Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Of Mandatory Sentencing and Minimum Intelligence

Posted by Anthony on April 25, 2017

Something about those who do not remember the past…

One has to give credit where credit is due: despite some flip-flops in certain areas, those whom the Trump Administration has chosen to spearhead its efforts in many other departments have shown themselves enthusiastic scions of the MAGA culture. Rex Tillerson, at a horribly depleted State, has shown he is quite incapable of conducting any foreign policy (all the better to leave it to Mr.Trump), Betsy DeVos can’t even get them to spell “education” correctly on the department’s Snapchat, and Jeff Sessions has come out with a determined effort towards changing the way business as usual is conducted at Justice. At least as far as drugs go; when it comes to violence against minorities, that’s just fine.

What we are talking about here of course is the recent espousal by the Sessions lead Justice Department of minimum sentencing laws and the re-ramping up of the “War on Drugs”. There are so many things wrong with this effort that it would easily take the better part of a weekend to write out the flaws, but since brevity is the soul of wit we shall endeavor to do so in as minimal a space as might be possible.

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Step By Step

Posted by Anthony on February 13, 2017

committee-of-public-safety

Don’t mind what we’re doing, it’s all for your safety citizen…

As we delve ever deeper into the rabbit hole of the Trump Presidency, several issues become more clear: that President Trump is trying to run the United States of America as he does his own personal businesses, that there is a clear disdain for any opposition by the current regime and that they are hell-bent on stifling it, that the current regime is engaging in kleptocratic measures, and that the Republicans realize that there is nothing the Democrats can do to stop them and therefore this is their one chance to reformat the government to their liking.

There are many who point at this regime as one that is quickly moving down the path of authoritarianism. They are not wrong, as many of the regimes actions are steps in that vein. The war on the media in order to render facts as up for debate, the “fake news”, and the use of social media to reach directly to the people with an “alternative” version of events is lock-step in line with the first stages of installing a totalitarian regime. With a pliant legislative branch in the initial few years, little has to be done on that front although plans will doubtless be made on how to deal with them should they either waver from their commitment or fall in elections to the opposition party. Attacks on the judiciary are next, and we can see these being done now: referring to judges as “so-called”, attacking the judiciary as “political”; all of this is meant to undermine the public’s faith in this one branch that is traditionally above sectarianism and factional politics. Read the rest of this entry »

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When the Pro-Life Fan Club Kills

Posted by Anthony on December 3, 2015

I'm so pro-life I'll kill anyone who disagrees with me...

I’m so pro-life I’ll kill anyone who disagrees with me…

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear from the outset: abortion is one of the most divisive issues in the United States today and will be in the foreseeable future. It lines up two very potent forces against one another: those who believe that a woman has the right to decide what goes on in her own body, and those who believe that life begins at conception. Since Roe v. Wade, there has been a struggle in American society to either protect or overturn that ruling and the acts of the past week have only solidified the entrenched opposites in their quest to see total victory for their cause.

The pro-life (so called) side has relied on means both fair and foul to try and eradicate abortion in the United States. They have pushed through legislation aimed at putting clinics that provide women’s health out of business; they have increase the rhetoric to a point where the blood-seeking froth spills over their microphones and washes down into the millions of listening, yearning ears who seek their guidance. They hurl about terms like “genocide” and “baby-killers” and “murderers” at anyone who would enter a Planned Parenthood seeking medical attention. Read the rest of this entry »

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On the Subject of Craft Beer

Posted by Anthony on September 7, 2015

Quite possibly the best way to start your day

The absolute best way to start your day

The word legacy is often tossed about with impunity since those opining on any particular legacy are usually in a position to observe without being observed on their marking; what we mean here is that the people who decide on an individual’s legacy are often doing it from afar both spatially and chronologically. So it is with President Jimmy Carter, of late, sadly, admitting to being afflicted by that most odious of maladies: cancer.

Those looking over President Carter’s legacy as a political leader tend to render their verdict based upon the subsequent eight years of President Ronald Reagan. They point to the malaise that existed during the Carter years, the long gas lines due to shortages, indeed even the Iran hostage crisis falls clumsily at his feet. Compared to the “feel good” 1980s, with Reagan staring down the Soviet Union, bombing Libya, and creating a general attitude of positive Americanism, what lasting contribution could Carter have to offer this esteemed country?

The answer lies in H.R. 1337, a bill signed into law in 1978 by President Carter which essentially allowed for home-brewing beer with an alcohol content higher than 0.5%. In other words, President Carter opened the taps (if you will) to what would become a flourishing industry in the United States and one that would have a positive impact culturally and economically up to the present day. Before the home-brew revolution, American beer had never really recovered from the post-Prohibition days of bland, macro beers using inexpensive adjuncts and selling because there was quite literally nothing else with which to compete.

What the home-brew bill did was enable innovative entrepreneurs to experiment and learn brewing from the ground up. Companies like Sierra Nevada which began in 1979 by two home-brewers now produce almost a million barrels of beer a year and employs around 450 people. Even bigger is the Boston Beer Company whose founder, Jim Koch, famously brewed his first batch of beer in his own kitchen in 1984. His company now produces over 2.5 million barrels of beer a year and employs 1,300 people. The numbers are astounding: in 1979, there were 89 breweries in the United States; in 2013, there were 2413. In an almost unbelievable side note, and just to show you how much the macro-breweries are pumping out, these breweries which produce 480,000,000 (four-hundred and eighty million) gallons of beer per year represents 7.8% of the total market by volume. Do the math.

Today one can find a craft-brewery in almost every major town (or right outside of it) in the United States. These places often have strong local ties and, because they are producing maybe a few hundred gallons at a time (or less), can be much more experimental with their beers than those companies that need to produce 100x that amount every day. Unlike Germany, with its Reinheitsgebot , American brewers are free to dabble with various grains, fruits, and more exotic additions (cinnamon, peanut-butter, chocolate) in an attempt to create a beer that really speaks about the ambitions of the brewer and his/ her craft.

In conclusion, while he may be pilloried for his political accomplishments, President Carter should always be remembered as the man who made this brewing revolution possible. So the next time you travel down to Dover, Delaware, and visit our friends at Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company, or Athens, Georgia, and taste the offerings at the Terrapin Beer Company, or even find yourself in Northern Alabama (Madison to be exact) and partake of what’s on tap at the Blue Pants Brewery raise your first glass to President Carter; if you enjoy craft beer, you owe him at least that.

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Identifying the True Abomination

Posted by Anthony on August 7, 2015

Jerusalem Gay Pride Stabbing

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

– Leviticus 20:13

This past Thursday, during a Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, an ultra-Orthodox Jew ran through the crowd brandishing a knife and using it to indiscriminately stab and slash at anyone within arms-reach. A terrible act, but one to which he was no stranger: he had just been released, weeks prior, from an Israeli prison for doing the exact same thing at a Gay Pride march in 2005. During that attack he managed to wound three people; during last week’s he stabbed six one of whom, sixteen-year old Shira Banki, has died of her wounds.

To their credit, the Israeli government was swift to condemn the attack in no uncertain terms with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin speaking out on the basic rights for an individual in Israel to live in security however they wish to live their lives. Even the Anti-Defamation League in New York spoke out condemning the attack and praising the open and tolerant attitude expressed towards the LGBT community in Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Siege Mentality

Posted by Anthony on July 27, 2015

Retired General Wesley Clark said last week what all too many U.S. citizens have quietly thought at one time or another: why can’t we just round up all of these radical Muslims and throw them into prison? Certainly there would be little argument if the individuals were spewing anti-American hatred and endorsing or lending moral support to forces currently fighting the country. To be quite frank, it would not be anywhere close to the first time that the United States had acted in a manner of collective punishment against a particular group that presented a “threat” to any of a number of considerations.

This palpable sense of fear is especially tangible when it comes to Muslims in the United States. When a young man murders his mother, then goes on to murder a classroom of children we explain it away as that he was “mentally ill”. When a young white male sits in the pews of a church before murdering multiple blacks with the intention of starting some kind of white backlash against African Americans, we label him “disturbed” and try to look for reasons in his upbringing that could explain why he would be driven to commit such a hideous act. The bottom line is that overwhelmingly, if you are not Muslim you will somehow be excused as either insane or deluded or a multitude of other words that have in effect the same meaning. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Moral Imperative to Destroy ISIS

Posted by Anthony on July 20, 2015

This is an article which I had been planning, and wanting, to write for some time. The issue isn’t what to write about or how to present the facts; rather, my concern here was that I would not be able to restrain myself from lashing out in an overly emotional morality infused rage before I even got to the mid-point of the writing. Surely, if anyone can bring that out in abundance it is ISIS.

Comparing ISIS to other historical organizations is not entirely fair. For example, to bring up the Nazi regime is to insult the memory of the tens-of-millions of deaths that abomination was responsible for both directly (through their racial policies and the Holocaust) and, well, directly by starting the Second World War. In this regard, ISIS is, as President Obama referred to them, “the JV team”. Their death toll pales in comparison to regimes such as that which existed under Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao in China (who may well hold the record for deaths), the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia under Pol Pot which, although much lower on the scale for total deaths must be recognized for the absolute barbarity of the regime, or even any of the more localized genocides such as the Hutu extermination of Tutsis in Rwanda. Read the rest of this entry »

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As You Sow…

Posted by Anthony on July 16, 2015

In a conversation with a moderate Republican the other day (yes, they still do exist though they are certainly on the endangered species list), I was asked with all sincerity what is to be done about Trump and his recent poll surges. Certainly, this individual asked with palpable concern, there was no way that he could win the nomination much less a national election, was there? After all, his rhetoric was bordering on the ludicrous; his message was appalling to the vast majority of Americans, or at least one should hope it was. My answer was somewhat less comforting than the individual would have liked it to be.

I explained with all sincerity that Republicans have nobody but themselves to blame for this latest catastrophe. For the last twenty or so years, FOX News and various right wing personalities have been spewing forth a litany of condescension and moral outrage about perceived slights to America committed by “those people” as well as stoking anger, fear, and resentment in mainly white America. Now this creation of theirs has taken shape, embodying all of the ills they have built into it and, much like the titular character in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, they find themselves unable to control it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Thought Vaccines Were an Option?

Posted by Anthony on February 4, 2015

 

As we have just turned over a new year (well, for those following the Gregorian calendar in any case), it is always a good idea to take stock of where we are, how the past year has been, and where we’re going from here. I had a discussion the other day with a friend who asked about how much longer I thought the human race would manage to keep itself on the universal stage. An interesting question, to be sure, since it requires one to contemplate any number of the myriad situations that might bring about the extinction of humanity (even if not rendering the Earth a lifeless globe). Some are, of course, beyond anything we can stop: a rogue black hole finding its way into the Solar System, or a Gamma Ray Burst that happens to annihilate the atmosphere. Some, however, are preventable even if to certain degrees: we could, for example, take measures to stop an asteroid from obliterating our planet though it would require a tremendous effort and cost, just as we could make the inevitably required move off of our planet and either onto Mars, the most likely candidate as a planet, or to a ring-world of sorts, which is not nearly as fantastical as it might seem. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Turkish Non-Delight: Facebook and Freedom of Speech

Posted by Anthony on January 26, 2015

First, allow me to start off this entry with a blanket statement: I love Turkey. I visited Turkey in 2012, and can honestly tell you that there are very few places in the world I have been that were as enjoyable. For me, it contained the perfect mix of ancient, medieval, and modern along with the fine balance so difficult to find these days of European and Middle-Eastern mixed into one fantastic city: Istanbul. The people are about the best you will find anywhere, the food is excellent, and history is everywhere you step which, to me as an historian, was quite thrilling. Read the rest of this entry »

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