Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God Bless Barney Frank
I know literally nothing about home finance. I suspect most people don't - that's why we pay people to understand it for us. This whole housing crises, from the little I've read, seems to stem from a wave of lenders who created a devious new brand of mortgage that had such low monthly payments that the principle was never actually paid down. Then the rug started coming undone and it's taken the whole economy with it. Fill in the blanks.

But at the same time, there's something to be said for common sense. If I were a single parent of three children whose main income came from running a home day care center, I would probably be a little suspicious if someone told me I could afford to buy a $545,000 house. That's more than half a million dollars - rudimentary math should probably tell you something is fishy. But now she's waiting to be evicted and, of course, it's entirely someone else's fault.

When the true story of this comes out, I'm sure predatory lending will be the main culprit. But how did so many people allow themselves to get THIS hoodwinked?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

That last blog was boring. Here's something to get your pulse pounding a little.

Both William "Billy" Kristol and Daniel Pipes have said in recent days that there's a significant chance that Bush would want to bomb Iran should Obama win the presidency in November. (If McCain wins, both speculate that he'd be willing to punt.) Coming from anyone else this would be groundless speculation; but when it comes from two members of the same neocon elite that dreamed up the current Iraq War - and the remaking of the Middle East for which this is only the first stanza - it carries an ominous ring. If both of these guys are saying this independently, you can bet this is already sitting on Cheney's desk.

And before you think that no one is stupid enough to think this is a good idea, ummmmm....

Monday, July 14, 2008

I've been cooking a ton lately, spurred on by my belated discovery of Cook's Illustrated (home of "America's Test Kitchen"). Each recipe contains a tale of some peculiarity of the dish in question that the cook(s) felt needed to be corrected, followed by a fairly detailed discussion of the chemistry involved in tackling that problem. (Like why you should sprinkle broccoli with a small amount of sugar before you roast it, or why you should run potatoes through a ricer rather than straight-up mashing them bitches.) Then, their small army of cooks literally try out hundreds of variations before settling on one "best" recipe that pretty much always kicks ass. It's been awesome because I like cooking much more knowing the science behind parts of it, and I like knowing these recipes have been tested and tried won't be a waste of my time. I'm lazy! Some favorites thus far include black bean and corn quesadillas, a cheese omelet with mushrooms and thyme, and roasted green beans, which are seriously the best things on this planet...its like shriveled, green crack.

I've been tentatively diagnosed with a pinched nerve in my right elbow, which will be confirmed with a few tests in a couple of days. I have no idea how it happened and it's more annoying than painful, but there's a certain amount of muscle weakness in my right hand as a result, which bugs me out. The only way to treat it without surgery is rest and ice, and between softball and band practice, that's a tall order. We leave for tour again on the 21st of next month for three weeks, so hopefully my arm doesn't fall off in the interim.

Vampire Weekend. There's still room on this bangwagon, right? I wanted to hate the living bejeesus out of these guys for their deck shoes and cardigans and god-awful band name, but I finally gave it a chance and I seriously haven't had my ass kicked like this by a record in ages - like, listening to it all the way through at least twice a day for the last week. (And listening to it right now.) There are parts that are so "Graceland"-esque that it hurts, but the songs are so unbelievably good that it rises above being pastiche. The challenge now is following this one up with all eyes are on them, but if they can do it they're going to be one of the biggest bands in the world. For once, the hype machine got it right.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa = My Jam.

(And here's two new songs they've been working out on the last tour -
Little Giant and White Sky.)

Forgot to mention two quick milestones that passed in the last few weeks. We played with the Hold Steady at McCarren Park Pool on the 29th and it was kick-fucking-ass...we managed to skirt in-between two thunderstorms and rocked it to about two thousand people. We got free shoes, flasks, headphones and a catered lunch...pretty damn decadent by our standards! The hipster blogs have been pretty divided on us, but it definitely felt like we had won alot of people over by the end of the set. Our favorite exchange was when some dude at the far end of the pool yelled, "You guys are awesome!" and somebody else yelled back "I concur!" Nerds!

And "Love Keeps Pushing Me Over the Mendoza Line" reigned supreme at The Wharf Rat's Tuesday trivia last week. (Known as "The Big Leagues.") Daley saved us by aceing the "Pullman vs. Paxton" category and a random Powder Puff Girls question, which none of had the slightest clue about. We got a growler of Old Habit (6.7%!) out of it and George and I drank until we almost pissed ourselves.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"I'm going to make her cry. I'm going to sing Dixie until she cries."
- Jesse Helms on how he planned to welcome Carolyn Mosely-Braun, the first African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, to her new office. He followed through on his threat by singing to her when the two shared an elevator.

"Well, thank you, I think."
- Helms's reponse - coupled with a salute - to a caller who thanked him during a 1995 appearance on the Larry King show for "everything you've done to keep down the niggers."

"White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories?"
1950 campaign ad written by Helms. In this same campaign, Helms doctored photos to show the wife of his candidate's opponent dancing with a black man.

"There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy."
- Jesse's 1988 analysis of the AIDS epidemic

"Degenerate...weak, morally sick wretches."
- Helms's description of homosexuals in a 1994 interview with Newsweek

"The University of Negroes and Communists"
- Helms shorthand for the University of North Carolina

Jesse Helms is finally dead. Forget all of the inspid panderings to some "legacy" worth celebrating that Helms allegedly left behind, and throw out all of the white-washed tributes the networks have churned out, devoid of any spectre of the damage and hatred he inflicted on people across this country. Helms was a shitstain on the fabric of this nation; the last of the great race-baiters who embodied the worst impulses not just in Americans, but in all of humankind. He couldn't even muster the decency and self-awareness of other former segregationists like George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, who both had the good conscience to recant their fomer views later in life. Helms was unrepentant evil to the very end, loathsome and despicable, who would have bordered on charicature if the totality of his heartlessness wasn't so terrifying to witness in another human being. He was a national embarassment whose death yesterday can only be considered a cosmic birthday present for a nation sorely in need of one.

"And you know when Jesse Helms finally dies, he's going to commit suicide in a washtub out back behind a pecan tree. He's going to slash his wrists and he's going to write in blood, 'I've been a bad boy.' But you know they're going to find the skins of young children drying in his attic, swarms of horseflies going in and out of the eaves, and on CNN, over and over, his wife going, 'I always wondered about Jesse's collection of little shoes.' Anyone that far to the right is fucking hiding a deep, dark secret." - Bill Hicks