Monday, July 31, 2006

You had Better Agree to this Ultimatum...

Unless you've been living in a cave, you know about the brouhaha with Iran being referred to the U.N. security council. Not too long ago, they gave Iran an ultimatum: Cease enriching uranium or face sanctions. The U.N. gave Iran until the middle of August or something like that to agree to the ultimatum, and Iran immediately told the U.N. to go to hell. The U.N. has now come back and said cease enriching uranium or face the threat of diplomatic and economic sanctions, and they have given Iran until August 31 to reply. Let me get this straight...

Iran is doing something the world doesn't like, so the world is saying "Stop it or else..." Iran is saying buggar off. Now that Iran has told us in no uncertain terms that it's not going to listen, the U.N. has come back and said "Ummmm, stop it or else we'll threaten you with strong language and the possibility that we may eventually threaten you with sanctions." It's a good thing that the U.N. is not a parent! These ass clowns have it all wrong.

When you have a child (Iran) who isn't obeying you, you punish them. You don't threaten them, and then back down when they continue to disobey, you punish them, and escalate the punishment until they listen. Here's a tip to the U.N. You idiots have lost all credibility. Every country in the world knows that you're a toothless, spineless capitulating bunch of French-imitators. Iran is never going to listen to you, because they know you're never going to do anything to them.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Racist or Not a Racist

Today’s post is an offshoot of Paulius' post, in which he stated there are idiots out there who seem to think that it’s racist to bait internet scammers, simply because the majority of scammers are Nigerian. Today’s entry will be a parody of a game show, where the host of the show will play out a hypothetical scenario and ask contestants to accurately guess whether main character is a racist or not a racist. If things work out correctly, you will get a laugh or two out of the story, and maybe one or two of those idiots will learn what constitutes racism and what doesn’t.

Moderator: Welcome to today’s episode of “Racist or Not a Racist,” the game show where contestants are given the chance to earn wads of cash and valuable prizes by correctly guessing if a given situation is racially motivated. I’m your host. Let’s meet today’s contestants. Contestant number one is Savannah Jackson, an unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson; Contestant number two is Alexander Duke, a distant cousin of Ku Klux Klansman David Duke, and contestant number three is Marcus Austin, a Methodist minister from Illinois. Welcome contestants, I assume you all know the rules. I will play out a hypothetical scenario, and the first person to buzz in will be given the opportunity to guess the correct answer. If you guess correctly, you earn $100. If you’re wrong, you lose $100. The first person to correctly guess three answers will win that $300 and earn the opportunity to play our grand prize round. Today’s grand prize is a used 1991 Ford Escort wagon, valued at over $250. The other two will have to get the word “LOSER” tattooed on their foreheads. Okay, let’s play “Racist or Not a Racist.”

Question one. A group of boys decide to go out to the highway, so they can throw rocks at the cars of black people. Racist or Not a Racist? Ms. Jackson, you buzzed in first, what is your guess?

Savannah Jackson: Racist.

Moderator: You are correct. Ms. Jackson now has $100. Question number two. A police officer pulls a car over for speeding, and the driver happens to be Muslim. Racist or Not a Racist? Mr. Duke, you buzzed in first, what’s your guess?

Alexander Duke: Not a racist.

Moderator: You are correct. Mr. Duke is now tied with Ms. Jackson, at $100 each, leaving Mr. Austin the only contestant yet to score. Now, following up on the last scenario. The officer steps up to the car, and when the driver rolls down the window, the officer sees that the driver is Muslim and says “Whoa. You were driving pretty fast. Are you late for an al-Qaida meeting?” Racist, or Not a Racist? Mr. Duke, you buzzed in first again, what’s your guess?

Alexander Duke: Not a racist, sir.

Moderator: Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Duke, the correct answer is Racist. Racist is the correct answer, taking away $100 from Mr. Duke. Next question. A computer nerd in South Carolina is tired of Internet scammers, so he decides to beat them at their own game. The vast majority of these scammers are Nigerian. Racist or Not a Racist? Ms. Jackson, you buzzed in first, what’s your guess?

Savannah Jackson: I say Racist.

Moderator: Oh, I’m sorry, Ms. Jackson, the correct answer is Not a Racist. Our panel of judges says that in order for an activity to qualify as racist, the scenario must require discrimination BASED ON RACE. In other words, RACE must be THE determining factor. In this case, the ACTIVITY was the deciding factor. Next question. A group of homophobes vandalize the vehicle of a homosexual in the neighborhood. Racist or Not a Racist? Mr. Austin, you buzzed in first, what’s your guess?

Marcus Austin: Well, this one’s kind of tricky, but I’m going to say Not a Racist, because they’re perpetrating these crimes based on his sexual orientation, not his race.

Moderator: Excellent guess, Mr. Austin. You are now in the lead with $100. As a disclaimer, “Racist or Not a Racist” does not condone discrimination against anyone based on race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, blah blah blah…Next question. A manager promotes a woman in his company based on his fear that failure to promote her will get him stereotyped as a manager who doesn’t promote women. Racist or Not a Racist? Mr. Austin, you were first again, what’s your guess?

Marcus Austin: This is another tough one, but I’m going to say Not a Racist, because this person was promoted because of her gender, not her skin color.

Moderator: Correct. The manager in this scenario practiced SEXISM, because he promoted this subordinate based on her gender, not her skills. Sexism, however, is not racism. Mr. Austin, one more correct answer, and you will go on to our grand prize round. Next question. A man is awakened to the sound of an intruder in his home. The man grabs a gun and kills the intruder, who is of Hispanic descent. Racist or Not a Racist? Mr. Austin, you buzzed in first yet again.

Marcus Austin: Before I answer this one, I’d like to get a clarification. Did the homeowner kill the intruder because the intruder was Hispanic?

Moderator: Mr. Austin, this request for a clarification is highly unusual. Let me ask our panel of judges if we can provide this clarification. (Small pause while the host consults with the judges.) Mr. Austin, our panel has decided to clarify that the homeowner killed the intruder in order to protect his home. Racist or Not a Racist?

Marcus Austin: Not a Racist.

Moderator: Correct, Mr. Austin. The homeowner decided to blow away the idiot because he was protecting his home, not because of the race of the perpetrator. You are now qualified for the grand prize round. To our other contestants, the tattoo artist is in the back, waiting to put LOSER on your foreheads. Oh, we’re out of time. Mr. Austin, can you return tomorrow for the Grand Prize round?

Marcus Austin: I wouldn’t miss it.

Moderator: Excellent. Be sure to tune in to tomorrow’s episode of “Racist or Not a Racist,” where our new champion Mr. Austin will defend his title against two new challengers. A big thanks to today’s sponsors, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation league, and common-sense viewers like you.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mission Accomplished

It's official. Sometime around noon today, I became the proud owner of a new Harley Davidson Sportster 883. To the right, you'll see the proud owner (squinting into the sun) and my younger brother in the background. After buying the bike, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing what any first-time Harley owner would do... I rode around until my butt went numb. Okay, not quite.

I rode around town for a half hour or so to get used to the bike, and then went to an empty parking lot, so I could practice quick stops and tight turns. After that, I rode home. I should mention that "home" was about three hours away from where I bought the bike. I bought the bike in the town where I grew up, mainly because the owner of that dealership is a friend of the family. I took my time coming home, making sure to take backroads until I got comfortable with the bike, and taking breaks along the way.

I'm looking forward to a long and happy relationship with my new toy. And yes, I wore a helmet! Oh, by the way, I'd like to thank my motorcycle safety instructors, Dave and Rex for the invaluable knowledge they shared with me during my motorcycle safety course last weekend.

Two-Party Politics

I read an article this morning on Yahoo News that talked about Dick Cheney's visit to Tampa, FL yesterday. The purpose for Cheney's visit was to stump for Gus Bilirakis, some state legislator who's trying to make it at the Federal level. The article in and of itself wasn't really noteworthy, until I got to the part where Cheney started talking about the war on terror. The point Cheney was trying to make was basically that it's all about the war, and if you vote the Democrats in, they'll cut and run from Iraq. My brain took the next available tangent, and I came to the conclusion that we really need more political parties. For starters, both of the existing parties absolutely suck! They don't care about you, they don't care about me, they don't care about gas prices, they don't care about Iraqis, and they don't care about the poor. All they care about is power.

You see, the Democrats and Republicans are the political power bases in America. If someone wants to get into policical office, they need to be a Democrat or a Republican. That's how you get the power. In return, once you're in office, it's your job to toe the party line, help get others in your party elected, and increase your political party's power. This is one big cycle, and the members of both parties fail to learn from history. The majority party passes laws in an attempt to give itself even more power while the minority cries foul. The public eventually catches on throws the majority party out, and the minority becomes the majority. Repeat as necessary.

A third party coming to power would short-circuit this process. When I say "come to power," I don't mean getting enough clout to single-handedly control the government. What I mean is enough representation to ensure that neither Democrats nor Republicans have a majority anymore. The result would be a coalition-style government. A coalition government would by necessity spend more of its energy truly compromising and finding good answers, as opposed to saying "I'm in power, so you'll do things my way." The end result would be more of a meeting of the minds, instead of this tug-of-war that we've been tolerating for far too long.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Some Parting Words to an Old Boss

Though I've alluded to this before, I haven't directly mentioned it until now. At my old job, one of the higher-ups was gunning for my dismissal. While I was there, I never knew exactly what I did wrong, and I never was told exactly who was pissed at me, though I had my suspicions. I still keep in touch with some of my former co-workers, and I recently found out who had it out for me... though I still don't know why.

The guy is someone who's pretty high in the food chain. In all honesty, after finding out his identity, I'm surprised that I lasted as long as I did, especially considering that in January he specifically asked for my dismissal. Fortunately for me, this guy wasn't politically in the good graces of the other higher-ups, and my direct supervisors put their own necks on the line and vouched for me. Though I know this guy has nothing but contempt for me, and I understand that I'll never work for any company at the same time as him, I am not going to say his name. It's not because I'm worried about burning any bridges -- he's long since burned them. Indeed, I'm choosing not to mention his name because I am a bigger man than him. Of course, I'm not much bigger, because I'm making this blog entry... an open letter to a former boss.

Dear Mr. Higher-up-on-the-food-chain-than-me,

I really don't know where to begin with this letter to you, so I hope you'll pardon me if things seem a little disjointed. I'm sure you'll appreciate the fact that your displeasure with my tenure at "your company" doesn't warrant enough time to edit this blog post for typos, grammatical errors or clarity. I'm not writing this for your benefit, it's for mine.

I don't know what I did that was so horrendous as to earn your wrath, but in the end it doesn't matter. What matters is that I busted my ass for the company. I gave my all as a technician, as an employee and as a man. For almost nine years -- long before you came into the picture -- I was a devoted employee. The company gave me a chance when I was a neophyte technician, and I strived daily to show my loyalty to the company, specifically for that reason.

The funny thing is, I distinctly remember when you were hired. I remember being charmed by your wit, impressed by your intellect, and respecting your ability to read people. When you came to the company, I had high regard for you as an individual and high hopes for what your ability could do for the company. When you came on board, I spoke highly of you.

As time went on, your true nature quickly came to light. People quickly realized that you were a wolf in sheep's clothing, and a snake who could not be trusted. You became demanding, demeaning and untrustworthy. It's no wonder that you were quickly discarded from the "inner circle" of the other managers. Even they saw how slimy you were. Despite all of this though, I continued to think the best of you; I refused to let the truth sink in, and I continued to defend you in the face of your detractors.

Eventually though, even I saw that you weren't what you appeared to be. I understood that you weren't what you portrayed yourself to be. Despite the fact that you began showing your true colors, I still refused to be one of the naysayers. I did this partially out of loyalty to you, partially because I still believed there may be some good in you, and partially because I played the corporate game... refusing to partake in the rumors, and refusing to join the crowd and bash on my boss.

And time ticked on... I still don't know what I did. I still don't know what I did that pissed you off to the point where you actively sought my dismissal. I did realize that any prospect of a rapport with you was gone, but I still refused to bad-mouth you. I did this not out of respect for you as a man -- all of that respect had died -- but out of respect for your position.

Eventually, all of my respect for you had disappeared. I had nothing left for you but contempt. Despite my utter disregard for you as a "man," (I'm using quotes, because I now realize that you're not a man. You're a coward.) I still refused to play the game. I never disparaged you, based on the understanding that what goes around comes around. I chose not to belittle you because I realized that doing so could damage my career. In retrospect, I understand that this is probably the only thing that saved me.

Though I never knew -- until now -- who my main obstacle was, I knew that you (you as an obstacle, not you as a person) existed. Now, with all of this behind me, I've got to say this...

Dude, I'm horribly disappointed in you. I'm disappointed in you as a supervisor, and I'm disappointed in you as a man. I'm disappointed in you because you weren't good enough as supervising me to state your reservations in my shortcomings -- whatever you may have perceived them to be -- and I'm disappointed in you as a man, because you weren't enough of a man to come to me, man to man, and tell me about the defects you saw in me. You could have come to me, whether as a supervisor, or as a man, and told me what you didn't like. Instead, you chose to hide behind your title and play behind the scenes, hoping to undermine my career. You could have looked me in the eye and bravely told me how things were, but instead you hid behind your title and tried to get me fired behind the scenes like the coward you truly are.

Part of me wants to hate you. But I'm no longer in the situation, and quite frankly, you're not worth the effort. Instead, you have my pity, you petty, despicable, cowardly little excuse of a man. I wish you no ill, but I certainly hope that you don't propser. Cowards like you don't deserve to succeed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Plan in the Making

Once again I've been horribly remiss in my posting, but there's a method to my madness. You see, since April, I've been planning on getting a new Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. This weekend brought me one step closer to fulfilling my vision. I took a motorcycle safety class over the weekend. I used to own a bike, but it's been almost 20 years since I've ridden, so I figured a refresher course was in order. The big bonus to taking this safety course is that passing the course in Iowa pretty much guarantees that I get the license... I don't even have to take the test at the DOT (or DMV, depending on what state you're in). All I need to do is show the DOT folks my certificate, pay the fees (and not piss them off) and voila, I get the license. This week, I'll go to the DOT to get the license, and if all works out well, I will be the owner of a brand new Harley by next weekend. I've been wanting a Harley for about ten years, so wish me luck.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Grilling: Charcoal vs. Gas

On Thursday, Paulius posted a tasty-looking grilling recipe, and talked about charcoal grilling vs. gas grilling. (Paulius, you seem to be giving me a lot of material for my blog lately.) In his post, he said that grilling with gas isn't the same, because grilling with gas doesn't provide the same flavor that you get from using charcoal. I agree with his point, but only to an extent. I will say that grilling with gas is usually different, but it depends on the grill. I have a natural gas grill, which I use all the time, and I will put my gas grill up against charcoal any day of the week.

Here's the thing, typically speaking, a gas grill does give a relatively "sterile" taste as opposed to charcoal, but there's something that most people who use gas grills miss... "seasoning" the grill. You see, my grill has the burner and a layer of lava rocks over the burner. The lava rocks serve a dual purpose. The first purpose is to absorb the heat from the burner and redistribute that heat more evenly through the grill, preventing hot and cold spots in the grill. The second purpose is to absorb the grease, BBQ sauce, and other flavors from the meat. Over time, the lava rocks become "seasoned," which provides the same essential flavoring that you get from charcoal. Once the rocks are seasoned, the seasoning burns in a manner similar to charcoal, providing the flavor that you can only get from grilling. Furthermore, as the old seasoning burns over time, more is added with each grilling. It's kind of like recycling your extra grease and BBQ sauce.

I did replace my lava rocks one time, and the first couple of grilled meals immediately after the new lava rocks tasted more "flame-broiled" than grilled. But I quickly learned this, and over the next few meals, I intentionally put extra BBQ sauce directly on the lava rocks, and in short order, my lava rocks were re-seasoned, and I was back in business. The misconception about gas grills is that they all fall short of charcoal, and that's not quite true. The gas grills that fail to live up to charcoal are the cheap ones that don't have lava rocks.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

KFC Casserole

Last night I created a new culinary delight that I have dubbed KFC Casserole. A couple of days ago, we ate at KFC and ended up with some leftovers. Anyone who has ever had KFC understands that leftovers are not the same as eating it fresh, because the grease soaks into crispy stuff, and when you reheat it, you're usually left with a soggy mess. Not wanting to waste the tasty goodness though, I decided to make a casserole out of it, and in all humility I've got to say that I came up with a cooking masterpiece.

Here's the recipe:

-Leftover KFC Chicken
-Leftover KFC gravy
-1 can corn, drained
-1/2 package frozen hashbrowns, thawed
-2 cups shredded cheese

Separate the meat and crispy coating from the skin and bones. Discard the skin and bones, and throw the meat and crispies into a greased casserole pan. Drizzle the gravy over the meat. Layer the corn over the top of the meat and gravy. Put half of the cheese on top of that, and place the hash browns on top. Bake at approximately 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the hash browns start to brown. Then crank the heat to about 500 degrees for a few minutes, until the hash browns are truly browned. Pull the casserole out of the oven, spread the remaining cheese on top, and put it back in the oven for a few minutes... just long enough for the cheese to melt.

The end result is incredible! The crispies soak up the gravy, giving you a stuffing-like consistency. The original chicken and gravy are pre-spiced, so there's no need to add any additional spices. This dish is incredibly easy and it's sure to delight your taste buds. Try it. I promise, you won't be disappointed.