then King Arthur stopped selling the yeast, and as of today the page linked above contains this disclaimer:  “Sorry, this item is currently unavailable for purchase”.  It has said that for the last few years, so I’m not optimistic they are ever going to bring it back, so I figured I needed to figure out how to make it from scratch.

That led me to find some homemade recipes which turned out to be tricky to master, but after a couple of false starts and failed starters I eventually found a combination of ingredients and steps that work beautifully and predictably, and you can find that recipe below.

Here’s where the story gets a little more interesting.  My grandmother passed away earlier this year, and one of the things that came up as we sorted through memories of her were details I’d never heard before.  In the 1930’s, during the height of the Depression, she moved to Los Angeles seeking employment, and ended up working at the Van De Kamps Bakery store.  It was there that she met my grandfather, who was a regular customer, and they ended up getting married.

So not only does salt-rising bread thread through my earliest childhood memories, but in actuality the connection with Van De Kamp’s goes back even further, which makes it taste

Why I’m Voting the Way I’m Voting

Posted on October 23rd, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

Vote!

Note: I’m just a dumbass with a blog.  My purpose in writing this post is not to convince anyone to change their opinions, but to (one hopes) maybe have the slight effect of making sure that those who agree with, disagree with, or don’t care about my opinions will be more likely to vote next week.  Having every eligible voter vote is the key to keeping America free and strong, in my opinion, and discourse tends to motivate people.

I’m a 51 year old white male who is mid-to-upper middle class. I got my first job when I was 12 years old (paper route) and have never not worked since then. I’ve never been fired or laid off, some of which is luck and some of which is brains and hard work. I’ve lived on the West and East coasts, but have lived primarily in Texas and consider myself a Texan.

My mother’s family were Texas farmers, and she and her seven siblings picked cotton, tended the animals, and used slop buckets. I did not come from money, but I was raised with a strong work ethic, a strong moral compass, a strong family bond, and an open mind.

Through the decades I have voted for Republican, Democratic, and independent candidates. For most of my life I strove to vote for the person, not the party, with the (perhaps naive) thought that if we always select the best available candidate, that will lead to better government.

However, that only works if the elected parties are willing and able to compromise in the pursuit of (what should be) common goals. However, the American political landscape is at its most divisive in my memory.  Personally, I think the system is broken, and our voting is barely more than political theater, a show that is put on every four years to allow us to retain the illusion that We the People run this country.

Also, my take is that, by definition, any candidate for national political office is a combination of professional liar, megalomaniac, and borderline sociopath, something I talked about several years ago.  I see our choice as being between differing styles of lies and misdirection.

However, even if any of the above were true, we still do have a choice.  Politically I lean towards fiscal conservatism and also towards social liberalism.  Here are my key areas of concern for this country:

Control of the federal deficit
Revamp of health care
Free and fair elections
Maintain a strong defense and leadership of the Free World
Strengthening of civil liberties and civil rights
Return to technological leadership
Improved national and global economy

I am not an expert on all of the above topics (just like 99.9% of all voters), but I do have my opinions (just like 99.999999% of citizens).  As noted in the disclaimer above, I’m just a dumbass with a blog, but my take on these key points is as follows:

Federal Deficit
I think that balancing the budget will be best achieved through both spending

Goodbye Astros (as I knew you)

Posted on October 3rd, 2012 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

So long, Astros

Dear Houston Astros,

Through thick and thin for the last 30+ years I have been a fan. Not always fully alert and engaged, but always a fan. Marie and I were at the inaugural game at Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park). My daughter Annalisa fractured her ankle standing on a seat cheering a game. At one point we owned a share of season tickets.

However, the move to the American League is the first time I’ve found myself facing the change from an intermittent fan to a non-fan. I loathe (LOATHE) the designated hitter – 9 men field, 9 men hit, that’s baseball. Going to the AL is almost (but not quite) as if you were switching to playing cricket. Yeah, there’s a bat and a ball, but it’s not the game I have loved (and, for a while, played) all my life.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers come to town regularly, so there’s that. But I don’t see myself becoming a fan. I still miss the Oilers and although I like seeing the Texans do well, I have never become a ‘fan’. Hell, in the heat of the moment I still refer to the Colts as ‘Baltimore’, the Rams as ‘L.A’, the Cardinals as ‘St. Louis’, and the Jazz as ‘New Orleans’.

For all of you who love the AL, I respect that, but it’s not for me.  Kind of like New York versus Chicago in pizza, Texas versus North Carolina in barbecue, or East Coast versus West Coast in music, there are no empirically ‘correct’ tastes and I appreciate that different people have different preferences.  But I am not an AL guy, and I don’t see myself becoming one.

So, goodbye to the Astros as I knew and loved you.  Good luck with cricket or whatever you’ll be playing from now on.  There are at least two constants in life…one is baseball and the other is change, and I guess this encapsulates both of those.  Change may be inevitable, but I don’t have to like it, now pardon me while I go yell at a cloud.

Sincerely,

A Long-Time (Former) Fan

Won Ton Taco recipe

Posted on September 27th, 2012 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

Won Ton Tacos

One of my Facebook friends posted a Pinterest link to a description of little tacos made in won ton wrappers. I took that as inspiration to try it at home, and they were *delicious*!  Here’s how we made them:

Ingredients:

1lb ground beef
1 medium onion
Won ton wrappers
1/2 tsp comino powder
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp cooking oil (we use grapeseed)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese (we prefer four mexican blend)

Optional:
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
Miracle Whip or mayonnaise (to taste)

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium.  Chop the onions and saute until they start to turn brown at the edges.  Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper and cook until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.  Once the meat is browned, reduce heat to low, add the comino, chipotle, and bay leaves, stir, cover, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

A few minutes before the meat is done, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Get a muffin pan – if the pan is not non-stick, coat the inside of each cup with oil (Pam, oil spritzer, or wipe with lightly oiled paper towel).  Put a won ton wrapper into each cup, pressing it gently down to the bottom, keeping it roughly centered.

When the meat is done cooking, give it a taste and adjust seasonings if needed to taste one last time.  Scoop a heaping tablespoon full into each won ton wrapper, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

Optional: while the won ton tacos bake, shred the lettuce into a bowl, add some Miracle Whip and gently stir.  We use just enough to put a very light coating on the lettuce.  Note that even the mayonnaise-lovers in the house prefer the use of Miracle Whip for this recipe, due to the nice counterpoint the sweeter taste imparts.

When the won ton tacos are done, serve them with an optional dish of lettuce, and enjoy.  We put a small dollop of lettuce on each taco, then eat it.  Keeping the lettuce in a separate bowl and adding it as you go means the lettuce won’t get soggy sitting on top of the hot tacos.

Note that we usually have a little meat left over, and sometimes put in a second batch of 3-4 more tacos, or sometimes we just use two muffin pans and make them all at once.

Just for today…

Posted on September 11th, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

#peace

Mourn the dead, honor the heroes, fight injustice, embrace freedom, celebrate life, and, on today of all days, forget to hate.

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Peace.

ANOTHER Open letter to TiVo

Posted on September 6th, 2012 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

Stop nickel and diming us, start WOW!-ing us

Dear TiVo,

Two years ago I posted an open letter to you and, sadly, I find myself once again compelled to send along some constructive criticism.  Just like last time, there was a specific trigger, and this time the trigger was your announcement of the TiVo Stream add-on.  The Stream is a $130 device that enables TiVo owners to download and/or stream some of their TiVo content to Apple iDevices.

That sounds okay on the face of it, but there are limitations.  First of all, it currently only supports Apple devices, so if you have an Android or Windows or other mobile device, you are currently SOL.  Support may come, but it may not, and given your history of not finishing what you start (see: TiVo HD menus still not finished after 2+ YEARS) I wouldn’t take that bet.  Note that I don’t own or use any iDevices.

Second, the streaming only works if I am using my iDevice on the same local network as my TiVo.  So, if I am traveling and want to watch something from my TiVo, sorry, I can’t do that with the Stream device.  I could theoretically have transferred a previously recorded program to my iDevice before I left the house (assuming I had enough room to hold the recordings) and take it with me, but if I didn’t have that foresight (or the show wasn’t recorded yet) I’ll just have to do without.  Meanwhile, the Slingbox allows me to stream all my TiVo content anywhere, anytime for roughly the same price, without the limitations.

Third, and this is the kicker, is that this is functionality that you should simply have enabled on our existing TiVo boxes, instead of charging us for another device, not to mention forcing us to manage another appliance with all of the power and wiring hassles it causes.

And there’s the rub, and my biggest complaint to you, which is that you continue to try to nickel and dime your already happy and loyal customers, to the point where we are no longer fans of yours.  For example, I currently have four active TiVo devices, and I have to pay a monthly fee for each one.  For that fee I get a) programming information and b) TiVo software updates.  That’s it.

Meanwhile, I pay a monthly fee to Netflix that is less than the monthly service fee on a single TiVo box, and for that fee Netflix provides me with unlimited streamed content.  AND I can watch that content on any of my devices, and I don’t have to pay a per-device fee.  I agree that you should be compensated for programming info and updates, but your current fee structure is simply off the reservation, and as the Netflix’s and Hulu Plus’s of the world come out with much more direct benefit for much less money, you are looking

The rational case for Voter ID

Posted on August 28th, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

Vote!

It may come as a surprise to some of you who know me to hear that I am in favor of Voter ID.  I think that having a standardized method of identifying valid voters, and limiting those voters to a single vote, is a great idea.  I don’t think we have much of an in-person voter fraud problem in the United States, but I’m a big believer in being better safe than sorry.

However, my objection to the current spate of Voter ID laws is that, from my perspective, they have been designed for no purpose other than to disenfranchise Democratic voters in Republican-controlled states during the upcoming 2012 elections.  You can quibble with this if you like, but given that there is not an in-person, voter identity fraud problem in this country, these laws are not designed to fix something that’s broken.  As they stand today, they are designed solely to limit the ability to vote for those who do not currently have a proper photo ID and who would have difficulty in getting one in time to vote, which are primarily poor/Democratic voters.

I currently live a lifestyle such that having a valid, acceptable form of photo identification is not something I ever have to think about.  I have a drivers license and a passport, and although they aren’t always 100% current (because I’m lazy and/or forgetful), I can easily afford the time and costs involved to keep them up to date, and have easy access to all necessary supporting documentation.

However, that has not always been the case for me, and isn’t the case for many, many Americans.  These Americans still have a right to vote, however, even if they have not navigated the myriad processes necessary to obtain an acceptable photo ID and to keep it current.  Again, for those of us of a certain means, it may sound ludicrous to state that having a valid photo ID is a burden, but it is for a large number of people.

As an indicator, current estimates indicate that 6% of Americans don’t have broadband internet access today.  To those of us who are ‘connected’, it’s difficult to conceive of someone living a disconnected lifestyle.  Some of the disconnected simply choose not to connect even though they have the means, but many of them do not have the wherewithal or circumstance that allows for digital connectivity.

Now picture a disconnected person trying to get a photo ID.  How do they even learn the process?  Go down to the DMV? What if they don’t drive and there isn’t mass transportation where they live?  What if they work a job where getting away during municipal office hours is difficult or impossible?  What if they don’t have a copy of their birth certificate?  What if the cost of getting their birth certificate and/or photo ID comes down to a choice between feeding their children or getting an ID?

Consider not only the costs for documents,

Five Theories about Romney’s selection of Ryan

Posted on August 14th, 2012 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

2012 Presumptive Republican Presidential Ticket

I will start this post out with the disclaimer that I am just a dumbass with a blog, noodling on things that interest me.

After Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee, I became very curious about who he would select as his running mate, and am surprised that he picked Paul Ryan.  Picking Ryan doesn’t make any sense to me because, as far as I can tell, Ryan will primarily appeal to folks who would have voted for Romney anyway.  So, from that perspective, it seems to me that picking Ryan was ‘preaching to the choir’, in a sense.

Also, it seems to me that if the selection of Ryan is going to have any impact at all, it will be to alienate swing voters, who tend to be moderate.  Based on current polling numbers it seems that Romney needs as many of those voters as he can get.

So, why would Romney pick such a polarizing running mate?  I offer five theories below, in order of likelihood from least to most (with a bonus sixth theory that is probably the most likely of all):

Theory #1: Romney doesn’t want to win, and has picked a running mate that will insure that he loses.

It is not possible for me to know why Romney wouldn’t want to win, and there is no evidence of it that I’m aware of (other than his selection of Ryan).  But, because he has picked a running mate that I think he knows will hurt his chances, we have to at least consider this option.  I speculated along these same lines in 2008 when McCain picked Sarah Palin.

Theory #2: Romney knows that he is going to win, so he picked whoever he damn well pleased.

How could Romney *know* he’s going to win?  It could be that he has an ace up his sleeve that he knows will be devastating enough to win the election (dirt on Obama, etc).  It could also be that there is some currently-hidden aspect of Ryan that will emerge and swing the election for him.  It could also be that the power brokers have arranged things such that a win for Romney is the most likely thing.  In any case, if Romney felt supremely confident that he was going to win regardless of his selection of running mate, he may have gone ahead and selected the running mate who will most boldly represent the Republican strategy, and that’s Ryan.

Theory #3: Romney knows that he isn’t going to win, and so picked a running mate for politically expedient purposes.

In this scenario, Romney has realized that there’s no way he can win for whatever reason (polling numbers, tax return issue, etc), and so he picked his running mate in order to maximize whatever positives there are that can be gleaned from a losing presidential bid.  For example, it may be that

CleverDonkey’s Final 2012 London Olympic Power Rankings

Posted on August 12th, 2012 in Engineerboy,Politics,Sports,Television by EngineerBoy

London Olympics 2012

2012-08-12 Final Sunday Update

This year we once again tracked Olympic Power Rankings for the 2012 Games in London.  For reference, the 2008 final rankings are located here. The purpose of this chart is to look beyond raw medal count – who cares if countries with hundreds of millions (or even billions) of people win a lot of medals?  They should win a lot of medals, right?  The big question is, which country is kicking ass, pound-for-pound?  The answer is in the table below.

This table creates a weighted medal score by giving every country three points for each gold medal, two points for each silver, and one point for each bronze.  The country’s Power Rating is calculated by determining how many weighted medal points each country wins per 10,000,000 in population.  And to factor in economics, the population only includes those living above the poverty level (according to CIA poverty estimates).  Also, to eliminate the impact of outliers, countries with excessively large populations are capped at 300,000,000 and countries with exceedingly small populations have a floor of 2,000,000 for the purposes of calculation.

Below is the Sunday update, reflecting the final standings.  Congratulations to Hungary for taking the title of the most powerful Olympic nation, pound for pound.  The rest of the top ten are rounded out by Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Cuba, Jamaica, Belarus, the United States, and the Czech Republic.

Well, that wraps up another Olympics, be sure to check back in four years because we will (probably) be tracking them again!

 

 

 

CleverDonkey’s 2012 Olympic Power Rankings
click column headers to sort up/down

Olympic Power Rank Country Old Power Rating New Power Ranking! Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals Weighted Medals Population (above poverty line)
1 HUN - Hungary 43.14 37.00 8 4 5 17 37 8,577,282
2 AUS - Australia 28.66 28.66 7 16 12 35 65 22,682,201
3 GBR - Great Britain 26.15 26.15 29 17 19 65 140 53,545,320
4 NZL - New Zealand 58.64 26.00 5 3 5 13 26 4,434,060
5 NED - Netherlands 25.37 25.37 6 6 8 20 38 14,978,787
6 CUB - Cuba 24.00 24.00 5 3 6 14 27 11,247,925
7 JAM - Jamaica 106.22 24.00 4 4 4 12 24 2,259,366
8 BLR - Belarus 34.81 24.00 3 5 5 13 24 6,895,247
9 USA - United States 8.44 22.50 46 29 29 104 225 266,579,208
10 CZE - Czech Republic 21.97 21.00 4 3 3 10 21 9,558,825
11 CHN - China 1.63 19.00 38 27 22 87 190 1,166,805,100
12 KAZ - Kazakhstan 18.23 18.23 7 1 5 13 28 15,361,812
13 DEN - Denmark 35.15 17.00 2 4 3 9 17 4,836,400
14 AZE - Azerbaijan 19.47 16.00 2 2 6 10 16 8,219,239
15 RUS - Russia 12.46 15.50 24 25 33 82 155 124,368,673
16 KOR - South Korea 15.01 15.01 13 8 7 28 62 41,293,000
17 SWE - Sweden 14.74 14.00 1 4 3 8 14 9,495,113
18 CRO - Croatia 36.95 13.00 3 1 2 6 13 3,518,302
19 UKR - Ukraine 12.49 12.49 6 5 9 20 37 29,632,961
20 GER - Germany 12.29 12.29 11 19 14 44 85 69,170,855
21 GEO - Georgia 29.55 12.00 1 3 3 7 12 4,061,333
22 ROU - Romania 11.98 11.98 2 5 2 9 18 15,024,877
23 FRA - France 10.93 10.93 11 11 12 34 67 61,298,300
24 SUI - Switzerland 13.51 10.00 2 2 0 4 10 7,403,871
25 LTU - Lithuania 32.68 10.00 2 1 2 5 10 3,060,192
26 NOR - Norway 17.91 9.00 2 1 1 4 9 5,025,600
27 ESP - Spain 8.91 8.91 3 10 4 17 33 37,040,929
28 KEN - Kenya 8.89 8.89 2 4 5 11 19 21,374,500
29 ITA - Italy 8.72 8.72 8 9 11 28 53 60,813,326
30 IRL - Ireland 18.45 8.00 1 1 3 5 8 4,335,898
31 CAN - Canada 7.91 7.91 1 5 12 18 25 31,591,858
32 SLO - Slovenia 38.79 7.00 1 1 2 4 7 1,804,673
33 SRB - Serbia 10.78 7.00 1 1 2 4 7 6,494,047
34 MGL - Mongolia 40.48 7.00 0 2 3 5 7 1,729,152
35 JPN - Japan 6.16 6.60 7 14 17 38 66 107,125,200
36 TRI - Trinidad and Tobago 54.86 6.00 1 0 3 4 6 1,093,703
37 TUN - Tunisia 5.84 5.84 1 1 1 3 6 10,268,196
38 PRK - North Korea 5.70 5.70 4 0 2 6 14 24,554,000
39 RSA - South Africa 5.54 5.54 3 2 1 6 14 25,293,379
40 POL - Poland 5.01 5.01 2 2 6 10 16 31,955,830
41 SVK - Slovakia 11.62 5.00 0 1 3 4 5 4,301,806
42 DOM - Dominican Republic 9.16 5.00 1 1 0 2 5 5,459,372
43 COL - Colombia 4.44 4.44 1 3 4 8 13 29,278,616
44 IRI - Iran 4.09 4.09 4 5 3 12 25 61,096,681
45 LAT - Latvia 19.32 4.00 1 0 1 2 4 2,070,371
46 ARM - Armenia 18.57 4.00 0 1 2 3 4 2,153,942
47 FIN - Finland 7.39 4.00 0 1 2 3 4 5,413,250
48 BEL - Belgium 4.31 4.00 0 1 2 3 4 9,286,674
49 GRN - Grenada 460.83 3.00 1 0 0 1 3 65,100
50 BAH - Bahamas 93.53 3.00 1 0 0 1 3 320,768
51 EST - Estonia 28.10 3.00 0 1 1 2 3 1,067,745
52 PUR - Puerto Rico 8.05 3.00 0 1 1 2 3 3,725,789
53 BUL - Bulgaria 5.21 3.00 0 1 1 2 3 5,759,094
54 BRA - Brazil 1.97 2.80 3 5 9 17 28 142,358,607
55 UZB - Uzbekistan 2.78 2.78 1 0 3 4 6 21,551,316
56 ARG - Argentina 2.49 2.49 1 1 2 4 7 28,081,967
57 ETH - Ethiopia 2.35 2.35 3 1 3 7 14 59,699,259
58 MNE - Montenegro 34.54 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 579,107
59 CYP - Cyprus 23.84 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 838,897
60 BOT - Botswana 14.08 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 1,420,645
61 GAB - Gabon 12.79 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 1,564,000
62 QAT - Qatar 11.77 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 1,699,435
63 MDA - Moldova 7.62 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 2,623,352
64 SIN - Singapore 3.94 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 5,076,700
65 GUA - Guatemala 2.95 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 6,768,331
66 GRE - Greece 2.32 2.00 0 0 2 2 2 8,630,152
67 POR - Portugal 2.31 2.00 0 1 0 1 2 8,660,523
68 TUR - Turkey 1.77 1.77 2 2 1 5 11 62,095,868
69 VEN - Venezuela 1.52 1.52 1 0 0 1 3 19,710,969
70 UGA - Uganda 1.40 1.40 1 0 0 1 3 21,410,870
71 MEX - Mexico 1.31 1.31 1 3 3 7 12 91,891,288
72 ROC - Republic of China (Taipei) 1.29 1.29 0 1 1 2 3 23,261,747
73 MAS - Malaysia 1.10 1.10 0 1 1 2 3 27,257,438
74 ALG - Algeria 1.05 1.05 1 0 0 1 3 28,567,000
75 BRN - Bahrain 8.10 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 1,234,571
76 KUW - Kuwait 2.79 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 3,582,054
77 TJK - Tajikistan 2.73 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 3,666,000
78 HKG - Hong Kong 1.41 1.00 0 0 1 1 1 7,103,700
79 THA - Thailand 0.83 0.83 0 2 1 3 5 60,175,617
80 IND - India 0.09 0.80 0 2 4 6 8 907,645,067
81 AFG - Afghanistan 0.61 0.61 0 0 1 1 1 16,320,064
82 EGY - Egypt 0.61 0.61 0 2 0 2 4 65,934,400
83 KSA - Saudi Arabia 0.37 0.37 0 0 1 1 1 27,136,977
84 MAR - Morocco 0.36 0.36 0 0 1 1 1 27,729,125
85 INA - Indonesia 0.15 0.30 0 1 1 2 3 205,963,737

The coming Muslim-Christian coalition in the US?

Posted on December 28th, 2011 in Commentary,Engineerboy,Politics by EngineerBoy

Can't we all just get along? Probably not any time soon...

Disclaimer: the article below represents the noodlings of a dumbass who is talking about things way over his head, but which he nonetheless found interesting as a mental exercise.

James Buchanan was the first bachelor US President.  JFK was the first Roman Catholic President.  Richard Nixon was the first to resign from office.  Barack Obama was the first African American President.  That leaves some interesting milestones still ahead of us, such as first female, first (openly) gay, and first (openly) atheist/agnostic.

I think there’s a good chance that we’ll hit all of those milestones, at some point, and that it’s just a matter of ‘when’.  I also think we’ll hit them in that order (female, gay, secular).  And I also think that as we hit each milestone, it will create a greatly increasing disturbance among conservative US voters.

The first milestone, female, will not have any overtly negative reaction at home or abroad.  There have been plenty of female heads of state, and anybody who publicly takes issue with that will be nearly universally condemned as a backwards nincompoop.

However, the next one (first gay) would set up the beginnings of a political holy war, as the groups who are anti-gay are really committed to being anti-gay.  These are people who put the behavior of same-sex consenting adults in the same category as child molestation or bestiality.  They will see a gay US President as the beginning of the end of the world, and will fight against it appropriately.

But the last one (first secular) would potentially set up an actual Holy War (notice the caps).  There was a recent survey that showed that people of faith trust atheists to the same level that they trust rapists.  Yes, really.  And a group with that outlook is going to work diligently (to say the least) to prevent it from happening.

Just as an exercise (not a prediction), I could see the future of Presidential politics progressing thusly (major party candidates, unless otherwise specified):

2012 – Obama re-elected, possible female VP (Clinton)
2016 – female President
2020 – gay VP nominee
2024 – gay Presidential nominee
2028 – secular serious 3rd party Presidential candidate
2032 – gay President, secular VP nominee
2036 – secular President

Yes, that goes 24 years into the future, and that seems like forever.  But consider if we were to look backwards, 24 years ago was the election of George H.W. Bush.  Not that long ago, for some of us.  Again, that is not a prediction as much as one possible future outcome, the likelihood of which is open to debate.

However, regardless of the actual dates and progression, I think we’ll eventually see female, gay, and secular presidents in the US, and that that progression of events will stir ever increasing ire among conservative Christian US voters.

Interestingly enough, there is another group whose reactions would, in my estimation, parallel those of conservative Christian US

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