Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Friendly Reminder

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Sensitive: The right to not be offended does not appear in the Constitution, Bill of Laws or Declaration of Independence. So there.

End of story.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Site is Big, I Tell You

4 comments since June.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Northwest Profile #12: Chicken Little Food Fear Monger*

Roughly 2, maybe 3 times a year, I get the following near-dizzy-with-lust call from My Bestest Friend in the Whole Wide World:

"Dude. Friday night. Steak. Beer. MLB 2010. I'm coming over."

I swear I hear the saliva seeping from the corners of his mouth over the phone.

What's transpiring is this: His strict-vegetarian wife is going out of town for X days and he's about to free himself from his Vegetarian Concentration Camp world, if ever so briefly.

I laugh every time!

Now I think the world of my Bestest Friend's wife. She's a fantastic, well-read and gregarious woman who has raised two beautiful and intelligent and really awesome kids. We got along quite well, too. She's just a little, well, nuts when it comes to meat.

I've had time to let this braise in my brain, and it's come down to this: She's been sucked into the rhetorical vortex by the Chicken Little Food Fear Monger.

The Chicken Little Food Fear Monger is easier spot than an expiration date. Fast Food Nation? Read it. Multiple times. Super Size Me? Better than Citizen Kane. Jamie Oliver? The Second Coming of Christ. Facebook posts? "(Blank) just had the most wonderful Hummus Pot Pie" or links to articles and declaring that The Smiths' "Meat is Murder!" is at the top of their Desert Island Discs.

But I got to thinking, what is it about this fear of meats like ground beef and chicken and pseudo-meats like McNuggets that bothers me? Luckily, I was able to figure it out.

Chicken Little Food Fear Mongers are hijacking the minds of intelligent and thoughtful people who are being duped and scared into believing this "science" based on the misrepresentation and distortion of facts and specious, unscientific connections to elements that appear in our foods (ex: “That McNugget has the same element in it as Silly Putty!”). Logic and common sense are also put on the back burner.

Now it’s one thing to object to the eating of animals—some people, like my Bestest Friend's wife, really don’t dig the idea and I get that, and that’s perfectly fine. (Hey, more juicy T-bones for me!) But it’s quite another to base one’s culinary aversions based on misrepresentations, misinformation (or is it disinformation?), distortions and fear mongering. And to complete Chicken Little's Recipe 'O Fear, we might as well add a dash of anti-corporate propaganda and rhetoric in there, too.

Now if I were Penn Gillette, right now I would be saying into the camera, "And it's all bullshit!" So pardon me if I get a little Penn from here on out with the language.

Here's an example: “Oh my god! Have you seen the way they make and what goes into ground beef? I’ll never eat it!”

True, store-bought ground beef is generally made from many parts of the cow—skeletal tissue (not bones), blood vessels, nerve tissue, etc., none of which sounds terribly appetizing. So the fuck what? Why is this bad? Are we not supposed to use the whole animal as to not waste it? Yes. It would make Sitting Bull and other Native Americans very fucking happy. Again, it’s a little gross to think about, and I would certainly rather eat ground chuck (aka: steak meat), but that shit is expensive and Joe Average Income likes to feed his family, so let's provide him with some food that he can afford too. How fucking careless and thoughtless of us. Again, is there any thing wrong in eating those things? No, there's not.

Then there’s “mad cow” disease and other animal-related illnesses like e.coli, salmonella, etc.—really awful stuff if you were to catch any of it. And I do mean fucking if (from US News *& World Reports):

“According to the Centers for Disease Control , in 2006 there were 27,634 people who fell victim to food borne disease outbreaks, and 11 deaths from those outbreaks. Only a fraction of those outbreaks were caused by beef—in fact, it's not even in the top three causes, surpassed by poultry, leafy vegetables, and fruits and nuts.”

Of the millions pounds of ground beef and chicken consumed by the ground-beef and chicken-eatin’ public, those who got sick is less than one half of one percent, if that. And of that figure, those who died is practically immeasurable. Fuck.

“Well, I don’t want to take that chance. Do you want to take that chance with your child!?”

Sure, why the fuck not. God forbid, he has a better chance of being hit walking out to my car. Or crossing the street. Or, hopefully, winning the lottery. Fuck it, I should just lock the little guy in the basement and hope he doesn't get hit by a meteor while am I am it. Nonsense.

And over what? Over one or two elements like tertiary butylhydroquinone and dimethylpolysilicone that appear in trace—trace!—levels in Chicken McNugets and that have been deemed safe by the FDA and European Health Administration, and that have tested and deemed safe by the World Health Organization and that, well, do not pose one iota of a health threat to humans. But let's be scared about it anyway. After all, long words are scary!

Using logic and reason, let's ask a simple and honest question: Of what benefit would it be to the raisers and sellers of beef to knowingly poisoning their target market? Ah, it’s for profit and to meet (pun!) demand, so the rhetorical argument goes. I see. Poisoning your target market is good for business. I bet they don't teach that at Harvard. So why pump (supposedly bad) hormones into chickens and cattle just to make a profit? To feed an increasingly hungry world faster? Oh the humanity. Are the levels of those hormones harmful? Potentially, yes. If they were put in by the fucking vat, which doesn't fucking happen.

Look, it’s good to raise question about what goes into our food supply. The problem is too many uneducated (aka: NOT experts) are chiming in and spreading misinformation faster than a rotting McDonald’s Happy Meal cheeseburger** about how bad ground beef, chicken, etc. are. They provide little context based in science and make too many assumptive and, ultimately wrong, conclusions. Truth is, they’re the epitome of what happens a lot in this Golden Age of the Internet: “a little knowledge in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing”. Thus, they end up needlessly scaring the living McNugget shit out of a lot of people.

And if you see or hear Chicken Little Food Fear Monger bemoaning that the sky is falling because X ingredient appears in your KFC Double Down and might cause you to grow a golden retriever head off your neck, break out the meat tenderizer, flatten him between two sheets of wax paper with common sense then deep-fry 'em at 350ยบ for 30 minutes.

Me? I'm going home and having a steak.

*With apologies to PEMCO's great ad campaign.

**The latest bullshit internet "experiment."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Negative Capability

Here it is.

My big moment.

The chains are off. No agendas to meet, not a one.

Do as I imagine. Do as I think we could be.

I can blow it all up and re-create it.

So why not!

And I will.

What's the answer?

There's the middle of the river.

Calm. Meandering.

Ripple free.

Never, ever reaching one shore or the other

And being in content that there are waters without answer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Moderately Representin'?

Let me be clear about something: The hateful rhetoric runs both ways. It's maddening, discouraging, distasteful and juvenile.

In viewing the recent video made by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that appears on YouTube, I decided to read through the comments. The more I read, the more aghast I became. The comments were of the most vile and despicable in nature. NC-17 stuff, honestly.

Two things started to pop out at me as I read. One, the majority of hate speech was running decidedly in favor of those coming from—wait for it—leftists. (This can't make reasonable and fair-minded liberals proud. But the right-wingers shouldn't be puffing their chests, either.)

And two, not one moderate voice from either side step in and denounced. That, to me, is the more disturbing part. More on that after I subject you to NC-17 comments.*

"why cant she just die... i mean i dont really wish death on anyone but if i did, you know... just die!"

"30 miles from the Capital??/ What capital is 30 miles from the border...this WORTHLESS CUNT NEEDS TO BE DEPORTED TO SWEDEN...FUCKING DUMB BLONDE."

"fuck u hoe racist bitch"

"This imbecile's popularity is based soley on being anti-Mexican, so her being a drugged out zombie is ok... pathetic"

"She is mad, cuz her crack pipe she looks a real crackhead hooker..she looks like freddy krueger. Go Play Bingo Stop on Hate.KKK,Nazi Bicth"

Racist Bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! coming from an immigrant family her self....DO I SEE A NEXT HITLER......I THINK I DO!!!!!!! THATS WHY ARIZONA IS AS BROKE AS IT IS....lame ass governer who doesnt know SHIT!!!!

And from the right:

"go take back your own country shitass.....where in a depression, we don't need your sorry ass here!!!"

"Fuck you chicken shit! You ILLEGAL? Watch and see how BIG she wins in Nov you Fucking Pocho!"

I honestly believe what needs to be done—and it matters not a whit whether you're a right-winger, left-winger or in between—is to denounce people like this. (Or, in the case of Muslims, denounce and openly call for an end to the violence that blasphemes their religion.)

The idiots from above are easy to spot. Yet it's people who we think are smart, like the WaPo's Eugene Robinson or NYT's Paul Krugman, that subtly cast and brand those who oppose the current party in power as 'racists'. They are more dangerous because they wield such tremendous influence due to their medium. The same can be said Fox's Glenn Beck who called Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor a "racist" and accused Obama being a "racist." Really? Seriously?

Look, people like this are sharp impediments on the road to truth. They flatten the tires on the issue(s) and make it impossible to get anywhere near a solution or to engage in rational and studied disagreement and debate.

The solution? Kick them out of the road every time you see it, moderates. And then maybe, just maybe, we might get back Reasonable Discourse-ville. If we were ever there at all.

*The thread was hijacked by about 4 rather bizarre individuals flaming one another, so I kept my selections apart from them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What I Owe


Some are bigger than others.



I cannot repay except in prayer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Losing Choices Isn't Losing Liberty?

Oops! Headline missing a key word.

At the height of the health care debate, an old colleague of mine and me were discussing the issue. I asserted that there would economic consequences to gov't undercutting private insurers and forcing them to take on high-risk clients. I argued that this would force small-to-medium insurers out of business, thus shrinking the insurance provider market place, resulting in fewer choices, eventually forcing people to go with the least expensive option—Obamacare. This, I said, is a loss of liberties.

I was dumbfounded by his reply and didn't know how to answer:

I'm also not quite sure how fewer choices equals losing liberty. Choice is not the same thing as liberty. If Skippy goes out of business and I can only choose between Jiff and Safeway brand, have I lost liberty?

Now I do. Mostly because I don't know want to reach through the screen and punch him in the face for being so patently smarmy and ignorant.

First, I'm glad he inadvertently acknowledged that insurance is a private commodity, which has been one of my arguments: the federal government cannot fine or tax you for not buying a private commodity, which health insurance is and ObamaCare does fine/tax. It is a clear violation of the 10th Amendment. Obamacare tries to sneak around that by allowing insurers to compete across state lines, which is good, but there's a big problem:

His example is flawed, however, because he failed to acknowledge that the State is one of competitors—and one that is arbitrarily and artificially setting and capping the market price for insurance. This will drive many insurers out of business, thus resulting in fewer choices, not because a product or service naturally failed in the marketplace.

Eventually, as large insurers will be forced to take on greater and deeper risk pools, they will be forced to drive up prices just to remain solvent. Then, instead of people making insurers compete for business, one will be forced to go with ObamaCare because it's the most affordable. (Wouldn't you go with the lower price too if you weren't wealthy? I would.)

What happens? Only the wealthy and elite will be able to afford private insurance, with millions of Americans forced to pay for the only one available: ObamaCare.

Being forced by the government to take a government service? If that ain't a loss of liberty, brother, than I don't know what is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Hand

The tournament at Roxy's has changed slightly since the last time I played back in January. Now it's a $40 buy-in and 10,000 in chips with blinds starting at 100/200, making for an ever slightly faster paced game where aggression is rewarded in the right spot.

Like with my first hand last night.

There are 8 players at my table (16 total) and I'm in the big blind (BB).

The second player to act puts in a minimum raise of 400 (minimum raises are a tell tale sign of a a weak player who doesn't understand proper bet sizing). The small blind calls for 300. I look down at Kh-Qh. A good hand, but not exactly one I want to raise with out of the BB, especially when I have no reads on my opponents. Better off just calling and taking the flop, I think. I call.

The pot: 1200.

The flops comes: Qc-10h-8h.

This is a really, really good flop for my hand, so I want to be aggressive with it to disguise its strength. And why is it strong? For a simple reason: outs. And what is an "out?" It's any unseen card that could potentially improve my hand and is likely to win. So here are my outs (and I can do this really quickly in my head before betting):

9 hearts to a flush (there are 13 in the deck and we know about 4)
3 kings for two pair*
2 queens for trips
3 tens to make 2 pair
3 eights to make 2 pair

Total: 20 outs, or cards that will improve my hand. Using the Rule of 4 and 2, I multiply the number of outs x 4 on the flop. (On the turn you multiply by 2.), which gives me a roughly 80% chance of winning this hand. There's a little dance going on in my head.

Now of course I don't know what cards my opponents are holding, but there's one way to find out: bet.

So I bet 1000. The 2nd player pops it to 2500, a good and slightly fishy raise indicating a couple of things: a) He's protecting AQ, b.) he has a set of 10s or 8s, c.), he has AA or KK or d.) he has a straight draw he's protecting (like KJ). I plan on calling, but let's see what the SB does.

Pot count: 4700

SB re-pops it 5000. Whoa, I didn't expect that! Very interesting.

Now it's on me.

Pot: 9700

My pots odds are roughly: 2.5:1. Expressed as a percentage, 30%, if I call. (13,700 divided by 4000 I'd have to call=29%)

Since the expected value of my hand is on the positive (I'm 2.8:1 favorite against any pair and the pot is laying me 2.5:1) When the odds of drawing a card that wins the pot are higher than the pot odds, it's a near instant call. If I'm up against 2 pair, I'll lose at least 5 outs, making it 15 outs, or 60%.

I really think the SB has either a.) flopped two pair or b.) he flopped a straight (highly unlikely). AQ isn't likely, but possible and would be a slight underdog against my draw.

Calling isn't an option here really as it will cost me more than half of my stack, thus committing to make a call to see the river no matter what card comes on the turn.

"This is a really, really good hand," I say to the SB. "And I'm fairly certain I know what you have." I look at the original raiser, I'm not sure about you, but I have an idea, I think to myself.

"There's really only one right move here, and folding isn't one of them. I'm all in," I say, pushing my chips into the middle and show my Kh-Qh. The original raiser calls. Hmm, I wasn't expecting that. He shows Kc-Jc giving him only 6 "clean" outs (the Ah and 9h are "dirty" outs for him). The SB shows Qd-10c, and has only 4 outs; his hand takes away 8 of my outs (the 10s, 8s and Qs=8), leaving me with 12 outs, or 48%.

I'm in good shape despite the SB's two pair as we're a virtually coin flip for a huge pot. Then:

Turn: 6s

River: 2d

One hand.

I'm out.

"You gotta be kidding me," I mutter to myself. "12 outs and I miss every one. Fucking standard."

No regrets, though. It was unquestionably the right play in every way, mathematically and strategically.

Funny thing is, I don't know it yet, but my night's about to get a whole lot worse.

Friday, July 23, 2010

One Tired-Ass (and Heartless) Meme

Meme.: A concept that spreads swiftly via the Internet.

Thank you, Wikipedia.

And I'll emphatically add: a concept that, more often than not, ain't necessarily true the deeper one looks.

Take for example this recent meme: "Heartless and hateful Republicans don't want to extend unemployment benefits! Bastards!" If not those exact words, pretty darn close.

A liberal friend, who happens to be unemployed, said to me recently, "it scares me that so many republican politicians carelessly brush aside our (at this point) absolute dependence on unemployment money." That's quote for quote.

This bothered me.

So, I asked my heartless self: Was I a member of the heartless party heartlessly denying hearty unemployment insurance (UI) extension to millions of hearty Americans.

Turns out, um, no, not really.

The then-proposed UI extension, some $34 billion, was a part of a larger $200 billion stimulus (Swindle Us) bill, per the WaPo:

The extension was first introduced in a nearly $200 billion package of economic measures sought by the Obama administration, including fresh aid to state governments and extended health insurance subsidies for the unemployed.

$200 billion? Shoot, that means that not even 1/4 of the money was going to go to UI. So, naturally....

Republicans blasted the spending plan, and conservative Democrats revolted, demanding that the package be scaled back.

So it was:

Democratic leaders spent the next two months tossing various items overboard until nothing was left but the least controversial bit of spending: income support for unemployed workers. Democrats downsized even that program, dropping a $25-a-week bonus for all jobless workers* that had been enacted under last year's stimulus package.

Two months. (Or, if you're unemployed, that's better said, "Two fucking months!")

Yet, our dear President made strong allusions to it being all the GOP's fault, saying that it was just partisan tactics "that unconscionably held up unemployment insurance."

On really?

If extending UI was such an "emergency" as was argued by liberals, why didn't the Democrat-controlled Congress propose a straight-as-an-arrow UI bill?

Well, first of all, UI extensions have been a part of stimulus packages before, so that's no surprise. And it's no surprise that there was opposition to the first version wanting an additional $166 billion in spending—particularly in light of the $800 billion in TARP that isn't working as advertised. Basically, what the GOP said was, "Hey, we're fine (sort of**) with extending UI bennies, but you've got to cut the rest of this crap out of here. And explain how we'll pay for this while you're at it."

That took 2 months. The ball was in their court for 2 months.

Yes, "Those heartless and hateful Republicans!" "brushing aside" the unemployed.

Grab your hip waders, the memes are deep and plentiful. On both sides.

*What? What is this?
** Another $34 billion borrowed from our Chinese buddies. Oye. And yes, with a vote 272 to 152 there was still GOP opposition to the bill. For good reason.***
***At 99 weeks, when do the extensions end? At 9% unemployment? 8%? 6%? At some point, there has to be a cutoff. Having the political cajones to do so, is another question

Friday, July 16, 2010

OP's Summer of New

Last summer, I purchased new golf clubs for the first time in 12 years. Up until 6 weeks ago, I loved them! (I still love them; I'm just deflecting responsibility for my shitty swing on to them because, as we all know, it's the clubs' fault, stupid.)

Anyway, this summer is featuring even more new goodness for me!

Recently, I purchased my first-ever pair of prescription sunglasses, plus a new pair of regular old glasses. (I look sharp in them, too.) I also got a stylish and sinister looking PokerStars hoodie after cashing in some bonus points. (Look out fish!) Then I received a new set of fake teeth. (Sigh.) And, finally, this past Monday, I purchased my first-ever—insert drum roll, please—iPhone!

The 4, to be exact. The one with the antenna issue. Oye gavult.

Leave it to me to finally succumb to technology's siren song only to be thwarted by a glitch. Temporarily, anyway.

Now the sunglasses are pretty awesome as I can drive in bring sunlight without squinting like a 85-year old at the poker table trying to figure out if that's a diamond or a heart on his hole cards. But it's the iPhone that I preordered that's got me jazzed.

The thing is, I'm about as tech savvy as I am handy around the house, so I hope I can make the darn thing work to the best of its ability. I'm sure I will. Hell, it is made by Apple, only the world's most tech-friendly company, I should be fine!

Now watch me end up downloading the "Human-Ending Plague" app, accidentally pressing "Send Plague Now" and being solely accountable for the end of mankind.*

Just thought I should warn you.

*This is why the world is the way it is in Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." App user malfunction. And here you thought his post-apocalyptic world was because of a limited nuclear war or global warming.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Unmanly Confession

My poor wife. She did not marry a handy man. She married a Guy Who Can Do Some Things, Just Don't Give Him a Nail Gun or Miter Saw for Christmas kind of guy.

Projects where manual labor is required (ex: rebuilding the back on our fence or rerouting the spouts for the gutters) or a job where a particular skill set needs to be involved (ex: replacing a light fixture in our guest bedroom) or where patience is required (ex: hanging new closet doors) around my house usually go undone for months. And in some cases years. Is it laziness? Lack of skill? Lack of time? Lack of tools?

While it's true that I don't have the skills or the tools to do these projects, I have to say this: I'm not interested in trying to tackle them in the first place. Really, I'm not interested. At all. In fact, I have about as much interest in talking about projects and how to do them as I do in listening to Stephen Hawking give a lecture in quantum physics. Or listening "How to Macrame" on NPR.

Part of the lack of interest stems from losing my Dad when I was 17. Man, he could build stuff. He built my sister's doll house. He also built my wickedly cool train set that folded out from the wall like a Murphy bed. We also completed our walkway and retaining wall shortly before he died. However, he never showed me how to lay down bricks or how to measure posts and so on. Not his fault entirely as I don't recall asking to learn how to do them. But I also remember not being interested in the first place.

This causes me some embarrassing and uncomfortable moments when socializing with my fellow dudes. When they get talking about doing X, Y and Z to their houses, I just nod politely and try to maintain interest. This is problematic as it can cement my feet in to a conversation for untold minutes. (Good thing beer is usually on hand to get me through such conversations.) For example, I know a guy who's worked on his house going on 2+ years now. He's remodeled the kitchen and all of the rooms, plus done all the wiring on the house. It looks great! But to hear him talk about it all I keep thinking is, "You've spent 2+ years of your life doing this? Holy hell, you missed a lot of sunny golf days." And then I try to finish my beer so I can slink off for a new one.

Part of my lack of interest lies in patience, mostly because I lack it—particularly when things don't go as planned as projects have a way of doing.

To me, spending an entire Sunday installing a door like my friend Andy did over at Dipso Chronicles just doesn't sound like a hootenanny. Yet that's what he did. By about the second or third hour I would've turned to my wife and said, "Honey, I hope you're okay without a front door for the next couple of nights because, fuck it, I'm fucking done with this shit right fucking now." Then I would have kicked the pile of shit door for not cooperating then stormed off to find the nearest beer.

And I'm not kidding about that level of frustration either.

Hell, you should have seen me try to put a new spool of cord on to my Weedwacker recently. The wacker is still spool-less. A door? You gotta be kidding me. Why bother.

Yet there's always been this little Tim The Toolman inside me who wants to get out and at least try.

My friend, Sean, made himself a poker table once—padded rails, velvet top, and he even put his own funky logo in the middle of the table. Fantastic piece of manly man that he built. I wanted one too. So I asked him how he did it. He said it was easy, all he did was blah, blah, blah, did blah, blah, blah, then did blah, blah, blah afterhe did blah, blah, blah, but he had trouble with blah, blah, blah when blah, blah, blah didn't attach to blah, blah, blah so he blah, blah, blah and was done.

He was the teacher in Peanuts to me. I couldn't relate. I asked him how much it cost. He said about $350 for all the materials.

I wanted to double it to $700 to cover his cost in labor for building me one as well.

Also, when we first bought our house, I had interest and verve in doing various projects. I gladly engaged in painting, installing a lock on the front door, patching holes. putting up the mailbox and so on.I even bought a Home Depot book on how to do every imaginable house project. Then I remembered who brought the toolkit into our family unit: my wife.

I even did one major house project that required a great deal of help: Building our fence. I'm glad we hired Matt otherwise our fence would have been as useful as the Maginot Line in keeping the then-alive dog in the yard and unwanted critters and people out.

I feel sorry for my son in all this, too. Daddy's never going to teach him how to build a deck, or lay a walk way, or tile the bathroom, or fix a pipe, and so on. If he's interested in learning, well, that's why there are technical courses at the local junior colleges. And I'll be happy to pay for them too.

These days, my wife now knows that if she wants to get something done that we'll need to hire some one. New doors? New can lights in living room? New tile on the fireplace? If you can do those things, buddy, you're hired.

Look, in the end, I get the whole pride in doing it yourself idea, or that feeling accomplishment. Or that doing projects is a way of relaxing and so on. I get all that. Those are all well and good, and bully for you!

Me? It's "No, Lowe's, let's not build something together. You do it. I've got better things to do." Like play golf. Or take a nap. Anything but measuring or pounding and remeasuring and repounding.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Approve This Message

From David Boze's blog at KTTH.

More Poking Fun at Soccer

So, an old friend on Facebook was "looking for suggestions on where to watch the USA-Algeria match* tomorrow."

I replied: "On Sportscenter, skipping the 89:55 minutes of inaction?"**

This is too easy. And far too fun!

*Even soccer fans dare not call it a "game."
** To my friend's credit, he replied, "That's how I watch golf."