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Merkel be damned.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader knows the good people at Forbes magazine are likely pretty sharp tacks — so to speak. But they’ve made a claim recently that states that Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany) is the most powerful woman in the world. (Condi Rice is 4th, Elizabeth II of the UK is 23, Hillary Clinton is 25, etc, etc.)

The people at Forbes are wrong of course.

Your Maximum Leader knows from experience that the most powerful woman in the world is none other than his own dear wife, Mrs Villain.

Carry on.

Happy Day!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s best buddy just turned 38 today.

Happy Birthday Kevin. Many happy returns…

May your appetizers be prompt and your turds be not claw hammer shaped. At least for one more year.

God bless you my brother. I miss having you around.

Carry on.

Salome

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a Bible. In fact, he has a number of Bibles around the Villainschloss. The Bible in question is a large “Family” style Bible. It probably weighs 15 lbs. It is bound in leather and gilt. It was purchased by his maternal Grandmother from a sale of such Bibles held at the family parish (St. Michaels for those of you who care) after Vatican II wrapped up.

This Bible was always the source of wonder and amazement for your Maximum Leader when he was a young villain. Alas, he didn’t read it quite as much as he should have (although he did read quite a bit). He was fascinated by the reproductions of great art throughout the Bible. Every great story had some work of classical art to illustrate it. Sometimes the artist chosen to represent a particular story wasn’t what your Maximum Leader would have liked. But often the art was some Renaissance master work.

One particular image always captivated your Maximum Leader. It was the image of Salome and the head of John the Baptist by Caracciolo. (Here is a link to the work.) It captivated him in a number of ways. First off, the subject matter itself if pretty gripping. Captain of the Guard presenting a human head on a silver platter to a beautiful woman is not your daily fare of imagery. This painting’s most gripping element is Salome herself. How she looks at the viewer. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t see lots of emotions in the face of Salome that he finds in other renderings of the image. In this painting he sees knowingness in the face of Salome. She looks at you and her expression and eyes call out and say “See what I’ve done? Do you know my power?” Her mother’s face is smiling, she is pleased (of course) to see the grisly trophy. (Afterall, it was Herodias who convinced Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist.) In Caracciolo’s painting, Salome is collected and completely nonplussed. In a way that makes her quite terrifying.

Quite terrifying indeed.

Carry on.

Doing their civic duty.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s got nuthin. His little brain is awash in the end of summer blues. Thus, it is not working as it should. But rather than leave you without any (however crappy) content, here is a little something that struck your Maximum Leader as funny…

Fake money doesn’t fool Tennessee strippers.

SMYRNA, Tenn. - A man who authorities say used his computer to make fake $100 bills to buy lap dances at a strip club has pleaded guilty to counterfeiting charges, federal prosecutors said.

Strippers at Deja Vu in Nashville were suspicious of the bills and called police after Damon Armagost spent $600 of the fake money April 16, authorities said.

When officers arrived, Armagost first told them he got the money when he sold gold coins for $1,400 to an unidentified person.

U.S. Secret Service agents later determined that counterfeit bills with the same serial number had been passed in other parts of the country. When they went to Armagost’s Smyrna home, about 20 miles southeast of Nashville, a family member told agents that an image of a $100 bill had been on a computer there.

Armagost then acknowledged that he had downloaded the image from the Internet and printed 14 of the bills, prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty Friday to manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency and has a sentencing date of Nov. 5.

Your Maximum Leader applauds the strippers for doing their civic duty and calling the police. Then again, those hard workin’ gals are probably pretty sore at plying their trade and getting the proverbial shaft. Then again, Mr Armagost is probably pretty dumb himself. There are a few professionals to whom your Maximum Leader would assume that one ought never to try and pass fake bills. (Excursus: Of course, you should never pass fake bills in the first place…) Strippers are on the short list of professionals who know their money. Can you think of a job where the money is such an integral part of a transaction? And frankly, wouldn’t a stripper be more familiar with the look, feel, and composition of a piece of legal tender than just about any other person out there? Mr. Armagost deserves everything comin’ to him.

Carry on.

Mu-Nu Kerchoo?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader can’t seem to get to any of the mu-nu blogs.

Somehow the disappearance of mu-nu is related to the resignation of Alberto Gonzales… Your Maximum Leader will leave it to you all to figure out the connection…

Carry on.

Gonzales Gone?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is seeing some breaking news.

Apparently Atty Gen Alberto Gonzales is going to resign today.

This means he must be going back to Tusla to sell pools and spas.

Carry on.

Johnny Human Torch

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader shuddered when he read this off the news wire:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A woman set fire to her ex-husband’s penis as he sat naked watching television and drinking vodka, Moscow police said Wednesday.

Asked if the man would make a full recovery, a police spokeswoman said it was “difficult to predict.”

The attack climaxed three years of acrimonious enforced co-habitation. The couple divorced three years ago but continued to share a small flat, something common in Russia where property costs are very high.

“It was monstrously painful,” the wounded ex-husband told Tvoi Den newspaper. “I was burning like a torch. I don’t know what I did to deserve this.”

Hummm… Let your Maximum Leader think about this. What could the man have done to deserve this… Not put the toilet seat down? Not squeeze the toothpaste tube from the end? Left dirty dishes in the sink for days on end? Not sharing the remote to the TV? The possibilities are endless…

Also… Was the man awake? The story just says he was naked and drinking in front of the TV. One would have to presume that he a) had fallen asleep and didn’t notice his ex-wife preparing to light him aflame or b) been so drunk he didn’t notice his ex-wife preparing to light him aflame.

Carry on.

More porcine blogging

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs P’s biorythms must be in sync. (Excursus: Does anyone ever talk about biorythms any more? Do you remember those cheesey machines in malls in the late 70’s where you put your birthday in to the machine with a quarter and got out that card telling you how your day was going to go? Hummm…) Your Maixmum Leader had a pork post, and Mrs. P had a pork post. Admittedly, hers was much more entertaining and informative…

Your Maximum Leader will now step into some heretical areas (Father M - please get your rosary ready…).

The Smallholder and your Maximum Leader were musing the other day on the telephone about pork. We were discussing the glories of bacon actually. Then it popped out of Smallholder’s mouth… “You know,” he said. “That bacon isn’t perfectly healthy for you must be proof against the concept of a omnibenevolent God. Afterall, if God really loved us he’d let us eat all the bacon we wanted.”

Your Maximum Leader, as longtime readers know, is not an adherent to the concept of an omnibenevolent God (at least the omnibenevolence that most people think of). But in the broadest sense your Maximum Leader agreed with the Smallholder. Of course, God must favor Christians because there is no dietary injunction against pork and pork products. On the other hand, the fact that there is bacon at all should count for something. Bacon (and beer, according to Ben Franklin) are proof that God does love us and want us happy.

If only that love were less cholesterol laden…

At some point when your Maximum Leader has some time, he’ll have to come up with a porcine theology post…

Carry on.

SQL troubles

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s web hosting company is doing some sort of MY SQL upgrade. This change is making it difficult for your Maximum Leader to post here or view his blogroll.

If you are itching for your Maximum Leader today, you can find him at ye olde backup site on blogger:

Got Villainy?

Carry on.

Chinese Boomers

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader realizes that (rightfully) many (if not most) Americans are concerned about the global war on terror and the threat posed by Islamic radicals to our nation. Indeed, this threat should be foremost in our minds as we have committed our sons to fight these threats in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the world remains a very dangerous place…

To wit: Have you given much thought to Chinese Ballistic Missile Submarines? No? Well perhaps you should. Check out this site and stop and think to yourself about a Chinese boomer sitting off the coast of California when it comes time for the Taiwanese to “consider rejoining” the mainland. Apparently the Chinese have decided to build up their fleet of ballistic missile subs to carry more of their Julang-2 type sea-launched missiles.

Your Maximum Leader is sure his readers will sleep better knowing this.

Carry on.

Porcine envy.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader remembers that it was just a little over a year ago that he and the delightful Mrs P were having a conversation about ham.

It all started with this post your Maximum Leader wrote while guest-hosting for the Crack Young Staff of The Hatemonger’s Quarterly. Mrs P was kind enough to follow-up that post with one of her own where she shared the secrets of the Bacon Buttie recipe. In the comment section of Mrs P’s post, your Maximum Leader saw an opportunity to impress with his knowledge of hams. That resulted in the “Know your ham” post on this site. (And the “Know your ham” post resulted in one more follow-on from Mrs P.)

Have you got all the background there?

Now… You may have seen this little piece on the AP news wires yesterday. “World’s costliest ham triggers pork envy.” Let us review the highlights of the article, shall we?

Now, hard-core foodies are drooling over the prospect of something truly superlative from Spain, at least in price: a salt-cured ham costing about $2,100 per leg, or a cruel $160 per pound. It’s a price believed to make it the most expensive ham in the world.

[…]

The 2006 Alba Quercus Reserve (as this pricey pork will be known) won’t be available until late 2008 and you must buy the whole ham or nothing at all. But that hasn’t dissuaded gastronomic Web sites and blogs from buzzing with talk of the farm where it is being produced, likening it to a Mount Olympus of pork.

Its mastermind, Manuel Maldonado, 44, comes from a long line of ham producers in a country that’s nuts about the stuff. In bars and restaurants, legs of ham hanging from the wall are as common as TV sets.

But Maldonado is taking the art of the ham to new heights, pampering his pigs with a free-range lifestyle and top-quality diet of acorns before slaughtering them, then curing the meat for two years — twice as long as his competitors.

It’s that last step that Maldonado credits with creating a delicacy that justifies the heavenly price.

Maldonado had hoped to roll out his super-gourmet ham this year, but felt the first batch fell short of his ultra-demanding standards and did not put it up for sale. He hopes to do better this time and have it ready around Christmas 2008.

“This is the best ham in the world because it comes from the best pig in the world,” Maldonado says of 2006 Alba Quercus Reserve, a reference to the year the pigs were slaughtered.

“It is the most important ham in Spain,” adds Pedro Soley, a Barcelona connoisseur who is among the lucky few lining up to buy one. Indeed, this is a limited edition piece: Maldonado will produce just 80 to 100 legs.

And they are expected to be a world apart from Spain’s more common Iberian ham — named for the breed of pig used — which is similar to Italian prosciutto, but a darker red and chewier.

For comparison, Italy’s finest Prosciutto di Parma and Spain’s top-grade Spanish acorn-fed Iberian ham — both savory, umami-rich meats usually served as ultra-thin slices — top out at $30 a pound.

With Spanish pigs bound for ham glory, diet is everything. The least expensive ham is made from pigs fed on grain, whereas mid-grade hams come from pigs raised on a combination of wheat and acorns.

Then there are Spain’s poshest pigs, which feast exclusively on acorns, producing a rich flavor and oily texture that make the meat a delicacy. Spain’s finest hams are not considered first-rate without an “acorn-fed” stamp on the label.

At least some foodies apparently haven’t been put off by the price of Maldonado’s work. One food blog, Directo al Paladar, called the cost of the ham “almost a gift,” considering how it is made.

Maldonado has yet to set a price for customers who buy the 13-pound hams directly from him, but the food site Ibergour.com has a dozen for sale at $2,100 each, and is accepting $250 deposits.

Is it ridiculous to pay that for a piece of pig?

No, says Maldonado. A ham like this can be shared among 20 people, he notes, whereas a bottle of the finest wine going for the same amount goes down quickly among just a few.

For four generations, Maldonado’s family has been making ham from high-quality hogs in this town of 5,000 in Spain’s southwest Extremadura region.

Their herds of black Iberian beauties are kept on a handful of acorn-rich farms in the surrounding meadowlands, walking freely up to 6 miles daily without any swineherds to look after them.

After the pigs are butchered, they are cured in high-grade sea salts and refrigerated at 39 degrees. The salt is wiped off after about 12 days. Over the course of the next three months, the temperature is gradually raised to 68 degrees.

The hams then are brought into one of Maldonado’s two warehouse-size cellars where they cure for two years, hanging on a series of interconnected hooks from floor to ceiling, like curtains.

Maldonado will only give a ham the top-grade seal if it passes his olfactory test after the curing process. He drives a small rod through the outer layer of fat and into the meat to see if he considers it up to snuff.

In his cellar, Maldonado drew one of the hams close and rubbed his thumbs gently against the smooth roundness of the ham’s firm base.

“Ham provides us with life,” he said with a smile.

Your Maximum Leader floated the prospect of buying a leg of this ham by Mrs Villain. He was rebuffed in a way that his lovely wife generally reserves for those for whom she has mentally crossed-off her list of worthwhile people. Alas, your Maximum Leader will have to do some digging around and find out if any restaurants in the DC area will acquire any of these ham-alicious legs ‘o heaven. If he finds one that does, he’ll make a special trip (marital consequences be damned!). Of course, the article begs the question… What happened to all those “substandard” hams from 2006? Did Senor Maldonado destroy them? Did he horde them for himself? Were they fed to substandard pigs? Your Maximum Leader wants to know.

Also, your Maximum Leader, next time he gets to Spain (and alas, who knows when that will be) he will have to go again to Extremadura. He remembers Extremedura as being more arid and hot than it must be. Of course, he visited in August and really only went to see the Roman ruins of Merida. From his memory it didn’t seem like Extremedura was a good place to raise the most delicious pig in the world. He imagines that the aridness might help on the curing side of things, but he doesn’t see how the climate could be good for acorns. But then again… He didn’t spend lots of time in Extremedura…

Your Maximum Leader wonders if the Smallholder could raise a comparable pig. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what breed of pig the Smallholder raises for sale, but he’s willing to bet it is not an Iberian pig. (Your Maximum Leader must figure out the breed of pig the Smallholder raises…) Of course, your Maximum Leader threatened to buy a ton of peanuts for Smallholder to use to “finish” the pigs before he sent them off to the Mennonite butchers. But, alas, that was an empty promise. Your Maximum Leader will have to try harder next year.

Sadly, even if the Smallholder could raise the pig, your Maximum Leader would have to find a way to cure the ham. This is actually something that the Smallholder and your Maximum Leader have spoken about in the past. We need to get ourselves a smokehouse and figure out bacon and ham curing for ourselves. Perhaps there is some sort of book, or site on the interwebs that could help us. (Exursus: God bless the good people at Virginia Tech for providing this great site and sharing with us the secrets of curing. While we are excursusing: Whoa doggie! Here’s a British site all about sausage-making. And here is an organic farm in Britain that cures their own hams. Of course there is always this 1943 book from the Morton Salt company on curing your own pork, sausage, and other meats. Or this book for the professional charcuterie.)

Yes… Your Maximum Leader needs a smokehouse (or he needs the Smallholder to get a smokehouse) so that he can make hams out of the Smallholder’s delicious pigs.

Carry on.

Richard Plantagenet - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader asks that you remember Richard III, King of England. He was killed in battle at Bosworth this day in 1485. He fought valiantly, if not triumphantly. He was the last Plantagenet to rule England. He was the last King of England to die in battle. And his death marks the generally accepted end of both the Wars of the Roses and the medieval period in England.

It is from Shakespeare’s play Richard III that the name of this site is taken. The important lines come in Act One, Scene III:

But then I sigh; and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

Richard is, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion, one of the most maligned kings in all history. Shakespeare’s play, while vastly entertaining, is far from an accurate portrayal of history and the man as we now know him.

Your Maximum Leader, out of habit, will republish the famous Rex Stout New York Times obituary for King Richard:

“PLANTAGENET — Richard, great king and true friend of the rights of man, died at Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. Murdered by traitors and, dead, maligned by knaves and ignored by Laodiceans, he merits our devoted remembrance.”

For those of you interested in learning more about Richard you might try the following links: Battle of Bosworth from the Richard III foundation, The Richard III Society of the UK, another Bosworth site from the US Richard III Society and finally the Wiki article on Richard III.

Carry on.

JFK and the death of liberalism

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader might not have much time today for posting. But he did want to point out an interesting piece over on Irish Elk. It is entitled “Liberalism’s post-Oswald crack up”. Mark writes:

[James] Piereson maintains [in his new book] that, after President Kennedy was killed, a meme developed that JFK had fallen in right-wing Dallas to a sort-of amorphous Hatred at loose in American society, which fit the agenda of the Sixties Left more than the truth, that JFK had been assassinated by a Communist. As a result, he argues, liberalism took its eye off the ball as far as winning the Cold War and defending the Free World was concerned, and allowed itself to become the province of prune-faced kiljoys who see America an oppressor and the source of the world’s ills. (Or something like that.) I don’t know that I’m 100-percent convinced, but he makes a very interesting case. Certainly, the paranoid style, once considered the trademark of John Birchers and anti-fluoride crusaders on the right, now seems entrenched among grassy knollers on the left.

Very interesting. A theory that your Maximum Leader had never given any thought to. A casual examination of the premise leads your Maximum Leader to believe that the book might be worth a read and more thought. Perhaps your Maximum Leader will wait for the paperback…

Carry on.

NFL Preseason

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has watched about 45 minutes of NFL preseason football. He doesn’t get worked up about preseason football. Afterall, the games don’t count and the real stars of the game don’t play many downs. There doesn’t seem to be much point to the preseason…

Well… There isn’t much point to the NFL preseason unless you are the NFL and you are trying to squeeze every last dollar out of the pocket of your adoring fans. In that sense your Maximum Leader understands perfectly the rationale for televised (nationally televised) preseason games.

You know, from time to time sports junkies debate the efficacy of lengthening the NFL season. But one of the major arguments against such a move is the old favorite “the star players would get injured more and the games wouldn’t be as good.” Of course, it seems as though players get injured plenty in preseason. To wit: DJ Shockey, Jason Campbell, Ebenezer Ekuban, and others.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t remember as many preseason games in the past as there seem to be this season, and last season frankly. He bets that there are more such games. He doesn’t see the point of them. In a way, they actually seem to run counter to one of the common formulations concerning the NFL. The formulation goes that the NFL is so widely popular because it is scarce compared to other sports. High demand, low supply. It seems as though hyping the preseason does nothing but increase supply and cheapen the games that matter.

Anyhow… Your Maximum Leader cheers out “Go Packers” and will now stop thinking about the NFL for a few more weeks.

Carry on.

Barack Obama is smart

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wonders how many of his readers will start this post thinking that he will start mocking Senator Barack Obama in one way or another… Well… If that is the case, then this post will disappoint.

Your Maximum Leader is actually going to heap a little praise on the freshman senator from Illinois (the Land of Lincoln don’t you know). Senator Obama’s campaign announced yesterday that they will be skipping future Democratic Presidential Candiate “Debates” for the near term. Obama campaign manager David Plouffe stated, “We simply cannot continue to hopscotch from forum to forum and run a campaign true to the bottom-up movement for change that propelled Barack into this race.”

Your Maximum Leader thinks that this is a smart move on Obama’s part. He can likely do a much better job of projecting the image he wants to project without having to share a stage with 6 (or 8 or however many Democrats are running for president) other people. Obama’s campaign will probably be better off coming up with a schedule of visits in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina that will get their man out in front of the masses.

Of course, the Iowa caucuses, and New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, are being held sometime in January next year. Your Maximum Leader reads that dates aren’t all finalized because everyone wants to be first. Probably the truest account of this aspect of our election story was when The Onion spoofed a headline that read something like “Iowa caucus moved to last week.”

Carry on.

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