Monday, July 30, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

There are a number of reasons why I would not want to live in the Southwest, but the brutal heat is one of them. Check out the AP article "'Urban Island' heat tests Phoenix, Other Large Cities." As the article states, "Phoenix is warming at three times the rate of the planet as a whole." 

In somewhat more positive news, the citizens of Puerto Rico are turning to solar and wind power because of their storm-ravaged and inconsistent power grid: "Tesla, Others Help Puerto Ricans Go Solar Amid Power Turmoil."

Having seen the movie, I was interested to read the book Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. I really enjoyed the novel, and I have to say the screenplay adaption was pretty true to the original. There are some significant differences in plot of course, but there hasn't been a novel I've enjoyed as much as Choke as far back as I don't know when. 

I'll be reading more of Palahniuk's work. 

Now I'm on to rereading Gaiman's American Gods. I just got done teaching a one-week course in world mythology, and I want to see the old Gods in action. 

 I wonder if there are any graphic novels based on Native American coyote myths? I know the graphic novel I bought based on Beowulf is pretty kick-ass. I wager some written about Coyote would be even better. 

The aspect of the coyote/trickster myths I enjoy he can be good, lewd, dumb, smart as hell, wonderful, vindictive, slightly evil, or magnanimous depending on the myth you read. Or a combo of some of the above. Coyote reveals the frailty and potential of human character. 

Coyote is us. 

We are Coyote.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Music Friday: "Never Said"

For whatever reason, I chose to listen to Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville today. I haven't listened to that album in a long time. It's a fine piece of work. 

Here's the video for the song circa 1993. Those were good times. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

In Pence's hometown, Moscow Don's tariffs and creating a great deal of uneasiness. Read all about it in "Dependent on Trade, Mike Pence's Hometown Takes a Hit due to Trump's Tariffs." As the author informs, "the president's trade war hits the company in two ways, affecting both its incoming parts, which will be subject to tariffs, and its own products, on which retaliatory penalties will be assessed by countries targeted by Trump."

There are some matters that are easy in the world. One that isn't is a trade war no matter what that pathologically lying nincompoop says. 

American companies are usually part of a globalized economy. 

As one person, a Republican, in the article justly argues, "I feel the current strategy is opinion-based, not data-based." 

That statement is a kind one. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

This is something I cooked this week. It is based off a recipe that can be found online, but I substituted fresh mushrooms for canned and added soy sauce for that bit of umami wang. 

2 lbs. of ground beef
Half of a Vidalia onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 and half cups of beef stock
4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 and half cups of sour cream
2 containers of button mushrooms, sliced
Healthy smidge of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bit of oil, brown the onion on medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook through. Add the garlic for the last five minutes of cooking. 

Put the beef stock and paste into the crock pot, dump the ground beef concoction into the crock pot, and stir. 

Cook on low for approximately six hours. Add in the the sliced mushrooms, sour cream, soy sauce, and seasoning into the cooker and cook for another 45 minutes. 

Serve over rice of wide egg noodles. 

Music Friday: "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"

The song title effectively sums up my mood lately with Moscow Don continuing to cozy up to Putin and Russia while we know they meddled in our election. 

And Republican lawmakers have no spines. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

Traveling around this weekend, I saw a few cars with the "Blue Lives Matter" flag on their vehicles. As much as I support good, smart policing (the kind that doesn't kill innocent people), people who use these flags are being associated with white supremacists. As related in a recent issue of Harper's, white nationalists and supremacists are beginning to the use the black and white flag with the blue line down the middle as a replacement for the Nazi flag and the Confederate flag. 

What's so hard about using the Stars and Stripes to show one's jingoistic flamboyance? 

This Saturday the Nasty family took in a Single A baseball game: The Lake County Captains versus the Cedar Rapids Kernals. We had great seats behind home plate, but two idiots behind us spoiled the game a bit. They constantly shouted at the opposing team, making asinine comments that I'm sure opposing players couldn't hear. 

Tomato paste is one of those pantry staples I should have on hand at all times, but I rarely have it on hand for whatever reason. 

The same goes for sour cream. 

If your detective senses are tingling, you might sense that I'm making beef stroganoff in a slow cooker. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Music Friday: "Present Tense"

On our drive up to Iowa, this song came across Pearl Jam radio station. The station was playing a concert from '98 at the Forum in Los Angeles. 

I had forgotten what a great song this is with its varied instrumentation. Here's the band playing on the Letterman show. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Random Notes from a Crank

There have been a number of articles speculating about how Democrats might take back the House of Representatives. 

We'll see. 

In addition, here's an article that focuses on a key Senate race, the midterm race to replace Bob Corker. In "Trade War Changing Minds in Senate Battleground," the authors recount how Moscow Don's trade wars might be significantly influencing the midterm elections because higher costs for steel and worries about international markets being less competitive for US products like pork. 

As the article relates, "An estimated $1.4 billion in Tennessee exports are threatened by Trump's trade moves, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a longtime Republican ally." To take a more comprehensive view, the Chamber notes "$75 billion in exports will soon be subject to retaliatory tariffs." 

The emphasis on pork exports makes me think of my home state of Iowa, a state that has more pigs than people. I wonder how all those pork and soybean producers feel now about this trade war with China?  

Make America More Tariffed Again? Not very catchy though...

Regardless, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is speaking out against a Republican president's trade policies, that act is an eye-opener. 

When I was a kid my parents put the old fashioned pencil sharpener in our detached garage. I always used to complain when I had to go sharpen pencils in the dead of winter in northern Iowa. During the rough winter months I'd have to put on a winter coat to sharpen pencils. 

So, of course, where do you think I placed our pencil sharpener? In the garage. 

The sins of the father...

The Washington Post article, "Scientists Link Record Heat and Power Outages in Southern California to Climate Change," informs readers about temperatures in southern California making demand for air conditioning outpace supply. This was correctly predicted by climate scientists over a decade ago. 

It's way past time to start listening to real scientists. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Stay Positive: The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

I usually reserve my Stay Positive posts for good news.

I just finished the dystopian sci-fi novel The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner. It was published in 1972, and Brunner's predictions are dire and depressing, but in many cases he's spot on with some of his predictions. It seems he was well read in scientific research, and he saw our future through dark-colored glasses. 

To use a fancy word to describe the novel, one could call it prescient. Some of the prose is just eerie. 

So here are some direct quotations from the novel that show his foreknowledge:

  • ...people seem to assume that any medical drug is good.
  • ...trying to discourage pig and chicken breeders from buying feeds that contained antibiotics, and they simply wouldn't listen
  • Praise be, if Anyone is listening, for those who struggle to save us from the consequences of our mad cleverness.
  • Page: And our biggest export? Quarrey: Ton for ton again, it's noxious gases.
  • For one thing the [Environmental] Acts don't have enough teeth. One can apply for all kinds of postponements, exemptions, stays of execution, and of course companies which would have their profits shaved by complying with the new regulations use every possible means to evade them.
  • Most papers were losing money.
  • Who do you know who doesn't have to take pills of some kind nowadays?
  • ...a folder of papers about chemicals in food.
  • It follows that the meek are chosen of God. I shall try to be meek, not because I want the earth--you can keep it, after the way you've fucked it around it's not worth having--but because I too should like to be chosen of God. QED. Besides, I like animals better than you bastards.
  • We can repent together, or we can die together; it must be our joint decision. 
  • Beaches fouled with oil and sewage, air so bad you can't go out without a mask, the water at your sink reeking of chlorine...
  • bees of California became extinct in the sixties
  • You and your ancestors treated the world like a fucking great toilet bowl. You shat in it and boasted about the mess you'd made.
  • a little Stephenson electric not meant for long distances, with only a hundred-mile range between rechargings
  • The rich countries have ruined what they own, so they're out to steal from the people who have a little left. 
  • right-wing mayors were axing their welfare budgets on grounds of economy
  • [fish] hopelessly high in dangerous substances such as organic mercury
  • that the news media were complying with the president's celebrated dictum, "If the papers know what's good for them, they'll print what's good for America."
  • You can't blame the people who can't hear the warnings; you have to blame the ones who can, and who ignore them. 
  • The government couldn't go on forever bailing out mismanaged giant corporations, even though it was their own supporters, people who ranted against "UN meddling" and "creeping socialism," who yelled the loudest for Federal aid when they got into a mess.
  • And every day senators and Congressmen who in public were inclined to turn purple at the mere mention of state control wheeled and sealed behind the scenes to secure for their home states the fattest government-financed contracts they could nab
  • We're divorced from reality, in the same way as the Romans went on thinking of themselves as invulnerable and unchallengeable long after it ceased to be true.
  • We had centuries of unplanned progress, and the result can justly be called chaotic.
  • You couldn't look to that straw dummy Prexy [President] and his cabinet of mediocrities for anything more useful than pious platitudes.
  • Commenting on the report just prior to departing for Disneyland, where he is slated to deliver a major speech on education, Prexy said, quote, Well, you don't have to go abroad to know our way of life is the best in the world. End quote.
  • For example, there's an inherent distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only look at the last presidential election for proof of that. The public obviously wanted a figurehead who'd look good and make comforting noises. 
  • When the politicians claim that the public isn't interested any longer in environmental conservation, they're half right. People are actually afraid to be interested, because they suspect--I think rightly--that we'll find if we dig deep enough that we've gone so far beyond the limits of what the planet will tolerate that only a major catastrophe which cuts back our population and our ability to interfere with the natural bicycle would offer a chance of survival.

Music Friday: "Falling to Pieces"

Let's go back to the 90s.