Sunday, December 22, 2019

Comrade Kid Presents Post-dank Meme

To my shame I haven’t read any of Peter Kropotkin’s work. I’m down with this post-dank meme as it has one of my favorite rats in it.

From Wikipedia:

Kropotkin was a proponent of a decentralized communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations of self-governing communities and worker-run enterprises. He wrote many books, pamphlets, and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Chainsaw Time

I don't use the chainsaw often, so when I do it's a special occasion.

Life In Oregon

Subaru Outbacks are as frequent as air molecules in these parts. Not the first time I had to think carefully before attempting to enter a car I thought was mine.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Kubilai Khan As Productivity Mentor

I’ve been feeling I need a break from present political reality. So, I’ve been reading about the Asian political reality of the 13th century with the above biography of Kubilai Khan.

The dude gets props for being an openminded ruler who embraced a pragmatic universalism to get the job done – which in his case was acquiring more lands and wealth.

I had expected endless tales of brutality but found that Kubilai was reluctant to destroy functioning towns and agricultural area, respected different religions, and tried to work things out before sacking a city. He just wanted to be acknowledged as the supreme ruler, receive tribute in the form of food and gold and silver, but otherwise leave locals alone.

When I read books about the ancient world, I often try to imagine what would happen if I inhabited that world, or in this case, found myself ruler of the Mongol empire. Kubilai had a liberal disposition and I found that I couldn’t fault him on many, if not most, of his decisions regarding the administration of his empire.

His folly was not recognizing his core competencies. He drained his treasury and spent a decade trying to invade Japan, the Mongol generals and soldiers not adept at seafaring.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Republicans Embrace Falsehoods As Policy

This morning I woke up to NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewing Pam Bondi, special adviser to the president, about the White House’s defense in the Senate trial.

Pam Bondi is a former Florida attorney general and someone who I didn’t expect to so blatantly lie. I suppose I had it coming as anyone associated with Trump immediately becomes coated with a sleaze of an almost iridescent nature.

Her untruths were so outrageous that the usually soft spoken and courteous Steve Inskeep had to interrupt to point out her lying.

I have never heard on NPR an interviewer stop and say that’s just not true, even threaten to turn down her mic. I have heard this on cable news, however. Below is a transcript:

I’ve heard lawmakers obfuscate and ramble when asked about the fairness of the impeachment trial, but Pam Bondi was clear, direct and totally lying. 

I want to look away in shame but I cannot.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Date Night: Impeach Trump

The night was freezing but we stuck it out to show our anger at our awful president. We later ate Mexican food because it was delicious and we wanted to show solidarity. We then felt restored to our equilibrium of simmering rage. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Constant Latke Innovation

Last year this madman made an excessively crispy latke and put marinated fish (poke bowl fish) upon it for an extraordinary result.

This year, an egg-heavy latke with caramelized bananas and whipped cream.

I salute your fearless inquiry into the potato pancake!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Bruegel The Elder and Trump

The Triumph of Death 1562

I got up this morning and listened to a podcast about the unfolding impeachment. The presenters were not optimistic that decisions would be made that would promote fair and transparent politics. More to the point, Trump will likely win reelection and all fair-minded people who strive to do good will suffer.

When I sat at my computer, I thought what image best invokes this impending catastrophe. For every age history assigns an iconic image that sums up thousands of books and op-eds about the experience. There is Guernica by Picasso which represents the Spanish Civil War; or the photo of a naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm bombing.

So, what images will represent our times?

When I think about evil, apocalyptic scenarios I often think about the period before photography when giant canvases were filled with scenes of religious epics and battles. In museums one stand tiny in front of these massive works of art – their sheer size elevating the already lofty so that they play at volume setting eleven.

Although I got a visceral boost from sourcing Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s the Triumph of Death, likening Trump’s fascists to an army of skeletons, ultimately this doesn’t work. In the right corner of the painting are two lovers who apparently escape the onslaught of the skeleton army by lute playing and staring dreamily into the other’s eyes. Nice moralism in the face of apocalypse!

A dark abstract painting might better represent our era, or just a tape loop spouting nonsense ad infinitum. I don’t see Trump as having any underlying values, being motivated solely by self-enrichment. Anything bad today could be good tomorrow, if the switch sets the stage to Trump’s advantage.   

I will continue to go to museums and search for transcendent meaning, and if I can’t find that, maybe a pretty picture will suffice.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Wisdom of Language: Nien Geschichte!

One of my methods for learning foreign languages, especially when one is starting out, is to choose a word and use it ad nauseam, almost to the point to where the true meaning is on the verge of being worn out.

I’ve also used this method for languages I wasn’t studying. I remember in high school opening a friend’s textbook and learning a random word just for the fun of it and then using it in odd permutations.

One of the fun things about human language is just about any word can be imbued with sexual innuendo if contextualized and spoken in a certain way.

I’ve shared this philosophy with the kid studying German and am happy he has found the power of this approach.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Kid Updates Dad On Video Game Preference

This game is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It is an action role-playing video game which reimagines the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for players to explore any way they choose.

What this means is that a player can wander around and do random stuff: see what’s going on over in another kingdom, besiege a castle, slay a dragon, party with a frost troll.

I remember aimlessly driving my car around when I was a teenager, looking for a situation more entertaining than the one I currently inhabited. Playing this game seems a good alternative to pointlessly burning fossil fuel.

Only point of concern is that instead of slaying dragons I would try to persuade them to join me in fellowship – they can’t be all bad, can they?

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ski Time

Season starts with a roar as I went shussing with Mr. Greg. We worried about lack of coverage and early season conditions, only to find a snow bomb going off and deep drifts of the white stuff. Six inches fresh with 10 over the previous 24 hours. Cold, wet, and wonderful.

Game on. Full stoke.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Gratuitous Rat Media

This Is What Teen Productivity Looks Like

The above is a still from the video game Mount & Blade: Warband -- a game my son enjoys.

About a month ago, on a weekend, I asked him if he was being productive, or just playing video games. He told me that his engagement with video games is of the intensity that afterwards he feels the experience was productivity. "If I had played, I would call that being productive," he said.

He had been idly watching YouTube videos, letting the autoplay setting suggest one after another. By his own admission this was not productivity.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Things That Make Me Happy: Impeachment

Being able to print out a hard copy of the articles of impeachment soon after their release is great -- one of those moments that make me appreciate modern communication tech. But probably not enough appreciation for me to get over how such tech allowed such a disaster of a president to get elected in the first place.

I understand that Trump may not be removed from office. Still, it's nice to read the articles of impeachment at a time when the worst has not yet arrived.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Note To Self: Avoid Hazelnut Spread M&Ms

I am a lifelong fan of M&Ms. But I'm also kind of an M&Ms snob.

The best M&Ms are:

  1. Dark Chocolate peanut
  2. Almond
  3. Peanut 
  4. Peanut Butter
  5. Pretzel
  6. Crispy rice

All the other flavors are marginal at best. Hazelnut spread ones are not on the list.

You're welcome!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The End Of The Year Joy - Furnace Filter Replacement!

I used to clean the gutters of our two-story house. I felt like a real do-it-yourself guy as I gingerly climbed to the top of a 25-foot ladder that bounced and flexed under my weight.

I gave that up when I turned 50 and I haven't ever regretted not falling.

So now I have to look around a bit harder to receive that surge of joyous self-reliance I used to get from the gutters.

Lucky for me each year I can replace the furnace filter, a process that involves a step ladder of a modest height. I finish the job in about 5 minutes and then run to the computer and write a blog post so as to share the experience with the internet.

All is good, our air is filtered, the furnace continues to work properly.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

G.I. Yossi

One of the best gifts I have ever received is the G.I. Joe action figure of an Israeli soldier from the "Foreign Soldiers Collection."

A relative collects these figures and the IDF soldier is a rare one as production was discontinued for obvious reasons. He wanted me to have the figure as I had served in the IDF.

I told him I would give it to my son to play with and I wasn't going to preserve it as a piece of political history. He was good with that.

My son and I played with the figure for a couple of years. When he lost interest in it I made sure to put the figure in a safe place.

Now my thoughts run to how I can make a stop-action animation with the figure to oppose West Bank settlement. Perhaps the time to play with dolls is still upon us.