“Only stupid people, or fools, want conflict with their bosses,” Professor Plum said as he entered the mail room.

He read the mail…. (More)

Professor Plum then left with Ms. Scarlet to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of “Magis vinum, magis verum” (“More wine, more truth”).

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor was trying to avoid conflict with a superior hand. He’d been dealt the Ten of Spades and Ten of Diamonds, and he opened the pot with a raise. The Squirrel folded, but Chef called. The flop brought the Ace and Queen of Clubs and the Ten of Hearts, giving the Professor of Astrology Janitor three Tens. He put in a half-pot-sized bet and Chef responded with a pot-sized raise.

He was sure Chef didn’t have a pair of Aces, as she would have re-raised before the flop. But might she have a pair of Queens for a higher three-of-a-kind? A King-Jack for an Ace-high straight? Might she think an Ace-Queen for two pair was good? Was she semi-bluffing with two Clubs and a flush draw?

The Professor of Astrology Janitor would have to put in half of his remaining chips to call, so he would be pot-committed. Was it better to reraise all-in to make her fold two pair or a flush draw, knowing that if she called then his three Tens were almost sure to be second-best?

“Sometimes you just have to gamble,” he thought and said. “I’m all-in.”

“Ick,” Chef said. “We can’t both have three Queens, so you have either Aces or Tens.”

The Professor of Astrology Janitor tried to maintain his best stone face. Finally Chef shook her head.

“I just can’t fold second set,” she said. “If you have Aces, good on you. I call.”

Only a fourth Ten could save him, and it didn’t. The Professor of Astrology Janitor began his plaintive mewling and Chef went to the kitchen to make Chicken and Rice Breakfast Casserole, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….


Dear Ms. Crissie,

Signed, The President-elect of the United States

Dear Lapdog-elect,

We note that you frame the issue to offer a false dichotomy with a hidden premise. That is, as you frame it, we can either have “a good relationship with Russia” – no matter the cost to our national interests and ideals – or we can have “a bad relationship with Russia.” In that frame, a good relationship with Russia is obviously the better choice, one that “only ‘stupid people, or fools” would reject …

… but only if we ignore that hidden premise: “no matter the cost to our national interests and ideals.”

In a deeply-researched article based on years of reporting from eastern Europe, Politico Magazine’s Molly McKew summarized the geopolitical stakes in stark terms:

Today, as a result, Russia is little more than a ghastly hybrid of an overblown police state and a criminal network with an economy the size of Italy – and the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

Even Russian policy hands, raised on the Western understanding of traditional power dynamics, find the implications of this hard to understand. This Russia does not aspire to be like us, or to make itself stronger than we are. Rather, its leaders want the West – and specifically NATO and America – to become weaker and more fractured until we are as broken as they perceive themselves to be. No reset can be successful, regardless the personality driving it, because Putin’s Russia requires the United States of America as its enemy.
Rather than a stable world order undergirded by the U.S. and its allies, the goal is an unstable new world order of “all against all.” The Kremlin has tried to accelerate this process by both inflaming crises that overwhelm the Western response (for example, the migration crisis in Europe, and the war in eastern Ukraine) and by showing superiority in ‘solving’ crises the West could not (for example, bombing Syria into submission, regardless of the cost, to show Russia can impose stability in the Middle East when the West cannot).

We note that, for Putin, the ultimate ‘victory’ would be a U.S. that is every bit as authoritarian, every bit as corrupt, every bit as nakedly aggressive, and thus every bit as despised as Russia. Such a U.S. would leave NATO an empty shell, with no other alliance strong enough to challenge Putin’s aggression. We liken that strategy to a sports team weakened by injuries … who decide they can only win by injuring enough opposing players that other teams as crippled as they are.

If that is the cost of “a good relationship with Russia,” then those who reject that goal need not be “‘stupid’ people, or fools.” They need only be factually and morally grounded. We conclude that you are neither.


Dear Ms. Crissie,

How do humans make Chef’s Chicken and Rice Breakfast Casserole?

Sekretnyy Belka in Blogistan

Dear Squirrel–

–Wait, you read Russian?

We can’t read Russian, but we guessed that Sekretnyy meant “Secret,” and you asked how “humans” could make the casserole. It was not difficult to put those facts together.


Regardless, to make Chef’s Chicken and Rice Breakfast Casserole, first cook 4 cups of rice. While the rice is cooking, julienne-cut 1 grilled chicken breast, mince 1 clove of elephant garlic, thinly-slice 1 leek, and dice 3 stalks of celery. Lightly sauté the garlic, leek, and celery in butter until just softened, then add the chicken breast, 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup, and ½ soup can of water. Pour that into a casserole dish and stir in the rice, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and two beaten eggs. Bake uncovered at 375º for 45 minutes, and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Bon appétit!


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lapdog-elect; Molly McKew summarized the geopolitical stakes in stark terms.


Happy Sunday!