Sunday, October 21, 2018

3 things

"The last 2 years have taught us 3 things: 1) Just about everyone who was dismissed as an alarmist after the 2016 election was right. 2) A political party reveals what it really is when it thinks it can't be stopped. 3) Things move faster than you fear they will."
-Mark Harris

Blue

I dare say that the best quesadillas are blue.  My hand-made blue corn quesadilla came complete with grilled flor de calabazas y champignons (zucchini flower and mushrooms), covered in melted stringy quesilla and salsa roja.

At 30 pesos (~$1.50), it's also a stellar deal.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

On Sears

-How Sears subverted racism and Jim Crow through its mail-order catalogues:

"A lesser-known aspect of Sears’s 125-year history, however, is how the company revolutionized rural black Southerners’ shopping patterns in the late 19th century, subverting racial hierarchies by allowing them to make purchases by mail or over the phone and avoid the blatant racism that they faced at small country stores.

'What most people don’t know is just how radical the catalogue was in the era of Jim Crow,” Louis Hyman, an associate professor of history at Cornell University, wrote in a Twitter thread that was shared more than 7,000 times Monday in the wake of the news of Sears’s demise. By allowing African Americans in Southern states to avoid price gouging and condescending treatment at their local stores, he wrote, the catalogue “undermined white supremacy in the rural South.'"

-How Sears was brought down--not by Amazon or the internet, but by Vulture Capitalism:

"If you’ve been following the impending bankruptcy of America’s iconic retailer, as covered by print, broadcast, and digital media, you’ve probably encountered lots of nostalgia, and sad clucking about how dinosaurs like Sears can’t compete in the age of Amazon and specialty retail.

But most of the coverage has failed to stress the deeper story. Namely, Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private-equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete.

Part of the strategy is to sell off valuable real estate, the better to enrich the hedge fund, and stick the retail company with costly rental payments to occupy the space that it once owned."
-Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect

Thursday, October 18, 2018

On Imperialism

"I was in the Indian Police five years, and by the end of that time I hated the imperialism I was serving with a bitterness which I probably cannot make clear. In the free air of England that kind of thing is not fully intelligible. [. . .] From the most unexpected people, from ginpickled old scoundrels high up in the Government service, I have heard some such remark as: ‘Of course we’ve no right in this blasted country at all. Only now we’re here for God’s sake let’s stay here.’ The truth is that no modern man, in his heart of hearts, believes that it is right to invade a foreign country and hold the population down by force. Foreign oppression is a much more obvious, understandable evil than economic oppression. Thus in England we tamely admit to being robbed in order to keep half a million worthless idlers in luxury, but we would fight to the last man sooner than be ruled by Chinamen; similarly, people who live on unearned dividends without a single qualm of conscience, see clearly enough that it is wrong to go and lord it in a foreign country where you are not wanted.

The result is that every Anglo-Indian is haunted by a sense of guilt which he usually conceals as best he can, because there is no freedom of speech, and merely to be overheard making a seditious remark may damage his career. All over India there are Englishmen who secretly loathe the system of which they are part; and just occasionally, when they are quite certain of being in the right company, their hidden bitterness overflows. I remember a night I spent on the train with a man in the Educational Service, a stranger to myself whose name I never discovered. It was too hot to sleep and we spent the night in talking. Half an hour’s cautious questioning decided each of us that the other was ‘safe’; and then for hours, while the train jolted slowly through the pitch-black night, sitting up in our bunks with bottles of beer handy, we damned the British Empire—damned it from the inside, intelligently and intimately. It did us both good. But we had been speaking forbidden things, and in the haggard morning light when the train crawled into Mandalay, we parted as guiltily as any adulterous couple."
-George Orwell

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Monkey Business

Or how Lee Atwater setup Gary Hart and cost him his candidacy.  The world would have been a very different place otherwise.  I could spin a lotta what-ifs.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Pablo de Puebla cont.

I really had the perfect Puebla Sunday.

I spent the afternoon reading in the Zocalo, in front of the monumental city hall.  I read for a while on the wrought-iron park bench then felt like there were too many big red 'skeeters so I moved inward in the park.  I made my was to a section that the fence had been ripped and I could sit on lawn.  That was nice for a bit, but the carnival atmosphere was a little loud for good reading.

So I wandered into the cathedral to read in front of the gilded alter in silence.  Mary and the angels looked down from the giant canvas above as I read for a bit.

I returned back for a spell at the apartment to play with a cat.

Then wandered back out into the day's slowly fading light to sit under a giant white Baroque Jesuit church, where I read Don Quixote.

Then I wandered through the pastel Mercado de Sapos (Market of Frogs) through tables of knickknacks and past pastel edifices.

I later returned to hit up the local restaurant behind my block, El Patio, where I got arrachera (skirt steak) fajitas with frijoles, guacamole and giant grilled green onions.  The plate plus a beer cost me 100 pesos ($5)

In short, a great day in Puebla.

Pablo de Puebla

Sundays in Puebla are deliciously slow and lovely.

I went out wandering on the peatonal to find some street fare for lunch.  I stopped at two bubbling cauldrons of clay pots with dark and red liquids simmering. I couldn't pass up the Enchilladas de pollo con mole, so I got four rolled enchiladas swimming in the chocolate sauce, and covered with shredded lettuce, onions, crema and sesame seeds.  All for 25 pesos ($1.33).

After, I wandered up and down the peatonal in its Sunday carnival atmosphere.  Past families on a Sunday stroll; past clowns goofing for the kids; past all varieties of street food and crafts.

I wandered down to Avenida Reforma, the street closed off for Sunday strolling, and admired the spires and facades.  I slowly made my way back to the Zocalo, and admired the steeples and pastel fronts to the historic center.  I sat under the shade of the monumental City Hall, across from the copper-domed Gobierno de Estado building.

I sat drinking a double espresso from the Italian Coffee Company in the lush public square as I listened to whimsical klezmer melody emanate from the far portico.  Yes, Mexico has one klezmer band, not Jewish--found in Puebla (semi-H/T JU).

Because the world is wonderful, especially on a lovely sunny Sunday day with just enough white fluffy cloud cover to keep the temperatures perfect.

Someday, if I ever reach that ripe old age of retirement, my retirement spot will be Puebla.  For a while host of good reasons.  Until that day, I will enjoy my semi-retired state.

"They remain slaves because they can't see what is beautiful in this world.”
-Iqbal

Sunday Roundup

-The leading cause of climate change: billionaires

-How Saudi Arabia miscalculated on Khashoggi, and how Saudi is taunting Trump

-Pakistan is an adventure travel secret, something I can appreciate from visiting a decade ago.

-How American guns spur the immigration crisis in Latin America.

-The slow burn of Better Call Saul (spoiler warning)

-Americans want to believe that jobs are the cure for poverty.  They're not.

-The biggest myths of socialism

-The increase of medical tourism to Mexico.  On that note, I am stoked to visit the dentist this week for a whole 600 pesos ($30)

-A great ad from a new class of Dem women:



-And finally: I am sick and tired of being bullied for my extreme wealth

Museo Bello y Zetina

I had visited the immaculate Museo Bello y Gonzalez last week on a lark and random discovery.  I saw the museum, walked in to ask about--was told it was free and toured it.  I was blown away by its brilliance.  The museum held beautiful paintings, intricate decorative arts pieces and vibrant stained-glass ceilings. 

When I got home and told my friends about it, Emma asked: "Which Museo Bello?" 

I hadn't known there were two. 

But indeed there are, and today I visited the other Museo Bello, Museo Bello y Zetina.  It was literally just around the corner from me, so I wandered on over.  In a bright red but otherwise unnoticed building on the busy pedestrain 5 de Mayo street, I found my museum.

The security guard let me in to the bright building ringed with plants in talavera pottery on the top of the first floor.  The guests were outnumbered by museum staff, which was solely me.  I received entrance into the drawing room, and immediately knew I was in for a treat.

I had a guide on my tour of one, a young man named Roberto, who conducted the tour in Spanish.  I had a tour to myself to ask questions about the various works and treasures I was about to see.  And I had a museum Spanish class all to myself.

I can't begin to describe all of the wonders of this small museum.  It had exquisite paintings from masters throughout the ages, and a bevy of styles of work.  The collection held 15th century gothic works on through romantic impressions of the Bible to brilliant landscapes.  The collection was stellar. 

And meanwhile, there were incredible desks and furniture from all over the world that were simply breath-taking.  All sorts of rich porcelain.  Mother-of-pearl boxes and mahogany cabinets.

Oh, the clocks!  They were phenomenally impressive.  All sorts of gilded masterworks.

The sculptures that dotted the museum were sublime.  Bronze equestrian statues of Louis IV, and busts of bronzed Napoleon keep eye in the bedroom.


One of my favorites was this art nouveau piece called "Margarita" which was crafted from three materials: marble, ivory and bronze

It was simply immaculate.  My grandparents would have loved this place. 

The tour lasted perhaps 40 minutes.  I toured through the study with all sorts of old books and timepieces, and the bedroom in its stately glory.  My guide Roberto gave all sorts of wonderful insights to the works, and answered my questions.

And of course, I found my Quixote.  In the spectacular dining room, amid gryphon-carved mahogany cases and an ornate porcelain dining set.  I found a silver-statued knight-errant posing as a large cloth-holder.  On the reverse side was an unarmored Quixote making his way slowly on Rocinante's back.

The whole thing left me wandering out of the museum in a daze from the artistic tour-de-force I had just experienced.  Truly, the best small museums are like precious stones--condensing an immense amount of luxury and riches into a small vibrant space.

And best of all: it was free.  Yes, that incredible museum didn't cost me a peso.  It is perpetually entrada gratuito.

So who ever said the best things in life aren't free??  

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

On the wind

I first noticed how after it rains, the winds carry scents further and more distinctly when I was living in Los Angeles.  After the rare rain, I could smell the hint of rosemary on the wet air.

Later in Brooklyn, it was the smell of spices on the wet wind of what I discovered later was a spice factory behind my apartment.

Yet in Puebla, it is even more profound and tantalizing.  Down three floors, half a block away from me there is the Taquieria Los Angeles.  On wet rainy nights, the smell of meat roasting on a spit, of tacos arabe cooking, wafts down the block and paints the wind with the succulent smell of roasting carne.

And all I can do is drool.

Biblioteca Palofaxiana

In the historic and eternal Biblioteca Palofaxiana, the first public library in Latin America:

People of Puebla
You are right in believing that I am with you
It is not France making war on you. It is the empire.
I am with you. You and I battle the empire. You in your homeland. I in exile.
Fight on, battle and be terrible, and if you think that my name can somewhat help you, use it. Aim at that man's head with the bullets of freedom.
Brave men of Mexico. Resist.
The Republic is with you and waves over your heads the flag of France with its rainbow and the American flag with its stars.
Await. Your heroic resistance is supported by the law and in your favor is the certainty of justice.
The attempt on the Mexican Republic carries the attempt on the French Republic.
One ambush completes the other. The empire will fail on its infamous intention, that I believe.
And you will win. But either way whether you win or be defeated, France will continue to be your sister, sister in your glory or your misery.
And I whose name you call will tell you again that I am with you. If you shall win I offer you my fraternity as a citizen.
If you shall be defeated I offer you my fraternity as an outlaw.
----
Habitantes de Puebla:

Teneis razon en creerme con vosotros
No os haec la Guerra Francia-es el imperio,
Estoy con vosotros, vosotros y yo combatimos contra
El Imperio. Vosotros en vuestra patria, y yo en el destierro.
“Luchad, combatid, sed terribles y, si creeis que mi nombre
os puede servir de algo, aprovechadle, apuntad a ese
hombre a la cabeza co el proyectil de la libertad.
“Valientes hombres de Mexico, resitid.
La Republica esta con vosotros y hace, ondear sobre
vuestras cabezas la bandera de France con su
arcoiris y la bandera de America con sus estrellas.
Esperad. Vuestra heroica resistencia se apya en
el Derecho y tience en favor la certidumbre de la Justicia
El atentado contra la Republica Mexica,
continuea el atentado contra la Republica Francesa.
Una emboscada, completa la otra. El imperio
fracasara en esa tenativa infame adi lo creo,
Y vosotros vencereis. Pero ya venzais o ya seais
vencidos, la Francia continuara siendo vuestra hermana,
Hermana de vuestra gloria y vuestro infortunio,
y yo ua que apelais a mi nombre os repito
que estoy con vosotros; si sois vencedores;
os ofrezco mi fraternidad de ciudadano,
si sois vencido, mi fraternidad de proscrito.
-Victor Hugo

And hanging just next to his words was the bronzed face of the poet-titan. A bronze funerary mask of Victor Hugo himself. I stared from every angle at the great poet in his eternal slumber. His closed eyes. His copper beard. His angular nose.

And on his opposite was President Benito Juarez, himself. His Zapotec face and prominent cheekbones recorded for eternal posterity.

And inside the illustrious Biblioteca Palofaxiana, which dates back to 1646:

A three-tiered masterpiece of mahogany library. Intricately carved mahogany swirls and flourishes, guarding old tomes of wisdom. Humanitates. Jus Civile Universum.

On the gilded alter to the baroque goddess of knowledge, in the form of the Virgin Mary.  Above her a winged St. Thomas Aquinas with quill.

Vaulted white ceiling ribbed in gold trim with ornate giant bronze rosettes.

Hard-back book, black with gilded trim, lining their mahogany cages.

Mahogany baroque door pieces in dark wooden swirls and flourishes, and ornage mahogany bridges leading around the room.. Wooden koterets crowning the top of the library shelves.

The air of ancient books. You know that smell. It is intoxicating.

Over a talavera-squared tile floor.

And through another museum of religious items and model of the Cathedral of Puebla.  After garnering a bit of knowledge on that structure, I wandered my way over to the beautiful Cathedral, past statues of Saints Peter and Paul guarding the baroque facade doorway.

Although I can sometimes feel that if you-have-seen-one-cathedral biz, but Puebla's cathedral is special.  It is a bit more unique than most.  It's enormous cupolas are crowned with giant bronzed rosettes.  Its alter is awe-inspiring and its gilded mantle piece is a vision of angelic splendor.

Puebla, the original City of Angels, is really capturing me.

Ocean

"I have known the ocean since ages
before the gods and the demons made it simple.

In the glare of the mythic fire, I have seen the waters.
The fire and the dampness can not be separated.
To become wet and to burn is the same thing.

When I come out of the ocean's floor
I won't have a handful of pearls.

I am not a diver.
I am a poet.
Whatever I have is there only in my eyes."
-
Sitanshu Yashaschandra

Cemita de Puebla

I went out for a Friday lunch in the Mercado de Cinco de Mayo.  Really, you reach the market on the outdoor street leading up to it.  There are stands and carts of fresh-caught mojarra, langostinos y camarones (red snapper, lobsters and shrimp) on their final resting bed of ice.  And stands selling various fruits and vegetables leading up to the large market.

I entered in the carneceria, past hog heads hanging on hooks with branches of herbs hanging out of their closed mouths.  Piggy eyes staring back, with death's smile on their snouts.  Some piggies were so fresh, they still had slight trails of blood dripping out their snouts.

I did my light shopping business, and then got down to lunch for a cemita.

Cemitas are one of Puebla's greatest contributions to this great culinary world.  It is a giant brioche bun with seeds on top.  In the middle are layers of tomato, avocado, frijoles and a fresh-fried milaneza de pollo (thin Mexican shnitzel) covered with layers of stringy quesillo and chipolte peppers, topped with the secret ingredient: the herb popole.  

The stringy quesillo cheese mixes with the tomato, rich avocado and the delicious fried chicken, and the popole gives the sandwich an earthy green flavor than balances out all the over tastes. It is phenomenal, and perhaps one of the best sandwiches on the planet--not a comment I make or take lightly but borne out of a lot of miles and meals.

The variety served in the market, which I had a the little corner shop, came out literally the size of my head.  I am not exaggerating when I say it was as large as two fists.  

It was phenomenal, and I couldn't possibly eat it all so I have the last quarter waiting for me for dinner.

Next time I do battle, I will have to bring my camera.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

El Viejo Quixote

I had been eyeing an old restaurant on my block, El Viejo Rosario, but when I popped my head in I knew immediately where this knight-errant was eating his evening fare.



And the Enchiladas a la Mexicana, enchiladas de pollo, covered in red and green salsas and slathered with crema in gastrodiplomacy homage to the Mexican flag, were muy bien.

Mexican Matinee

I went to catch a Mexican Matinee today, a showing of Venom.  It only cost me 25 pesos for the midday show, $1.32.  Heck, it was so economical that I splurged for candy and soda, which set me back more than the ticket.  A bag of peanut M&Ms cost more at 30 pesos ($1.58) and the medium (yet still enormous) coke to wash it down cost me 47 pesos ($2.48).  Viva Mexico.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Musica

I'm pretty sure there is a Jazz band practicing on the floor below me.

They were playing Afro-Cuban Jazz earlier. Slow and sultry.

Now it is more of a Latin Jazz, with a mambo beat dancing with the music.

They are stellar.

Encore.

On Self Interest

"I know it makes folk uncomfortable to ponder this thought, but I’m sick and fucking tired of people asking “why do they vote against their self interest” as if maintaining racism as an institution isn’t a self interest or these voters’ primary electoral motivation."
-Propane Jane

Trump Made the USFL Great Again

A great piece on Trump's role in tanking the USFL. Where past is prologue.

H/t Abba

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Tyranny of the Minority

"There is an irony here: When they were writing it, the authors of our Constitution were worried about the tyranny of the majority, not the tyranny of a minority. But two centuries after the fact, they have achieved the opposite effect. If the coming midterm elections do not reverse at least one and preferably both of the houses of Congress, that minority will have two years to entrench its power further, through gerrymandering, voter registration laws, court appointments, even changes to electoral law. And then all bets are off as to whether minority rule can ever be reversed."
-Anne Applebaum,"It’s official: Americans are living under the rule of a minority

Justice, justice you shant pursue

Israeli politics is filled with some pretty awful individuals, but Ayelet Shaked rises to the top of that sordid crowd like a log in a porcelain bowl.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Museum of Disgusting Food

Yes, it really exists and yes I need to visit Sweden's Disgusting Food Museum.  I would def try everything in that museum. And a couple I already have.

When I lived in Taiwan I was on a quest to find the stinkiest of the stinky tofu. It was not pretty....

 And I happen to really like durian. It tastes like a pungent custardy melon.

Staying Angry

The Supreme Court’s legitimacy is in tatters. Conservative forces in the country, led by the Republican Party, have completed a judicial coup, decades in the making.

Republicans rushed through Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about one other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

The conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.


The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

Bush then appointed two staunch conservatives to the court: John G. Roberts Jr. (one of Bush’s legal foot-soldiers in Florida) as chief justice as well as Samuel A. Alito Jr.

More recently, Senate Republicans kept the late Antonin Scalia’s seat open for more than a year, refusing Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee, either a hearing or a vote. Neil M. Gorsuch, a far more conservative jurist, took the seat instead.

Now comes Kavanaugh. In blocking Garland, Republicans said it was urgent to wait until after the 2016 election to let the voters speak. They rushed Kavanaugh through to get him onto the court before the voters could speak in 2018. When power is all that matters, consistency is for suckers.

In the process, the White House turned the FBI investigation of Ford’s claims and Kavanaugh’s (questionable) credibility into a whitewash. Donald McGahn, the White House counsel and Kavanaugh’s leading advocate, told President Trump, as the New York Times put it, that a “wide-ranging inquiry . . . would be potentially disastrous for Judge Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation.” You wonder what McGahn thought it would find.

There is also this: A generations-long conservative majority on the court has been cemented in place by a political minority. Kavanaugh was named by a president who won 46 percent of the popular vote and confirmed by senators representing 44 percent of the population. When you lack a majority, controlling the branch of government not subject to the voters is vital to working your will. Democracy is all that opponents of the coup have left. In next month’s elections, the party responsible for this travesty must be punished. The idea that “both parties are equally to blame” is an unadulterated falsehood."
-E.J. Dionne, "We need to stay angry about Kavanaugh"

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Pozole Sunday & gastrodiplomacy round-up

Image result for Pozole chapala
Pic not mine, but it is an image from restaurant
After a shitty weekend watching news from America, I went out this Sunday night for some Mexican comfort food in the form of pozolePozole is a Mexican chicken soup dish dates back to pre-Colombian times*.  It is a chicken soup that would make my bubbe blush over its rich flavors.  It is a savory chicken soup with giant hominy kernels and shredded chicken--covered with shredded lettuce and radish slices.  It is then topped with squeezed limes, some oregano and chile pepper powder.  It comes with a side of crispy fried tostadas.  The soup was warm, rich and flavorful and the perfect comfort food antidote to the news.  And not bad at all at 58 pesos (~$3).

After the filling bowl of soup, I grabbed some streetside flan that would have made my father jealous.  The fellow carved it out of its glass container and turned it upside down onto a plastic tray for me to enjoy the creme caramel dessert.  I sat on a stop of the busy peatonal as I watched families walk by in the carnival atmosphere as I ate the flan delight.  It was also a steal at 15 pesos (~75c).

*(holy sh-t, I just saw read in wikipedia that they used to cook up prisoners after their hearts were cut out in ritual sacrifice and stewed with the hominy to make the original stuff.  That is some serious gastro-cannibalism.  And as always, #tasteslikechicken [ty BirdLawyer]).

On that note, some gastrodiplomacy stories of interest:

-How salt played a major role in the US Civil War

-Before food trucks, there were wagon carts for "night lunch"

-Where to get Swedish moose cheese

-Roast Imperialist Duck

-And finally, your moment of zen: Drunk Orson Welles doing a champagne commercial 

Praying and Acting

"Pray as if everything depended on God. 
Act as if everything depended on you."
-Ferdinand Isserman, from Mishkan T’filah

H/t RG

Requiem for the Supreme Court

"The debate and the vote that followed the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing were not about the court, not about the law; they were about the Republican Party. They were about teaching the rest of us that we cannot refuse what Trump and McConnell want. They were a demonstration that in the new order there is no individual, no norm, no institution not subject to the control of the ruling party,"
 - Constitutional law professor Garrett Epps, "Requiem for the Supreme Court"

And a PS: "Kavanaugh fight revealed how badly U.S. democracy is broken. Here is how to fix it."

sunday news roundup

Some news and op-eds from the last couple of weeks:

-President Hillary Clinton's op-ed on America's democracy in crisis, which is blinking even brighter today.

-How the GOP prompted the decay of political norms

-And some insight into the Right's endgame: a minority that suppresses the majority.

-Behind the curtains, a depressed American economy: wages are low and workers are scarce, pointing to a depressed economic underbelly.

-The dangerous myth of Horatio Alger: escaping economic inequality in America requires two decades of doing nothing wrong. 

-And the false promise of meritocracy

- A look back at the plunder that was the Louisiana Purchase 

-Heading further south, a look at the ongoing unrest in Nicaragua

-Heading over to the Middle East, a look at how Assad won the Syrian civil war, and helped create ISIS to do it.

-Finally, a look back at ghosts of the Algerian War, and how France is finally starting to discuss the atrocities. 

PS: Something rotten in Denmark: a heist of enormous proportions.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

'Murica

Well sh-t, K-as-in-keg was just confirmed.

He happened to be appointed by a President that received less votes, confirmed by Senators representing less half of Americans and opposed by most Americans.  Four of the five majority were put on the court by presidents who lost the popular vote. 

A reminder that America's two party system is a sham. 

Good ol' Professor Zinn has a stirring reminder from a decade prior about why the Supreme Court is sh-t too.

A leading historian on Nazi Germany has a stellar piece on the suffocation of American democracy and the parallels to the Nazi rise. And Vox has a shorter take but good commentary on this perspective.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On Cruz

NYTimes (Conservative) columnist Brett Stephens on Ted Cruz

"Because he’s like a serpent covered in Vaseline. Because he treats the American people like two-bit suckers in 10-gallon hats. Because he sucks up to the guy who insulted his wife — by retweet, no less. Because of his phony piety and even phonier principles. Because I see him as the spiritual love child of the 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.” Because his ethics are purely situational. Because he makes Donald Trump look like a human being by comparison. Because “New York values.” Because his fellow politicians detest him, and that’s just among Republicans. Because he never got over being the smartest kid in eighth grade. Because he’s conniving enough to try to put one over you, but not perceptive enough to realize that you see right through him. Because he’s the type of man who would sell his family into slavery if that’s what it took to get elected. And that he would use said slavery as a sob story to get himself re-elected."

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Street side ceviche > gas station sushi cont.

This would be the freshest, tastiest ceviche tostadas, slathered in agua de chile. From the cart of Doña Tere, and perhaps the best deal on the planet at 12 pesos (65cents) a pop.

Para ti, Doña Jenna.

Rich and Poor

"To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there's more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged."
-Norman Mailer

"How can you expect a man who's warm to understand one who's cold?" 
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"Nothing is so hard for those who abound in riches, as to conceive how others can be in want." 
-Jonathan Swift

"Wouldn't you think some sociologist would have done a comparative study by now to prove, as I have always suspected, that there is a higher proportion of Undeserving Rich than Undeserving Poor?" 
-Molly Ivins  

H/T Dr. Mardy

¨And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to real history and know the great fact: when property accumulates in the hands of too few it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies sent to catch the murmurings of revolt so that it might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored, and the only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on.¨
-John Steinbeck, ¨The Grapes of Wrath¨

To that end, Society rests on three pillars: Government, Private Sector and Labor. The three are meant to keep each other in check, and not let one sector run away with all the societal gains. But in America, the Private Sector has carried out a decades-long oligarchic propaganda campaign to emasculate Government and Labor so that the Iron Heel can run wild. There are consequences that the oligarchs all over will pay.

But keeping with Steinbeck, who arrived also via Brain Pickings this morning:

"In every bit of honest writing in the world… there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other."
-John Steinbeck, "Of Mice and Men"

 “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up,”
 -John Steinbeck

Worlds Apart

"When I was nine years old, the world, too, was nine years old. At least, there was no difference between us, no opposition, no distance. We just tumbled around from sunrise to sunset, earth and body as alike as two pennies. And there was never a harsh word between us, for the simple reason that there were no words at all between us; we never uttered a word to each other, the world and I. Our relationship was beyond language—and thus also beyond time. We were one big space (which was, of course, a very small space)."
-Inger Christensen, "The Condition of Secrecy" in Harper's Mag Sept '18

Saturday, September 22, 2018

District of....

"Compared with any US state, Washington, D.C. is considerably denser in psychopaths."
-Harper's Magazine, "Findings" in Sept '18

Why Fascists Never Think They’re Fascists — but Victims and Heroes

"Fascists never think they are fascists. A fascist never thinks of himself or herself as a “fascist”, anything at all carrying a negative or malicious connotation. They think of themselves, first, as victims. Victims of great and grand conspiracies — the Jews, the Muslims, the Mexicans. Those behind these conspiracies are not regular people — they are especially cunning and vicious especially greedy and unscrupulous, especially seditious and slothful, especially bad. They are especially powerful, in other words. They have the power to completely destroy the way of the life, the whole existence, of the person being victimized."
-Umair Haque, "The psychology of neo-fascism"

Flying the unfriendly skies...

"The carriers argue that the marketplace should decide minimum seat size, not the government, an argument that takes off from specious and lands at ludicrous. Four domestic carriers rule about 70 percent of the market. They are not moved by market forces, because they are the market. United, Southwest, Delta and American are more motivated by Wall Street, whose executives fly in private jets or in business class and don’t tolerate profit-trimming niceties."
-NYTimes Editorial Board, "Are airlines sure we can flee planes fast? No way."

H/T JB

Friday, September 21, 2018

Leaving Guadalajara, starting Vacay

Working backwards....

Friday morning, I packed up and said my goodbyes to my new friends before hopping a rickety bus back to the Central Nueva station back out of town. I arrived around 11:30am, and there was a bus an hour later out on Primera Plus to La Penita de Jaltemba, a city where I could catch a connecting bus to San Pancho.

So killed an hour, grabbing some fried flautas de pollo in a spot near the bus station.  The bus arrived and left without issue, and again was quite nice.

The Mexican buses, while not cheap, are very nice.  Full reclining seats, leg rests, TVs on the back of the chair in front with scores of movies and programs to watch, and a power outlet below the seat.  There are even separate bathrooms for women and men in the back of the bus.

So I rode out of Guadalajara and across the verdant Mexican countryside.  Rolling green hills and cliffs dotted with cacti.  We passed fields upon fields of blue agave, growing for tequila.

The ride was pretty and otherwise uneventful.  We cross from the central region to the lush, sweltering coasts.  I arrived to Penita, to a world gone sweltering.

I hopped off my bus and made my way to the next bus stop.  Lucky for me, the bus was arriving just as I got there so I quickly got the last ticked and hopped another bus for 30-40 minutes until it dropped me just outside San Francisco aka San Pancho.  Why Pancho?  Pancho is a nickname for Francisco (see under: Pancho Villa, whose original name was Francisco)

I made my way down Avenida Tercer Mundo until I found the Hostel San Pancho.  I quickly dropped my stuff at the chilled-out hostel, and headed straight down towards the beach to watch the first of many sunsets into the Pacific.  The sun set a rusted golden-pink, that faded into burnt mandarin afterglow.  It was beautiful.

After managing to find some dinner at a non-touristy restaurant, I made my way back out to the beach to watch the lighting flash through the night sky.  The rush of the waters with the light of lighting on the beach and the heavens growled was auspiciously incredible, and a quick verification that I had come to the right place.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Wandering Jew on Yom K

I am a long way from any synagogue so I cast my sins into the Pacific Ocean with a swim in its warm, forgiving waters.

They say the Pacific has no memory; no better way to Fast my way to a blank slate for the years to come.

And I got to share some memories in the sea, with a random appearance of a hostel friend from Guadalajara.  A fellow wayfarer indeed, who had brought along a Canadian pair.

I Fasted until I watched the sun set gold, orange and pink into the watery horizon.  Then I broke my Fast at the stellar corner spot La Loncheria Chuyita with a sinchronizada (think a quesadilla-layered sandwich) of chicken, avocado, melted cheese and chiles.  With all sorts of salsas de chile and chipolte mayo squeezed under the tortilla hood, it was a gooey mess. I washed it down with a fresh- squeezed limonada.

For dessert, I found some homemade arroz con leche that was spiced with cinnamon and its stick, topped with a gigante dried ciruela (plum).

I have definitely had worse Yom Kippurs.....

Solsbury

And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free...