Month: May 2012

Dinner Tonight: Shrimp Scampi with Spaghetti

So we found some x-large shrimp at Wal-Mart of all places. It was IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) so we bought a few packages and I defrosted one overnight in the fridge. The others went into the freezer.

They cost $7.99 per bag, and provided two servings.

Here’s what you need:

12 oz. X-large shrimp, shell removed, de-veined.
1/2 Package #3 Spaghetti
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
Juice of one half lemon
3 Tbsp white wine, Pinot Grigio works really well with this.
3 Tbsp Parsley Chopped
2 Tbsp Garlic Chopped (You can use the bottle stuff here!)
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Black Pepper

Prepare the shrimp by seasoning on both sides with salt and Black Pepper and placing on a plate.

Boil 4 to 5 quarts of water, with enough salt added to make the water look cloudy.

When at boil, break pasta in half and add to pot. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, testing at 6 minutes to the texture you like.

Heat olive oil and butter in a 12″ skillet over medium high heat. When foaming of butter subsides, dump in shrimp from plate, you want all the shrimp to hit at once.

Let the shrimp cook for 1 minute per side. Once shrimp are cooked, add the garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and wine. Lower heat. Add red pepper flakes. Let the pasta cook and once the pasta is drained, add one half of the sauce to the pasta and toss.

Now I have eighteen pieces of shrimp. We love shrimp in this house so 9 pieces per serving. Put spaghetti on plate, add shrimp and pour one half of sauce over the shrimp and pasta on each plate.

Bon Apetit!

You’ll love it.

DOMA Falls again

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has declared Section 3 of the Federal DOMA Act to be unconstitutional. This is another nail in the coffin of that horrid law.

However there are other sections of the law for instance that allow states to deny recognition that still need to be taken on.

I’ve said it before but never formally here on the blog. DOMA as we know it will be defeated in late 2012 or early 2013. You can see the writing on the wall and I believe a large driver of this is repealing DADT that allows gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly.

Once they could serve openly you knew it would only be a matter of time before they’d move to exercise one of the many benefits granted spouses of veterans and be denied because of DOMA.

This is real progress, something I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

If you think about it, President Obama’s legacy is clear. He has in fact been our fierce advocate. That he has done so in his first term, and that he openly supports marriage equality so close to the November elections, that is just icing on the cake.

I had a strong intuition that President Obama supported marriage equality, but was waiting for a politically opportune time to come out and say it. And I believe Question 1 in North Carolina was the tipping point so to speak.

It is likely that my generation will find ourselves as equal citizens at long last. That is completely remarkable.

But we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the likes of those who came before us, the likes luminaries of pre-Stonewall, the heroes who were cut down in their prime, it all contributed to get us where we are today some fifty years later.

Some driving observations on our recent trip

A few things occurred during our recent trip to North Carolina that stand out and deserve a post of their own.

I’ll number them for easy reference:

1) Drove down using the new EZ-Pass. Because it’s portable between vehicles I had it backwards and it wouldn’t register. Flipping it around worked. Now here is another tangent – we don’t even NEED little RFID packs to ID for tolls anymore. Simply change the EZ Pass to be based on machine readable license plates. Problem solved – and you can apply it to ANY vehicle, just go to the EZ Pass web site and plug in the registration number and off you go. But I do note that many states are now doing EZ Pass Only Lanes. These don’t even tell you if the pass was read, you just fly through at 45 to 50 MPH. I love it!

2) Related to the above point I noted something. States that charge tolls tend to have the WORST roadways. I offer as example the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95 through Connecticut. The former is rutted, pock marked, and generally unpleasant to drive on, whereas the latter has highways that have a glass like surface that is a joy to drive on. No hum, drone, bump, all gone. This is the crux of my complaint about tolls: If the money collected actually paid for maintenance, replacement and improvement of the roadways it would be one thing, but that it doesn’t says legislators steal, yes I said it, steal the money from tolls for other purposes.

3) Drivers in Rhode Island and Virginia have something in common. Neither of them can drive worth a damn. The worst traffic jams going down were in Virginia. They were due mostly to gawk factor. For example, a police cruiser with cars pulled over causes a massive traffic jam. And then an accident like we saw where a minivan apparently went through a thicket of trees and came out stuffed with foliage. That backed traffic up for 15 miles. A bit of advice – just move along.

4) Cops – they are completely predictable. Mostly because a lot of cops are dumb as a box of rocks (mostly the local yokels), and the other because on long stretches of road you realize it’s impossible to patrol all of it.

4A) If you are going to speed, always try to get a vehicle in front of you that is moving faster that way they become the target for law enforcement attention and not you. So while you’re doing 85MPH, let some idiot doing 90MPh get out ahead. He’ll get pulled over first.

4B) This is the interesting part. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you watch this clip. The passenger compartment stays intact but just watch and remember this next time you’re humming along at 70MPH, 80MPH etc.

Yes that is correct. The passenger compartment may survive but rapid deceleration from 102 feet per second to 0 feet per second will make your internal organs want to leap out of your body. Not good.

So with that point in mind remember the rule of the road that you leave one car length for every 10MPH of speed. With modern vehicles with anti-lock and anti-skid you can probably get down to maybe half that. But leave space for other to merge in. And a tip, when merging in to a lane at speed, punch the accelerator pedal. Eek every last foot pound of torque out of that engine because nothing annoys more than when you’re moving at 80MPH and leaving plenty of space and some dick wad moves in doing 65MPH. Get up to speed then move in or have a car that can accelerate instantly. If you can do neither, stay the fuck out of the left lane!

It’s interesting, I mentioned this little fact to the girl at the car rental place. She had a look of shock on her face when I told her about rapid deceleration.

4C) Think like a cop. Get to know the local schedules etc. Plus if you drive by an accident scene with 4 or 5 cruisers on scene, that’s likely the entire complement for a 50 mile stretch of road.

4D) If you are going to speed, be smart about it. Look for obvious hiding spots. And if you see a cop in the median and you’re speeding just back off the gas, don’t jack on the brakes. This is especially true if you’re in a pack of cars doing roughly the same speed.

5) The most polite drivers between Rhode Island and North Carolina are the latter. For example, if you’re in the left lane and you come upon a slower moving vehicle, without having to flash your high beams, they move right and let you pass. Imagine that!

6) One of the more idiotic things is a DUI Checkpoint. Cops in podunk towns don’t get proper traffic control training and so handle it badly. RI did away with check points back in 1989. But we still get plenty of DUI’s in the state. I think cell service is so ubiquitous that people will narc on you. Plus some towns here have more roving patrols so they catch more people. Part of it is driven by FHA rules for highways. It’s also responsible for primary seat belt laws out there too. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that seat belts save lives. But here in RI we have a primary seat belt law that started as secondary, but no helmet law for motorcyclists!

7) The worst roads on the eastern seaboard are in RI.

What I have been up to

You may have noticed it took me a longer time to approve comments and I haven’t posted in nearly a week.

It is because Keyron an I traveled to North Carolina for the Memorial Day holiday.

On the way down I wore my red alphabet shirt. It’s the one where the alphabet, numbers, and a few symbols are created using various video game controllers. The interesting thing is you catch the video game freaks. The shirt was recognized by someone at a service stop on the way down an by my future niece, Macy.

Another interesting event happened on Saturday night. We’re coming back from Elizabeth City to Gum Neck. As we’re coming down NC 94 I see a police car pulled over into a parking lot with his strobes on. And they are standing in the road waving traffic forward with a flash light. So I start to roll through an the cop stops me.

Yep, DUI check point. You see, where I live (RI) check points were ruled unconstitutional in Primental v. Rhode Island, 561 A.2d 1348 (R.I. 1989).

The cop asks for ID and registration so I hand them over, he looks at them and hands them back and tells me I can move along and that flashing blue lights mean slow down in North Carolina. Yeah, ok, except for the fact that waving your flashlight back and fort means go through and parking at least 20 feet OFF the roadway – yep, you’re a dumb ass cop. I neglected to ask if he was county or town police.

Then further down on S. Broad there was another DUI checkpoint. Ut si! This one only wanted my ID, did a cursory inspection of the car and confirmed that it was in fact a DUI check point. Interesting. But at least the police in the second instance had TWO cruisers parked on the roadway shoulder and lights going.

Interestingly in Rhode Island, while they may not be able to setup check points, they do bust enough people under the influence. Probably due to the fact that cell phones are now ubiquitous and people will narc on you if they think you’re under the influence.

You see some photos on my Flickr site – I’ll upload more now that I’m in 4G land again and once I’ve had a chance to process some of the photos. I got some sky shots that I have to bring onto my pc and into photoshop to enhance the contrast.

Build the Enterprise

I like this idea very much. They are actively planning out building out a fully functional starship of sorts.

The impulse engines are actually  Ion Propulsion. In case you weren’t aware there are already unmanned spacecraft hurtling around the solar system called Dawn. Ion propulsion is interesting too. It’s not that it can do fantastic speeds, it’s that the accleration is constant. So she’s hurtling around out there are a pretty good clip.

I’d like to see the Enterprise proposal come to fruition in say a decade. That would be so totally cool.


May/June reading list

So I’ve got a few books I want to read between now and the end of June.

They are as follows:

A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski – a a nice romp through 500 years of gay history in the U.S. I’m only about 1/3 in right now but it’s fascinating.

9 Algorithms That Changed the Future by John MacCormick. Self explanatory but it covers things Search Engine Indexing, PageRank, PKE, Error Correcting Code, Pattern Recognition, Data Compression,  Databases,  and Digital Signatures. Fun!

Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick – a social engineering pro Mitnick always provides a good read of his exploits.


Minnesota Marriage Minutes Two Minutes of Boving Effluent

I’ve been watching these inane Minnesota Marriage Minutes for some time and I always find it interesting that the bigots don’t allow you to comment on their YouTube videos. They even disable ratings.  It is akin to someone holding their hands over their ears and shouting ‘La la la la la’ in order to not hear something that would cause cognitive dissonance.

But in this case I’ve decided that I will make my comments in the most logical place, my blog. And I know I’ve been lax on tagging posts but you can bet your ass I’ll be certain to tag these appropriately. I want them to be very easy to search out on Google and other engines.

I’ll take it point by point with my responses:

1) First of all they use stock photography : Family with kids, couple no kids, couple no kids, and then just a bunch of kids. You can read a lot into this. First of all they try to make it appear that those are the norm. Of all of the photos, the last one of just kids is the most normal of all without any baggage.

2) Calling Judge Walker’s judgment ‘preposterous’ is interesting. It wasn’t that traditional marriage violates the Federal Constitution, oh no. It was that law violated the constitution, more specifically the BAN of same-sex marriage in California’s Prop 8. And calling into question Walker’s alleged homosexuality is a false flag tactic. I say that because any jurists try and balance a case against the Constitution. And the arguments made against Prop 8 which btw, have been confirmed at the Appellate level, were solid. That’s the thing about law, you have to PROVE you case with facts, not superstition and personal feelings, something our opponents cannot do.Yanta saying it “… may have colored…” is interesting. She’s essentially telling us that this is her OPINION.

3) Yanta tries to bring up a 1972 court case in Minnesota. That it was 40 years ago says it all. 1972 saw the country still being Neanderthal in it’s thinking about gay rights even then. You didn’t have any preponderance of people that were living out and productive lives. For us to live openly took time. As we have done so many people, in fact more than half the average sample population in surveys on marriage equality, have been supportive. She says that no other Federal court has ever reached such a ‘radical’ conclusion. Well yes peaches, that’s because in 1972 you didn’t know a whole lot of gay people. Now you do.

4) She calls Minnesota’s law ‘defining marriage as a man and a woman’  is not only rational but profoundly in the common good’ – that may be so however changing marriage law to be gender free would only ENHANCE marriage not destroy it. She continues to say ‘It is motivated by a sincere and well placed to ensure that children born are known by and cared for by their natural parents. Children need a mother and father” and she goes on to quote the ideal environment for children. This  is the standard falsehood spread by the likes of NOM. It is false because what about the unwanted children out there? Would Yanta want them to languish in an orphanage or in state care, rather than let a gay couple adopt and rasise those kids? That right there is the epitome of animus.

5) Yes Ms. Yanta, it is about hatred and animus. You can try to mask it any way you wish but you have animus towar the LGBT community.

So if you don’t want to have yourself called out on your shit, maybe you shouldn’t even make the videos in the first place.

A burning question: Should we demonstrate against anti-gay politicians?

When a politician tries to yank away my rights as a gay person, I get rather peeved. And as someone good with databases I post bigoted politicians home and business info, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

I want them to PAY for their idiotic attempts to repeal our rights.

In the latest case is is one Senator Frank Ciccone of Providence. He slipped in a resolution to negate Governor Chafee’s executive order regarding recognizing LGBT marriages performed out of the state of RI.

The reason I post their info is I want them to think really hard before they say such stupid shit. And if demonstrating in front of their homes scares them, too fucking bad.

So it is with this I ask, is it appropriate and part of our first amendment rights to march and demonstrate in front of bigots homes and businesses? My answer on the subject is in the affirmative.

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%.

The above is what I’ve long known. I was fortunate, I came up through schools that had teachers who cared about their students. I suppose that’s the difference when your parent(s) are paying for it.

But what I found most abhorrent over the past few years was the use of Zero Tolerance policies. That struck me as being extremely ill thought out, path of least resistance type thinking. And I’ve heard more first person anecdotes over time to make the determination that Zero Tolerance does not, and never has, worked to the betterment of those kids in the schools.

From ignorance of IEP and behavioral plans, to teachers who don’t care enough about their students to challenge them. And in the latter case, it isn’t because the teachers couldn’t do it, but because the structure of their school doesn’t permit such action.

I remember my participation in one of several program reviews at high schools around the state. I met two different teachers, one of them a younger teacher who was enthusiastic about the subject he was teaching. The other was basically teaching MS Office skills. She had the kids doing a payroll spreadsheet and manually calculating the deductions.

So I stopped and asked her if perhaps the kids might be better prepared for life if they knew some VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). VBA lets you add conditional and branching logic. So for example, you could do lookup tables for tax rates, or correct malformed zip codes, all sorts of utilities to transform data.

The teachers response was you needed advanced math for that. I gave her a quizzical look and said that it really was the BASIC programming language, that you didn’t need much more than beginners algebra and I noted on my review sheet that it should be incorporated into the class.

But above you have two examples of teachers. One enthusiastic and dynamic, one apathetic and lackadaisical.

But they all need to go that further step. And I’d also like to suggest that we need to better train our teachers. Incorporate the ACE recognition into the curriculum. That way it gets into EVERY school over time.

Wow – a rich man understands that the consumer is key

This is really interesting. Capitalist Nick Hanaeur did a TED presentation where he makes the case that the rich are NOT job creators and that instead it is a feedback loop, that more consumption drives job creation.

Watch for yourself:

I cannot believe TED didn’t have the gall to post this on their site. They’ve had some fairly radical speakers in the past, things that would rock the political sphere, so why would they suppress a rich man explaining that and those like him are not job creators, that a healthy and robust middle class creates more jobs.

Instead our politicians over the years have given all sorts of tax breaks and incentives to the rich, while cutting the social benefits for the people. I’m sure you’re aware that right at this moment congress is proposing ever more tax breaks for the rich while at the same time threatening to cut safety net programs like food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc.

So here’s my proposal:

1) Expand the food stamp benefit – double the amount you get per month. When you even have the woman whose dissertation was used as the template for food stamps saying that the amount wasn’t meant to be fixed you know something needs to be done. Maybe fix food stamps to the consumer price index. What it means is that the benefit would go from an average of $175 a month to $500 to $600 a month.

2) Expand unemployment benefits, instead of 1/3 of salary, make it 2/3’s or 3/4’s. And unemployment benefits should NOT be taxable.

3) Enhance the federal minimum wage by doubling it. If we did that today it would go from $7.20 per hour to $14.40 per hour. A person working 40 hours a week would go from a gross of $288 per week, net $190.08, to $566 gross, net $380.16 per week.

That last part would add $190.08 per week, $832.05 a month, $9,876.55 per year. What do you think people would do with the extra money? They’d buy things like televisions, cars, homes, computers, food, appliances, all sorts of bigger ticket items.

And the higher demand for the above items would mean a ramp-up in production and higher employment.

Now you may ask, how do we pay for those enhanced benefits that I outlined above. Mr. Nanaeuer touches on it in his video when he mentions that the tax rate for capital gains is 15% while income tax is about 35%.

Just invert the rates. Make the rate on capital gains 35%, and the rate on income 15%. Or maybe do 45% on capital gains, 10% on income.

And of course I have to touch on the fact that infinite growth is not possible. We live with finite resources. However technology is increasing at the point where we are actively considering mining asteroids. But we need to set limits, where demand may not match supply. Because if we don’t we end up with BNL in the movie Wall-E.

But if we refuse to act, we end up returning to the dark ages, to fiefdom to life where as Hobbes put, is nasty, brutish and short.

We need to get our politicians heads out of their asses and start helping out the middle class. Because if the middle class disappears, this country returns to an era we haven’t ever seen because we never had Fiefdom here. If the people have no money, business collapses.

So get in touch with your legislators, at both the state and federal level. Let them know we’re not going to take it anymore. Call, email, even send a paper letter. If you’re not sure who your elected representatives are I can only tell you to seek out your Secretary of State’s web site in your state and start there. Most have an elections section that will tell you who you representatives are just using your address.

And for the sake of a non-existent deity, register to vote. Even with the Voter ID bullshit out there most states have the capability to issue Voter ID’s. I know that is the case here in RI, just head over to the Sec of State’s office and present your health club ID card, and you get a voter ID.

Get out there, don’t just vote but talk to your legislators. They are people just like us. Tell them we aren’t going to take it sitting still anymore. That we’re going to get active. Because our lives depend on that political activism.