Thursday, June 30, 2011

What I Would Like for my Birthday

I'm turning 32 on Friday, so like all procrastinators, I consider this ample notice of my birthday wishes.

I generally feel weird about asking for things — it seems needy, I already feel cluttered too often (so maybe don't need that much more stuff) and I rarely remember things that I need outside of the contexts where I need them.

Hence not buying bread until my sandwich making is stymied.

But since some of you have asked (and asked and asked), and it seems needlessly precious of me to insist that you simply divine what I want based on what you know about what I like, I thought it couldn't hut to give options.

— An amp/receiver

Mine's a second- or third-hand model from an old prof of mine. I'm not sure whether it just needs cleaning or whether it has officially died, but the left channel keeps cutting out and it vexes me.

— Speakers

Though they once were rich and round, my circa '86 Sony's are now buzzy and incapable of the same great sound at anything less than "really loud." It makes me despair for my neighbors.

— A Flickr pro account

I've meant to set this up plenty of times, but haven't. Costs about $25 for a year, I think.

— A portfolio website

Really, I should set this up myself too, but each time I do it, I end up frustrated.

— Booze.

Sweet, delicious booze of all kinds. Wine, rye, scotch, gin or even absinthe.

— A nice chef's knife.

I've been using a commercial kitchen one, which is adequate, but it's dying slowly. I've had it resharpened a couple times, and it just doesn't hold the edge all that long.

— Art.

Really, framed art — whether that means getting some of my prints framed or new art with frames — is something that I always love and really do keep a long time. Book art is also awesome. I find that I don't tend to reread books that often (always onto something new with my ADD), but I can look at well-printed art books over and over.

— A large external hard drive.

I've run out of media storage space. Again. I will run out of media storage space again again again. I need to store music and photos, preferably on a networked drive.

— Music

On CD, honestly. I've run out of mp3 space, and a well-mastered CD really does sound better. Especially jazz. My copies of the great mid '60s and early '70s jazz masterpieces are all succumbing to bitrot and scratches, so I need to replace them, and I don't want mp3s for jazz, at least while my ears can still pick out most of it.

— Twin lens Holga

I just saw some 3-D slides shot on one of these, and they're amazing. Of all the variant Holgas, this would be my first choice.

— Vosages sea salt and almond chocolates

They're crazy good.

There are plenty of other things that I'd like, from an external flash for my camera to more lenses for my cameras, or concert tickets, or a trip to Disneyland or that water park from Bill and Ted's, and I always like food (or ingredients) and anything involving 32 or 2^5 would be apt.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In which Michele Bachmann misunderstands government spending

When Michele Bachmann says that she didn't benefit from federal money, as she told the LA Times, her justification is that the money didn't go directly into her pocket, i.e. that "…the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees."

She's reframing the issue to answer a question of whether or not she directly profited, which isn't the question. It's a dodge, and she should be called on it — she was willing to spend the government's money on her training programs rather than spend her own money.

Likewise with the farm subsidies to the farm she co-owns. That she hasn't taken a payout doesn't mean that she doesn't benefit from the subsidies to the property she owns — that's like saying you haven't benefited from a free new wing on your house because you haven't sold it yet.

By misrepresenting how she benefits, Bachmann lies about how government works. Government spending is almost never a direct individual payment, except in the so-called "entitlement programs." Instead, policy goals are achieved through tax breaks and grant or subsidy spending. It's that type of government spending which politicians such as Bachmann cast as normative, expected and not to be included in the moral calculus of conservatism.

It's a lie that enables hypocrisy and the ongoing war against the middle class (a much more real beast than any war against Christmas).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gangs, drugs, metal, punk, what?

I stumbled onto this short item on a gang shooting in South LA. I was curious about the gang, and it turned out to be The Defiant Ones, a black motorcycle club that started in the '50s.

Trying to find more info on them, led me to a flickr set of the 1982 LAPD gang handbook.

One of the weird things about the handbook is that they say that the white gangs mostly label themselves as "stoners," e.g. Downey Stoners, La Mirada Stoners, Paramount Stoners. So, I start googling for some of those, and run across a 1985 article about Fight For Freedom, some white punk rock gang, which sounds pretty hilarious.

In there, they quote credulously from Gregory Bodenhamer, who apparently ran a program called "Back in Control." Though in the article, he's fairly sane, it turns out that Bodenhamer thought that kids needed to be depunked and demetaled, and ran some crazy brainwashing camps in the '80s, which this rambling blog entry connects to the PMRC, Focus on the Family, the evangelical DC prayer group called The Family, and Hilary Clinton. Bodenhamer is also quoted in this goofy article about druggy metal heads.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Seniors eat cat food; Rep. Ryan eats cake

While the world has focused on Weiner's weiner, Representative Paul Ryan has committed a real ethics breach: His budget plan includes hefty subsidies for his wife and father-in-law, which he'd benefit from.

While it's important to Ryan to make sure that Medicare fails and seniors die, it's also important that he make some money from our energy policy.

Is there any better summation of Republican economic philosophy than "Fuck you, got mine"?

(edited to fix Ryan's title — He's a rep, not a sen. Mea culpa.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Come on, Trader Joe's, do the right thing

Florida tomato workers' fortunes have improved, but Trader Joe's still refuses to sign an agreement that Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Sodexo, Whole Foods and other large fast food and food supply chains have already done.

The agreement would increase prices on winter tomatoes (October through May) by about a penny per pound, translating into thousands of dollars for workers that are essentially at the very bottom of the American workforce. Seriously — there are literally slavery rings being run in Florida, forcing people to pick tomatoes for no pay and not allowing them to leave.

By refusing to sign the agreement, Trader Joe's tacitly supports the working conditions.

Trader Joe's provides their reasoning here, alleging that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is spreading lies and defaming them. While they raise some worthwhile points, saying things like "no serious business would agree" to these terms is belied by the fact that Whole Foods as well as the major fast food chains (and their suppliers) all have.

When I canvassed, I dealt with a document from Trader Joe's legal team that was similarly combative, misleading and fundamentally misrepresenting the decisions made since Pruneyard, which makes me more suspicious of their document here.

I like Trader Joe's. I shop there pretty often. I'm going to talk to the store managers about this, and I encourage you to do so as well. While their letter concludes that they will not be pressured to agree to CIW's terms — as so many others have — I will be pressuring them, and depending on their reply, may make other arrangements for spending my money.

Going mobile!

I've enabled a mobile version of my blog, handily suggested to me this morning by blogger, after Amy couldn't get here with her tablet last night.

This is Amy's favorite song ever too, maybe second to My Wife.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

If only it was Tim and Eric…

I used to live in this district, and while Hahn's a machine hack who won based on her family's legacy, it's good to remember every now and then that the folks running against her actually believe this shit.

Luckily, there's a gif for that:

This is what turning right means. It means that Craig Huey's supported by some pretty reprehensible motherfuckers, and he's yet to speak out on the ad.

While pundi-bloggers are quickly calling this "The Most Offensive Political Ad Ever", that undersells the assholes of the past.

Come and Look at Both of our Buildings

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Steaming streaming for the ear holes

3VOOR12 - Luisterpaal is a Dutch site that looks legal enough, and has a bunch of music that I've been curious about but haven't found streaming for free in the US (i.e. Grooveshark). And unlike Spotify, it doesn't bounce Americans.

Been digging The Oh Sees, Cults and Fucked Up albums.

Space is full of assholes

Tumblr Hate the Future is awesome dystopic revenge for all the milquetoast iFuture bullshit.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Good governance is persistent

The prize bureaucrats of the Hapsburg empire make for better governance even today.

When life gives you lemonade

For childhood businesses, the lemonade stand is a hoary trope. Simply hearing the phrase, one can already picture the table, pitcher and reversed letters.

But for Nicholas Martin, they're also a way to make a misleading case against governmental regulation.

Martin, the head of an organization that reeks of astroturf (no website, the only legitimate mention on the web comes from Sourcewatch noting another astroturf organization Martin belonged to), the Consumer Health Education Council in Indianapolis, complains that his daughter is only allowed to operate a business on public grounds one day a year, and that the health department would prohibit unlicensed food vending.

Of course, he doesn't bother to get any names or anything that might make the quotes verifiable.

Instead, he proceeds with the kind of blind privilege that entitles him to complain endlessly about regulations that generally make sense if considered in the light of the equality of the law — would he want everyone who wants to sell whatever food or drink they want to be able to do it anywhere? His strongest complaint is that the zoning laws officially prohibit him from having the stand on his lawn, but if that's really a problem, change the laws.

It's also disingenuous to pretend that these laws would meaningfully restrict his freedom — the health department says it would only respond to a complaint, and if his daughter was poisoned by someone else's lemonade stand, he'd be the first to complain. Rather, they function more like laws against speeding, where the laws themselves are only sporadically enforced, especially against the most egregious violators, but everyone still speeds. Just not by as much as they might otherwise.

Why the Los Angeles Times decided to run a facile anti-regulation piece from Indianapolis is beyond me, but next time I would hope that an editor would take a brief look at it before signing off on thin claims, misleading anecdotes and transparent propaganda from an anti-government activist.

Friday, June 03, 2011

MeFi Mag issue three!

The Travel Issue, June 2011

MeFi Mag Issue 3:

This issue was written and shot all over the world — from Japan to Texas, Scotland to Pennsylvania — then compiled in California, laid out in a secret lair on the East Coast and printed back in California. With that global community in mind, and with summer approaching — which increases the number of travel questions (pg. 16), it made sense to pick a Travel and Place theme for June. We have stories on how the land shapes narrative (pg. 20), o…

Issue three is out!

Buy a copy (or download it for free) and see why I've been grumpily copy editing for weeks!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I made ice cream

From this recipe, but I will say that his emphasis on whipping to get a lot of air in the mix led to (maybe because of the hand mixer) more a mousse than an ice cream. Though that might have also been because I didn't have any milk and just used cream straight through.

Beers, bikes, beats

Los Angeles maybe finally getting some good breweries.

Alex Thompson on Critical Mass, corking and cops, along with some rambling about kids these days.

Dabrye's Hyped Up Plus Tax.