Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Sunday Times: Incoherent Philosophizing

In the Time's Magazine RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan said that

[t]oday we had a conference call. Inspectah Deck was like: “You’re telling us what to write about, you’re telling us how to rhyme. I got nothing but respect, but I’m a grown man.” I said: “You’re right. But you can’t just plant the seed and expect it to grow; you gotta nourish it. If you don’t nourish it, it may grow, but it’d be a weak crop. If you do plant, nourish it and it grows, and you don’t harvest it, the crows eat it.”
Which seems indisputable if nonetheless complete nonsense.

Elsewhere, Gabrielle Hamilton argued that it is "[t]ime to kill the mouse and swallow it." To which we can all say: amen sister, amen.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coffeenuering Parts 6 and 7

This has been a great deal of fun. I had forgotten how pleasant going out for coffee can be. One of the more interesting aspects of the challenge is my realization that the staff at all the various coffee houses have one thing in common: they are extremely pleasant. Given that they can't make much in the way of money and that the tips have to be divided among so many, their pleasantness is a bit of a surprise. Who knows maybe it's the result of the precariatization of the work force or maybe it's that the world of peoples, as opposed to the world's climate and the sociopaths that run the political and corporate worlds, is getting nicer.

In any event, on Saturday I went to the ZuZu Cafe
 by the Zoo -- while this is neither here nor there, I really cannot stand Zoos. Who on earth decided that the proper place for animals is in prison? -- about six miles on the meandering route I took on the Trucker:

The BarMitts really do work. I rode without gloves on a blustery and cool day. Actually, I used them all last winter and they really do keep the hands toasty. On days between, say 15 and 45 no or at least only thin gloves are necessary. They are, it's true, spendy but worth it.

So I had a Macchiato, a beer, and roast beef sandwich:

All were very nice, although I am not sold on pita bread the sandwich was very nice and had some kind of an olive tapinade or a Giardiniera on it for extra zest. The place is more than reasonable priced; the staff was extremely pleasant and there were three, I think, sets of bike racks. It's just off of the Wingra/Vilas path and on one of the bike friendly streets. Oddly, given is Monroe Street locale and vaguely left-wing vibe, they had college football on the box. As we all know college football is next but one to the devil.

Today I went about five miles, again on the Trucker, to the Indie Cafe. I had a Macchiato, Spruedel, and a waffle:

Everything was great. The coffee, the Spruedel, and the waffle were all very nice. The place is on Regent so not especially bike friendly, although it is located right next or across the street from 2 of the 4 Budget Bikes.

I also learned that Cello Fury will be there on Monday with a 5 dollar suggested donation. Cello Fury may be the coolest bunch of celloists ever assembled;or, conversely,laughable. You decide:

I kind of like them, in an ironical way -- as is the fashion.

All in all this was lot of fun and thanks to the fine folks at Chasing Mailboxes for the opportunity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coffeenuering Part Five

This past Saturday I rode about 3 miles to the Froth House on Allen. There was a small bike parking area where I left the Xtracycle:

 There was a family with a very small child who insisted on flinging his bike in the parking area when the, I assume, dad tried to get him to hold on to it.

How was I dressed? Knickers, of course.

 What did I have? A Macchiato, of course. Too much foam and the coffee was undistinguished.

I also had a BLT which was pretty mediocre. The staff were generally pleasant and the environs pleasantly quirky. I doubt if I'll go back; however, if I lived over there I would probably go more than once.

As by the way, the post is late because the computer died and I only just now got the new one.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coffeenuering Parts Three and Four

So yesterday I rode about 3 miles to the EVP by the Sequoia Library. Lovely fall day breezy but not cold and on the ride home the sun came out and it was actually warm and extraordinarily fall. I had a macchiato:

They put it in a large cup because the new barrista almost ordered a carmel macchiato. The coffee was nice the place was nice on the whole a double good time was had by all.

Today I rode about 6 miles to Collectivo on the Square. This is one of my favorite coffee shops in the world. Back when it was Alterra in Milwaukee, I lived on Farwell right around the corner from one of the shops and, oddly enough, one block from the Comet Cafe, which was ground zero for Milwaukee Hipsters well before hipsterism became a commodity, where the Red Eye, I think it was, was my drink: a shot of espresso in a coffee, which -- when you think about it -- is a pretty stupid drink. I used to drink Kick in the Head or Punch in the Head, which ever it was. I was even on the buy 10 lbs and get a free birthday pound. When I moved to Syracuse, my folks kept the free bag, drank it, and - so they informed me - didn't enjoy it at all.

In any event, the staff are terrifically pleasant, the weather was blustery but not at all cold, the coffee was great. I had, guess what?, a Macchiato, grilled cheese, and a One Tun beer:

Everything was a-okay; this is my favorite Macchiato in the world. The beer glass was so nice, it required an act of will to keep from nicking it. On the way home I took the elevator back to the path:

The picture doesn't really do it justice but it is one of the nicest views in town.

If, by the way, you wonder how best to dress for the changing fall conditions the answer is knickers:

Knickers are not only freedom, in the sense that aren't as binding as trousers and that those of use who wear them make our own kind of music, sing, sing our own special song even if nobody else sings along because we are free spirits or, possible, just tacky, but they are also just the right length for the lovely fall weather.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Coffeenuering Part The Second

There is, I believe, no one who doesn't like a fall day in Wisconsin. The sky is a not washed out but rather a blue that isn't trying to prove a point; the Sun is shinning pleasantly down on a wide array of happy folk; everyone is aware that around the corner lurks subzero temperatures, snow, and the long tunnel of darkness yet this underlayment of sorrow is well-tempered by the gloriousness of today. So the ride to Lakeside Coffeehouse really couldn't have been better. The wind, as Shane McGowan might say, was gently laughing, the view across Mendota Bay was outstanding. The coffee, alas, was forgettable. I honestly can't recall what it tasted like. The sandwich was equally memorable and the coleslaw bland. The beer, however, was just the ticket and the staff were pleasant and cheerful.

The cafe is right by the bike path and it has two bike racks but at least one rider has no idea  that it is wrong to take up five or six spaces.

I saw this sign on the way home and I wonder why Edgewood decided to ban Pleasure Drive Trucks and, just as important, what one would look like.

 I rode the Xtra-cycle with its new hand built fight deck. Pretty snappy, if I do say so myself.

I figure the ride there was around 10 miles, I meandered, and, despite the forgettable food and coffee, I rate the experience double plus good.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coffeenuering 2014

This weekend is the start of the Chasing Mailboxes Coffenuering Challenge. Yesterday I rode 4 miles give or take to go to the Zoma Cafe on Atwood, actually I was going to Revolution Cycles but this challenge is all about the coffee. I had a Macchiato and it was perfectly okay.

Zoma is pretty cycling friendly; its backyard abuts the bike path, they have two or three racks along the bike path and so forth. I noticed that the local beer tours are, however, not cycle friendly. The Hop Express, or what ever it is called, passed me unsafely and the all bike brewery tour took up every inch of the corner of Willy and John Noland. Still a good time was had by all, which is to say me, because 1) the new generator hub is on its way, 2) One Barrel Brewery  had a nice small batch sour ale

 and decent Penquin * Sausage pizza

, and 3) the coffee was perfectly fine. The weather, on the other hand, tended tword the bluster and cold.

*No Penguins were injured:
The Penguin sausage is regular Italian sausage made using their Penguin IPA.

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


Bankruptcy Hash, eggs, tea, and seltzer.

How did your day begin?

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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Somewhere in Euro land, Germany in fact, they are making a cardboard bike helmet:

Well not totally cardboard but cardboard is the straw that stirs the drink, as it were.  Oddly enough, at least when I lived there in last century, Germans and most Euros don't require helmets just brakes and the following of traffic regulations.

Gun Control

So here's an interesting little news item, guy made a gun with a 3D printer and is going to make the plans available on line. So far it is a little on the iffy side, it lasted only 6 shots, but you just know that the next iteration is going to be better.

What really sucks about this is that people on the left see a new technology and rejoice at the possibility of freeing the world from want. Other think immediately of the need for more murders.

Peace on earth and etc.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hypothetically Speaking

Go and watch this film and imagine what might have happened if Hindenburg's son hadn't been a crook.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Laugh All You Want

I have been busy piling up things in expectation of the Mayan Apocalypso, which is like the regular one only with a beat you can dance to. Today  we learn that the it is the arrogance of western science, already  guilty of nearly endless cinemagraphic  destructions of various Hollywoodland lots that look like Terra Firma:
The scientific community is on edge. On Wednesday, a British team of scientists and engineers will use a special hot water drill to bore through to a lake buried under three kilometers of Antarctic ice. Sediments taken from the lake bed could revolutionize what we know about past climates and the fortitude of life forms.
Bolding in original. Yes that's right. They are going to drill right into a certain someones hidey hole and then are we going to get it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jill Lepore, God Love Her

Over to The New Yorker, Jill Lepore has another essay on the roots of American Conservatism. Last time it was national health care and the lies they told to defeat it. This time (sub req) it is on taxation and the role of slaveholders and plutocrats in delaying or undermining progressive taxation.

One reason to read Lepore is that she is a great writer and another reason is because she is the quintessence of professional historical writing.

I take minor issue with her claim that no one defends taxation. No one who anyone in positions of power or influence is willing to listen to defends taxation but lots of us have been beating the drum for more taxes and their necessity for a decent society for an awfully long time. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that the critics of neoliberalism get no respect just as the critics of the neocon part of war get no respect. The fact that both sets of critics, and they overlap, have been consistently right only makes the deafening official silence on these criticism more galling.

Ideally these two essays are going to be part of a longer-term and longer-form investigation of the roots and methods of American Conservatism.

Math is Hard

As we now know without a shadow of a doubt the Right in America persists because of and insists on a series of lies and distortions to attempt to destroy the nation because of their unholy loyalty to plutocrats.

In an apparent attempt re-enforce this image, Lloyd Blankenfeind forwarded this wholly absurd claim:

You can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career.
 Leaving aside the more or less unchanged nature of post retirement life expectancy, who on earth works for 25 years? I mean the average teenager has some kind of job by the time they are 16 and nearly everyone retires between the ages of 62 and 65. If I add 25 to 16 I get 41. Some small time crook who has gamed Wall Street or reaped the rewards of helping other game Wall Street might retire at 41 but you know people become crooks because they are too lazy for honest work.

As near as I can figure the vast majority of Americans work for 49 years or so in a variety of jobs after which they retire and then soon die.

Blankfein is supposed to be some kind of a genius at maths and investment and yet it would seem he can neither add nor does he understand the statistics of life expectancy. No wonder he and his fellow managerial geniuses ruined the economy; they are, in fact, dumb as dirt and twice as filthy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let The Healing Begin

In the current The New Yorker there is a profile of Kid Rock, who I think is a bit of a twit, that mentions a video he made with his pal Sean Penn, whoI think is a bit of a twit. Here is the video, which suggests that my claims of twitness are perhaps witless:

You mileage may vary.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Breath Deep

Conspiracy comes from the Latin for breath together. Among many others, with -- one is sure -- many more others to come, Jane Mayer over to The New Yorker speculates speculatively on the possibility of a complex conspiracy of some sort concerning the head of the CIA resigning because of evidence of one or two affairs with married women, one of whom was a member of the military with, so she claimed, a high security clearance, came to light.

There could be all manner of byzantine conspirators breathing together in the corridors of power, while Obama made the executive decision only after 24 hours of indecision. But the smart money is on Petraus making with the old in out where he ought not twice over and having to go for reasons of propriety.

We could argue till blue in the face on the necessity of an apparent adulterer quitting but so far it is SOP to either resign when confronted with evidence or, like Clinton, face impeachment.

The silly, stupid, lazy, sloppy ease with which national pundits, and others resort to Machiavellian, in the vulgar sense, explanations for political actions is beneath contempt.

On the plus side Andy Borowitz sees through the conspiracy.

Village Idiot

Doris Kerns Goodwin is a buffoon.  Tenured, it is true, plagiarist, is also true; however, her most salient feature and the reason she continues to appear on the weekly political shows is because she is a buffoon. As most of us know Mitt Romney and President Obama just waged a campaign in which Romney spent more time lying about Obama then he did lying about his record and his prospective policies.

Today, for reasons of head cold and a consequently weakened ability to think, I watched NBC yak fest. During the course of several conversation both divorced from reality and filled with falsehoods, Goodwin offered Obama this bit of advice:

I think what the president needs to do is to bring some CEOs into his top positions, FDR did that.  He brought in the head of Chrysler.  He brought in the head of Sears and Roebuck.  What about bringing Romney in to deal with this whole problem of how do you keep manufacturing here rather than going abroad?  What incentives to use?  What sanctions to use against countries that are not dealing fairly?  I think you bring people in but you don’t lose your conviction.  So you got to start with what matters to you but then you compromise on everything else.  And I think it can be done.
Yes, the President needs to boldly and decisively bring in the guy that just lost the election and made a career out of screwing America and the American worker to fix the problem his and his caused. It's only fair.

I mean really.What struck me is that none of the other chatterers even looked askance at the abject stupidity masquerading as historically based insight.