Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brawling Leprechauns

You read that right, brawling leprechauns, we have bath-salt-zombies in Miami and now a man in Seattle is telling the authorities his injuries are due to being attacked by a pack of those whimsical Irish fae when the cops responded to calls about a bar fight. Apparently the pint-sized miscreants took offense to him dancing with the wrong woman and decided to bring him down to size with an ass kicking of mythical proportions. I tend to believe it is just some drunk jackass,as I would expect the beating to involve more shillelagh related blunt force injuries if it were leprechauns.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cool and Creepy

One of the blogs I follow, full of cool and creepy stuff is Curiomira, which chronicles the work of Jacob Petersson, a swede who happens to be in to art and making props and is incredible at it. From his hunting trophies of a faun, a laughing devil and even a creepy loup garou that looks like it came straight from a french medieval woodcut to a faerie preserved in a glass jar, a redcap in a sealed case, gorgeous music boxes and mechanical gloves everything on his blog is kind of creepy and really cool. He does, as far as I know, as much of the work by hand as possible and if your tastes run a bit to the dark and odd you should take a look.

Border Security

So there is a lot of talk in the news and political circles about the end-run that president Obama did around congress, declaring that illegal immigrants under 30 would not be investigated or deported. Some people are fine with it and some aren't. What I find amazing is how this has, seemingly, boosted the president's approval amongst Latinos above 60%. Sure we are all immigrants or descended from immigrants (unless you are like one of my cousins and can reasonably claim native ancestry, and even she will tell you she has more than a little euro blood in her) and we should all be forgiving. I get that, but there are a few points that argument forgets.

Point one would be that you can't really have a nation if you don't control your borders, an open border makes it impossible to effectively collect taxes since you have large portions of the populous who live in one nation seasonally to work and another to claim it as their  homeland and evade income taxes. There's also the issue of national security, with no effective border control criminals can come and go as the please, committing crimes here and passing in to Canada or, honestly far more likely, Mexico to evade prosecution. In point of fact controlling the border has, traditionally, been the purview of the military despite the fact that in the United States we have a policing agency do it.

The second point goes to fairness. Obviously we can't deport every illegal alien, the logistics of that task are... well, mind boggling. We need to control our borders and then start investigating and screening illegal aliens. Felon? You get booted out of here never to return, but if you have no crimes (other than coming here illegally of course) on your record, can prove you are taking steps to provide for yourself and your family, and are willing to take the needed steps I have no real problem with you being put on the path to citizenship. I still believe this country was made great by immigration after all, by accepting those who had the drive to come here and seek a better life, I just also believe we need to be sensible about it.

Before I end this post I'm going to address one more issue the open border crowd makes, they point to how many jobs there are that American workers won't do that are necessary to the nation on some level. Well... bullshit, the fact of the matter is Americans won't do them at that price is all, and if those sectors of the economy are running on that tight a margin there is something wrong with how things are being run, my first inclination is to blame central planning and government tampering. Look at every empire that has collapsed (America is an empire, make no doubt about it, foreign correspondents comment on a pax americana for a reason) and at the end they fell partly because their house was not in order, they relied on an immigrant caste to do the hard work for them  while their own populous grew soft, weak willed and effete. The answer to Americans not doing the job isn't importing workers, it's getting our own house in order.

I'm going to leave one last thing, I may not agree with the writer's perspective in total, but they do make some good points in this article at Nuking Politics, and if you want to learn a bit more about the issue it is a good read.

Freedom of Speech

Well, the left wingers are at it again, Media Matters is gearing up to try and shout down any sort of conservative speech during this election cycle and recently admitted that their reportage and political actions concerning Rush Limbaugh's comments on Sandra Fluke were pre-planned operations, in place in case the media giant said something they could spin in to a controversy. They didn't exactly have to wait long, Rush is known for throwing verbal pipe bombs and like Ann Coulter is a favorite target of the left. I'm not going to ask you to cry for either of them, they're adults who can take care of themselves. Hell, even if they couldn't they have more than enough money to hire a veritable army of handlers if they chose to.

What I am going to talk about is the way the left has a problem with conservative speech. I'm never going to call for Rachel Maddow to be fired, her show is too damn funny for me to want off the air, and Chris Matthews is great for giving the old MST3K treatment to. Comparitively most on the left are... less than tolerant of dissent, from protest campaigns against conservative speakers (Michelle Malkin has had things thrown at her, as has Miss Coulter, Neal Boortz, Larry Elder and a whole host of others. If you are black and outspokenly conservative expect at best to be called an Oreo like Bill Cosby when he commented that the disintegration of the black community was caused in large part by the black community eschewing traditional morals) to SOPA and net neutrality laws (Despite the HuffPo and Daily Kos conservative sites on average get far more traffic by just about every metric, SOPA and net neutrality were both pretty thinly veiled moves to eliminate large sections of political speech through different workaround on the 1st amentment) to out right threats of violence (Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham have all called out the hypocrites who talk about them trying to cause violence with every book or article they write, and then call for someone to kill them.)

No matter how you look at it there is a huge discrepancy in how the two parties look at freedom of speech with the conservatives taking a traditionalist view that respects the first amendment while liberals try to dance a merry little jig on it's grave. If you still aren't convinced go over to the Soopermexican and read the piece he has up that inspired this little rant, he even goes in to the relationship between Media Matters and the Obama re-election effort.

The Most Arrogant Man In The World

Over at Never Yet Melted they have a great parody of the dos equis "most interesting man in the world" commercials that I'm almost sure everyone has seen  but, hell, I like it so much I'm linking it. I'm going to be clear here, I'm a libertarian and didn't vote for Obama, believing he was a federalist who believes in the supremacy of the state over individuals. I did however hope he would prove me wrong since every nation that moves towards a powerful state-centrist system inevitably decreases the freedoms of it's populous (Soviet Russia, Maoist China, Khmer Cambodia and so on and so forth), I'm a patriot and love my country after all. I wanted to believe the best man possible was serving as president.

 I'm of the opinion that Obama has if anything proven my concerns valid, acting in defiance of the will of the people in regards to "stimulus" spending, health care reform that will take freedom and choices out of the hands of the consumer, and a justice department  that obfuscates at every turn while claiming complete transparency. To be blunt, Obama and his administration have been, as this video claims, the most arrogant in the world.

A Dog Tale

I'm a huge fan of dog stories, and I don't mean that in some macho he-man way, but simply put I think most dogs are better people than most people and when a writer shows that... well, they get a permanent place on my book shelf. Maybe having a really great dog when I was a kid shaped that view, maybe it is instinctive since I still don't trust someone if they don't like dogs. I don't know. In any case one of those books is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It's a lovely story about a dog's recollections off a life lived by the side of his human, through good times and through bad, and is truly uplifting. Any time I need a bit of cynicism cleared from my system this is one of the books I go for. If you want to read a sweet, funny novel that will make you want to go out and buy your dog a steak, give The Art of Racing in the Rain a try.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

RAMPAAAAGE!

Well, the smart, funny and mercilessly vulgar animated take on the spy thriller, Archer, won the Critic's Choice Award for best animated series, not exactly a shocker since most of the competition out there was for children or mind numbingly boring. The only shows I would call competition for it out of the nominees were Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Family Guy. Since critics still either dismiss anything about a galaxy a long time ago or are rabid fanboys themselves, and every character on Family Guy has been Flanderised to the nth degree it is unsurprising, and to be clear I am a rabid SW fanboy myself (I have dictionaries for both the Sith and Mandalorian languages) and loved Family Guy for years, I just didn't see them winning the new Critic's Choice Award. Definitely not with the suave, engrossing, and energy laced style punctuated with over the top humor, call outs to the source material, and outright parodies of genre tropes that is Archer. So congratulations to the writers and actors, suck it to the producers, and remember, when they're dead they're just hookers.

Why PC Gaming Is Dying

Let me start right off by saying I don't care about the numbers, about what title is selling how many copies for how much. The fact is most PC games these days are either MMO's or ports of console games and it is killing off the fanbase and there is a reason for it that I'll get to shortly. About five years ago I left the console market, I had a pretty good laptop bought maybe six months after it was cutting edge and I had no real interest in half the titles for either of the two leading consoles, the ones I was interested in could all be bought for the pc so that is what I started to do. Over the years I've put together a pretty good collection of the titles that interest me most (I'm a typical guy, shooters like Rainbow Six, action rpg's like Mass Effect and strategy games like Pax Romana are my thing. Ok, the last one isn't too typical, Pax Romana is on a whole different level than the total war titles in terms of intricacy) and sure, I've sold a few of my games over the year for store credit, but that was always part of the fun of being a pc gamer. Done with this game? Gotten all the loot, done all the side quests and played through as all the classes? Cool, you can turn it in for store credit and walk out with a new-to-you title to conquer.

Unfortunately the big game developers aren't a fan of that, they want each person who enjoys their work to pay them directly. I can sort of understand that, but at sixty bucks a pop it becomes a bit cost prohibitive. I have other interests (I'm taking pictures of my collection of martial arts and self defense weapons to eventually be posted to this site for one.) and between them, the cost of upgrading or buying a new laptop every few years, and the costs of the games themselves, not to mention DLC, something has to give. How do the developers try to make you pay full price every time?

 Registration codes and always online games, it's a bit of a pain in the neck but generally it works... well, except when it doesn't. See for some of us, even hardcore gamers like myself the sticker shock is a little too much, we either cut back the number of new games we buy, start playing free and shareware games, or we start pirating stuff. Under any of those scenarios the company loses money or at least fails to make more money. Some companies aren't as bad as others, EA does offer discount prices on digital copies of their older games, but going from $60 or $70 down to $20 or $30 seems like less of a deal when you don't have a disc as backup. The point remains, the sort of iron fisted control the industry is looking for is driving casual, and some not so casual, fans out of the market. Sure the big companies will survive, micro-transaction based purchases of downloadable content are a growing part of every company's business model, but in the long term it is going to lead to a far smaller selection of original titles, way more crappy ports of console games, and eventually a less enthusiastic fan and customer base.

Warning: Beer Snobbery Ahead

I'm a little bit of a snob when it comes to my beers, there are very few common domestics I like because to me Coors tastes like Budweiser tastes like miller tastes like Pabst tastes like piss. I'm not going to stop you from drinking any of that, after all it means more of the good stuff for me. My daily drinker is Guinness, either Draught or Extra Stout but every so often I branch out a bit and earlier this week I was at the Ormond Wine Company  and tried out the Arrogant Bastard Oaked, I'll admit I liked it, it had a full, hoppy flavor with a lot of subtle notes to it and a good, strong finish that left a bit of the taste in your mouth. My only complaint would be I think they went too far with the oak, it's a distinctive note and overall I liked it, but I couldn't help but feel a bit like I had been smoking a cigar with my beer and when I want that I tend to actually smoke a cigar with my beer. Over all it was a fine experiment and I chased it with some very nice ciders (I'm a fan of Woodchuck) to give me a good mellow feeling while I finished my paper, so I'm calling it a success.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Credulous Morons

Over at Time they are discussing what the type of dog you owns says about you. I'm gratified they admit it is all somewhat unscientific but really? Women actually believe men with pit bulls and rottweilers are any skeevier than a guy with a labrador retriever? Amazing.

Slippery Slopes And Political Speech

The title sort of says it all, doesn't it? There is one again talk in the air of regulating the free speech of corporations. Shocking? Only in it's patent stupidity. I'm no big corporation sycophant but I am able to see how these arguments tend to play out. Legally corporations aren't complex, they're a voluntary association working towards a common goal, usually under some sort of charter or other legal document. The fun comes when you consider how a law regulating political speech by a corporation can be expanded on. Anyone remember RICO laws? Their the most obvious example but there are plenty of laws concerning conspiracy or action as a group that would make it easy for someone to say "this group is a corporation" for no other reason than differing political viewpoints. Consider something before you demand a group silenced by new government powers.... what happens when the other side gets the big stick? If you are a ring wing radio nut maybe you shouldn't call for NPR's broadcast license to be revoked. If you are an Occupier try to tone down the bitching about the Tea Partiers. A debate was never made more civil by bringing police forces in to it, it just turns things in to a bigger tug of war.

Being a budget gourmand

People that know me aren't going to be surprised at all by this, but I'm kind of a food freak. Sure I'm in great shape but that is from exercise, the truth of the matter is I'm a gourmand, a lover of food and on a budget that is hard. Sure classically a gourmand loved pretty much all food, and I'll grab a sack of McFatty's every now and again, but I prefer to find really good food at low prices and on that count Aldi's and the local farmer's market have been my friend. Aldi's is a really great bargain store because they rely on the overproduction of the big companies, there are very few things beyond the staples (frozen fish filets and boneless, skinless chicken breast are so versatile if you know how to cook) that you will find time and time again so it is a store that actually kind of makes you expand your epicurean horizons.

My local farmer's market? Well, I live in Florida so it kind of spoils me when it comes to produce, I can get almost anything all year and have it fresh and locally sourced. As great as that is it isn't the only reason I go there though, I love the weird little niche shops, like the pickle place or the hot sauce booth, or the lady that makes all sorts of loaves of cake, or the coffee shop with their chocolate dipped espresso beans. There are so many little weird food vendors who are passionate about what they sell and how they make it (I'm looking at you, organic, locally sourced honey guy) that I know every time I go there with a few extra bucks I'm coming away with some good stuff.

Actually that brings to mind people blaming obesity on poverty, it's a really stupid argument because yes there is a ton of premade crap out there but no one is forcing it down your throat and it really isn't cheaper than buying the ingredients and working a little DIY magic. The reason people do it is primarily because people are lazy and while cooking is easy, learning to cook is hard. I'm going to be sharing some great recipes, either of my own making or ripped from the net here every time I run one of these budget gourmand articles. Here comes the first.



Ravioli Lasagna: A fun take on an Italian classic

Ingredients

    1 pound ground beef
    1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
    1 package (25 ounces) frozen sausage or cheese ravioli
    1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

    In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. In a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish, layer a third of the spaghetti sauce, half of the ravioli and beef and 1/2 cup cheese; repeat layers. Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
    Cover and bake at 400° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6-8 servings.


Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1-1/2 cups) equals 438 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 77 mg cholesterol, 1,178 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 26 g protein.

I'm a bit of a cheese fiend so with this dish I usually toss in a bit of extra mozzarella which does raise the fat content but it is still a pretty good meal, if a bit high calorie. That's fine, dinner is supposed to be the big meal of the day where you get all the stuff you missed in earlier meals. I usually like to start off with a spinach salad in light Italian dressing, or bleu cheese dressing if I am feeling a bit decadent and a glass of red wine (you can find some great cheap ones, I rarely spend more than $8 a bottle) paired with the main course, usually a merlot though I've been really enjoying sangria lately.

In which introductions are made...

Hey there, readers. I'm your friendly narrator and this is not my first time blogging. It is my first time trying to do it solo though. Now, you might be asking yourself why "The Gentleman Punk? Isn't that a bit contradictory?" Yes and no, you see, a gentleman is someone who is self reliant, possessed of a certain confidence earned through learning his craft, and having the conviction to stand up for himself, his beliefs, and those around him. The punk rock movement was all about DIY, not backing down, and being who you are. On those notes their pretty similar, everything else is really just aesthetics.