Sunday, June 30, 2013

Culling the June Harper's Index

The June issue of Harper's has some interesting stats in its "Harper's Index" that I thought I'd share: 
  • Percentage change in the past twenty-five years in the Consumer Price Index: +41
  • In the price of beer: +40
  • Percentage of U.S. college graduates who are women: 51.1  [This seems low to me.]
  • Of Fortune 500 CEOs who are: 4.2
  • Estimated amount by which federal tax revenue will increase if the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned: $35,000,000
  • Percentage change since 1970 in the portion of U.S. children growing up in single-parent households: +133
  • Amount awarded in March to a paraplegic man trapped for thirty minutes in Disneyland's "It's a Small World" ride: $8,000  [He should have sued for a larger amount. I've been on that ride.]
  • Portion of U.S. river miles capable of supporting "healthy biological communities" according to the EPA: 1/5
  • Percentage of personal income the average American making more than $200,000 a year gives to charity: 4.2
  • Percentage the average American making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year gives: 6  [This contrast does not surprise me.]
  • Portion of religious Americans who believe in reincarnation: 1/4
  • Portion of nonreligious American who do: 1/4

Friday, June 28, 2013

Music Friday: "The Low Highway"

For a week filled with all kinds of political news ~ the President's speech on climate change, Supreme Court rulings, and Wendy Davis ~ it seems fitting to feature an artist known for his socio-political statements. 

I present Steve Earle's "The Low Highway." 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Just Can't Get Past Wanda

This Friday is opening night for White House Down, the film that features Jamie Foxx as the President and Channing Tatum as a secret service agent. 

I like Foxx as an actor.

However, I still have a hard time not seeing him as Wanda from the sketches on In Living Color

You've come a long way, baby. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Music Friday: "Suburbia"

I featured this talented fellow and his band in late January

Here's one of my favorite songs off of his first album, Backatown.

I wonder when his next album is coming out. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Band Names Gratis Redux

This post has become a reoccurring feature since I did one of these in March and the first one was last year

As I stated before, from time to time band names float through my head, so I'm sharing them here:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

My son had a basketball camp from 9-Noon the past three days. As six-year olds go, he's pretty athletic, but good luck to him because both Mrs. Nasty and I aren't giving him a good shot of being tall (based on our statures). I don't see a ton of hoops in his future. Then again, he will go to a high school that is a small school. 

When I was in junior high school, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to go out for the basketball team. What a stupid idea. If I had been smart, I should have put my time and energy into wrestling. My junior and senior high schools were known for their wrestling programs. They kicked ass. 

My son has an outstanding sense of wonder in his being. One of the days I had him with me we were in the Student Union. We walked into the men's restroom, and this was his reaction to the old fashioned urinals there, the ones that start a little lower than chest high and cover the whole wall to let piss and water cascade down the porcelain to a metal hat looking deal atop the drain: "Awesome. That's the greatest thing ever." Like his old man, he likes a sturdy, old-school urinal. Whenever I get my dream house, I want a urinal in my bathroom. That will get rid of any complaints of leaving the seat up. 

Each day the OED sends me their "word of the day" to my email. A recent one was "ale knight," a disparaging term I wasn't familiar with. It's a noun, and an ale knight is "a person who frequents public houses; a drunkard." I know all kinds of terms for drunks and states of inebriation, but that's a new one to me. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Music Friday: "Goddamn Lonely Love," "Flying Over Water," & "Elephant"

We get home from Florida later today, and once I pick up the mail on Saturday, I'll have my hands on Jason Isbell's new album, Southeastern. For my favorite artists, I still buy their CDs. I'm old fashioned I guess.

Southeastern has been getting scads of great reviews, with even a feature about Isbell in the New York Times --  "Jason Isbell, Unloaded", so I'm looking forward to listening to the album. He's a gifted songwriter. 

Some say that this is his best album yet, that it dwarfs his previous solo albums. We'll see about that contention, but I'm glad, as the article above notes, that his life is in a better state and he'll be able to clearly appreciate the success he deserves.  

This Friday I'm featuring a DBT song and two songs from the new album. As another Southern storyteller, Faulkner, said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." 

Here's to the past and the present. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

So I'm here in Florida visiting the in-laws. We did the Disney thing as usual, going to Epcot on one day and the alleged "magic kingdom" the next. The trip to the latter was brutal ~ hot and crowded as Hades. 

Epcot was a more enjoyable day although I've met a ride that made me nauseous. For some reason, we decided to go on the "more extreme" option of the Mission: Space ride there. The other option was "less extreme." The ride takes you on a space shuttle launch to Mars with certain stomach-churning hijinks. Of the four of us who partook in the ride, the only one who wanted to go on it again was my nine-year old daughter. Mrs. Nasty had serious thoughts about using one of the barf bags that were furnished. 

Since my in-laws live in a gated community, when I read Roxane Gay's flash fiction piece in the Spring issue of the Oxford American, I was taken by this bit of dialogue from Marcy's husband in "Group Fitness": "'Baby, people love the illusion of safety and the spectacle of enclosure.'"

Monday, June 10, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

Of all the analysis out there about the Cubs' drafting of Kris Bryant with the second overall pick in the MLB draft, Tim Huwe's post on the selection of Bryant on Bleed Cubbie Blue provides solid points. 

In a recent issue of Harper's, I read about the accounting firm Ernst & Young's "Fraud Triangle Analytics" software that looks at emails in corporate settings to find possible wrongdoing. Here are some words and phrases that raise red flags in their system:
  • gray area
  • facilitation fee
  • offshore
  • adjust invoices
  • hush money
  • friend fee
  • massage earnings
  • want no part of this
  • Everyone does it
  • too stupid to figure it out
  • tired of this
  • It's immaterial
  • play ball
  • sweetener
  • Don't worry about it
  • I don't get paid enough

In the same May issue in the regular "The Anti-Economist" column, Jeff Madrick provides some commentary that fits with my point of view:
  • The reverence in which Americans of all political persuasion seem to hold Reagan today is absurd. As president, he created a phony -- if romantic --picture of America's past, a schoolboy's fiction of a country forged by individualism. From this fiction came the dream that we could return to an earlier moral order in which citizens were supposedly freer. Of course, America was in part built by both individualists, but it was also built by government investment in canals and railroads, in public water and urban sanitation systems, in highways, scientific research, free K-12 education, college subsidies, and a legal system that encouraged competition while protecting private property. If Reagan brought Americans optimism, it was optimism based on false hopes and misleading facts.
  • If Obama must use Reagan as a guide[,] it should be as a guide to what not to do.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

If you're interested in how brains react to music, check out "Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing" in the New York Times. The bottom-line is that music we like releases dopamine in the reptilian part of our brains, and as the researchers relate, "Composers and performers intuitively understand this: they manipulate these prediction mechanisms to give us what we want — or to surprise us, perhaps even with something better." That point reminds me of why I like Todd Snider's "Big Finish" so much. 

I recently finished Kurt Spellmeyer's Buddha at the Apocalypse. It's a good book, but he covers ground I've gone over previously through other Buddhist texts, Deep Ecology thinkers, and various social critics, especially those discussing environmental issues. Here's a few quotations to consider though: 
  • "We we call knowledge might actually be another example of the images of order we've mistaken for the real."
  • "The future can't undo what we do here -- not even with the best technology. Our only hope is acting mindfully today."
  • "From the polemical perspective of Zen, living for the future isn't living skillfully. In fact it's destructive in many ways that we ignore at our detriment." 
Below is a short video, a precis, of his book.

Now I'm on to Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow and various other books from my on-deck shelf

Friday, June 7, 2013

Music Friday: "Own Side," "Waitin'," & "Menagerie"

Here's that Caitlin Rose again. 

There's something about her voice that gets me ~ reminds of Patsy Cline.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Mutagen Ooze Punch

I take no credit for this recipe. This is all the doing of Mrs. Nasty. 

It's a modification of a recipe she found via Pinterest, and we used it on Saturday because the theme of our son's birthday party was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

So, when rocking a theme birthday party connected to the TMNT franchise, you have the kids drink ooze. And this ooze is really good. 

For an adult version, I could see spiking the punch with some gin or a flavored vodka. 

2 lemon-lime flavored packets of Kool-Aid
3-4 liters of Sprite or 7-Up
1 quart of lime sherbet

Mix the Kool-Aid and lemon-lime soda and gin together and then add in dips of sherbet on top. Let the sherbet melt for a bit (10-15 minutes) and drink.