29 December 2017

Year in Review: At Least There Were Cookies

This calendar year marked a new low in the total number of posts in this space. There was not much that I felt like writing about when I had time. Politics is fatiguing, and the fact that the United States used the electoral college - a system originally put in place to appease slaveowners - to elect an angry, demented pissbaby is something that will cause harm for years if not decades. Great job, America! The founding fathers really paid it forward. It as if appeasing slaveowners was maybe not a good idea. Go figure.

There is an uncomfortably high likelihood that the most powerful pissbaby in history will lead us to nuclear war, killing tens of millions of people, throwing the economy into a tailspin, and making the Korean peninsula completely uninhabitable. The GOP could do the right thing and remove him from office, but as long as he keeps giving rich people tax cuts and promoting income inequality that seems unlikely.

Two hurricanes blew through the USVI and somehow my uncle's house survived intact. He was lucky, but the experience was so harrowing that he still has nightmares about it, three months on. It turns out that sitting in a house lit by flashlights while the wind outside is blowing sustained winds over 170 MPH for hours on end will leave a scar. St. Thomas and St. John are trashed (literally) and will take years to fully recover.

Hurricane Harvey caused similar levels of damage in Houston by dumping enough rain to cover the entire continental United States under four centimeters of water. That's a lot of water! Houston metro is over 600 square miles of ugly urban sprawl, and the massive flooding did it no favors.

Does the fact that I got a new bike count as good news? I guess it counts as good news for me. There were other ups and downs this year but they do not make for very interesting reading.

See you in 2018. 

13 December 2017

Not the Definition of Insanity: "Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting a Different Result"

I am worn out with the bullshit, inaccurate statement that "doing the same thing over and over again is the definition of insanity." Fuck no it is not! There is a whole book about the definition(s) of insanity, and you can buy a copy.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of STUPIDITY.

Don't be stupid.

10 December 2017

Race Reporter Ruby Rides a Bike

Just in time for the holidays, here is Specialized with some superb marketing sweet cuteness. This makes me want to go ride a bike. And also buy one for my niece, if she were at all interested in riding bicycles (she is not). I can't ride right now and it suuuuucks. So watching cycling videos and getting super pumped about getting back on the bike will have to do.

Speaking of being super pumped about getting on the bike: this video is good because Ruby makes bike riding seem like a hell of a lot of fun. People have a tendency to take it very seriously, and wear terribly ugly outfits, etc. They don't always seem like they are having fun. Weird, but here we are.

Ruby's bike has a custom front crank (it's a 1x, i.e. it only has a single chainring up front), Dura Ace brake controls / shifters, an ultegra rear derailleur, and probably some other bits that I cannot figure out. It's a lot different from the stock bike, but whatever. My only quibble with the video is that she says that her power 'comes from her bike'. That is wrong. Her power comes from her, and that is awesome.

08 December 2017

Bicycling: Peter Sagan and Race Reporter Ruby

Peter Sagan, aka the guy that your ex hooked up with during her backbacking tour of Slovakia a couple years ago but don't worry he was totally chill about it, is the most popular cyclist in the world right now. He often rides the Tour of California as a leisurely warm-up for the Tour de France. Most professional riders are riding the Giro d'Italia in May, but that race is a brutal slog (like the Tour), and riding the two efforts back to back is not common for riders that want to win the GC of the Tour. (Chris Froome, who is a great rider but the type of guy that your ex felt very comfortable rooming with during her backpacking tour of Slovakia because they were such 'great friends', made big news when he announced that he was riding the Giro this year. Chris Froome is good at a very specific type of cycling, and he is boring as hell.)

In 2016 Sagan won the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). In his words after the race, "no one wants to work with me, so I just have to do it by myself." Which is true, but almost impossible to actually do. (Sagan was leading the 2017 Ronde van Vlaanderen when he crashed because a jacket hung over a barrier caught his handlebars.)

As part of Sagan's effort at the ToC last year he sat down with Race Reporter Ruby, who is the best. Please enjoy this interview between two stars. Race Reporter Ruby did more very good interviews with other riders, so if you liked her interview style I encourage you to review those as well, if only to hear how she pronounces "South Lake Tahoe", which is adorable.

26 November 2017

The Wayback Machine: Counting Crows and Middle Age

I had a chance to see Counting Crows recently. Free tickets, free beers, super good seats. I opted not to attend. Skipped it because they have a tendency to get all jam-band-y in their live shows, which is definitely not my jam. (HONK) And also because the songs on August and Everything After mean a lot to me; I was afraid that hearing them again a lifetime later in a different context would have made me feel some feels, which is blah. I was also afraid I would feel nothing at all, which is worse.

When I first got a copy of the record on which this song appears I wore it out. If it were an actual record I would have had to buy a new copy because the needle would have smoothed the groove. As it is I just wore out everyone else's patience while I load-tested the speakers and repeat-offender'd my preferred cuts. Rain King remains my gold-standard, all-time favorite from this record. YMMV.

Covered this already in another post just over two years ago, so I will not belabor the unhappy sections. I will say that this song reminds me of spending time with Big Cheese and Sweet Katie when we were young. It's all a bit of a blur - it was a long time ago, and I spent entirely too much time drinking as much as I could afford, as often as I could afford it. The mere fact of my survival during that era is partly dumb luck, and partly my patient and generous friends.

As for generous friends, were we ever that young? I guess so, because there are pictures. I remember Sweet Katie was the best kind of beautiful (she still is). I remember laughing a lot. Big Cheese was funny (he still is), and he and I had a good time together, celebrating our infrequent successes and laughing about our many, many fuck ups.

It's been decades, but the Counting Crows remind me of the pure truth of Big Cheese and Sweet Katie's tremendous kindness towards me; it is a through-line that spans my entire adult lived experience. The other through-line, closely related to the first, is how much I love them. The only way I would see the Counting Crows at this point is if they were playing a live show at my cousins house and all of us were going together. In December. In 1993.

Also, not for nothing, but: this song fucking rules. Merry Christmas.

23 November 2017

Happy(?) Thanksgiving

I hope that you are having a good thanksgiving. If it is not good then I hope it is over soon, and that there is pie. If it is not good and there is no pie (which is very bad indeed), then make yourself a goddamn pie next time. It is not hard to do, and everything is a little bit better (or less bad) if you have some delicious pie.

I made four pies (so far) this year. Ate half of one, gave the rest away. Pumpkin pies are easy to make two at a time because the recipe can be doubled without affecting the result.

This particular pie is a variation of the classic pumpkin, with an amaretti cookie crust. It is very tasty and pretty easy, so if you want I will send you the recipe. The hardest part is forming the crust in the pan with your hands. I looked at a couple videos on how to make a graham cracker crust and they were useless garbage, so your best bet is to get in there with your hands and go for it. A bit of trial and error will see you through. Aim for an even layer of crust everywhere, and pay special attention to the angle of where the bottom of the pan meets the side of the pan - always a lot of buildup there.

Big plan for thanksgiving over here is doing homework. I cannot make any more pies because I loaned out all my pie tins. Fuck.

I went there: Boulder, CO

Boulder was nice. The trip itself was a drag, because the training was not very helpful. But the town is lovely, and it snowed while I was there. I very much enjoyed the snow, although the locals were not pumped. I got to leave for more temperate climes at the end of the week (87 and sunny here today).

Got myself a souvenir jersey from one of the local bike shops. Not the famously pretentious snobs at Vechhios, because f those guys. I got it at the Rapha store, which is a coffee shop that also sells flattering cycling gear.

The people I spoke to at the Rapha store were very chill, and we talked a lot about how the old-school model of the "Local Bike Shop" is not sustainable, because it does not take long for people to run out of stuff to buy. Yeah sure you need n+1 bikes, but even then you cannot buy a new bike very often (and if you can, most people do not). So how do you drive foot traffic and keep the lights on?

You used to be able to do that with Service and Parts departments, but Amazon has killed the latter, and general commitment to DIY (and instructions for everything on the intertubez) has put a huge dent in the former. Which is why most new bike shops now prominently feature a coffee bar, and also probably a bar bar. This gives cyclists (or coffee drinkers, or beer drinkers) a reason to come to the shop, hang out, talk to people. Rapha sells yearly memberships that offer unlimited free coffee drinks at all their shops. The (very nice) guy working the shop told me that they have people that sign up for the club just for the coffee deal; they don't even ride. Your local bike shop wants to be your local hangout, and that is smart business.

08 November 2017

I Went There: Ciudad Mexico

Yeah I Was That Guy
I went to Mexico City (Ciudad Mexico, or CDMX) with some friends. It was pretty good! I took a bunch of pictures, a very small portion of which I will share here as I sort through them.

This is me on the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, just hanging out, as you do. That's the Pyramid of the Moon in the background.

Mexico City was a fantastic time. Super good food, excellent sightseeing, easy to get around, and lots to do. Many neighborhoods are walkable (depending on where you stay). We were in Roma Norte by Fuente de la Cibeles, which is in the city center, right in the middle of several very nice neighborhoods.

I travel quite a bit for work so it takes a lot for me to want to get up and out of the house for a flight. CDMX was only 3.5 hours away from LAX but (the same as Chicago!) but worlds away in terms of culture and adventure. Flights were cheap - only $300 round trip from LAX, and lodging and food were similarly affordable.

Speaking of food: even if you don't like sightseeing and cool stuff you should go for the food. Ohhhh the food. I loved the food so much. I would eat it every day if I could because it is glorious. I would probably have to mix in some salads because based on my experiences I am not sure my body can handle Tacos al Pastor for dinner every night. :-/

I was there the weekend before Dia de los Muertos so there were many festivals and a parade and decorations everywhere. That was a good and fun time to go, so if you're not doing anything at the end of next October and feel like taking a trip let me know, maybe we can check it out.

CDMX: Highly recommended.

05 November 2017

People Are Awful: Mass Shooting in Texas

In the less than 24 hours since my last post went live there was another mass murder, this time in a small Texas town.

In my post yesterday, I said:
However, there are many, many people with ready access to the guns used by the Vegas shooter. The only thing preventing more of those types of mass murders is basic human decency.
It turns out that human decency was in short supply when (another) white male decided to go on a killing spree today.

This happened in one of the most gun-friendly states in the Union, so there is no chance that they will enact any type of meaningful gun control legislation. These people's lives (and the lives of their loved ones), are just the cost of doing business. Also, these types of murders represent only a small fraction of the total number across the country. Despite what you see on the news almost all gunshot victims die one at a time, from handguns.

Guns are too easy to buy and own across the country, and we as a society can and should do something about it. It it easier to buy a gun than it is to get a Cosmetology license. Can we maybe make it at least as difficult to get a gun as it is to learn to cut someone's hair? That would be progress.

Banning guns completely is a non-starter, as it makes the people dependent on the state for protection. That is a mistake, because the state is not going to protect you (it does not protect you in countries where guns are banned - you will always be at the mercy of someone more powerful than you unless you have a force equalizer). There is a middle ground, and we could get there if the gun lobby and gun control advocates were able to have a reasonable exchange. Maybe someday.

04 November 2017

Gun Control is Overdue: Ban Bump-Fire Stocks Already

After an elderly white male in Nevada killed 59 people and physically injured around 500 more with a collection of military rifles, some of which were equipped with 'bump-fire' stocks. These stocks enable you to use the recoil of the gun to simulate full-auto fire. According to the Washington Post the shooter had 23 guns in his hotel room, at least a dozen of which were AR-15 style rifles with bump stocks. (Note that 23 guns is 20 more guns than you need to do what he did, about which more shortly.)

A friend of mine that hunts and shoots recreationally asked me what I thought of bump-fire stocks a while back. I said that they were stupid toys, and not for serious shooters; they are strictly for clowns and/or novices. The stocks cannot be accurately aimed, and as such serve no purpose except to dump a bunch of rounds aimlessly downrange. This is exactly what the murderer in Las Vegas did, and it is exactly why those kinds of toys should be thrown in the trash forever.

There was a great outcry in the gun community about the NRA agreeing not to obstruct a ban on bump-fire stocks. The NRA has since walked back that agreement, and the repugnant, idiot CEO of the NRA has gone on the offensive, blaming, among others, the "Hollywood, television, gaming industry". Not sure which of those things drove the shooter to stockpile so many guns, aim them at defenseless civilians, and mow them down in great numbers, but I would venture to say that if he did not have a gun it would have been much harder to do. It would have been somewhat harder to do had he not had ready access to devices that serve no purpose beyond turning money into noise.

The Las Vegas shooter was the perfect storm of amateurism and mental illness. He had a very limited grasp of the proper equipment required to accomplish his terrorist attack, and his compulsive behavior is more common than you might think in 'two is one and one is none' shooting circles. He did not need "at least 12" AR-15 style rifles to shoot a bunch of unarmed, unprotected civilians. At most he might need four guns, and then only because the AR-15 is not designed for sustained rapid fire like a proper air- or water-cooled machine gun. The gun gets too hot and either the gas tube melts (in a direct impingement gun) or the barrel overheats (gas-piston gun) and the rounds start to tumble or 'keyhole'. (This second issue was maybe irrelevant for someone not concerned with aimed fire, but who knows.)

Why did the shooter have so many guns in his hotel room? Because he was fucking nuts.

Your typical combat rifle (I reject the term 'assault rifle', as should you, because it is ignorant and imprecise) is a very practical tool for hunting many different animals (if that's your thing) or to protect yourself or someone you love (if that's your thing). It is designed to inflict harm, which is what almost all guns have been designed to do since they were invented in the 14th century.

Since I first started this draft a couple weeks ago the Las Vegas shooting has fallen so far off the front page that you cannot even find it should you go looking. That is a concern, because the Vegas shooting is much more relevant to the national discourse than the Newtown massacre. There very few autistic, hyper-violent, over-indulged teenagers whose mom will buy them weapons of war and then give them the keys to the gun cabinet.

However, there are many, many people with ready access to the guns used by the Vegas shooter. The only thing preventing more of those types of mass murders is basic human decency. I would prefer if we could make it more difficult for insane people to commit those types of violent acts. I think that we can do that without compromising anyone's right to self-defense and personal protection, and the first step is by banning bump-fire stocks completely. It will do nothing to reduce the gun violence in the United States, but it is past time that we did something about making it so easy for insane people to inflict harm on others.

10 October 2017

Don't Steal Shit

I had a couple bikes stolen at UCSB. I got both of them back later, and while it did not make up for the tremendous frustration I felt when my bikes were stolen, I remember the recovery events with fondness.

So this thing should bring a lot of people great joy, and I wish them luck.

BTW, the cops are not at all interested in recovering your stolen bike in Isla Vista. Too hard to prove, too hard to prosecute. Fight crime? lol why would they do that? They could not care less. All they want to do is write tickets for MIP's, DIP's, and open containers. Those are revenue generating opportunities.

07 October 2017

Go Do This: MDTS Practical Shotgun for Home Defense

AAR for MDTS Practical Shotgun for Home Defense
Course date: 30/31 Sept/1 Oct
Instructors: Chris Fry and Bill Aprill
Gear required: A working shotgun; your brain
Rating: Five stars (out of five)

I took an excellent class over the weekend; I cannot recommend it highly enough. The instructor runs classes all over the country, and if you are at all interested in improving your mental and physical approach to your (and/or your family's) safety then you should attend. The only reason not to participate is if you already know that you are not the type of person that would use a firearm to defend yourself in a life or death situation. In that instance you should focus on techniques that are better suited to your abilities.

MDTS is run by Chris Fry, based out of upstate New York. He travels around the country doing trainings for firearms, edged weapons, and unarmed self-defense. Chris was joined by William Aprill, of ARC, who runs his own training programs down in New Orleans. Together they delivered a curriculum that covered both the mechanics of shooting a shotgun and, more importantly, the mindset you must cultivate to protect yourself from violent criminal actors, up to and including using deadly force in your home. As a special bonus, Bill Aprill did extensive lecturing on the mindset of violent criminal actors: where they come from, what they want, and provided the students with anecdotes backed up by hard data accrued during his career in both mental health and law enforcement.

I did not know the first thing about these guys when I registered for the class. I signed up because they were recommended by Craig Douglas. He is an awesome instructor, so anyone that is approved to work with him is likely to be good. Not only that, they will likely have a cerebral, intelligent approach to the hard truths of self defense and personal protection in a low-pressure environment.

That is the best course summary I can offer you: a cerebral, intelligent approach to shotgun home defense, which includes an excellent lecture course on violence and criminality. To do this kind of thing on your own you would have to read The Gift of Fear, and then read Meditations On Violence, and then read Thinking, Fast and Slow, and then read Sources of Power, then read a great many more books that I cannot remember because they are not already sitting on my bookshelf right now, and then spend thousands of hours studying and talking to violent criminals, and also spend thousands of hours practicing your weapon mechanics. Or you can take advantage of seasoned professionals and use their knowledge to your advantage. (Still have to practice your weapon mechanics though.)

I have been fortunate in that I have been able to take many shooting classes over the years. This is the most useful, most applicable, and most valuable of all. Useful and applicable because the information about mindset and criminal actors can be used and applied during every waking moment of your life. The gun mechanics are useful and valuable because you learn skills that you may actually have to employ. (This is a contrast to the long-gun courses and handgun courses that you might take - they are fun but they are really just LARPing for guys that like molle webbing - you will never, ever do that shit IRL.)

The value of these real-world, readily applicable skills cannot be overstated. You should take this class. It is a superb way to learn skills that will keep you and your loved ones more safe.

See you out there.

03 October 2017

That's Not Where That Goes

Rather Have This On the Wheel and On the Bike TBH
Why do I have a rear cassette (Shimano Ultegra R8000 11-32, if you must know) sitting on my desk? Don't those things belong on a bike? Wellllll it turns out that if you have a mental episode splurge on some super-sweet wheels* to put on your super-sweet bicycle and you don't read the directions about maximum tire pressure during tire installation you might have a Negative Outcome. And by that I mean they might crack at the valve stem. I needed a place to store my cassette until my new wheels got back from the vendor, and there it is. Just pointing all this out in the event it ever happens to you.

I had originally thought that the wheels were defective (and they may have been), but I probably contributed to their demise when I inflated the tubeless tire to seat the bead and exceeded the specified maximum tire pressure. (The bead is the part that touches the rim and seals. It is very tight in tubeless tires; it has to be in order to keep the air from spilling out.) This may be more information than you need, but the important part is that the prohibitively expensive, hand-made-in-the-USA carbon fiber wheel cracked before I even put it on the bike. The other wheel leaked badly from the valve stem during inflation and installation of the sealant, so it was a goddamn debacle all the way around. Though it eventually sealed it did not seem like it should have happened - the wheel that cracked did not leak at all.

The only good news about this whole thing was that I still had the boxes when I went to return them, and the vendor (wheelbuilder.com) was phenomenal. They handled my returns and warranty and rebuilt my wheels extremely quickly. Enve was also extremely apologetic, and I think it is probably the first time ever I had a c-level executive address an issue with a product I bought. They took my issue seriously and handled it no questions asked. Official word is that early versions of the wheel may have had some issues at the valve stem, but they have been resolved, and with a five year warranty you can buy with confidence.

Do I need prohibitively expensive, pro-level, hand-made-in-the-USA carbon fiber wheels on my bike? Fuck no! I do not need almost all of the shit I buy. But the groupset I want to put on the bike (Ultegra R8020) is not available in the states yet. So, here we are. I could have opted out after the unpleasantness detailed above, but one of the nice things about being a party of one is that I can allocate my resources however I choose. (Could also have switched to the main competing brand, but I do not like the branding, and the last time a rich white guy passed me on the bike path without responding to my friendly greeting he was on Zipps, and I refuse to ride the same wheels as that asshole. Also the patented dimpling seems like pure ::wanking motion:: to me. YMMV)

* Wheels: Enve SES 4.5 AR Disc; hubs: Chris King R45D in 'jette' aka matte black; bladed spokes: I forget which brand (DT Swiss?), but also in matte black; Hutchinson Sector 28 tires; orange seal sealant

26 September 2017

Dirty Faces Win Races

Peter Sagan was a legend before this race, and he put a nice exclamation point on his legend here.

Winning a six and a half hour (!!) cycling race is not about proving who is the strongest, it is about proving who can win a six and a half hour cycling race. It takes skill, nous, luck, and legs and heart and lungs and will of iron. Sagan has all of these things in spades, and they are on glorious display here.

He rode a strong race, got a bit lucky to get close, and found a way to win. It gets no better.

11 September 2017

Hot Jamzs: Trip the Light by Kaz James

Big Cheese sent this along and it's got a good vibe. Long mix so it takes a few minutes to get started. The radio edit, if one exists, would skip that part.

04 September 2017

Bespoke Jersey is Best Jersey

Same Colors as a Chewy Peppermint Christmas Candy
Along with the bike you need stuff to wear while riding. That means padded tights, which do not have pockets. And also jerseys, which (conveniently) do have pockets. I am no big fan of wearing tights in public but if you want to ride there is no way around it. I will never be that guy at the local coffee shop tromping around in clipless pedals and tights but as long as I am just out the door, riding, and then home with no intermediate stops then I am okay with it.

Finding cycling gear that isn't lame and ugly is tougher than you might think. Or maybe not, because if you even noticed almost any road cyclist you probably only noticed them because their outfit was ugly af. If you can find something that is decent (more on that shortly), you then have to find something that fits. This is even harder than finding something decent to wear, especially if you regularly lift anything heavier than your 8 Kg road bike. (Why are road cyclists so obsessed with weight? Because if the bike is too heavy they are afraid they might not be able to pick it up. OR: What's the hardest part about learning to ride in a peloton? Asking your dad to lift your bike into the truck. To be fair this is perhaps a bit much because cyclocross riders frequently lift their bikes and run with them and then jump back on again, but you get the idea.)

If you have shoulders then fit is problematic. Partly because I do not have a 'cyclists build', and partly because the hot thing in cycling these days is to be as aero as possible. Marginal gains and all that. So not only do the jerseys tend have narrow shoulders to start with, but, depending on what you buy, they are designed to be very tight.

So you found something that fits (maybe), what do you do about the graphics? While most of the designs you notice are butt, there are happily a few decent offerings from both affordable and premium brands. Or you can get creative and build your own. It is very easy to build custom from scratch and then order it online, as in this post and the one immediately below. There is a lot of overlap in the snob craft beer culture and the snob cycling culture so I enjoy the idea of having a not-cool beer jersey to ride on my supposedly not-cool bike. (My bike is polarizing because it has a suspension in the front, which gives traditionalists the vapors.)

I saw some California-themed jerseys out and about and they were okay, but not as good as one you could design in half an hour if, for example, you already had plenty of practice trolling the internet for Miller Lite logos and pasting them onto a color-themed template.

No plans to do a custom order on the jerseys any time soon, but if you want to then get your order in now because the price drops dramatically as you increase the quantity. You have my number.

YMMV: Likeness by Lawless, feat. Little Ashes

I heard this jam and I thought it was good. It's got that epic feel. You might dig it, or you might not. You do you.

Also heard recently that riding a bike 'brings color and joy to the world'. Riding a motorcycle does the same thing. You should do one or the other or both.

02 September 2017

Overdoing It

You Know You Want One
So it turns out that if you have not ridden a bicycle in a serious way for over 25 years and you get a new bicycle and decide to ride it in a serious way then you are almost certainly going to hurt something. It is possible that you will not, such as if you stopped cycling when you were 2, but even then: the body needs some time to adjust after a long time away. 

For example, if you get a totally awesome new road bike that you think is the dope shit and start logging miles because the bike is awesome and rad and riding around on it is awesome and rad then you will very probably get sore knees, which is decidedly not awesome and/or rad. In less temperate climes than the type I enjoy here in lovely Southern California they call this condition 'spring knee', because riders would be drawn outside and begin to ride more as the weather warmed. You can ride 365 days a year where I live so I just call it "sore knees that are bad and hurtful" or "hurtful knees", for short. The struggle is real. 

The hurtful knees are definitely cramping my style, so I have had to scale back my riding and do more (a lot more) to loosen the angry, angry quads in an effort to ameliorate my condition. Pro cyclists get a massage after every stage of every race, and also after almost every workout (must be nice). That's not in the budget, so I have been spending some quality time with a roller and a supernova ball. It's not much better but it's not worse. You care. Soon I will be back on the roads and looking good while going slow. I have a lot more words about looking good on the bike, but that will be another post. Get excited. 

26 August 2017

Two Wheels Good

Click to Enlargen
The past couple weeks have been very busy. I was in San Ramon for work one week, and then San Francisco for work the following week, and then Boulder, CO for work the week after that. SF and Boulder were cool but yeah I don't care to talk about it either.

What I do care to talk about is this new thing that I'm doing that gets me out of the house. I am back on two wheels on the regular! Except now I have to provide the motive power in addition to the steering/braking inputs.

This here is a Specialized Roubaix in the best color they offer (black), which is the color I brought home. My bike is a different than this one in that the groupset is not as high-end as the one pictured here, so the one I bought cost quite a bit less. That is good news because it functions the same and I had a lot of other ancillary stuff to buy. Like pedals. And tights. And the shirts with pockets on the back. And a helmet. (Borrowed one from my friend but you are supposed to get a new one after 3 years and his was 10 years old.) And a little computer to track your data. So much data. Fortunately I had shoes left over from when I did spin class several years ago - shoes are expensive. Actually all of it is expensive, because cycling overlaps demographically very heavily with golf.

Cycling is very much a rich, middle-aged white guy hobby. I am not rich, but I do not have kids and I have the middle-aged white guy thing on lock. The big question is whether or not my back will hold up. So far it's okay. Not great, but okay. That will have to do for now.

More to come as I get caught up on the book reviews and maybe, if you're lucky, politics. Get excited.

12 August 2017

Retro Style

In creating the post on Ready Player One (see below) I got sucked into a rabbit hole of 80's references, Gotcha shorts, and, happily, some pretty great retro OP polos.

Thanks to the internet some of this stuff is not too hard to find, and some of it is reasonably priced. If it fit me I would pay $40 plus shipping for this sweatshirt (that stripe! that collar! 100% cotton!). Some of it is expensive; not sure I would pay $80 for a shirt made 30 years ago - I would attempt to find a modern equivalent, but at least it is interesting.

Full disclosure: this is the last sweatshirt I bought, so YMMV. The thing about buying a garment like that is unless you lose it or let some girl 'borrow' it then it is likely to be the last sweatshirt you ever buy. That is one of the reasons they don't make them like they used to - the other is that loopwheeled shirts are very expensive to make, especially if you pay your employees a decent living wage like they do in Japan. Still: it will last as long as you do, which is saying something. I got mine because it reminded me of the same garment that my grandfather used to wear when I was a kid. He had gotten several on the cheap in the late 40's and wore them for decades. You can do the same: browse the collection at the History Preservation Associates and buy yourself a hoodie that will last a lifetime. You deserve it.

11 August 2017

Not Bad for an Afternoon: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Just because a lot of people like something does not mean it is good. (See: McDonalds food; Game of Thrones books; Big Bang Theory; etc.) That said, Ready Player One is a fun, easy-readying story with some cringey flat spots and occasionally horrendous dialog that will keep you entertained for the few hours it will take you to finish it. I think it will do very well as a movie, because the script writers will be able to even out the low points and punch up the weakest elements (the romantic storyline and dialog are, and I cannot overstate this, spectacularly awful) while keeping the parts of the story that make it compelling.

That the author's second novel resorts to the same first-person trope as the first suggests that he may be out of ideas. Or that he is a hack. Or both. He definitely seems like a hack in this novel, but it succeeds in spite of itself.

Highly recommended for: anyone that played a lot of atari in the 80's; anyone that spent time in front of an arcade cabinet at the local 7-11 on the way home from school in the 80's; anyone who knows the serial number for the original star trek Enterprise; anyone who owned a 20-sided die and prayed for a vorpal sword + 5; anyone who enjoys references to the classic that was the Last Starfighter.

08 August 2017

History Lesson: Liberty or Death by Peter McPhee

Liberty or Death really good! It is overflowing with detail so if you want to just get the gist of it you can get the kindle version and read the middle chapter that summarizes all the authors theses. Or if you can get your hands on a summary or abstract at a discount that might be good too. 

I read the whole thing and while the overarching themes are easy to recall there are many dates and places that are lost to me; it turns out that I do not need to remember the exact dates for the various revolutions, counter-revolutions, wars, internecine conflicts, and terrors that swept through France between 1789 and 1798. The big picture stuff is quite enough. 

This book overlaps well with Capital in the Twenty-First Century in that some of the root causes of the French Revolution are directly attributable to economic inequality, and Piketty explores them in some detail in his magnum opus. 

Full length book recommended for history buffs. Abstract or abbreviated version highly recommended for everyone else. 

06 August 2017

I Read This: The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland

Sweet Katie was kind enough to share this book with me. I read it and I didn't get it. The story about a woman having what seems to be a mental breakdown. The meta-stories are about aging, mid-life crises, careers, 'love', newspapers, and probably some other stuff I did not pick up on. It is an easy book to read, but not a very easy book to understand. What I did understand I did not think was interesting.

I do not do well with books that have unreliable narrators, and that is a core element of this novel. SK liked the book, and she is a good and smart person that reads a lot, so I think there is a good read in there if that type of book is your jam. It is very audience dependent. Read it and decide for yourself.

02 August 2017

Caught Up in You by 38 Special

Please press the play button and soak this scorching hot all time classic slice of pop perfection into your face. DO IT.

Two drummers? TWO DRUMMERS. You might want to go dance around a little, blow some rails (that was a thing in the 80's), sing along, or just watch the period-correct video and try to figure out which of those people you would have been if you were that age in 1982. (I'm the guy playing video games and drinking beers, obvs. Talk to girls? Fuck no. Why would I do that?)

Based on video evidence we can infer that many other things were hella dope back in the day: pay phones (lol), chest fur (on the men), tight ass jeans (men and women), shirts that are at least two sizes too small (men, and still a thing today), t-shirts tucked in with a belt (what the actual fuck?), hot blonde bitches playing you for free beers (also still a thing today). Not a thing back in the day? Bras, apparently. I'm not saying I'm into the look, but I'm not not saying it.

This song came out in 1982. Let that sink in for a minute. Some of my younger readers were not even born yet. The last girl I went out with wouldn't be born for another five years(!). Point is, this is an old song. Related: I am old. You're probably old too! How did this happen? No idea. Not much to say about it except this song makes me forget about being old for a few minutes. Actually, it does not make me forget. It just makes me not care for a few minutes. Two very different things, but it will have to do for now. At least until Destiny 2 comes out.

See you on the dance floor.

22 July 2017

Weeks and Weeks

Started some blog posts but they were not good. Even adjusting for lowered standards and long delays between content. I work, read books, do my PT, do my other hobbies (baking, watching League of Legends on youtube, and baking while watching League on youtube). Just trying to make my way in the world, same as you.

Here then is a very good ambient theme song from a movie (Sunshine) that started out promisingly and took a left turn into bullshit. Get down with some instrumental feels. Or not.

Around the time that this movie came out (2007) I worked with a person that I nicknamed 'Sunshine'. She was an aggressively cheerful and hilariously incompetent person. She worked in my department for about 3 years and she was good for some type of issue or challenge around once a month. The issues varied from wearing pajamas to work to having a nervous breakdown and needing to take a leave of absence. (Though these two things mayyyy have been related in some way.) When she had her final extended meltdown/leave and the company told her to take as long as she liked but to not plan on returning I took over her job duties. The saddest part about her issues was that she hardly did any work at all, and she still could not handle it.

The funniest part about her leaving was that IT gave me her computer so that I could access her files, and her password was "happiness". Sunshine, indeed.

09 July 2017

Heavy Reading: Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder

I finished Bloodlands a while back and have been processing, or, more accurately, attempting to process, the content ever since. Snyder paints a vivid account of the scale of the civilian and non-combatant slaughter in the territories between Germany and Russia that occurred between 1933 and 1945.

Is it the heaviest book ever written in English? Given the scope and scale of the material I think it might be. We have the benefit of contemporary firsthand accounts, and the numbers are overwhelming beyond human comprehension.

When you read that Stalin killed over 750,000 people in his great purges of 1937 and 1938, how do you wrap your head around that? If you read that Stalin starved over three million (!!) Ukrainians to death as part of his collectivization strategy in 1932/33 then what does that mean? Do you get caught up in the details of death by starvation, which are so harrowing I do not even want to reproduce them here? Or do you imagine what it would be like if all of San Jose (1.0 million), Dallas (1.3 million) and San Diego (1.4 million) were starved to death? What would that look like?

Once you get past Stalin's successful mass murders - if you can - then you come to Hitler, whose army and their compatriots killed even more civilians and POWs in a shorter span of time. The accounts of Hitler's/Germany's victims are every bit as horrible as anything that Stalin and his teams could design.

Though a difficult read, this is essential history, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

26 June 2017

Good Books from Masha Gessen and Timothy Snyder

Finished a couple excellent books over the weekend. Neither work is very long, and both are essential.

The first is Masha Gessen's illuminating account of the origins of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. The author does a good job summarizing his origins, and a less good job summarizing how he initially made his money (by defrauding the city of St. Petersburg in contracted food purchases totaling more than $100 million). I am much more interested in the latter than the former, so I could have used a lot more detail there but overall it is quite good. Gessen does a better job detailing the many, many ways in which the state (Putin, and his surrogates) manages to coerce, manipulate, intimidate, steal, and kill the competition. Russia is a very fucked up place, and Putin is a brutal dictator. It is more than a little disturbing that our current president admires Putin very much, and seems to endorse his extractive, exploitative economic policies as well as his control of the media. (Putin regularly kills people that he considers his enemies, and was also instrumental in a domestic terror bombing campaign in Russian apartment blocks that consolidated his power.) I rate this book 4 out of 5 Putin Centaurs.

The second book is short enough to read in a single sitting, although it is very a book I plan to revisit periodically. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder is superb, and it summarizes very well why 'leaders' like Trump are dangerous for democracy. (Inciting violence against a free press, lying constantly and aggressively, subverting democratic principles such as voting rights for all, etc.) Buy two copies, and give one to a friend. (Trigger warning: if you want to bask in the ignorance and willful stupidity characterized by the Republic of Trumpistan then browse the one star reviews. Remember that when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you is full of fuckwits and morons.)

19 June 2017

Coal is Not Coming Back

John Oliver outlines why coal is not coming back, and even if it does, it will not do much to help the economy. Put simply: not enough people work in the coal industry. What would help the working class people that used to have viable careers in the coal mines is a social safety net. That would cost money, but the executives can spare it since they are making more money than they can spend. The problem is that the dumb fucks voted for the one person who will absolutely not, under any circumstances, help create a social safety net. They voted for a person that wants to cut taxes for rich people. Sad!

10 June 2017

Lies, Walls, and Hypocrisy

How's that wall coming along, Mr. Trump?

Long time no talk, as usual. The past couple weeks have been very... interesting. Consider this: The embattled leader of the nation retreated to give a speech to religious fanatics while his former head of domestic security testified before the legislative branch about the leader's efforts to derail an investigation into corruption and collusion with foreign powers. Where could such a thing happen? Some pathetic banana republic or similar third world shithole? Yes! But also in the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

This week, while James Comey was testifying before Congress about how his boss had insisted on 'loyalty', Trump was giving a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian group. It was pretty great! Trump talks a big game about (hashtag)religion, and the fact that this is what is helping prop him up as he fails from one topic to another says a lot about how unbelievably hypocritical some people are.

Trump is not religious! Trump is not a Christian! He just mouths the words because they get a positive reaction from people that think they are 'under siege'. Which: if you want to create a theocracy of any type in America then you are not under siege, you are an anti-Constitutionalist fucktard. I want to live under evangelical Christian law exactly as much as I want to live under Sharia law, but only one of those things is being actively promoted by organizations around the country. Hint: it's not sharia.

Trump, the standard bearer for that special subset of devout christians who have repeatedly cheated on their wives and have no interest in paying their bills, will stay in office as long as he pushes their pro-business agenda. Donald Trump is a clown. He has no long-term plan. The vague initiatives his office has suggested so far are remarkable only in how they will line the pockets of himself and his associates, and how little they do to help the egregiously stupid lower-middle class and lower class citizens that voted him into office.

Trump is a mouthpiece and agent for a group of people who hate the working class, who want to keep every last red cent for themselves, and tough shit if you are poor or do not have health insurance or both. Consider again that Donald Trump, serial adulterer, a man that bragged on tape about being a sexual predator, is a champion of conservative Christian groups. Donald Trump, a man that serious business people famously do not take seriously, in large part because he does not pay his bills, is the champion of Big Business.

There is nothing these people will not do in order to push their agenda. They do not care if Russia helped swing the election. They do not care if the environment gets trashed. They do not care if national parks get bulldozed. They do not care if poor people die because they cannot get health care. They do not care if poor people go hungry. They do not care that jails are overflowing with non-violent drug offenders. They do not care that black people are being gunned down in record numbers. They only care about the holy dollar, and Donald Trump is truly their lord and savior.

Jesus wept.

29 May 2017

Routine Update On Why There Are So Few Updates / Chris Cornell

I don't hit the blogspace much because I do not have much positive to contribute. Donald Trump is an overgrown piss baby and remains a joke amongst his 'peers' - stretching the definition of the word there as Trump is surely peerless among the Western world leaders in his ignorance and ineptitude. Still: he is an elected 'leader', and he interacts with other leaders. I could write ten thousand words on the inadequacy of his leadership but you can read better accounts from people that are getting paid to provide it.

In other news my back hurts a lot and it has a severely negative impact on my mental health. Not ideal. Not much inclined write about that, because who the fuck wants to read it? Not me. 

Big Cheese pointed out that Chris Cornell died, and that was a bummer. Indeed it is. His death hit a lot of people right in the feels because Soundgarden was their soundtrack to the 90's. However, it wasn't my soundtrack, because while you literally could not escape Soundgarden on tv or the radio back in the day I always thought their music was wildly overrated. Spoonman? Really? Black Hole Sun was maybe not terrible, but after the 800th time it starts to wear on you. Check out their list of hits (and there are some monster hits here) and tell me if anything has held up very well. I don't think so. Plus I was always more of a Pearl Jam guy anyway. YMMV

Even so, Chris Cornell was a great vocalist, and when steered towards a pop song like Hunger Strike (linked above) he shows off his immense talents. Guy was amazing, and this song remains a good singalong, if you're into that. I have it on good authority you can pound a natty light during the execrable bridge. It's a testament to how good Cornell is that you even want to stick around through that bridge. This song succeeds in spite of itself, in large part because Cornell was a legit outstanding vocalist. He was 52. 

15 May 2017

You're Good For Me

Old-school Trance classic right here.

There's a lot of hot air about how the new 'trance' music isn't as good as the old trance music. Styles change, tastes change, etc. Some of the new music is actually pretty good, but some of it, well, it's shit. But plenty of the records back in the day were shit too. So whatever. Enjoy this one because it's an all-timer.

I can confirm that the current music coming from Above and Beyond is most definitely NOT as good as this. 

Also, happy belated mother's day to all the mom's out there. I made my mom a roast leg of lamb, and also some banana bread. She doesn't much care for either item, and she's a thousand miles away. More for me! She appreciated the gesture. 

11 May 2017


Hey what's new?
No news here. Work is work and also there's that other stuff. Who wants to talk about that? Not me! This is a remix of a song that was quite a hit earlier this year. I like this one better. YMMV.

30 April 2017


Over the weekend my friend's kid and I shared a joke for the first time. Or as much as you can expect in a joke from a child that is 3.5 years old.

We often do a high five for hellos and successes and also snacks, because it's good and fun to high five with the youths. So when I tucked Jr. into her car seat over the weekend we did a high five to celebrate (as you do). After that she immediately smiled and stuck her foot out and said, "high foot?" I laughed a lot, and said yes, absolutely, and tapped her foot with my hand. She was well pleased with her witticism, and so too was I.

Maybe you kind of had to be there. But that's true for most things, isn't it?
See you out there.

27 April 2017

'The Chronic' Doesn't Mean What It Used to Mean

Hi! If you were/are a frequent visitor to the blog you probably noticed that posts have really fallen off lately.

The reason is that I have been having some problems with my back, and I am in a lot of pain, all the time. Chronic pain is a bummer. Like, a real bummer.

You learn a lot when you are in pain. For instance, I learned in one of my psychology books that humans can become desensitized to almost everything. The only exceptions are very loud noises and chronic pain. : /  (This was in Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman).

More fun facts: did you know that one of the few things besides crushing poverty that will reliably make you unhappy is chronic pain? I didn't know either! (LOL actually I did because I've been living it, but it was fun to read in a book, in this instance it was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.)

So things are not good. They might get better. They might not. Life is uncertain. If you want some excellent books to read I highly recommend both Thinking Fast and Slow and Sapiens. In between you should take a nap.

More later as I am able. Thanks for dropping by.

09 April 2017

Put Some World in Your World

This is very well executed. Found it here.

08 April 2017

So I Guess We're at War Now?

LOL J/K - America is not at war. A small subset of the armed forces are at war; America is at the mall.

Turns out the President can unilaterally bomb a sovereign nation (and spend over $100 million) without checking with Congress first. Related: Donald Trump is a goddamn moron.

Over 400,000 people (so far - this number is sure to increase) have been killed in the Syrian civil war since it kicked off several years ago. They have been killed with 'conventional' weapons: guns, bombs, bricks, etc. The United States stood idly by, and with good reason. There is very little strategic advantage to getting involved in that mess besides to help Europe prevent more refugees from washing up on their (and our) shores.

A few days ago around 100 people were killed with 'chemical' weapons, and Trump opted to spend over $100 million by launching missiles at an airfield that was fixed in less than 8 hours. (A million dollars a person! Imagine how far that money would go if you spent it on, I dunno, the American taxpayer? You can buy a lot of books for $100 million, if you gave a damn about that sort of thing.) Strategically, this is a failure, even by the generous standards of low-exposure warfare. Publicly Trump has enjoyed the endorsement of a great many clowns and fuckwits possessed of a very limited understanding of armed conflict in general and the Syrian civil war in particular.

Trump has no plan. He has no strategy. He has no solution. All he has is the most powerful military in world history and a TV stuck on Fox news. The man is a gross incompetent, and he has surrounded himself with gross incompetents. Setting aside the home for misfit toys that his cabinet has become, consider this most recent effort in Syria. It is vintage Trump: expensive, ineffective, and grossly ill considered. It is a gesture every bit as empty as the man himself.

I spoke with a person that loathed Trump before this action. She recently watched a documentary on Syria, and she was very emotional about the fact that the United States needed to do 'something' to stop 'that man'. The documentary seems very compelling - the trailer alone tugs at the heartstrings, with swelling music and emotional appeals (notice the obligatory little girl at the end for peak empathy). None of this is news as such, because reports of brutality have been coming out of Syria since before the rebellion even started.

Here's the thing: My friend is an otherwise rational person, but she let her emotions get the best of her. It is very definitely not the United States' responsibility to do anything that is not materially in the best interest of the United States. Starting a war with no exit strategy and no clear path to victory is not in the best of the United States. The challenge is further complicated by the fact that religious factions are almost certainly going to fill the power vacuum left when Assad gets what he deserves. That prospect reminds me of something but I can't quite put my finger on it. Hmm.. maybe I'll think of it later.

29 March 2017

Here We Are

Long time no talk.
What I've been doing is not interesting. I am working on doing other stuff that is more interesting, but until then here's my favorite James song. The only James song most anyone can remember hearing, if we're honest. Still: a simple, catchy song with a fun singing part.

Also: 1993? 1993.

16 March 2017

Are You Having a Meeting? I LOVE MEETINGS

This is floating around the intertubes, and it's good.

If you need to get current on the source/origin then visit the Guardian and watch the short video of the interruption.

Hat tip to my man Scott for the GIF.

14 March 2017

Darling, Indeed

This is my new crush, Kate Darling, who is even smarter than she is lovely.

If you want to enjoy her euphonious voice without being otherwise distracted then you can enjoy this podcast she did with Sam Harris.

A good friend of mine is a high-level executive at Viacom. We got to talking about how looks can get you in the door, but they will not help you do the job. He works in entertainment in LA, and almost all the women in his office are very good looking, and some of them are extremely smart. I asked what it was like dealing with that (otherwise rare) combination, and he said, "lethal".

I laughed, but he's not wrong.

28 February 2017

The Uaries Are Almost Over

The Uaries are a drag. Bad weather, belt tightening from spending money on Christmas gifts, lots of cutting and reductions and healthy eating and Hallmark Holidays and my birthday and ugh it's a load of rubbish. This trailer though, it's pretty good. I'm ready for this movie. It looks like a lot of fun. Bring on Spring already.

20 February 2017

2007 Was Alright

I dunno about 2007 Forever, but mash ups are fun as hell. They used to be called bootlegs and I agree they don't land as hard now as they did when Girl Talk first started swinging haymakers, but they still sound pretty good. Build your own here: http://themagicipod.com/

Or just get down to the above, because that is some good shit. Language not strictly safe for work, so turn it up in the headphones kids.

Happy Anniversary

Today marks the anniversary of my official arrival on this rock we call the earth. If my mom's narrative is to be believed then I spent the first several years crying and/or shitting myself. I was a crabby baby, is what I mean. Those that know me well will agree that not much has changed, but here we are. Anyway, happy birfday to me. I am going to celebrate by eating some cookies and going to the gym. And hanging out with my peeps, who remain the best. 

My mom sent me an ecard from Jacquie Lawson, who has a website that looks like it was built on aol in 1999 and a huge library of flash animated (of course) gift cards from which to choose. The dark web is a thing, people. Still, Cat Boogie was pretty good, and cats are the best. Unless you get a lame cat, and then she just wrecks your couch and lives forever. My friend Sweet Katie got a kitten and that cat is definitely the best. She is a spicy little meatball - it took her only few minutes to get into my suitcase and see if she could get cat hair on my work clothes. Well played, cat. Well played. 

I hope that you enjoyed your weekend. If you skipped the cards and gift baskets this year then fret not, dear reader. There's always next year. 
Thanks for reading. 

16 February 2017


Got my taxes done earlier this week. My accountant has been doing my taxes for as long a I have filed them (25 years and counting), and he has known me for a while longer than that.

My accountant is the parent of one of my friends from middle school and high school, and I more or less grew up at their house since I was there at least once a week during that time. He and his wife gave me rides to practices and games and events and movies, and then when we were old enough their son had a beater of a car so he drove us places: practices and taco bell and movies and the park to play basketball and so forth and so on. They came to every game and school event while in school, and then supported me generously over the years afterwards. (In 25 years I have paid to have my taxes done exactly zero times, which is absurd, but they literally refuse to take my money, so here we are.)

My accountant is a family friend, and he and his generous wife have always been more family than friend. They have been a constant in my life like little else. So when we sat down this year, with me as a middle-aged person, and my accountant family let me know that he has sold the business and plans to retire, I was affected in a way that I did not expect.

I guess the point of this rambling summary is that I am old, and I don't like to be reminded of it? No idea. This is also probably why my self-indulgent, navel-gazing corner of the cybers gets no traffic. I need to start a blog about diet and/or weight loss...

15 February 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

If You Don't Love This Dog You Are Dead to Me
I hope you had a much better day than the current POTUS. He wrote a goofy love letter to Putin and then Putin scolded him because his National Security Adviser got fired resigned after less than a month because he broke the law. And I don't mean speeding on his way to the office - he was negotiating with the Russians on Trump's behalf while Obama was still in office. Turns out that this is illegal at best, and mayyyybe closer to treason than anyone should be comfortable with. Oops!

One of the suggested candidates for replacing him is David Petraeus, who will have to let his parole officer know if he moves to DC because he is currently on probation for improperly handling classified information

Is there any good news? I dunno. This made me laugh. Is it a real thing? I don't find myself moved by Justin Trudeau but I'm not his target demographic. What says the readership? 

Love to you and yours each and every day. For real: hallmark holidays are bad and dumb. Love your people 365 days a year. That's your life, and it's all you get. 

01 February 2017

And Furthermore...

The other thing that's getting up my nose about Neil Gorsuch and his 'originalist' approach to the law is that he writes essays about how if you don't like the law you should work to elect legislators that can change the law, then leave it to the judiciary to adjudicate.

This is in perfect alignment with Gorsuch originalist views, which leave anything not explicitly in the constitution up to the states. The issue is twofold. For starters (as explained in earlier posts) the constitution itself is a historical document, written by some well-meaning people with no concept of modern society. The second issue is that the legislative system itself is broken: the poor are being disenfranchised at every opportunity, the system is rife with corruption and more influenced by money than the actual will of the people, and also your elected legislators pass some very, very bad laws. If you are a bible-humping neocon like Gorsuch you just shrug and say well, abortion isn't explicitly mentioned in the constitution, and all life is precious because Jesus died for our sins and God loves you, so I hope you enjoy your pregnancy and resulting unwanted child and also it's too bad your insurance doesn't cover birth control but hey that's the way it goes. Not sure what coddled world he lives in, but applying leverage through the legislative branch is not an option for much of the country. It's almost as though he doesn't care, which, hey, about that...

Gorsuch also approves of discrimination on religious grounds. This has been couched as 'religious freedom', which: lol. It is actually a form of enabled discrimination. Most famously it entitles your employer to pick and choose your health care coverage to exclude contraception, because they don't believe in it. Can you imagine working at a place and finding out that basic contraception is not covered because your employer doesn't think you should have access to birth control? I think it's perfectly fair if they provided no coverage at all, but why do they get to choose what is and is not covered? Hobby Lobby was able to get this through the court because they convinced the (five male, Catholic) justices that their belief that certain contraceptives cause abortions (a provably false claim, btw), and providing those contraceptives to their employees is a violation of their religious freedom. In other words: hey I believe this to be true because Jesus, and you can't tell me otherwise, because Jesus. And hey what a weird coincidence that all you guys are Catholic and are voting against a womans right to reproductive health!

This is what we are up against. The ghost of Scalia lives on, and thinking people must keep putting that man and his discriminatory views in the trash where they belong.

31 January 2017

Governed by a Minority Theocracy

Donald Trump was elected by a minority of American voters, and he won the election because the United States uses the electoral college, a system put in place as a concession to slave states with low voting populations. This is just one of many, many fuck ups from our great 'founding fathers', a collection of rich white men who didn't want to pay their taxes (but did want to own slaves, obvs). I'll give them credit: they were willing to die for it, which counts for something.

As a result of this minority election victory, Trump gets to nominate an appointment to the Supreme Court, and his first nomination is a deeply religious man who holds Scalia in high regard. Many conservatives do, as Scalia was their flag bearer on the court for decades: a great friend to big business, to religion, to discrimination, and especially to bigotry, all in the name of a strict interpretation of the 'letter' of the law. Reports indicate that Gorsuch will vote against a woman's right to an abortion, perhaps because it is not explicitly mentioned in the constitution, but more likely because he is a religious nutjob that wants to impose his religious views on as many people as possible. 

Religious dogma is rubbish whether it is coming from a bible-humping neocon like Gorsuch or a koran-humping imam, and it belongs in the trash. Gorsuch reportedly prefers to determine constitutional law based on the intentions of our founding fathers, who, as I have reported in this space before: thought slavery should be legal; did not think women or anyone who did not own land should be allowed to vote; believed firmly in oligarchy; did not believe in an income tax; and did not have the benefit of what we would now consider even the most basic science education. (Your three year old that washes their hands after using the toilet knows more about germ theory of disease than they ever did. Think about that for a minute.) Their gross ignorance in matters of science and physics aside, I feel comfortable saying that maybe those guys weren't as great as people make them out to be. Anyone trying to figure out what the founding fathers intended should remember that they put it to a vote and most of them decided that, on the whole, slavery was cool and good and why would we ever let a woman vote are you insane? 

One thing they were clear on was the separation of church and state (from that hallowed slaveowner Thomas Jefferson!), but that's another area where Trump, et. al. are doing all they can to ignore and revoke your rights, and it's another thing that Muslims and Christians have in common: they both believe they have God on their side, and their righteousness and piety will lead all of us to glory. Fuck them and fuck their nonsense. It deserves your contempt, and you should reject it without exception. 

Here's the key point: religious dogma injected into your government deserves your contempt regardless of what is written in the US constitution, because it is a terrible way to govern. 

The constitution was written by a bunch of men that didn't have the benefit of a modern college education, or the foresight of what our country would become. That's our job as citizens: to move forward. Trying to interpret what they 'intended' by reading the tea leaves makes as much sense as trying to fly an airplane by talking to someone on the ground that died 200 years ago. 

Neil Gorsuch is probably a very nice man, kind to his children, good to his friends. He is also a man that wants to enforce his religious views on as many people as possible. I say no to that, and no to government by a minority theocracy. Resist

29 January 2017


Hello friends! 
I started a long post about President Clownshoes Trump's inaugural address. It was topical and relevant and interesting and depressing as hell. So I tabled it for now. 

I do want to point out that the same yahoos who have spent the last 8 years making false accusations about how you cannot trust the government are now in charge, and they are working overtime to make their wildest dreams come true. Irony is real. 

I had more comments about current events but I'm not in the mood. Instead, here is a picture of a pony in a sweater. 

23 January 2017

Hot Jam of the Week: Bleachers and Charli XCX - Rollercoaster

I don't do much these days, surgery recovery and all. I could write a blog about Destiny (the game) but I'd rather be playing Destiny (the game) than write about it. So let's hear some music!

Apparently this is a cover? I never heard the original and don't much care. This is three minutes of pop perfection. Enjoy.

17 January 2017

Russian Literature Can Be Funny: The Possessed by Elif Batuman

In between the economics books* and the history books I like to mix in something that isn't history or economics. I'm not picky as long as the alternative reading is easier to get through than 700 page books on history or economics (or the history of economics).

To wit: This is a very good and funny collection of essays about a topic in which I have only a peripheral interest (Russian literature). It is said by pretentious a-holes those who purport to know that you cannot truly understand Russian literature unless you can read it in the original language. I have heard this enough times that I guess I believe it? I'm not going to learn Russian so it's not verifiable.

This is a very interesting and funny book about capital-l Russian Literature, and about academia, and about intellect, and about reading, about relationships, and about investing time and effort and energy in the pursuit of those things. If it is true that you cannot fully appreciate Russian Literature without mastering Russian, then this is probably a better use of your time anyway. And you can always read the original works later, if that's your thing. Anna Karenina is rubbish. Or 'the best novel ever written', depending on who you ask. lol nah - it's more boring than econ books.

* This is more than a little unfair as the Piketty is very accessible and well written, but there's only so much you can do with the driest of dry subject matter. Credit to Piketty and his translator for making it as good as it is.

06 January 2017

Daft Science: COINS Brings the Noise

A guy (COINS) made a bootleg record of Daft Punk and the Beastie Boys. This is the best track by some distance, but the others are worth a listen if you are the type of person that enjoys some Daft Punk or some Beastie Boys. This remix, and this project, is over two years old(!!). I finally caught up with it this year, so that's fun. Enjoy. 

04 January 2017


Sam Harris is smart. And occasionally funny. But mostly smart.

02 January 2017

Hot Jamz from Earlier This Year: Bury It by CHVRCHES, remixed by Gareth Emery

No idea how long this song will stay up on soundcloud - it might stick because the audio quality is not very good. If not then just go here - it's the first song in the mix. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

01 January 2017


This is a hangover 'cure' from Chubbies. Apparently it's the same thing the WHO recommends if you have cholera. I haven't had a cholera type hangover recently but still: thanks, Chubbies.

Dr. Connor's Hangover Cure:
  • 1 liter of water
  • 6 teaspoons of sugar
  • A half teaspoon of salt
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime for flavoring

Happy New Year! Now Get Up and Get Going

Photo was taken earlier this year after my friend Tim and I had worked ourselves into a right state on the Assault bikes*. We both died. You can see the outline of my body on the ground left over from before I began the resurrection. (RIP, Tim.) Visited with Tim about this photo yesterday and he said, "I didn't even know you were dead too. I thought I was dead all by myself." Good focus, Tim. But no, I was also dead.

There's a life lesson in there somewhere and I think it is this: man tights are a-ok but sleeves will make you weak.

Good luck in 2017. See you out there.

* Yeah that's what they are actually called. It's an airdyne, but it needed a new name because IP infringement and all that.