03/31/08 11:54 - 46ºF - ID#43843
The World's Greatest Coffee Machine
A little background - this is a microroaster from San Francisco called Blue Bottle Coffee. I heard about them 2.5 months ago when I was in town after reading the food section of the SF Chronicle. They are part of a growing coffee culture that is looking for the next level of quality in coffee by selecting very carefully the beans that they buy, and roasting is done in small batches. Organic is assumed - where the hairs split is whether or not we are talking about wet or dry processed, shade grown, melange roasted etc. but freshness is paramount. If the coffee was roasted longer than 48 hours ago they generally won't serve it. They also will not grind your beans for you, since they strictly adhere to grinding before use and insist that you do too. Blends are only mixed after each coffee has been separately blended - you'd be amazed at how lazy some roasters are and the difference in quality can be drastic. This is why I will not buy Mexican Chiapas anywhere but Blue Bottle.
They make blends for some of SF's best restaurants, who do serve Blue Bottle Coffee only under the agreement that they do so using a french press or ceramic drip filter (a fancier version of what I use and 4x more expensive, but functionally identical). They do a great mail order business as well - I pay $17-$18 a pound (including shipping) and my coffee comes roasted no later than 8 hours prior to shipment. Once I find a local microroaster that I like (yet to find even one, honestly) I will be happy to recommend them.
For locals to SF - I would find it hard to believe if you haven't at least thought about checking out their new cafe! Their kiosk in Hayes Valley is small but supposedly serves lattes that only dreams are made of and they are equally anal about the espresso drinks in general, but where the really interesting stuff happens is the cafe. They are the only US owners of an incredible machine from Japan. Reading about what it took for the owner of Blue Bottle to get one of these machines makes it seem like he was getting a black belt in jujitsu or something.
Corresponding article -
All those cafes who bought that Clover machine and thought they were sweet have been put to shame!
03/26/08 10:38 - 37ºF - ID#43795
I also wanted to debut the Michael McDonald limited edition iPod 4GB Nano -
03/19/08 11:24 - 43ºF - ID#43728
Obama's lead over Clinton evaporates
For me polls only signify trends... it is too imperfect of a science to rely on the numbers as if they are statistically accurate. Still, in this instance looking at the polls it cannot be denied that Barack Obama got smoked this past month.
Oh - and some of the more reliable elements of the media deep throats Barack Obama after the speech, just as I predicted. We all know the media has generally handled Barack Obama like an innocent child rather than a presidential candidate, but comparing him to JFK could have an unintended irony in the sense that JFK was a president whose fame largely rests on a cult of personality rather than tangible accomplishments. Nobody, not even Reagan, brought our country closer to nuclear war than JFK and his brother did during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But hey, let the comparisons fly. This article was borderline embarrassing in its gushing approval.
This is in the minority, however. I think many of you may be interested in know that most of what I've read today - and that includes several traditionally liberal editorials and news magazines like Newsweek - that while they generally thought it was a good (even great) speech the enthusiasm is tempered. Its as if they are holding their breath to see what happens, which I suppose is a rare shot of pragmatism in the media.
I've read in the LA Times today a writer highlighting a blatant contradiction in what Obama has said concerning his former pastor - he had previously stated that he never personally heard inflammatory stuff while "sitting in the pews," but during his speech he directly admits that he's heard the negative stuff in person. If Hillary were smart she'd seize on that. Honestly, if the Clintons can't find a way to seize momentum here, then she'll never find a way to seize momentum.
Maureen Dowd, a woman who is serially annoying, wrote what I consider a short but devastating piece.
She writes, "The candidate may have staunched the bleeding, but he did not heal the wounds. His naïve and willful refusal to come to terms earlier with the Rev. Wright's anti-American, anti-white and pro-Farrakhan sentiments - echoing his naïve and willful refusal to come to terms earlier with the ramifications of his friendship with sleazy fund-raiser Tony Rezko - will not be forgotten because of one unforgettable speech."
If Maureen Dowd can see it and writes about it, then I'm afraid for Obama's chance at sweeping this episode under the rug and moving on without skepticism heading his way.
I'm even more astounded by my having read groups of Democrats commenting on LA Times articles, and I swear if I'm lying I'm dying on this one... actually agree with Rush Limbaugh when he highlighted that we do not live in the 50's and 60's anymore and that Barack Obama can't credibly pretend as if we still live in those times... and neither can a 20-year confidante, even if he lived through that divisive, incredibly wrong and racially heated time.
They also both agree, apparently, that Obama is missing the distinction between the private fears in his grandmother's mind of black guys as she walks down the street and the quite public and radical anti-american, anti-white rhetoric of his former pastor. There is also an assumption of large scale ignorance concerning those not in absolute blind love of Obama regarding how black churches conduct their sermons that nobody really buys when looking at the example that has been provided.
That is a very good point - you cannot excuse suggestions that the government created AIDS to kill blacks or that we live in the US of KKKA today by saying that it was because of how he was treated yesterday, because in the end its not justifiable under any conditions. I'm not sure people are going to buy it, and Obama and the media are wondering about that exact same thing. People are still going to wonder about why he stuck with such an obvious America hater for 20 years - I can't see one element in his speech that would persuade the people that his critics are wrong about the issue of how he exercises his judgment. Personally, I think this is one of the reasons why the media isn't jumping for joy over the speech.
I haven't read any conservative punditry yet (I do have to work today...) but you can imagine how that is leaning. I found out about the Rush stuff from the article itself, although if anybody wants to get Rush's opinion on the matter in his own words (highly unlikely here) you can visit his site and read the transcripts.
I am not sure that the criticisms about his judgment or character are going to change much, and if you look at the polls Obama hasn't just flatlined but has fallen backwards.
I think all of this is immaterial to his suitability as a potential president. In the end he's going to have to defend his character while trying to sell America on his lack of experience, as well as the pursuit of tax hikes and punitive measures for businesses during a recession, spending increases and expanded government... aka classic liberalism. Still though, it continues.
In the Boston Globe today I read an article that dared to mention the seemingly superficial nature of his candidacy and that supporters hoped that this speech would add gravitas. The irony in the Globe article is that if Obama's candidacy is indeed superficial, the media can take a huge chunk of the blame for having facilitated it all this time. Based on what his own supporters say, I'm not sure. Here is an example -
"To say that the man is outlining a great opportunity in the history of our age is recognizing the truth about this moment charged with so much potential - so much possibility - that we can move mountains if we come together to embrace our diversity as the cause for our strength. To say that he is the most eloquent orator of our time is stating the obvious. I hope and I pray, from my heart of hearts, that he becomes president of this great land, and leads it to the greatness that is ours to loose."
This is nonsense, guys, and people that do not support Barack Obama are lampooning it all - even Democrats. Its simply not good enough when weighing who should be the most powerful politician on earth.
Exploring our limitless potential because of our diversity, embracing each other, and hoping for the ubiquitous but yet-to-be-defined-for-the-American-public-in-a-major-speech change isn't going to solve our deepening economic problems, bring a conclusion to the Iraq war in a way that we can all support or stabilize the middle class. This is why when he says he is a unifier I suspect that he is not - I think we all agree that we should come together and have more honest discussions about things, but the logical conclusion of that agreement IS NOT the establishment of a liberal, socialist style governmental scheme.
Its too bad - I admire his ability to move people with words. Still though, it is what he doesn't say that interests me and will interest the rest of us when the formalities are over and the real campaign begins.
03/17/08 07:49 - 35ºF - ID#43709
Recent Artvoice Article
Today I locked myself out of the apartment and had an hour and a half to kill, so I hung out at Spot and read Artvoice cover to cover. I think this week's issue is one of the better ones they have released in recent memory. Granted, it is, as always, loaded down with the predictable - hifalutin non-starters such as the Bruce Fisher article about spending $26 billion to clean the Great Lakes, which Democrat is going to suggest this (news flash - none of them), and the coup de gras - its Bush's fault that the Great Lakes are still dirty! I could spend an hour picking the article apart and highlight the fact that Democrat politicians that have been firmly entrenched in the Rust Belt political system ignored this problem for 40 years, including Dennis Kucinich when he was mayor of Cleveland and every single Mayor of Buffalo of the 20th century.
To suggest that this is a Bush problem is laughable. So is the suggestion of economic benefit from the investment - according to Fisher, the $26B expenditure will yield $80-$100B in economic benefits. Where will much of the money come from? C'mon guys - you've heard me say it for years so say it with me - higher taxation. This time, they say it with their own words. In particular, the investment and local cleanup would create higher property values, which would in turn generate more tax revenue for the local government. Thats right - the "economic benefit" would be coming out of your pocket. Only a Democrat would spend your tax money in order to attempt to take more of your tax money. These people foolishly believe such an idea would be a boon to our local economy - in fact it would only be taking even more desperately needed money out of the pockets of working people, while simultaneously exacerbating a problem that is already devastating our region - yet higher taxes which make companies laugh when considering locating here.
This is one of the reasons why our area is fucked and will never recover. People actually believe suggestions like this are good ideas, most of all the local politicians. As usual, they don't consider the consequences because the importance of the action (in this case, environmental cleanup) trumps any devastating consequences. Add a little dash of payola and you have Buffalo politics. Stupid people coming up with stupid ideas that will ultimately have long running negative consequences, and quite literally the only group to benefit is the government. The least capable people of the bunch. Byron Brown is a fucking joke - I can't even get started on him. All I have to say is that I didn't vote for him, so a big thanks to all the people who ushered him into office.
These people talk about constituents as if they are sources of revenue. They never talk about making the area hospitable to job creation. Job creation is a far more efficient, and for that matter a far more ethical way of raising tax revenue. Their answer to the "brain drain" is to raise taxes on some of the most taxed and economically disadvantaged people in the entire nation, instead of finding ways to attract jobs to the area.
I'll have left Buffalo long before things get really ugly because I love the city and can't bare watching this slow death. Sort of like my dear grandpa - I'd prefer to remember him when he used to bring Jay and I to McDonald's as 10-year olds than remember him as that emaciated dead man on the hospital bed when I was 24. I am the sort that would love to get involved and help our area, but if I am working with these types who are so utterly misguided and wrong about literally every single ill that has befallen our city, how can honest people with truly good ideas get any support here? Our area's system is too entrenched and I see it as irreversible as our state government. Forget climate change - it is Buffalo that is in irreversible decline. For now, I'll just make sure that my block is clean and safe for residents and visitors, make sure dog owners clean up their pet's shit and occasionally hose off the sidewalk in front of the house to remove cigarette butts from the cracks in the blocks.
My message to local politicians and would-be local economists - you and your ideas are the problem, not the solution, and your insistence and persistence with these bad ideas are going to force me to leave the region. I love Buffalo but not enough to deny myself a better standard of living, better job opportunities and less government hands in my wallet. I'm not the first or the last - get your shit straight or you are going to be smaller than Syracuse or Rochester in 50 years. What happens when most of the young people are gone and all the old people die? Who are going to pay all the taxes? I love Buffalo in the same way that James Joyce loved Dublin - it will always be a part of me but I'll be writing about it from afar rather than while I'm here. YOU are making it impossible for young people who have Buffalo in their hearts, that would otherwise stay here, to actually stay here. You are indeed offering NOTHING to us and are guaranteeing a harrowing future for our city. You sat by and did nothing during the supposed economic boom of the 90's and had the embarrassing nerve to ask why nobody helped us out. When we do leave, we don't want to return during Christmas and see visible proof that we were right. I don't want Buffalo to become merely the place I plan to bury myself when I'm gone.
There is another article worth reading about how local corporations, including Kissling Interests, are taking advantage of the Empire Zone rules to create luxury housing that gives rich people tax breaks for being able to afford living there. Kissling isn't the first (hi Carl Paladino) and you can hardly blame them for using the rules to their advantage - after all, when the guys who voted for the Empire Zone legislation were too naive to see obvious loopholes (I'm talking to you Sam Hoyt so stop apologizing) who is more at fault - the businesses following the law or the people who created the law to begin with?
I'm scared for our city - this sort of disturbing corruption extends itself through all services, including public education. To see what I mean, read the blurb in the "recent news" section highlighting the nonsense at the Board of Education.
The Good - As Promised
This Wednesday at 8pm, on WNED, you'll find a production involving 26 students filming their impressions of the city of Buffalo. I think its an interesting concept, but I hope that it would be good enough to be valuable to an outsider. I'd like for something that shows why it is that we love and stick up for this old, worn out sweater we call home. Still, I'll approach this collective pseudo-documentary with a clean canvas. I'm really interested in seeing our city through the eyes of other residents. Our politicians suck, we live in one of the highest taxed counties in the single highest taxed state in the union, our jobs pay less than in other areas unless you are a slip and fall lawyer - but damn it, we do have each other. I can't wait to see how other Buffalonians view our city... particularly young people. Maybe you don't share that enthusiasm but I least wanted to let you all know about this upcoming show on WNED. There will be a replay on ThinkBright TV on the 23rd I believe, in case you wanted to see it but missed it.
03/11/08 03:17 - 33ºF - ID#43623
Hey guys - my iPod will look like me now
03/09/08 07:21 - 22ºF - ID#43595
Chinese death camp for cats...
I'm not gonna lie - this is disturbing.
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