Monday, March 25, 2013

There at The New Yorker

It what has to be the least historically informed comment ever in the history of The New Yorker Jeffrey Tobin argues, if that is the word I want, that regardless of the Supreme Court decisions on the equal rights for all Americans, or "gay marriage," cases the cause of gay marriage can never go back but only onward and upward to full equality.

This notion of history has the progressing toward something better is silly even when Martin Luther King insisted on it. History's arc is a anything but.

Recall that in the 1930s Jews were nowhere better integrated and nowhere more fully citizens that Germany. Indeed, it is now a cliche to point this out. Yet in a just a few years Hitler, his henchmen, and hordes of apathetic Germans, to say nothing of the the world outside Germany, worked together to ensure their social and, ultimately, actual death.

Even if the S.C. agrees that all American citizens ought be treated equally, there is no reason whatsoever to assume that this means any of us is safe.

It is this sort term focus that allows the likes of the Koch Brothers to destroy the EPA in theory and practice; while ensuring that the "left," broadly understood, works to temporarily overcome one or another of the world's actually existing evils without effecting fundamental change.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why I have Been So Quite Lately

It is difficult to write about the politics of the moment when everyone has gone crazy or insists upon talking to morons.

First up Eliana Johnson. Some weeks back she, I assume, took President Obama to task for calling the Holocaust senseless. Her argument, such as it was, consisted of the claim that say what you'd like about the tenets of National Socialism it wasn't senseless. She then posted a follow up that was equally stupid.  Had the President followed her advice and said something like: while we all deplore the murder of millions we need to keep in mind that the Nazis acted out of deeply held belief; their violence wasn't senseless; rather, it was ideologically driven and, from their point of view, necessary. I would have called for his impeachment. Indeed, if you think back to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iran you will recall that any attempt to contextualize Isamist violence was viewed as tantamount to treason, you will understand that Johnson would, in fact, have called for Obama's execution had he done what she suggested he do.

It is no secret that  Matthew Yglesisas is a dolt. Recently he asked, in the context of the increasing inequality in America, "What do people have less of." Paul Krugman responded that we have less time. This misses the larger point that what "we" have less of is consequential political power. That is why wage stagnation matters. It's not that one cannot go deeply into debt to get law degree and no job as Yglesias suggests it is the fact that the plutocrats domination of out political system is evidence that the assault on the working poor, which is nearly all of us, is evidence that we live in a plutocracy.

And David Brooks is teaching a course at Yale about "humility" the exams for which are:

Assignment 1: Mid-Term paper of 2,500 words. Students will be asked to grapple with the indictment of their generation made by Christian Smith, Alasdair Macintyre and Jean Twenge. Due Date:  February 26. Deliver Hard Copy at end of class.  40% of the final grade.

Assignment 2: Final Paper. 2,500 words. Students will be asked to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of one of the character codes covered in the course. Due April 29. Delivery by email.  40% of the final grade.
 Leaving aside the fact that course make no sense, he is asking students to learn how to write David Brooks level stupid essays. The idiots have taken over the asylum and the morons are considered honest interlocutors.

So basically, I find it hard to say anything because the world has become such a hot mess and I give up.

Feel Like A Dinasaur?

So this is something that happened:



Of course a large and more lethal meteor will never hit us. Because of Bruce Willis.

Errands in Wintertime

Recently the crackerjack staff over to Chasing Mailboxes issued the world's pleasantest winter bike challenge: run some errands, take some pictures, write down you mileage and win some kind of an unstated prize. So I did. I have one more errand to run to get to twelve.

Given that I ride my bike everywhere anyhow I decided to use Friday errand running for most of the trips.  My theory of errand running is that as bicycles have wheels and as wheels are, ideally, round all trips ought to be circles and one ought to try not to use the road out as the road back. All of the errandees below were essentially counterclockwise circles and, with the exception of the road in front of the abode, none use the same street twice.

First Friday first leg on a blustery day was to the National Mustard Museum to get mustard. I was looking for a specific sweet Norwegian mustard the empty jar makes a really nice pilsner glass and the mustard is perfect for weisswurst:






From there I went to REI to get some bike camping stuff. The roads were still sort of icy from the recent snow/rain/sleet but perfectly rideable:





You can sort of see another bike there but from the looks for things it hasn't been anywhere for a while.

  After this I went to the Sequoia Library to get a couple of books:


One of them was Richard Starck's The Hunter. Starck is a pen name for Donald Westlake and this book, the first of a series, is the basis of three movies, "Point Blank" with Lee Marvin; "Payback" with Mel Gibson, and "Parker" with Jason Stracham. I have seen the first two and the Lee Marvin is the best; although, the first bit of "Payback" where Gibson steals his way into respectable clothes, a steak dinner, and gun is nicely done. But his sadism really marred the film. Anyway the book isn't really any good.






From there I rode over to a niece and her husband's house to figure out what size my fork is (one inch) for a planned bike upgrade this spring.  Along the way I passed the world's greatest little library:


You have to look closely for the nifty factor:


It is a mise en abyme. Beats the hell out of the other versions. Sorry Ben. Got to the niece's and the kids had clearly been indoors too long:




Although everybody was remarkable good natured.  Had  a beer and smoke with Bear; measured and adjusted the head set and set off for the Grocery:


Bought some stuff and went home.

 Night rides are required so I included two trips to the job from Hell about which the less said the better:






It didn't show up in the picture but the Garmin changes its characters to white on a black background with red bars between the various data boxes at night.


Today, I got up early and went to Alt 'n' Bach's ostensibly to braise the ribs for tomorrow's special but really to eat a second breakfast.  I switched bikes, which was somewhat of a mistake as the roads around the abode are clogged with 4 to 6 inches of ice and I immediately fell forgetting the the Sojourn doesn't have studded tires.






Then down to Budget to get some jockey wheels and brake pads.


Then back to sequoia to return Hunter and get something new to read.









Nice to see that the youngsters are taking the errandee challenge as seriously as they should.

Off to the grocery to get the makings for chicken in a pot with housemade sausage:


Back home to cook. I think I'll finish tomorrow either with coffee run or a ride to One Barrel Brewery to fill the growler and see what is on tap.

I will update when I finish and when I find out what the prize is. There is still plenty of time so off you go to ride around and take a picture or two.

UPDATE:

I rode to the Brassiere V and had lunch. Rounding out the 12 rides in 7 categories. First time I have been there since the remodel. I had the burger, perfectly fine, and the beet soup, so-so.  Beer was great; next time, though, it moles and frittes. The day was a bit on the blustery side and fairly chilly. It really is something of disgrace how badly some streets in the city are covered with ice.





Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chicken Ala Nancy




I watched the the other night and realized that removing the bones would allow one or another of my siblings to enjoy roast chicken without the liver-taste, that she insists, accompanies chicken on the bone.

So:

First debone then stuff and then cook.

With Sausage:



With rice, mushrooms, and sausage:

And yes I deboned the legs as well.

All in all a tasty treat and not all that difficult to do really.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Waging War on a Noun Looks Like When Kafka Writes the Script

David Axe write on War is Boring and elsewhere. He is also front and center in the movement to use comics as a means of reportage. In both media he is, I think, interesting and worth paying attention to.

However, his most recent comic concerns The Army of God, that merry band of sociopaths active in Africa which was briefly "trending" on twitter and is not roundly and soundly ignored by most of us. Axe's comic, or more precisely its profits, caught the eye of a little-known Federal Agency: the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

They have seized the money, refused to release it and, what is even better, are not required to explain or justify their seizure. Why, you ask? National Security!!! and the War on Terror and other related nouns.

I for one feel safer knowing that a bunch of folks I have never heard of can grab the money of a hardworking and, one assumes, underpaid journalist whose career is dedicated to casting light on parts of the world most of us would just as soon forget.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

The Senate passes a flawed bill that offers at least some hope of working.  The Crazy Caucus in the House say nay. Why? Leave it to Nan Hayworth to explain it all:
"We were elected and then re-elected as a majority to bring the federal government to the right size, to respect every tax dollar," said Hayworth, who lost her re-election bid.
She lost, for what it is worth, to an ex-Clinton adviser who, one assumes, is on board with the flawed Senate bill. So in other words, even when the crazies lose they win.

Happy New Year.

UPDATE:

After all manner of unnecessary drama and name calling the bill passed.

Oy

If you read David Brooks today you might find that of all the things he wants cut military spending ain't among them.  Nope, according to the Times second silliest columnist the only solution is the cutting of "entitlements." Why that might be so, oddly enough, he fails to articulate.

Way to enhance the public discussion, Brooksy.