Friday, May 18, 2018

Music Friday: "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)"

Man, the 90s was a great decade. 

Here's a song from that era. 

I always liked this band, but I prefer their earlier version: Camper Van Beethoven. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

The esteemed James Fallows has an interesting article in The Atlantic: "Reinventing America." It's a synopsis of he and his wife's journeys around the US to see what's really going on in lesser-known communities and how there are some real positive outcomes in these smaller and medium-sized communities. 

The article has me intrigued about he an his wife's book. 

If one ever wants to hire a good lawyer, I'd have to suggest Michael Avenatti. That dude is relentless. 

This guy in now following him on Twitter. 

I never thought I'd be praising the former head of Exxon, but in times like these, crap like this happens. Rex Tillerson gave the commencement speech at VMI, and while he didn't name Moscow Don directly, it's clear that Tillerson is troubled by the White House's lies and bullshit and corruption. Read "Rex Tillerson Says 'Alternative Realities' Are a Threat to Democracy." 

Here are a few statements that are noteworthy: 
  • "If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom."
  • "If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector ~ and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sect ~ then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years." 
  • "Without personal honor, there is no leadership."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

On Sunday the Nasty family was at a performance hall on the campus of Logan University (a chiropractic college). It was an all-day affair because my daughter danced in the early afternoon, and her last dance was in the last session because she's in a duet. The theater where we watched the dance competition is very nice. 

But I have one major gripe. The place didn't have any public water fountains. And I wasn't about to buy any bottled water because bottled water is a scam. 

I hereby propose that any public or private facility built in the future must have public water fountains. Access to clean water should be a universal human right

Speaking of dance competitions, I would bet someone a pretty good sum of money that dance competitions will always have at least one of these musical choices: the song "Jet Set," a song from Hairspray, a Michael Jackson number where dancers dress like him, a song from Annie, or a song from Chicago

If I had the means, I'd be investing big-time into a legalized sports gambling venture since the Supreme Court has legalized sports betting. 

The article "Power Shift: Fracking Changed Everything. Now What?" by Glen Martin is worth a read if you care about the future of energy. It's a substantial long-form article that takes a realistic look at energy production. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Music Friday: "Sequestered in Memphis" & "Constructive Summer"

As I was driving to pick up my son from school, "Stuck Between Stations" came on via song shuffle on my iPod, which reminded me what a great band The Hold Steady is.

I wonder when the band's next album is coming out? 

Until then I'll keep listening to their old ones. 

Here's "Sequestered in Memphis" and "Constructive Summer."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

One of the highlights of Stormy Daniels' appearance on SNL was her jab at Moscow Don's idiotic denial of climate change: "Stormy Daniels Calls Out Trump..."

As someone who cares about the written word/grammar, the amount of apostrophe abuse out in the good old U.S.A. continues to astound me. People use apostrophes to signify pluralization and often use them when they are not needed (such as the 80's when 80s makes much more sense). This is something that's addressed in grade school, people. Wake up. 

As another example, the other day I received an email addressed to "Coach's" when what it should have been obviously is "Coaches." 

There's a defunct blog that used to chronicle such instances: Apostrophe Abuse.

And there's another defunct blog that was also good: The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks.

As a grammatical snooty person (Yes, I will silently judge you.), I may have to take up the charge left by these blogs and chronicle such grammatical gaffes. 

In other news, it appears China seems to be girding its loins to quit importing soybeans from the US: "China Cutting US Soybean Purchases." As the AP article relates, "Roughly 60 percent of U.S. soybeans are shipped to China." The three states of Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska (three of the top five soybean producers) voted for Moscow Don. We'll see if that changes if China's spurning of US soybeans becomes a political reality. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Slow Cooker American Goulash

This is a variation of a recipe I found online. I modified it to be more like my mom's version of this dish. She didn't use a slow cooker, but it worked just the same.

1-2 large yellow onions, chopped finely
1 bell pepper, chopped finely
2 lbs. ground beef
3-4 cups of water
2 cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 box of regular macaroni
3 bay leaves
Healthy smidge of Penzey's Northwoods seasoning
Smoked paprika to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and pepper in a bit of olive oil until that mixture is well cooked over medium-high heat. Add in the ground beef and brown it with the aromatics. While that all is cooking, dump the water, sauce, tomatoes, and seasoning into the slow cooker on high heat. 

Once the ground beef mixture is browned, add that into the mix along with the macaroni.  Cook on high for an hour-hour-and-a-half while stirring occasionally. 

Random Notes from a Crank

Some counties in the state of Illinois are worried about their second amendment rights: "Illinois Counties Declare Sanctuary Status for Gun Owners." 

I wonder if they will do the same for the quartering of troops in their houses?

This all leads me to this image.

Watching the most recent episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown makes me want to travel to Uruguay. 

In the episode they go to a drive-through steak restaurant. And it looks like a beautiful, laid-back country.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Music Friday: "Teenage Riot" & "Rain King"

A deal going around Facebook lately is people posting albums that have influenced them or are their favorite albums. It's kind of interesting because I'm obviously a music lover, and I still listen to tunes I listened to when I was in high school. 

Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation would be one of those albums. And here's a couple of songs from that excellent, groundbreaking album. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Music Friday: "White Man's World"

For people who don't actively listen to lyrics, they might think the title of the song intimates some kind of pro-white stance. 

That's not the case at all. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Many people search for what sets homo sapiens apart from other animals. Some people say communication, yet we know animals have various communication strategies they employ on a regular basis. Some people say abstract thinking, problem-solving, and using tools, yet we know other species can do all that too. Check out Ackerman's The Genius of Birds if you question my previous statement. 

While our big brains could be a significant difference, possibly one of the notable differences is this: we can walk upright, and we're good at it.  As Ian Walker, a professor of biology at Harvard relates, "upright walking is the defining characteristic of the human lineage. Its consequences are hard to oversell." Check out the article the statement comes from: "3.6 Million-Year-Old Footprints Suggest Early Human Ancestors Were Excellent Walkers." 

Another way to think about what sets humans apart is the statement of Lucifer in Twain's Letters from the Earth (and I'm paraphrasing here): humans think they're the center of the universe ~ they think they're God's pet. 

Here's one of the better op-ed columns I've read in a while: "Trump Said He'd Stand by Farmers and Ranchers Like Me. He Hasn't." As conclusions go, Callicrate's is a good one: "American family farmers and ranchers are becoming an endangered species, squeezed by the forces of globalization and the immense leverage of gigantic corporations. We hoped that Trump would be our champion and side with use against the multinational corporations that are threatening our future and our nations ability to feed itself. But we've been let down. If the American farmer is to survive, we must be treated fairly. There is still time for Trump and Perdue to reverse course. We hope they seize this opportunity. But if Trump won't fight for us, we will bring the fight to him."

What I find confounding in that conclusion, however, is that why someone would ever think a Republican president would ever go against "gigantic corporations." Or any presidential candidate for that matter because most politicians forward policies based on who funds their campaigns. The fact of the matter is that many people got duped by a pathologically lying unsuccessful businessman who is really just TV reality star. And other folks just voted party over country. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

I made some chicken tacos on Sunday, and here's the recipe.

4 large chicken breasts
Chicken stock to braise the breasts in the crock pot
Healthy smidge of Penzey's salsa and pico seasoning
Smidge of Penzey's Adobo seasoning
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup of diced yellow onion
3 tablespoons of diced red bell pepper
I can of La Preferida red chile enchilada sauce
Shredded queso fresco
Chopped cilantro 

Trim any nasty bits off of the chicken breasts, put them into the crock pot, and dump in enough chicken stock to cover the breast halfway. Add spices atop the breast. Cook on low for eight hours or so. Halfway through the cooking time throw in the peppers and onions. Two hours prior to eating throw in the enchilada sauce. When cooking time is up, shred the breast in the crock pot. Use whatever kind of tacos you want to use ~ crunchy or soft. 

Revisionist Thoughts
Next time I make this, I'm going to dial up the flavor factor a bit by using some toasted dried chiles and adding garlic and shallots.I am also considering adding some type of hot peppers. JalapeƱos would probably be good. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Music Friday: "Before We Disappear"

I planned on posting my usual Music Friday post yesterday, but I forgot about it in the afternoon. Then I had to travel to my daughter's track meet. Once I finally got home at 9:30, I forgot about it again. 


Anyway, here's a great song by the late great Chris Cornell. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Edamame-Garbanzo Salad

I had a bag of frozen edamame in the freezer, so I did some research into versions of edamame salads. 

I surveyed what the Interwebs had to offer, and I made my own. Here it is. 

1 bag of frozen edamame, steamed in the bag according to directions
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
2 small plum tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, chopped finely (I used a yellow one)
2 tablespoons of finely chopped yellow onion
Chopped parsley to desired proportions
Chopped cilantro to desired proportions

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
Juice of one small lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam the edamame, drain the garbanzos, chop the other stuff. Throw it all in a bowl. Whisk the dressing together and mix thoroughly. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Music Friday: "Amos Moses"

Today I'm featuring a classic, "Amos Moses." 

This video features not only Jerry Reed but also Glen Campbell. 


Monday, April 9, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

The Atlantic has a couple of articles worth a thinking person's time in the April issue. 

The first is "The Nancy Pelosi Problem," an article that demonstrates that the vitriol spewed against Pelosi by various people has a gendered proclivity. As the article shows, she's been pretty darn good at her job as Majority and Minority Leader. But a lot of what she's up against (and the Democrats for that matter) is showcased in the study that presents how people react to "John Burr" and "Ann Burr."

Another good piece features Julie Washington's work and research. She's a linguist who is trying to use AAV to help students succeed. Check out "The Code-Switcher: Julie Washington's Lifelong Quest to Change the Way We Teach Young Speakers of African-American English." 

"More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows" by Melinda Wenner Moyer in Scientific American should be required reading. I read it when it came out in October. The article won the American Society of Jounralists and Author's Excellence in Reporting Award.

In a more recent article in Scientific American, "The Number of Americans with No Religious Affiliation is Rising," the author reports on how the number of "nones" is getter larger in the US. I tend to agree with Shermer's statement that "This shift away from the dominance of any one religion is good for a secular society whose government is structured to discourage catch basins of power from building up and spilling over into people's private lives." Also, like the author, I find some of the beliefs of these non-religious people puzzling and downright silly.