Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oh Hey They Must Read My Blog.

Washington continues to be a surprisingly progressive city. Gay marriage, fancy modern subway system, what's not to like?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Night MeYousic


Long ago, I accepted that our elected representatives in Congress were beholden to lobbyists and that most of them cared very little about the substance of policy. The only thing that matters is how the juvenile media and the lobbyists will react.

But Joe Lieberman seems to have set a new standard here. He is not listening to lobbyists, and he is not listening to the media. He is simply trying to spite the liberals that worked against him in the last election. Money from the insurance industry probably doesn't even matter at this point.

Just another reminder that, for the most part, we are governed by technocrats (and aristocrats in the case of the Senate) who do not have even the mildest sense of the importance of the things that they do. It's all an intra-governmental game and, for lack of a better word, petty office politics. It's like In the Loop, but less funny.

Oh, by the way, fuck Joe Lieberman.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fuck Joe Lieberman

I have read several theories speculating on the possible motivations for Joe Lieberman's almost single handedly destroying healthcare reform, but I honestly don't carfe what his motivations are. He needs to kicked off his committee now, and the Obama administration needs to start treating him like the other 41 obstructionist Senators that just happen to call themselves Republicans instead of Independents.

Fuck Joe Lieberman.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Oh fucking hell.

Pretty much everyone that I've told that I work for the ACLU has said something positive, but qualified. Like "Oh they're a cool organization, but I don't support everything they do". Or "They've made some bad decisions", or whatever.

But actually, everyone that I know and talk to, you are wrong. Yes, the ACLU defended neo-Nazis right to march down the street in predominantly Jewish town. Yes, they defended NAMBLA (the most tragically funny organization ever), and they defended those disgusting Theocrats from Westboro Baptist Church.

But really, if you don't let the Nazi's march, or you don't let the Westboro idiots yell at soliders and queers, then it just makes the problem worse. The idiotic movements are exposed as what they are by being out the open. If something is prohibited, it just makes it all that more appealing to those that are predisposed toward these ridiculous movements, and it makes violence more likely. Provocation is what these types of groups specialize in, and letting them march out in the open while you drink a cup of tea and act all gay or Jewish or whatever is probably best way to fuck with them (this is why I advocated a big gay dance party counter-protest to the Westboro people when they came to town instead of an indignant, angry counter-protest). Furthermore, I'm willing to bet that the neo-Nazis and the Westboro people have done more to hurt their cause with any publicity they got because the public's reactions are pretty universally disgust.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, I honestly can't think of a court case that the ACLU has been wrong on. They literally persuaded John Scopes to testify on behalf of evolution at the famous trial. They supported school desegregation, Roe v. Wade, and gay rights time after time.

Like Glenn Greenwald says, the ACLU has been the first and most prominent opponent of all the tough guys that have wanted to establish a police state since September 11. For example of the tough guys who love to start wars that they don't fight in, you can always check the Weekly Standard.

Here's Glenn's response to that article.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Night Meyousic

More from the Mercury.

Absolutely shocking.

Is someone trying to say that prostitutes don't actually like being prostitutes? That's absurd. Jail time should solve our prostitution problem just like it solved our drug problem.

And lastly, this is perhaps the funniest movie review I've ever read.

Once Again

Why I love the Portland Mercury.

P.S. Willamette Week didn't even mention Outside In in their list of 70 non-profits (or something) to give to over the holidays. Fuckers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

He Just Doesn't Want Gays Stuffing It Down His Throat All the Time.

Only sometimes. It's really hard to give speeches to TV crews with the gays stuffing it down your throat. Or your kid's.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Never before have I learned of such a news event from Facebook, but that was actually the case this morning with Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The comments were almost all from the old conservative friends that I don't really talk to anymore, and they were almost all some version of the all caps title of this post.

I agree somewhat. Obama hasn't done much in the name of peace, and he did just rule out pulling our troops from Afghanistan. He's made progress in Iraq, but so far his words are no more peaceful than Clinton's were in 90's as far as I can tell.

But really, who gives a shit? The Nobel Peace Prize means nothing. The only thing that this event signifies is that some Western Europeans love Barack Obama, which should be surprising to nobody. The rest of the world despised Bush, and apparently the Nobel committee wanted to send an obvious message that they like Barack better. I didn't even think most conservatives cared about the opinion of the international community, especailly socialist Scandinavians. I'll be surprised if the socialist element doesn't work it's way into conservative rhetoric soon.

It's all just one more unproductive hissy fit against Barack. I wish they would throw one so I could get some fucking healthcare.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Northeast

It sure is different from the West Coast. More makeup, fewer bikes. Apparently white people are still too scared to ride the subway in Philadelphia, as though the hundreds of non white people surrounding you at all times will just sit and stare as you get mugged.

It's a very weird dynamic. Apparently suburban legislators control most of the regional planning, and therefore mass transit, so there is a huge amount of commuter trains that go from suburb to city. The stations are nice, and they come very frequently during rush hours, and lots of white people ride these.

But the subway is a mess. I couldn't get any of the token machines to work, so I had to get a SEPTA guy to come help. The signage in the subway was insufficient at best and misleading at worst. One of the tubes on the Broad Street line literally indicated which way the trains would go by spray painted arrows along the wall.

This is all because a lot (most?) people there don't find the city of Philadelphia a very nice place to live, which I don't understand. I do understand that many people perceive the suburbs to safer for children, which may be true, but it also may not be true. It always seemed to me that in a city there are so many eyes on the street that it is more difficult to commit a street crime. I would say if a mugger wants to rob someone, he or she has a better chance of getting away with it in a suburban mall parking lot than the middle of a busy street downtown.

Once a child becomes a teenager, I would guess, with no empircal evidence at all except for my own experiences, they may actually be safer in a city. More teenagers die in car crashes than anything else. Why? Because they live in the fucking suburbs and have to drive everywhere. As they are experimenting with alcohol and perhaps drugs, they are going to have to drive home to mom and dad's house every night under the influence. Teenagers are also just terrible and aggressive drivers that are prone to crashing. I'm surprised the high cost of providing a car for every member of the family isn't more of a deterrent from living in the suburbs. According to my own experience, it's also not any more difficult to acquire alcohol or drugs in the suburbs than it would be in the city.

In a demonstration of the animosity that Pennsylvanians feel toward Philadelphia, the legislature nearly let the city go bankrupt. The Mayor was forced to come up with a plan to cut police, close all the parks, and pick up trash only every two weeks. This in a city that I would call messy, if I were being generous.

Philadelphia has great potential, and it seems like urban living is becoming more appealing to people these days, so maybe it will improve.

Pizza in the Northeast=even more delicious

Monday, September 28, 2009

By Popular Demand

A friend suggested that I do a post about the Kanye dustup and race in America. Then another friend said she thought it was an interesting subject too because Kanye has always been outspoken about racial prejudice, which hadn't really occurred to me. So here it goes.

Kanye made himself look like an asshole. If he thought that the award was being given to the white girl because she was white, he didn't represent that opinion very well. In fact, he played into outdated stereotypes of black men as intimidating and uncontrolled...or something.

And I think perhaps Kanye plays into stereotypes of black men, or at least hip hop artists, himself. He's the son of the chair of the English department at a substantial university and he writes blog posts in all caps with terrible grammar (I can't seem to find his actual blog posts). Granted, the blogosphere isn't exactly the most grammatically correct forum, but he pushes the LOL-language to the point of incomprehension. Normally, I wouldn't judge a hip hop artist on their grammar because it seems classist and condescending, but Kanye is known for his clever wordplay and he is obviously educated. Anyway, Lupe Fiasco seems like a good example of being the anti-Kanye in that he addresses racism in a more approachable and understandable way.

I did love "George Bush doesn't care about black people". That was an appropriate event for yelling on national television, and I was incredibly happy that he did it. But stealing a microphone from a 19 year old on national television makes racism worse, not better. I must agree with Obama that he is somewhat of a jackass.

My God.

I have only heard of Robert Moses in the past few years when I realized that cities are actually great places to live, but it really seems like he just drew lines on maps of cities however the fuck he wanted. A Laurelhurst Freeway? Seriously?

It's basically the same design every time. Giant inner ring highway destroying inner city neighborhoods, giant outer ring highway so suburbanites can get to wherever quickly, with several spokes so they can get to work downtown. But it never works.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Clinton on Gay Rights

Undoubtedly he's trying to shift the blame here, but I think sometimes we may overestimate the power that a president has to make dramatic change. Institutions (such as the military) offer a lot of internal resistance.

Wednesday Night Meyousic

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Irony and Tragedy (or, The Day that Everything Changed)

I was thinking about my own (usually ironic) way of discussing 9/11, and the title of this post at Gawker made me feel as if others may share my sentiments.

I remember when we were discussing the Holocaust in a class at school, some of my classmates insisted that it was inappropriate to be ironic or humorous about Hitler or the Holocaust because it diminishes or trivializes the deaths of millions of people. I said that it was not being humorous about a tragedy that can trivialize it, but rather a sort strict culture instruction on how to discuss a subject that trivializes it. That is, if the only way that we are allowed to discuss the Holocaust or 9/11 is by public demonstration of grief, then that grief just becomes ritual. In the same way that calling someone Hitler has become a joke, so has the phrase “never forget” when discussing 9/11, because both Hitler comparisons and commemoration of the attacks are so common that they have become banal.

As the Gawker article says, some emotional distance is appropriate in these situations, and irony or humor is a way of maintaining that distance rather than watching the planes hitting the towers 50 times or looking at pictures of Jews in concentration camps.

That’s because those images are the important thing. They’re self-fucking-explanatory, and when we demand that people deliver a visible or audible demonstration of the emotions they are supposed to feel when they are confronted with that tragedy, it just becomes a ritualized demonstration that people do because that’s just what people are supposed to do. It's difficult to return to the rage, horror, sadness, etc. of that day and demanding that everyone recreate those emotions is counterproductive on many levels.

To add another layer of irony, it’s these cultural demands for public grieving that allow politicians to exploit something like 9/11. To add another layer, it’s the politicians who exploit 9/11 who actually caused the tragedy with their empire building and whatnot. It’s never ending unless everyone just shuts up about 9/11 and let’s the tragedy speak for itself.

Maybe I wouldn't feel the need to be ironic about 9/11 if it hadn't been exploited so grotesquely, but I doubt that the exploitation was unique to this event.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Massachusetts Congressional Delegation

The first video shows pretty well why the Kennedys are still important. The second one shows Barney Frank, a Congressman from Massachusetts, getting properly sassy with a crazy woman. The Athens of America indeed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Morning Meyousic

Because I feel the need for some culture.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teaching To the Test

Every school teacher I know, and most people that are informed about public education, are infuriated by the amount that teachers are forced to “teach to the test”. The test is usually a state administered standardized test that students are required to pass in order to be promoted to the next grade level.

So “teaching to the test” has become a code-word for bad educational policy, but is it? Stephen Brill has an article in the New Yorker describing the difficulty in removing a horrible teacher from the classroom in the NYC public school system. Teachers are paid based solely on seniority, and most are tenured after three years, so there is little economic incentive for them to continue to teach well. The city is prohibited from using test scores in their consideration of offering tenure to teachers, which effectively prohibits any consideration of teacher quality in the decision to offer a teacher life long employment.

Most teachers do continue to teach well, and they always will because they became teachers in order to do so. But some won’t. And, as Brill notes, teacher quality is more important than any other factor in determining a student’s progress. So the question becomes: How do we decide who the bad teachers are if we don’t like the use of standardized testing? The advantage of standardized testing lies in the name itself: it’s standardized. A program in which teachers are evaluated in their own classroom by an independent observer could conceivably accomplish the same purpose, but the ratings would not be standardized. That is, the personal disposition of the observers would allow a large amount of variation between assessments.

Most public school teachers work very hard for not very much money. But in a school system like New York, where tenured teachers who have twenty five years seniority are getting paid well over a hundred thousand dollars a year, there has to be some sort of accountability mechanism. Standardized testing may the imperfect but functional choice.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Freedom Isn't Free

Good thing we have these brave men protecting it for us. But really, it’s probably because carrying an assault rifle makes your penis twice as big. I really doubt that these losers are the ones that the Secret Service or whomever has to worry about. It’s the guys who don’t strut around who might actually pull the trigger.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mediterranean Spinach and Orzo Salad and Zucchini Latkes

I think I’m going through a Greek phase. Or maybe it’s not just a phase; maybe I have always liked Greek/Mediterranean food and I’m just finally learning how to make my favorite things. Anyway, I ate falafel every day for at least two weeks recently, and I ate basic Greek salads even longer. Now I’ve been making this orzo salad for several days, and I just bought more sundried tomatoes so I could keep eating it. It might be good with olives if you’re one of those people that, you know, like olives. I’m not one of those people.

The latkes aren’t Greek, but they’re just something I’ve wanted to make for a while. They are really good with a little bit of sour cream. The first time I made them, I didn’t think the mixture was eggy enough and decided to add another one. Don’t do that. They turned out more like overcooked eggs with some potato and zucchini mixed in.

I got the salad recipe from my mother, who saw it in a Costco magazine. The recipe is one of those that tell me which brand of spinach to buy. That makes me laugh. The zucchini latkes are from the best food blogger on all of the internets.

Mediterranean Spinach and Orzo Salad
1 cup orzo pasta
½ cup sundried tomatoes
½ diced cucumber
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 oz feta cheese

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1 clove of a shallot or 1 clove garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup rw vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard if you want it to be a little creamier
Fresh oregano or thyme if you have it

For the vinaigrette, mix it all up in a bowl and leave it to sit while you make the salad. Boil the orzo to the liking of its manufacturer, and then let it cool before adding it to the salad. Mother says it’s good to let the orzo soak in a little bit of dressing beforehand but I’m not so sure. That sounds like a recipe for soggy orzo to me. Anyway, you know how to assemble a salad. Do it with the ingredients mentioned above.

Zucchini Latkes

Recipe here. I used flour instead of matzo meal because I have never purchased matzo meal and had never really considered it before. If you have matzo meal, maybe you should consider using that, but flour was just fine.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What to do if your teacher is a war criminal?

I suppose some of my former high school classmates will be facing this question at Texas Tech. Most laughably, he will be teaching a “leadership” class for minority and underrepresented students. Presumably, he will tell them to sell their soul so that the rich, white Republicans can win more elections.

To be fair, his war criminal status is as yet to be determined. Go Red Raiders!