El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Author: Jim (page 1 of 43)

En Exercise in Civil Dialog and Rational Thinking

Let’s try an exercise. In this exercise, you are forbidden from engaging in a discussion with someone from an oppositional political viewpoint unless you can effectively make their argument using their logic (or better if you’re feeling generous).

I’ll start.

Headlines from today’s news cycle:

The majority of Americans think Trump fired Comey to slow the Russia investigation

This is a commonly use logical fallacy that makes an appeal to the people (argumentum ad populum), and has no bearing upon what the truth is. This headline would be made effective if it actually showed proof that Trump fired Comey because of an investigation. Until you have such proof, why don’t you shut your idiot mouth? The news media knows that this headline will whip people up and offers exactly zero substance. If you want to be the party of science, of rational thought, why don’t you lead with your actions? Shame on you, liberals.

How did I do? Okay next.

Comey Is Said to Have Become Unsettled by Interactions With Trump

Innuendo. Where is your proof? In the absence of proof, you are resorting to an implication without actually providing a definitive statement. Are you giving yourself wiggle-room for later denial? “Comey is said to have…” By whom? Some aide? Who is this aide? Credible source? If it’s a credible source, then say, “Credible source Provides Evidence of Improper Behavior by Trump.” As a detail, you can also provide evidence of Comey’s discomfort. Video of him avoiding eye contact? The awkward hug/handshake. haha.

I can’t believe the New York Times let’s its reporters get away with such a lazy piece.  And I’m just attacking the method, not actually trying to articulate the worldview of a Trump supporter or “scandal denier.” I think it comes from the same place as climate denial, so let me lay it out and see if I get some of it right.

Let’s assume Trump is a blowhard. We know he is. He comes from the tough New York real estate and construction world. Stuff gets done because you push, sometimes aggressively for your interests and your project at hand. Trump seems to have proven himself somewhat adept at this. By all accounts he is rich, and has built and developed some high end properties. He’s had some ups. He’s had some downs. But he keeps trying, and he’s come back from some pretty heavy blows.

America loves a tenacious scrapper who gets back up.

You voted for him because you perceived him as a tough guy who could get things done. You didn’t necessarily like him nor would you leave him alone with your daughter, but you thought he was YOUR tough guy and he would advocate for you and correct the perceived slouch of America toward being a global also ran.

People on the right, are you with me so far?

Now, Trump is in the White House, and there’s a guy Michael Flynn who is being investigated for some money ties to Russia. Yeah, Trump knew going in that this could be a problem, but he liked Flynn’s moxie. Here was a guy who also talked and acted tough and knew how to deal with the Russians. Let’s go forward. There is this holdover director of the FBI James Comey who is mucking about. You know the truth, and you don’t see the problem with Flynn’s ties to Russia. It’s not like he was a traitor or something. For Pete’s sake he was a lieutenant general (three stars, count ’em) in the U.S. Army. He didn’t get to that level for being a traitor. His resume is unimpeachable. He’s got the best interests of the U.S. at stake, and wouldn’t it be nice to deal effectively with the Russians? Trump thinks he’s a safe pick.

Obama didn’t like him? Even better.

Trump knows the facts, but the FBI director is still “investigating.” We’ve all seen how he “investigates” with leak after leak after innuendo all the while eroding confidence. Trump keeps him around to see if he shapes up, but he’s keeping watch. Comey did it to Hillary, and he will do it to Trump, because he’s only loyal to himself. He’s a grandstander, a showboater. Trump knows he’s done no wrong, so he assumes the “investigation” is only there to get him.

Let me ask you, those of you on the left, if you were being “investigated” or attacked for something you know you didn’t do, wouldn’t you shut it down if you could? If you knew the person doing the investigating was actively trying to undermine you, your cabinet, the American Government, and acting in all other ways in bad faith, wouldn’t you want to do something about it? From Trump’s point of view, he’s an innocent victim. Flynn too. Comey’s the enemy of the law and order, the very thing he pledged to uphold.

Now, those of you on the right, do you feel fairly represented by my take on your positions? I could tear it all down if I wanted, but I’d rather have you make the left’s case for why Trump is bad for America.

Only conservatives need reply.

 

 

 

Who Pays for Healthcare?

Jimmy Kimmel is getting some flack from Republicans for his tearful plea to leave the Affordable Care Act alone. Here’s a choice quote. I’m not making this up:

Do supposedly smart people know how the healthcare system worked/works in this country? Forget that. Do these people know how insurance works?

You all pay into a pot and then when somebody gets sick you draw from the pot. Everybody puts in a little, and that goes to pay for OTHER PEOPLE’S care. For God’s sake, folks, it’s not that hard. You don’t pay for your own healthcare – you never did – under the old system, under new system. NEVER. You think your little monthly employee/employer health insurance deduction covers your cancer? Try doing the math. You’re not paying into your own personal fund.

Why would it better to pool our risk at the Federal Government level instead of with private companies? Well, now that’s a decent question. The best answer I can come up with is that profit has a tendency to distort the market for certain demand locked (inelastic) markets. Bottom line, you need some ER treatment, you can’t price shop. You need it when you need it, and with certain exceptions (like waiting until you’re critical to go to the hospital), you don’t really have much choice over where you go, how much you pay, and what care you get. Everybody wants the best. Everybody wants it now. It’s your life. If you let a private corporation enter into the equation with a profit motive, they have an incentive to reduce supply of quality healthcare and increase price. They try cheaper treatments before more effective ones. They limit what they cover (preexisting conditions), they raise prices and co-pays so that you will not select that treatment or perhaps not even go to the doctor.

That sounds like a bureaucracy run amok or even better, it sounds like a death panel – a private, monopolistic, beholden to no one except their shareholders death panel.

If, however, healthcare is run as a public service with the profit motive removed, we can at least see how it might reduce costs while still providing effective services.

And as a side benefit, do you have any idea how much of the healthcare industry is dedicated to billing? Let doctors and nurses do their work – the work they were trained to do, the work they like to do, and leave the billing, chasing invoices, collections, and dealing with insurance companies behind.

At the end of the day though, you have always been paying for other people’s healthcare. Wouldn’t you like to pay less?

 

I said it first

Pope Francis: better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic

Religious or Not, This is a Great Quote

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
― Teresa of Ávila

It really doesn’t matter to what orthodoxy your profess. If you’re not bringing justice, love, and service more fully into this present space in which we exist, I’m of the opinion you’re missing the point. Be the answer to someone’s prayer.

Fidel Castro vs Comcast

It’s surprising how the Internet seems to be in the midst of beatifying Fidel Castro. “Oh, he brought justice to his people.” Or “He battled the American hegemony for 50 years! Good for him!” “He brought health care and literacy to his people while being oppressed by the U.S.” “He threw out the wretched oligarchs, and put the wealth of his nation into the hands of the common people!”

Oh, well, yeah, his people could read and write. They just couldn’t read or write what they wanted. Sarcasm mode on. But yeah sure the people were generally happy, because they had simple meaningful lives toiling in a worker’s paradise pulling together for national pride while waddling around in their 1950s era USSR sugar subsidized cars.

Oh please, Internet. Your hypocrisy is showing.

Aren’t you the same assholes who hate – no scratch that – loath Comcast, the same company that has the audacity to cap you at 1000 Gigabytes of data per MONTH!!! Oh, the humanity! Those bastards, those evil corporate scum, how dare they restrict my freedom to download porn 24/7. Comcast consistently finds itself at the top of most hated companies in America. The same company that brings broadband to your house so you can surf the web in your underwear and binge-watch House of Cards, is more hated than Fidel Castro?

What?

Fidel Castro wouldn’t even let his people access computers? He capped their connection at zero. No data for you. Only worker’s paradise.

Let the Purges and Bullying Begin

The next four years will be marked with payback, purges, and bullying. That’s my take on the next four years, anyway.

How could the US have had two elections since 2000 go against the popular vote?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, please hang on for four more years. Please!

Please President Trump, do not guild the White House with gold.

…Or destroy the world in WWIII. Yeah, no destroying, please. That would be bad.

Let’s dispel once and for all with the fiction that the News Media doesn’t know what it is doing, it knows exactly what it is doing

I’m so gnarled up, spasms in my back, shoulders hunched. I labor in a Sisyphean purgatory where I can’t see the hand in front of my face for the nacho haze.

I figured out today what it was, and I’m furious with the News Media for perpetuating this Trump bullshit. They’ve made my life far more noxious than it had to be. With all the shit we have to deal with, I could have done without the invented drama, manipulated emotions. They have known exactly what they were doing and who the Donald has been all along.

Laura and I laughed when he bought the Miss Universe pageant. Oh, lordy lordy, Donald’s got his hand in the cookie jar again. We knew who he was. We saw those creepy interviews way back when.

Hell, we have all known who he was since the 80’s. He was a gauche, tasteless braggart, a womanizer,  a short-fingered vulgarian sitting on a gold-plated toilet . We all made fun of him for his bankruptcies, his crazy deals, his even crazier hair. Remember folks, that ridiculous hair of his has been around for the past thirty years at least. How could anyone have ever taken this Miami Vice era cringe-worthy moron seriously? Like a seventies era muscle car he was all excess and slop.

And smell those fumes.

The only explanation I can think of is this: the news media has cynically and deliberately manipulated the news cycle to drill those fields of reality show ratings.

“Bully!” the bosses shouted, “Boys, keep the cycle stoked with that unscripted high sulfur content and the circus – oh the circus – by gum, keep it going as long as possible. Keep those belching fires roaring! That’s industrial politics, m’boy!”

Oh, yeah, the fields would wain, the atmosphere so toxic that you can scarcely see the sun or take a breath.  We knew the Donald was going to go down, that the reserves would be exhausted, but profits demanded we ride him in to his last combustive belch.

* Sad update on 9 Nov. Well, boys, we’ve found a new reserve. It’s a real gusher, and should be good for another 4 years. Hurrah!

Weapons Don’t Belong Everywhere

Before I go off on my rant, I just want to say, I do like firearms, but I don’t own any, because I don’t want the responsibility in my home with 4 children. That’s a personal choice, though.

I have had the privilege of firing quite a few different things in my time in the military and throughout my life.

Despite what the NRA says, there is a legitimate debate on where you draw the line of what you can own, what you can do with it, and who can own it. I don’t think we as a society want homicidal maniacs getting their hands on rocket propelled grenades, do we?

A registry and background check isn’t an unreasonable manner to facilitate our 2nd amendment rights. As a society, we should have procedures and laws, not anarchy, a wild west where the solution to every violent act with a gun is more guns. The first few words of the amendment are, “A well regulated Militia…” Some would argue that personal arsenals were never intended.

And don’t give me shit about the fact that “assault rifle” as a class doesn’t exist. Bullshit. A semi-automatic rifle packed with NATO 5.56 mm rounds and a muzzle velocity of around 3000ft/s is a helluva thing. It’s only purpose is to kill people. That’s why NATO uses these instruments in war. For assaulting the enemy. Sheesh. That the public calls them “assault rifles” is immaterial. You can accurately put a ton of rounds downrange at high velocity and they will kill every damn thing in the way. There is NO, absolutely no legitimate use for these types of military grade hardware in civilian life.

Oh, but it doesn’t do fully automatic, you’ll say. Well, I’m not so sure that’s a positive feature. I never put my M16 on full auto. That’s the way you miss your target and waste your ammo. You can empty a 30 round magazine before your first bullet hits the ground. I’d wager that if the Orlando shooter had modified his Sig Sauer to fire on full automatic, he probably wouldn’t have killed nearly as many people. He’d have emptied his magazine, missed most of his targets, and then been jumped by bystanders while he tried to reload.

Oh, but they’re fun to shoot! I agree, but the downside of mass murder is too much for me. I would very easily give up the right to own any high rate of fire assault style weapon it it meant no more deranged people could kill tons of people on a whim.

Open carry anywhere and everywhere?

If you’ve been on a military firing range, it’s a tense place. Safety is taken very seriously, I’ve sweated blood, I’m sure. You have to be aware to point your weapon down range at all times, make sure you clear the chamber, eject the magazine, put it on safety, exit and enter the firing line in an orderly fashion, all the while being aware that your weapon is to be considered loaded and ready to fire at all times and being aware of those around you. If you’re a good and conscientious person, then you’re going to be on guard during that time. For me, at least, it was stressful. One mistake and people die.

Do I really want some idiot eating next to me in a Longhorn steakhouse with his sidearm or assault rifle? I came to a restaurant, not a firing range.

Firearms are rightfully scary, and I don’t want to be scared 24/7. Everything in its place, if you ask me. Firearms don’t belong everywhere at all times.

Oh, but the only solution to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Now let’s also deal with the pathetically unlikely white knight scenario that the NRA likes to promote. Let’s say you’re in a loud night club and someone fires a shot. Do you honestly expect me to believe MORE GUNS in this scenario will fix the situation? Hmm, let’s see, multiple armed un-uniformed members of the general public all shooting at an assailant, but more likely each other.

The Aurora shooter was in a dark movie theater. How in the hell are you going to identify and neutralize the threat without yourself being a target? The “he shot first” defense isn’t going to work when all other gun wielding members of the public see are your muzzle flashes in the darkness.

How stupid is the NRA, Republican politicians?

I have never been in combat, but most anyone who has been in the military goes through infantry training which involves maneuvering and firing (blanks, pyrotechnics etc.). It is confusing as hell. It’s hard to tell where shots are coming from, especially with explosions around. You’re trying to listen to your squad leader, maneuver, and engage your objective. It’s stupid hard, and more often then not, when the oppositions forces are revealed, they weren’t where you thought they were, and they weren’t doing what you thought they were.

When engaged in these sorts of exercises, you’re primed. You know what you have to do. You’re in battle mode. You’re not in a shopping mall trying to find clothes for your 4 year old. You honestly expect to be ready for a gun fight 24/7, identify the assailant and neutralize them before going back to the jean rack?

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Live. In. That. World.

And what do you do with law enforcement arrives? Who’s the bad guy shooter? At least the police wear uniforms so we know they’re the good guys (and sometimes even they shoot each other). Forget the fact that at Pulse in Orlando, the news initially reported multiple shooters. It turned out to be false, but do you honestly expect all gun owners in a crowded loud night club to have some super secret and accurate radar, or like in video games a little tag that floats above your head identifying friend or foe. Bah! It’s stupid. There is virtually no scenario where having a gun to defend yourself makes you or the general public safer. Mostly you’re going to get shot by the assailant or some other armed bystander who mistakes you for the bad guy. This is why we have police, people.

No, the way to make us safer as a society is to make sure that nobody can own a mass death device.

Black Bean Burgers – I Think I Did It!

I’ve been experimenting with black bean burritos for a few years, and I’ve never been satisfied. Too beany! Mouthfeel wrong! Bah. They were good sometimes, but I wasn’t satisfied. You’re never going to achieve meat nirvana, but the closer the better, no?

Why all the work? Why not just eat meat?

There are a couple of reasons, I suppose. I’ve struggled with my weight for years, hovering around 240 at 6’2″, while not obese, it’s about 40 pounds heavier than I should weigh. It’s a drag, but it’s so hard to stop eating. I exercise, so I’m fit, but I just can’t stop overeating.

Over the years, I’ve learned there are some foods that satisfy me quickly, as fast as my impatient gobbling self can eat. Beans of various kinds do this. When I eat beans, I don’t want to follow up munch on sweet or salty snacks. If I have a real hamburger, I have to have fries, salty chips, or onion rings. So good. With beans, though, I just don’t want those things. The beans don’t leave me wanting.

So there’s that.

We’ve also been trying to minimize our meat intake, because of all the bad news over the years about meat in the diet, the meat industry’s affect on the global environment, and the inhumane treatment of the animals we kill and consume. I don’t doubt that someday humanity will mostly stop, but for now, we’re at least reducing.

I think I have solved it. I have made the perfect black bean burger, or at least close enough to perfection for my palate. Here’s the recipe:

One bag (16 oz) of dehydrated black beans. Cover them in water (about 2 inches over), add a cup of brown rice, a tablespoon of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of MSG, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 whole bulb of garlic (mashed with the salt), a teaspoon of cumin (your preference), and 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Let it soak overnight (about 8 hours). After the beans have re-hydrated, cook them for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker on medium heat.

In a bowl, 2 cups of instant oatmeal, a cup of bread crumbs, a cup of flour, and one finely chopped onion. Once the pressure cooker is safe to open, dump the still boiling beans into the bowl with the oatmeal/breadcrumbs/flour and mash/stir it with a potato masher. You’ll be breaking up some of the black beans, but not all of them. You’ll still want some texture in your burger, not a puree.

Let it set and once all the ingredients have come together, mix in 4 eggs, and then form the mixture into patties and sauté them with the oil and skillet of your choice. I like to add a dash of worchester sauce and then a slice of cheese.

Coro de Niños de San Juan Sing “En Mi Viejo San Juan”

Olaia and Jaimito took part in a music festival this weekend. Their encore was this beautiful rendition of “En Mi Viejo San Juan.” Pardon the stupid wind in the microphone. I have to learn to take a better mic when I go to these things.

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