X-Men – The Last Stand

This is the 3rd movie in the X-Men trilogy. Mutants face a new threat in the form of a cure for their mutations. Then there is also the Dark Phoenix. It’s a good movie and I rate it 7/10.

X-Men – The Last Stand is the 3rd movie of the X-men series. We have seen all three and found them good.

While The Last Stand is a good movie, it looked to me that it tried to mix two plot lines. The main plot was about the “cure” discovered for mutants. This was a good story and would have sufficed by itself without the distraction of Jean Gray’s return as the Dark Phoenix. Jean’s return was interesting and deserved more of a storyline.

Overall, I rate it 7/10.

Deflated Balls and Military Bureacracy

A military spokesman sputters nonsense in reply to reports that the US army distributed deflated soccer balls to Iraqi kids because no one had the foresight to order pumps or pins.

Via Unqualified Offerings comes this tale of the US military handing out deflated soccer balls to Iraqi kids. The whole article is worth reading but the most amusing part is the response of the military spokesman:

“America is filled with veterans who know that this comic view of soldiers dumbly following orders is completely without basis and almost laughable in its propagation of stereotype,” Kubik wrote. “Soldiers are Americans, not automatons.” He added: “To focus on the air in the balls, or lack thereof, undermines the American spirit of generosity and completely misses the point of giving.”

Funny as hell!

A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars is part of the Dollars trilogy by Sergio Leone with Clint Eastwood in the lead role. It is a Classic and definitely worth watching. I rate it 8/10.

After The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, we had to of course watch A Fistful of Dollars, part of the Dollars trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns.

Clint Eastwood’s unnamed character arrives in a town where a feud is going on between two families. He then tries to make money by playing one against the other.

The trilogy is of course a classic by Sergio Leone and I have no idea why I hadn’t seen Fistful of Dollars or For a Few Dollars More before.

I would rate A Fistful of Dollars 8/10.

Shariah is Human

People interpret religion and its strictures. These interpretations are human and can be flawed or change over time. We do not have the view of God and have to rely on our senses and abilities to develop religious law.

Koonj has a great post which makes the point that we humans interpret and create all laws, even religious law.

Religion and religious law must always be the human reading of a law. The notion of a “God’s-eye-view” law is a tempting and beautiful one. However, it is one of those things for which we yearn on earth, similar to perfection, eternal life, perfect beauty, endless love, and so on. Earthly life is not made for such things.

A human being cannot access “God’s-eye-view” law or religious law.

Paradoxically, religion and religious law must always be more or less human–but always somewhat human.

To claim that you have access to God’s-eye-view of law is to claim that you have God’s view, which approximates blasphemy.

So to claim that your perspective on religion/religious law is infallible, is, in a way, to claim divinity. And as even Ibn Arabi says, the Lord is the Lord wa in tanazzal, and the servant is the servant, wa in ta’arruj (will not translate for fear of doing it poorly).

[…] Some of us think that literalism is safe refuge from our own readings, but there is never any refuge from our own readings. Whether you read one of the seven inner meanings and the seven inner meanings of the inner meanings of each Qur’anic verse – or whether you try to go from a “linear atomistic” (see Mustansar Mir) reading of each line, – or whether you struggle to read the Qur’an using the Qur’an itself as its commentary – or whether you use a scholar’s readings – we ordinary human beings always use words, our limited five senses and our limited spiritual senses, to try to KNOW.

Lemon Tart

While I am getting ready for the superbowl, here is the recipe for another French dessert that I made for Thanksgiving. Lemon Tart is easy to make and very tasty. I strongly recommend making the pastry shell yourself too.

While I am baking some cookies for the superbowl party we are going to, here is my Lemon Tart recipe that I made for Thanksgiving.

If you are wondering whether I have suddenly developed an interest in American Football, no I haven’t. I sometimes watch a game on TV if I have nothing better to do and have been to a few Tech college football games as well. But watching the superbowl is just an excuse to hang out with friends and eat junk food. While we are on the topic of the Superbowl, can anyone please tell me why the game lasts three times longer than it should.

Coming back to the lemon tart, I have made it with store-bought pie shell as well as made the shell myself and I strongly recommend that you make the pastry shell using recipe below.

This recipe is adapted from Simple French Desserts.

Pastry Dough Shell


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Sift the flour and salt into the butter mixture and beat at low speed just until a soft dough forms.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk. Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle between two sheets of plastic wrap.
  3. Remove the top sheet of the plastic wrap and invert the pastry circle into the tart pan. Gently ease the pastry into the shell without stretching the dough. Remove the plastic wrap and roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the excess dough. Use a fork to generously prick the bottom of the pastry shell.
  4. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour. When it is chilled, freeze it for a few hours (or up to a week).

Lemon Tart


  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pastry dough shell from above
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Fill a large skillet full with warm water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
  3. In a medium stainless steel bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, sugar, eggs, and yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the softened butter. The mixture will now have a curdled appearance.
  4. Place the bowl in the simmering water and stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon for 9-10 minutes, i.e. until the mixture is thick and smooth, with a soft, pudding-like texture.
  5. Remove the bowl from the hot water and pour the lemon cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the pastry shell.
  6. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, i.e. until the filling is set but not browned.

Cool it and enjoy!