Monday, November 20, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

"How Trump Is Ending the American Era" is a sobering article written by a guy who worked under Condoleezza Rice during Dubya's administration. He has a clear-headed analysis of the trouble we're in. 

On our drive to Philadelphia, I got to be in one state I've never been in, West Virginia. The slogan on the billboard as we entered was "Wild and Wonderful." That sounds more like an advertising phrase for some porn rather than a state's marketing slogan. 

The short amount of time we spent in West Virginia was good. The sliver of the state we passed through was quite pretty. Wheeling is an interesting city tucked in a valley alongside a river. 

Going through Wheeling made me think about the great character Chris Stevens from Northern Exposure, one of my favorite TV shows of all time. 

And that led me to a Northern Exposure wiki page about the character. Mash the link above if you're interested. 

Here are some relevant videos.

Mash HERE to watch the famous "piano fling scene." 

Stay Positive: Public Schools

"The War on Public Schools" by Erika Christakis in The Atlantic is worth a read. It's written by someone who gets it. 

For me, here are some important passages:
  • Few people care more individual students than public-school teachers do, but what's really missing in this dystopian narrative is a hearty helping of reality: 21st-century public schools, with their record numbers of graduates and expanded missions, are nothing close to the cesspools portrayed by political hyperbole. 
  • Not only is the idea that American test scores were once higher a fiction, but in some cases have actually improved over time, especially among African American students. Since the early 1970s, when the Department of Education began collecting long-term data, average reading and math scores of 9- and 13-year-olds have risen significantly.
  • ... [S]chool districts with strong unions actually do a better job of weeding out bad teachers and retaining good ones than do those with weak unions. This makes sense. If you to pay more for something, you are likely to care about its quality; when districts pay higher wages, they have more incentive to employ good teachers (and dispense with bad ones). 
  • Oddly, the idea of addressing our supply-and-demand problem the old-fashioned American way, with a market-based approach, has been largely unappealing to otherwise free-market thinkers. 
  • We ignore public schools' civic and integrative functions at our peril.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Hangover: Mercer

As a lot of folks suspected, this game was a blowout. 

Mercer did play Auburn pretty tough earlier in the year, however. So I felt pretty good with the results yesterday. 

The largest development was the start of true freshman Dylan Moses at the linebacker position. The loss of Shaun Dion Hamilton was glaringly apparent in the game against Mississippi State, so the coaching staff gave the reigns to Moses. He, as they say in the South, "showed out" on Saturday. 

He led the team with 11 total tackles ~ 10 of them were solo, and 4 of them were tackles for loss. 

Both quarterbacks played outstanding with three touchdowns thrown by each fellow. 

Josh Jacobs once again showed his versatility. 

Calvin Ridley was on fire.

Next up is Auburn on the Plains. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Music Friday: "Happy Hour" & "Any Friend of Diane's"

2016 and 2017 have been two straight years of new Weezer albums. 

Here are a couple of tunes from the new one, Pacific Daydream

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

After watching the Alabama men's basketball game Tuesday night, I'm encouraged. Avery Johnson has been building his program for a couple of years now, and with this crop of freshmen, the Crimson Tide could be a player at the national level. The freshmen backcourt of Sexton and Petty played well along with the fellow (Giddens I think) who transferred from Ohio State. 

The team is young and talented with key freshmen: Sexton, Petty, Reese, Jones, and Smith. Those guys added to the key players of Avery Jr. (sophomore), Hall (junior), Norris (senior), Giddens (sophomore), Ingram (sophomore), and Key (sophomore) create a heck of lot of depth. 

And Tuesday the team played without two of its starters from last year, Riley Norris and Braxton Key. It'll be interesting to how they gel once those guys get healthy. I'm cautiously optimistic about the Tide basketballers (not a word but whatever). 

Some nutty guy shot up a neighborhood and tried to get into an elementary school the other day, and that isn't even a major headline in the papers. America has to do something about gun violence. We've grown immune to these weekly horrors. 

Jeff Sessions testimony about not "recalling" certain meetings or conversations reminds me of Ollie North's testimony. They're both liars. 

As related on both Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert's show last night, since people knew about Roy Moore's penchant for hitting on high school girls, he was apparently banned from the Gadsden Mall. Disgusting. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

Because we were away for a good part of Sunday since my son was playing travel basketball, I totally whiffed on getting this post out to the mighty Interwebs yesterday. 

So I'm doing it late. 

What a nerve-wracking game that was on Saturday. 

After watching that game, I am really concerned about Alabama's run defense. Not having Shaun Dion Hamilton, who basically served as co-captain of the defense, really exposed the team a bit. 

I know the commentators discussed how good State's OLine is, but so is Auburn's. And that game looms large in roughly two weeks. 

Some of my other takeaways from the game are the following:

  • Calvin Ridley is Alabama's number one receiver, which makes me always question during the game, "Why is he so open? Don't they realize how good he is?" And then I think, "He's open because he's the number one receiver." The guy had 171 yards receiving on 5 catches. 
  • Although it didn't seem like they ran the ball that well, in the end, the Tide amassed a total 202 yards rushing. 
  • I thought Hurts had one of his better games despite a couple of throws that were off. 
  • Our defense needs to get healthy, especially in the linebacking corps. 
  • The touchdown pass to Devonta Smith with 31 seconds left was reminiscent of the screen pass to T.J. Yeldon versus LSU in 2012. Good memories. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Music Friday: "Under the Spell of City Lights" & "Lucky Penny"

There are a bunch of new albums I haven't gotten around to purchasing. 

JD McPherson's Undivided Heart & Soul is one of those albums. 

Here's some good old rock-n-roll. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Slow Cooker Sausage and Cabbage

I went home for lunch yesterday and decided to do something with a head of cabbage languishing in the fridge. 

What I concocted was some manner of a stew/soup. Warning: It does stink up your house because cabbage releases an odor that Mrs. Nasty described as "smells like broccoli."

1 medium-size head of green cabbage, chopped roughly
1 rope of andouille sausage, halved and cut into bite-size pieces
1 rope of regular smoked sausage, halved and cut into bite-size pieces
1 container of chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Healthy smidge of Tastefully Simple's Onion Onion seasoning
Healthy smidge of Penzey's dried garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Smidge of smoked paprika

Chop up the cabbage and put that in the bottom of the slow cooker, dump in the chicken stock, add salt and pepper rigorously, add the seasoning, mix, and then place the sausage pieces on top. Put the slow cooker on high. 

Come back in about two hours and mix it to let the sausage pieces release their juices into the stock to become tasty. Let it go for another two to three hours while mixing every once in a while. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Hangover: LSU

The Crimson Tide had a good win last night against a difficult opponent, the LSU Tigers. 

It appears to have come at a horrible cost, however. 

From the looks of it, Shaun Dion Hamilton, one of Alabama's best linebackers, is probably out for the season because of knee injury. That stinks. 

The LSU defense played tough against the run last night, and they also had a pretty solid pass rush. 

Despite one big play by LSU, Alabama's defense played satisfactory: 6 sacks, 9 tackles for a loss, and 4 QB hurries. I say satisfactory because they didn't dominate like they usually do. 

The offense's play last night has me concerned. LSU stacked the box, and the running backs didn't bust any long runs that I can recall. 

The passing game was okay. There were a number of long passes, one in particular by Ruggs that was impressive. 

Next up is short trip to Starkville to take on the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Music Friday: "Fanfare" & "Tripped Out Slim"

I can't recall if I've featured any tunes from Trombone Shorty's latest album, Parking Lot Symphony

Here are two instrumentals of his I listened to this morning. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

I wish the current President of the United States would be held to the same standard as Jim McElwain, the former U of Florida head coach. McElwain fabricated some story, and he got canned because of it. Moscow Don needs to be held to the same standard. 

So there's going to be all kinds of speculation about who will become the next head coach of the Gators. Here's an early speculative article: "Florida Coaching Candidates: 11 Coaches Who Could Take Over for Jim McElwain."

The attack in New York today sickens me. I'm sure MoscowDon will use this attack as an opportunity to stir up hokum against Muslims. And probably his travel ban crap.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Music Friday: "Hold On"

As I was driving up to northern Iowa to visit my dad, this tune came across my iPod shuffle. 

I realized I hadn't listened to Gary Clark Jr.'s second album as much as I have listened to Blak and Blu. On my way back home Sunday, I plan to listen to it the whole way along with Son Volt's Notes of Blue, another album I need to listen to more often. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

This interview, "Faint Sounds, Loud Impact," with Timothy A. Schuler reprinted in Utne reminds me of a number of themes and ideas in Florence Williams' fine book, The Nature Fix. Noise pollution is a problem, and it affecting the environment in various ways, most of them bad. 

In a similar vein, Craig Holdrege's article about Aldo Leopold, "Meeting Nature as Presence," is a fine essay that tracks the progressive nature of Leopold's thinking about environmental matters. "Thinking Like a Mountain" is one of his more famous essays from A Sand County Almanac, which is referenced in the essay, and it was one of my students' favorites when I used to teach an environmental rhetoric course. 

In the same fall issue of Utne, there's an interesting article "Public Banking Goes to Pot,"  which was originally published in High Country News and relates the problems the federal government has created because of their compliance rules about taking money from marijuana dispensaries. Because of these problems, there is some movement afoot for another public bank (North Dakota has the only one in the US), and if it's going to happen, it'll probably happen in Oakland. 

A writer from Politico relates some data analysis about the demographic divisions among America's two major parties: "Both Parties Gripped by Deep Divisions." I was heartened to learn that "Solid Liberals" are the largest group of the nine. Depending on the issue and mood I vacillate among these five groups: Market-Skeptic Republicans, New Era Enterprisers, Disaffected Democrats, Opportunity Democrats, and Solid Liberals. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee

Damn, I wanted a shut out, but one of the Volunteer defenders got a pick-six and spoiled my wishes. 

Sorry about getting this out late. My posting schedule got a bit jacked up because of The Walking Dead's first episode of the season. 

Nevertheless, Alabama played one heck of a game even though Tennessee's defense did some good work at points in the game. 

Tua got to play with the 1s, so that was a good sign. Hurts got pulled relatively early, and a number of younger players got playing time. 

Damien Harris was a beast again, and it was good to see Hentges and Smith (both TEs) get some looks in the passing game. 

On defense, Buggs, Evans, and Wallace had great games. 

Next up is the bye week before the Crimson Tide takes on LSU. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Music Friday: "Mandolin Rain"

I woke up today with this song in my head. I don't know why.

I like the song, but I don't own any of this dude's albums. 

Flashback to the 80s.