Friday, April 28, 2017

 

Haiku Friday: That which makes you happy


Yeah, I am going for a particularly broad topic this week: things that make us happy. 

Here, I will go first:

Perfect omelets
The scent of the familiar
Rain and a good book.

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable formula and have some fun!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

 

Political Mayhem Thursday: The Trump Tax Plan

So, here are the seven key components of the Trump tax plan, according to the New York Times:

1) Move from 7 tax brackets to just 3
2) Double the standard deduction
3) Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax
4) Lower the capital gains tax
5) Repeal the inheritance tax
6) Eliminate all tax deductions for individuals (except charitable contributions and mortgage interest)
7) Cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%

So, here are my concerns:

-- All of these act to lower the amount of money the government collects. So... does that mean we are just going to borrow money and raise the deficit?

-- Numbers 3, 4 and 5 will significantly increase income disparity.

-- Over the past decade, much has been made that corporations "are people, too" in terms of things like free speech rights to make political donations. So, why shouldn't they be taxed like people?  I realize that our corporate tax rate is high relative to some countries, but so is our spending on things that benefit other countries, like a military that spans the world to keep peace.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

 

Recipe Time! One pot wondermeal!


It's been a while since we have had a recipe here at the Razor! This is a favorite of mine from about 1992, when I was living on top of a parking garage in Detroit with my brother.   Serves 1-6, depending.

Here is what you will need:

-- Two hot dogs
-- Milk
-- Butter
-- One large can of corn
-- Velveeta cheese (1 lb)
-- Several large organic capers
-- Two boxes of Macaroni & Cheese 
-- Salt and pepper

Bring 5 qts of water to boil in a large pot. 

Once at a roiling boil add salt and the pasta from the mac and cheese boxes. Stir.

Now add both hot dogs. boil for 10 minutes.

Pour everything into one of those things that you pour pasta into (you know, a strainer-type thingee). Pluck out the hot dogs, then pour the  pasta back into the pan.

Now add the butter (one stick) and 1/2 cup of milk and the cheese packets and some Velveeta (because they never give you enough cheese). Stir. At this point, put the capers away. You won't need them.

Cut up the hot dogs and add them back into the mix, and stir some more.

Heap some onto a plate. Open the can of corn and put some corn on the plate.

There you go! It's a healthy, happy, monchromatic dinner!




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

 

In today's Star-Tribune....


... is my take on the Arkansas executions. You can read it here.

A short time after the online version of the piece posted last night, I got a correction from Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Maurice Possley: The exoneration project he works on is now up over 2,000 identified wrongful convictions.

And, of course, the drama continued last night.

There are critical goals that criminal law has to serve. Sometimes those goals are, in fact, best served by long sentences. No goal, though- outside of the theoretical realm and political philosophy- is served through execution. And we should not kill people based on theory.

Monday, April 24, 2017

 

Where to go with your jeans

As CTL points out, a good pair of jeans can go anywhere:

Date night, barbecue,
Casual Friday, yard work.
Same pair of blue jeans.

Except, for Gavin's at least, inside the house:

Farm work, dirty jeans
Mom says "NO! Not in the house!"
"Change in the garage."

I'll vouch for Gavin's version, at least. I worked on farms (harvesting peas), and those jeans got pretty disgusting...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

 

Sunday Reflection: Believing in what we do not see


This is a familiar story:

 Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

When I first began to understand the Gospels (which was not the first time I read them, and is still not a
completed project), one of the parts that baffled me was John the Baptist getting people to commit to
someone who was not yet known-- Jesus.  How could anyone do that?

And yet we do. All the time. We commit to people we have never met (politicians, media figures,
religious leaders) that we really know almost nothing about, and to ideas we don't fully understand.
We just aren't very careful about these things. As an advocate, I know that we rarely argue someone into
believing something. Instead, they hear a story that rings true, or are inclined that way, or catch a tiny bit
of shimmering truth and fill in the rest through reason and heart. And that's how people came to Jesus, and
still do, through a story or inclination or something glimpsed. It helps, too, that we want to believe in
something big and moving and real, whether good or bad; we are constructed to desire that.

Sylvia Plath (pictured above), who was more smart than tragic, wrote this:

 I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality.




Saturday, April 22, 2017

 

The guy who makes iPhones....

Somehow this was not as shocking as I expected it to be:



I often work 12-hour days now (albeit doing non-physical labor), and have had a variety of jobs where I worked at night (including 6 pm to 6 am shifts working on farms). Don't get me wrong-- my job is much better in terms of conditions and pay than working in a factory-- but I also realize that factory work is not easy and the hours can be long here in the US.

Friday, April 21, 2017

 

Haiku Friday: Best jeans


It's spring. Time to tend to the garden or go for a hike or do something else where you haul out your favorite pair of jeans. You know the ones-- they might have holes or worse, but they are just so darn comfy.

Let's haiku about that this week... or any other well-worn article of clothing you just can't give up. Here, I'll go first:

Both pockets gave out
And, yes, there's holes, several
But they stay with me!

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 formula, and have some fun!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

 

Political Mayhem Thursday: Is Sean Spicer Effective?



White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had kind of an endearing moment this week when Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots briefly interrupted his press conference. Unfortunately, things have been kind of up and down for Spicer.

Is he effective? Does it matter?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

 

Baylor has a new President


After a lengthy search, yesterday Baylor announced its new President: Linda Livingstone, who started out working at Baylor as a business professor, then served as a Dean at Pepperdine and George Washington. From 2000-2002, she actually lived a few doors down from me in Waco, but we did not know each other well (they sold that house to Todd Lake and his family, who later sold it to Chip and Joanna Gaines). Here is the description from Baylor's press release:

Dr. Livingstone has led The George Washington University School of Business since 2014, overseeing approximately 3,500 students in undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. programs and more than 57,000 alumni worldwide....


Prior to her tenure at George Washington, Dr. Livingstone served 12 years at Pepperdine, similar to Baylor as a faith-based university, as dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management from 2002-2014. With a focus on excellence in teaching, scholarship and Christian values, she brought significant visibility and resources to the Graziadio School, including overseeing a $200 million expansion of its graduate campuses and the addition of an executive conference center. Under Dr. Livingstone’s leadership, the school also experienced significant progress in its full-time, executive and fully employed MBA programs, and in the area of entrepreneurship, as well as greater scholarship support for students.



 Dr. Livingstone returns to Baylor after time on the Waco campus from 1991-2002. From 1998-2002, she served as associate dean of graduate programs for the Hankamer School of Business in which she was responsible for all graduate degree business programs. Dr. Livingstone was an associate professor in the department of management from 1997-2002 and an assistant professor in the same department from 1991-1997. She also was a member of the Faculty Athletics Council during her tenure at Baylor.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

 

Haunting

Bob Darden sent me a link to this fascinating piece, which is sad and haunting and worthwhile (when so much that is sad or haunting is not worthwhile:





Monday, April 17, 2017

 

Chocolate!

Yeah, that topic brought out some good haiku!

Like this from Gavin:

Day 5. Field training.
MRE has M&Ms
Score! It's a good day.

This one from Olivia is all the more interesting given that she is a food scientist:

Add chocolate to hops.
Sounds like a beer recipe;
Also makes bunnies.

My dad's rang true:

Deep in my pocket
some coins, lint, one M&M
my day ends OK.

TRW Joe had good advice:

One of twelve Zen rules:
"Do just one thing at a time."
Smell; taste; chocolate in the mouth.

The Medievalist's advice was less useful:

Eating chocolate,
Sinful road to perdition,
All over my face.

IPLawGuy knows my taste in movies:

Scott Evil is your guide
You are overthinking this,
Just eat the bunny!

And Sandra Heska King did that beautiful haiku thing-- told a tiny story:

He ate the pasta
In the garden of olives
then brought me a mint.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

 

Sunday Reflection: On Easter

When we read about the end of Jesus’s life in the Gospels, Christians sometimes ignore what happened with the disciples. Maybe we look away because it is so dark: At the time Jesus needed them the most—when he was arrested, tried, and killed-- his disciples “deserted him and fled.” They were not there to console Jesus or intercede when he was tortured.  Peter alone was drawn to the trial, but as he waited nearby he famously denied knowing Jesus three times. 

 But, here is where the example of gentleness enters in. The Gospels contain two fascinating accounts of the resurrected Christ encountering those who abandoned him. If ever there was such a thing as righteous anger, we would expect it to be directed at those who left Jesus in his time in need. That’s not what happens, though. We get gentleness instead.

Mark and Luke tell the story of Jesus falling into conversation with two of his followers, without identifying himself. They are literally walking away from Jerusalem toward another town, Emmaus. When Jesus reveals himself, though, it is not in anger. He explains what happened in Jerusalem, and asks if they have anything to eat. They give him some fish, and he eats it. He walks with them some more, and blesses them.

 And what of his closest followers, the 12 apostles (down to 11 after the departure of Judas)? The end of the book of John finds seven of them at the Sea of Galilee, some 100 miles away from Jerusalem. Theirs was a significant abandonment and flight, a walk of several days. And yet Jesus finds them. Once he does, he does not upbraid or embarrass them. 

Rather, he finds them fishing in the big water. He calls to them, and they come to the shore. He has made them breakfast, a simple meal of bread and fish. They eat together, and talk. That’s all—just a small, gentle moment. 

Often, that is where the truth is found.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

 

What is the deal with Peeps?


Every year at this time, I see Peeps everywhere. I have some questions.

First of all, what are they supposed to be? Little chickens? And if so, how is that an Easter thing?

Second, what are you supposed to do with one? I once tried to eat a Peep, and it is clear that that's not their intended purpose. Do they form some kind of adhesive or something?

Finally, what is the nexus to Easter? There seems to be a lot I am missing...


Friday, April 14, 2017

 

Haiku Friday: Chocolate

A while ago I copied down this poem by Megan Willome, which I found at her always-worthwhile blog, Have Tea, Will Write.

It is kind of about chocolate, but not really. What stuck in my head was this line: "I like people who do not like me back..."

At first, I empathized with that view, thought "yeah, I am like that!" Then I recoiled, think "yikes, am I like that?" The revulsion was born of the sense that if you like people (or institutions) that do not like you back, you probably lack self-esteem.

But then another thought came. Isn't it really the case that it takes great belief in one's own value to like people who don't like you back-- isn't a sign that your own self-worth is not dependent on what others may think, and that you can even recognize the good in people unlike you?

So, anyways... let's haiku about chocolate this week. Or, if you would like, something else.  Here, I will go first:

Chocolate bunny
I nibble your ear and stop
It just feels... heartless.

At night, in the dark
I put you in the freezer
And there you still sit.

Now it is your turn! Use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern and have some fun.


When I Say

I like peanut butter
You call me a chocolate-hater

And when I say I like chocolate
You say never trust anyone who despises peanut butter

Like the ad said, I like peanut butter in my chocolate
I like chocolate in my peanut butter

I like rain and sun, night and day, dogs and cats
(big ones, like lions), salty and sweet, coffee and tea,
wine and craft beer, beach and mountains, stars in the sky
and stripes on zebras

There are things I do not like, which fall under my unalienable right
to not pursue things that lead to unhappiness, like roadkill.

I like people who do not like me back, and if we meet again,
I’d like to share a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

one for You
one for Me

Thursday, April 13, 2017

 

Political Mayhem Thursday: Trump's Upside-Down Day


So, pretty much for the past few years, President Trump has had the following takes on things:

China: Currency manipulators, bad!
NATO: Obsolete, bad!
Russia: Good guys, might be good.
Fed Chief Janet Yellen: Bad!

Yesterday, in one fell swoop, Trump reversed course to these positions:

China:  Not currency manipulators, good!
NATO: Not obsolete, good!
Russia: All-time low in relations
Fed Chief Janet Yellen: Good!

I realize I might be over-simplifying some here-- but not by much. Here is verbatim what he said about NATO: "“I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

Some people think these changes reflect what is dangerous about Trump, but I'm not sure I have a problem with him changing his mind about some things. A lot of the positions he put forth on the campaign trail were unrealistic, dangerous, or both. Moving away from them is simply prudent.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

 

My favorite picture


I really do love this drawing by Yann Kebbi, which accompanied a New Yorker piece entitled "Cookie Monster on the Dole."

What's not to love? Cookie Monster is watching TV, his furry feet propped up, and there is Muppet Donald Trump on the screen in front of an American flag. A cloud of depression lurks over Cookie's head, and an old-style phone sits by his limp right arm. An empty beer can rolls on the floor.

It just... catches a mood, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

 

The Surprising Review


If there is one thing that captures public attention in the world of restaurant reviews, it is the unexpected review-- when a great restaurant is judged to be terrible, or when one we expect to be terrible is exalted.

Along those lines, people were shocked by Pete Well's positive review of Senor Frogs in Times Square for the New York Times. Marilyn Hagerty's legendary review of the Olive Garden in Grand Forks is equally compelling, in its own way.

Most recently in this genre (albeit on the flip side-- a horrifying review of a "good" restaurant) we have Jay Rayner's review of Paris legend Le Cinq.  Among other things, he says this:

There is only one thing worse than being served a terrible meal: being served a terrible meal by earnest waiters who have no idea just how awful the things they are doing to you are. And so, to the flagship Michelin three-star restaurant of the George V Hotel in Paris, or the scene of the crime as I now like to call it. In terms of value for money and expectation Le Cinq supplied by far the worst restaurant experience I have endured in my 18 years in this job. This, it must be said, is an achievement of sorts.

It wasn’t meant to be so. Irritated by reader complaints about the cost of eating out I decided to visit a classic Parisian gastro-palace, as a reality check. I imagined it less as review, and more as an observational piece, full of moments of joy and bliss, of the sort only stupid amounts of cash can buy. We’d all have a good laugh at rich people and then return to business as usual, a little wiser. I chose Le Cinq, restaurant of Christian Le Squer, named chef of the year by his peers in 2016. I assumed it would be whimsical, and perhaps outrageous. Never did I think the shamefully terrible cooking would slacken my jaw from the rest of my head....

... Other things are the stuff of therapy. The canapé we are instructed to eat first is a transparent ball on a spoon. It looks like a Barbie-sized silicone breast implant, and is a “spherification”, a gel globe using a technique perfected by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli about 20 years ago. This one pops in our mouth to release stale air with a tinge of ginger. My companion winces. “It’s like eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s,” she says.  

Really, please-- go read the whole thing.

 


Monday, April 10, 2017

 

The Haiku of baseball

One thing I love about baseball is that is so much of a place for us, rooted in memories. For me it is being in the backyard, my dad has the radio on, Ernie Harwell is describing Willie Horton fouling one off, and describing who caught it...

TRW Joe did a good job of that:

The mountains look down
Upon our loved baseball team.
O Rockies........this year?


And so did Christine:

Rays play under dome
I wear rose colored glasses
Things look much better.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

 

Sunday Reflection: Palm Sunday



Not all moments are equal.

That's something I say a lot, in a variety of contexts. I really do believe it, too-- that some moments are more significant than others, and we need to recognize them and embrace them when they come along. They are the times that are joyful and painful and most real-- the ones when we are most fully human, a creation of God.

We don't know much about the first 30 years of Jesus's life, but we know a lot about the last week. Like everything else in the Gospels, I think that has to mean something-- that the meaning of our lives is not evenly apportioned over the weeks and months and years, and we should not expect that.



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