Friday, November 11, 2016

Post-election ramblings

These are a collection of thoughts and ideas that I've had floating around in one form or another for the past year. After Trump's drubbing of Secretary Clinton, a lot of these have started to metastasize and so I hope to remove them by being inarticulate on the internet...

Let's start with this: stop protesting. Put away the 'Not My President' signs - they weren't ok when President Bush won, they weren't ok when President Obama won, and they're not ok now. You might not have voted for him, you probably didn't support him, but he is our President. If nothing else, you have to respect the office. You're even allowed to hope that the office changes the man. Un-wring your hands and start planning. There will likely be plenty of things to protest once President Trump takes office, you needn't give him any ammo or justification for being an authoritarian before he takes his oath. Yes, you have an absolute right to assemble and protest, but he hasn't done anything yet. And when he does do something, we're going to need our message heard by people who aren't already burned out by the constant whining. Reduce your noise and make sure the signal is loud and clear: Trump won the election. He does not have a mandate or the freedom to do as he pleases. When he tries to create a database of Muslims, we'll protest, we'll file suit, and we'll all register as Muslims.

The electoral college: I am a huge fan of Professor Lessig. I would be hard pressed to come up with anyone in the political arena for whom I have more respect, but I disagree with him on this. Electors within the college cannot ignore the message sent by the electorate (a message sent both by those who voted for Trump and those who didn't vote) by reducing the results to the popular vote tally. If they do, they really serve no purpose at all and we might as well have an election based on the popular vote. The electoral college is meant specifically for this type of election where the final tallies are very close - they magnify the results and produce a clear winner; the country is split, the states are not. Welcome to federalism.

The Democrats: This is a tough one because there are more questions than answers and some of the answers just raise other questions, but it has to start with taking blame for your nominee. The way the DNC silenced opposition, ignored alternatives, and forced Hillary Clinton onto the ballot because it was 'her turn' deserves the bulk of the blame. The rest lies with the hubris of the Clinton campaign and Clinton herself. Instead of the message of jobs, policies, strength from diversity, the message was 'ZOMG NOT DONALD TRUMP' and 'if you vote for Trump you're a racist'. It was the same peril of right-think we've seen the past several election cycles that have given us a Republican House, Senate, Governorships, and state legislatures. The scene during and immediately after the election of Democrats frothing at 3rd party voters is precisely the message you don't want to send. There wasn't outreach, their wasn't any sort of internal reflection; it was somebody else's fault. It's possible I'm being too harsh here and we're still in the early stages of K├╝bler-Ross. If that's the case, then Act 5 Acceptance needs to start with a mea culpa and new leadership. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear likely right now. The answers to who should head up the DNC and who the 2020 candidate should be are not readily available at the moment, nor are they questions that need to be answered right now. There is a modicum of time to grieve, reflect, and analyze, but come March there needs to be a clear answer to the first question. That leader then needs to put together an agenda and coalition that focuses on jobs, the economy, and equality not for the 2020 race, but for the party. I don't think we'll have any idea who the next candidate will be until Super Tuesday 2020, in the meantime the Democratic party has to define itself as something other than 'Not Republican' which is exactly the message they've been sending since 2008 and since then the Obama Coalition has won the White House once and that's about it. Congress and state legislatures continue to tilt Republican because they offer a vision. The Democratic party needs to start defining who they are and what they stand for and not start every sentence with 'Republicans want to...'. One disturbing scenario is that President Trump implodes, the people he conned vote (D), no lesson is learned, and we continue on with identity politics through the 20s

Forward: I am hopeful that the enormity of the Office of the President is not lost on Mr. Trump. I hope that he takes his responsibility and the oath of office seriously, that he hires & appoints skilled and knowledgeable individuals as his advisors and to his cabinet. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. Given the current rumblings of Chief of Staff Bannon/Lewendowski, Secretary of State Gingrich, Attorney General Giuliani/Christie, and Secretary of Defense Sessions, I am even less optimistic. But no one has been confirmed yet and there is time for President-Elect Trump to make good decisions.

Part of moving forward is going to be the understanding a few things:
1.) The Affordable Care Act is done
2.) President Trump will probably get to appoint 2 Supreme Court justices (you can thank Justice Ginsburg for not retiring after the 2012 election). Which leads to...
2a.) Obergefell v. Hodges will probably be overturned
2b.) Roe v. Wade will probably overturned
3.) Voter ID laws are likely to continue to be made more burdensome
4.) Planned Parenthood is probably getting de-funded
5.) The Department of Education could very well be dissolved

I say this not because I want to see these things happen, but because I have spent the past six years listening to what Republicans have wanted to change and now they have complete control. It's also important to get through our 5 stages as quickly as possible so we can start planning our response. What can we do about these?
The ACA, probably not much. Republicans have hated that from Day One, so while the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion are probably gone (and premiums are going back up), we might be able to keep wording on the books that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions.
The Supreme Court - well the filibuster is an option, but it shouldn't be used. If Democrats hope to claim any sort of moral high ground, they cannot be reduced to the same tactics used by their Republican counterparts. Recognize that you're filling Scalia's seat - a position that, even when filled with a very conservative justice, still allowed the ACA and Obergefell in the first place. Democrats don't have to sign off on anybody, but I think they would be better suited saving their bullets for when it's time to replace a moderate on the court. As for 2a & 2b, there will still be states where both are legal (Nominee Trump has indicated abortion-rights should be left to the states). Obviously this is not ideal, but there are no permanent majorities. Fight to get the right people elected to state legislatures and what happens at the SCOTUS level may be moot.
Voter ID laws - I don't really know. I find Republican attempts to suppress minority votes appalling and abhorrent. My only suggestion is to be active in your community, speak up when something's not right, and offer any assistance you can to those who need it. I know, it's not much of an answer =\
Planned Parenthood is going to go through some lean times to be sure, but it won't be permanent and it may not even be immediate. PP receives ~$500 million a year from the federal government. If everyone that voted for Hillary kicked in about 8 bucks, that would cover the loss from being completely defunded.
Department of Ed dissolution - this is the most far-fetched on the list (I think) and I really don't know what implications such a move would have. But I do know that right now, you can run for a seat on your local school board. Get involved.

A reminder from Tip O'Neill that all politics are local; go to neighborhood meetings, get on school boards, go city council meetings. It's time to start building.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pointless Analysis 2

My apologies, you've all been very patient and I really have no excuse for not posting a 'Welcome to 2011' message. I'm not too good at this whole blog thing - I'm sure this comes as a surprise to no one.

Anyway, welcome to 2011 and another round of silly analysis regarding grocery spending. Looking at this data indicates two things; food prices are going up and having someone live with you is kinda costly. I made 14 more trips in 2010 than 2009 (82 vs. 68) and the average trip increased from $27.98 to 31.61. I'm sure you've already done the math, but yes that means I spent an extra $690 on groceries in 2010. Savings stayed even at 33% and the best day to save was again Wednesday. Most costly month was September at $310 (compared to May 2009 - $307) and it wasn't close as 2nd place was October at $271. The biggest difference? In 2009 there were only two months in which I spent more than $200 in 2010 there were only three months I didn't (not counting July when I was in Europe for two weeks). And of course, you guessed it, those three months all occured before I had a roommate. Again, sorry it's been so long, I'll try to post more than once every six months in 2011. No promises though, might be busy moving =)



Friday, October 29, 2010

woah

So T-Rex totally reads my blog. I don't think there's any other way to put it. I emailed the group at Machine of Death to say, 'hey, I want the Kindle version, I bought the book now send me the Kindle version!'.

And Ryan, T-Rex's manager, actually replied and two days later what is T-Rex talking about? Pasta sauce. What was I talking about two days ago? Pizza sauce. So yeah. Obviously I'm a muse by proxy. See, Ryan saw me talkin' about The Sauce and it got in his brain and then he mentioned it to T and, well, done & done. Wow...I'm a muse. Holy shit! I'm T-Rex's muse. I can probably die happy now. Like, right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In the kitchen

Welcome back to Cooking With The Lights Off, the only show to freely admit that following the recipe isn't really that important and measuring instruments are a waste of money. Today we'll be attempting a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Thinking about visiting the city for A Very Mayer Christmas got my mouth salivating and I didn't want to shell out $65 for the real thing, but how can I let my mouth water for two months, my appetite unsatiated? Conundrum.

Solution: Gather up a thing of flour, some warm water, a little oil (EVOO in this case), approximately some yeast, and a bit of salt. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, add the oil & salt, and start stirring in the flour until it is no longer sticky (TS hint: keep flour on your hands to keep dough from sticking!) Once you've kneaded in enough flour to keep the dough from stealing your wedding ring, cover it with a nostalgic, and in no way sexist, 50's era towel and let rise until it has roughly doubled in size (~45 minutes). While the dough rises you can work on the next part...

The Sauce. Unfortunately we're not talking about the good, top-shelf stuff, we're talking about marinara. Gather up your ingredients, we'll be using tomatoes, onions, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, sugar, black pepper, and garlic powder. You may elect to use different spices and seasonings as long as you have the first three items you'll probably be alright. Probably. Anyway, stir it all together in a sauce pan over some heat, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until you think it's done. (TS hint: 2 medium/smallish tomatoes is probably 1/2 a tomato too much and a little extra sugar wouldn't hurt the congealing process.)

Oh, hey, our dough looks like it's done rising! Pat it down and knead it a few times because playing with our food is the fun part! Grab a smallish handful and toss it back in the bowl - we'll use that as the top - the rest needs to be flattened out to whatever thickness you'd like your crust to be. Grab your lightly oiled cast iron pan and gently press the crust in. (TS hint: Moving a large, flat piece of dough can be a PAIN, roll it once around the rolling pin, and unroll it over the pan to reduce headaches and expletives.)

Now it's time for the fillings. Today we'll be stuffing our pie with Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and an obscene amount of cheese. I'll likely receive a fine from the FCC for showing all that cheese. I probably just earned my blog an 'adult content' tag. Sorry younger readers, you'll have to grow up a little before you can handle this site. So yeah. Throw all those fillings in then grab that piece of dough we left out, flatten it out and place it on top. Now tuck the dough that was hanging over the edge into the edge of the pizza, poke some holes in the top crust to release steam (or don't), slather on some sauce and extra cheese then bake it in the oven until the cheese on top is nice and melty and brown. Let it cool for as long as you can (I lasted about 25 seconds) and enjoy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Post - oh my!

This is going to be a two-parter with the important and time-sensitive stuff in the first part. And the more wistful, dreamy, written-like-three-weeks-ago stuff afterwards.

First of all, there is a book


that you should purchase


but not until October 26th

Sorry, I don't really have a picture for what October 26th looks like. Plus, you guys! I turned October 26th into a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book. I know, I'm a swell guy, you don't owe me anything. Unless you don't buy the book. Then you owe me an explanation. The authors are trying to make it the best-selling book for one day (guess which one!) You can read more from the authors about this little experiment here and here, too! You can also read the comic that inspired it all here.

So that's the first part. Pretty straight forward, but let's recap anyway.
1.) There is a book
2.) People all over the world should buy this book
3.) You are one of those people
4.) You should not buy this book until October 26th
5.) You should still buy this book even if you can't afford it until after October 26th
6.) You should set a reminder on the wall of your cave to buy this book on October 26th

Hey, we made it through the first part! This second part is going to be old hat for most of you apathetic, hipster, news junkies, and yet, I post...

I've finally found something, besides more stuff, to spend my money on this holiday season, and of course, it's probably too expensive. Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity is set for October 30th in Washington D.C..
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity Announcement
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
Unfortunately plane tickets and hotel would run somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 for one person (and ~$750 for two) and I don't have that kind of coin just sitting around nor do I plan on spending that much TOTAL on christmas gifts. So here I sit, refreshing hotwire, kayak, and expedia every 5 minutes. Santa, if you find yourself reading this post before the last Saturday in October, you know what to do. I have been a VERY good boy for the past several years.

Maybe I'll dress like I went to the rally as my halloween costume this year - sorry, authentic Pamplona running with the bulls outfit, you've been replaced.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Reckoning

The day dawned dark and dreary (and with an apparent affinity for alliteration). It was cold and windy and already I was glad I had unearthed my winter coat for this trip - and I was barely above sea level. It was unclear what genius was behind the scheduling of this early AM flight, but I had to give them credit, they were truly diabolical. I was fortunate enough to have enlisted the assistance of my lovely...assistant for a ride to the airport. Without my assistant's...assistance, an alarm of at least an hour and a half earlier would have been necessary, and getting up that early has been shown to cause cancer. I made my way through ticketing and security to my departure gate and warmly greeted my traveling companion. Eagerly we laid out plans for our forty-six hour trip to the Rockies. It would later occur to me, as we waited for my companion's checked luggage, that he did not quite grasp the significance of having ONLY FORTY-SIX HOURS, NO, WE CAN'T WAIT FOR YOU TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!

We were met at the airport by two local gypsies that we counted amongst our friends. I calmly relayed to them how much I was looking forward to the weekend and how well the flight had gone. I should have known they would be in no mood for MY stories as the vicious harpies glowered at me and threatened untold torturous deeds. I cowered in the backseat as their magic caused my seat belt to lock and tighten around my terrified torso. Soon we arrived in the western suburbs of the Mile High city and loaded up on drinks and party snacks (for Super Sunday) and Good Times burgers (for immediate consumption). Little did I know this was simply a ruse to lure me into a false sense of security.

Barely had we arrived at our housing destination than the girls began to discuss, touch, and even comb my hair. This activity should've piqued my suspicion, but my new hobby was pretending to be completely color blind and ignoring any and all red flags (ominous clouds, glowing red, harpy eyes, then niceness and burgers, then feigned interest in the hair). The attention to hairstyle continued and it was combed, pulled, photographed, and even done up into braids under the auspices that it would be "fun". Then it was decided it would be more fun out in the garage. It sounded like a good idea at the time and I obliged. There were cameras and beer and I was drunk on attention.

In my inebriation I was vaguely aware of the danger that lurked on the counter, a primitive pair of needle-nose pliers whose sides had, for whatever reason, been sharpened to form a cutting edge. Again, my new hobby kicked in and I conveniently ignored yet another warning. Shortly thereafter disaster struck:



The massacre continued. There was no hope. The monsters even took pictures.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sno-hibited

January 2010 saw an unusual rash of blizzards across the entire continental U.S., whether it was Snowmaggedon, Snopacolypse, or Snowtorious B.I.G., if you were a fan of winter weather you called it one thing: sweet. Arizona was no exception. Granted what was three feet of snow everywhere else turned into 3 inches of rain in Phoenix, but in Flagstaff it was anywhere between 3 and 6 feet of snow over the second to last week of the month. NAU closed its campus on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I-17 was closed W-F and most of Saturday morning. Snowbowl closed its slopes Friday morning and wouldn't open again until Saturday afternoon and even then only the lower runs. FOX News reported that roughly ten million had died in the storm and at least half of those went out Donner Party style. It was the most snow Arizona had received in a three day span in several decades and a plan was hatched.

The Kahn Man called with a crazy idea; we could spend the night in Flag with friends, rent skis, and hope they opened the rest of the mountain on Sunday. The thought process being that even if they didn't open the rest of the mountain, we'd at least get in some solid skiing and have an entertaining Saturday night in Flagstaff. The call went out to all winter enthusiasts, but only the Spartan decided to join us. This turned out to be an ideal mix as topics of discussion ranged from merkins to education to ejaculate to foreign languages, and why the UP wishes it was actually part of Wisconsin. The group arrived an hour before the rental location closed its doors and were greeted by a friendly operator happy to have someone to talk to as he described his Friday morning skiing in fresh powder up to his armpits. An hour later sees our troupe exit the rental location loaded with skis, boots, poles, helmets, and freshly purchased snow pants and gloves. Another half hour (and several wrong turns later) we were tracking snow into the house on whose couches we would be spending the night. Then we promptly headed for the bars. 2 am sounds the closing bell and finds our heroes in the street walking home, determined to be up by 7 and at the mountain by 8:30 (it opens at 9).

The incessant sound of a cell phone alarm rippled through dreamworld and created enough of a disturbance to pull at least one person off the couch. The time: 7:30. A little late, but there was still time for oatmeal...after cleaning a few mugs out (seriously, there were no bowls to be found - at least, no bowls out of which you could eat cereal, soup, or oatmeal). There also wasn't time to completely heat the water which caused at least two of the campers to complain and stick their breakfast in the microwave thereby allowing radiation to warm their food! We received a call from one of the housemates that had to work on the hill that day around 7:50 and in his words, "we're getting fucking slammed today. We're a mile from the mountain and the road is a parking lot." A flurry of activity and we were out of the house by 8:15. To get to the slopes we would have to take the highway to a small, barely paved road and 8 miles later we would be in the parking lot.

We made it to the highway and - promptly made a wrong turn. Not a big deal, we got GPS! After a few minutes we (no fewer than 4 degrees mind you) figured this out and turned around, total detour time: 15 minutes, maybe. At 9:15 we turned off the highway to a confusing site, cars were going towards Flagstaff with skis and boards on their roofs. Denial began to set in. Maybe they had spent the night in the resort and had to return their gear this morning or had long drives home or were flying out. Or maybe they heard their house was on fire. We turned off the highway, the passenger caught a glimpse of an electronic roadside about a quarter of the mile up the road and since traffic was crawling, the passenger leaned their torso out the window, read the sign, and sat back down, speechless. A few minutes later the trio would arrive at the sign: "Mountain at capacity. Parking lot full." And two employees kindly telling everyone to "GO HOME."

And that, ladies and gentlemens, is Fail Skiing