Saturday, July 30, 2011

Heightening The Contradictions

My Grandma Marmee, who stood 4 feet 1 inch or so, despised vulgarity, for example ketchup bottles on the dinner table. And yet this was one of her prized possession:

Go, as they say, figure.

Fourth Foundation

For the sake of simplicity let's say that there have been four moments when America fundamentally altered it's sense of self: Articles of Confederation, Constitution, Lincoln, and Ike's change of our motto. I know that this is over simplistic at so forth but bear with me. Like lots of sensible people, I blame Reagan for the mess in which we find our selves and like lots of other folks I like Ike's military industrial complex speech, yet today is the anniversary of his signing into law the change for E Pluribus Unum to One Nation Under God. That this was a change dictated, at least in part, by the on-going struggle with the USSR is, I think, true. At the same time the phrase "Out of Many One" is one of those lovely phrases that capture an ideal of what it meant to be an America and, like all Latin tags, it is multivocal. For many of the WWII movies the phrase evoked the multiethnic character of the Army that defeated the fascist threat. For some dedicated to the idea of meritocracy the tag is redolent of the struggle for one man or woman to achieve greatness. At its heart, I think, it meant that this was a nation, like some someone or another named Legion, that contained multitudes all dedicated to a common proposition.

The phrase "One Nation Under God," on the other hand, transforms our national identity into a narrow and exclusive vision. Tom Paine, a notorious atheist, is written out of the national identity. Our collective struggle to animate the notion that the founding generation held
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed 
 became a sectarian and exclusive commitment to being a godly people.

A Modest Proposal

More or less by accident, I rode down to Monroe and back today. The first thing I want to say is that the new bike flat out rolls. The gearing is perfect; it's stable as all get out and as comfortable as a lazy-boy. I have three specific nits to pick. First, although the Brooks tape is lovely to look at, I would rather have the next step up in Avid disc brakes in which both pads have micro adjusters instead. Given that the better Avids retail for 20 less than the tape, the trade off seems like a no brainer. I am also not sold on the rear rack, which has this odd up-swooping rails at the front end that make it difficult to position the trunk rack properly. It should also have a kickstand plate especially as the spare spokes retainer, which is totally unnecessary, makes it difficult to get a "normal" kickstand top nut dealio in. None the less, a bike for the ages.

The Bike:

Now to the proposal: most of the path is crushed something or another gravel. Not only is this filthy but it's slow. Despite all this, there was a surprising large number of people from all walks of life and economic stations ambling up and down the trails.  Over to Rortybomb evidence is presented that in the current jobless recovery joblessness and age are barriers to getting jobs, which is to say ads encourage employed youngsters to and suggested that the older and unemployed need not apply. Let's have a CCC and WPA for men and women aged 45+ to build and pave bike multiuser paths and pay them Davis-Bacon wages. The first could be a triangle that connects Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago.  The Madison to Milwaukee already exists but needs paving, so let's start there. Then Chicago to St. Louis with the Katy Trail from St. Louis to KC to follow.  Seattle to Portland, Philly to DC, and so forth. Every 50 miles or so, build a hostel/camping area with an attached beer garden. Let either the aged and unemployed run the hostel/camping/beer garden with the state as a sleeping partner.

If nothing else, there'd be a bicycle multiuser based infrastructure for a non-petroleum based Mad Max dystopia.

Oh For Dumb

Megan McArdle doesn't know what an unintended consequence is.  If a group or individual launch policy z in hopes of outcome a and they get not-a, not-a is an unintended consequence. Sort of like, if you argue that lower taxes for the rich, fewer limits on what the rich can do with their money and less oversight of what they do with their money will lead to a world in which everyone has a pony and, instead, it leads to an economic train wreak, the train wreak is the unintended, but not unforeseen, consequence. So when the good government types argued that earmarks were a form of bribery that enabled speakers to coerce legislators to vote against their or their constituents best interests and you have a situation were  Boehner's inability to bribe legislators to vote against their (incorrect, imo) understanding of their best interests , it isn't an  unintended consequence it is the intended consequence. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Something is Slightly Off, No?

There is a difference between words and pictures. Sometimes, it seems, the words transform a picture into its opposite:

In other cases the words just make the whole dealio weirder:


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just So

This Robert Millar Tour recap is exactly right.

Laugh and Whole World Laughs With You

I cannot find where I got this from, I thought it was, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In any event, and Afghani Office:

Retirement Planing

As it seems that even should the political class avoid destroying the economy for at least 5 years or so, they are bound and determined to see to that those freeloaders and parasites, i.e., the elderly and the poor, no longer freeload or blood suck, neatly avoiding the fact that there are somewhere in the area of 10 to 20 million jobs missing, I remain in the market for a wealthy widow woman to defraud love and cherish, and together we will travel the world on a food food truck called Ish Kabbile's Smoke Shack and Grill. In addition to the brisket, chicken smoked.

and pork chops:
With more to come

Oh For Dumb

[t]he Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (Working Group),
comprised of representatives from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), seeks public comment on a preliminary proposal for voluntary principles to guide industry self-regulatory efforts to improve the nutritional profile of foods marketed to children.
In particular the
primary objective of the Working Group in developing recommendations for
nutrition principles for foods marketed to children has been the promotion of children’s
health through better diet, with particular – but not sole – emphasis on reducing the incidence
of childhood obesity. The proposed recommendations are therefore designed to encourage
children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful
contribution to a healthful diet (Principle A) and minimize consumption of foods with
significant amounts of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight –
specifically, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars (Principle B).
Having looked at the
 food marketing data from Nielsen Media Research and data collected by the FTC on marketing expenditures and activities directed to youth, the Working Group has identified ten categories of food products for which the industry spent at least $50 million on marketing to children and adolescents in 2006. The categories most heavily marketed to children and adolescents, ages 2 -17 years are: breakfast cereals; snack foods; candy; dairy products; baked goods; carbonated beverages; fruit juice and non-carbonated beverages; prepared foods and meals; frozen and chilled deserts; and restaurant foods.16
In the interest of clarity the report, in note 17,
recommends the following definitions for these ten food categories,
based on standard industry Product Classification Codes: (1) Breakfast cereals – all cereals, whether intended to be served hot or cold (PCC F122); (2) Snack foods – snack chips (such as potato chips, tortilla chips, and corn chips), pretzels, snack nuts (salted and roasted), popcorn, snack bars (including breakfast and cereal bars), crackers, cookies, processed fruit snacks (such as fruit leather), gelatin, and pudding (PCC F115, F163, F212); (3) Candy – chocolate and other candy bars, other chocolate candy, hard candy, chewy candy (including licorice, gummi candy, and jelly beans), and sour candy (PCC F211, excluding gum and breath mints); (4) Dairy products – milk (including flavored milk drinks), yogurt, yogurt drinks, and cheese (PCC F131, excluding butter, eggs, and cream, F132, F139,
excluding cottage cheese and sour cream, F223); (5) Baked goods – snack cakes, pastries, doughnuts, toaster baked goods (such as frozen waffles, French toast sticks, and toaster pastries), bread, rolls, bagels, breadsticks, buns, croissants, taco shells, and tortillas (PCC F161, F162); (6) Carbonated beverages – all carbonated beverages, both diet and regular (PCC F221, F222); (7) Fruit juice and non-carbonated beverages – fruit juice, juice drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, vegetable juice, tea drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, cocoa, bottled water, and all other non-carbonated beverages, including ready-to-pour beverages as well as those sold in concentrated or powdered form (PCC F171, excluding all varieties of coffee, F172, F173, F224); (8) Prepared foods and meals – frozen and chilled entrees, frozen pizzas, canned soups and pasta, lunch kits, and non-frozen packaged  7 entrees (such as macaroni and cheese) (PCC F121, F125, F126); (9) Frozen and chilled desserts – ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, popsicles and other frozen novelties, frozen yogurt, and frozen baked
goods (such as frozen pies and cakes) (PCC F133); (10) Restaurant food – menu items offered in a restaurant (including both quick-serve and other types of restaurants) (PCC G330).
This all seems clear enough. We want information to help guide self-regulation so that there are fewer rather than more overweight teens with fewer rather than more related health problems to the extent that telling the truth about foods' nutritional value might make a difference.

For one of the flying monkeys over to the NRO, this translates as
Let’s take a look at what foods the IWG sees as a barrier to children developing a “healthful diet.”
● All cereals
● Pretzels, nuts, popcorn, snack bars, and crackers
● Milk, yogurt, yogurt drinks, and cheese
● Bread, rolls, bagels, breadsticks, and buns
● Fruit and vegetable juices, tea drinks, and bottled water
● Canned soups and pastas
● Sherbet, sorbet, popsicles, and frozen yogurt
It's not just a misreading of the purpose of the study, which is to gather information about marketing standards and practices. It's one thing to hold a silly notion, Government action except in the blowing up of things is wrong, and its totally another thing to make stuff up.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Smoke Signals

The other day a pal and I were at the grocery and we ended up in a discussion with two other cyclists about hand signals. Neither of the other two knew what they were. I ran through them and mentioned that the use of the left hand has to do with how easy it is for other vehicles, particularly motorists, to see the signals.  As it happens for some time now I have used the point with the left hand for going left, point with the right hand for going right. About a block after the conversation, Ian pointed out that I had just said that motorists are unlikely to see my right hand and shouldn't I use the bent left arm instead? Um, er, ah, I argued. The fact is I hate the bent left arm signal, no real idea why but it's aesthetically unpleasing to me. However, having realized that I was wrong and condemned out of my own mouth, I have gone back to the bent left arm.

As the economy  continues to morph into some kind of hellish neo-liberal dystoptia, I have become increasingly convinced that the proper response is to marry a rich widow, defraud her of a portion, but not all not even the majority, of her wealth and use to buy a food truck. I would then change my name, I am leaning toward Ish Kabbile and a bbq.  In the service of this future easy street, I decided to make a smoked beef brisket. According to all and sundry smoking blogs and webpages it is the sine qua non of bbq. Indeed, according to all and sundry making bbqed beef brisket is slightly, but only slightly, less complicated that than the logistics of the Berlin Airlift. Not true. I went to the store bought a half pre-trimed brisket and seasoned it:

The next day I set up the grill for smoking:

I used two thirds of a chimney of lump charcoal in a little metal container, an aluminum pie tin filled with water and, in total, 1/2 bag of soaked apple wood chips added every half hour or so.  And cooked it for about 5 hrs turning it over about half way. It looked like this  when I flipped it:

And then, because everybody said to, I took it off the grill wrapped it twice in aluminum and stuffed it in oven at 220 until it was done, about 2 hrs more. After 1/2 hr of resting, it looked like this:

When I sliced it, it looked like this:

It was very, very, good and a lot less work then it sounds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

He Hates Us For Our Freedom

For reasons that escape entirely, a two bit grifter named Grover Norquist seems to have more power than Zombie Ronald Reagan in the Republican Party. May the Islamophobes are half right. Or maybe it's just that like a lot of bufflaheads, he thinks the nineteenth century's  radical economic, social, and political inequalities were "real" America and those who fought and died for FDR and a new America were commie symps. In either event, his war against sensible budgeting places him firmly in the category of people who won't let us have nice things.