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.