Rollin' Like Sisyphus

Wherein Huckleberry Takes Joy In Events That Have Nothing To Do With Him

Posted in Life's A Gamble by Huckleberry on September 29, 2014
Sure, I concede it probably meant more to him, but still.

Sure, I concede it probably meant more to him, but still.

When blind luck marries good fortune, and sends you an invite, go ahead and RSVP.
So what in the Hell does that mean?
So glad you asked.
In addition to the fantasy football, and some light gambling, I also participate in a fantasy baseball league for a decent pot of money — winner takes all.
Fantasy baseball works a little differently than football, where most of the action takes place on Sunday. For baseball, every single day in a week is considered part of the game. Well, this past week was the league championship, and I’ve been a bit on edge. On Wednesday I made one stupid tactical blunder with handling a pitching match-up that blew up in my face, and so I found myself in a hole I didn’t think I’d dig out of.
Fantasy baseball is also a little different than football in that it isn’t simply most points wins — there are 20 categories, such as hits, runs, pitching wins and losses, ERA, etc. — and the team that gets the most of a certain stat in each category wins that category in a head-to-head match-up.
Enter Sunday, and I’m down three categories. Basically, I need the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass to win, so I play the only pitcher I have left with a start — Jordan Zimmermann.
Its odd how, in activities such as this, a season of 22 weeks hinges on a single phenomenal play.
Like this one.
That single play not only cemented a no-hitter for Jordan Zimmermann, but it flipped four categories in my favor — Complete Games, No Hitters, ERA and WHIP — and from there, as if the Fates had for once conspired in my favor, my opponent’s team unraveled while mine went on to a 14-6 trouncing, and a potload of money right in my lap.
Sure, this kind of thing in any kind of scheme — grand or minuscule — means nothing. It’s a game played by grown men for considerably more money than I’ll ever see, and while it’s certainly trivial on a certain level for me to be as involved with it as I am, on a meta level its no more trivial than the involvement of the athletes themselves.
Anyway.

Good Music Friday

Posted in Good Music Friday by Huckleberry on September 26, 2014

Gotta get down, because it’s Friday.
By hook and crook I’ve come into a crapload of free trees, but fruit and otherwise. While trying to plant them in Fall probably isn’t the best of ideas, that is what my weekend is going to be all about. Already watched UCLA kinda sorta trounce ASU last night, the Dodgers have wrapped up their playoff spot, and the Chargers play the hapless Jaguars at home this Sunday – nothing big in the offing, and as I’ve already mentioned all watching does anymore is make me more aggravated.
So I’ll enjoy outside while I can.
I’m also going to ‘cue up some hot links this weekend, along with a brisket, and to that end I offer one of the best side dishes I’ve ever created.
Also, on the music front, a perfect song for an economic recovery so strong it’s lasting years.

Huckleberry’s Mac-n-Cheese Spectacular

TOOLS:
Dutch oven
Grill (preferably charcoal, but propane will do)
FIXIN’S:
1 lb of macaroni
½ tbls of salt
4 qts water
¾ cup crushed up Cheezit crackers
1 qt whole fat milk
6 scallions
4 whole chili peppers
1 thick slice of cured ham
4 cups of grated cheddar cheese
1 cup of grated pepper jack cheese
4 strips of bacon
3 tbls flour
3 tbls olive oil
Boil up the macaroni in the water and salt for about 6 minutes. Don’t boil it to done – you want it to still be a little stiff. Drain it out and set it aside.
Set up your grill and get it up to temp – 325-350 or so. If using charcoal, place all of the coals to one side for indirect cooking. If using gas, light up only one side of burners.
While that’s eating up, coat the scallions, ham slice and chili peppers with the olive oil. Spread a very light coat of oil on the cooking grate. Place the peppers and scallions on the grill and let them char up a bit. Turn them after about 4 minutes (3 if they’re small) and let them cook about another minute before removing from the grill.
Cut the stems off the scallions, and peel the skin off the peppers. Chop it all up together and set it aside.
Place the ham slice on the grill and let it cook up for a couple of minutes. When its all nice and toasty, pull it off and chop it up into small chunks. Set them aside.
Put the Dutch oven onto the coals and let it get warmed up. If using a gas rig, put it over the open flame on top of the grate.
Fry up the bacon in the pan as it heats up. After the pan is warmed up, remove it from direct heat and put it on the other side of the grill. Mix in the flour and milk, stirring both into the bacon and grease, but don’t let the milk boil – just get it warmed up.
Mix in most of the cheddar cheese and stir until its melted in, then do the same with the pepper jack. Keep about a ½ cup of each to the side for melting over the top.
Toss in the ham bits, scallions and peppers, then mix it all up together.
Dump in the pasta and keep mixing it all up.
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and the crushed up Cheezit crackers over the top, cover the Dutch oven and let it go for 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the pot, then let it go for another 15 to 20 minutes.
After that, pull it from the grill and dig in.
Have a great weekend, and get ‘em in.
Down Payment Blues
Powerage
AC/DC
Atlantic Records | 1978

Falling Down

Posted in A Chronicle Of Decline by Huckleberry on September 26, 2014
No, but seriously, get the fuck off my lawn.

No, but seriously, get the fuck off my lawn.

As I grow older and move about in this world, as possibilities collapse into choices made and roads not taken, it’s becoming more difficult to identify the history that’s happening all around us.
Mostly, because that history – the fascination with the grim portents of the current events that comprise the ludicrous 24-hour news cycle – doesn’t matter so much at the level of specifics any more than a few drops of water matter to the flow of a river’s current.
It’s all going to end up in the same place over the falls and into the rocks below.
The notable aspect, then, isn’t so much the water but the current – because the only thing I can tell you for certain is that it’s falling down faster, all of it, and despite the fact that the events happening now will come to shape the course of the 21st century in innumerable ways, the focus on the ephemera reveals something I’ve long suspected and always feared: history isn’t a story of human action. It’s a story of humans swept up into action.
Or maybe I’m just growing into the curmudgeon I’ve always been destined to become, because I can stand less and less of what I see in just about every facet of existence each and every day. For fuck’s sake, I can’t even watch a football game with getting a lecture on how I’m 1) irredeemably racist 2) irrevocably misogynist and 3) an accessory to the abuse of wives and children of people I’ve never met and over whom I hold no influence whatsoever. AND HERE’S A MONTHLONG PINK BITCHSLAP SO THAT YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER BREAST CANCER, YOU STUPID NEANDERTHALS.
As unnecessary as a 24-hour news cycle is for regular news, it’s absolutely preposterous for the sports media. Supply-and-demand ain’t just a footnote in Economics 101, people.
All of this is to say that if you’re going to set yourself to the task of dismantling Western Civilization before my very eyes without even the courtesy of an apology, at least let me watch my fucking sports in peace, you dim-witted, illiterate wastes of human life.

How To Tell A Joke In Three Easy Steps

Posted in The Fail Pail by Huckleberry on September 25, 2014

IMG_0746.JPG

1) Find a man named “Mitt”
2) Admire him for his Blessed underwear
3) Encourage him to run for President of the United States of America three consecutive times

Killer stuff:

Is Mitt Romney, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination and lost in 2008, ran again and won the nomination but lost the general election in 2012, really thinking about running yet again for president in 2016? Many Republicans have simply assumed not. Romney has seemed to discourage such talk in media appearances, and there has been a general belief that after losing as the party’s nominee, the 67 year-old Romney would return to private life for good.

That belief is wrong. Romney is talking with advisers, consulting with his family, keeping a close eye on the emerging ’16 Republican field, and carefully weighing the pluses and minuses of another run. That doesn’t mean he will decide to do it, but it does mean that Mitt 2016 is a real possibility.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?

The Obligatory Arrogance Of Laying Waste To A Wasteland

Posted in Our Simple Affirmative Action President by Huckleberry on September 24, 2014
Boots on the ground.

Boots on the ground.

When the Founders of this country set to the task of cobbling together the foundational charter we colloquially call a Constitution, foreign policy was that part where a chief executive made sure bigger countries than ours didn’t ruin commerce and trade for our citizens. A noble intent, but it didn’t last much past the war of 1812.
Now, foreign policy is managing political concerns against the prospect of lobbing millions of dollars of ordinance at thousands of dollars of enemy infrastructure before declaring a nominal and perfunctory victory over an enemy that never threatened the national interest in any way, shape or form.
This mad tableau provides an ever-ready distraction from the larger issues that pose an actual danger to the national interest but for which the lobbing of millions in ordinance is either ineffective or counter-productive or, worst of all, precipitous of even larger dangers in the offing.
All of this is to say that because a couple of world wars leveled the developed world of the first half of the 20th century, Our Nation, Dedicated to the Proposition of Puttin’ a Boot in Yer Ass (aka the Toby Keith Doctrine) developed a multi-pronged establishment that sought to wage wars subliminally under the surface of Public Attention, and out on the periphery of American Influence, Because Communists, then Because Narcotrafficantes, then Because Militiamen, then Because Terrorists, now Because Other Terrorists.
True, history is rife with empires that shaped the world to their interests, but the key difference is none of them, not a single one, made any bones about being an empire; ask your Congressman about the nature of his Imperial influence. After he’s done looking that up in Websters, he’ll tell you that you’re crazy and to get the Hell out of his office.
The point is, he isn’t going to get a slice of some far-away conquered land because only empires conquer far-away lands. In the Imperial Model, this is where the wealth was, in conquering and pillaging and, well, new land.
For Pax Americana, however, the wealth comes as soon as the first kickbacks on the defense contract clear.
For Jefferson, American influence ended at the borders; for the Roosevelts, it ended at the Horizon; Kennedy said “fuck that, we’re going to the Moon” and that worked out swell except somewhere along the line, while the outer limit of our influence balloned beyond the stars, the inner limit is no longer concerned with prosaic concepts like “borders” and “sovereignty” and “stopping Mexican rape-gangs at the Rio Grande” so just lay back and think of England.
Just ask Scotland how well that works out.

* Editor’s Note: Yes, I’ve had a few, so if this post goes no where, I take full responsibility.

Prognosticating The Least Important Election Of Your Lifetime

Posted in Our Simple Affirmative Action President by Huckleberry on September 23, 2014

Wipeout.

Wipeout.


You know, except for all of the others.
But seriously, today we’re six weeks away from the midterm election, an election that even the media hype machine can’t seem to get it up to talk about, and while they’re correct that the end results don’t really matter, they’re worth taking a spin around just to see what we’re dealing with.
The big question is whether the GOP will win enough seats to take the Senate, control both houses of Congress, and ride out the next two years just as they have the past four – making a big show about standing for and against the things that don’t matter, crumpling like so many cheap suits regarding the things that do matter.
They need to win six for an outright majority free from the perturbance of Vice President-Sheriff Joe Biden, and while all of the general forecasts, polls and electoral mood point to an easy eight-plus seat pickup for the party of Weeping Traitors, at a race-by-race level there’s a 50/50 shot the GOP doesn’t even pick up the six needed to flip the chamber.
How can this possibly be so? The Democrats have absolutely trashed the place in the past eight years. They haven’t polled this bad in such a wide range of areas since the Carter administration.
Surely they’re done, right?
Well.
Turns out that as much as the electorate has given up on the Dems, they seem to be realizing that it’s not a binary thing. Choosing to not vote for a Dem doesn’t then mean voting for the GOP opponent – in an environment as sick as this one, with as little at stake as this one, it surprises me not at all that specific GOP candidates – in most cases hand-picked candidates selected by elephantine power brokers for their easy electability – are derided just as vociferously.
I say good, they deserve to suffer the fruits of their treason.
If the Blues still hold the Senate on November 5, if you hear a cackling on the wind coming from the west that could only be described as frenzied and hysterical, that’s just your ol’ pal Huckleberry enjoying himself some fine vintage schadenfreude. And if the GOP musters six to eight seats, I’ll probably still laugh because by all rights those idiots should pick up 12 in a walk.
But they won’t because they can’t stop shitting their bed.
Granted, it’s still six weeks out, and there’s a lot of movement still to be had in the polls. However, nothing in the race-by-race polls suggest a “GOP Wave” is in the offing, as undecideds have yet to break in either direction.
My early, half-assed prediction: GOP picks up 7 seats by a razor’s margin.

Good Music Friday

Posted in Good Music Friday by Huckleberry on September 19, 2014

Another week, another dollar.
I’m going to do these posts a little different.
And by that, I mean I’m simply going to add something to them.
In addition to the song that no one listens to, I’m going to include a BBQ recipe that no one will try.
How’s that for service?
Anyway, the sick heat wave has finally broken, it’s a cool and mild 82 degrees, and my weekend is all about hammock time.
For the song selection, I was going to go with something else until a discussion on the Facebook Dread Ilk page put this one into my head instead.

Beer Steamed Cheeseburgers

2 lbs ground chuck
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 minced garlic
1 diced onion
1 cup of strong lager

Cast iron skillet and cover – small enough to fit in your grill
Mix up the minced garlic, diced onion and ground chuck, form into hamburger patties, and let cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat up your grill to a good searing temp in the neighborhood of 300 degrees.
Place the patties directly on the grill and sear them up for about 1 minute on each side, then remove them.
Place them in the cast iron skillet, pour in the strong lager, place the skillet’s cover on the skillet, then place the skillet on the grill.
Cover the grill and let it steam up for about 5 minutes, depending on patty thickness.
Remove covers, flip the patties in the skillet, then cover with the shredded cheddar.
Replace the covers and let cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Pull off the skillet, put the patties on a plate and serve ‘em up.
Have a great weekend and get ‘em in.

Interstate Love Song
Purple
Stone Temple Pilots
Atlantic Records | 1994

Reflections and Extrapolations

Posted in A Chronicle Of Decline by Huckleberry on September 19, 2014
Don't be surprised when moving pieces keep wanting to move.

Don’t be surprised when moving pieces keep wanting to move.

Charting the nature of this decline has proven elusive – beyond knowing that it’s coming*, how and when the bottom finally drops out is the biggest question mark in the mix. This isn’t going to be Rome, nor the Incas, Mayas, Mings or Khans. Western civilization isn’t a proper empire – notably it suffers all of the drawbacks with few of the benefits – but through its endeavors the world has never been smaller and the impact of any disruption has never been more widespread.
Simply put, there are a lot more things that can go wrong now than at any time in history, and an increasing number of ways each of those things can go wrong, affecting a wider range of other things in ways that can’t be foreseen. This is the consequence of overly refining and specializing the chains of production and distribution. When there are 39 distinct points in between you and a bag of oranges, and many of those 39 points only work in conjunction with another 26 separate operations that MUST hum along without issue, well, you have an overly complex system that’s begging to be toppled over.
If you haven’t been paying attention, history is basically one long story of things being toppled over.
The worst part about such over-complexity is that it diverts a lot of talent and treasure into supporting such a machine instead of innovating other areas of life. When everything in your house – from the pantry to the toolbox to linen closet – is entirely the product of over-complexity, you’re asking an awful lot of history to not topple you over.
Yet here we are.
While the usual suspects to begin the toppling are disease, diminishing energy, multi-party warfare, unstable currencies and accelerating Irish Democracy, one lesson that is clear as I read through the past is it’ll probably be a little bit of all of it, and a few other things we won’t see coming at all.
And it bears noting that there’s the slimmest chance we’ll be the beneficiaries of Fortune’s Gap and skate right on through without the obvious EPIC COLLAPSE that we all sense is in the offing.
Do you feel lucky?
* Yes, yes, it’s well underway, but the bureaucracy has yet to catch up on the paperwork necessary to note that.

Sovereignty In The UK

Posted in A Chronicle Of Decline by Huckleberry on September 18, 2014
Aye.

Aye.

So the votes are tallying as we speak to see if a less-perfect union can be cast by the wayside in favor of independence. While there are issues large and small that are all worth discussing in this matter, from the fractious history between kingdoms that comprise The United Kingdom of Great Britain (More or Less) to the practicality of a leach separating itself from its host, here we are. In a few hours, Scotland will either be the 31st “new” nation since WWII, or it will trundle on as the, literally, red-headed step-child of a British Empire in name only.
The end result, believe it or not, is less important to me than the many things that this vote foreshadows. If successful, Scotland’s will be the LAST sovereignty won through the ballot box for quite a while. All other existing governments will do their utmost to quell any peaceful and democratic secession effort. This, of course, only means that near-future secession efforts will forego the piddling token of “democracy” and earn it the old fashioned way.
If Scotland does indeed vote NO, though, don’t expect that to end the question at home or abroad. The Scots will get their independence eventually, either through the ballet box, through the muzzle of a gun or through the bottom of an empty wallet. The grand conceit it takes to attempt to freeze the map at 1999 and swear on a stack of UN charters that such a picture is the exemplar of human nation-state development is either insane or a clandestine conspiracy against the career prospects of cartographers.
Yet the most interesting aspect of the Scotland spectacle is the desperation on the part of the British power brokers and government officials begging the Scots to vote NO in exchange for more free shit. In terms of principle, Scotland deserves its independence if it will take it, yet in practical terms Scots in Scotland are THE tugboat pulling the rest of the UK toward the left bank of the river, and the UK elite know this. Cut the SS William Wallace loose, and the remaining territories in lesser Great Britain likely swing quickly toward the right bank, which means the Once and Future England is no good place to be a statist power broker or elite socialist. Much in the same way that US Democrats desperately need left-voting Mexicans for their future electoral security, and Republicans desperately want those same Mexicans to help balance the books once Boomers go bye-bye, the British elite use the Scots for much the same purpose.
The only important difference in that analogy, though, is this – Scotland is the home of the Scots, and their birthright to do with as they see fit. With the Mexicans, less so.
Note well, also, that even if Scotland votes YES, much like the Lisbon Treaty, somehow they’ll keep voting until they get it right, I have a feeling.

The Last Redoubt Of Our Resident Astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson

Posted in Who's On First? by Huckleberry on September 16, 2014
There's always time for pie.

There’s always time for pie.

It’s not a fun time for our Resident Astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson. In addition to not having time to “ask questions” about things, he also doesn’t apparently have time to perform any kind of research at all, choosing instead to fabricate an array of quotes, anecdotes, attributions and facts in pursuit of his “career” as a prosletizer of, as Vox Day would term it, Scientistry.
Sean Davis of the Federalist has been tracking all the corners that Tyson has been cutting so that he can cross the street and get on with it:

We’ve already established that a newspaper headline touted for years by Tyson likely doesn’t exist. We’ve also established that the exact quote he uses to bash members of Congress as being stupid also doesn’t exist. And then we established that the details within one of Tyson’s favorite anecdotes — a story of how he bravely confronted a judge about his mathematical illiteracy while serving on jury duty — seem to change every time Tyson tells the story.

So do you want to see how our Resident Astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, fumbles everything from reading a calendar to reading the Bible?
Of course you do, because we all have time for that:

According to Tyson, in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush uttered the phrase, “Our God is the God who named the stars.” According to Tyson, the president made that claim as a way of segregating radical Islam from religions like Christianity or Judaism.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s story has three central claims: 1) Bush uttered that precise phrase, 2) in the days immediately after 9/11, 3) in order to distance American religion from that practiced by radical Muslims. As you have probably already guessed, every single claim is false. Every one! Then there’s Tyson’s aside that Bush’s quote was a “loose quote” of the book of Genesis. Yep, that’s false, too. Add embarrassing biblical illiteracy to Tyson’s list of accomplishments on his CV.

First off, Bush never uttered the quote attributed to him by Tyson. He did, however, include a separate but similar phrase in a February 2003 speech immediately following the Columbia space shuttle disaster. I don’t have a Ph.D. in physics, but I’m pretty sure February 2003 did not happen in the week after 9/11.

Tyson butchered the quote. He butchered the date. He butchered the context. He butchered the implication. And he butchered the biblical allusion, which was to the prophet Isaiah, not the book of Genesis (you can tell Bush was alluding to Isaiah because he explicitly said he was referencing Isaiah).

Remember, though, Neil de Grasse Tyson has a legit reason for all of this: He’s like a Shark of Science – always moving. And a Shark is equally ignorant of the fine line between research and fraud.

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