If You Love Me, You Will Confess You’re a Racist…

… and if you don’t confess you’re a racist, then clearly, you’re a HUGE racist.

I suppose, for many people reading that title, thinking themselves sophisticated, progressive thinkers and knowing immediately that I’m being sarcastic, already know that I’ve set things up for the tone of the rest of this post. Bravo. You’re welcome to read on to confirm those suspicions. Or not. It’s always your choice. People will always want to find out what “side” you’re on. But I’m just not on any side, and if that means I’m on the “wrong side of history”, so be it.

So, I was googling for a snappy explanation of this still-popular, manipulative verbal construct, “if you love me, you would…” and one of the first matches was this post:

If You Love Me, You Would…

After reading it, I’ll say that, while I cannot confirm whether the author has any sort of academic pedigree to make her a credible authority, my opinion is that she’s 100% right. If you haven’t already, please go read it now. Come back after you’ve read it completely with your full open mind.

Go on. I’ll just wait here.

Now, I don’t know this particular author’s politics, but given that she’s on social media, blogging, trying to build a brand, I understand she has to deal with the nature of this beast. You need to make friends and influence people. Which means a certain amount of pandering to the views of so-called influencers in order to garner wide-scale support. I grant that she may or may not condone my using her work to further my own, especially if my views are contrary to her own broader perspective. Oh well…

Anyway, I’m sure many readers who arrived here outraged at my (clearly?) sarcastic title after reading that post will come back still seething with rage, because they already *know* what I’m driving at with the title of my post. No, I don’t denigrate progressives for being stupid. On the contrary, going to school and memorizing stuff, that’s work. It takes brain power. At least as much mental effort as what any blue-collar job-monkey puts in to learn their job. (And that’s not being sarcastic. I may not like job-monkeys, but I recognize their work is valuable and it does take brains to do it.)

So, while I don’t care for the romantic notion of blue collar workers, I’ve always voted NDP, because members of the useless class like myself need to feel like we’ll be safe when the blue-collar job-monkeys lose their jobs to the robots and start robbing us petit bourgeois.) Except for that time my eyes couldn’t align the circles on the ballot with the names and I ended up ticking off the Christian Heritage box. I realized it right after checking it off, but when I looked at the two octogenarian poll workers serving my booth and I realized how long it would take to sort this mess out, I said, “fuck it.” The voting population in my riding is 50% white working class and 50% first generation immigrant working class and 99% of all of them have no fucking idea what a Christian Heritage Party even is. They ain’t gettin’ elected here.

Anywho, here in Canada, the only party of significance more to the “left” than the NDP is the Green Party. I love Elizabeth May, bless her heart, and while I generally agree with their views, they haven’t run a candidate in my riding in the past 12 years. Oh wait, they did? Who was that, you say? Sorry, don’t know ’em. So, I think you’re just making them up. Plus, the last white people to get elected around here were the Cadmans and then Priddy. And besides, nobody of voting age in this neighborhood cares about progressive politics.

So, back to the NDP. Of all the federal leaders, Singh was the only one I can say I had any respect for *and* considered electable. (Though I guess, maybe that’s not saying a lot, really, considering… at the time we had M. Blackface and Robot Weasel Scheer) When COVID came down on us, Singh was the only federal party leader to propose making banks suffer along with the rest of us. Those banks, who, of course, continued to innovate in finding ways to shield themselves from the worst of the financial hit, while being committed to sticking it to their hostage-customers.

And over the years, he’s been given many opportunities to pander to “aggrieved” racialists who felt that things like this needed to be made into a story. But as far as I’d seen, he always managed to deftly side-step that cesspool. I admired and respected him for that.

Before the last federal election, NDP folks texted me about an upcoming “town hall” event with Mr. Singh, right here in my hometown. I was excited and I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce my 17-year old son to politics. I’d always talked a good game about civic responsibility, why we pay taxes, what it meant to be engaged in the community you live in, but really, it’d been years since I’d volunteered for anything other than my strata council (and that, under duress). Nevertheless, every parent wants to instill the values in their children that they dutifully failed to uphold themselves, and so…

… on the day of the event, we took the bus down to the reception hall where it was happening. Along the way, we looked out the window near the King George Canadian Tire and saw a man passed out behind the bus stop. A young man who’d just boarded told us that this man was his buddy and, yes, he was high, but he was not ODing, and, somewhat sheepishly admitted that, yeah, they did drugs that fucked them up pretty bad sometimes. I didn’t begrudge him that and appreciated his candor. 20 years earlier, living in Montreal, a guy had told me he had to drink enough to make the sidewalk comfortable enough to sleep on. I’ve paraphrased to make it sound a bit more poetic. The guy had not been trying to craft a social media sound bite. It just was his reality. However you want to rationalize people sleeping on concrete (“they’re lazy”, “they’re drug addicts”, “they have mental health issues”, “they were sexually abused at home and need our love and support”), sleeping on concrete is not comfortable for any human being, regardless how they ended up there.

And so, we arrived at the event. The media-savvy handlers saw to it that my son and I were seated front and centre on the stage bleachers behind where Mr. Singh would be speaking. My ethnicity is difficult to determine, while my son clearly falls in that desirable “visible minority” category, which makes us great representatives of the demographic the NDP is after. Awesome sauce.

At the designated hour, Jagmeet came out and answered audience questions with mostly canned responses (to be expected), what you would expect from a left-leaning party. I do find him likable, unlike the leaders of the other major parties. Most interesting were the old-timer, first-gen Sikhs asking questions in Punjabi. I don’t speak Punjabi, but it was clear from the English terms in Singh’s response that they were concerned about homeless drug addicts like the ones my son and I had encountered earlier that day. Mr. Singh promised treatment facilities (as expected), so, sure, yeah, again, awesome sauce.

Once the candidate talking part was over, it was time for meet-and-greet. Now, I’m not a “people person”. (And no, fuck you, the period doesn’t go inside the quotes when it’s a recognized quoted phrase. Fuckwit.) But perhaps that’s why I need to spend more time “reading the room”. I met a lot of very political, young, brown guys and a couple idealistic, white libtards (sorry not sorry, but that’s what they were). I met the candidate for our riding, who really had nothing going for him at all. Was he somebody’s cousin who had no other practical skills? A few people approached us tepidly looking for maybe volunteers? (That’s uptalk I’m trying to simulate there.) And that was that.

Anyway, I still came away from the event with a positive feeling about Jagmeet the guy. The platform was what I expected and thankfully, not too much pandering to grievance studies nonsense.

But now, with the pandemic and the sudden (yes, sudden, sarcastically, because it’s not new) media attention to black guys getting killed by cops in the United States, we, in Canada, feel the need to toot our horn and acknowledge the salience and now recognize our own not-so-wonderful track record.

So, uh… DISCLOSURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I work for a post-secondary education institution dedicated to training public safety professionals. This includes police officers, firefighters, paramedics, sheriffs, and corrections facilities personnel. My views here would likely get me fired if they were traced back to me. Not that I’m particularly concerned. Coz who’s gonna find this anyway, amirite??

All humans are not born “equal” in terms of our socio-economic circumstances. Our individual circumstances are determined by a complex set of factors, both genetic and environmental. We are all a victim of history and genes. You could say some of us have been favored. Others, maybe not so much.

Recent highly-publicized events, particularly in the US, are shining a light on the problematic nature of modern law enforcement. I talked a bit about this 4 years ago. You have a profession with a military lineage that continues to be advertised as a high-drama experience. (Turn on the TV, and that what you see. And those Gen Z kids who say they don’t watch TV, I’ve seen them on the bus. They still stream that fucking broadcast TV shit on their phones.) Is it surprising that the people who continue to be attracted to this profession are people who crave drama? And the metrics used to evaluate the worthiness of candidates for this profession are *still* geared toward these high-drama (and *low impulse control*) types.

Personally, I would like to see law enforcement professionals subject to the same laws as the general public. Stepping on a person’s neck is (or should be) a crime, period. I would like to see police on patrol — community law enforcement — *disarmed*. No reason to have a sidearm for most of the situations police are dealing with on a daily basis. I would like to see police training re-orientated toward mediation and away from lethal force. Really, how many typical calls in North America in this day and age actually need lethal force? We absolutely still need law enforcement personnel who know how to shoot people dead. But that’s NOT what 99.99% of the calls out there need. I seriously do believe media accounts of police agencies’ responses saying that officers accused of using excessive force are only doing what they were trained to do. Heh. Yeah. That training? It’s a problem! Also, some of these fucking low-impulse control fuckwads you’ve hired.

So, with all that pre-amble, let’s get to “systemic racism”. I said earlier that there are differences in our individual — and group — situations when we get up each morning, within the context of our “free-market economy”, and some of those differences are beyond our individual control. Setting aside one’s emotions and political affiliations, it’s possible to see how history and so-called “free market” economic forces can reinforce those differences, inequalities. In other words, when you have, it’s easy to get more. When you don’t have, you can still get more, but it’s gonna be a grind. Some people are on the shitty end of that stick. And this is not something that dates from yesterday. It’s generations. And unfortunately, recent events and the media frenzy around them are making a lot of people feel like a better future is not coming fast enough.

So, on the heels of a number of very ugly incidents involving non-“white” people interacting with law enforcement, the NDP leader felt it was time to tag the RCMP with the “systemic racism” scarlet letter. Effectively branding the entire establishment and everyone it employs, as racist.

We’re fortunate (or unfortunate) enough in this day and age to have video footage of almost every fucking thing that happens in a public space, especially if it looks potentially news- (or social media-) worthy. So, let’s watch this video:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/rcmp-chief-allan-adam-1.5608472

Now, CTV, which has been my main source for local news for the past 20-odd years, *never* shows the first 1:10 minutes of this video, which includes this individual’s clearly belligerent attitude and his Karate Kid stance around the 0:23 mark.

I’d say Cop #1’s attitude is fairly chill in the face of this. We still don’t see what sparked this whole thing. Maybe the Karate Kid thing is justified. Maybe he knows this cop from somewhere else and he’s a douche? No idea. Anyway. Around 1:04, the video is edited. Presumably CBC thought it was boring, not showing any civilians getting beaten up by cops… Then around 1:13, cop #2 — I call him ‘roid-head cop, shows up and goes fucking nuts.

If you watch this thing through, you might say it’s a fuckin’ drunk Injun gettin’ what he deserves. Or, you might say it’s a brutal racist pig, demonstrating the systemic racism of the RCMP. Or, if you have half a brain in your head and you’re capable of setting aside whatever biases you have, you might say hmm, well, maybe it’s more complicated than my knee-jerk biases would allow me to admit.

Another recent event, which the general public knows much less about, is the now-infamous “wellness check” in New Brunswick where police allegedly banged on a woman’s door at 2 in the morning and then shot her 5 times when she supposedly came at them with a knife. This was apparently in response to someone from the public asking the police to check in on her. As it stands, the only living witnesses here are police. So far, they are not saying she was suspected of any crime. To my earlier point, this was a community matter, not a drug bust or a violent armed criminal situation. There was no reason for armed police to be walking up to the door of someone who was not a suspected violent criminal at 2 in the morning. I’ve had random fucking people fucked up on drugs bang on my door at 2 in the morning and try to come in my house. If I’d had a knife handy, I might have tried to stab them too.

Anyway, back to “systemic racism”. I’ve said for a long time we need to reform law enforcement. At the same time, I’ve seen first-hand how the Police Academy trains new recruits in de-escalation techniques. No, not all cops are fucking ‘roid-heads like we see in these videos. So demanding that Parliament brand the entire law enforcement establishment and the people who serve in it and who genuinely want to serve their community, branding them ALL as racists, is the wrong way to go about it.

And when people stand up and say, no, we don’t agree with that, calling them racist. That’s… what do they call that? Emotional blackmail? That relationship blog I pointed to back at the start didn’t label it as such, but that’s what it amounts to, and it’s what many so-called progressives have relied on to push their agendas on a naive population. I’m ashamed that Jagmeet felt he needed to lower himself to that level. Yes, advocate for reform. Push hard for practical measures. That’s what I want to see. Not fucking airy-fairy bullshit. And not casting everyone who disagrees with you as a racist. That’s just weak.

I don’t feel at all bad that Jagmeet was kicked out of Parliament. Frankly, I think he deserved it. Although, Bloc Blanchet expecting an apology? Awww, pauvre bébé! Mange de la marde! And Trudeau can just STFU. Blackface.

I’ll still probably support NDP next time around, but they need to lay off this emotional blackmail garbage. That’s not what we need to govern our country. Do better.

Outrage to Cryptocurrency Converter (and other funs)

Many Canadians are offended by Trudeau’s blackface antics.

Politicians need to stop screwing around and actually DO SOMETHING about climate change!

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The time has come to stop the insanity of open borders and stem the tide of illegal aliens entering the country.

Are you sick and tired of all the libtards who keep libtarding all over social media? Jordan B Peterson explains how to completely destroy all snowflakes forever.


And remember, Trump is a racist!


Also remember, Ariana Grande licked a donut.


Please don’t click these links. I haven’t hooked them up to my cryptocurrency miner yet. Will do it soon. Also, if you know of any web APIs that will allow me to connect it further downstream to a hedge fund so I can short Andrew Yang for US Democrat party primaries, winning the presidency, and finally causing entire world economy to collapse for, like, a week, do please let me know. (Pretty insane bet, right?)

Go watch this video for now.

Whither Progress?

My fav neo-lib shill, S Pinker, retweeted one of his fellow enlightenment bros today:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

(Disclosure: I do like Roser’s Our World in Data. It’s definitely interesting and sometimes useful, even if it doesn’t necessarily have the answers that many of its proponents believe it does.)

Here, we see progress framed as reducing human suffering. Looking at the comment thread (very much an elitist bubble, except for the ubiquitous guy-linking-Pinker-to-Epstein), there’s a lot of the usual bullshit, smugly attributing anti-progress sentiment to cognitive biases, political agendas, etc., but I find it surprising that none of the few critics here are peeling back the successes of progress, which is not especially difficult to do; every global problem where progress has emerged victorious invariably has its origins in progress itself. Poverty/inequality, epidemics, etc. all point back to sedentism/agriculture, arguably the foundations of human progress. The arguments in favor of these tend to revolve around human safety and food security, both of which are themselves easily debatable. When you tear those down, the arguments usually return to the life expectancy metric. Because babies are dying less and because we are on the whole living longer lives, surely that must mean we have made objective progress? Personally, I would not accept longer life as objectively better, either at the individual or collective level.

I think I’d be willing to concede that (and this is based on our largely hypothetical and anecdotal understanding of our own prehistory), we have made intellectual progress; maybe the human mind today (independent of changes in actual brain physiology) is capable of accommodating much bigger and more varied ideas than ever before? Whether this is objectively a good thing, I’m not sure. It definitely has made the human experience… interesting. Then again, perhaps the enlightenment bros’ crusade against magic and mythology is destroying certain forms of imagination, and maybe not so interesting after all?

When the progressist (and this is me sometimes when it suits me to shill for progress) reaches this point in the debate, he often throws down his trump card, saying, “well, would you rather huddle in a cold, dark cave, without all the wonderful doodads that progress has given us?” For anyone living comfortably (even one living in poverty) in a modern liberal democracy, the honest answer to this should generally be, “well, no, I don’t want to live in that cave! It would be damn uncomfortable!” But that’s just because we’re comfortable with the devil we know. The story we have of human life in prehistory certainly sounds like a hard one to be living, and it certainly would be unpleasant to suddenly be transplanted into that life. That’s not the same as if we were born into that life to begin with and to compare the two objectively. Regardless, the progressist will claim victory here, even though it really is a hollow one. (And he may realize it when he goes to his comfortable home with all the doodads progress has given us, gets bored, lonely, angry, and goes on social media to argue with anti-progressists.) Also, I’m not suggesting “happiness” is a better metric for what is “good”, as many anti-progressists are prone to do.

There is nothing axiomatic about “better” anyway. Humans, like other animals, need to entertain ourselves, and because we have such highly-developed brains, we do a lot of that entertaining inside our heads. Part of that is creating narratives to continually drive our actions. Progress is just another idea we’ve created to entertain ourselves with.

John Gray said in a recent article on Unherd:

The classical liberal economist F.A. Hayek wrote in The Constitution of Liberty (1960): “Progress is movement for movement’s sake, for it is in the process of learning, and in the effects of having learned something new, that man enjoys the gift of his intelligence.” But what is it that is learnt in the course of this purposeless process? Admirable for the clarity and honesty with which it is stated, Hayek’s idea of progress is as much an expression of nihilism as Derrida’s project of deconstruction.

I’m really not about guilting us into collectively throwing up our hands and “giving it all up”; for what then? I certainly wouldn’t know. I’m just recognizing reminding myself that we build intellectual projects to amuse ourselves. These projects are not themselves fundamental truths, nor are they derived from any fundamental truths other than our fundamental needs as meaning-seeking/making machines.

Behringer Xenyx 302USB, Mac, and Guitar Rig 5

I got this little Behringer Xenyx 302USB mixer and wanted to run my guitar through some effects in Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 (Guitar Rig 5 Player free download) and listen through headphones connected to the mixer.

When it comes to drivers and multimedia software, Macs are generally pretty easy to set up, but I had a bit of a hard time getting this to work. I didn’t find any single site with a complete solution, so maybe this post will help someone.

The problem: the device driver seemed to be working (USB Audio CODEC was showing in System Preferences and the meter in the input tab was lighting up when there was audio input), but there was no sound and Guitar Rig was not showing any signal at all.

My mixer is set up as shown here:

xenyx302usb

  • guitar connected to the mixer’s mic in (XLR/1/4″ combo jack)
  • under line/USB, FROM is in the DOWN position (USB Play)
  • under line/USB, TO is in the DOWN position (Phones)
  • mixer’s USB port connected to Macbook USB

I came across this article that suggested there could be a compatibility problem between the mixer and the Mac, but that it could be resolved by using Audio MIDI Setup to create an aggregate driver.

I followed those instructions. The result looks something like this (the USEME USB Audio CODEC):

Audio Midi Setup - create aggregate device

(In the screenshot, note Drift Correction is only enabled on the input driver, but it should be enabled on the output driver as well.)

Next, I had to go in System Preferences and select the aggregate device for both input and output.

system prefs - input

system prefs - output

Finally, I also had to select the new aggregate device in Guitar Rig (File -> Audio and MIDI Settings).

guitar rig 5 - audio and midi settings

After this, I just played around with enabling and disabling the left and right input channels in Guitar Rig and voilà. The IN and OUT meters showed a signal and, after tweaking knobs a bit, had sound too.

guitar rig meters

One final note: if you usually just close the cover of your MacBook, things may no longer work when you open it again. You may need to restart Guitar Rig and/or physically reconnect the mixer to get it working again. Good luck!

Unicorns Will Not Save You. But Spacesteading Might.

The grandest irony of social liberalism/egalitarianism is its dependence on individuals and institutions whose cultures are by and large hierarchical, highly tribal, and at their core, authoritarian, to defend its values.


People claim to value rational thought, but few of us enjoy the company of those who genuinely live that value… because they’re so fucking maddening to be around. No, I’m not referring to the pretenders — software developers, economists, looking at you. I’m talking about the real deal. A lot of people diagnosed on the spectrum tend to fall in this category. As a parent of one, I have some vague idea what I’m talking about. (Oh yes, I do have to add: if you’ve met one person on the spectrum, yadayada…)


Economists have lots of numbers and lots of big words in their arsenal. Couple that with truckloads of confidence (despite the fact that little of what they claim is backed by anything other than hypotheses) and you have a seductive cocktail for neoliberal politicians in search of scholar priests to fill their credibility gap.


There are no frontiers left here. There is no next move with a purely positive outcome. You will always be kicking an orphan child with cleft lip in Bangladesh or beheading a beloved lab rat or pouring oil sand tailings into the orifices of Gaia. We like to work with our hands, but our creations, these things we fashioned in our own image, are now superior to us in every way, and so are their creations. And they’re laughing at us. What’s that? Missing a “soul”, you say? What is that, anyway? And what has it done for you lately? What has it done for anyone ever?

So, the time has come for us to go. The senile, old Geppettos. To go seek out newness. Because we have nothing left to offer here.

This newness, I believe it’s somewhere beyond our stars. I hope it’s something I’ll get to experience in my lifetime. It will be AWESOME, literally, I’m sure.

Our Comforting Beliefs

I’m really tired of hearing and reading this anti-fear-mongering nonsense from economic and tech pundits, who keep repeating that the current tech revolution (lead by AI) is the same as the industrial revolution, and will lead to new types of employment in the long term, which will compensate for the short term loss of employment across so many sectors.

Uneducated people are supposedly more fearful of an uncertain future, presumably because they don’t have the tools or the knowledge to recognize the patterns from history and make good predictions based on those. I’d argue that it’s the educated people who are complacent, comforted by this ignorant belief that history must have answers for us, so there’s no need to be pessimistic about the future.

Human history as a whole has no parallel that we know of, so we have nothing to compare it to except itself, and that history (our understanding of it) is still too small for us to make any deeply and enduringly meaningful predictions based on what we have learned (or think we have learned) from it. There is no universal law that says the human race must continue to exist. (That doesn’t mean it won’t continue. It just means we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we’re safe from extinction.)

Similarly, there’s no reason to believe that, “oh, there will always be some kind of work for people to do. Everything is gonna be okay.” Historian Yuval Noah Harari has captured so perfectly so much of my recent thoughts on these comforting beliefs in this piece:

http://ideas.ted.com/the-rise-of-the-useless-class/

If you don’t feel like reading and prefer to listen, this TED interview (60 minutes) is also fascinating, if you have the time to listen. Well worth it.

A Tale of Two Turkeys

By most accounts, the Republican National Convention has so far been a bit of a gong show. The party’s elder statesmen have given it a pass, as have most of the next generation, except for those who wanted to make some noise and try to block the advance of the Trump juggernaut. The big story, of course, was the speech. Her speech.

Melania Knauss-Trump.jpg
[Image by Marc Nozell from Merrimack, New Hampshire, USA – 20160208-DSC08093, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46940102%5D

So, what’s the deal here? I see three possibilities:

The speechwriter was paid by GOP insiders to try to embarrass Trump. From the passages lifted verbatim from — of all people — a speech by the Democratic First Lady only 8 years earlier (an irony true Republicans would find too delicious) to the rick-rolling. But ultimately, it’s a move that will have little or no effect on his faithful followers. If anything, many will likely see it as further proof (and rightly so) that their candidate is being victimized by the establishment.

OR

It’s all part of the Trump-Clinton conspiracy to make Hillary look like the only sane candidate. Oversold, maybe? The choir gets it. The decided probably too. But the folks in the pews never will (which is why, if this was true, creating this bizarre straw man was such a grave miscalculation; they seriously underestimated how much this personae and his rhetoric would resonate with the lower middle-class white American).

OR

It’s a most cynical ploy of a man who believes he is unstoppable. He can say and do whatever he wants — even steal the words of his opponents and use them to support his own cause — with impunity.

For a slightly more serious analysis of the rise of Trump and the fall of the GOP, see this excellent piece by Nick Hanauer.


As for the other Turkey, what’s the deal there? Are they one step away from North Korea-style choreographed street performances? Taking some notes here, not deep thinking, but…

I don’t speak Turkish, but listening to the rhetoric being spewed by Erdogan the past few years, it would seem that the Turkish word for “Kurd” is being translated into US English as “terrorist”. And since the recent failed coup, we’re hearing “democracy” and “democratic” being tossed around quite a bit, which I think is being translated from the Turkish for “socially regressive, autocratic, authoritarian regime.”

It’s telling that, so far, they’ve dismissed and/or arrested more people in the education sector (education ministry and teachers) than military personnel. This is a regime that comes down hard on peaceful protesters during peace time, but has no qualms about encouraging its supporters to come out on the streets in numbers and throw themselves in front of tanks. Wow, such courage! Sorry, I don’t buy it. Judging by what I’ve seen in the media, the military showed quite a bit of restraint. I’m sure they realized there was no chance of success if they couldn’t garner popular support, but with a hostile civilian force being egged on by their leader, they really didn’t stand a chance of success…

 

Heroes

Police are heroes. Soldiers are heroes. If a soldier — who has done his duty serving his country — kills police, does his hero status get revoked?

I’m not here to make friends. There are already enough people who care more about getting likes or up-votes or high-fives than anything else. This is MY team!!! I’m FOR MY TEAM!!! Fuck them. I’m insensitive. Maybe even misanthropic. But hopefully, a person who knows how to read is also capable of reflection. Capable of thought beyond labelling those with a different view “crazy” or “enemy”.

“I know your family’s grieving — FUCK ‘EM!!!!”

A few weeks ago, a man died base jumping from the top of a popular local mountain. Nobody called him a hero. And why would they? Maybe you can admire his courage, risking his life doing something inherently dangerous. But he wasn’t acting to save someone’s life or serving a greater cause. He was an adrenaline junkie.

And the unfortunate truth, more often than people would like to admit, is that many of those serving in the police (and military, as was the case of the base-jumper) are also adrenaline junkies. Indeed, the job requires a certain amount of courage to be effective. (Whether that characteristic is overemphasized can and should be debated, but maybe another time.)

I’d like to see people stop calling every cop a hero. No. They don’t automatically deserve that. While many of them are (or better said, many have acted heroically), it’s by virtue of their actions toward the population they serve, not simply because they’re wearing badges and carrying guns. Running into a dangerous situation doesn’t make you a hero. Even dying in the line of duty doesn’t make you a hero. I’m tired of this word “hero” being attributed collectively to a group of people to preempt criticism of and/or apologize for the terrible acts, both past and future, of some among their ranks. And I want to emphasize “some”, and it’s for the same reason that we should not be painting any group with these broad brushes of “heroes” or “villains”. Collectively attributing heroism or villainy to any group is both unfair and inaccurate, and especially unhelpful in trying to understand the complex issues of violence perpetrated by law enforcement officers, gun violence, and race relations in the United States.

And politicians, enough about “despicable acts” when police are killed, as if the act of killing was more despicable because the victims were police. Because IT’S NOT.

At some point, I might put down a few words on why I think universal, mandatory military service would a good idea. Now, I also wonder if a universal, mandatory stint in law enforcement would also be a good idea. But among other things, I think it would help to break down the barrier between law enforcement and the public they serve, to chisel away at this unfortunate belief that police are — and must be — somehow better (more “heroic”) than the common people. It’s time for everyone to see things from new perspectives, not hide behind the safety of long-held, narrow viewpoints.

Lasagna

The recent demise of mylasagnarecipe.com has prompted me to come out of hibernation and post my transcript of their recipe here. Caveat emptor: it is not an entirely faithful rendering. And I’ve never followed this recipe exactly as written. I’ve subbed mushed firm tofu for ricotta and Yves’ tofu ground beef for the meat, and really, it was almost as good (as long as you eat it hot, coldish tofu lasagne tastes like — tofu).

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) of sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 lb (450 g) of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of chopped onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 28 oz (796 mL) crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz (455 mL)  tomato sauce
  • 12 oz (340 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) white sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) fennel seed
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) fresh Basil leaves chopped
  • 4 Tbsp (60 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Italian Seasoning [Ed. note: I don’t use this. I usually put some combination of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.]
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground pepper
  • 23 oz (680 mL) of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb (450 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup (240 mL)  grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 lasagna noodles

Directions

    1. Start with the following in a pot:
      • 1 pound (450 g) of sweet Italian sausage
      • 1 pound (450 g) of ground beef
      • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of chopped onions
      • 2 cloves of garlic chopped

The flavor of the Italian sausage varies from brand to brand. You may need to try a different brand the first couple of times you cook this dish. Find the flavor you like the best.

  • Brown the ground beef, Italian sausage, onions and garlic in a pot until they start to cook. It takes about 6 to 9 minutes to brown the meat. I like to use a Dutch oven to cook this portion of the recipe. I use a medium low temperature to brown the meat. It is optional to remove the grease from the meat once it is finished browning, your choice.
  • Add the following:
    • 1 (28 ounce) (784 g) can of crushed tomatoes
    • 2 (8 ounce) (230 g) cans of tomato sauce
    • 2 (6 ounce) (168 g) cans of tomato paste
    • 1/2 (120 mL) cup of water
  • Gently stir this into the cooking meat.
  • Add the following:
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fennel seed
    • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) fresh Basil leaves chopped
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
    • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
    • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Italian Seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground pepper
  • Gently stir these seasoning into the sauce.
  • Cover the pot and let the meat sauce simmer. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes. This is the ideal simmer time but not mandatory. If you don’t have time it will still be great after one hour of simmering.
  • I will sometimes make this sauce and refrigerate it after it finishes simmering. I will use the meat sauce the next day to put the rest of this recipe together. For some reason Italian meat sauce taste even better the next day. But that’s up to you.
  • Soak 12 lasagna noodles. The lasagna noodles need to be soaked in hot tap water for 15 minutes.
  • While the noodles are soaking you can make the cheese filling. Put the following in a mixing bowl:
    • 23 ounces (644 g) of ricotta cheese.
    • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) fresh grated nutmeg
  • Add the following:
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • Mix these ingredients together with a spoon.
  • Now we start building the lasagna layers. Use a 9×13 inch baking pan. Spread 2 Cups (480 mL) of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  • Remove your lasagna noodles out of the water bath. Shake water off wet noodles.
  • Lay 6 noodles across the layer of sauce.
  • Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the layer of noodles.
  • Spread 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta layer.
  • Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella layer
  • Spread 2 cups (480 mL) of meat sauce over the cheese layer
  • Lay down the next layer of noodles
  • Spread the remaining ricotta mixture over noodles
  • Spread the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses saving some cheese for the top of the lasagna
  • Put the last layer of meat sauce on the cheeses
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • Cover with foil. Bake in preheated oven at 350 F (177 C) for 25 minutes
  • Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for approximately 15 minutes.

 

Lasagna Layer Quick Reference

      10) mozarella/parmesan
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      9) meat sauce
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      8) mozarella/parmesan
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      7) ricotta
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      6) noodles
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      5) meat sauce
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      4) mozarella/parmesan
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      3) ricotta
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      2) noodles
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      1) meat sauce