January 17, 2015 archive


The Breakfast Club (Don’t Diss Your Homeys)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgLowell P. Weicker is about the last Republican I respected and voted for.  While Wikipedia labels him a “radical centrist” he’s a flat out Liberal Republican of the Northeast Nelson Rockefeller type that used to be common but now seems as extinct as the Passenger Pigeon.

Readers of a certain age will remember him best from the Senate Watergate Hearings way back when the Neoliberal consensus didn’t rule D.C. and rape and pillage our country for Oligarchs and Billionaires while setting up a Stasi State to repress democracy and dissent.

But the story of Lowell is instructive in how such a situation developed.

Weicker was the First Selectman (Mayor equivalent) of the Town of Greenwich and was absolutely as beholden as you might think to the Hedge Funds and WWE of Connecticut’s Gold Coast.

He replaced Thomas Dodd who was censured in 1967 for pocketing campaign funds and was by almost all accounts a vain and vapid fool who let himself get beat by Prescott Bush and then re-elected to the other seat.  Yes, he is Chris Dodd’s father Luke.

Lowell won in a 3 way with Tom as an independent and Joe Duffey as the endorsed Democrat.  What eventually got him booted from the Senate was only partly his participation in Watergate (Nixon endorsed him) but mostly the fact that Republican Conservatives viewed him (correctly) as a Liberal (Americans for Democratic Action rated Weicker 20 percentage points more liberal than his fellow Connecticut senator, “Democratic” Chris Dodd) and were unhappy that he wanted to make the State Party more inclusive.  He was defeated in 1988 when conservatives including William and James Buckley and the Bushes defected en masse to Joe LIEberman who is much more a conservative Republican than a Democrat and is the single slimiest most unctuous politician it’s ever been my displeasure to meet.

In 1990 Weicker ran for Governor as an Independent in another 3 way against John Rowland (who eventually spent a year and a day in Danbury, as we in Connecticut like to say even though he served his time in Loretto PA where John Kiriakou is currently the only CIA Officer imprisoned in the CIA Torture Scandal and for whistleblowing not for actually torturing people or authorising torture) and Bruce Morrison.

Now nationally the narrative is that Lowell paid the price for implementing a State Income Tax which lowered our incredibly regressive Sales Tax but also eliminated a Commuter Tax, a State Capital Gains Tax, and substantially reduced an Unearned Income Tax (told you he was close to his Hedge Fund backers).  It was no doubt incredibly unpopular with some, but as a native Nutmegger let me tell you that’s not what people were talking about on Election Day.

Auto Inspection Contract Has Hartford in Uproar; Weicker and ExMotor Vehicles Commissioner Trade Ethics Charges Over Bids

By KIRK JOHNSON, The New York Times

Published: December 21, 1993

Both the Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, and the Legislature’s Transportation Committee — exercising its rarely used powers to issue subpoenas and compel testimony under oath — have begun investigations into the charges and counter-charges between the Governor and his former protege.

If the investigations bear out Mr. Goldberg’s charges that the administration circumvented its own established procedures in awarding the contract, legislators say, the implications would shake Connecticut’s government and could lead to an overhaul of the contract laws and a legal challenge by the losing company, at the very least.

Mr. Goldberg and a contract committee in his department both recommended a Connecticut company for the seven-and-a-half-year emissions testing contract. Besides being a local business, the Connecticut company, Environmental Systems Products Inc. of East Granby, was also the low bidder. Mr. Weicker overruled Mr. Goldberg and chose a vendor from Arizona, Envirotest Systems Corporation, which had already being doing emissions testing for Connecticut and which the Governor said had greater financial stability than the home-grown competitor.

Lowell chose not to run again leaving the field open to Rowland about whom the major surprise was that he was so cheap to bribe, but the moral of the story is-

Don’t Diss Your Homeys

So you want to buy some Nutmeg?

Which (finally) brings us to the point- our State Composer, Charles Ives.

Ives was an insurance salesman born in Danbury, an actuary who invented creative ways to structure life insurance for estate planning and wrote a book, Life Insurance with Relation to Inheritance Tax, that made him world famous in Poland and Hartford.

You’re not Polish or from Hartford?  That’s OK, he was mostly thoroughly ignored throughout his lifetime except by his industry peers who found his musical avocation both amusing and confusing because it was cutting edge avant garde.

His Dad was a Band Leader, much like John Philip Sousa whom we discussed last week.  When Charles was a child he’d frequently march behind the band but near enough the next one hear the tunes from each.  Carried over in his compsitional style, his signature was having different parts of his orchestra play completely diferent melodies, harmonies, and time signatures which sometimes synced but frequently didn’t and resolve it all at the end of the piece.  His works are ferociously difficult to play and challenging to listen to.

Ives frequently chose patriotic themes and popular marches, tunes, and hymns as his source material, seeking like most late Romantics to evoke a mood or a memory rather than simply displaying technique thought his compositions are technically demanding and utilize “polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones.”

Now this made him world famous in Poland (only a different one) and his compositions highly regarded by academics and fellow composers, but most musicians would look at them and say- “what the heck is this rubbish?”.  Independently wealthy he funded the works of others and when awarded a Pulitzer in 1946 for his 3rd Symphony (The Camp Meeting) he gave it all away saying- “prizes are for boys, and I’m all grown up.”

While he lived until 1954 he stopped writing in 1927 and it took nearly 50 years for his works to gain acceptance after being championed by people like Gustav Mahler, Aaron Copland, Bernard Herrmann, Leonard Bernstein, and Arnold Schoenberg who said-

There is a great Man living in this Country – a composer. He has solved the problem how to preserve one’s self-esteem and to learn. He responds to negligence by contempt. He is not forced to accept praise or blame. His name is Ives.

Speaking of Leonard Bernstein, in 1951 he gave Charles Ives’ Symphony #2 its debut with the New York Philharmonic.  Here’s a performance of that which, while complete, is visually uninteresting.

Ives heard it on his cook’s radio (he was a FIRE guy, independently wealthy, I told you).

Later Bernstein performed it again with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and gave a little chat about Ives-

That full performance, in three parts, which is visually interesting if you like that sort of thing, is available below along with the Obligatories, News, and Blogs.

On This Day In History January 17

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 17 is the 17th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 348 days remaining until the end of the year (349 in leap years).

On this day in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his farewell address to the nation warning the American people to keep a careful eye on what he calls the “military-industrial complex” that has developed in the post-World War II years.

A fiscal conservative, Eisenhower had been concerned about the growing size and cost of the American defense establishment since he became president in 1953. In his last presidential address to the American people, he expressed those concerns in terms that frankly shocked some of his listeners.

Eisenhower began by describing the changing nature of the American defense establishment since World War II. No longer could the U.S. afford the “emergency improvisation” that characterized its preparations for war against Germany and Japan. Instead, the United States was “compelled to create a permanent armaments industry” and a huge military force. He admitted that the Cold War made clear the “imperative need for this development,” but he was gravely concerned about “the acquisition of unwarranted influence…by the military-industrial complex.” In particular, he asked the American people to guard against the “danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Military-industrial complex (MIC) is a concept commonly used to refer to policy relationships between governments, national armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. These relationships include political approval for research, development, production, use, and support for military training, weapons, equipment, and facilities within the national defense and security policy. It is a type of iron triangle.

The term is most often played in reference to the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address speech of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though the term is applicable to any country with a similarly developed infrastructure.

It is sometimes used more broadly to include the entire network of contracts and flows of money and resources among individuals as well as institutions of the defense contractors, The Pentagon, and the Congress and executive branch. This sector is intrinsically prone to principal-agent problem, moral hazard, and rent seeking. Cases of political corruption have also surfaced with regularity.

A similar thesis was originally expressed by Daniel Guerin, in his 1936 book Fascism and Big Business, about the fascist government support to heavy industry. It can be defined as, “an informal and changing coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral, and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs”.

Late Night Karaoke

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

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 Fan parody of Ghostbusters set in Tokyo is totally “crossing the streams”【Video】

 KK Miller

Genre streams that is! There isn’t an ’80s movie that is more perfectly matched for an anime makeover than Ghostbusters. The story is flawless, the ghosts would feel right at home, plus all the crazy special effects could be easily accomplished through animation. The fact that they were able to do all of that in a live-action movie is part of what makes it such a classic.

This parody simply nails the movie, but you don’t have to take our word for it, you can see for yourself after the jump.

The YouTube channel Nacho Punch is no stranger to 1980s-style anime parodies, but this one feels just right. Set in Tokyo and drawn in a style of animation perfect for the era in which the movie and original animated series were born, the Tokyo Ghostbusters really shine in their one-minute debut.

The Great Chicken Nugget Wars

Let the 2015 Chicken Nugget War commence.

Playing Chicken in the Burger Wars

By Craig Giammona, Bloomberg Business Week

For many years, McDonald’s and Burger King fought for fast-food dominance based on demand for their signature hamburgers, with the epic struggle between the Big Mac and the Whopper becoming a fixture of the Burger Wars. These days the combatants have shifted their focus to a different menu item to woo diners: chicken nuggets.

Burger King in early January brought back its 15¢ chicken nugget promotion, offering a 10-piece box for $1.49, or about half the regular price. The deal, introduced for the second time in three months, was revived soon after McDonald’s rolled out a campaign trumpeting a 50-piece order of Chicken McNuggets for $9.99, or 20¢ each. [..]

The chicken nugget price war comes as fast-food restaurants are turning to discounts and new menu items to keep millennials from fleeing to fast-casual eateries such as Chipotle Mexican Grill. With wholesale beef prices near a record-up 40 percent since 2012-McDonald’s and Burger King are hoping cheaper nuggets will help boost sales to price-sensitive diners.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of “All In,” gives s guide to the “war.”

Don’t rush off the either of these fast food joints too soon. Hayes and his guests, CNBC contributor Ron Insana and Professor Raj Patel, explain the underlying factors, plus some health concerns.

There are a lot of calories, salt and other stuff in them there nuggets that you might want to think twice about consuming on a regular basis.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Chicken Stews, to Savor or Store Away

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

I wanted each of these stews to feature a nutritious vegetable along with the chicken and aromatics. In this way they are truly one-dish, nutrient-dense meals. Though I suggest serving them with rice, other grains or pasta, if carbs are an issue, know that these stews are very satisfying on their own.

I used skinless legs and boneless, skinless thighs for my chicken stews, and I sought out free-range organic chickens. While chicken breasts are lower in fat than the legs and thighs, they dry out when you stew them for very long. You can increase or decrease the number of chicken pieces according to your needs. If you’ve frozen a stew, it’s best to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator for the next night’s dinner. If the stew doesn’t thaw completely, heat gently in a casserole or use your microwave’s defrost function

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower and Olives

Cinnamon adds a subtle sweetness to this stew. If salt is an issue, omit the olives; the stew will still be delicious.

Chicken and Pepper Stew

This is an adaptation of a classic French bistro dish, poulet Basquaise.

Chicken Stew With Sweet Potatoes, Almonds and Apricots

This sweetly spiced dish, with beta-carotene-rich apricots and sweet potatoes, is also evocative of recipes from the Middle East and Iran.

Chicken Cacciatore With Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Wine

This classic Italian dish must have hundreds of versions, all resulting in a rustic braise of chicken, aromatic vegetables and tomatoes.

Veracruzana Chicken Stew With Winter Squash

This is loosely based on a chicken stew from the Mexican state of Veracruz.


If I have failed to convey that my life journey has been about finding a place where I belong, then I have managed to gloss over a large part of that which defines who I am.   My adult life has been built around teaching, which to me is about helping others find a place where they belong, where they are valued.  I’ve spent most of my life being told I should go away because I didn’t fit in, that if I had any value, it lay elsewhere.  Or at least that’s the impression I received.  As a kid.  As a hippie, As a Christian. As a PFLAG parent. As an LGBT person. As a lesbian. As a transgender person.  As a human being.

The next several chapters, starting with this one are going to relate my efforts to ameliorate those feelings, to open a few doors for myself, and by extension for other transgender people…to build some needed empathy.  It is what I do.  It is who I am.