Tag Archives: Turkey

Is Turkey Hacking Trump?

Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald (author of Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story, Serpent on the Rock, and a few other books) is reporting an interesting story this morning.

Here is the short version, as I understand it.

Turkey had a coup. The Turkish government, in particular, President Erdogan, blames naturalized US citizen Fethullah Gülen for that coup, and wants him extradited. The US won’t do that.

President Erdogan and Presumed President Elect Trump had a conversation soon after the election, in which Trump mentioned a key player in the development of the Turkish version of Trump Towers. We may presume this was an effort to get that project special treatment in Turkey.

Trump’s efforts to sidle up to Erdogan backfired, and something different happened. The Erdogan government arrested a key individual related to the Trump project, accusing him of being linked to the Coup.

So, now, we have this situation. President Trump (assuming he becomes president) is under pressure to release Imam Gülen to the Turks else his business dealings with respect to the Turkish Trump Tower project be threatened.

Inauguration day hasn’t even happened yet and we are already seeing Trump’s business empire involved in seemingly nefarious dealings and intrigue. He can’t run a country like this.

Trump was planning to give a news conference on Thursday to describe his plans for separating his businesses from his presidency. That would be appropriate, because the Electors would have a chance to review his plans to see if he is qualified to be president. But yesterday, Trump said he’d hold that news conference in January instead. There is speculation that Trump is essentially hiding out, avoiding talking about Friday’s allegations that the Russians are significantly responsible, according to the CIA, for Trump winning the election. In any event, Trump will not be providing the information necessary for Electors to determine his qualifications, which is their Constitutional responsibility.

Over night, Trump did tweet something about his business plans. According to his over night tweets, he is sticking with the original plans. No blind trust, no divestment, his kids will handle the businesses.

In typical Trump slo mo, he said, “Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my busineses before January 20th so that I can focus full time on the……”

Then, six minutes later, finished the sentence with “Presidency. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them. No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office.”

Nine minutes later he finished the thought and elaborated: “I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!”

The Newsweek story covers a lot more than the Turkish situation. It is here and you should read it. The Trump-Philippines-Holocaust-TrumpTower connection is especially chilling.

Rachel Maddow covered the story last night as well:

How Bad is the Minnesota Turkey Epidemic?

Unless you are living in a chicken coop, you have probably heard about the Turkey Crisis in Minnesota and surrounding upper plains/midwestern states. Every few days we hear more news: Millions of farmed turkeys are being put down in one turkey farm after another, because the farm’s turkeys are infested with the H5N2 bird flu.

I should say right away, that according to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, there is no significant risk of a turkey shortage. While it is always bad to count your chickens before they hatch, apparently this is not a big problem with the larger fowl.

See also: Avian Influenza H5N2 In The Mississippi And Pacific Flyways

The flu is probably carried to the turkeys by migratory birds. Once it is established at a turkey farm, the birds are generally put down. So far this has cost Minnesota turkey farmers millions, probably tens of millions, of dollars.

There are two reasons to be concerned about this, but it is also important to keep the epidemic in perspective.

The first reason to be concerned is, of course, because turkey farmers are taking it in the neck, a distinction usually reserved for the turkeys themselves. Anything that badly affects farmers is bad for the local or regional economy. The second reason is the small possibility that emerges any time there is a lot of bird flu activity. This, of course, is the possibility that a new version of a virus will emerge that will affect humans. The chances of that are very small, but the possible consequences are of course great, as new viruses in a population can be highly virulent. There have been no known cases of humans being affected and it is highly unlikely that this will happen.

I should also note that the turkey virus does affect chickens as well, but according to experts, less so. The virus spreads easily from turkey to turkey, but has a harder time spreading among chickens.

I checked with Lara Durben of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association to see how much H5N2 is affecting the turkeys and turkey farming here. She told me that so far about 26 farms have been affected, which is just under 5% of the total number of farms statewide (about 600). “In Minnesota, about 1.6 million birds have been destroyed because of this strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza. That compares to a total number of birds raised in Minnesota of 46 million annually – so about 3.5% of the total number of turkeys raised in our state will not enter the marketplace because they have been destroyed,” she told me.

Durben also anticipates that the number of new cases will go down shortly, as Spring passes into Summer, but possibly pick up again in the Fall. “The virus does not thrive in heat, and the spring migratory bird season will be over. However, we do assume that cases will pick up again in the fall with migratory birds heading back south and cooler weather. USDA researchers are telling us that we should expect to see this particular strain around for the next 3-5 years in all four flyways of the U.S.”

So that is good news. Less good news is that this s the first time that the US has seen H5N2, and it is highly virulent. This is the worst pathogenic avian influenza Derben has seen.

Since we are talking turkey, please have a look at these related posts:

<li>A two part interview on the history of the Turkey: <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/12/02/a-partial-history-of-the-turkey-podcast/">Part I</a> | <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/12/15/a-second-helping-of-turkey/">Part II</a></li>

<li><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/11/22/the-feast-a-thanksgiving-day-story/">The Feast (A Thanksgiving Day Story)</a></li>

<li><a href="http://10000birds.com/history-of-the-turkey-and-the-first-thanksgiving.htm">The Domestic Turkey and the First Thanksgiving</a></li>

Photo from here.

A Second Helping of Turkey

Are you done with your Thanksgiving leftovers yet? You might think so, but not quite. We have one more helping of Turkey for you.

This is “Another Helping of Turkey,” the second of two installments of Eat This Podcast with Jeremy Cherfas:

The domestication of the turkey probably first took place around 2000 years ago in south central Mexico, possibly for their feathers and ritual value rather than their meat. Their rise to the top of the American festive table came much later, not with the Pilgrims but with Charles Wampler, whose efforts to promote turkey raising started Rockingham County, Virginia, on its path to Turkey Capital of the World. That much we heard in the previous episode of Eat This Podcast. In between domestication and proto-industrialisation, however, the wild turkey almost vanished from America, hunted to the edge of extinction. Nature types – and hunters – really thought the turkey was a goner, and it was the hunters who brought it back, to the point where there are now turkeys in 10 states, including Hawaii, that originally had none….

Read the rest here, and listen to the podcast (in which I, as well as various turkey experts, am interviewed) HERE.

The previous podcast, “A partial history of the turkey,” is here.

A partial history of the turkey (Podcast)

“As Thanksgiving ebbs into memory and Christmas looms on the horizon, Eat This Podcast concerns itself with the turkey. For a nomenclature nerd, the turkey is a wonderful bird. Why would a bird from America be named after a country on the edge of Asia? The Latin name offers a clue; the American turkey is Meleagris gallopavo, while the African guineafowl is Numida meleagris. But why did the first settlers adopt a name they were already familiar with, rather than adopt a local indigenous name such as nalaaohki pileewa for the native fowl. Simple answer: nobody knows…”

Listen to the podcast (with extensive notes) here…

A partial history of the turkey

cover-320x320“As Thanksgiving ebbs into memory and Christmas looms on the horizon, Eat This Podcast concerns itself with the turkey. For a nomenclature nerd, the turkey is a wonderful bird. Why would a bird from America be named after a country on the edge of Asia? The Latin name offers a clue; the American turkey is Meleagris gallopavo, while the African guineafowl is Numida meleagris. But why did the first settlers adopt a name they were already familiar with, rather than adopt a local indigenous name such as nalaaohki pileewa for the native fowl. Simple answer: nobody knows…”

Listen to the podcast (with extensive notes) here…

Evolution Debate Ends in Turkey?

According to the Turkish Daily News

The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey … has put a stop to the publication and sale of all books in its archives that support the theory of evolution, daily Radikal has reported.

The evolutionist books, previously available through TÜB?TAK’s Popular Science Publications’ List, will no longer be provided by the council.

The books have long been listed as “out of stock” on TÜB?TAK’s website, but their further publication is now slated to be stopped permanently.

Titles by Richard Dawkins, Alan Moorehead, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Levontin and James Watson are all included in the list of books that will no longer be available to Turkish readers.

How To Cook A Turkey

First, consider cooking something other than a turkey

Cooking turkey is actually kind of a dumb idea. Most people don’t ever cook turkey. Turkey is like chicken … it’s a domestic bird that is familiar to all Americans … but it is very difficult to cook in a way that does not ruin it. So once a year, you cook this huge bird and try not to ruin it, and invite everybody that is important to you over to see if it worked.

As a result of this the truth is that many people have never had good turkey. They’ve only had ruined turkey. And for each of these people, what they think turkey tastes like is unique to the particular way their family’s turkey cooker learned to ruin the turkey every year.

How to cook a turkey

… you might as well try doing it the most difficult way possible. But before considering that, try this idea on for size: Cook more than one a year and use different methods to see how it turns out! (Jeesh, you’d think this would be obvious.)

This isn’t the only way, but it is a good way. It is also the hardest way that I’ve done it.

My daughter, Julia, is named after two people. One of them is Julia Child. I happen to think Julia Child has had more influence on American society than most other people, by helping to make varied and interesting cuisine part of American culture.

One day when Julia was a very young child (my Julia, not Julia Child), I was out walking her in her carriage. I turned the corner around the Van Serg Building on the Harvard Campus and practically ran into Julia Child, who was walking in the other direction on her daily constitutional.

“Oh, what a cute child,” she said. (And she was a cute child, I assure you.) “What’s her name.”

Well, that was an interesting conversation…..

Anyway, I want to suggest that you use a recipe invented by Julia Child for cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey this year. It is called “Laid Back Turkey.” It is, in my view, the best possible way to cook a turkey.

But it is not for the faint of heart….

Laid Back Turkey a la Julia Child

You can find more specific instructions in The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Julia made this on her show once, so somewhere out there is a video of this process. Here, I’ll just give you the basic idea. If you are the kind of person to even try this, the you are also surely willing to experiment and take some chances. All you should really need is the basic theory. If you are the kind of cook who prefers specific instructions and actually follows recipes, then hang up now…

The first thing you need to do is to remove all but a few of the bones from the bird.

Lay the uncooked turkey on it’s front. Slice down to the bone along the spine. Use this slit as the starting point to expose the entire skeleton, working your way around the rib cage, etc., all of which you will remove except for the wing bones and the distal leg bones. Cut through the wing and leg joints at this point in order to free the “outer” part of the bird from the main skeleton.

Caution: As you work your way around to the front … to the breastbone … your chances of cutting through the skin increases. Don’t do this.

When you’ve got the skeleton out of the turkey, lay the deboned bird on it’s front, exposed flesh facing up, and brush the livid tissue with an appropriate oil based marinade. I recommend half grape seed oil and half olive oil with lots of thyme, some black pepper, and a little salt.

In the meantime, make a huge pile of stuffing. Put this pile on a flat pan with very low sides big enough to hold the turkey. You are going to lay the turkey on this pile later. If possible, put the stuffing on a cookie sheet that, in turn, fits into a large low-sided baking pan. You can even fashion the pan from aluminum foil or from those disposable pans you get in the spice and cooking supply aisle of your basic grocery store. You’ll see later why this method … the cookie sheet set into a crushable aluminum foil pan … is useful.

Now, back to the turkey. You’ve got the exposed flesh facing up, and you’ve put it on some kind of a pan, temporarily. Fire up the broiler and slide the bird in there. Watch it closely. You want to brown the exposed flesh and hopefully get it cooked a quarter to a half inch deep. The more cooking at this stage, without burning, the better.

Now, take the large, floppy bird that is now covered with hot oil (so be careful!) and lay it flesh side down over the big pile of stuffing. Manipulate the corpse to make it look like nothing’s happened, like it is supposed to be this way. Brush the skin, which is now facing up, with your favorite substance for these purposes. I recommend coating the skin with oil and sprinkling copious amounts of dried green spice (thyme and basil … avoid oregano) for this purpose.

Put this in the oven and cook until done. It will take a fraction of the time that a “normal” turkey will take. It is also a good idea to make sure the stuffing is not cold … in fact, it could be heated up in advance .. when you put the turkey on there. You want to avoid partly cooking bird-meat, cooling it down, then cooking it again. Makes it a bit rubbery.

Now, here comes the fun part.

When the bird is done, wrangle it onto a huge cutting board, big enough to hold this laid back bird. This is where the cookie sheet inside the big pan is helpful. You could poke a hole in the pan and drain it into a bowl sitting in the sink, then cut away one side of the pan, and then use this fenestration to slide the bird-bearing cookie sheet out of what is now a scrap aluminum mess. To cut the turkey properly, slide it off the cookie sheet onto a huge cutting board. Have a mop handy. Might be good to wear rubber boots with a good tread, as the floor tends to get slippery at this stage.

Get a whopping big knife, which you have sharpened, the biggest spatula you have (maybe two) and possibly something large and flat and metal like a cookie sheet cut in half down the long axis. Maybe a flattened hubcap. Whatever you’ve got that is big and flat and thin.

Having an assistant help you with this step is a good idea, if it is someone you work well with.

Get the plates ready … the plates you will be serving dinner on.

Cut the laid back turkey right down the middle, the long way, in half. Using large flat devices, separate the two halves by a couple of inches.

Now, cut a slice about a third of an inch from this freshly exposed cut … so you are cutting a saggital section from near the midline of the bird. Use your flat devices to keep this slice from falling apart, angle it onto the flat surface, and move it over to one of the plates. Now, carefully slide this big slice onto a plate. You will probably have to curve the ends in to make it fit on the plate.

Now, look at what you’ve done. You have a slice of white meat and a slice of dark meat, nestled along side a slice of stuffing, all in one glorious unit. Because both forms of meat will cook much more nicely with this method than the usual ways of cooking turkey, your guests will enjoy both even if they’ve come to the table with preconceptions about their preference for dark vs. light meat.

Repeat this slicing operation, working from both halves of the turkey. As you work your way laterally, make the slices a bit thicker if you want all of the servings to be similar in total mass.

If the slicing procedure does not work well, don’t worry. Just cut the bird up and serve as normal. The flavor will be far superior to any other method you’ve ever tried, and the meat will be moister and tastier.

An interesting variation of Laid Back Turkey is Laid Back Flock. Here, you get a few birds, like a few of Cornish game hens, two big chickens, and a medium sized turkey. You totally fillet the smaller birds (cut off the wings and the distal legs and get rid of the skin) and arrange them over the giant pile of stuffing, and cover them all with the turkey. This can produce astounding results.

The frame of the turkey can be used for stock. Also, don’t forget to make some excellent gravy to go on this dish.