Friday, June 15, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

A week or so ago a fraternity brother of mine bought the cardboard sign (below) from 1969 for me. I collect Schlitz memorabilia, and I found this piece wonderful. First, a beer company/distributor created a sign for teachers for some reason. Second, I am amused by the unnecessary quotation marks. This is going in my office. 

On July 1 my son and I are going to a Braves-Cardinals baseball game at Busch. My son is going with his travel team, which is the damned Redbirds. I'm a Cubs fan, and I throw up a little in my mouth when I see my son in his Redbirds jersey. For the game we're going to, I purchased a throwback Braves cap. I'm not a Braves fan, but I like the retro cap. 

So I wonder which team Moscow Don is rooting for in the World Cup? My bet is on I Russia. 

I enjoy watching the World Cup. There are certain teams I'll root for. I've always liked Spain. I like Spanish culture, and they usually have a solid team. As I type this though, Ronaldo just tied up the game with Spain. That dude is incredible. 

I'll cheer for Denmark because I'm part Danish. I'll also root for the African countries in the Cup: Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal. I also like the underdog Latin American countries: Uruguay, Peru, and Costa Rica. France and Mexico's teams interest me too. 

Music Friday: "The World Is On Fire"

I picked up the recent album by American Aquarium yesterday and have given it a couple of listens. It's another solid offering. At times, the record has more a country twang than I'm used to. I like it when they rock.

Here's the opening tune on the album. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Leftover T-Bone and Peas Rice

This is a simple leftover lunchtime meal that I made today.

I had some leftover t-bone steak, so I put it to good use.

Leftover t-bone steak cut up
Leftover peas
Soy sauce

Reheat the steak and peas in the microwave. Put them into rice you have cooked and add a bit of soy sauce. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Any American citizen needs to pick up the June issue of Harper's because one of the articles is a forum done at West Point. The title in the magazine is "Combat High: America's Addiction to War." The panel was made up of former soldiers, most of whom saw combat in Afghanistan and/or Iraq. 

Here are some snippets that should get your attention: 
  • Dempsey: "Americans are beset by an attitude of respectful indifference."
  • Kreps: "The United States has its tentacles everywhere."
  • Dempsey: "It is utterly absurd. It ties in with the idea that the military can do no wrong."
  • Dempsey: "Sadly, being played for suckers in other people's wars might just be the purest expression of American exceptionalism." 
  • Bacevich: "To acknowledge that is to commit what, in the context of our civil religion, is a mortal sin."
  • Daddis: "We have moved from having respect for the military to being unable to criticize it." 
  • Daddis: "It's not a job ~ it's a drug. We've addicted our soldiers to war, and to the cycle of war. The costs of being addicted ~ damaging soldiers' psyches, tearing families apart, creating an unhealthy relationship between soldiers and the adrenaline rush of combat ~ are hidden until later." 
  • Dempsey: "He's [Moscow Don] almost irrelevant to the argument. He was probably faced with, 'Do you want to be seen as a loser, or do you want to just keep bombing for a couple of years? And keep bragging about how great you are?" 

In addition, the issue has an essay that Seymour Hersh adapted from his memoir. It's about his dogged pursuit of his first and subsequent articles about the My Lai massacre, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. It's titled "Looking for Calley: How a Young Journalist Untangled the Riddle of My Lai." 

On a dumb lark the other day, I bought a tiny bottle of Old Camp Peach Pecan whiskey at my local liquor store. I poured it into a highball glass, took a drink, and hated it immediately. I dumped it out in the sink. 

Why do all these bourbon companies have to corrupt perfectly good whiskey with flavorings? Honey, blackberry, cinnamon, and whatnot are adulterating perfectly fine bourbon. What a shame. The fact of the matter is though that probably most of concoctions use some bourbon and then use grain neutral spirits to make it cheaper and thus not true bourbon. Atrocious.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

Music Friday: "Back in the U.S.S.R."

This Music Friday post is to complement the current President's obsession with being nice to Russia and Putin because apparently he wants to reinstate Russia to the G7 and is threatening our allies via trade

Stupid Moscow Don. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

The other day I was at an establishment getting my car's oil changed. An older gentleman was there, and he had on a hat that said "Cold War Veteran." I respect veterans. I have all kinds of veterans in my family in fact. But if a person lived during the Cold War, aren't they too Cold War veterans in a sense? 

As a recent article relates, battling global warming will also save loads of money: "By Getting Serious about Limiting Global Warming, the World Could Save Itself More than $20 Trillion." 

I've never figured out why people get so angry about people speaking something other than English in the USA. As another recent articles informs us: "Spanish Still Polarizing in US."  With Moscow Don's idiocy about the wall and Mexicans and other immigrants, such English-only nonsense is only getting worse, unfortunately.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Music Friday: "Race to the Bottom"

"Up Nights" by Ha Ha Tonka came across my iPod shuffle yesterday. I like that band from West Plains, Missouri. 

Unfortunately, I didn't know they had a new album come out last year. I will be purchasing it. 

Here's a song from the new album. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Stay Positive: Ireland's Repeal of Its Abortion Ban

It's hard for me to be positive in times like these, but Ireland's recent vote to repeal its stupid abortion ban is good news: "Ireland Votes To Overturn Its Abortion Ban." 

This vote confirms Steven Pinker's sanguine conclusions in his recent book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

In his chapters he paints a picture about how as generations progress they tend to be more liberal, open-minded, knowledgeable, and accepting of others. 

For example, in his Equal Rights chapter, Pinker states, "Not only has the American population become more liberal, but each generational cohort is more liberal than the one before it" and "the values of Western countries have been getting steadily more liberal." 

Using vast sums of research, Pinker uncovers this: "The data show that more liberal countries are also, on average, better educated, more urban, less fecund, less inbred (with fewer marriages among cousins), more peaceful, more democratic, less corrupt, and less crime- and coup-ridden."

In addition, in the Knowledge chapter, he states that "Studies of the effects of education confirm that educated people really are more enlightened. They are less racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, and authoritarian." 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Music Friday: "Off the Ground"

Dang, I haven't written much at all this week. I had to do a consulting job in St. Louis for a couple of days, which had me getting up at 5:45 in the morning. 

That was horrible. 

Maybe this song will help me get back into a blogging mood. 

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.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Music Friday: "Kinky Hypocrite"

Here's a solid tune from the most recent album by the Drive-By Truckers. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Music Friday: "The Intro" & "Say It Louder"

I had forgotten that the bands Buffalo Tom and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats had new albums come out earlier this month. 

Both are solid albums. 

Here are a couple of tunes from Tearing at the Seams

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

I'm going to have to update my "Death Wishes" post sometime because I recently told Mrs. Nasty that if I get killed by some kind of assault weapon and/or lack of background checks because of the intellectual buggery and the financial whoring of politicians by the NRA, I don't want any person who is a member of the NRA to attend my funeral. They are not invited. 

People tend to gloss past the first part of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of free state." The Bill of Rights was written in the 1790s when our leaders had extreme distrust of large, standing armies, and the nation relied on ad hoc militias for military missions. For example, Andrew Jackson used a militia, not the army, when he killed all kinds of Native Americans during the War of 1812. And one of the reasons the US mainly got its butt kicked in that war was because of the nations reliance on militias. 

We have a large standing armed forces now. If a person wants to use weapons of war such assault rifles and automatic guns, that person needs to join the military. 

Then again, the most deaths by guns are because of handguns. 

Here's some interesting factoids from March's "Harper's Index"

  • Hours last year for which Germans were paid to use power because supply outstripped demand: 331
  • Percentage of US news stories about poverty that feature black families: 59
  • Of US families living under the poverty line that are black: 23
  • Number of write-in votes for University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban in the state's November special election: 414
  • Estimated number of US private schools receiving public funding that teach Christian curriculum: 5,071
  • That teach an Islamic curriculum: 70
  • That teach a curriculum inspired by L. Ron Hubbard: 5

Clearly we need to fight harder for the separation of church and state. Those last three figures are bullshit. I don't want my tax dollars paying for that curricular nonsense.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Broccoli Cheese Soup

This is a variation on the cheese soup recipe I saw on the aforementioned episode of Good Eats

Half of a yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
32 oz. of chicken stock
1 minced clove of garlic
1 cup of heavy cream
1 bay leaf
7 ounces of gouda, shredded
3 ounces of smoked gouda, shredded
1 package of steamed broccoli
Smidge of tyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a dutch oven to medium and melt the butter. Sweat the onion, carrot, and celery until soft. Coat the mixture with flour and cook for approximately a minute. Add the stock, bring to boil, and then move it back to a simmer. 

Add the garlic and bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes.Use a handheld mixer to blend the aromatics. 

Add the heavy cream and continue over a slow simmer. Add the shredded cheese in bunches. In the meantime, steam the broccoli and add into the soup. Simmer for five minutes. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Music Friday: "Million Dollar Loan"

Here's a new fashioned protest/political song about Moscow Don. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

This is not a surprise, but as the Washington Post reports, the number of typos and misspellings by Trump and his administration are astounding. Moscow Don's lack of attention to detail and the administration's incompetence are probably unparalleled. Check out "'Elected to Lead, Not to Proofread': Typos, Spelling Mistakes Are Commonplace in Trump's White House." 

Moscow Don is doing a tremendous job of being a moron, and the wonderful, first-rate people who work for him are equally as inept. 

Yesterday I thought I'd combine cottage cheese, which I like, with some sliced guerito peppers, which I enjoy in my salads because they provide a nice spicy kick. I wouldn't say the combination of cottage cheese and gueritos was horrible, but I wouldn't probably combine them again. 

The other night I was watching an old episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats (well, they are all old episodes now), and that episode on cheese has inspired to try making some cheese soup. I doubt I can find some find fontina cheese around here though, so I'll probably just use gouda or provolone. What might be even better is smoked gouda.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Music Friday: "No Roots"

Sirius XM's The Spectrum station has been playing the hell out of this tune over the past months. I don't know much about the artist at all, but one of the people who spun the tune once said the song is based on her life because she moved around a lot. 

So there you go. 

I guess I can kind of relate. Compared to the community in which I live, Mrs. Nasty and I are outliers in that we both grew up in Iowa (separate cities and didn't know each other until her college days) and have lived in different places. 

As for me, I lived in Waterloo, Iowa up until college; Kirksville, Missouri; the Kansas City, Missouri area (Gladstone to be specific); back to Kirksville; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; St. Louis, Missouri; and now Charleston, Illinois. 

Most of people around here where I live haven't lived many other places, if any new ones,  at all. 

But I'd like to think I have pretty good roots now. 

However, I still consider myself an Iowan. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

If there is no one in the porn industry working on a spoof of Moscow Don and the Stormy Daniels affair, filmmakers should be ashamed of themselves. 

And that statement begs the question: Are there any porn filmmakers who can be shamed? 

This much is clear: Moscow Don is a consummate buffoon. 

I have about 130 pages to go to finish Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant. It's quite good and provides a much needed history of Reconstruction that K-12 and college classes neglected from me. 

I'm not entirely through the whole of the biographer's coverage of his presidency, but one of my only gripes about the book is that perhaps it needed to cover more about what was going on with Native Americans during his administration. The horrible crap happened late in his second term, but I wanted more analysis of why Grant acted the way he did toward Natives and why his decisions led to destruction of their lives and culture. 

I did learn that Grant was a big proponent of the separation of church and state, a principle I have in common with him. Here are two statements from speeches he gave in 1875 that should clearly show where he stands on public education:

  • "Encourage free schools and resolve that not one dollar of money appropriated to their support no matter how raised, shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school ... Leave the matter of religion to the family circle, the church and the private school support[ed] entirely by private contribution. Keep the church and state forever separate."
  • The US should "establish and forever maintain free public schools adequate to the education of all the children ... irrespective of sex, color, birthplace, or religions; forbidding the teaching in said schools of religious, atheistic, or pagan tenets; and prohibiting the granting of any school-funds, or school-taxes ... in aid ... of any religious sect or denomination."

These intelligent statements, however, conflict directly with how Grant wanted to Christianize Native Americans.

Regardless, if I were a voter in the 1860s-70s, I would have voted Republican because they (mainly the "Radical Republicans") cared about voting rights and protections for black folks. Democrats, in contrast at that time, were for the hokum that was/is states' rights, which was just cover for returning the US to white supremacy. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Music Friday: "Whiteout Conditions"

One album I got last year that I really enjoyed was Whiteout Conditions by the New Pornographers. I'm late to the party with this band. They've been around a good while. 

They are now one of my pop/alternative fixes. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Texas held the first primaries of the year the other day, and there was a tremendous turnout of Democratic voters as you can read about in Newsweek: "Democrat Turnout Surges 87 Percent in Texas Primary Since 2014." 

The trick of course is using that enthusiasm to capture seats in Congress and the the Texas legislature in November. We'll see.

Here in Illinois we vote in our primaries on the 20th. J.B. Pritzker sure has a crapton of money because he's been running TV ads for ages. I prefer Daniel Biss, but I suspect Pritzker will win the nomination for candidate for Governor. 

That Stormy Daniels affair keeps resurfacing, doesn't it? Moscow Don aka David Dennison is getting sued: "The 7 Most Ineresting Aspects of Stormy Daniels's Lawsuit Against Trump." 

I foresee a lot of David Dennison jokes in the future.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Music Friday: "Wolves"

On our way over to St. Charles, Missouri, a few Josh Ritter songs came up on my iPod shuffle, a couple from his Animal Years album. 

"Thin Blue Flame" played, but I've featured that tune before

"Wolves" is one of the stronger songs on that album, in fact one of my favorites, and I listened to it on the way over to the Show Me State. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

"What Teenagers Are Learning from Online Porn" by Maggie Jones in the New York Times is a really interesting article. It's not surprising that teenagers are having to learn about sex through porn because of the stupid glutted reality of abstinence-only sex education pervading curricula, which is right-wing idiocy. 

The Porn Literacy class featured in the article is doing a lot of good. Unfortunately, it is only reaching a small number of teenagers. It needs to be replicated across the country. That and realistic sex education. 

The Republican consultant Rick Wilson wrote "We Kissed Conservatism Goodbye When We Let Trump Lead the GOP" wrote a fair-minded assessment of MoscowDon. I could have told him similar points years ago. I disagree with the author on his feelings about the Second Amendment (how people should be able to have assault weapons, etc.), but it's been clear for a long time that the current president doesn't have consistent principles. Often narcissists don't.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Music Friday: "Mansions of Los Feliz," "End Times," & "Little Bird"

I gave a bunch of presentations that kept me busy all day. Then I had to drive home from Chicago. When I got home, I went to a high school basketball game, and the home team surprisingly played well and won. 

So I'm late getting this posted. 

On the way up to the Chicago suburbs, I listened to End Times, and these are a number of the tunes I enjoy on that opus. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Music Friday: "Human Wheels" & "Love and Happiness"

For today's Music Friday, I'm offering two of my favorite Mellencamp songs. 

Have a good weekend, folks. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Because I "like" Vice News on Facebook, the article "What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Believing in God" came across my feed this morning for whatever reason. It's an interesting article that incorporates personal experience with neurological research. Here are some snippets that seem noteworthy: 
  • Over time, religious ideas become rewarding in and of themselves. This is a powerful, unconscious motivation to keep believing.
  • "Religion works exactly like a drug—like cocaine, or methamphetamine—or like music, or like romantic love," says Jeffrey Anderson, a radiology professor at the University of Utah who studies religion in the brain. "
  • New beliefs join the same neurological framework as old ones. It's even possible that an existing belief network paves the way for additional beliefs. 
  • This scientific descent from religion is common. Pew's 2016 survey on why now-unaffiliated Americans lost faith yielded explanations such as, "Rational thought makes religion go out the window," "Lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator," and "I'm a scientist now, and I don't believe in miracles."
  • Eventually, non-religious people who once had religious epiphanies get those same feelings from being in nature, or from seeing profound scientific ideas expressed, Anderson says. "The context changes but the experience doesn't." Most non-religious people are "passionately committed to some ideology or other," explains Patrick McNamara, a neurology professor at Boston University School of Medicine. These passions function neurologically as "faux religions."

I stopped by my local CVS the other and discovered a fifth of Jack Daniel's Rye Whiskey on the shelf. I had read years ago that Jack Daniel's was intent on producing a rye whiskey, but I didn't know it had come out yet. 

I have an on-again off-again relationship with rye whiskey. I like that a great deal of the whiskey made during the early days of the Republic was strongly rye. I also enjoy rye whiskey when it's spicy. At one time Wild Turkey provided an outstanding rye whiskey at 101 proof, but nowadays they reduced the proof probably because of the penny-pinchers. Jim Beam rye is not good at all. Old Overholt is terrible. Templeton Rye is a marketing scam of the highest proportions. Bulleit Rye is way overpriced. Whistlepig is out of my price range. Sazerac is respectable. And Rittenhouse is a solid, consistent offering. So it is with some trepidation that I bought a bottle of Jack Daniel's rye because there are so few rye whiskeys I'm willing to pay for. 

I can't say I'm spurred to give it a ton of praise, but it's a solid offering with a 70% rye mash bill. My complaint is that it's only 80 proof. I like my bourbons at a high proof for more flavor, but I will say JD Rye is a tasty offering from the massive conglomerate Brown-Forman. It's the best thing to come out of Tennessee since Bessie Smith. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Music Friday: "Bop to the Top"

In honor of my lovely, smart, charming, and talented daughter, I hereby provide "Bop to the Top." 

She is playing Sharpay tonight in High School Musical Jr. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

In the 2018 recruiting class, Alabama signed a punter named Skyler DeLong. I hope his performance lives up to that name. It's going to be hard to replace the consistent performance of J.K. Scott the past four years. 

It's like his parents knew he was going to be a punter. 

It's like naming your son Jeeves, and he becomes a butler. 

Or naming your daughter Trixie, and she becomes a prostitute. 

About a week or two ago I started Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant. Chernow is the same author who wrote the biography of Hamilton that spurred Miranda to create the musical Hamilton. I doubt we'll see any musicals about Grant in the future, but so far it's a fine piece of writing. 

It's quite a tome, clocking in at almost a 1000 pages, and very detailed. I don't know much about Grant, so I'm learning a lot. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Music Friday: "Akira Kurosawa"

I picked up the new album, Choke Cherry Tree, by the Ben Miller Band. I dig it. 

I need to check out the band's previous albums. 

Here's a tune from the new one. I've never watched an Akira Kurosawa film, but now I want to. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Shortcut Lablabi (Chickpea and Harissa Soup)

I got this recipe from the January-February issue of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Magazine. Unlike my previous post of "Makeshift Lablabi," I had harissa on hand. 

Here's the recipe. I also used a lime instead of a lemon because I like limes better.  

It's called "Shortcut" because I used canned chickpeas and store-bought croutons. 

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 shallots, chopped finely
6 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons of harissa
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
3 quarts of chicken stock
2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For serving
Croutons, homemade or store-bought
Wedge of lime
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Hard-boiled eggs, halved or quartered
Chopped green olives
Capers to suit

Coat a Dutch oven/soup pot with olive oil, heat the oven to medium, and sweat down the onions and shallots. Once they are soft, dump in the garlic and cook it for less than a minute. Put in the tomato paste and cook for approximately five minutes. Add in the harissa and cumin and cook for a few minutes. 

Add the chicken stock and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer for 5-10 minutes. 

When serving, put the croutons in the bottom of the bowl, ladle the soup over the bread, and top with a couple of hard-boiled eggs. Sprinkle capers, olives, cilantro, and parsley atop the soup and then squeeze the lime on top of the soup.

Music Friday: "Inverness" & "Clean Gift"

Two albums that came out today have caught my attention.

The first is Choke Cherry Tree by the Ben Miller Band, an outfit I learned about on a music blog. 

The other is Tenkiller by Marie/Lepanto, which is a collaboration of Will Johnson of Centro-matic fame and his buddy Justin Peter Kinkel-Shuster, who also has been in a number of alternative bands. 

Here's a couple of songs from the latter album, the only videos I could find on YouTube. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Stay Positive: The Eco-Right

Yesterday Grist published an article about the eco-right, a group of traditionally conservative organizers, thinkers, and political candidates who are trying to mobilize the right and the GOP about climate change. 

The article, "Seeing Red on Climate" by Zoya Teirstein, is worth anyone's time. 

Many of them support a carbon tax, which I support. 

One of the movement's leaders, if we can indeed call it a "movement," is Alex Bozmoski, who was once a denier but "when challenged to justify his skepticism, Bozmoski found he had drawn erroneous conclusions fueled by conservative radio shows and Fox News." 

Well, there are a crapload of people like that, unfortunately. 

Here's to staying positive to people who actually believe in science.

Music Friday: "I'm Allowed," "Taillights Fade," & "Sodajerk"

I was reading a post on one of those music blogs yesterday, and I discovered that the band Buffalo Tom will have a new album out in early March. 

I didn't know that they had reassembled. They made their mark in the 90s, then I think they broke up, and then they got together again apparently. I obviously haven't been paying attention. From a simple search on Amazon, it's clear they produced albums in 2007 and 2011. 

Here are a couple of classic tunes from the band. I look forward to hearing their new stuff, however. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

For years I've been reading reports about how optimists do better in life and live longer. Much to my surprise, the December/January issue of The Atlantic has a uplifting article for we pessimists of the world. Check out "The Power of Negative Thinking."  I'm particularly fond of "defensive pessimism": "Forget about hoping for the best. Instead, focus on preparing for the worst." 

In the same issue, Julia Ioffe's "Putin's Game," aka "What Putin Really Wants," details why and how Russia interfered in the presidential election and why they will probably interfere in future elections. It also details the current state of the country and Putin's popularity. It's a longish article but well worth the read. 

This short article from Deadspin doesn't surprise me at all: "Cops Say an Eagles Fan Punched a Police Horse after Being Ejected from the Stadium."

Which reminds me of Mongo punching out a horse in Blazing Saddles...

Friday, January 12, 2018

Music Friday: "Release"

Today is my birthday. 

Another day closer to death. 

Another day to enjoy my life. 

Release me. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Scouting the 2018 Crimson Tide

With the expected departures of Ridley, Fitzpatrick, Harrison, Scarbrough, and Payne, I'm going to scout next season's Crimson Tide squad. I'll analyze the team by position groupings.

This analysis, of course, does not take into account the incoming recruiting class, so it's quite possible some true freshmen will get significant playing time like they did this season and in seasons past. 

It seems obvious Tua is the starter for next year. Once he was inserted into the National Championship game on Monday, the offensive game plan opened up. The offense took vertical shots at will, which in turn opened up the running game. 

The big question is this: What will Hurts do? 

Does he stick around to be the back-up, a really good back-up quarterback? Or does he consider a change of position (running back?)? Or does he transfer? Mac Jones will be a sophomore and is more of pocket passer, so if Hurts does bail, they have him as back-up quarterback. 

Running Back
I was pleasantly surprised to find out Damien Harris is coming back for his senior year. He's the lead dog of the group, and Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs help create a solid three-headed monster of a running back corps. 

Jacobs is an asset in the passing game as we saw at moments this season, and Brian Robinson is a solid runner. This position group is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, in the SEC and country even with Bo going pro. 

Offensive Line
The line loses senior Bozeman at center, so they need to fill that position. Everyone else should be back. Leatherwood filled in to Williams at left tackle and played well, and Lashley is another lineman who will compete for a starting position I imagine. 

Wide Receivers
I'm excited as heck about this position grouping. The Tide loses Ridley, Foster, and Sims, but Ruggs, Jeudy, and Smith will only be sophomores. They are three solid starters right there, so recruits will fill in for depth along with Shavers, Marks, and Kief. 

Tight End
This is a good group, and as I've said every damn year, I hope they throw to the tight ends more this coming season. Forristall got injured early in the season. He'll join Hentges and Smith. 

Defensive Line
Payne played outstanding down the stretch, and Hand played well too. They both are gone.

Thankfully, Buggs is coming back. Raekwon Davis is a beast. Quinnen Williams, Jamar King, Johnny Dwight, and Phidarian Mathis all should get plenty of playing time. This is a solid group of big men.

Losing Hamilton and Evans hurts, but the cupboard is not bare at all. 

The Tide will return Dylan Moses, Christian Miller, Terrell Lewis, Mack Wilson, Jamey Mosely, and Anfernee Jennings. They are all solid contributors. We'll see if Mekhi Brown and Ben Davis get some substantial work in 2018. 

Defensive Backs
This is the grouping where the Tide loses a lot of talent and experience. A ton. 

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Harrison, are Hootie Jones are gone. They are all safeties although Minkah can probably play corner. 

Tony Brown, Anthony Averett, and Levi Wallce are gone. They are the starting cornerbacks. 

So the Crimson Tide has to replace its entire secondary. 

I suspect Trevon Diggs will be a starter at one of the corners, and I have read about and seen good things from Shyheim Carter. And Keaton Anderson played some. I can't remember if he plays safety or corner. 

Deointe Thompson stepped in admirably for Hootie Jones after an Auburn offensive lineman did a bullshit block and blew out Hootie's knee late in the Iron Bowl.  

I expect Diggs (corner) and Thompson (safety) to start, but it's hard to say who will emerge as starters after that: Shyheim Carter, Keaton Anderson, Kyriq McDonald, Xavier McKinney, Daniel Wright, Nigel Knott, and Jared Mayden.  

J.K. Scott graduated and will probably play in the NFL, so Alabama used a scholarship on a punter for this current recruiting class. Pappanastos had a bad game in the national championship, but overall he had a decent year. But I suspect Bulovas, a kicker on scholarship, will get the nod as starter if he works on his consistency. 

From a look at the kids who have signed letters of intent (14 of them), Alabama is bringing in four defensive ends, three corners, two all-purpose running backs, one defensive tackle, one center, one wide receiver, one offensive tackle, and one punter.

As we've seen in the past, Saban will start whomever earns it. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sunday Hangover: Georgia

What a crazy national championship game. 

I was worried at halftime. The Tide offense was bad in the first half. Epically poor. The Tide offense was as crappy as MoscowDon's grandstanding at the national anthem and as anemic as Kendrick Lamar's halftime performance. 

They looked like crap, and the defense was getting tired from being on the field way too long. 

But as Alabama fans are used to, second-half adjustments were made. Despite the huge touchdown pass that Tony Brown got burnt on, the defense played well. They were salty. They played more like they played against Clemson. 

The decision to play Tua paid off. He had an outstanding game. He'll get all kinds of accolades for his performance, but what some observers might not notice is that many freshmen played in that game, especially at the wide receiver position. 

Just like in the State game, Devonta Smith caught the winning touchdown, but what came before all that were great catches by Jeudy, Sims, Ruggs, Foster, and Ridley. 

Calvin didn't have a signature game like I thought he would. In fact, his little brother had the better game from a yardage standpoint  However, he caught four passes for 32 yards with a crucial touchdown snag in the fourth quarter. 

In addition, Alex Leatherwood, another freshman, filled in for Jonah Williams at left tackle. 

Najee Harris, yet another freshman, was on the field late in the game and was the leading rusher for 64 yards via 6 rushes. 

The last time the Tide played Georgia it was a nail-biter with C.J. Mosely tipping a pass at the end to stop the Bulldogs near the goal line. 

Last night was epic.