As the political season continues, it is interesting to observe the continued division between the right of the left. Socialism is a four letter word in most people’s books. Recently Bill Gates came out on record to state that the free market has failed…. And that the only way to save the planet is through socialism. Kind of extreme. But if you look at the platform of the extreme right, it is seemingly loaded with policies that target the less wealthy. Attacks on Obama care, attacks against Social Security, Medicare, tax breaks to the rich….. it goes on and on. I live in the state that has much support of the right wing mostly in the name of religion. It is interesting that many of these people believe this way are people who struggle in their daily lives financially. While risking stereotyping these individuals, it just seems that the less educated struggling people support these policies that have the effect of only lining the wealthiest pocketbooks. Tell me how the repeal of Obama care helps those people cannot find health insurance? Tell me how raping Social Security and cutting its benefits helps low income people as they drift into their golden years? Tell me how cutting taxes for the rich while leaving the middle class and below untouched is good for the people of this nation overall?
The logic completely escapes me. I dare to say that many who support the right especially under religious premise are likely less educated than others. It’s the only way that I could possibly conceive the naïve nature of these policies. Please don’t tell me that cutting taxes on the rich will stimulate the economy as it will create more jobs and the tax savings are reinvested. Wall Street greed has shown clear that that’s not the case. The upper 1% of the country has only gotten significantly richer while the middle class and the lower class financially have been flat or reduced in financial status. The cuts to current programs that are designed to assist those in need, or delete them all together, leaving no choices for the middle and lower classes seems like and not an answer.
Do not tell me that there are a bunch of freeloaders in this country and that is why right-wing policies take the stance they do. There are freeloaders in the indeed, and we of the left hate that as much as anyone. The truth is this country is made up of people with limited incomes who must struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet. They try to have a life, follow the dream, try to honestly make ends meet. Have they made some bad choices? Sure. Is further education needed for parents and children? Absolutely. But these issues are solved in different ways, not by feeding the rich and hoping somehow it trickles down to the greater country.
In a recent conversation someone tried to tell that socialism has not worked. He indicated that history proves this. Since I was not into trying to change his perspective I did not argue. But I have to look no further than Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and that matter most of your to show that socialism works. Yes there taxes are higher. But overall these countries enjoy a much more positive and stable quality of life than we do in the states.
When the free market fails the general public someone has to step in. The government may not be the best answer but that is what we have. And to those who proclaim all of the above arguments of the right wing and tea party while struggling to make ends meet and figure out how they will retire with the financially secure lifestyle, I asked, how naïve are you?
My God is your God. Interesting. That says a lot about today’s environment, politically and religiously. One does not have to look far among social media, news outlets and any other source from which you gather your information to mold your opinions. We are a country is distinctly divided. This is no news flash. The political landscape of America is littered with opinions structured along the lines of partisan politics. There has always been a Democratic Party and a Republican Party in this country. Throw in a few independents, and a few party wannabes like the Libertarian party, our landscape is pretty much been unchanged politically for decades. Interestingly though, as we motor our way to another election year; the landscape seems to be changing whereby politics seems to be quickly becoming a vehicle for religious platforms. Constitutionally, separation of church and state be damned. It seems that the Republican Party and its offshoots like the Tea Party are siding more and more along religious lines and beliefs; inserting them into the public eye for political gain.
This is the simple reason that I introduce this as a political discussion.This is how it has become in our country today. It is always dangerous to stereotype or categorize one group of people or another as having certain characteristics or beliefs. But in this instance, how can you possibly avoid it? We have gone so far to even have accusations that certain media outlets favor certain parties and beliefs, all in the name of reporting news.
So let’s examine the political landscape as it relates to religious beliefs. The political right appear to side with a staunch Christianity bordering on evangelical and beyond. The political left is largely silent on this issue, however, certain conclusions can also be drawn from the stereotypical standpoint that they are all atheists, or at best agnostics.
All of this leads to a grotesque abandon of the point. Politics is not about religion. Nor should it ever be. But as the days pass, it appears that this line is being drawn from both a political standpoint and a personal beliefs standpoint.
The trouble this that so many people are now basing their opinions upon their beliefs. People are free to believe in a way they wish to believe. But to insert those beliefs into politics by which laws presumably would be created over the future years is simply not acceptable to the greater good of the country.
Most Christians have certain sets of rules that they follow as interpreted by the Bible. Not only do they interpret them, but in accordance with the Scripture, at least in their opinion, everyone should abide by the same set that they apply. Their God is the only God out there and the only way to heaven, however you interpret that. Those who do not abide by those rules are destined for hell. In these rules are a boatload of premises that have the effect of robbing individuals who do not believe in the same set of rules as the evangelical Christians; potentially having the effect of stripping them of personal freedoms. Freedom to marry how they wish. Freedom to believe in another God that is not theirs. Freedom to make choices about their own bodies and well-being. I think you get the point. The basic premise of these people is that you must believe the way they do, their God, their Bible, and their interpretation of the Bible. Other religions or lack of any religous beliefs be damned.
Okay. They are free to believe the way they wish to. We can acknowledge that. All that is required in return is to let anyone else believe the way they wish to live. But that is not the way of a religion that is basically imperialistic in its nature. Okay. I’m not in the position to change anyone’s mind about how they believe. That is not my place for me to tell them how to live just as it is not their place to tell me how to live. But my God may not be the same as your God.
I do not mean to just single out the Christian faith. Most religions by their very nature are imperialistic in their intent. It seems every religion is out to save other people to convert to their religion. The basic premise for this is a fear of loss of control. The mentality is “if you do not believe the way I believe, I cannot control your actions and thought”. Again, it is a control mechanism for one sect of humans to manage or dictate what another sect of humans should do or don’t do. It’s a simple as that. Yet today most of the military conflicts in the world are based on religious preference and imperialism. This religious imperialism has cost thousands of lives at a great financial cost to America and its allies. In a country that believes in freedom for all, how can there possibly be a premise that all must live along a line of a specific religious value? Was not this country founded as a place for all live, believe, and prosper with the freedoms that this country is supposed to offer? Was this country not founded as a result to escape religious and other oppression?
There is not a place for religion and politics in coexistence. By definition of each religion that I am aware of, each has it’s own mentality of “its my way or the highway.” There is no way to serve the greater good of all people in this country based on a set of rules dictated by one group or another. Politics and leadership of the country must address the needs of all the people, not just a chosen few. As well, olicy needs to be determined for the greater good of all who live in this country.
My God may not be your God. Celebrate that. We were founded on the diversity of opinion from those who oppressed us. Why in the world would we want to make the same mistakes that led to the founding of this great country to begin with?
Our stumbling rambling purveyor of rum speaks (belches?) out once more on a rum review:
Today we review a rum from the British West Indies (Barbados)—Pusser’s Rum. For more than 300 years Royal Navy of Great Britain had their Pursers issued their sailors a daily ration (or “tot”) of rum. This was believed to prevent scurvy as diet restrictions on board were prone to cause the disease. Sailors’s turned Purser into “Pusser” and the daily tot continued until July 31, 1970 (now sometimes recalled as “Black Day”) when the tradition ended. Per the Pusser’s website, entrepreneur Charles Tobias obtained the recipe and rights of the five-rum blend and formed the company on the BVI and started selling to the public in 1980. The company donates a portion of the sale of each bottle sold to the Royal Navy Sailors Fund. Per the website, Pusser’s is now a single malt rum, uses no flavoring agents, and is mostly pot-stilled. The bottle is Royal Navy Blue and Red with a blue-capped cork and British Naval Flag on the front.
Opening the bottle, the aroma is strong but not overpowering. The first neat sip is rich, with molasses coating your throat like a warm blanket on a cold night. The 84 proof rum has a smooth middle with a residual metallic finish from distillation. The extra 4% from most rums, brings a powerful substance to the drink and can be stout without being overpoweringly heavy. This is a very good sipping rum, for those that like more “oomph” and mixes well with regular cola. It may be a little too strong for most diet colas. If mixed with fruit juices, it works better with a little less rum and more juice. Which has an upside in that the bottle lasts a little longer that way.
I had little expectations of this rum, and was very pleasantly pleased. At approximately $25 per bottle, this is not a cheap rum, but a good rum for the price. The buyer needs to be aware that this rum will not be a rum for everybody as responses from friends and family varied greatly. I give this rum 7and a half corks and slide it into my Top 10 Rums.
The Rum Quest continues.
The Rum Guy
We are deep into the conference portions of college basketball seasons. March Madness is still far away. There is a lot of basketball to be played. But this year, I am looking beyond March Madness. Oh, I will participate to the extent possible, probably throw back a few beers at the local Twin Peaks, and maybe go to a conference tournament due to its favorable location. Gone this year will be the trips out of town following March Madness; there is simply too much going on. I am already looking to baseball season. Baseball is the only sport I religiously follow at the professional level…….I follow two teams. One of these teams stem from my roots and has fed me a feast of humility over the years. The other had some success, but could not close the deal when they had the opportunity. I follow the Texas Rangers. Had season tickets a few years back when I lived in the Dallas area. Their heyday came a few years back when they lost to St Louis in the World Series, the loss squarely pegged on the inexperience of this years closer, God help us, Neftali Feliz. Well a few years pass, a few trades and a few “indiscretions” from the manager, things have changed a lot. So I would rather focus on my top team…..yes those loveable losing Cubs. Last year, after ten years on the waiting list for season tickets, my name is called. About 6 grand apiece for tickets on the third base line, 17 rows up and under the Wrigley cover (if any of you have not experienced Wrigley Field, put it on your bucket list. Or even, just visit the surrounding bars of Wrigleyville. Such an experience). With 12 large, could I make my money back assuming I would make maybe 3 games all year and maybe give 8-10 games away to family? I chose to pass. Hello 40,000 waiting list once again. I will be dead and in hell when my time comes up again. Painful as it was, I probably would have lost money last year. The Cubs were awful. But, I would have the same seats again and for years to come until I gave them up. This year, well my friends, is the year of the Cubs. Mark it. With a proven name coach and a spend plan that has increased significantly (and I am happy to say their own people brought up through the system now have great contracts….rewarding excellent performance), I am taking the Cubs to win the division. Will they get to World Series or win? Well, likely not since they are not used to winning in pressure situations, kind of like my Rangers as discussed above. I wonder what the odds are in Vegas for the Cubs to win World Series? Common my right bearing Facebook friends, you know who you are, message me and let me know. I am in. I will place a good bet for this…..whatever. At the end of the day, If I am right, I will be crying in my rigatoni that I do not have those seats for the season tickets. For if I am correct here, what was around $76 a game face value, will likely sell for $150-250, depending upon the visiting team. Oh well, I knew it could be an opportunity, but there was pain along the way to get to the payoff. Who know Theo Epstein would make such brilliant moves on the offseason. Well I should have, after all, he is the one that manufactured the Boston Red Sox teams out of their drought.
In the days gone by, those blessed, or cursed with artistic talent had very little outlet for which to get their work into the mainstream. For musicians, it was chasing the big record deal, writers sought the holy grail of a big publishing house, poets, well hell, unless you won the lottery and your work was placed in the New Yorker magazine; you get the idea. Flash to today’s digital, social networking and applications age where you can get a decent recording program as an application on your cell phone (Garage Band). Additionally, there are so many outlets to sell your artistic works. You can name a few well known, and maybe not so much on others. Amazon and iTunes come to mind as the well known. There are likely a whole bunch of others that are lessor known. It takes all of about 10 minutes to set up an account to sell on Amazon, and for iTunes, a little longer, unless you have a Mac. Lovely Apple, trying to keep competition beat down.
Then there is another level of marketing assistance out there. For musicians, Tunecore, for a fee, will set up your music to sell on all of the major sites, letting you keep 100% of your share of the revenue due you after Apple or Amazon’s cut. They will even help you create a demo quality piece offering mastering services for your recorded tracks. They use well seasoned engineers for this who have decent resumes of work for the mid-level famous. Are you going to make a lot of money doing this, no. But between these outlets, and social media like Facebook (yes your friends and family have to put up with these kinds of posts) you have an opportunity to be heard, or read, or seen or whatever, all while maybe putting a few dollars back toward all that ridiculous costing music equipment you purchased over the years.
Any band with original material should not be playing publically without their original works recorded and on the above outlets. After all, how times have you been sitting in a bar listening to live music, and you hear some original music that you think, man, I would mind buying a CD or their stuff. Well, the new age is Amazon, iTunes, eBay……spend some good quality time capturing your work, then get out there and market it a bit. Unless, that is, you simply like playing, or reading your own works to yourself, and that is a whole ‘nother story.
Heard today on the radio an interesting thing the FCC was considering as we enter into election season. Seems they are considering a study, performed by their own personnel, of going to radio stations to query about their programming, to understand their decisions on what gets programmed on a daily basis. Interesting. Not sure who or how this would be funded, and it appears that this has no independence of 3rd parties, as much as we can trust them anyhow. As we enter into the tip of election mania, the agenda of this cannot be ignored. Part of the discussion is the intent. There have been many circumstances where democrats have felt that the media favors the other party. If you tally the total of outlets in the media, it would seem to favor the republicans, and beyond, namely the Tea Party and all the other far right who have lost touch with society based upon some belief or media outlet that feeds them what they wish to hear. But that is the point, isn’t it? While I personal abhor the right and conservative, I cannot, in good conscious, control the amount of media content based upon what I wish to hear. Sure. I would hope that it would be equalized… but in the end, it is wrong to attempt to control the media to an extent that would assure some sort of equalization. I cannot help the fact that many of the conservatives buy into their agendas. Hell, the liberals do the same through whatever outlet they have available to them. So what. If you believe in the open market overall, it is difficult to justify. The media will be the media, and our constitution protects them to publish whatever they feel. I cannot control what content they deliver, nor do I wish to. I will be the first to say that it would seem that the right is much more represented in the media than the left (remember, I hate these tags, but it is the political world as we know it today). On the surface, I do not like this, but in the end, it is what it is.
Apparently in the Reagan era, there was a law that has since been repealed that tried to provide fairness between the parties based upon content published. OK. But back then there were much fewer media outlets from which to derive news from. Today, we have a plethora of outlets. I would be the first to admit that more of them favor one party over the other. So what. I am not of that party, nor close to it, but in the end, in today’s world, I am convinced that people are only going to hear what they wish to hear or support. No question, for those, there is a media outlet for them to deed their opinion. No government survey, at the cost of the taxpayers is going to change this. Give it up FCC. It just not in your agenda to waste tax payer money to perform such a study, especially since there is not a clear intended use of this data.
I do not agree with the results of this, in that I believe that there are much more conservative outlets int he media than liberal. I do not care, again, I disdain the tags, but they are there and part of the reality of our world. The fact that there appear to be more outlets that I am opposed to means nothing. It is the market. I focus more on the fact that people hear and believe what they wish to believe, and they will find whatever outlet that satisfies there thirst to justify their opinion. I cannot control that, and neither should the government. Take a look at the constitution people, read it…government most of all.
I do not necessarily like the situation, as I think people are way to impressionable by what they hear and see….but it is the way the country is formed. Just because I am not agreement with the media and masses means nothing, this is how our country was based, and it is all of our collective responsibility to adhere to our country principles, even if they conflict with our personal opinions
Give it up FCC. Save some taxpayer dollars
I have never been a fan of unions, with good reason. Their over the top policies are very destructive to the overall business environment. They started out to protect workers, but as their power grew, they became their own worst enemy, business wise. In today’s business environment, and especially in the south U.S., unions remain a weak force as most states are open shops states. Further, most of these states laws concerning employment are what is called “at will”. Simply stated, the worker wills to work for the employer, and the employer wills you to work for them. The American way. Nothing more. Great. This follows our formula for pro-business and freedom overall. Only something went wrong along the way. The evolution of the new economy dictated change in the way companies handle, and apply this ‘at will’ standard. The expectations of Wall Street have evolved into a ‘what have you done for me lately’ attitude, fueled by technology that allows trading large amount of shares in a nano-second. So if you are a CEO of a publicly traded company, by definition your mantra is to maximize share holder wealth.
Here is where we run into a conundrum. In order to feed this insatiable short term thirst of Wall Street, companies are making snap decisions every day involving the you and I’s of the working world. If a company is not going to meet analyst’s expectations, or worse, report a loss, well, just announce a “x” percent layoff. Business model or customer be damned. We are seeing this today as well; and in the fact that hiring is seriously lagging considering the growth potential of the economy. All of this leads to an American worker is void of any loyalty, and for good reason. Again, this is all good, only one major problem, there are not a lot of choices for the American worker out there. So many workers; me included, are in jobs that pay substantially less….but we feel we must take them to survive. We are not happy, the company is not happy if they were thinking of something other than their bottom line, you get the picture. Never has the American worker been in more perilous employment in history. So what is the answer?
There is not an easy answer. In a recent trip to South Korea, I became friends with a manager of a major Seoul hotel that employs in excess of 300 people. Yes they have unions. When I inquired about the power of the unions, he indicated that much of their power comes from the employment laws in Korea. He further said that the only way he can lay off workers is to show three years, count them, three years of operational loss before he can let employees go via work force reduction. This is very excessive indeed, but it got me thinking….if companies were force to not reduce their workforce until after “x” quarters of operational losses, maybe there would be some protection for American workers who just want to be productive. Business environments change, and as some of you go crazy reading this, thinking how horrible this is to the business environment, let me give you some statistics about South Korean economy. The unemployment rate stands between 2.3-2.7 percent. In America, that is defined as better than full employment. Average household income is north of $46,000 USD per year. And by the way, I have never had better customer service than in Korea in my many travels abroad.
The American worker is in peril. Yes, many of our workers do not understand that a pay check is not automatic, that there is value to your employer behind the service you are supplying for that paycheck. These are not the type of workers any company needs.
But maybe, just maybe, employers need to take a hard look at themselves. Employees should be assets to the company. Figure out ways to embrace them. Do not let our government dictate how they should be treated. But if you cannot get your act together in this regard, Mr. Company “XYZ”, I am happy for the government or someone else to step in and force you think beyond your little short term Wall Street attitudes. Citizens of the U.S. pay for good products and services…..but corporate America has given us little reason to go beyond finding the best bargain and paying as little as you can. American workers deserve better, please do not push them to a point of regression thinking or wishing they had a union or someone else to look after their interests.
Corporate America, these people feed you. Try to get it. It is not difficult. This is why I tend to support private companies, small business, and companies with known positive corporate cultures. I believe in the American worker, and you, and companies, should also.
Our extended team at Reddgranite, as you know, includes content providers with a different view, eyes on a different world and a knack for recording such events. Here our roving travel guy Jason Thomas Hockney Zeimet has provided this video of Mike Herrera, of the punk band MxPx. The video is brought to you by Travelogue.net. Have a look as Mike visits Denver for the first time in a while. Also of note, the first time Mike has visited Denver since pot was legal in the state……a few clues for those stoners traveling to CO to go smoke pot……
And once again, as all videos on this site, it is below the advertising cause some dumb ass cannot figure out how to size it in HTML……while you are there though, go ahead and click the ads….I dare you.
So our roving nutbag with the video camera has visited yet another interesting place and captured once again the strangeness that can be this country, In this jaunt, he captures a museum of ventriloquist dolls……like clowns, they always kind of freaked me out. But here it is for your viewing pleasure.
See below…..way below………..
Our Rum Guy has been drowning his sorrows once again based upon all of the sports book bets he has lost in the last few months. Well at least when he hits the bottle to bury his sorrows, he opens an new bottle of rum and passes on his observations. And here is yet another. He is up to over thirty such reviews, so if he is not an expert in the normal sense, he at least has to be revered for his motto of taste, taste and taste again. And now from the bottom of the gutter, his review of Mt. Gay Rum.
“We Are Family” sang Sister Sledge back in the 1970’s. “ah,ah,ah, my sisters and me”. OK. I know this dates me, but who cares, it is what it is, so just go with it. Today we review The Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, part of the Mount Gay “family” of rums which include the Extra Old which was previously reviewed. Mount Gay Distilleries began back in 1703 on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Rum’s origins, while murky, are forever linked with sailors. With voyagers trading around the world, Barbadian rums and the island’s sugar cane became known for their superior flavor and textures. The Mount Gay rums continue that tradition. The Distillery uses deep underground water that was naturally filtered through coral limestone, then distilled further. Their famous sugar cane is then turned into molasses and then, according to their website, they still use the traditional double copper pot stills for distillation. Usually, the rum is then aged, which they prefer to use the term, “maturing” in charred white oak barrels that were first used for American Whiskey as well as blended. The Black Barrel is said to be a small batch, handcrafted blended in heavily charred oak , hence the “black barrel’ name.
Pictured Left: Mount Gay Rum Black Barrel
The bottle itself is clear glass, with a black and yellow label with the name quite prominently displayed and a hand-drawn map of the island of Barbados. While the label is busy, it also advises of the source of the spring water used and the name of the Master blender as well as the type of barrels and how blended. I felt knew what I was buying.
Removing the cork releases the aromas of the Caribbean, soft sand, palm trees swaying in the breeze, warm sun and easy nights. This is a nice gold coloring as it slides into the glass. First taste on the tongue is bold, and can be overpowering if not prepared. There is a hint of spice, and vanilla, with a touch of fruit and caramel. The finish burns a little due to the high alcohol content. This could be a good sipping rum if you like strong rums and add a slice of lime on the side. The 86 proof is stronger than most rums, and for some that takes some getting used to. This rum slips smoothly into both regular and diet cola. It works well with frozen Boat Drinks.
At approximately $30 a bottle, this is not a cheap rum, but it is a good rum for the upper-middle edge of the price range. It is not as pricey as the Mount Gay Extra Old” but worth the cost. This rum gets a firm 7 corks out of 10 and is a welcome addition to the Mount Gay family, .”,,,come on everybody and dance…”
Widely distributed, pick up a bottle on your own and compare…..I believe you will think the 7 corks is at least the minimum that this fine rum should fetch. Just do not let the higher proof creep up on you, especially if you are not on the couch firmly embedded in your home. Mixing can sneak up up on you. But I highly encourage to try sipping first. Take a long look at the depth of color and aroma….this is a good value for a rum
The Rum Quest continues…..
The Rum Guy