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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Got Your Apple Watch® Yet ?

      That's the CEO of Apple there in the picture, Tim Cook. They've been doing this for decades. Every time Apple rolls out a new product, their CEO appears on a stage and gets his picture in all the papers. As I understand the story, he was rolling out some other piece of iCrap® and at the end said, "One more thing," and then showed off the watch. (Ooooo ... wasn't that cool ?) The roll-out, and the fawning media coverage, usually has the whole Apple brand-tribe panting, "When does it ship ?" And then they go camp out at the Apple Store® in order to be the first on their block to own the new toy. The campers are known as early adopters and are presumed to be the smartest and most far-sighted among us. Apple products are always more expensive that those of their competitors, but they've outdone themselves this time. One version of the watch has a case made of 18ct. gold and costs $10,000. It's called the Apple Watch® Edition, not the Gold Edition, or the Deluxe Edition, just the Edition. (Visionary, no ?)

      Because of the price the marketing may be a little more difficult this time. Consider this quote from what I presume to be an Apple fan site:

The job of Apple Retail Store employees will begin changing in profound ways next month. In order to showcase and sell the Apple Watch, retail employees will be trained to provide personal fashion and styling advice to customers, according to employees briefed on the plans. Until now, Apple Retail has been tasked with recommending iPads, iPhones and Macs with few styling options aside from limited color options.

Apple is pushing for retail employees to initiate conversations that build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process, similarly to how traditional watches are sold. Apple Watch sales training programs will take place for Apple retail staff over the course of the next two weeks, teaching entirely new sales techniques to encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.
                                                                           9to5mac.com

     Reaction to the new trinket has been mixed. At The Guardian, Hannah Jane Parkinson gives us Nine reasons only a tool would buy the Apple Watch® and here's some web reaction, courtesy of the BBC:
On Apple Watch Edition (the expensive one)...

Actress Anna Kendrick on Twitter: "We should be thanking Apple for launching the $10,000 'Apple Watch' as the new gold-standard in douchebag detection."

Economist Joseph Brusuelas on Twitter: The Apple watch has the feel of Steve Jobs' Lisa [computer]. It's ill conceived, ill considered & likely to go the way of Google Glass.

User jdflan on Reddit: "It's not uncommon for watches to be priced from $350 to $10,000. But the Apple Watch is different. It's not a Rolex. In a year it's going to be obsolete and in 10 years it won't even power on because the battery will no longer hold a charge."

User LiveLaughLoveRevenge on Reddit: "I was secretly hoping that they'd bring something really cool to the table - something to push the tech ahead. But nope. Functionality seems basically the same, and instead they went the route of trying to make it a status symbol - like MK or LV bags, no extra utility, just a brand name."

User Dan Colasanti on Twitter: Dear people whining about the $10,000 to $17,000 18K-Gold Apple #Watch - it's not meant for you - so get over it.

     So, the product "shipped" Friday. As you may have guessed by now, I won't be among the early adopters. How 'bout you ? I know all the Kool Kids hang out at CUA,

Got Your Apple Watch® Yet ?

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Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 05:00 PM PDT

Baja Arizona Open Thread

by Azazello

Greetings from Tucson

       The weather here is windy and a little cool, not what we usually expect for this time of year, but I'm sure it will warm up a little by next weekend. Next weekend, of course, is the weekend of the 5th Annual Baja Arizona Kossacks Picnic. The Picnic will be held Saturday, May 2 at Garfield Park in Bisbee, starting at 2 PM.

                                                     more below  

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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Do You Like Bossa Nova ?

      In the beginning there was The Girl from Ipanema. Well, not really. That was just the one most of us heard first. That song was released as a single in 1964. Bossa Nova music was introduced to the world beyond Brazil, where it was born, in 1959 with the release of the film Black Orpheus1 The movie featured a song by Antonio Carlos Jobim2, who would later write The Girl from Ipanema, and a song called Manhã de Carnaval3 by Luiz Bonfá4. It was that song that started the global Bossa Nova craze and it is one of the classics of the genre still. But yeah, here in 'Murca The Girl from Ipanema was probably the first one most of us heard. Wikipedia5 says that "it is believed" to be the second most-recorded song ever, behind The Beatles' Yesterday (blech). The song featured the cool tenor sax of Stan Getz6 and the sultry vocals of Astrud Gilberto7, wife of guitarist João Gilberto8. The original arrangement did not feature Astrud's vocals and it was only after the musicians heard her singing along at the recording session that the decision was made to let her sing it. It was a monster hit, of course, sold a billion copies and made them all rich and famous. Astrud divorced her husband a couple of years later and took up with Getz. Here she is singing another Bossa Nova classic, Água de Beber:

Remember this one ? It was all over the radio in 1966, Mas Que Nada by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66:

      A French film called Un homme et une femme was also released in 1966. A Man and a Woman9 won the  Palme d'Or at Cannes that year and featured a song written by another Brazilian Bossa Nova pioneer, Baden Powell de Aquino10. The song was called Samba Saravah and had French lyrics. Here's a 2007 recording of Samba Saravah by Stacey Kent. Stacey is an American, from New Jersey, who plays classical guitar. That makes her a natural for Bossa Nova since it's the only jazz form that uses that instrument. She's married to a sax player and I'm sure the two of them know every song Getz and Gilberto ever recorded. Samba Saravah:

      And finally, for your listening pleasure, here's Diana Krall singing So Nice11 recorded live in Rio de Janeiro in 2009:

      Alright then, there's some Tuesday morning tuneage. What's goin' on with y'all,  got any cool links and...

Do You Like Bossa Nova ?


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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Do You Like Beans ?

      I do, love 'em. Always have. 'Course, my tastes have changed over the years. When I was a kid we always had "Pork and Beans" from a can. Every part of the country has its regional bean recipe. I don't know what style the canned ones were supposed to be, Boston Baked Beans maybe. I never could find any pork in these beans. That problem was easily fixed though. You could cut up a couple of hot dogs and throw them in for a hearty main dish we used to call Beanie Wienie. Yum. I still use canned beans every now and then, if I need a side for BBQ and don't have time to make a batch from scratch, but mostly I buy dried beans and boil them. I am not an overnight soaker. I know some people swear by this method, but I just put 'em in the pot in the morning and boil them gently for as long as they take.

      In the Southwest the preferred bean is the pinto. Beans go way back out here. They're part of the Meso-American trinity of corn, beans and squash. It is said that these three will give you all the essential vitamins, proteins and amino acids that a person needs without eating any meat at all. There's a place here in town* that preserves the bean varieties once eaten by the ancient Anasazi and Hohokam and the Tohono O’odham still grow heirloom beans, but around here it's mostly pintos. The traditional Mexican recipe is called Frijoles de la Jolla, or Beans of the Pot. These are just boiled pinto beans and nothin' else, maybe some lard if you've got it. Frijoles de la Jolla and a tortilla can be a meal all by themselves, and often were in olden times. They are also the basis for two other popular Mexican bean dishes: Frijoles Refritos, called refried beans by many, and Charro beans. To make refrieds you heat some lard in a skillet, smokin' hot, and then add beans and their cooking liquid, mashing them with the back of your spoon as you go. Really easy. You can make refrieds a little fancier by adding a splash of evaporated milk. Charro beans are a bit more elegant. You fry some chopped bacon, sweat some onions and garlic in the bacon fat, then add whole beans, a little chicken stock and some sliced jalapeño chiles.

      When the Gringos came out here and learned open-range cattle ranching from the Mexicans they also adopted the pinto bean. In the days before refrigeration, beans and bacon, and coffee of course, were cowboy staples and every chuck wagon and bunkhouse cook had his own recipe for Cowboy Beans. These are usually more elaborate than plain Mexican frijoles. There's one method called Beanhole Beans where you dig a small pit and build a fire in it. When it's down to coals, you put a Dutch oven filled with beans and water in the coals, put some coals on top and bury it. You do this in the morning and then at supper time they'll be done and you dig 'em up. My absolute favorite bean recipe comes from a celebrity cowboy cook book. You make these after you've baked a clove-studded ham, which I did last week.

Slim Pickens' Cowboy Beans
1 lb. little red beans
1 meaty ham bone, with some of the cloves
1 dried red chile pepper, I use an ancho
1 chopped white onion
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
S & P
Pick over the beans and rinse them. Put them in a pot with water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add everything else and cook 'til done, adding water as necessary.
     You can use these as a side dish or serve them as the main event with some skillet cornbread. That's good eatin'.

      OK, it's beans this morning. You got a favorite recipe ? What kind of beans do they eat where you live ?

Do You Like Beans ?

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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Got Water ?

      I've got water on the brain myself. I think about water all the time, I have to because I live in the West. There was a story in my local paper about a huge housing development in Benson, AZ that would make that little town 8 times bigger that it is now. (Arizona Daily Star) Why would people want to live there ? Where would they work ? And, most importantly, where would they get their water ? If they pump it from the aquifer it may well dry up the San Pedro River, one of the few year-round streams left in the state The water crisis in California has been in the news a lot lately. This picture is from a New York Times story about the drought. (California drought ... ) Yes, there's a drought, and California didn't get any snow so there's a water shortage. But it's more than that. This is one of those who could possibly have predicted? stories. Anybody who knows anything could have predicted it and many did. Here's a quote from Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner. The book was published in 1986.

     As is the case with most western states, California's very existence is premised on epic liberties taken with water—mostly water that fell as rain on the north and was diverted to the south, thus precipitating the state's longest-running political wars. With the exception of a few of the rivers draining the remote North Coast, virtually every drop of water in the state is put to some economic use before being allowed to return to the sea. Very little of this water is used by people. Most of it is used for irrigation—80 percent of it, to be exact. That is a low percentage, by western standards. In Arizona, 87 percent of the water consumed goes to irrigation; in Colorado and New Mexico, the figure is almost as high. In Kansas, Nevada, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Idaho—in all of those states, irrigation accounts for nearly all of the water that is consumptively used.
     Now there's a pregnant paragraph if ever there were one. It mentions the squabbling between North and South that is intensifying in California and it mentions the controversy about who uses the water and for what. You can read more about the agriculture vs. people controversy in the New York Times (Beneath California crops ...) and here at Daily Kos (Some more facts ...) The question underlying that quote, and further developed in the book, is this: Should people be living here at all ? Speaking for myself, of course I should be living here, I love the desert. Again, from Cadillac Desert:
Confronted by the desert, the first thing Americans want to do is change it. People say that they "love" the desert, but few of them love it enough to live there. I mean in the real desert, not in a make-believe city like Phoenix with exotic palms and golf-course lawns and a five-hundred-foot fountain and an artificial surf. Most people "love" the desert by driving through it in air-conditioned cars, "experiencing" its grandeur. That may be some kind of experience, but it is living in a fool's paradise. To really experience the desert you have to march right into its white bowl of sky and shape-contorting heat with your mind on your canteen as if it were your last gallon of gas and you were being chased by a carload of escaped murderers. You have to imagine what it would be like to drink blood from a lizard or, in the drip of dementia, claw bare-handed through sand and rock for the vestigial moisture beneath a dry wash.

      We're not down to biting the heads off lizards or cutting open barrel cactus yet, but something's gotta' give. It's gonna' get real sooner or later. What are we to do ? It's a global problem and right now the only people with global reach are the 1%. One of the basic tenets of Neoliberalism is that everything should be privatized. Markets, we are told, will solve everything if only those awful governments would get out of the way. As far as I'm concerned the situation in California already looks like a market failure. Almond, or pistachio, farming may be the most profitable use for California's water, but does that make it the best use ? We can see where this is going. The Neoliberal solution will be de facto rationing by price. The CEO of Nestlé is on record stating that water is not a human right* and he's not alone. The global 99%, the people who live on this planet, must not allow potable water to be bought up like oil or any other asset and then sold back at a profit. There should not be a free market for water. Water is life.

      Well. There's a cheery little meditation for a Tuesday morning. So umm, what's new with y'all ? Anybody planning meet-ups ? Got any cool links to share ? And ...

Got Water ?

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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Who's Your Favorite Economist ?

      What ... ? Of course you have a favorite economist. Daily Kos is a political site, right ? Politics and economics are inseparable; politics is about economics. Here's one of my favorites, Nouriel Roubini, from his book Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance:

     None of these questions are hypothetical. John Maynard Keynes, a giant of twentieth-century economics, once rightly observed that "the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else ... Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back" Keynes wrote those oft-quoted words more than seventy years ago, but they are equally pertinent today.
     They used to call Roubini "Dr. Doom" because he predicted the '08 financial crisis. The economist he's quoting, John Maynard Keynes, would be a good candidate for anyone's favorite. He believed in government spending to put money in people's pockets during hard times. People who believe that, called "Keynesians" are out of favor now. The first economist I ever became aware of was John Kenneth Galbraith. He wrote a book called "The Affluent Society" that was much talked about when I was young. The first economist I ever studied seriously was Adam Smith. I read his classic The Wealth of Nations in my twenties. I thought it was a great book, still do. He published the first volume of Wealth ... in 1776, which was a noteworthy year here in America. Smith didn't know how the American Revolution was going to come out but he speculated that, if the Colonies didn't separate, the King would have to move his capital from London to America just because of the size of the continent. Here's what Adam Smith had to say about monopolies:
“The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”
     "Free Market" conservatives used to claim to be followers of Adam Smith. I'm pretty sure they never read his book, or maybe they cherry-pick it like they do the Bible. In a free, or deregulated market, the goal of all companies is to merge with and acquire one another so they can enjoy monopoly prices. They like to be free from competition. There are very few outright monopolies, but most of our consumer spending goes to oligopolies, in every sector of the economy.

      The most influential economist of the Twentieth Century was Karl Marx, even though he wrote, and died, in the Nineteenth. The most influential economist right now, in the Twenty-first Century is, undoubtedly, Milton Friedman, The Man Who Made the Kool-Aid. Uncle Milty was the prophet of Neoliberalism. We're all living under Neoliberalism now and it's bipartisan. The leaders of both major political parties are captives of the simple-minded nostrums of Free Market economics. We see it in operation in our country, our states and our cities. It's Rahm Emanuel shutting down public schools in Chicago, it's Ducey and Brownback defunding state governments in Arizona and Kansas, it's President Obama appealing to Republicans for "fast-track" authority to pass international "Free Trade" agreements. It's all about deregulation and privatization, and it's profoundly, fundamentally anti-democratic. When you think about it, there is no democracy without government. We don't get to vote for CEOs or the members of corporate boards. Neoliberalism aims to take government out of the equation, to "get the govenment off our backs," as the Gipper used to say. When there is no government, we have no say.

      After 2008, when it became obvious that something was amiss in the financial sector, my interest in economics was renewed. I've been reading the stuff like mad for the last few years. My favorite economists are the ones pointing out the problems with Neoliberalism, with "free" markets and "free" trade. Yves Smith is one such. I read her book Econned and I read her blog, naked capitalism, every morning. Here's the final paragraph of Econned:

“That brings us to the final outcome of this debacle. A radical campaign to reshape popular opinion recognized the seductive potential of the appealing phrase ‘free markets.’ Powerful business interests, largely captive regulators and officials, and a lapdog media took up this amorphous, malleable idea and made it a Trojan horse for a three-decade-long campaign to tear down the rules that constrained the financial sector. The result has been a massive transfer of wealth, with its centerpiece the greatest theft from the public purse in history. This campaign has been too consistent and calculated to brand it with the traditional label, ‘spin.’ This manipulation of public perception can only be called propaganda. Only when we, the public, are able to call the underlying realities by their proper names – extortion, capture, looting, propaganda – can we begin to root them out.”
     Joseph Stiglitz is one on the good guys. I've read a couple of his books, Globalization and Its Discontents, pre-crash, and Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy, after. I read The Predator State by James K. Galbraith, the son of John Kenneth. That's where I learned about sectoral balances and why the Federal budget can't be balanced. Robert Reich is a good explainer and Paul Krugman has his moments, but my new favorite economist is Michael Hudson. His book on Neoliberalism, Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents (They love that Freudian title.) had a profound effect on my thinking and I can't wait to read his new one, Killing the Host.

      So there you have it, economists I have read. I hope it's not too difficult a subject for a Tuesday morning, and that I haven't written too much. What's up with y'all this morning and ...

Who's Your Favorite Economist ?


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Do You Like Trucks ?

      Of course you do. All real Americans love trucks. For a long time the Ford F-100 series pick-up was the best-selling vehicle of all time, surpassing even the VW Beetle. Apparently it's been overtaken by the Toyota Corolla1, but still Americans love their trucks. These are some of my trucks from when I was a boy. I rescued them from my Mom's garage.They were made by a company called Structo® in the early 50s. We got Tonka® trucks for our son. They weren't making trucks yet when I was little. Now let's clear something up right away. Those big 18-wheelers you see on the highway ? Those are not trucks. They're semi-trucks pulling trailers. A truck consists of a single chassis with a box or bed behind the cab. Look at the picture. The tractor, that silver thing that pulls the trailer, doesn't have a box or a bed. That's what makes it a semi and not a truck. OK, now we've cleared that up.

      I don't drive a truck myself. I guess I'm not a real real American. Back in the 70s I had a 1948 Ford F-3 ¾-ton with a flat-head V-8 for awhile, but except for that I've never owned a pick-up truck. There's only one pick-up I've ever lusted after and that's the Dodge Power Wagon. Is this a thing of beauty or what ? It's a ¾-ton 4x4. You can just tell that it would do anything, go anywhere and that you'd have to double-clutch it to shift gears. I still see them around sometimes. Power Wagons were military trucks, pick-up versions of the Dodge WC series2, sold on the civilian market in the immediate post-war years. Every time I write a diary about the Great Patriotic War someone in the comments will say, "Yeah, the Russians won the war but they couldn't have done it without Lend-Lease." There's some truth in that. The Russians outproduced everybody else in tanks and aircraft but the thing they needed help with was transport; locomotives and trucks. Russian-made GAZ3 and ZIS4 were license-built copies of obsolete American models which were not capable of dealing with rotten Russian roads. Along with the Dodge WCs, the single most important item of Lend-Lease equipment given to the Soviets was the Studebaker 6x6 2½-ton truck5. At the end of the war, a third of the Red Army's trucks were Lend-Lease.

      Russian roads are still terrible, especially in the rainy season, but they've caught up in truck manufacture. Kamaz6, for example, produces large numbers of excellent trucks. They have a specialty shop called Kamaz Master7 that makes off-road racing trucks. They own the Paris-Dakar, having won their class numerous times. I've always thought one of these would make a cool camping rig, with appropriate interior of course.

     One other truck I've had a bit of experience with is the giant mining truck. I had a job driving one of these in an open pit copper mine. Despite their size, they're stupid easy to drive. Like a golf cart almost. They have a brake pedal, a gas pedal and a  switch on the dash; Forward, Neutral and Reverse. They have a big diesel engine that runs a generator, the generator powers electric motors in the wheel hubs.  You just press the pedal and go. There's a little lag, of course, as the generator gets up to speed. I have a little story from those days, forgive me if I've shared it before. We had this one foreman, a real bossy guy, quick to anger, never relaxed. One time one of the guys got his truck stuck in a berm. Albert, that was the foreman's name, drove out there in his pickup. They drove little white Chevy ½-ton trucks. "Get out of the damn cab," he says, "I'll unstick this thing." He revved it and rocked it forward and backwards. Eventually he got the truck free but he'd forgotten where he'd parked his truck. Albert backed over his own pick-up. From then on every newbie on D crew heard that story on their very first day. Maybe that was why Albert was always cross.

      Alright then, that's it for this Tuesday, a little truck pr0n. How's everybody doin' this morning, got anything to share and ...

Do You Like Trucks ?

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Greetings from Tucson ...

      And welcome to another BAK Open Thread. I am thrilled to announce that the 5th Annual Baja Arizona Kossacks Picnic will be held in beautiful, charming, funky Bisbee, Arizona on Saturday, May 2. I know it's a bit of a drive for Tucsonans but members of the Cochise County Chapter make the same drive to come to Meet-Ups in Tucson and, just speaking for me and mine, we've never not had a good time in Bisbee. If you're looking for an excuse to get out of town, this is as good as any. Let's take a road trip!

                                                     more below                      

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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Ever Read The Nation ?

      We went to see Noam Chomsky1 speak on Sunday, along with a couple of other Baja Arizona Kossacks. The event was part of the Tucson Festival of Books, which they tell us is now the 3rd largest in the country. It was called A Conversation with Noam Chomsky, just Noam and John Nichols2 on the stage, the latter as interlocutor. (The 2,400 seat hall was packed to the rafters. Who says Arizona is a red state?) Chomsky's appearance was sponsored by The Nation magazine3 as part of their 150th Anniversary celebration. I'm a long-time subscriber to The Nation which, I guess, qualifies me as a Left Intellectual, although I wouldn't make a pimple on Noam Chomsky's ass. I started my subscription back during the Reagan administration. This was before the internet so I couldn't connect with like-minded people like I do now on Daily Kos. I was feeling kind of isolated. The magazine was a life-saver, or a sanity-saver anyway. The oldest issue that I could find in my files is from 1993. They didn't have cover art back then, like this classic Bush cover from the 2000 election. The front-page was all text; editorial on the left, contents down the center and a cover story beginning on the right side of the page. They have a few graphic features now but it's still basically the same, a leftist rag printed on cheap paper with articles that many would consider too long. They have good book and movie reviews, even a puzzle, which I never do.

      If you've never checked out the magazine, or have but not recently, here's the online version: ➡ The Nation. They're running a feature right now called The Almanac4 with a past story for every day of the anniversary year. Yesterday it was a story about the My Lai Massacre from March 16, 1968. The Editor, Publisher and part-owner of The Nation is Katrina vanden Heuvel5. They used to invite her to be on some of the Sunday morning propaganda shows. I don't know if they do anymore, I don't watch the damn things. Katrina is married to a guy named Stephen F. Cohen.6 He's a Professor of Russian Studies at Princeton and NYU. I've been reading his stuff in the magazine for years. I've read a few of his books. I have two of them on my shelf right now: Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia from 2000 and Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War from 2009. Imagine my surprise when, after the Kiev coup, I was told by members of the DKos commentariate that Cohen has been discredited as a Putin propagandist and not a reliable source on Russian affairs. Whatever. Here's his take on US media coverage of the Ukraine situation, from The Nation, March 3, 2014: ➡ Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine.

      Other current columnists and contributors to The Nation, besides the aforementioned John Nichols, include William Greider7 and Naomi Klein8. The list of all the people who have ever written for the magazine is truly astounding. As a subscriber I supposedly have access to the archives of the whole 150 years. I can't read it right now because I forget what username and password I gave them. I've been meaning to get that straightened out so I can go back and read MB's old stuff there.

      That's all I got for today. Anybody got anything they want to share ? And ...

Ever Read The Nation ?

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What's Your Favorite Ethnic Cuisine ?

      Do you ever mess around trying to make dishes from other nations ? I have this theory about why so many of us in our 50s and 60s are foodies. Most of us grew up with 'Murcan corporate food. I sure did. We didn't really do any ethnic dishes in our home. We had no memories of food from the old country, just whatever the corporate culture was pushing at the time. Remember Minute Rice® ? Somehow they had Americans convinced that rice was very hard to cook and you could make perfect rice every time with Minute Rice. Or How about Uncle Ben's Converted Rice®, converted from what ? In truth there are no "American" dishes, or very few anyway. Fried Chicken is probably American, and Barbecue, but everything else came over with immigrants from someplace and then got Americanized. When I started cooking I was soon bored with the standard fare and began to look for alternatives. I've tried Mexican of course, around here Mexican food is not at all exotic and most people who cook, even gabachos, have some Mexican dishes in their repertoires. I've tried cooking German, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and even some Russian dishes. I do some French too, I guess everybody who takes cooking seriously goes through a French phase. Most recently I've been doing some Korean. Chinese is the cheapest by far. If you have an Asian grocery you can find authentic ingredients for next to nothing. Italian is the most expensive. Italians are very picky about their meats and cheeses, denominazione di origine controllata and all that. You can spend well over $100 on a  bottle of artisanal balsamic vinegar.

      Of course it helps if you can get recipes from native cooks. My next door neighbors are Mexican and they're always giving us leftover beans and stuff when they make a big batch for a party or something.  Maria makes the best Mexican rice I've ever had and she's promised to let me watch next time she makes a batch. I learned Phở Bò from a Vietnamese woman, the mother of one of Mrs. Z's third-graders. I learned Rouladen and Blaukraut from my wife's brother's wife who is German. In the absence of a tutor, you have to use a cookbook and a restaurant. The cookbook for the recipe and the restaurant to find out what you're shooting for. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and make the stuff, hoping that it's something close to the real thing. So it is with Chanakhi. I got this one out of Anya Von Bremzen's delightful Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing*. Chanakhi is a Georgian dish, said to have been Stalin's favorite. I've made it before and I plan to make it again for Easter. I usually do lamb for Easter and Chanakhi is a one-pot dish of lamb and vegetables. Lamb chops go in a pot with tomatoes, onions, potatoes and eggplant. I leave out the eggplant, not being a fan of that vegetable. The key to it is the liberal use of an herb mixture: equal parts cilantro, basil and Italian parsley. It perfumes the house like nothing else I've ever made. We don't have a Georgian restaurant in town so I don't know how close I am to the authentic dish, but damn it's good.

      So how 'bout it CUA-ers. I know there's a lot of foodies out there. Do you mess around with food from other countries ? Do you have family favorites from the Old Country ?

What's your favorite Ethnic Cuisine ?


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Fri Mar 06, 2015 at 04:00 PM PST

My Alma Mater

by Azazello

     I went on to do graduate work in 3-Cushion Billiards and Bar-Box 8-Ball, but I began my study of cue sports at a pool hall in a small Southern California town during the late 1960s.
I learned the game on archaic equipment and I experienced a pool hall culture that has now all but vanished. Click through if you're interested in an old man's reflections on a misspent youth.

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A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Are You a Consumer ?

      I am, I suppose. I guess we all are. We all have to buy stuff so that makes us all consumers, consumers with a small "c" anyway. You always hear that 70% of the US economy is consumer spending. I don't quite understand how something like that is even possible, much less sustainable, but that 70% makes us consumers pretty damned important. This is why they have to measure our sentiment and check our confidence. The University of Michigan publishes a Consumer Sentiment Index1 and you hear that mentioned every now and then, but the number that gets reported most often is Consumer Confidence. The Consumer Confidence Index2 is published by an outfit called The Conference Board3. I went to their website4 to check my confidence, it's down 7.4 points this month, and I found out that The Conference Board is undergoing some kind of restructuring. Here's a quote:

The continuing commitment of The Conference Board to providing insights on consumer attitudes and behaviors has led the organization to join forces with The Nielsen Company to create The Demand Institute™. As a result of this new direction, The Conference Board is phasing out the Consumer Research Center (CRC). Executives interested in the results of the Consumer Confidence Survey® and CEO Confidence Survey™ may continue to subscribe separately. Existing CRC members will have access to all data currently provided as a part of their membership until their subscription expires. We would like to thank our members for their continued support and valuable contributions.

Recently launched, The Demand Institute™ provides a broad range of consumer-related research and activities. The institute is focused on improving member’s ability to both sense and steer consumer demand, while providing a more holistic understanding of where global consumer demand is headed. Through access to tangible new performance opportunities, enhanced R&D methods and applied innovation, and the opportunity to strengthen capabilities and learn new skills, The Demand Institute™ is taking on work that few organizations have tackled. Please visit The Demand Institute™ for more information on membership.

     So now I guess it's The Demand Institute. Still sounds a little dodgy to me but apparently their research is considered quite scientific by many people. NPR reports their numbers every month. The phrase that caught my eye in the above quote was "... improving member's ability to both sense and steer consumer demand." I remember when gas prices dropped. I kept hearing in the media that consumers were saving billions on gas so that meant they would surely be buying more stuff. Maybe that's what they mean by steering consumer demand. It didn't work that well for me. I haven't really been buying more stuff, but then, I'm not a Consumer.

      Now, Consumer with a capital "C", that's something different. It's more like a culture, or a religion. I sure we don't have many of those here, most Consumers aren't really into politics. They don't see how it affects their lives. Like any other culture, the Consumer Culture has certain tenets or beliefs. These aren't written down but they exist. Consumers pick them up from watching television all their lives. Consumers believe, for example, that you are what you buy. That is, you express yourself through your stuff. This is sort of democratic in a way. You don't need any particular talents or abilities and you can be an impressive person just by buying impressive stuff. "That's why there's ..." How many times have you heard that ? Consumers believe that there's a product for every problem and dealing with life's difficulties is just a matter of making the correct purchasing decisions, buying the right stuff. Finally, there's a very troubling aspect of the Con Cult. It's fundamentally anti-democratic. Television operates on the audience delivery business model. The networks sell ad time to corporations based on the number of viewers, those viewers are the product being sold. This being the case, corporations, called companies because that's a less threatening term, are always portrayed in a positive light. Something like the Stockholm Syndrome5 sets in. Consumers see Big Business as a benevolent force in their lives, almost like an elder sibling. The average Consumer is OK with concentrated economic power and doesn't see it as a danger. They worry more about Big Government than Big Biz and never seem to consider that, unlike our government officials, we don't get to vote for corporate CEOs.

     So there's my little rant for this Tuesday morning. What's up with y'all, got any good links to share and...

Are You a Consumer ?

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