Friday, January 8, 2021

Best of 2020

 Best Music

These are my top albums ranked according to how many 4 or 5 rated songs the album had.  The links below (mouse over song name) are to representative songs of each album.  This is not a rank of the individual songs.  

1. Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?  Album of The Year

2. The Orielles - Disco Volador

3. Tops - I Feel Alive 

4. Aluna - Renaissance

5. Lady Gaga - Chromatica

6. The Blessed Madonna - Club Future Nostalgia 

7. Victoria Monet - JAGUAR 

8. Georgia - Seeking Thrills Here is a live version of the same song that is really nice

9. Teyana Taylor - The Album

10.Tame Impala - The Slow Rush 

11. Empress Of - I'm Your Empress Of

12. Kayobe - Islands To Bridges 

13. TOKiMONSTA - Oasis Nocturno 

14. Widowspeak - Plum 

15. Washed Out - Purple Noon 

16. Róisín Murphy - Róisín Machine 

17. Anchor & Braille - TENSION 

18. Weste - Abanico

19. George Clanton & Nick Hexum - George Clanton and Nick Hexum 

20. Hazel English - Wake UP!

Favorite Skiing

We stayed in Aspen for four nights back in Feb 2019 when Covid was just making the news.  The condo was walking distance to Aspen Mountain which was great.  The snow was great and we got new snow of 3-8 inches a couple nights.  Ate lunch at Cloud Nine at Aspen Highlands which was fun though I don't know if I'd do it again.  The skiing was great at Highlands and also at Snowmass.  Such a fun city with so many restaurants, shopping and art galleries which makes evening walks mandatory.  Gorsuch does great ski tunes.  The transit system works pretty well to get you out to the other resorts.  

Who knows?  I may get to some other subjects.  That's it for now.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Best of 2018


The best album of each genre was based on my ratings of songs on Jriver Media Player that I recorded during the year.   I figured ratings gathered over several months were more reliable of my overall impression than a snapshot of my tastes over the the last month of the year while writing this post.

There was some really good hip-hop this year that got marred by excessive auto-tune.  I can handle some amount like what Future has become a multi-millionaire doing.  But, as an example, the excellent music on Khalid's Suncity was overshadowed on much of it by autotune that did not add anything and distracted from great music.

The difference between the number of tracks I really liked on albums 5-24 was one song.  The top 4 were a cut above with Chris the clear standout. Here is my top 24 albums from 2018.


1Christine and the QueensChris
2MasegoLady Lady
3Ariana GrandeSweetener
4Kali UchisIsolation
5DJ KozeKnock Knock
6Empress OfUs
7Mr Twin SisterSalt
9Nicki MinajQueen
10The O'my'sTomorrow
11Amos LeeMy New Moon
12Blood OrangeNegro Swan
13Bob MosesBattle Lines
14DJ SpinnFABRICLIVE 100: Kode9 & Burial
15Les Big ByrdIran Iraq IKEA
16LowDouble Negative
17MetricArt Of Doubt
18MitisTil the End
19Peter Bjorn and JohnDarker Days
20Petite NoirLa Maison Noir / The Black House
21Roy Montgomery, Julianna BarwickSuffuse
22Still CornersSlow Air
23Tom MischGeography
24Usher & Zaytoven"A"

iPhone 6S Battery Replacement

Sorry for getting this post out after the battery replacement cost increased to $79 on 1/1/2019.  Here is the short and sweet or dirty as you may see it.

My iPhone 6s has been having problems holding a charge.  Sometimes in the span of 3 hours without hardly using the dang thing the charge would drop from 95% to less than 50%.  I took it in twice to the Apple store who ran tests and looked at app use data and other technical stuff.  They told me the battery was fine, BUT, if I wanted to replace it they had a special going on to do the deed for $29.  So, I made an appointment on December 24th to have it done on December 28th.

When making the appointment you are counseled that they are going to lose all your data and apps and you will have to restore your phone.  So, I went through backing it up to iCloud though I didn't have my computer with me.  That means you can get your apps back but if you have a music and audiobook library of stuff you ripped yourself like I do, your music and audiobooks are not going to be there.

Since I live out in the boonies and was in San Francisco for a short window I decided that $29 was a worthwhile gamble to fix the problem. And, I figured I could deal without my music and audiobooks until I got home in a few days. So, how did it go?  I came home on the 1st and had the phone plugged into the car USB the whole way.  Here it is 1/3 and I am just now looking for my USB charger.

That's right, after a day and half of normal usage which is 10-20 text messages, 5-10 phone calls, taking 5 pics, looking at a little news and having the battery set on low power, I still have 48% of a charge left!!!!!!!!!!

Bottom line is that the Apple Store battery tests are sort of useless information - at least in my case.  My phone said and the Apple store said, my old battery was 91% of normal.  To me, that was a total bullshit number.  If you are having battery problems like I described above and are not ready to get a new phone, pay the now $79 for a new battery.  Oh, and when I got my phone back after they installed the battery NOTHING had been lost.  I didn't have to restore a thing,

The only problem I had was something was saying I needed to sign in under my old Apple ID email which I had changed months ago.  I called Apple support and after a big rain dance of stuff they said I would need to delete ALL MY APPS and reinstall them - no other options existed they said (more BS).  Instead, I just opened each one up to see if one said I had to sign in and none did.  But, the annoying red number by settings went away and my iPhone 6s is a champ again. 

What was your experience?  Leave a comment below to help others out with this monumental decision. 

Battery replacement program cuts into new phone sales:  Click here  Maybe this is why the store told me not need to replace - haha
Do It Yourself battery replacement:  Click here

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Can There Be Any Doubt Trump is a Mobster?

Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt that flipping “almost ought to be illegal.” Would anyone other than a criminal say this?  I am waiting for Trump to call him a rat.  From Wikipedias Glossary of Mafia-related words we find this: rat - one who snitches or squeals after having been pinched. Or, maybe Trump will say Cohen got "pinched".  

Getting criminals to implicate those higher up has been a law enforcement tool forever.  Without the judicial system granting lighter sentences to those lower on the totem pole, the ones actually responsible would never be brought to justice.  But, of course, that is exactly what Mr Trump is saying.  

How anyone can continue to defend Mr Trump at this point is beyond me.  Truly, you just have to ignore everything he says except the few memorable catch phrases like "lock her up" and "drain the swamp".  How can you drain the swamp when you are responsible for keeping it filled?  Only someone completely blind cannot see there have been more crooked folks appointed by Trump than any president in modern times.

But, facts are meaningless - right? And, all news I don't like is fake.

Please though - let's not impeach the man! No, I am not being sarcastic. His replacement is even more dangerous.

Edit 8/24/2018

Since I published this a NY Times article came out detailing Mr. Trump has used the word "rat" for someone who turned states evidence.
In recent days, he has also referred to John Dean, the White House counsel who worked with Watergate investigators to reveal Richard M. Nixon’s role in the crimes and cover-up, as a “RAT.” And he has alluded to the possibility that Mr. Cohen might “flip,” or switch his loyalties away from the president and cooperate with prosecutors.  
Some legal experts said the president’s words and his view on the predicaments of members of his inner circle were striking for their similarity to the culture of organized crime.  “By crediting Paul Manafort for not ‘breaking’ and chastising Michael Cohen for showing an interest in cooperating, he’s really adopting the language and the sentiment of prizing what the mob would call a ‘stand-up guy’ — someone who takes your rap and goes to jail because of your loyalty to the mob, rather than to your own family,” said Daniel S. Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who worked on organized crime cases in the Southern District of New York. “The parallel is to a mob boss who expects the loyalty oath from his soldiers.” 
“What we’re starting to see in Trump’s message here is that it’s very important to enforce the laws only as they do not apply to him, and any laws that may apply to him, he has no interest in enforcing,” Mr. Goldman added."

Edit 1.18.2019

The Buzzfeed article came out today regarding Cohen's statements he has emails and text messages supporting a claim Trump asked him to lie to Congress regarding the building of a Moscow Trump Tower.  We also got this Wired essay with the following intro quote,
 "THE PATTERN OF his pro-Putin, pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-intelligence community actions are so one-sided, and the lies and obfuscation surrounding every single Russian meeting and conversation are so consistent, that if this president isn’t actually hiding a massive conspiracy, it means the alternative is worse: America elected a chief executive so oblivious to geopolitics, so self-centered and personally insecure, so naturally predisposed to undermine democratic institutions and coddle authoritarians, and so terrible a manager and leader, that he cluelessly surrounded himself with crooks, grifters, and agents of foreign powers, compromising the national security of the US government and undermining 75 years of critical foreign alliances, just to satiate his own ego.In short, we’ve reached a point in the Mueller probe where there are only two scenarios left: Either the president is compromised by the Russian government and has been working covertly to cooperate with Vladimir Putin after Russia helped win him the 2016 election—or Trump will go down in history as the world’s most famous “useful idiot,” as communists used to call those who could be co-opted to the cause without realizing it." 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

High IQ Needed to Make Good Life Decisions?


You don't really need to read the rest of this. I am going to tell you that anyone except those truly disabled can make good decisions every day, all day long, by doing all activities consciously.

What am I talking about?  Here is an example of someone who lives unconsciously and just operates by habit. They are getting on the freeway and after getting onto the freeway they immediately get in the left/fast lane even if no other cars are around. If you ask them why, they will have a bunch of answers like the road is usually bumpier in the right lane. Or, someone might be getting on the freeway and I will have to get over then anyways. Or, my dad always did this and taught me to drive this way.  Or, fill in the blanks.

The bottom line is - that person has stopped thinking anymore about what is happening to them in the moment. They are living in another space and time and not reacting to what is happening right then.

What would conscious driving look like? We all know that when driving on the freeway, it is expected you stay in the right lane except for passing. We would get on the freeway and and stay in the right lane until needing to pass a slower vehicle. We would move over into the left lane and then safely move back into the right lane.

Many people in this example, don't want to do this because it means more actions and decision-making on their part. They have to look in their rear view mirror more, They have to turn around and look to make sure no vehicles are in their blind spot. They have to put their blinkers on. If another car is approaching from the rear or they are overtaking another vehicle, they have to compute time/distance/velocity and decide if they can safely change lanes. All those activities may be more than what they are comfortable doing, so they take the easy unconscious way out. They become a zombie.

Other easy examples are choosing the food you eat. Patterns of food consumption have been established over the years and you just do what you have always done.
You go to the same fast food place or restaurant and order the same thing and just eat it down without pondering once about why or what you eat. Happily you sit in front of the TV or drive (I hope not) down the road just stuffing the food in your mouth and never giving it a second thought.

How do these examples relate to making good life decisions? These are the little things that if you get in the habit of doing consciously can inculcate a way of living that can be used for all life decisions. Even if you don't fancy yourself the most brilliant person on your block it doesn't matter. The brilliant person who walks around unaware and unthinking will not make any better decisions than someone who is in tune with themselves and their surroundings taking all into consideration.

I posit that the person with a lesser IQ who acts consciously will be more successful in life, be happier, accomplish more, and end up a more well-rounded person than the one with a higher native intelligence.  That is because acting consciously creates a foundation for living that you can then build on everyday. The genius who goes through life as an unquestioning zombie that only uses their intelligence at work or when asked by someone else will have a much harder time accomplishing goals and important life tasks.

What can the average person do? Start with the activities you do the most.  Pay attention to everything in the moment using all five senses.

Look at what is going on around you.  Really look.  What am I saying here?  Think about this.  Have you ever been out walking with someone and say "did you see that person over there just eat that big gulp cup?".  Oh no, I missed that. 
How could you not see something so incredibly weird?  The answers my friend are that we scan what is around us and don't really see what is going on most of the time.  It is very difficult to change this habit but you can do it.  Make it a game with someone to notice as many details as possible. 

Do this with your other senses.  Listen to every little sound for just two minutes.  Smell intently for a couple minutes.  Try to feel every little change in the ground while walking.  What are you tasting right now even if nothing is in your mouth?  There are still subtle tastes there from the food you ate or the coffee you drank two hours ago.

What do these little exercises have to do with making good life decisions?  Going back to the points earlier.  If you are more self-aware of what is going on all the time you will be a more conscious and aware place in your life.  You will understand nuance naturally.  For example, when someone is talking to you about an important subject by having a better ability to concentrate you will hear them better.  You will pick up subtle clues in their expression to better understand what they are trying to say.

And, like the silly meme to the right here, there are practical considerations to being more self-aware.  You will significantly reduce your incidence rate of doing silly and unsafe things.  You will not trip as often.  You will make fewer faux pas in social situations.  The conversations you have will be more rewarding.  You will get out of your own head more because you are aware of everything happening around you.  Maybe your life will change for the better.

Here is the answer to the bear puzzle and a few others if you want to play the games.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Twisted Logic of The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

Recent news and memes circulating moved me to research the old phrase The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend (TEOMEIMF).  From the Wiki:  The enemy of my enemy is my friend is an ancient proverb which suggests that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy. The earliest known expression of this concept is found in a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, the Arthashastra, which dates to around the 4th century BC, while the first recorded use of the current English version came in 1884.

Trump supporters seem to have taken this old proverb to heart.  Here is the logic.  Hillary Clinton is an enemy of Trump.  Hillary is an enemy of Putin.  Trump is my friend.  Putin is my friend.  We will not go into the why, but suffice to say most Trump supporters see Hillary as their despised enemy. 

In this alternate reality fueled by so much hate that logic does not apply, Putin is now the friend of most Trump supporters.  It is amazing how fear and hate can drive people to completely illogical conclusions.

Russia and Putin do not want the best for the United States.  We are their most formidable enemy.  Without a doubt, Russia disrupted the last election.  The only questions are to what extent and whether the Trump election team was involved in any way.  The old proverb does not apply in this case.

Hillary does not matter anymore.  She is done for.  Yet, thousands will chant "lock her up" at rallies today.  Their hate is so intense, they cannot see the faulty logic of looking at Putin as some kind of ally.  And, since Trump is her enemy, he can also do anything even when not in his supporters best interest and they will overlook, defend, or rationalize the policy or law because, hey - Trump and they have Hillary as a common enemy.

And, in this "bizarro" reality, that is enough. 

And, in the latest poll 40% of Republican's either think its OK or don't care if Russia meddles in our elections for Trump's benefit. 

"That’s okay with some Republicans, according to a Yahoo Finance/SurveyMonkey poll of 2,509 Americans conducted July 25-27 [2018]. In the survey, 11% of people who identify as Republican or lean Republican say it’s “appropriate” for Russia to help Republicans keep control of Congress in the upcoming elections. Another 29% say it’s “not appropriate, but wouldn’t be a big deal” for the Russians to help. So combined, 40% of Republicans either approve of Russian interference, or don’t strongly object to it."

Update (8.16.18)  The POTUS removed former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance yesterday in what only can be seen as an attempt to shut him up.  Unfortunately for Mr Trump that action has seemed to embolden Mr Brennan to speak out more.  This quote from Mr Brennan in today's news from an op-ed piece is eerily similar to the fourth paragraph above I wrote a month ago. 
"The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of “Trump Incorporated” attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. A jury is about to deliberate bank and tax fraud charges against one of those people, Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman. And the campaign’s former deputy chairman, Rick Gates, has pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators." 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Best of this, Best of that, Does anyone give a shit? (Best of 2017) (Worst of the Year?)

SojkasCall Best Stuff of 2017

This is the 2017 roundup of best in entertainment, food, travel and whatever I did this year.  this is probably best consumed when stoned or in a weird mood.  If you just watched Jeopardy or the nightly news, then it will not make sense.  So, if you find yourself saying WTF, just tilt your head 5 degrees to the right and it will all make sense.  I promise! I might throw in a worst of this or that somewhere too - some people like that as well and I certainly have a cynical side that should be kept in check.  

Let's start with music videos.  Personally, I found this one of the most disappointing years for music vids in recent memory.  The predominance of interactive make-your-own was not my thing.  I like to be entertained with ideas, music, and visuals that are on the edge and not seen before.  So, the list below was put together after much curation and thought and watching lots of stupid ones.  

Best Videos


This is where theater of the absurd meets the infomercial.  Catchy tune and BIZARRE.  I found it hilarious.  

Best Instrumental

OK, it looks like a Monty Python cartoon on steroids.  I get it.  Great song by Flying Lotus.  Get chill and enjoy and don't think too much.  

Weird Rap

Usually rap is where I have found the most creative videos over the last few years.  This year, mainstream and well known rap artists left me mostly saying, "man, you spent a lot of money on that and watching it once was enough".  You might not want to watch this again.  Stick with it - great ending that only makes sense if you watch the whole thing - SO, NO FAST FORWARDING!!! That's like looking in the closet for your Christmas gifts.  You spoil the surprise.  

Best Animated Video

JAY-Z put out one heck of an album this year.  And, this Best Animated Video of the Year was the icing on that cake.  It is also a very sad song in its way.  Only JAY-Z..........


So much excellent music this year.  Deciding on the best is very difficult.  I looked back to see what got played the most to start with.  My favorite genre is usually pop/r and b and there was many great albums. When you start looking at experimental, rock, rap, and electronic the volume of top quality releases is mind-blowing.  

Best Hook of 2017 

is from the Jimi Tents NY vs. LA. Check this:

Coming to you LIVE (Click the MF'ing link or you will turn into a piece of shit)
From inside my mind!
It's a beautiful day!
I been out here
California dreaming
On the east coast
All my bitches tanned
And all they fathers own a speedboat
Roll round in the sand
Without a worry
You can keep those
Hot box the sedan
Until the Honda smell like weed smoke
Cause we smoking..

Country Album of The Year

I have gone back and forth between Peter Oren's, Anthropocene and Willie Nelson (who is 84 years old!)'s, God's Problem Child.  Willie's lyrics hit home especially with seeing older loved ones on their last leg or transitioning.  

I woke up still not dead again today (video link for this song) 
The internet said I had passed away
But if I die and I wasn't dead to stay
And I woke up still not dead again today
Well, I woke up still not dead again today
The gardener did not find me that way
You can't believe a word that people say
And I woke up still not dead again today
I run up and down the road and makin' music as I go
They say my pace would kill a normal man
But I've never been accused of bein' normal anyway
And I woke up still not dead again today
Peter Oren reminds me a little of Sturgill Simpson. Not that he rocks like Sturgill, but, more in how he seems to be blazing a new path for the genre.  I am not sure where it will go - the ride is fun!  Peter is going to get the coveted Sojkascall Country Album of the Year.  Congratulations Peter.  

Check out Throw Down, one of my favorite songs from the album.  This link takes you to Bandcamp where you can listen.  
While writing this I realized that Chris Stapleton's From a Room Vol 1 and 2 are both growing on me.  Definitely worth a listen if you like a bit of Southern Rock with your Country and Folk.  

Rock Music

Rock Album has to be Slowdive by Slowdive.  This style is called many things like Shoegaze, Dreampop, and Progressive.  The band formed in 1989 so they are seasoned as is said.  Since this is only their fourth album and their first in twenty-two years, the band focuses on quality over quantity.  


So much good e music this year it is crazy.  I liked Laurel Halo's DustCheck out this song Other than the annoying phone/internet sound, it is a cool song.  Strong album.  

DJ Python's Dolce Compania wins the coveted Best Of Electronica award because it better epitomizes what I think of as Electronic Music.  Here is Yo Ran from the album.  Very chill music.  

R and B

The r and b label encompasses so many different styles that it is hard to select one from 2017.  These three try to capture the different sub-genre's.  All were excellent and depending on your mood and individual taste could be the favorite on any given day.

Miguel's War and Leisure.  R and B with a lean to hiphop.
Jessie Ware's Glasshouse  R and B with more pop.  
Bosco's b. - R and B avant-garde  

Song of the Year

Kelela's Take Me Apart.  The title song from a very strong album that got heavy rotation on my playlists.  It deserved a much better video.  

Best meal of the Year 

Greens in the San Francisco Marina.  Vegetarian restaurant that makes you forget it is veggie (I am not vegetarian nor close to it).  Excellent drinks and a North African inspired dish.  I waited decades to eat here - why?  I don't know.  Don't wait like I did!

Recipe of the Year

As a tribute to my Dad who passed away this month, I updated his Polish stuffed cabbage recipe.  

Best TV Show of the Year

Without a doubt, Bong Apetit! This show is the future in the present. I had no idea where the marijuana industry and culture had gone.  Just think - this show finished its' second season. So, this is someone's idea from about four years ago when medical marijuana (MDMJ) was taking off in CA. To see where the whole idea of edibles, CBD, THC, THC resin, keef, hash, infused wine, is going combined with food was amazing.  

Worst Experience of the Year

Getting a Titanium plate put in my wrist! Literally, I do set off airport sensors and now have to go through the full body scan every freaking time!  I hate the full body scan - it cannot be doing my cells any favors.  

Most Disturbing Video

This video made many top lists due to its supposed artistic content.  I found it weird, didn't really like the music, overhyped because Arca is friends with Bjork and there is nothing humorous about it. Plus, put some shorts on for God's Sake.

Google Blogger is really starting to suck.  Making this post was very aggravating due to Blogger refusing to highlight links, refusing to standardize text (font sizes and types all mixed up), not showing links unless you hover over them, etc, etc.  Medium has passed Blogger by big time.  One of the reasons I have stopped blogging much is how pissed off I get trying to write these and format them so they look good.  Fucking Blogger and Google.  Google always seems to either get rid of or fuck up something good.  Looks like they are going to get rid of Blogger soon because when it seems something is not getting attention anymore it is on its way out.  That is my prediction..........

Does anyone give a shit? Let me know in the comments section what you liked and hated in 2017.  Also, feedback on the Sojkascall winners is appreciated. 

Previous Best of Year Review

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Golumpki or Golabki (Stuffed Cabbages)

In honor of my father, Louis Sojka, who passed away 12/18/2017 I decided to cook one of his favorite Polish comfort foods, stuffed cabbages, which he called golumpki.  His pronunciation was to pronounce the "L" as a "Y".  Phonetically it came out goy-ump'-kee or go-ump'-kee.

His version used Campbells tomato soup.  That did not sit right with me because of the high sodium and processing so over the years I have modified his original recipe a little using higher quality ingredients.  Also, when cooking, you can simmer on the stove, cook in the oven or use an Instantpot.

Did you know this is a favorite dish at Christmas-time for Polish?  I didn't either until yesterday when looking for Instantpot cooking times and saw that historical side-note. A Croatian friend gave me a cookbook that lists the Croat version as Sarma. Sarma is very similar except they pickle the cabbage head (like a mild sauerkraut) before using.


1. One cabbage head with the core removed.  I cut up into the cabbage head 2-3 inches to remove the hard white core piece.
This also helps the steam to penetrate inside the cabbage head.  Boil or steam for about 15 minutes so that the cabbage leaves can be removed and the meat mixture can be rolled up in them.  You can also pressure cook on high for 5 minutes in the Instantpot.

2.  Meat mixture (2 lbs).  Nothing is sacred here, but, I like 75% lean ground beef and then 25% ground pork. The pork can be any kind of ground sausage or bacon.  My current favorite is to use ground bacon.
3. To the meat mixture add
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped or crushed
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste (smoked salt can be good)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 tspn paprika (regular or smoked)
  • Pinch of dried oregano and thyme (fresh is better if you have it)
4.  Using your hands, mix the meat mixture and all the ingredients except the cabbage together.

5.  Now start carefully removing the outer leaves of the steamed cabbage.  You will put a large meatball amount of meat mixture in the cabbage leaf and roll it up tucking in the ends like a burrito.  Place each one in the pot you are going to cook in depending on cooking method.  Le Creuset round or oval dutch ovens are nice if you will bake.  Since we will be adding a tomato based sauce I would only use enamel coated cast iron.  A stainless steel 6 quart or larger pot will work on the stovetop.  And, likewise the Instantpot 6 quart or larger is your ticket if you have one of those. The aim is to use up the cabbage and the meat mixture by adjusting how much meat goes in each cabbage leaf.  If you notice the inner leaves are not cooked enough to roll, put it back in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.  

6. Once you have put all your rolled/stuffed cabbages in the vessel of choice you will add the sauce. There are recommendations all over the place on this. Some use water only. Some make concoctions of ketchup and tomato juice.  Some use canned tomato soup.  My favorite, which is easy and tasty, is to to use 2/3 marinara (use your favorite - I like a simple organic marinara with no extra anything) and 1/3 water.  The sauce level should be just below the top layer of the golumpkis.

7. Cooking times
  • Stove top - simmer low for 2-3 hours. Check every 45 minutes and add water if it starts looking dry.
  • Oven - baked covered at 325 degrees for 2.5 hours. Check every 45 minutes and add water if it starts looking dry.
  • Instantpot (my preferred method since it is fast and very repeatable).  Cook 18 minutes on high pressure with a 15 minute natural cool down.  Then release steam.  
8. Mashed potatoes are a standard side dish.  That is really enough food.  

9. Freeze the leftovers into meal size bags.  It seems to improve over time.   

Enjoy your golabki, golumpki, stuffed cabbagess, sarma (whatever you call them)!

Monday, May 29, 2017

American Domionists

Good article on Brin's blog about Dominionism.  Why should you care? 

The “American ISIS is called “Dominionism” – an offshoot of fundamentalist Christianity that proclaims its desire for a coming apocalypse, as foretold in the gruesomely sadistic and opposite-to-Jesus-in-all-ways Book of Revelation. Moreover, while they strive to topple our civilization, they also fervently declare that:
* The United States once was, and should again be, a doctrinal Christian nation, denying the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.• Dominionists endorse theocratic visions. The U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.• Dominionists hold that wealthy people are superior to the rest of humanity and that government should be captured by them to serve only them.
There is also an article about Dominionism over at The Atlantic. Check it out here >>>> Click! 

Not a happy subject but a good reason to not impeach or otherwise remove Trump. Hopefully they will do a joint self-destruct (figuratively, of course!)

Check out the whole thing here >>>>> Click

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why Trump is President Part II

In the last comment on the first part of Why Trump is President, Keith posited..........  Regarding societal evolution.  I guess I am not too sure I understand the concept as well as you do.  Evolving to what?  What are the characteristics that differ or can be compared to human evolution which is improvement in adaptation environmentally exhibited by higher intellectual capacity.  is it the ability to maximize our intellectual capacity in ways that benefit mankind's survival as a whole?  Which brings us to the Reds vs the Greens.  Why does it seem that the greens have progressed towards maximizing their intellectual capacity more than Reds -Oranges?  Or is that just a contextural elitist bias.   We are all born with this intellectual capacity that makes us superior to the animal kingdom intellectually.  So why do some people become greener than others?  Is it an organic brain formation, environment ?  Clearly, some parts of the country are more Red than others, but you can find greens amongst them and vice-versa for greens.  Some points to ponder.

My response.........

Regarding societal evolution, one of the best examples is slavery.  As societies evolve, slavery disappears.  Previous studies have shown that in ego/ethno-centric cultures 15% practiced slavery and it was black on black, white on white and yellow on yellow.  Race did not matter in those studies on indigenous populations and they practiced slavery because worldcentric morality had not yet emerged on a wide scale)—hence this unfreedom is not primarily due to the presence of an oppressive force but to the absence of a higher development. This is key to understanding the far-right today - they are not being deliberately oppressive - they lack the higher development needed to see they are oppressing others with their beliefs and subsequent actions.    

Quoting Wilber "This evolutionary stage also meant that identity could expand from ethnocentric (“my-special-group” identity) to worldcentric (or “all-groups” or “all-humans” identity, which strove to treat all people—not just a special group but all people—fairly regardless of race, color, sex, or creed). This was  a staggering shift in values—from ethnocentric group-centered to worldcentric all-humans centered—and for this reason, in a one-hundred year time period (roughly 1770-1870), slavery was outlawed in every single worldcentric modern-rational society on the face of the planet—the first time anywhere in human history that this had happened".  

So, the ending of slavery in all modern and post-modern societies is an example of societal evolution reflecting a 100th Monkey type of result though the actual numbers to drive societal change are around 10%. The integral studies showed that, for example, the abolitionist movement in the US took place with only about 10% of the population at a world-centric view which is where slavery obsoletes itself - it is too obvious at 10% that slavery is wrong.  

That is an example of a societal stage driven by a percentage of people at a personal stage of development.  For background I quote Wilber again "People are not in any way born with green values; those values are rather the product of 5 or 6 major stages of human development,  1st-person perspective of red, to a 2nd-person perspective of amber, to a 3rd-person perspective of orange, to a 4th-person perspective of green, to a 5th-person perspective of early integral, to a 6th-person perspective of late integral, and higher. Each of these stages “transcends and includes” its predecessor."

To me, from an evolutionary question of "why is green or later turquoise an evolutionary improvement?" the answer seems to be that in a complex society of specialization, earth resource depletion, and interdependence that we currently have, these advanced stages become essential for species and planet survival. If the human race does not evolve to these higher stages, it could destroy the planet at worst, or maybe more likely just kill off 90% of its own population.  

And, back to your question of why some stall at different stages (everyone has to go through all of them through their life), it appears to be complex with many factors contributing: intellectual capacity (a mentally disabled person is not going to progress at all which means on a spectrum of intelligence there are likely max levels one can achieve); education certainly plays a role in maximizing potential; personal drive and curiosity to know; personal practices (previous studies show that the single best practice to move people on the cusp from one to the next level is meditation); and then of course the supporting activities/systems to all these like diet, exercise, schools, health-care, etc which without you cannot achieve max intelligence, emotional control, sound thinking processes, etc.  The meditation effect is particularly interesting because prayer is a form of meditation - so religious practices can play a positive role in moving people along if they don't get trapped by the dogma.   

Now, back to green.............. "But this postmodern stage—Integral Meta-theory’s “green”—brought a 4th person perspective into significant existence, which had the capacity to reflect on—and critically analyze—these 3rd-person “global” productions, and this is where green postmodernism (so named because it came after, and reflected on, the products of modernism) decided that this rational-modern mentality had, in too many ways, veered off course in destructive and counter-productive ways. And thus the civil rights movement, the worldwide environmental movement (which became larger than any political party anywhere on the planet), personal and professional feminism, the sustainability movement (in business and elsewhere)—all of what I have called “the many gifts of green. And yet, in the course of that, driven largely (if often unknowingly) by arcane arguments in academia, the originally healthy pluralistic postmodernism increasingly became an extreme, overblown, self-contradictory, utterly dysfunctional relativism, which soon collapsed almost entirely into nihilism and narcissism. It’s the nature of the leading-edge stage that its values, although they are only directly embraced by the stage itself, nonetheless tend to permeate or seep through the culture at large. (For example, when the leading-edge was orange rational world-centric, whose world-centric or “all-humans-treated-equally” values inherently included an anti-slavery stance, the Civil War was fought in America in order to end slavery, and over a million white boys died in the fight to end black enslavement—and yet not much more than 10 percent of the population was actually at the orange stage—but that value had seeped throughout the culture of the North, and many were willing to die for it—as many were in the French and American revolutions, which marked an orange democratic overthrow of amber monarchy/aristocracy.)"

Where he talks about green falling back into nihilism and narcissism is when I reflect on the rabid attitudes of progressives manifesting as overbearing PC, taking up causes like stopping water bottling (just an example I see), the micro-aggression issues colleges have had to deal with where people find the least little thing to be offended by, etc are when Green veered off course. It got stuck in its own loop. Reds actually came up with what I thought was a ridiculous saying that "liberals eat their own young" which i only now understand.  But, the progressives who lost emotional control did become so vicious I can see how someone could make that statement. Think about the vitriolic attacks on GMO's, energy producers, etc - on one level I agree those things are problematic but some of these people would blow up Monsanto, Exxon, and Chevron with no solution what to do next figured out. They substitute one wrong with a much greater wrong.  And, some of these far-left activists will cut off their nose to spite their face because they see certain things as so wrong - they have lost perspective.  That is the negative side of green that caused the backlash that ultimately was that little extra that pushed Trump over the top.   

Sorry for probably giving you more than you asked but it all started to fit together and I just kept going

Why Trump is President

This post and the extensive comments are a transcription of an email exchange I had with a friend.  Other readers should feel free to jump in as they feel inclined.

If you feel like diving into some deep-think analysis where this guy (Ken Wilber) uses lots of big words check this out.  First I will give you an excerpt that will either capture your attention so you will be willing to invest the few hours it takes to digest this overly-complicated way of viewing the current social issues in the US and world or you will say Nah, I would rather do my other things.  Important - when Wilber says "Green" substitute "progressive politically correct"  and when he says "amber" think alt-right nationalistic and fundamentalist.   

Here we go..........

Here’s just one example of this slowly but widely growing realization of green’s complicity in the election of an amber ethnocentric Trump—and an indication that the self-correcting drive of evolution is indeed kicking in.  In an online article by African-American Jeremy Flood (cofounder of At the Margins), entitled “The Revolution Must Be Felt,” after emphasizing that Trump’s election was the victory of an ethnocentric current, Flood very perceptively confesses, “But in the very same vein, we [liberals] must acknowledge the way in which we refer to Trump’s base, the way we emphasize his support from the ‘non-college educated,’ the way we approach the premise of rural white America generally, relies on that very same prejudicial inference.  Our hatred for these people is at its very essence class-ism [his bold].  This cannot be stressed enough.  

Contempt for white ruralites is built into the fabric of the modern liberal lexicon.  We set them up as a vessel of every oppressive construct university liberalism has aimed to dismantle [i.e., the single great cause of all forms of oppression]—from fundamentalist religion, to sine qua non nationalism, to a general distrust in science, we’ve sculpted these people into a caricature of barbarian ignorance.  And then when we come knocking for votes, we expect them not to have noticed.  In taking these people’s votes for granted while unabashedly airing our hostility, we pushed them ever closer to the precipice, and then watched in shock as they jumped.” Exactly one of the points I’ve been making.  

Flood continues, “And if our own class-ism prevents us from caring about the emotional needs of those we derided as deplorable, we are not really progressives.”  He explains: Do you disagree with the substance of this narrative?  Are you aching to insert how [their] views are misleading, the byproduct of sexism, unfair media attention, and double standards?  Me too.  It doesn’t matter.  That was the narrative that we sold to millions of people.  And they told us what they thought of it.  We lost Michigan.  We lost Pennsylvania.  We lost Ohio.  The razed waste of Unionland.  How did we get here?  How indeed?  Says Flood, “Pundits can argue forever about whether economic or racial anxiety triggered the detonation.  But here is the bottom line: the Left failed [his bold].  We failed not because we didn’t have the facts on our side, not because our policies weren’t better for the working class, not because the redneck sods of the Trumpian horde were too racist to see reason.  The left failed because the story they were selling wasn’t strong enough to overcome these not at all new resentments [his italics].” Ressentiment, indeed.  Flood notes that “Solidarity is a story.  It’s composed of our actions and our authenticity.  It’s about collective [worldcentric] identity and collective struggle.  We are not ‘stronger together’ when half of us are ‘deplorable.’”  Amen, brother.  

“We embraced an academic, impersonal style of politics [postmodern poststructuralist], and through our tone and narrative, the Democratic party came to embody exactly the kind of elitist hierarchy it was built to overcome.”   Right on the money.  And as we’ve seen, one of the primary reasons that this comes about is that whenever we deny growth hierarchies, then automatically, unavoidably, and by default, we strengthen dominator hierarchies.  Without a countervailing current tilting and trending us toward our highest worldcentric and integral possibilities, we slide into our lowest common denominators, our egocentric and ethnocentric drives.  (And when originally worldcentric notions regress to ethnocentric displays, they take on the flavor of all amber-stage productions: an absolutistic, fundamentalist, “one-true-way” attitude, and we buy into it with a religious fervor that takes no prisoners.  We have seen this happen with science itself—as it slid into amber scientific materialism and reductionistic scientism; with feminism—as, for many, it slid into an absolutistic religion, the slightest disagreement with which was viewed as deeply demonic; we saw it with Marxism—as it slid into a de facto zealot religion for millions: while religion may or may not be the opiate of the masses, Marxism became the opiate of the intellectuals; and we’ve seen it with many political ideologies, even those coming from orange or green, when latched onto with an  unquestioning fervor and absolutistic enthusiasm, slid into their lowest ethnocentric and even egocentric displays, with disaster a short step away.)  When that happens, then this slide from growth holarchies into dominator hierarchies is deeply unavoidable—and catastrophic coming from the leading-edge itself.  No wonder evolution imploded. 

This link should take you to the whole thing if you are interested.  I think it is needlessly long, repetitive and hard to understand though the general thesis is that the progressive movement imploded because being PC made it impossible for progressives to reflect on where they were because it isn't PC to see stratas of society and consciousness which set up a cognitive dissonance that shorted out the movement and prevented it from leading.  If you can read it though it really hammers this idea home so you can fully and completely understand the schizophrenic left and why the other half of society rebelled - they had to because it was leading to a dead-end.  I ended up reading the whole and am glad I did because now I can translate some of it into easier to understand language.   

Once I read this, then it was really easy for me to see the manifestation of the progressives I know in basically embracing this idea of stupid, ignorant, racist, greedy, uneducated, sheeple on the right who fall for idiotic rhetoric over and over.  And, I realized that these so-called progressives have embraced a hatred for this group though they will not call it that because it is not PC to hate someone.  Quite the societal schizophrenia.  

Keith's Response:
 I took the time to read the entire paper.  Since it was so long, I took notes along the way which has motivated me to put down a long reply. 

 It is both disturbing and thought provoking relying heavily on imparting self guilt to anyone who is not a Trump supporter as well as his foundational premise on "truth".  That truth for everyone has de-evolved to being contextural based.  Truth, in spite of being contextural today's truths can still be tested for mistakes in logic using the set of fallacies we discuss during the course of the campaign last year.  The Trump campaign and administration continue to violate logic for nearly all the 12 Fallacy arguments that I am aware of. 

A term I first heard from your brother and Jeff Roach was "elitist" which Wilbur seems to have lifted from the Trump supporter lexicon.  I still cannot understand why being elite is a bad thing.  It never bothered me for someone to think I was better than them when I never thought I was.  Elitism is criticizd by Wilbur for the loss or for the recent developments in evolutionary self-correction yet his entire thesis is presented using esoteric, elitist words and sentence construction throughout.  To gain a better understanding of the nature of the world we now live in I am beginning to read a book Invitation to Philosophy-Issues and Options .  Lots of sections on Logic, Ethics, Fallacies, Perceptions, and Truth- the entire gamut of philosophy in brief.  Arming up for alternative facts.

So, though I do not agree with Wilbur on "there is no truth" or that it is a best relativistic, seems too much the self blame.  Perhaps for the Democratic Party, but for the vast majority of centrist Democrats and Independents I don't think it can be applied.  And we should not accept blame in terms of what Wilbur is proposing.  Nor progressives in general.  Party affiliates yes.  For me it is a combination of factors that account for Trump's election.  The elephant in the room being simply the wrong opposition candidate being pushed through by the Democrats.  The missteps by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile in putting historic precedence before what was best for the country.  Trump didn't win, the Democrats lost.  And it was a screwy election since he won the Electoral College not the popular vote which puts a pall over his legitimacy.  Keep in mind that it wasn't just that Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote by 3million votes, there were another nearly 8million cast for other than Trump or Hillary.  That means nearly 54% of the popular vote did not go to Trump.  Of 136.6million voters 73.65million did not vote Trump and with his popularity dropping by the week his ability to govern will become more and more of a problem. 

I think that Strauss and Howe in the Fourth Turning, captures in their minds, as a product of the cycles of history which they explain to my satisfaction the why's and mechanisms that apparently repeat and have repeated throughout history.   Since this is a cyclical process I would not agree with the idea it is evolutionary.  At best evolutionary and de-evolutionary, ie cyclical.  Very much a pendulum that reaches an extreme followed  by a counter reaction moving towards center and on to the other extreme.  The positive regarding Trump is he represents and extreme so though it may get worse it will reach an end point.   I think Wilbur adds to the details of what Strauss and Howe have already proposed.  However they add greater depth and dimension by characterizing the effects on each generation as they arrive in a specific Turning be it the High, Awakening, Unraveling or the Crisis and how their response shapes the successive generations as they all approach the next turning.  Theirs is an optimistic view that we pass though Crises to the next Highs and the First Turning.  It really depends upon the foundation for our values and how strong our Constitution and three branches of government can maintain balance.  After all, all can be lost.  It is an option.

it appears, and bothers me that the foundation premise for Wilbur's further arguments is what he refers to as  "there is no truth", that it is relative, which if my interpretation is correct, I reject.  Truth is not relative.  That statement alone is false.  Truth can be tested.  That is what is happening right now.  Too many people already know what "truth" is and is not.  People know how to test for fact vs alternative facts as evidenced by the inability for the Trump Administration to even get itself off the ground caught up in their own lies.  Wilbur's paper is analysis of the fallacies (though he doesn't state this) that have currently been used to gain hold by the Right with Brexit and Trump,  However, for those of us with the tools to sift fact from fallacy, truth has been and will be a continuum,  Only if yo believe there are no facts and "what really counts is we truly believe this" do you get duped. 

This is why, in spite of the fact I didn't vote for Trump, I wanted him to be the GOP candidate (as long as it couldn't be Kasich or some other reasonable Republican).  Since we were headed for "Crisis" phase anyway let's just jump in and get it over.  Given the first 3 weeks performance all is working according to plan and the  more the outrageous the better. 

I take even more umbrage with the description by Wilber of Boomers as not teaching truth, but self-esteem.  This his "truth", not mine nor most Boomers, but again he establishes this as fact then expands upon it committing the same fallacy that he criticizes.  The Boomer Generation is the "question authority" generation who were still taught critical thinking,(not emphasized today) keeping in mind the No Child Left Behind and Common Core BS were brought to you by the Orange administrations.  (An aside doing away with the Department of Education at this point would not be a bad thing, letting the states handle it with Fed Funds only to ensure equivalency in buildings.)  But Wilbur's "no truth" premise is a false foundation up which much of the rest of his argument does not hold up and is more a criticism of the Right than the Left rather than the fault of the Left. 

Much of this is regional.  A function of the Coasts with generally better education systems vs the Right in the fly-over states, more the belief oriented states with belief based education.  The irony is these same Trump supporters who suffer from inadequate education needed to get the jobs and the standard of living the coasts enjoy are the very ones who seem to think the government can fix it, the same government their anti-government movement wishes to diminish.  The 70% of whites with only a high school or lower education who voted for Trump don't see they are a victim of their own device.  They are "the rednecked, oafish, uneducated, gigantic instigator of oppression of all minorities" who above all hate minorities who have become more successful through their own hard work and who conflate the criminal elements of the minorities to bring down all members of an ethnic group or race.  And what of this term "elite", again is this anyone who has become more successful than themselves.  Appears to be the case.  A case of self hate transposed over resentment.

Wilbur seems to suffer from some of his own Green guilt complex which I do not share.  I, unlike the serious hopeful Hillary voter, after 8 years of obstructionism by Republicans wanted to bring this festering sore of an Alt-Right Movement (now that it has been defined as such) to the fore so those supporters, out of ignorance, could see that it's without substance.  To let the disappointment settle in with the reality that there really wasn't anything in it for them.  Green's warned the Oranges, but they need to see for themselves.  Not a problem for me.  Again, it was the wrong major party candidate that lost, Trump did not win.  If it had been Biden or if Obama could have run a third term, just by his popularity numbers we can see either one would have won.  So the underlying theme by Wilbur of gross miss steps by the Greens is overstated.  There is a great deal of self flagellation and attempt to transfer that sense of guilt to those he calls greens.  Going back to the Fourth Turning, I would equate Wilbur's Integral Age to the First Turning, a High as they term it.  An upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualism.  We are now in the Fourth Turning, it is clear, a Crisis era where secular upheaval exists and the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one.  This is why needed a Trump, to bring this to a head, what has been fomenting on the Right for 8 years.  A kind of Anti-Christ who though bordering on evil is needed to bring us to our senses and across this abyss of questionable values.  The future is playing out as it should with Trump only 3 weeks in already floundering on a number of fronts. 

Net-net though I questioned and challenge Wilbur on some of his arguments and his being a bit heavy on the "psycho analysis" and his assignment that the green's fundamental belief is "there is no truth" I think this a good read.  I would also challenge his guilt laden arguments he lays on greens.  Then he needs that to go forward with his thesis.  Simply spelled out, the crisis we are entering into is a Constitutional Crisis and I am betting on the Constitution to prevail.  the alternative will be extreme civil insurrection and perhaps civil war.  It could happen. 

Wilbur speaks of the future, some Pollyannaish green's "reaching out to understand, include in dialogue, care, even love to the deplorables".  Maybe because I come from the 60s and still harbor a great deal of resentment for the authority during those times, I will have none of that.  would rather see it taken to the streets if necessary.  No peace, love incense from my part.  Too much venom on the Orange/Red, Alt-Right whatever for peace/love.   

Per the Fourth Turning Wilbur would be out of synch from an historical perspective.  The Awakening he referred to has already passed.  It started in 1984 and ended in the mid-2000's (at least that was the end point predicted in 1997,  We are actually at the peak of the Crisis stage (again as predicted in 1997) and it feels like it.  Finally Wilbur states, "Humankind has never had a leading edge like this at any previous point in history" which is completely untrue.  Every Crisis stage presents a great existential threat and the chance everything could be lost.  The year preceding the Civil War was the leading edge like none in history whose effects have rippled even to the present day.  Very long lasting effects.

Don't worry.  I have confidence things will work out and even more so with the pushback by the Federal Courts and the total transparent ineptness of Trump and his entire staff from Kelly Conway, Spicer, Flynn, and De Vos.  The scariest guy so far is this Goebbels like reincarnation, Steven Miller.  That guy is dangerous.  However, they too will fall.