Friday, May 21, 2010


Discrimination is a word that has taken on a super-charged meaning. At some point in time, it used to indicate a certain sort of sophistication: She has a discriminating taste in music, it's too bad about her taste in men.

Now, it almost always has racial or oppressive connotations, and it carries the same sort of guilty charge that "rape" does.

The good news is that at least in the United States, we still have the free speech to talk about these things. Not every Western nation does. Germany for years outlawed any debate or vocal skepticism over specific claims against the Holocaust. Canada outlaws "hate" speech, where you can't even say anything that might be contrued as hateful -- it's a crime, even if there's no action associated with it. By contrast in America, the KKK can optain a permit to hold a rally and as long as it is peaceful and doesn't incite violence, it will unfold and happen unhindered. I don't mean to single out a white supremecist group, there are plenty of minority-based hate-filled groups too, who all may say whatever they want.

Here is a different example of discrimination. Apple has a policy of not selling iPads to customers with cash. Their purpose is to monitor how many each person buys (via credit card) so that the units can't be smuggled to Europe before their release date there. This story might bother some people to never buy Apple again. Or it might have been staged. Or it might just be too bad. That's up to you to figure out for yourself.

But in a nation dominated by a technically free but mostly homogenous mainstream media and academic institutions, complexity and debate over racial issues is not effectively tolerated, even if they involve other issues as well. Here is an example of a video debate between Rand Paul -- the recent GOP primary winner in KY -- and Rachel Maddow. It's an interesting clip. I had written off Rachel Maddow long ago as a female version of Keith Oberman, but she at least showed some restraint here as she continually bumped her head against the limits of her narrow understanding of what was being talked about. She is definitely going above and beyond what most talk show hosts are capable of, but she finally just ends by shaking her head in disappointment that someone else could possibly allow for a different view or a different solution to an agreed upon problem.

So what do you think? Is Rand Paul a racist because he doesn't exactly support the federal government dictating the terms of business for private companies, even if that discrimination is on racist terms? How would Ms. Maddow vote on a bill (not to mention a 45 year old law that is not really up for debate) that she agreed with 90% but disagreed with 10%?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bananas about Bananas

I'm not much of a cook. I do appreciate a really well-prepared meal, but when I prepare my own meals I usually opt for something that requires minimal preparation. (As I write this, I realize that I'm setting up this post to be something like "The Boring Meals of a Bad Cook". I'm sure we'll get a ton of hits off this one.)

What I really want to talk about today is bananas. I have two very simple meals that can be made much better by adding bananas. The first was apparently The King's favorite meal, and the second is the title of a Jack Johnson tune

We all grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Some of us even make them for our kids now. But do any of you out there eat PB&J anymore? I don't. I don't think it would be bad, but why eat PB&J when you could eat PB&B? Get yourself a piece of some kind of good, hearty, grainy type bread. Slather a bunch of CRUNCHY peanut butter on one piece. Lay some banana circles on top of that. Pour yourself a big glass of milk. You now have an incredibly delicious lunch. And filling, too. This isn't the kind of thing you want to eat everyday (and I don't recommend the 2 tbsp of butter in Elvis' recipe either). But when you need to make something fast, it really hits the spot.

Anyone else out there like to cook pancakes for themselves or their family? That's one of my favorite weekend morning activities. Now, I don't do anything fancy here. We have a big bag of pancake mix, and I mix that with the appropriate amount of milk (I prefer mixing with milk over water). Pour your pancake on the griddle and start cutting very thing banana slices on top of the pancake. When you make banana pancakes, it's best to pour only one pancake at a time on the griddle, because you want the bananas to sink into the batter as much as possible, and if another pancake has already been cooking while you bananafied the first one, the bananas won't sink as far into that pancake as desirable. I do recommend giving each banana slice a slight nudge down into the batter after you've placed it on the pancake. When you flip the pancake, the bananas will fry a little, and that enhances the banana flavor a little; much like how toasting bread enhances certain flavors in bread that you don't taste when it's not toasted. I recommend a little bit of butter on your banana pancakes, but no syrup. All syrup does is mask the great banana pancake flavor.

So those are my two simple banana recipes that I recommend you all try. Anyone else out there have any banana dishes they want to share? Or just easy-to-prepare but delicious dishes? Let's hear 'em.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tough As Balloons

I keep having this vision of a commercial for a really tough pickup truck. Only in the commercial, instead of dropping yards of top soil into the bed of the truck, they drop multi-colored party balloons.

Instead of making quick turns through thick mud with no spinning tires, they'll show someone slowly yielding to a hybrid in merging traffic.

Instead of showing the truck towing another truck with yet another truck in its bed, they'll show two trucks towing this truck. All while the driver sleeps.

I'm just saying, I think that would make a great ad.