Random thoughts, and Twitter, on National Coffee Day

September 29, 2016

Found at Your Lighter Side Blog, 2014.

Found at Your Lighter Side Blog, 2014.

It’s a commercial and wag-created day of note, National Coffee Day. It’s not declared by Congress in a memorial resolution, nor honored by the President with a proclamation.

Doesn’t mean we can’t have fun

September 29 is National Coffee Day, or in many corners of the internet, #NationalCoffeeDay.

A few Twitterized thoughts.

Driving between Duncanville, Texas, and Appleton, Wisconsin, on one of those “visit the kid at college” trips, we encountered this truck. Despite its hopeful sign, it really carried gasoline, sort of a visual pun on coffee, I suppose.

We collect coffee mugs — not always consciously. They add up. There’s a story behind each mug pictured.

The nice oak racks were handcrafted by Kathryn’s father, Ken Knowles. Two of the racks hold 23 mugs, and a third holds 20. We also have a high shelf that holds the overflow mugs, including the seasonal favorites that get rotated in at appropriate times, like the Dracula and witch mugs for Halloween.

I used to be a tea guy. Off at college I didn’t take much pleasure in the cup o’ joe offered by the Huddle or Student Union at at the University of Utah (though I drank my share). Teas other than Lipton started showing up in small shops, Celestial Seasonings started up and took off. I had a variety of tea infusers, and cleaning the smaller tea paraphernalia was always easier than keeping up with a coffee pot or a Mr. Coffee with two years of rancid coffee oils built up on parts of the device.

Out in New York with the L. A. Jonas Foundation’s Camp Rising Sun (CRS), I ran into Greg Marley from Albuquerque (yeah, the irony), and we swapped methods and stories of brewing teas way out in the Southwestern deserts, where local “weeds” offered a variety of great things to supplement teas. They don’t call that plant “Mormon tea” without reason, you know? At CRS I often partook of Mama Glenn’s stout percolated brews, for the incredible caffeine jolts they offered. Mama Glenn always used sweetened condensed milk to lighten it, and if you tried it black, you understood why.

I’ve driven the length and width of the nation, had coffee over campfires, in diners and luxury hotels, in every state except Maine, North Dakota, Alaska and Hawaii. I’ve awakened to those tiny cups of dark, heavy Scandinavian brews in Denmark and Sweden; spent most of a week with English breakfast coffees and that infernal heated milk they lighten with. Tried some thick muds in Monterrey and Nogales, Mexico, and had pretty good cups from Vancouver to Toronto — coffee is almost always better in the mountains, by the way.

Tea still catches my fancy often, especially if I don’t want caffeine. But coffee is my drink of choice.

I was fortunate enough to get a trip to Seattle in the near-early days of the rise of the Northwest coffee culture that gave rise to Starbucks. In town for the Computer-Aided Manufacturing – International (CAM-I) convention (does the group still exist?), corporate consultant extraordinaire Roger Beynon and I sampled coffee all over town, and I knew things were looking up.

The successes of Peet’s, and the dramatic spread of Starbucks, put pressure on almost all commercial coffee sellers to step up their games. In most towns in America today, in most supermarkets, you can buy a very good cup of coffee or the beans and accoutrements to brew one on your own.

A couple of years ago son James and his wife Michelle took me to the weekly Friday fest in Louisville, Colorado. We had a grand night listening to the band, whose name I forget, and arguing with a couple of cheeky libertarians posing as the local Republican Party. On the way out, about 10:00 p.m. we stumbled on a woman brewing coffee in a Chemex drip, and giving out samples. What fortune!

The woman was Neige LaRue, proprieter of Snow Street Coffee, a roasting company. The coffee was an Ethiopian bean, Yirga Cheffe. It’s a medium roast, where I usually prefer a darker roast.

But that coffee! It was sweet, hot, aromatic, with only tasty hints of bitterness — struck me at the time as the best cup of coffee I’d ever had. Several pounds later, I think it still holds up, though Ms. LaRue can brew it better in her Chemex than I can in our Melitta (Kathryn’s brewing is better than mine, and I swear we do it exactly the same). In any case, I highly recommend it.

We may rankle at its corporateness, and its ubiquity, but Starbucks still does a good job of brewing a good cup. They’ve also changed how we think of coffee houses in America, and maybe around the world. I’m disappointed they don’t carry music CDs anymore. And I really wish they’d bring back that much maligned bit of putting controversial quotes on their cups. A hundred times I’ve wished I had a thousand of cup #289 in their “The Way I See It” series:


469 days Trump hides taxes from American voters

September 28, 2016

Russian-built UAZ 469 is one of the few, almost-successful vehicles to come out of Russia. This model cover illustrates it in military mode, familiar to NATO forces opposing these vehicles in Bosnia and Eastern Europe. American voters worry that Trump will work to bring these vehicles to the U.S., either as competition to U.S. car makers, or in some enforcement action by his friend Vladimir Putin. Details to be found in Trump's tax returns, which fittingly are 469 days overdue today. Mac Distribution image

Russian-built UAZ 469 is one of the few, almost-successful vehicles to come out of Russia. This model cover illustrates it in military mode, familiar to NATO forces opposing these vehicles in Bosnia and Eastern Europe. American voters worry that Trump will work to bring these vehicles to the U.S., either as competition to U.S. car makers, or in some enforcement action by his friend Vladimir Putin. Details to be found in Trump’s tax returns, which unfittingly are 469 days overdue today. Mac Distribution image

Wednesday, September 28 is the 469th day of Republican candidate for president Donald Trump’s hiding of his tax returns from American voters.

What does he have to hide from voters? There are several possibilities.

  • Trump may be trying to hide income from America’s enemies, or from other foreign sources that are a powerful conflict of interest with U.S. security; his campaign team is riddled with veterans of campaigns for or by Russia’s junta leader Vladimir Putin.
  • Trump may be trying to hide fantastic claims of wealth, not borne out by reported income. He would hate to confess that his business dealings are not so successful as he shouts.
  • Trump may want to hide that he gives little to no money to charity, nor to support any church. Trump has no ties to any church, though most of his supporters would disqualify anyone else who lacked such ties.
  • Trump may want to hide that he uses charities to launder income, and to do political favors. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold carefully documents daily revelations on Trump’s misuse and abuse of charities and tax laws to hide income and to purchase trinkets for his friends. The series started when Fahrenthold tried, unsuccessfully, to document Trump’s having donated to veterans’ charities a reported $6 million Trump had claimed to raise, at an event back in February.

It’s astounding Republicans did not check Trump out better during the primary season, an indication of the poor quality of the field of candidates fielded on the GOP side.

Tell Donald Trump to come clean, to confess, to stop hiding from the American people essential information we need to decide for whom to vote.

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NASA's secret X37-B spent 469 days on a secret space mission. But it ended after 469 days. It's time for Trump to end his 469-days of secrecy, hiding crimes and wrongdoing in his taxes. Release the taxes, Trump. NASA image

NASA’s secret X37-B spent 469 days on a secret space mission. But it ended after 469 days. It’s time for Trump to end his 469-days of secrecy, hiding crimes and wrongdoing in his taxes. Release the taxes, Trump. NASA image

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History in cartoons: Joseph Keppler on the need for the 17th Amendment

September 26, 2016

From the Historian of the U.S. Senate, a Joseph Keppler cartoon from Puck Magazine,

From the Historian of the U.S. Senate, a Joseph Keppler cartoon from Puck Magazine, “The Making of a Senator.” Print by J. Ottmann Lith. Co. after Joseph Keppler, Jr., Puck. Lithograph, colored, 1905-11-15. Image with text measurement Height: 18.50 inches (46.99 cm) Width: 11.50 inches (29.21 cm) Cat. no. 38.00624.001

This is a lithograph after a cartoon by Joseph Keppler in Puck Magazine, November 15, 1905. Keppler’s cartoons kept on the heat for some legislative solution to continuing corruption in state legislatures and the U.S. Senate, driven by the ability of large corporations and trusts to essentially purchase entire states’ legislatures, and tell legislators who to pick for the U.S. Senate.

Described by the Historian of the U.S. Senate:

The “people” were at the bottom of the pile when it came to electing U.S. senators, when Joseph Keppler, Jr.’s cartoon, “The Making of a Senator, ” appeared in Puck on November 15, 1905. Voters elected the state legislatures, which in turn elected senators. Keppler depicted two more tiers between state legislatures and senators: political bosses and corporate interests. Most notably, he drew John D. Rockefeller, Sr., head of the Standard Oil Corporation, perched on moneybags, on the left side of the “big interests. ”

This cartoon appeared while muckraking magazine writers such as Ida Tarbell and David Graham Phillips were accusing business of having corrupted American politics. The muckrakers charged senators with being financially beholden to the special interests. Reformers wanted the people to throw off the tiers between them and directly elect their senators–which was finally achieved with ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913.

Recent scuttlebutt about repealing the 17th Amendment seems to me wholly unconnected from the history. The 17th Amendment targeted corruption in the Senate and states. It largely worked, breaking the course of money falling from rich people and large corporations into the hands of everyone but the people, and breaking the practice of corporate minions getting Senate seats, to do the bidding of corporations and trusts.

Anti-corruption work was part of the larger Progressive Agenda, which included making laws that benefited people, such as clean milk and food, pure drugs, and banking and railroad regulation so small farmers and businessmen could make a good living. Probably the single best symbol of the Progressive movement was “Fighting Bob” LaFollette, Congressman, Governor and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. LaFollette was a great supporter of the 17th Amendment

Again from the Senate Historian:

Nicknamed “Fighting Bob,” La Follette continued to champion Progressive causes during a Senate career extending from 1906 until his death in 1925. He strongly supported the 17th Amendment, which provided for the direct election of senators, as well as domestic measures advocated by President Woodrow Wilson’s administration, including federal railroad regulation and laws protecting workers rights. La Follette worked to generate wider public accountability for the Senate. He advocated more frequent and better publicized roll call votes and the publication of information about campaign expenditures.

Criticism of the 17th Amendment runs aground when it analyzes the amendment by itself, without reference to the democracy- and transparency-increasing components from the rest of the Progressive movements’ legislative actions from 1890 to 1930.

No one favors corruption and damaging secrecy in politics. By pulling the 17th out of context, critics hope to persuade Americans to turn back the clock to more corrupt times.

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Timely encore: Middle East politics explained in six short paragraphs

September 26, 2016

On Twitter, I’ve been bombarded by Trumpettes who claim Hillary Clinton did something dastardly and evil in the Middle East when she was Secretary of State, or maybe as U.S. Senator from New York, or maybe as First Lady of Arkansas (tough to remember exactly when, apparently).

These accusers point to some mess in Syria, or Libya, or Saudi Arabia, or East Gotchastan, which they claim was a total mess advocated solely by Clinton who then mustered the Pentagon and State Department to “go to undeclared and illegal war” by going over the head of the President of the United States and Jesus, and personally directing war crimes. In each case, the accusers point out that the Middle East was a calm backwater before Mrs. Clinton, with 100 years of peace broken up only by her perfidy.

It would be amusing, were it not so that many of these people are not Trumpbots posting from Lithuania. Some people believe those stories. They don’t know. They do NOT know. They have so little clue about what really goes on in the world.

Their answer attempts demonstrate they don’t anything about conflict in the Middle East.

Fortunately, a concerned Londoner provided a thorough primer on who is who in the Middle East, who are our friends and enemies, in only six short paragraphs.

Seven paragraphs, if one counts the cheery close.

Letter to the editor of a London newspaper (trying to track that down), explaining who is who and who is whose enemy, in the Middle East.

Letter to the editor of the Financial Times of London, explaining who is who and who is whose enemy, in the Middle East. August 22, 2013, captured by Randy Prine

A woman named Randy Prine (@RandyPrine) Tweeted this photo, and said:

THIS is why we Voted for an analytical and not ‘shoot from the hip’ McCain or ‘How can I make money’ Romney.

Most of the ObamaH8ers I run into can be stopped on almost all Middle East issues simply by asking them whether the group they rant at, at that moment, is Sunni or Shiite.  For some odd reason, they never know.

Text of the letter [which may be behind a paywall, though you might be able to get free with registration] (links added here, for your convenience):

From Mr. K N Al-Sabah.

Sir,

Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!

Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.

But Gulf states are pro-Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!

Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!

Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the US!

Gulf states are pro-US. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro-Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi.  And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.

K N Al-Sabah
London EC4, UK

That clears up a lot, doesn’t it?

Would another perspective help?

A fellow named Richard Alan Jones posted a similar piece on Facebook. In response to an earlier post, qhite a few people pointed ultimately to Jones’s work.

Richard Alan Jones on Middle East politics

More Richard Alan Jones on Middle East Politics

Politics, and especially relations between nations, in the Middle East are messy, on a good day.  Hillary Clinton didn’t start any war in the Middle East, but instead worked to keep the U.S. out of war, holding to that grand old piece of advice that one of the classic blunders a nation may make is getting involved in a land war in Asia, or Asia Minor or Near Asia in this case.

Hillary Clinton tried to fix it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is scheming, and not to be trusted.

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Typewriter of the moment, and cold: Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard

September 25, 2016

Wikipedia caption: Polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard in front of his typewriter in the Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans (Ross Island, Antarctica). August 30, 1911. British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 (Ponting Collection)

Wikipedia caption: Polar explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard in front of his typewriter in the Terra Nova hut at Cape Evans (Ross Island, Antarctica). August 30, 1911. British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 (Ponting Collection)

Even in the Antarctic, scientists and explorers need to write their findings down. A typewriter was the state-of-the-art tool in 1911. Here we see Apsley Cherry-Garrard with his typewriter, on expedition.

Cherry-Garrard probably used that machine to write the notes, if not the actual text, for his account of the expeditionThe Worst Journey in the World:

The Worst Journey in the World is a memoir of the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott. It was written and published in 1922 by a member of the expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, and has earned wide praise for its frank treatment of the difficulties of the expedition, the causes of its disastrous outcome, and the meaning (if any) of human suffering under extreme conditions.

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Trump Tax Chainsaw Massacre, Day 465

September 24, 2016

Husqvarna Rancher 465 chain saw, an appropriate symbol of Trump's chainsaw disregard for voters.:Trump Chainsaw Massacre of facts, transparency, and voter trust. Husqvarna image.

Husqvarna Rancher 465 chain saw, an appropriate symbol of Trump’s chainsaw disregard for voters.:Trump Chainsaw Massacre of facts, transparency, and voter trust. Husqvarna image.

Saturday, September 25, marks 465 Days since Donald Trump entered the race for the presidency with a promise to release his taxes so voters could tell he’s honest.

465 days of Trump breaking that promise. He’s stiffed voters so hard and so long, he’d probably like to have a chainsaw to scare reporters and voters away from his taxes, perhaps a Husqvarna Rancher 465.

Road sign for U.S. Interstate 465. I-465 rings the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, Loop 465, the USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway. The loop has a perimeter of 53 miles; at a mile a day, one could have walked Loop 465 nearly nine times contemplating each day of Trump's broken promise.

Road sign for U.S. Interstate 465. I-465 rings the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, Loop 465, the USS Indianapolis Memorial Highway. The loop has a perimeter of 53 miles; at a mile a day, one could have walked Loop 465 nearly nine times contemplating each day of Trump’s broken promise, since he started his campaign.

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Janelle’s story, why she’s voting for Hillary Clinton

September 22, 2016

Just watch.

What do you think?

When a good woman like Hillary Clinton runs for president, doesn’t she deserve your support? She’s got the back of so many people, and works for millions more.

Clinton’s campaign biography:

ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON
Hillary Clinton has served as Secretary of State, Senator from New York, First Lady of the United States, First Lady of Arkansas, a practicing lawyer and law professor, activist, and volunteer, but the first things her friends and family will tell you is that she’s never forgotten where she came from or who she’s been fighting for throughout her life. Hillary was raised in a suburb of Illinois where she attended public school and was raised a Methodist by her parents. She attended Wellesley College, and went on to study law at Yale. After attending Yale Law School, she went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, going door to door in New Bedford, Massachusetts. After serving as a lawyer for the Congressional Committee investigating President Nixon, she moved to Arkansas where she taught law and ran legal clinics representing poor people. She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, one of the state’s first child advocacy groups. As First Lady under President Bill Clinton, Hillary tenaciously led the fight to reform our health care system so that all our families have access to the care they need at affordable prices. Hillary led the U.S. delegation to Beijing to attend the UN Fourth World Conference on Women and gave a groundbreaking speech, declaring that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all”—inspiring women worldwide and helping to galvanize a global movement for women’s rights and opportunities. Hillary was then elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first woman senator from New York. She repeatedly worked across the aisle to get things done, including working alongside Republicans after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. When Congress wouldn’t do enough for rural areas and small towns, Hillary didn’t back down. She launched innovative partnerships with the tech industry and provided support to local colleges and small businesses. When President Obama asked Hillary to serve as his secretary of state, she answered the call to public service once again. She was a forceful champion for human rights, internet freedom, and rights and opportunities for women and girls, LGBT people and young people all around the globe. Now she’s running for President because everyday Americans need a champion and she wants to be that champion.


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