Easy Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 tbsp or cube bouillon
  • 1 can of beans
  • 1 can or jar of salsa/sauce

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

I use a rice cooker to cook my rice so that I don’t have to babysit it. I throw the bouillon in with the rice while it cooks. When it’s done, I add the other stuff.

If I’m looking for a Mexican-style flavor, I will use the Herdez Guac salsa. If I’m looking more for an Indian-style flavor, I’ll use Patak’s Jalfrezi Curry sauce with garbanzos (aka chickpeas). If I’m looking more for a Southeast Asian-style flavor, I’ll use soybeans and a teriyaki sauce.

I’m not sure what the nutritional info on a serving would be, but I find this makes a pretty hearty bowl of food. It’s fast, inexpensive, and ingredients (except maybe the sauces — but get what you’re comfortable with) are all individually supposed to be pretty good for you.

One person could refrigerate the unused portion and eat this for lunch for 3–5 days probably, depending on the quantity consumed per meal.

This Herdez salsa seems to be available everywhere.
This Walmart salsa (right) is usually about $1 a can and, I think, pretty tasty. The can is BPA non-intent.
I like Kroger’s canned products because they’re inexpensive, taste as expected, and come in a BPA-free can. These additions make the Mexican-style dish even tastier.
This Patak’s sauce I’ve only found at a local WinCo.
This Soy Yay teriyaki sauce is really just a stand-in for any low sodium version you can find.
If you want to make more of a Southeast Asian-inspired dish, throw in some shelled edamame (aka, mukimame) with your favorite teriyaki sauce. I have the best luck finding this at my local WinCo.
This is a highly-regarded bouillon with relatively low sodium.

Can Non-Fascists Support Any Degree of Capitalism?

Dave

Whew, I am so glad fascism is over now that Biden has been elected.

Just kidding!

The center-left will only facilitate the creeping rise of fascism!

Biden and Harris still support corporations over people. So they suck and need to be forced to implement policies that help normal people.

Me

Which specific policies should they be forced to pursue and how should they be forced to pursue those policies? How will they facilitate the creeping rise of fascism?

Dave

Medicare for All, student loan forgiveness, welfare expansion, decriminalization of drugs and sexwork, abortion protection, decreasing the military budget, and others I can’t think of right now.

And they should be forced to do this by the threat of being voted out.

They facilitate the creeping rise of fascism by wanting to maintain the same system that the fascists want to maintain: capitalism.

Me

I’m inclined to agree with you on most of those points. Probably just a matter of the degree and timeline.

I think it might be unwise to throw out capitalism altogether just because our fascists cling to it so religiously, though.

I’m inclined to think that, generally speaking, authoritarians (which I would use interchangeably with “fascists”) are more likely to favor economic systems that give them the most control, i.e. centralized economic systems or command economies. I’ve been frustrated before by my inability to find a ready analysis for this, so I went ahead and did my own quick study.

The below chart is the result of a Pearson correlation comparing two datasets: the Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index and the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index. The EIU is part of the Economist, so I would expect it to be biased toward free market policies. The Fraser Institute also appears to be libertarian. Why use two libertarian sources? Because that’s all I could find.

Regardless, the correlation does suggest a general tendency for free market (or more capitalistic) economies to be more democratic. The value of R is 0.7205. The P-Value is < .00001, so the result is significant at p < .01.

Again, while I’d prefer to compare indexes from multiple sources with different ideological bents, I’d hope you’d agree that the ratings do not scream of obvious bias.

If you’re interested, my full dataset of 155 countries is here.

Dave

Sure, fascists/totalitarians may favor a centralized economy, but many of them (Hitler and Mussolini, for example) exploited weaknesses in democracy and capitalism to get to that point.

I read the most recent publication of the Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index to look at their criteria for economic freedom. Based on their criteria this correlation really just tells us that democracies tend to support capitalism, or at least a business friendly environment.

The two criteria that immediately caught my eye is “Size of Government” and “Regulation”. If I understand their rating system, the smaller and thriftier the government and the less regulation a country has, the higher that country’s score for those criteria. Looking at the details of those criteria it seems that the less a government invests in or protects its citizens the better the country’s score is.

This makes me even more skeptical about their evaluation of “Legal System and Property Rights”. Like the other criteria it seems to be biased towards business and doesn’t really pay any attention to equity of the system in terms of citizens vs business interests.

I know you acknowledged that the indices were biased, but I don’t think the EFI is a good index to evaluate the value of capitalism. It basically just says the more friendly a country is to corporate interests the better it is. And I don’t agree with that at all.

Me

I’m glad you looked into the EFI. Your summary of the EFI: “It basically just says the more friendly a country is to corporate interests the better it is.”

Equity seems to be something you’re especially interested in. I looked for an “equity index,” but that’s all bound up in the financial sense of equity. However, I did find something called the Social Capital Index from something called SolAbility. There’s not a lot of info I could find for this self-described “sustainable intelligence think-tank” online, but they’ve been around awhile. In these rankings, they say they include equality, health care availability, violent crime, income equality, resource equality, human rights, individual happiness, etc.

I was curious how the EFI rankings would stack up against the Social Capital Index rankings, so I ran another Pearson correlation. This time, I got a lower correlation coefficient: 0.6022, but it’s still positive and still significant at p < .01.

So, just from this, it does look like “the more friendly a country is to corporate interests the better” if you agree with SolAbility’s ratings.

The data are in the same doc I shared earlier, but here is the link again if you’re interested.

GOP 2024 Nominee

It’s not too soon to start thinking about 2024. My money’s on Charlie Sheen for GOP nominee. In 2028, he refuses to leave office when Chelsea Clinton narrowly wins PA and the Great Lakes by a few tens of thousands of late-arriving mail-in ballots. Social media swells with an endless stream of very confident rightwing and woke-left intelligentsia emphatically assuring us that Sheen’s 2024 Democratic opponent — literally MLK back from the dead and sporting angel wings — would have been just as bad, or worse. (Many on the woke-left adore Sheen — aka Carlos Estevez — for adopting the Latinx identity, a term that 3% of Hispanics would self-ascribe and that the other 97% have absolutely no idea how to pronounce.)

This time, the courts favor Sheen. He’s managed to pack just enough of them with people who got a “JD” from the relaunched Trump University after locations in Alabama and Mississippi began bestowing the degree on QAnon and Parler members.

A video surfaces not long after we elect President Sheen where he’s graphically, unmistakably, and simultaneously performing fellatio on Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. President Sheen reassures the team at Fox & Friends by stating that, hey, he fellated 50 despots that day and so what’s so special about these two? His followers who — because they’re fabulously clever — call Sheen “Master” flood Twitter with deep-faked videos of world leaders and political opponents fellating a wide array of people and non-human animals. More deep fakes come after Master shoots a mouthy reporter to death on live TV during a brief.

But no one watches political briefs anyway. The highest-rated show is just a collection of various commercials with a laugh track over each one. All regular commercials on America’s Favorite Commercials are for anti-depressants, ED drugs, or, occasionally, a toy flamingo that defecates.

It’s not all bad, though. The gangrene in Mitch McConnel’s limbs finally reaches his heart and a handful of Republican senators are permitted to vote yes on an aggressive carbon tax that spurs green energy innovation and job creation.

With historically low unemployment, we can buy more than ever before. What do we buy? Anything but vaccines.

Future historians refer to this U.S. period as “The Golden (Shower) Age.”

Trump’s Downfall


One of many riffs on a scene from the German movie Downfall released shortly after the November 2020 election. Apologies, but I don’t know who made it. Please let me know if you know.

From the video:

Depending on whether he was ahead or behind, Trump either wanted to stop the count or keep counting.*

There are a number of people in his administration that Trump may have given covid to.*

Trump repeatedly claimed that voter fraud was responsible for his failure to win the popular vote in 2016.*

He convened a fraud task force in February 2017 that disbanded at the end of 2017 after being forced to share its data with all members. The task force never produced any findings of to support Trump claims.*

Trump freely admitted that he was attempting to block US postal service funding in order to try to stop mail-in votes.*

His claims that mail-in voting was especially susceptible to fraud was at odds with evidence from states such as Utah and Arizona with Republican-majority legislatures where mail-in voting is widely used. For example, in the 2018 Utah midterm election, 90% of the 1,082,972 ballots cast were by mail.**

No evidence of fraud was reported in that election. Utah’s state legislature is 80% Republican.*

In the 2018 Arizona midterm election, 78% of the 2,409,910 million votes cast were by mail.**

The Heritage Foundation, which obsessively documents cases of voter fraud around the country, documented no cases of voter fraud for either election.*

Officer-Involved Deaths in Arizona, 2010–2019

Includes:
-Yearly deaths by race
-Proportions of yearly deaths by race
-State racial demographics

Sources:

Favorite Media

Movies

Comedy

  • Adaptation
  • Amélie
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Groundhog Day
  • Moonstruck
  • My Fair Lady
  • Princess Bride
  • Tampopo

Drama

  • 12 Angry Men
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • All About My Mother
  • Amadeus
  • Baadasssss!
  • Beautiful Mind, A
  • Before Sunrise
  • Bernie
  • Black Book
  • Blue is the Warmest Color
  • Casablanca
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • City of God
  • Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, The
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (Depardieu)
  • Dangerous Method, A
  • Departed, The
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Ed Wood
  • Elephant Man, The
  • Elmer Gantry
  • Experimenter
  • Fargo
  • First Reformed
  • Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (Swedish)
  • Goodfellas
  • Inherit the Wind
  • Ikiru
  • Jackie Brown
  • Jules and Jim
  • Kinsey
  • Liberty Heights
  • Lighthouse, The
  • Like Water for Chocolate
  • Lives of Others, The
  • Lust/Caution
  • Master and Commander
  • Miller’s Crossing
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Mud
  • My Left Foot
  • Network
  • Nightcrawler
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • People vs Larry Flynt, The
  • Pianist, The
  • Punch Drunk Love
  • Romance & Cigarettes
  • Royal Tenenbaums, The
  • Scenes from a Marriage
  • Separation, A
  • Straight Story, The
  • Take This Waltz
  • Three Kings
  • Truly, Madly, Deeply
  • Two Family House
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Witches of Eastwick
  • Zed and Two Naughts, A

Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Horror / Documentary / Other

  • Arrival
  • Contact
  • Dark City
  • District 9
  • Downsizing
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, A
  • Ex Machina
  • Fly, The (1986)
  • Her
  • Inception
  • Let the Right One In (original)
  • Lobster, The
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Marjoe
  • Prometheus
  • RoboCop (1987)
  • Solaris (2002)
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Starship Troopers
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Synecdoche, NY
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Total Recall
  • Truman Show, The
  • WALL- E

TV Shows

  • Altered Carbon
  • Big Mouth
  • Brooklyn 99
  • Black Mirror
  • Cosmos
  • Good Place, The
  • Knick, The
  • Office, The
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Star Trek: TNG
  • Wire, The

2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

“A Joe Biden presidency would be exactly the same as a second term for Donald Trump.” This is something that I have heard from various friends and, of course, from the Internet recently. For one friend, Trump’s various sexual misconduct allegations are exactly equal to reports of unwanted contact from Biden. There was also a Bloomberg quiz where you can guess, unsuccessfully, as to which person said which of a small collection of quotes.

Of course, that is pertinent information, but I think it ignores the significant differences in legislation that would be passed under each presidency and what might also happen to the Supreme Court under each presidency. To get a better picture of the actual impact of each person’s presidency, I have dug into the legislative careers of various presidential candidates.

Why “various”? Why not all of them? Well, obviously, not all of the candidates have a legislative trail. Julián Castro was most recently HUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antanio. Pete Buttigieg is mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Andrew Yang founded the nonprofit Venture for America.

Trump, of course, never held elected office until winning the electoral college in 2016. FiveThirtyEight, a website devoted to quantifying political, sports, and other phenomena, tracks how closely the voting records of congresspeople have aligned with Trump. The most-aligned with Trump by that metric was Jeff Sessions, who voted with Trump 100% of the time before becoming Attorney General. So, it is Sessions who will be used as an (imperfect) proxy for Trump.

I live in Arizona, and so I am especially interested in my own senators. Those two senators currently are Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema. They both became senators (Sinema by election and McSally by appointment) in 2019. Therefore, their House records are used for this comparison. Continue reading 2020 Presidential Race Legislative Scorecard Compilation

Ten Rather Strong Suggestions

I think it’s good to live by a code, so I decided to formalize one I’ve been trying to adhere to for many years now. Ten seemed like a good number of tenets for a code. However, to make sure my code would not be confused with another famous — and more authoritarian — set of 10 dicta, I tried to make clear right in the title that my code is comprised of “rather strong suggestions” rather than of commandments.

1. Generally try to do what will result in the greatest, longest net well-being.

For example, you could eat chocolate cake for every meal and get blackout drunk every day for the next year. That might be great for this year, but your health will suffer enormously in the long run.

Likewise, a group of revolutionaries in a given society might feel that their political leadership is totally out of touch. The revolutionaries decide to overthrow that oppressive government. This causes a serious conflict with great loss of life. The revolutionaries finally win, but, because of the conflict, no one was paying sufficient attention to agriculture. There is no food, and, without adequate food, the society collapses from famine. The revolutionaries were so focused on the short-term that they neglected the future.


2. Favor what is most likely true over what you wish were true.

An owner of a fossil fuel company might not want to believe that emissions created from the burning of fossil fuels poses a risk to human health. The exec might not want to believe that those emissions contribute to the recent rapid warming of earth’s atmosphere and to ocean acidification. However, not wanting to believe those things does not make them go away.


3. Apply the scientific method whenever possible.

We all know that making abortion illegal reduces the rate and number of abortions, right? Well, that is a reasonable hypothesis, but when we experiment by passing laws restricting abortion in some countries but not others, we find that fertility rate doesn’t change on a country level* and changes only slightly on a state level.* While legal abortions may go down where abortions are more restricted, women instead have unsafe abortions, increasing their likelihood of dying while attaining an unsafe abortion.*

Here’s a handy mnemonic for the scientific method:
Oscar quickly ran home eating animal crackers.

Oscar – Observe
quickly – Question
ran – Research
home – Hypothesize
eating – Experiment
animal – Analyze
crackers. – Conclude


4. Reduce your environmental impact to the greatest degree possible.

To quote the country band Alabama:

Let’s leave some blue up above us
Let’s leave some green on the ground
Let’s save some for tomorrow
Leave it and pass it on down


5. Support effective charities / Vote with your wallet.

  • An organization called GiveWell measures charities on their efficacy.
  • Organizations like your local legislative district are the unsung volunteers that help make our communities more like we want them to be.

6. Don’t hurt or kill any animal, directly or indirectly, unless in self defense.

Exceptions are medical research that passes the requirements of a given institutional review board, independent ethics committee ethical review board, or research ethics board.

I typically think of the work of Pasteur with vaccines and Banting and Best with insulin. In both cases, dogs were used as test subjects. That is not a pleasant thought to me, but I think the research can be justified in the lives of humans and dogs saved.

More on Pasteur


This anecdote comes from a 1902 biography of Pasteur regarding Pasteur’s collaboration with Dr. Pierre Paul Émile Roux. The two worked on avian cholera and anthrax together.

The trephining of that dog had much disturbed Pasteur. He, who was described in certain anti-vivisectionist quarters as a laboratory executioner, had a great horror of inflicting suffering on any animal.

“He could assist without too much effort,” writes M. Roux, “at a simple operation such as a subcutaneous inoculation, and even then, if the animal screamed at all, Pasteur was immediately filled with compassion, and tried to comfort and encourage the victim, in a way which would have seemed ludicrous if it had not been touching.

“The thought of having a dog’s cranium perforated was very disagreeable to him; he very much wished that the experiment should take place, and yet he feared to see it begun. I performed it one day when he was out. The next day, as I was telling him that the intercranial inoculation had presented no difficulty, he began pitying the dog. ‘Poor thing! His brain is no doubt injured, he must be paralysed!’ I did not answer, but went to fetch the dog, whom I brought into the laboratory.

“Pasteur was not fond of dogs, but when he saw this one, full of life, curiously investigating every part of the laboratory, he showed the keenest pleasure, and spoke to the dog in the most affectionate manner. Pasteur was infinitely grateful to this dog for having borne trephining so well, thus lessening his scruples for future trephining.”


7. Never steal or lie unless it’s a life or death situation.

You should lie to Nazis about whether you are hiding Anne Frank and her family if you are reasonably certain that you can keep them and your own family alive.

Mostly, though, there’s very seldom a good reason to lie.


8. Learn and contribute to new knowledge constantly.

If you are trying your best to adhere to number three, you could also make your findings public whenever possible.


9. Be conversant in the basics of logic and statistics.

A politician might say, “The 2015 murder of Kate Steinle by an undocumented immigrant is evidence of how dangerous undocumented immigrants are.”

If a politician were to say this, the person would be committing the logical fallacy of hasty generalization. A single example of a crime does not imply epidemic.

Going further, the underlying claim is a statistical one: are undocumented immigrants more likely to commit crimes than the native-born population? The best available evidence suggests that the answer is “no.”


10. Be excellent to each other.

I stole this from the 1989 movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I like that it goes a step further than “do unto others….” Do not just be good to each other; be excellent to each other.

Translate »
^