The Ballad of Young Lord York

Watching the 49ers again this weekend, my anger towards one Jed York flared.  Let’s be honest, I watched 3 straight 3 and out drives and bailed on the game for the Red Zone.  What a horrible team.  Under talented (Exhibit A right Tackle), under-performing (Exhibit B – the defensive line giving up 200 yards to an undrafted Rookie) and under coached (Exhibits C & D – let’s punt, that must be the winning strategy! Let’s take the field goal that will cut the deficit from 16 to 13 with 5 minutes left!).

In all honesty, I’m sure even Tomsula knows he’s over his head.  Do you believe his parents, high school acquaintances, and Facebook stalkers don’t tell him daily?  Every radio host does.  Local AND national sports announcers.  And, when the only way to win is to score touchdowns and take chances, he punts, conceding the game.  It doesn’t matter what he says, even he knows he was waving a white flag.  I imagine his inner monologue goes something like this:

Down by 16 we need 2 touchdowns and 2 2-point conversions.

I know those are long odds and its 4th and goal from the 3.  We can’t run for shit and receivers aren’t helping things.

If we try and fail, people will call for our heads

We can’t make it.

If we kick a field goal our point total will improve.  It is better than the 17-3 beating we took from Green Bay

I’m sure I’m being judged on improvement. Cutting the deficit is improvement.

Field GOAL!

I’m sure the logic behind punting was just as ludicrous.  He’s coaching to not lose worse, not to win.  Hell, I could coach to be 3-13 with the talent on the team.  And I wouldn’t have had ALL those “defections,” I mean “retirements.”  I might have kept Willis.  Or Borland. Instead we have Italian family dinners.  I think at this point his family is embarrassed for him.

But enough shitting on Tomsula, let’s call it correctly.  Everything that happens on the field is on Jed.  He wanted Harbaugh gone and made that happen.  Now he has created a culture of ineptitude the likes we may never see again.  Geep Chryst is the second coming of Jimmy Raye.  No one else wanted to work for him.  (Exhibit E – Adam Gase).  Who will want to work here in the future?  Oh yeah, they are already planning on hiring Hugh Jackson or some other in demand coach.  But we know they will turn Jed down.

Tomsula’s coaching is straight from the Jed playbook.  Jed cut Jim Harbaugh and saved $1.5 million.  Since Tomsula is the lowest paid coach in football, I’m assuming he couldn’t pay him less or else he would have. At least Tomsula can afford to buy his folks a nice house if he wants.  Jed’s about saving money.  Picking up 3 points for a field goal is like taking free money.  Don’t pass up the freebies, even if it leads to losing.  That’s Jed, let’s build the bank account and not worry how the fans feel.

And Jed screwed over Kap.  How?  Colin took a bit less so that other players could be signed or brought in.  The 49ers are $13.2 million UNDER the salary cap.  Not even close.  Even I’m not naïve enough to believe they couldn’t have found a significant upgrade for Erik Pears for $5-6 million.  Of course if no one wants to play here, that might explain why NOTHING HAPPENED.  What happened is the long term planning of how to cut Colin and be rid of the last piece of the Harbaugh legacy.

Let’s pretend this is an episode of Law and Order.  I’ll be Briscoe.  “Hey!  We’re out of leads.  Let’s follow the money!”  What a great idea.  Do you realize the 49ers are worth $2.7 Billion.  With a B.  That is a 69% increase from last year.  That’s $1.6 Billion increase in round numbers.  That’s long term income.  Over $1 Billion in added value.  Wow.

But the 49ers also a debt ratio of about 21%, one of the highest in the league so, they have about $570 million of outstanding debt.  So really, net equity on the team is $2.1 Billion or so.  Of course that’s only if they sell.  They could plead poverty.  Nope.

The 49ers made $124 million last year in operating income based on $427 million in revenue.  That’s retaining 29% in profits.   Clearly there are other costs, but they are very, very profitable.  The New York Giants make less and retain less.  Washington is similar with far less debt.  But then no one would say the owner in the capital is one to emulate.  Well, maybe his mother.

Anyway, the 49ers, once a proud, classy organization, make a lot of money.  And they should, as they charge an arm and a leg for anything at their soulless stadium.  The problem is, they want us to believe they are giving us a Nordstrom experience.  They are not. Their product is more accurately compared to the red tag remainders at Walmart.  Or, being generous, a nice Goodwill outlet.  So yet again, we are sold an inferior team.  A magic elixir that is really sugar water.  I recall two words, “championships” and “accountability.”  I don’t see either.  Do you?

So, what can we as fans do?  Clearly, Jed doesn’t care what we think.  Parag has spreadsheets that help him identify how to make more money.  Trent can’t find a free agent worth a darn. (No, Sean Droughn doesn’t count.) Jed sold his licenses, which fans are clamoring to return.  What can we do?

We follow the money.

How much do you think Jed and the league make from sponsorships and advertising deals?  It doesn’t matter because it is HUGE.  Jed is effectively a snake oil salesman that can’t be trusted.  Or he’s incompetent, but I believe his arrogance leads to making continual bad decisions, including surrounding himself with Yes Men.  Snake oil salesman.  Misrepresentation.  Cavalier disregard for his customers.  He holds himself higher than his customers with false promises and backstabbing campaigns.  What does he think he is, a feudal Nobleman a la Henry VIII?  Perhaps we should call him Young Lord York.  And in the Democracy that is the USA, we don’t need royalty.

Young Lord York needs to be seen as the business liability he is.

Hey Pepsi! Do you want to be aligned with Jed?  You are and we think less of you.

SAP, you want us to trust you with our company’s information?  But you are aligned with Young Lord York and we don’t trust him.

Yahoo? Wait, you have your own problems.  Do you really need more?

Intel, you want to be in my PC.  Stick with Jed and I’ll go to Apple.  Boot Jed.  How would Steve Jobs like his legacy of product loyalty and reverence for the customer feel about alignment with such a charlatan?

Toyota, I’m buying Nissan or Honda till you remove your sponsorship.  And yes, I’ve ruled out Lexus.

Brocade, I think I’ll buy Cisco for my company, thank you very much.  You can be reconsidered when you move on.

Levi’s I love your product, but you need to put some pressure on Young Lord York if you want my money or your name on my ass.

Hey Roger Goodell!  We will remind you often that Young Lord York and his feudal crushing of the public’s trust is ruining your brand.  I’m sure Kraft and Jones don’t mind.  But you saw what happened to Donald Sterling.  Abusing the public trust will ultimately make Jed pay a similar price.  It is that history thing, repeating itself. You have an anti-trust exemption.  What’s that worth to you?

So my fellow serfs gather your pitchforks, your torches, your shovels.  Let’s stop tending to Young Lord York’s fields.  He doesn’t care if we tend them or not. Let’s not storm his castle.  Follow the money and make sure his SPONSORS know how we feel.  Perhaps they don’t want to be associated with his “disreputable” practices.  Let’s let them know they are stained and shameful as well.


Extreme Sadness + Outrage Leads to Hate, But Must It?

Every time I turned on the TV or radio last week and heard about the horrific attacks in Paris, I became emotional and teared up.  Each and every time.  Other than the 0.0003% of the world that thinks these actions are justified and needed, I believe the rest of us are saddened and shocked.  And while its clear we decry terrorist actions, so many people choose to take up the cause of hate.  Justified hate in their minds.

Social media has been slammed with reminders that Muslims hate non-Muslims.  Hate mongers see this as their call to action, to remind us that their brand of purification, eliminating the Muslim threat is justified.  Clearly if you see the video “Moderate Muslims Don’t Want You to See!” you will see the foundations of violence.  Allah’s word makes stoning adulterers and gays the right choice, the perfect law.  And outrage and calls to arms resonate and grow in their might.  And I’m saddened.

Yes, I freely acknowledge that the Koran preaches the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims.  Belief in Allah and his words are the only way according to that book.  No, I have no desire to read it.  No I haven’t read the new testament either.  Even if I have the details wrong, I have gist of it.  But 1500 years later do we really believe that all 15 Billion Muslims believe this?  I find that hard to  believe, having known and worked with several.

It is easy to see why the hate mongers feel this way.  But if we as a society ascribe to this, then what fate do we really have other than the mutually assured destruction the Reganites ascribed to?  Is that the world we want?  Clearly some people want that.  I don’t.

The world changes doesn’t it?  I sit here rationally and think to myself, what made sense in a feudal society a millennia ago doesn’t make sense now.  Why can’t we, as a global society, agree to make the world a better peaceful place?  Do we really need stonings, cruelty and racial hate?  Well, actually we do.  Rupert Murdoch and Fox News base their preaching and opinions on hate and violence.  There are no decorations on a coffee cup and the WAR ON CHRISTMAS grows.  Blacks protest the killing of unarmed people who may or may not be guilty of anything more than being black and it’s a sign of the WAR ON POLICE.  In my opinion, they are the gasoline for the fires of hate in the world.

But then I see that video.  I see a few hundred “assimilated” Muslims agreeing that Allah’s word is perfect.  This is regard to stoning gays and adulterers.  Is this true? Is this the majority?  Hassidic Jews keep their men and women separated similarly.  The Torah has passages requiring animal sacrifices.  This practice stopped nearly two thousand years ago.  Perhaps it’s time for mainstream Muslims to officially denounce such punishments and practices.  This is not the feudal Middle East of a 1000 years ago.

Of course this won’t happen.  The US has interests in places like Saudi Arabia where beheadings happen regularly and women and second class citizens.  Is that a Muslim issue or Saudi issue?  Africans often mutilate their women, but we decry that as a Muslim issue.  Is it?  Republicans and Democrats will work to prioritize and protect our oil and monetary interests over human rights.

I see the hate all around me.  I see the seeds of religious righteousness on both sides.  The Muslims with their holy words and the Christians letting me know I’ll go to hell because I am an unbeliever and sinner.  Of course I sin (their word, not mine).  It is more fun.  I’m also a good  person and I choose to believe that world is filled with good people.  People who want to do the right thing, and no that doesn’t extend to knocking on my door to tell me my beliefs are wrong.  You can keep your Watch Tower, tithes and personal messiahs.  I’m good thank you.  You can have your religion, but I’d rather stand for helping he oppressed, helping those whose lives required leaving their homelands.  Yes, those refugees.

So rather than preaching hate, rather than expounding why we need a wall, rather than standing on soapboxes on why we need to eliminate countries and populations, why its important to keep the hidden terrorsits within the refugee community from our shores,  why can’t we take the first step and seek to find how to solve the problems.  Seek to understand before being understood.  Maybe do some long range thinking.  Even if you could eliminate every Muslim – that is what you are thinking, right?—what does that do for OUR world.?  It is not just yours.  It is your kids.  It is your neighbors.  It is mine and my friends’ too.  Do you really want a world full of righteous murderers? Holy Repressors? Morally enabled thought police?  Actually I think you do, but I don’t want that.

Yes, I know it is a very complex world with very complex problems.  I have totally reduced the issues down to manageable, digestible bite sized pieces.  This is my blog, my thoughts, not graduate thesis on world peace.  But enough with the hate. Enough with the xenophobia. Don’t you think it is a counterproductive to your golden rule? I do.

Colin’s Benched, but Really It’s Jed and Trent that Stink.

By now I’m sure you are familiar with my subtle disappointment with 49ers ownership, one Jed York in particular.  I wasn’t the first to notice the clown car that tries to pass for management at the Santa Clara 49ers.  I’m not even the most vocal.

For the last few days, I’ve heard Adam Schein, one of my favorite voices on talk radio call the 49ers “a dumpster fire.”  Today I heard Alex McLorg of refer to team as a puppet monarchy in a radio interview.   I’m not sure those are compliments.  Sports Illustrated named them the 2nd most dysfunctional team in league, WAAAAY ahead of the (rebuilding since 1957) Detroit Lions.    It all seems fairly accurate.  No one is hiding their disdain, disappointment and nausea over management’s role in trashing a once proud franchise.

Kate Scott on KNBR quipped that she was rethinking being a fan of the team.  Only Jed York and Trent Baalke can be surprised how far the team has fallen and the amount of anger the fans have for them.  I personally feel dirty about being a fan of a company that is so poorly run and so seriously disingenuous.

Last year was a whisper campaign about how bad Jim Harbaugh was.  He got results, but once the owner and GM began undermining him and it is very clear they did, what reason did the team have to perform?  If the owner wasn’t going to support the head coach, why should the team.  Dysfunction resonates and results fall into the chamber pot.

But, then the team had given our QB Colin a new team friendly contract and allegedly agreed to use some of the discount to sign new players and keep old ones from leaving via free agency.  Reggie Bush. Don’t make me laugh.  Another non-truth to hide what was really going on.

From where I sit, I see there were two major agenda items carved in stone last year in Santa Clara.

  • Distance the 49ers from Harbaugh
  • Make money

They are making money.  With a line as bad as SF’s does it surprise you that they are near the top of the league in terms of being under the salary cap?  Me neither. It was clear they didn’t spend it on the line.

And the first item has had serious repercussions.  Yes, Jim’s gone.  But do you think the smear campaign went unnoticed?  It didn’t.  When you look at ALL the departures via retirement and free agency, you must conclude that some of those men chose to leave rather than work for Baalke and York.  All of them? Probably not.  But people are not sheep, they are not stupid.  They see disloyalty and they have the choice to do other things.  For the record, I will not be surprised when Willis, Borland, or Anthony Davis unretire in a year or two so they can play for an organization and owner with integrity.

Which brings us to today.  Colin Kaepernick was benched for Blaine Gabbert.  Not only is Gabbert not a starting QB, he might be THE WORST BACKUP in the NFL.  That’s inspiring.  It is clear that Colin is the last major reminder of Jim Harbaugh.  His revolving annual contract foreshadowed what’s about to happen.  I’m not going to say Kaepernick has played well he hasn’t.  But I’m assigning the blame 60/40 on management.  No line.  No Plan other than ruination.  The QB coach hosted a radio show last year.
The offensive coordinator has dumbed down the offense so much that it sapped the drive from the team and eliminated the chance for offensive success.  That safety last week?  Inspired play calling.  3 straight telegraphed runs, each netting -1 yard.  I saw it coming on first down.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they told Colin “DO NOT THROW UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.”   I think that may be part of the reason he missed an uncovered WR.  If he can’t throw, he’s disheartened, he makes a mistake.  Bad Coaching.  Do you think defenses are playing the 49ers harder because they have less to defend?  That it is easier to see what is coming?  I do. The coaching stinks worse than my compost bin.

The organization worked hard to make sure that Colin failed this year.  Mission accomplished.  Personally, I hope he moves on, gets the solid coaching and support he needs  to fulfill his potential.  I am disappointed at all that has gone in the name of eradicating all parts of the Harbaugh legacy from the 49ers.  For the record, since the Yorks took the team over, the only highlights, however brief, came from Jim Harbaugh’s direction.  Exactly.

So Jed and Trent, two things.  Trade Colin someplace he can succeed.  That will save you some money.  You’ll need it.  You may have sold lots of corporate licenses, but the real fans give their tickets away.  In a few years, the stadium will be lucky to be half full. Me? I’m going to make sure that I don’t buy anything that has a chance of putting money in your pocket. No games. No jerseys. No gifts for my boys.  Bluntly, I think you are the football equivalent of the mean girls from High School.  Mommy’s money and your golden dome diploma won’t change who you are.  It is not pretty.

The 49ers were the joy of the Bay Area for decades. Your uncle helped them become great, the envy of the NFL, with one of the best fan bases.  You pissed on that history and created a festering mess that will stink for decades.  That’s your legacy.  Or will you pin this all on Baalke next year?

An open Letter to Jed York, President/Owner of the SF 49ers

October 22, 2015

Dear Jed York –

I wanted to touch base with you.  I don’t think you responded to the two or three tweets I sent you recently and that’s ok.  I really didn’t expect to hear from you.  For context, let me introduce myself.  I’m a recent bandwagon jumper to the 49ers Faithful, having pledged my allegiance in 1980- a mere 35 years ago.  I’m a bay area native, working professional and Cal graduate.  I know that pales next to your Finance and History degree from Notre Dame, but it is who I am.  But then I might have a MBA in Finance, so perhaps we can communicate productively. In no way am I pretending to be a football expert, just an impassioned fan with good general football and business knowledge.  I know I don’t know everything.  But I also know I know much more than nothing.

I was touched last year by a few of your comments to the media.  One was about “winning with class” and the other was about “holding you accountable” for winning championships.  Those are great thoughts and I wished every owner of beloved sports teams held themselves to such high standards.

As a professional manager for nearly 30 years, I especially like your directive for the team to win with class.  I took that to mean the entire organization should really step up their game.  I have always held fast to the management principle when my team succeeds, the success is the teams and when we fail, it is my role to be blamed and accept the burden associated with it.

Since the team has performed poorly this year, it strikes me as odd that you have be absent in the media.  Perhaps I’m not reading the right papers or watching the right networks.  Locally and nationally, you are a ghost.  Perhaps in the Trinity of you, Baalke and Tomsula you are playing the Holy Ghost.  Interesting, but highly ineffective and not at all classy.  But then, that’s just my opinion.

It is a stark contrast to last year when you basically blamed Jim Harbaugh in the media for pretty much everything.  I think only his Khakis were spared.  You let everyone in the world know he was gone and made sure it was unambiguous, without ever saying it.  You didn’t take the blame, you even tried to pass off his leaving as “a mutual decision”.  For the record as a manger I was appalled.  As a fan I was dismayed. But I knew it was comedy gold.  Honestly, you were writing the script for Donald Trump and Ben Carson.  Jed York, Trendsetter.  Consider putting it on your business card.

So, classy is really misnomer, a gentle misdirection for the masses.  I get it, you studied history and, like PT Barnum, know there is a sucker born every minute.  So let’s discuss your love of history.  I don’t know much about the History program at the Golden Dome, but I am pretty sure you are familiar with the quote:

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

As I recall, there was a football team with great success.  They had won super bowls with 2 different coaches. When the second coach retired, they brought in a young brash college coach who was having some success.  He even went to the playoffs and won some games.  But the new owner, a man from outside football, didn’t like the coach in the spotlight – or so it was said.  Perhaps he didn’t get along with the coach.  It didn’t matter, the owner fired the coach.

One of the things I know about sports is that when you actively fire a coach or manager, your goal is to bring in someone better.  This owner didn’t.  He didn’t even pretend to.  He brought in someone he liked and whose name hae some cache in the collge game. The beloved football team circled the drain for 10 years.  It got so bad that even coaches and coordinators turned down employment with the team, forcing the team to hire whoever might take the job.

Surely you realize I’m talking about the 49ers and your beloved father. We all love our fathers, but most of us try not to repeat their mistakes.  In fact I go out of my way to point out my mistakes to my children so they don’t make the ones I’ve already learned from.

So, taking the axiom that one coach is removed for a better one (or one that achieves betters results), I have to ask, WHY THE FUCK DID YOU FIRE HARBAUGH TO HIRE TOMSULA?  Let’s be honest, Tomsula is a great line coach, I sense he is a great man with some leadership qualities.  He’s also over his head as the head coach, unless he’s just pretending to be out of his depth in press conferences.  I can only assume you decided that this coach would be more fun over coffee and drinks.  Perhaps he was be so happy to have the promotion that he wouldn’t make you justify odd decisions.  Good leaders want people who challenge them, people who achieve.  Dictators and fools want yes men.

Perhaps you and Jim Harbaugh didn’t get along.  I hear he is tough to work with.  Now I know you have limited experience outside of the family business so as a manager in public companies, let me share something I have learned over the years – some very high performers are tough to get along with.  Sure, as a manager you can fire people, often for made up reasons.  But even if they are assholes, morale takes a hit when you get rid of your best performer because you don’t like him or he has a difficult personality.  People can see it; it isn’t something you need a silver spoon to notice.

Of course Harbaugh may not be high performance employee in your book.  There may be issues we, as the public don’t see.  But aside from theft (which would be on you anyway for allowing it to happen) or sexual harassment (which we can’t know about), it is pretty hard to envision a scenario where you don’t qualify Jim and his staff as high performers.  They took Singletary’s god awful team and took them within 2 fumbles of the Super Bowl. Then to the Super Bowl one miscue from winning (the timeout, nto the pass).  And then to the brink again.  That was his first three years.  I believe that is the definition of high performance for a head coach.  Then you undermined him for a year and it fell apart.  No, we the public didn’t miss that.

I’m not a fan of your dad.  He ruined the team in my mind and I’m not alone.  I gave you credit when you hired Harbaugh.  I was dismayed at how you handled last year when decided you needed more fun at work, not the stress that a high strung, over achieving, results driven star coach.  You are the owner, and that is your call.  Are your coffee breaks better? Do you sleep well at night? I hope so.

That’s all the past and now, here we are.  I understand you lost Vic Fangio because you told him he had to report to Tomsula, his previous charge.  I don’t think that’s working out too well.  I watched your team take a lead over the hapless New York Giants and basically hand the game back to them with their porous defense.  I was actually at the game last week and watched the beleaguered Ravens hand the game to the 49ers and then watched as the Ravens drove the field TWICE(!) easier than it is for me to drive through a McDonald’s.  There were dropped passes or else the team would be 1-5.  Not that 2-4 is much to talk about.

But let’s talk about the defense.  Have you noticed the 49ers are last in passing defense and next to last in total defense?  Yep.  The 49ers are 31st in total defense.  And that Fangio fellow you encouraged to leave is coaching the Bears.  His Chicago Bears team is 6th.  Smart move in not retaining him either.  What about Harbaugh.  Looks like he’s turning the Michigan program around.  I know it is not Notre Dame, but what is?  Nope, he wasn’t a fluke with Stanford or your team.

I guess we should talk about accountability.  Please don’t mention players retiring.  I believe you should have planned for it.

Anthony Davis’ performance had been slipping since his concussion.  Did you really expect him to perform as he had years ago?

Willis, much beloved, has been hurt and while you hope he got healthy and played as he had in the past, were you so naive to just go on hope?

We all saw Cowboy (Justin Smith) was probably going to retire, so that wasn’t unexpected.  Clearly, Chris

Borland caught you by surprise.  As a casual observer, do you think your mismanagement of the team helped him decide that his health was a higher priority to him than it was to you?  It’s the sort of pattern as a manager I am trained to see.  What inside linebacker did we draft this year?

And then there is our boy Aldon Smith.  Clearly, you knew there was a chance he’d do something silly and you would have to cut your loss.  Sadly, it doesn’t look like you planned for that eventuality.  Here’s a thing to consider – bad apples with lots of illegal guns, don’t generally become boy scouts overnight.  Don’t believe me, consider Greg Hardy.  There’s a guy who is contrite and showing the world how he can change.  Yes, that was sarcasm.

Now that I have addressed some of what you haven’t done, let’s look at what you have.  The team gets kudos for Torey Smith and Jarryd Hayne, even if it is only for marketing down under.  I’m pretty sure that’s it for the positives.  There might be some negatives.

I understand that Baalke is the GM, but let’s be honest you asked me to hold you accountable. I bet you signed off on at least a few of these.

The right side of the line.  I’m not sure they’d fare well in the SEC.  You can’t be proud.

Reggie “made of glass” Bush.  The Lions didn’t want him.  Why did we?  Because he was cheap?  You still overpaid.  Honestly, between keeping Aldon Smith and signing Bush, you should have kept Smith.  Signing Bush made you look silly and cheap.  By the way, who is our back up now that Hyde is hurt?  Oh, that’s right History and Finance, not Strategic Planning.  My mistake.

Jerome Simpson?  Well there is stellar citizen if there ever was one.  You cut McDonald (rightfully so), Smith, but not Brooks or Miller.  I’m guessing Simpson is gone next year too.

Remember when Singletary motivated Vernon Davis and he grew up and peformed?  What happened?  Has Tomsula had the opposite effect?  And Vance McDonald looks like a bust.  Yes he caught a nice pass last week.  He drops 3-5 of those for each he catches.

When was the last time we developed a Wide Receiver?  Yes, you are right, that was Terrell Owens in 96.  20 years is a long time.  Patton and Ellington look good on paper, just not in the game  White? Doesn’t seem to play.  Do you want to throw Robert Johnson or AJ Jenkins into the discussion?  I didn’t think so.

You promoted Geep Chryst from QB Coach to Offensive Coordinator.  Did you not see Kaepernick regress last year?  We did.  What would his personal coach do better with the offense when he wasn’t much help to his QB?  I guess I just don’t get fuzzy logic.  Maybe several other coaches turned you down. Rumor has it that Adam Gase did.  If so, he was smart.  Let’s not play the loyalty card.  Laughing at that would hurt.

I think the team’s best off season move was Shareece Wright.  He had a large hand in the win last week.  If only because you threw away a million dollars to learn his glaring weaknesses.

Darnell Dockett?  Nope.  Let’s call it welfare for an over the hill player.

And then I remember your degree in Finance.  What is that 3 million dollars given away?  Well, at $50 per parking spot, you make that up in a few games.  And while I agree that you have every right to make money and that probably more people than I realize get a piece of the take, don’t you think $50 to park is a bit excessive?  You can park in the financial district of SF for less.  You are accountable for this too, right?  $30 might be high but fair, but $50 feels like financial rape.  I guess you think it doesn’t matter to the sheep that comes to feed your coffers.

To recap my thoughts today –

  1. You undermined your coach last year, contributing to a subpar record then said the organization needed to be classy.  I believe this is called irony
  2. You fired a good, but annoying coach, to replace him with an inferior leader because you like him.  When he goes in a few years, do you really think you’ll be able to attract top talent?
  3. You took the same actions as your father, which had the team circling the drain for 10 years
  4. You were ill prepared for injuries and turnover of players
  5. You may have actually contributed to the retirement of players how might not trust you (No sir, it is not a stretch)
  6. You hired inferior supporting coaches, with records of mediocrity and failure.  You won’t blame Baalke or Tomsula for this will you?
  7. You made no significant off season player signings, bringing in 3 players of note – two are gone and one isn’t playing because you ignored his history and threw away millions, but still charge $50 to park at the game.
  8. You have put an inferior product on the field; capable of winning when the opposition decides to give the game way, but not otherwise to this point.
  9. You have provided no real help to your franchise quarterback.  And yes we all see that the team friendly contract he signed will allow you to cut him at your pleasure.  And when he gets a real coach and supporting cast he’ll be a solid NFL QB.
  10. You want to be held accountable.  Done.  What are you going to do?

You know what the worst thing is?  I haven’t even watched the Seahawk game tonight.  I’m still a fan of the team, as Seinfeld pointed out we are now fans of laundry.  But I think I’ll watch Cal play UCLA tonight instead.

Make me a fan. Do something.  Fix things.  Be leader.  Consider stopping to be a ghost.  Or worse a spoiled kid playing with the toy mommy gave you. If not, in less than 5 years you’ll compare unfavorably to the image of Al Davis after Gruden.  Ponder that for a bit.

BART Changes its Schedule. But, Is it Ethical? Why does it seem Nefarious?

I awoke one morning and trudged to the train.  I had gone early a few days that week for some meetings at the crack of dawn, then had a work at home day.  Thursday September 17, 2015 was the first time I went to work at my normal time.  I plan my commute to catch a train that turns around at the Concord station so I can get a seat.  Standing for 50 minutes in an overcrowded train is not my idea of fun, and half the time no amount of cologne can mask the damage done.

I arrived 5 minutes before my train and see the train signs omits the arrival of that train.  That’s odd. Well there are often problems.  The train was full so I waited for the next one, 15 minutes later and yes, trains that leave Pittsburg after 8am generally have a few seats, but I was annoyed.  I waited close to 30 minutes longer than I should have.

Guess what?  The same thing happened the next day.  Being confused, I posted about this on Facebook and a friend mentioned that BART had really screwed up the schedule.  By now you know I’m a shy wall flower, so I found BART’s twitter address and said “hey what’s up?”  Maybe not in those exact words, but I was polite.  I was a satisfied BART rider after all.

BART, in their infinite wisdom let me know what they had done even though I might have to wait 5 more minutes (just 5 more minutes! No inconvenience there!).  And they were adding cars to the trains I was waiting for.  Well paint my lips red and call me Jezebel!  Here’s what wonderful present BART gave to the riders of at the Concord Station.

  1. Eliminate (at least) 3, 10 car trains (the ones I take) that start in Concord, empty.
  2. Make all the remaining trains 10 car trains.
  3. Make sure that the time between trains in Concord between 7am and 8am is always 15 minutes instead of 8.

In case you missed it let me do the math for you:

  1. Bart eliminates at least 30 empty cars, to add 3 – 6 non-empty cars. That’s -80% at best.  Each car has just under 100 seats, so we see 2700 seats being eliminated in Concord and replaced with roughly 250 seats (larger trains add seats, but also add riders).  Tough to be exact since BART changed the schedule and I don’t have an old record.  But this is close.
  2. Bart increases the time between trains to add waits and overcrowds platforms and trains. People wait for the next train and the platform becomes more and more crowded.

And they were surprised I wasn’t thrilled.  In fact I was pissed.  But here’s why I am very pissed.  VERY, VERY as a matter of fact.  Here’s why:

All the trains eliminated from the Concord Station now turn around in Pleasant Hill.  And Pleasant Hill is a misnomer.  The station is Pleasant Hill adjacent, but it really is located in Walnut Creek.  A few things to consider.  Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County with a population of over 120k.  Walnut Creek has half as many residents at 60k.  Walnut Creek is one of the more affluent cities with per capita income over almost 50k, while Concord lags at just over 30k.  Do we see some social-economic pandering going on?  It is tough to miss if you open your eyes.

Now I’m not saying BART didn’t have an overcrowding problem in Walnut Creek, they do.  But to solve it by just moving the problem to Concord, is both short sighted and irresponsible.  Could they not have found a better way than reducing the open seats in Concord by more than 2500?  I have to estimate as the schedules have changed and I didn’t take a measurement to what was about to happen in advance.

The worst part is that they KNEW they were dumping the problem on Concord.  Tough words?  Really?  Let me give you another pertinent fact.

When BART shut down lengths of track for a period of time they start announcing it MONTHS in advance.  When they shut down exits at busy stations, they station people there telling people in advance.  When they change fares or charge for parking they have a blitz at the station with people and collaterals.

What did they do at Concord?  Absolutely nothing.  No announcements.  No signage.  No people answering questions.  They hid their disrespect from the patrons.  If we didn’t notice the change in the arriving trains we might not have ever noticed.  Yes, there is a small blurb on their webpage.  It wasn’t on the news.  It wasn’t on flyers. It wasn’t in the major news organizations.  They may have just as well wrote on the inside of the stall at the Concord KFC.  It was not communicated.

So, children here is your lesson in socio-economic bullshit.  Make the wealthier people happy and shit on the lower socio economic classes. I’m guessing that the BART Directors didn’t think we’d notice.  Or they believed we wouldn’t do anything.

In the past I looked at taking BART as a perk of a job.  It was a solid, relatively easy way to commute.  Now?  It really isn’t much better than sitting in the backlog of the bay bridge.  Way to piss off our customers BART.  I am steamed.  I know most of the other people I now stand on a crowded platform with are not happy.

I tweet the BART account most days (@SFBART) to let them see, feel and ultimately ignore my dissatisfaction.    I have also, as you see, posted this for perpetuity on my blog.  This is my public record of displeasure. I may not have my numbers exact, but I am very sure my commute is longer, less comfortable and unhappy.  That much is crystal clear fact.

In closing, let me congratulate you BART.  You have taken a loyal, satisfied 30 year customer and shown such disrespect, you may never get a kind word from me again.  And I hadn’t even started complaining about the mess you’ve made in the Embarcadero station.  Closing exits and not fixing the escalators quickly enough has made it a safety concern.  Are you waiting for a death to really do anything effective?  Why yes, I will be critical from here on out.

Smoked Meatloaf

Lee makes meatloaf.  Thrilling, right?  Well hell, it looks great.


I’m a big fan of Jeff Phillip’s smoking meat newsletter and his cook book. While I can’t give you his rub and sauce recipes, if you spend time on the smoker, the $20 he charges is well worth it.  As is his cook book. He published his revised meatloaf recipe and I ran with it.  I’ll shameless steal his basic recipe and reshape it into something barely recognizable.

Before we start, remember that recipes are frameworks. I am never precise unless I’m baking.  These are approximations of what I did.  When I tell the butcher “about a pound” anything from 1-1.5 pounds is acceptable.  Yes, things like chili’s and bread come in whole units and yes I can count smart ass. J


  • 1.25 lb ground chuck (80/20)
  • 1.25 lb ground pork
  • 1.25 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 Pasilla (poblano) Pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 Anaheim Chile seeded and diced
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 of a very large sweet onion diced (1 large onion)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed and diced fine
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 TBS Lee’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce
  • 2 TBS Bacon Fat (or olive oil)
  • 4 slices of Multigrain bread
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. herbs de Provence (WHAT?!?)
  • ½ cup+ BBQ Rub
  • 1 cup+ BBQ Sauce
  • 1 TBS butter.
  • Bread crumbs (if needed)

Sauté the onion in the bacon fat over medium high.  Remember, bacon fat makes everything better. (I contemplated chopping up some bacon into the meat, but chose not to.)  Add the salt to help draw out some moisture. When the onions are soft, not yet translucent, add the peppers and chili.  When the Peppers are almost done, add the butter.  Butter is like bacon fat from cows.  I added several grinds of pepper here.  After a minute, add the garlic and stir well.  After 2 minutes remove from the heat.

Rip up the bread and place it in a bowl.  Add the milk and let it soak in to the bread.  Stir this every few moments to break up the bread and let the milk absorb evenly.  Pretty soon you’ll have mush.  When you reach the mush stage, add the eggs and 1 tsp. of the herbs de Provence.  Beat mercilessly and set aside.

I started the smoker at this point.  I used a mix of Oak and Cherry (because Hickory doesn’t grow in California).  It takes about an hour to get to a constant temp. I aimed for 240.  Started cooking at 250 and dropped to 225 at times, because I’m far from perfect.

In a gargantuan bowl (because I like leftovers and this makes fantastic sandwiches), add the meats, the cooled veggies and 1 tsp. of the herbs de Provence.  I like to gently break the meat at this point into small pecan sized chucks, tossing with the veggies.  It is very loose at this point, but very well mixed.

Add ¼ cup of the rub and ¼ cup of the BBQ sauce to the meat.  And the Pepper sauce. Add in the milk, bread and egg delight.  Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Mix it good.

I thought mine was too soft (that’s what she said) to hold shape, so I added about ½ cup of really good bread crumbs.  It is much easier to add texture to make it firm than it is to add liquid.  Just saying.

I formed a loaf and put in in a smoker rack.  Cover the loaf with a nice crust of rub.  And it’s off to the smoker for approximately 4 hours.


An instant read thermometer is my best friend.  That, and an accurate temp in the smoker.  When the meat got to 150, I coated the loaf in BBQ sauce to caramelize and moved it to the top rack.  I pulled the meat loaf at 160 and let it rest 15 minutes before cutting.  I served with some smoked beans and roasted garlic potatoes.  Yum.


A Liberal Watches the GOP Debate, Objectively

I watched the GOP debate the other night.  It was every bit as entertaining as I hoped.  I learned a few things that I believe at least a few of you will enjoy.  Let’s get a few things out of the way first.

Yes, I am liberal

No I’m not close minded

Yes I believe Fox News is Bullshit Mountain

No, I do not believe everything they is bullshit, just way more than it should be.  As an example Bill O’Reilly covering the Falklands war is not bullshit.  Any mention of him being in a warzone, seeing a firefight etc. is.

Let’s look at my before and after of the 10 men on stage.

Jeb Bush
Before:  George Bush’s smarter brother.  Too religious for my taste.
After:  George Bush’s WAY smarter brother.  Very centrist.  Nice thought on education.  Every bit as religious as I expected.

Ben Carson
Before:  Smart Neurosurgeon who says odd things with no political savvy
After:  Savvier than I thought.  He is in favor of torture (really, what about the “do no harm oath?) and he later used the word secular as an insult.  (Note:  Seems like all GOP candidates believe they must adopt some sort of “I’m a good Christian” aspect to their platform to think they can win.)  I actually started to like Carson until that.  While I agree with his stance that race should be an issue, it is. I would have liked to see him really address that.  I think he missed a great opportunity to capture an issue that everyone else ignores and pretends is all hot air.

Chis Christie
Before:  He’s from New Jersey. He’s brash.  He hires political thugs.  He’s not Springsteen.  NEXT!
After:  He’s put some of his weight back on.  Seemed like a lightweight candidate to me.  His catfight with Rand Paul was fun, but showed him in a poor light.

Ted Cruz
Before:  A buffoon from Texas.  My Huckleberry.  May have tried to be funny with his machine gun bacon.  Made him look ridiculous to me.  And from Canada!
After:   OMG.  All that was missing was a call to round up the Jews and remove them from this good Christian land. I’m sure he appealed to many voters on the religious right.  I was offended.  When did President become a religious office?

Mike Huckabee
Before:  Former Arkansas governor who plays bass and hosts a TV show.  I hear people like him.
After:  Good sense of humor, smart and savvy.  Way too religious in my view.  Not as offensive in that way as Cruz, but too much for my taste.  And what hair!

John Kasich
Before:  Governor of Ohio.  Who?
After:  Smart, on the ball and a bit nebbish.  I could vote for him.  I wasn’t overly upset with his views and like his views on the economy.

Rand Paul
Before:  Ron Paul’s son. He can filibuster.
After: I liked his views on the NSA and privacy.  A serious senator.  Not a serious presidential candidate in my view.

Marco Rubio
Before:  He likes water and people like him.  Why?
After:  I see the appeal.  He can orate.  Very proud of his blue collar roots (and 100k student loans that I’m sure his PAC or speaking fees paid off).  He made sure that he appealed to the religious right with his very strong anti-abortion views.  Politically savvy and showed he would work with others of similar views (as in Jeb Bush).  Not as bad as George Bush.

Donald Trump
Before:  A horrid blowhard who has adopted the Fox News “Angry Old Man” stance and taken it to a new low.
After:  Seriously, do you want this guy negotiating with Russia or anyone else?  He gladly wore the sash of most likely to start WW3.  I think this is his ego saying I can out do the Koch brothers by buying myself the election.  I can’t imagine he’ll make the convention, let alone the ticket.

Scott Walker
Before:  Hey Kids!  Let’s bust a union.  Whatever.After:  He rides a Harley.  So?  I think he dies his hair and has the 2nd worst comb over in the group.  I guess they needed a 10th warm body.

Yes, I spent over 3 hours watching Fox News.  For the most part I didn’t find many things to call bullshit on.  I was very impressed with the focus group segment on the Megyn Kelly after show. Real people, real opinions and a few dingbats.  Nevertheless it was a clear demonstration that a GOP focus group in Cleveland have almost nothing politically with me.  But it was clear who like Rubio because he was attractive, in a non-political, creepy sort of way.

I really was disappointed to learn that the GOP really is the Evangelical Christian party.  Even Trump jumped on the Pro-life platform.  I took it as code for “I’m Christian Friendly.”  When did abortion become a key point for the GOP?  A plank yes, but a keystone blank? Wow.  Now if only this country thought politicians should tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.  Everyone wanted to defund Planned Parenthood.  I guess inexpensive healthcare and education for women is appealing to those with blinders on.  I call bullshit on that.  Especially since we are also funding “abstinence education.”  If you are for abstinence education, then I label you an ostrich as you missed the fact its 2015 keeping the sand out your nose.

And really, Trump thinks it is funny to tell a women she’d look good on her knees. In public. On national television.  A jokes aside, that is not something to say nationally.  What may have been funny in private is insulting in public.  Shouldn’t a president know that?

I decided to check the current rankings on 8/10.  On 8/9 Breitbart posted the results of an NBC poll.

  1. Trump                   23%
  2. Cruz                      13%
  3. Carson                  11%
  4. Fiorina                   8%
  5. Rubio                     8%
  6. Bush                      7%
  7. Walker                   7%

A point of interest is not that Paul, Christie and Kasich fell off, but that Fiorina jumped way up.  Maybe it’s me living near Silicon Valley, but HP’s board firing her does not make me feel like she should running our country. I’m sure she is a smart lady, but I’m concerned.

In the dull roar following the debate, one theme has been heard.  The concept that it was a set up for Trump.  Can I laugh now?  He isn’t a career politician.  He doesn’t want to be. He insults politicians and calls them stupid.  Yet in a political arena, he and his supporters cry “UNFAIR!”  Am I the only one that sees the irony here?  Trump wants the spotlight. He got the spotlight and then decided the heat burned. Maybe he should build a wall around his campaign and keep the barbs out with the “Mexicans.”

I think if he wants to be a politician, he should expect more of this, though I don’t think it’s the hatchet job he and his supporters think it is.  After all, Dan Savage was much more rough, albeit rightfully so, on Rick “don’t google me” Santorum.  Trump gets off easy in my book.

This liberal enjoyed the show.  There was lots of BS after the fact, only a few shovels worth during the actual debate.  I’m open minded, but I don’t think pandering to the religious right will win anyone my vote.  I’m all for religious freedom. I’m happy to vote for a religious person who keeps his religion to his or herself.  I already know 20% of the people in this country believe I am going to a hell I don’t believe in.  Ah the joys of politics.

I’m going to enjoy the next several months as the Trump sets the clown car afire and it burns itself out.

Of Common Sense and Half Truths

I often wonder what has happened to common sense.  I’d like to think my father emphasized common sense as a key foundational element in my upbringing.  Let’s go with that shall we?  I believe I have some because in a previous position, my good friend Dr. Starr used to say, “common sense isn’t.”  And then he followed that up by making me the VP of Common Sense.  I am far from perfect, as several of you can easily attest, but I think I’m pretty solidly filled with common sense.

As I take BART (aka the train) to and from work each day I’ve learned to both read and give visual clues about  needing to disembark.  People often signal their intentions.  Me, I tend to put my tablet away, put my reading glasses in my pocket and shift my murse (my nieces believe my messenger bad is really a murse, not a European carry-all) and glance toward the seatmate that will need to move.

Today, I went through my routine and the person next to me didn’t ask, they just immediately stood up.  I rarely like to stand up prior to the train stopping but I did a few seconds prior to that shake that pushes people uncomfortably together.  I moved into the aisle and she sat back down.  It was crowded, like a mosh pit at an oversold Foo Fighters show.  There was nowhere to go and the doors did not open.  2 seconds into this slight delay, a big guy pushed past me with a terse, “ ’scuse me!”  As I recovered from his shove, another woman pushed by, pushing me backward (like the mosh pit).  I politely said, “I want to get off too.”  And she cast a fearsome scowl my way.  I think whatever common sense there was lay bleeding at my feet.  30 crowded seconds later the doors opened.

Common sense has been heavy on my mind.  Yesterday as I waited for the train I stopped and wondered, “What are they thinking?”  Lines and queues are governed by common sense.  Much like stopping at a traffic light.  There is a 12 inch strip at the platform you need to stand behind while waiting for the train.  The spot the door opens is clearly marked.  But, there is no written rule of how far to stand behind that strip.  I tend to stand 6 to 12 inches behind the strip.  Keep in mind by the time the train comes there will be 20 or more people in line, curving toward the line for the next door.  Oh, and I go to the last door on the last train.

Sometimes people stay 2 or 3 feet back from other people. 12 inches is really the least you can stand back, respecting personal space and helping to make the line efficient.  Sometimes you see people much further apart as if the person in front of them is an Ebola carrier.  Yesterday, the person at the front the line was a solid 12 feet back from the stip.  And the person behind them another 5. This is a lot like the person at the stoplight who stays more than 2 car lengths behind the care in front of them.  5 or 6 feet is good at a stoplight.  35 is not.  If you need that much personal space, you should probably stay home.  It should be a law.

And then there is a new phenomenon I’ve noticed – people who believe that lines serve no purpose.  The hover around the line then push into it as it moves.  This applies to waiting for a train at commute hour, at the escalators and the turnstiles.  For the record, Chaos may be the state everything devolves to, but it is not helpful.  Common sense people:  pretend you have some.

I was debating things with my father the other night.  This was noteworthy because while it was heated and the volume went from 3 to 6, there was no yelling or name calling.  That never happens with us.  I first recall him yelling at me during the Clinton-Lewinski scandal as I had pimped her out.  I consider myself a semi-enlightened liberal, near the center and he is just to the right of Attila the Hun, parroting everything Rush, O’Reilly and Hannity tells him is true.    As you know, I believe as the good professor Jon Stewart has taught us, Fox News is Bullshit Mountain.  Of course most things those three pundits put forth (or more appropriately, spew) have their basis in fact, but they are rarely completely true.

My father and started debating social change in the US.  He pounded me for wanting to see the rate of change increase.  In his mind there is a natural speed of change and I think everything should change now.  No, I just believe that the rate is increasing and it should continue to increase.  He gets so lost in the hype that common sense gets lost.  This is sad, because I’ve always looked to him as fountain of common sense.

The rate of change in technology keeps increasing.  Why should our understanding of societal issues and civil rights not move as well?  Are we a static society content to keep things as they have been?  Using that logic, we might have prevented the auto industry from taking form to protect the buggy whip business.  We might just now be learning to build factories and decreasing our dependence on the manual loom.  As information grows and we our capacity for learning increases with each new baseline, the rate of change speeds up.  I’m not looking to change the world today.  But I am looking to support the good changes that are taking place and help move the needle forward, not back.

As the topic shifted to racism and police killing blacks unnecessarily in this country, he pulled out what I’m sure came from Bill O’Reilly, “More whites are killed by the police, than blacks.”  Of course I researched it.

Well hell, that’s true.  Or should I say half true; it is totally misleading.  Let’s look at the facts:

  • From 1980 to 2012 44% of people killed by police where white.
  • From 1999 -2011 2,151 whites were killed compared to 1,130 blacks.

Washington Times 4/21/2015

So yes, in gross numbers more whites were killed.  Lies, damn lies and statistics, right? But since the black population of the US is less than one fifth that of the white population, Blacks are almost 4 times more likely to be shot and killed  by police than whites.  Think about that.  That is not a nominal statistical fluctuation; that is a trend!  That, gentle reader,  is racism.   An indicator of the institutional racism that Fox News wants us to believe doesn’t exist.  I disagree.

Now, do I believe all police are racists?  Absolutely not.  Do I believe some are?  Without question.  The issue is how many and what do we do?  We’ve seen too many occasions where the police abuse or use unreasonable force with blacks.  Choking a man for selling cigarettes.  Shooting a man in the back for running from a broken tail light citation.  Everything in Fergusson!   Where are the examples of police abusing white people?  I don’t recall seeing those.  I’m sure it happens, but much more rarely than with minorities.  You may not believe there is a larger problem, but I believe there is.

Part of me is beginning to think that perhaps local law enforcement is beacon to the power hungry, to the racists in our society.  We even see horrid examples of racism in the liberal city of San Francisco.  So when my father asks if I think more than 5% of the police nationally are racists, I immediately answer yes. I hope I’m wrong, but I sincerely doubt it.

As a counterpoint, he immediately points to Baltimore and the riots and looting, while the police were told to stay back and let things happen.  We all saw it on TV, but did we see the same thing?  I saw an oppressed group reacting as the only way they felt they could.  I didn’t like it; I didn’t excuse it.  I understood it.  Common sense sometimes means seeing things from someone else’s point of view.  Seeing that racial oppression has not benefitted this country, is this really where we want to make our stand?  I believe most of us see there is problem in this country.  It is uncomfortable to acknowledge, let alone talk about.  We as society, as a loud single voice need to make sure the needle keeps moving, that change keeps taking place.

I say we have a problem in the country.  We are finally ready as a nation to see it for what it is and, as a country, are ready to acknowledge it.  We need to fix it and it will take a strong majority.  You may disagree, but my common sense says this is needed and is coming.  Why don’t you help be part of the solution, rather than perpetuating the problem? It’s only common sense.

Myriad Randomness – Drought Edition

As you may have heard, there is drought in California.  What does this mean to me, specifically?  I’m glad you asked.  Here’s what I’ve changed.

  • I have a bucket in the shower. I catch the “warm up” to water the tomatoes.  That’s new.
  • I reuse my shower towel “many” times. It is 85+ most days and it dries quickly.  That cuts down on washing.  I did this in college and in my younger days.  No longer is my hamper full of towels.  (You know, that subtle status symbol of being economically stable.)
  • I only run my sprinklers 2 days a week. Usually after 9pm when the sun goes down.  My once envied super green lawn looks like every other sad, green lawn in the Nor Cal.  I haven’t decided to kill it yet.

What does this mean?  We are mandated to cut our usage by 25% from 2013.  May I was down about 50%.  No earth shattering changes.  Just lots of little ones.

I know I’ve been a bit outspoken politically lately.  Quite honestly I’m both thrilled and heartened by many (but sadly, not all) of the responses I have gotten.  Don’t go by the comments here, there aren’t many and I delete all the “I want to kill Ashley” or “I want Ashley to host my Bukakke party” comments.  Most are far worse.

But seriously, how can things continue to unravel in our world?  Pope Francis works hard to bring the Catholic Church into the 20th Century and Fox News calls him the most dangerous man in the world?  People I know on Facebook call him “EVIL”.    I guess the world still must be flat, the sun revolves around the earth and Torquemada was misunderstood.  Really?  You know what I think.  I just can’t understand how some conclusion could be reached, held so tightly and preached so violently.  We know the gene pool is flawed, just saying.

I still love my coffee.  Have you had Equator Coffee?  I’ve been buying their stuff on line (their roastery delivers for free for a $50 order and I have it in 2 days) and now they opened a shop next to the Warfield.  We know mid-Market is on the upswing, but this is huge.  Granted it’s a mile walk from the office, but I get exercise, the coffee is great and they have food too.  Check it out.  Only downside is that their bean selection is limited.  No fear here, I don’t mind the online thing.  The sweet spot is the 2 pound bags.  I’ve been drinking the Brazil 45 Espresso (it makes a mean, well rounded regular cup).  $13.25 for 0.75 lbs.  That’s $17.67/lb.  Or $30.05 for 2lbs.  $15.03/lb a savings of 15%.  Compare that the various coffees at Peets’. They are $14.95-$16.95.  So the same price or less and much more complex and delicious.  And honestly, smelling Major Dickasons at home today, it smelled burnt.  Fantastic coffee doesn’t always mean expensive.  But there are expensive options too.  Ping me if you need coffee advice.

Sandra Bland was in jail for 3 days.  She was arrested for an illegal lane change.  Later, she hung herself in her cell (allegedly).  She was college educated.  She was back in her college town for a job interview. And she was black.  I have about 400 questions.  If you don’t, stop reading this now.  You probably shouldn’t ever come back to this page. I’m sure incidents like this have happened far more often than “white” America realized in the past.  It is glaringly obvious now.  Our blinders are off.  They need to stay off.  I’m not going to pontificate on this today.  But I am outraged.  You should be too.  How can you not be?

I’m pondering a long piece on the death of middle management.  Clearly, I’m not in the top 2% and I see so many fixable issues that are allowed to fester.  That’s what 30+ years of working in corporate America will do for you.  Of course I worry about being to self-centered and whiny.  And that you won’t care.

And for those of you that don’t know, R+L=J.  It is known.  It always has been.   Three words: Tower of Joy.

I’ve read a few things lately that you should might enjoy.  I loved the latest James SA Corey Expanse entry Nemesis Games.  It is getting mixed reviews from my friends, but I’m firmly on board and can’t wait for the show on Syfy.  It looks fantastic.

Tex Thompson’s second book Medicine for the Dead builds on her debut, One Night in Sixes and shows vividly what a fantastic writer she is.  Seriously, in 10 years you’ll wonder how you missed this.  She’s going to be huge.   Trust me.

Did you like Flowers in the AtticJR Johansson’s Cut Me Free builds off a similar premise.  It is defiantly YA, but sometimes I act as if I’m 14, so it makes sense.  I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading more of her stuff.  Especially those that are painted in horror tones.

I’ve never given Leigh Bardugo column space here.  Her Grisha Trilogy is fantastic.  Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising are all great reads.  Her next novel, Six of Crows, is set in the same universe with new characters.  It is scheduled to come out later this year and I’m excited for it.

In the kitchen this year I’ve mastered hummus.  Who’d have thought?  But homemade is so much better than store bought, especially when you can spice it to your tastes.  More lemon? Yes.  More harissa? Yes.  More fresh onion, garlic and herbs? Yes.  Hummus it’s not just for hippies anymore.  No need to wear the tie dye today.  Tomorrow you can.

I’ve also kicked up the frequency on my bacon jam. Bourbon Maple Bacon Jam.  It goes well on crackers, bread, grilled cheese sandwiches AND on your burger.  I made a huge batch and my guests inhaled it.  Guess I’ll need to make more soon.

The view from my building

And I love working in SF.

Fear of Change (or You’ve Gotten Your Civil Rights All Over My Bigotry)

You can tell the presidential election is right around the corner.  And by that I mean 16 months away.  Already we are inundated with candidates, especially from the right, that seem intent on grabbing headlines and mind space.  What I’ve noticed, not that it is new, is the hate and fear mongering that is going on.  It seems to have ratcheted up significantly over the last few years.

Perhaps we should blame Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.  After all, they masterminded W’s presidency and campaigns and solidified the country behind him.  This was done by fueling the fear that Iraq was ready to bomb the US and was funding/hiding/helping terrorists.  Turns out that none that was true.  But being scared, we overlooked the “mistakes in intelligence” (or lies as they might be called – Colin Powell might have quit because of them, as you may recall).  And then fear became a heavy political tool.

So what do we have today?  Fear that our religious freedoms are being taken away.  Where?  I don’t see it.  Marriage for all?  Ok, don’t perform weddings in your church for a same sex couple.  Do you really believe a gay couple, who KNOW you hate their lifestyle and biology, want to force you to do their wedding?  I don’t think so either.  Let’s be totally honest, your religious bigotry is fine in your home and probably in your church or shed or garage or wherever.  But let’s be frank:

Marriage is a legal contract accorded with rights under the constitution and laws of this nation.

Stop fighting it.  If you really believe you must get divorced so that you can protest what the 9 smartest legal minds in country decided, perhaps it is more curious why you haven’t joined a cult.  David Koresh anyone?  The Moonies?  The Manson Family?  Maybe Heaven’s Gate was more your speed; feel free to restart that one.

And let’s not throw down “the Bible”.  Men wrote it.  It’s been edited and modified many more times over the last 1500 years  than you are probably willing to admit  Let’s stop looking at this novel as sacrosanct.  You want to follow it? Great.  But recall it also has several men with multiple wives.  It contradicts itself.  It’s a book.  The only thing it doesn’t have a T. Rex and Woolly Mammoths.  Ever wonder why?  Me too.

That all being said, I believe in your right to believe what you want.  And other than a piece here now and again, I won’t disparage you in public.  After all, over 70% of the US practices some form of Christianity and only 2% of are Jews.  You know us, the cheap ass money lenders leading the illuminati, right?

But you don’t have a problem with other religions do you?  You afford them the same respect as you would like?  You know, that vocal minority waging “the war on Christmas”.  That’s code for “They are attacking Christianity”.   One of the most ridiculous causes I’ve ever heard.  The overwhelming majority sets the rules.  And in case you forgot, there are no famous, renowned or even discussed Jewish Founding Fathers in US lore.  And there is no attack on Christianity.  But there is a lack of patience for intolerance and institutionalized ignorance.  The world is changing.  Civilization is, in a sense, growing up.

That’s why Fox will bring up “THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS!” every year.  It resonates.  It helps fuel the fear that “their” religion is under attack.  Clearly, Fox spokestool Bill O’Reilly is onto something.  After all, this religious attack is the worst we’ve seen since the holocaust.  No?  I must have been watching the wrong “news” station.  My bad.

What you fear in the night
comes to call in the day anyway
(Duritz, Bryson 1994)

My friend and author Laura Antoniou put it well, “… if you think someone’s religious beliefs trump my civil rights, then you are cordially invited to fuck off.”  I couldn’t agree more.  It is about civil rights.  Not only are we finally righting the wrongs of the South and their war on civil rights for Blacks (150 years in the making mind you) we are also giving everyone civil rights regardless of sexual orientation.  The amount of progress and growth in the last few weeks has been immense.  Or has it?

My favorite whipping boy, the Genius Ted Cruz, thinks that extending those civil rights will hurt the Christian Churches he loves so much.  The Evil Obama IRS is targeting their tax exempt status.  That’s right.  Genius Ted believes that organizations that deny the civil rights of others are to be glorified and guaranteed their tax exempt status.  He is frightened of potential changes brought about by the evil Obama IRS.

In fact, so much so he is also scared for the Jewish Churches.  Yo! Genius!  Jews don’t go to church.  We don’t have churches.  We go to Synagogues and Temples.  Or we go to Shul (an acceptable secondary answer).  I was appalled at his lack of grace and class.  Of course he was talking to Glenn Beck, so my expectations were already quite low.

Let’s ignore the ridiculously large amount of insensitivity toward the Jewish people.  Let’s focus on the fear mongering.  I know I have been concerned over the Catholic Church’s tax exempt status for years.  How else could they afford to pay hush money and settlements to the victims of pedophile priests?  I’m not saying all priests are bad.  Most aren’t and I’m a HUGE fan of Pope Francis.  But since the number of pedophile priests is more than 1, (and honestly it is WAY more than 1) it is too many.

And other religions have their issues as well.  So is creating a worry about tax exempt status important?  Why yes it is.  It allows people to focus on things other than the fact that many organized religions are more concerned with denying others their civil rights and freedoms than they are anything else.  This distracts the conversation.  It’s the political equivalent of yelling “Squirrel!”  It rallies the religious base to ignore what’s really important and move to build a protective wall around their (religious) treasure.  And nothing generates more votes than fear and hate.

For the record, there has not been any targeting of churches’ tax exempt status for this reason yet.  But when the issue was raised in the Supreme Court discussion, it was noted that the continued denial of civil rights could lead to a review of tax exempt status.  That makes sense to me.  If corporations or people deny anyone their civil rights, there is an action taken against them.  Are we to believe that religious entities are above the law?

Yes Virginia, there is freedom of religion in this country, but there is not freedom to break the law.  If your new religion requires human sacrifice and cannibalism should we permit it? (I’m sorry if that hit too close to your beliefs, Scientology.)  Of course not.  The law wasn’t enacted to circumvent religion.  It was enacted to guarantee that all MEN and WOMEN are created equal and allowed the same rights.  Period.  We should not celebrate anyone or anything that believes otherwise.  Next you will tell me Boko Haram kidnapping and killing girls because they dared be educated is allowable.  Stop using religion to shield your small mindedness.  Embrace the golden rule – treat everyone well.  Don’t make exceptions when you don’t or won’t understand others.

In the Dark Ages and other less advanced times, homosexuality and science (!) were considered Satan’s work.  We know that’s not true now.  You can ignore science.  You can dislike the practice of homosexuality.  But we acknowledge the truth of science and we know homosexuality is not a choice.  We are smarter, more educated and more open to the truth of things than we were.  Let’s stop the fear mongering.  Let’s stop the hate speech.  I think it is time for understanding and acceptance.

And you kill what you fear
And you fear what you don’t understand
(Collins, Banks 1980)

Hey Ted!  Boy Genius!  Do you think you could lay off the fear mongering and hate speech? Do you think could work on understanding?  You did go to college, you do have an education.  Keep in mind I will be proposing a Wonderlic Test for politicians.  And why yes, I do think you would score below Vince Young, another famous Texan.  Maybe you could aspire to more?  I don’t think so either.


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