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.