Archive | November, 2013

AV Photo Daily

30 Nov

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AV Photo Daily

29 Nov

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AV Photo Daily

28 Nov

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“Car Coach” Lauren Fix Attacks Tesla, Ignores Escape

27 Nov

A thought for the day before Thanksgiving. 

Although I would never buy a Tesla electric car because (a) it costs a fortune; and (b) a fill-up is measured in hours or minutes, rather than seconds, I think it’s ingenious and brilliant. The fact that three of them (3) have caught fire after an accident does not bother me. Cars that get into accidents can catch fire. 

But the Ford Escape is on its seventh overall recall – five of them for engine fires – after thirteen (13) of them have spontaneously caught fire after overheating and cracking of the engine block. A further twelve (12) have caught fire due to coolant leaks that were the subject of a prior recall. About 140,000 Escapes in the US are affected. An October report shows over 25,000 VINs assigned to Tesla for the US.

There’s a local car expert who makes the media circuit, and she especially appears on right-wing media outlets. Lauren Fix is the “Car Coach“, and if you Google “Lauren Fix” + Tesla, you get pages worth of her concern-trolling the Tesla fires on right wing organs Fox News and Newsmax.  

If you Google “Lauren Fix” + Escape, you get pages worth of her 2013 Escape ‘Expert Car Review”. You’d never know the car was on its seventh recall, and second fire recall. 

Because on right-wing media, electric car is bad and to be viewed with suspicion because Thanks, Obama. The Ford Escape, on the other hand, is an example of the superiority of the internal combustion engine. 

Here’s a tip – engines catch fire. The Teslas only catch fire when they’ve been in an accident – not spontaneously. Also, as Tesla founder Elon Musk points out

For consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid.

AV Photo Daily

27 Nov

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Cuomo and his Malcontents

26 Nov

The Buffalo News’ mustachioed Pigeon transcription service advises that an effort is underway to unify the county Democratic committee by effectively overturning the result of the election of Jeremy Zellner as its head, and by pacifying and appeasing the Steve Pigeon faction of malignant malcontents, City Hall, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Remember when Illuzzi used to be the go-to guy for this crap, may he rest in peace? 

All of this is supposed to come to a pointless and idiotic head on Tuesday night when the various town Democratic committee chairs will meet in Lackawanna. There will be an effort mounted there to have the chairs consider and condemn Zellner with a vote of “no confidence”.  The story being peddled was that Dennis Gorski – from whose political machine Mayor Byron Brown and his Deputy Steve Casey arose – would take Zellner’s place as a “consensus” candidate.  Governor Cuomo supposedly wants Zellner ejected before the end of the year, but Zellner has absolutely no intention of leaving, regardless of the carrots dangled in front of him, or the sticks used to beat him.  

Frankly, why should he? Pigeon spent the entire primary calendar destroying many committee-backed candidates, and then did nothing during the general election season. Exactly one candidate whom he helped – Barbara Miller-Williams – won in November. 

I suppose Obama could resign because a lot of people are angry that he won re-election in 2012. I suppose the President could just leave Washington to placate Republicans who despise him, and who have sabotaged his every everything. But that’s not how it works.

Knowing Pigeon’s penchant for coup-plotting (see Albany 2009, Erie County 2010), elections apparently don’t necessarily matter to him; only money and influence do. He bundles money for Cuomo, buying himself some influence with the governor, and tells him everything is awful in Erie County Democratic politics because Zellner. 

That Cuomo buys into this is unbelievable. By demanding Zellner’s ouster, a governor who is already not especially well-liked in WNY, threatens  further to destabilize the perpetually wobbly Jenga puzzle that is the county Democratic committee. Instead of forcing dissident groups to get with the program, he is aiding and abetting their effective dismantling of the committee apparatus, and replacing it with people who deserve no reward for their tactical sabotage and substantive emptiness. People backing Frank Max and Steve Pigeon have Cuomo’s ear, and are making noise about  opposing Zellner. Cuomo likely wants the noise to stop, but these patronage-hungry manipulators have been actively and passively sabotaging committee-backed Democrats for years. This is the crowd that wore red armbands in support of Max’s failed candidacy last year, with no hint of irony.

The story, alas, is bullshit. Gorski isn’t interested. There’s no real authority to do this at a town chair meeting. It’s just more elaborate manure-stirring from the usual suspects, seeking to deflect from their campaign finance irregularities and failure to take control of the committee by normal means. It’s about trying to wrest control over the dwindling number of patronage jobs that exist to be filled. It may be part of a threat to hand the Republicans a de facto supermajority in the legislature. No one knows what Pat Burke and Barbara Miller-Williams are going to do come the January re-org, but the latter has displayed a profound willingness to sell her allegiance to the highest bidder

It’s downright tedious to write these sorts of pieces over and over again. It’s always the same story, with the same core group of players, with the same base self-interests, and I know that if I’m tired of it, average readers just don’t care anymore. 

But you should care. This sort of infighting is what helps shape the outcome of primaries, which helps to shape how general elections are decided. Candidate recruitment and selection is a key component of what a county committee is supposed to do, and when you have malicious dissidents in your committee, that’s going to be very difficult indeed. 

Misdirected Sympathy

22 Nov

fan-falls-from-top-deck-to-bottom-in-buffalo-b (1)You know how that guy got up onto a railing up in the 300 level at the Ralph? He put his ass on the railing, started to slide down, lost his balance, and plummeted into the level below, and onto another human being; an innocent and wholly unsuspecting human being, who was simply minding his or her own business, spectating a football game. 

We don’t know if the faller was drunk or high, or just stupid. Regardless, he made a poor and reckless choice, and could have killed himself – or worse, someone else. That no one died is amazing. 

So, let’s just say it: the rail-sliding asshole made a dick move and deserves what’s coming to him – firing, barred from the stadium, public embarrassment, and a thick and juicy lawsuit which may very well bankrupt him. He deserves every bit of it, just like you fervently believe that Dr. Corasanti deserved to be punished for striking Alex Rice with his car and killing her. 

But I’ve seen a lot of hand-wringing in the media about the fallout from the reckless slider’s dick move. Oh, Eric Mower went to far by firing him! Oh, the Bills are overreacting! Oh, his poor life is roo-ned

FFS. 

This column in the Niagara Gazette perfectly distills the sympathy-for-the malfeasor angle. Let’s fisk it. 

My husband and I were having dinner with my oldest son the other day when he told us he knows that guy who fell onto another fan at Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game.

After talking with my son about his friend. I could feel a turnabout in my reaction to the event.

When I first heard the story, I felt queasy. Who among us can’t picture themselves enjoying a Bills game on a beautiful sunny day, minding our own business? Nobody ever thinks that some knucklehead will fall on us from the deck up above.

But as I learned more about the young man, it was like someone had refocused the lens on my awareness and suddenly the poor, unsuspecting fan who was fallen upon went out of my focus and the young man who fell upon him came into focus.

This is astonishing. Because your son is friends with a kid who just got through ruining his life, we can just forget about the guy who is the real victim and attempt to turn the reckless slider into a hero? What bizarro world is this? Let’s be clear – the reckless slider is lucky. to. be. alive. That’s it, full stop. 

I’m willing to bet that if the dummy who fell was just some average blue-collar shlub who lost his job delivering pizzas, no one would bat an eye. This? This was a good boy

Clearly, the faller made some bad choices, chief among them deciding it would be cool to slide down a railing at the edge of the top deck of seats.

Crazy, right? I’ve been in the upper decks. I don’t even like to stand up by those seats, they’re so far from the ground.  Who would mess around up there?

But, the other night at dinner, hearing about what’s happened to this guy, I couldn’t help but feel for him.

Not bad choices – dick move. He put his own life and the lives of others in direct peril, and for what? Bravado? Drunken feat of sliding? I have zero sympathy whatsoever for the person who set his own chain of negative events in motion

After the video of his fall went viral, he was fired from his job at at Eric Mower and Associates. His employer announced the firing on Facebook. The Bills banned him from the stadium — forever. Add to his punishment that he hurt someone with his thoughtless behavior, in an action which will be available to watch again and again on the Internet until the end of time. The road for this guy is bound to go steeply uphill for a while.

Wait a minute here. Your sympathy switched from fallee to faller because he got fired and can never set foot in the Ralph again? And because his fall will be on YouTube? Is this for real? 

First of all, we have to presume that the faller was an at-will employee with Eric Mower. This means that the company could have fired him because the sun was shining or not shining; they could have fired him because it was a Tuesday – an at-will employee can be fired at any time for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever, just as he can terminate his own employment in the same way and for the same reasons.

If Mower decided it didn’t want some asshole who recklessly falls on top of other people at football games on its payroll, it is wholly within its rights to get rid of him. Furthermore, he had a side business, and if his fall is so goddamn great for humanity, maybe he can use it as a selling point for his own design shop. “Hire us: we almost kill people” might be an effective slogan. I dunno, I’m not in marketing. 

He can’t ever go to a Bills game again? Boo hoo cry me the Buffalo River. Again: he’s lucky he isn’t up on manslaughter charges. So his choices of entertainment venues has a subtraction of one. Small price to pay. 

YouTube? If you don’t want people to turn you into a Tosh.O bit, then don’t try that shit at home. 

My son, who is not one to suffer fools gladly, described his friend as an intelligent, kind and funny young man. 

Because I respect my son’s opinion, I had to reconsider my own.

I imagine most of us, at one time or another, have done something colossally stupid and just got lucky that things didn’t end badly.

While my initial response was to feel deep sympathy for the man who was fallen upon, I now — knowing the rest of the story — also feel deep sympathy for the man who fell.

So, because he’s your son’s friend, he doesn’t deserve to suffer the consequences of his actions?

To him — as the mother of his friend — I would like to say this:

Surely you wish this never happened to you, but what I have learned repeatedly in my years, is that you don’t want to wish someone away from an experience that could shape their character and their destiny, because even the most horrific events are rich with opportunity for personal growth.

Maybe he should add it to his resume: “Achieved personal growth through a bad choice that almost killed myself and someone else”. 

There are two paths that lie ahead for you. You can let that horrible day in the stadium define you and perhaps destroy the very best that you are or you can use the event as an opportunity to evolve into an even better human.

I’m certain you already know all this, as every child is taught some form of what I’m saying here, but I also know from experience that we forget the most important life lessons, just when we need them most.

Take the consequences of your actions bravely and do not complain. Make it right as best you can with the most integrity you can muster.

Hope you’re judgment-proof, have good insurance, or a good lawyer! You’re going to be facing criminal and civil time in court. 

You’re getting beat up in the media and online. Forgiving yourself for this incident will be the hardest. Flog yourself a little if you must, but then get on with the business of living.

“Forgiving yourself”?! No, flog yourself a fucking lot. Re-examine the person you are and the choices you’ve made. Re-evaluate what led you to show off like that and almost take a life? Don’t forgive a thing – get help. You clearly need it. “Getting on with the business of living” is the sort of feel-good bullshit that teaches people that it’s ok to do fundamentally and palpably stupid, dangerous things as long as you have a modicum of hippie self-awareness. 

You’ve received a hard lesson, at your own hand, but there’s a strong possibility that it could be your most important lesson.

Yes, don’t tempt fate by trying to pull off inherently dangerous stunts. (How much do you want to bet he sues the Ralph himself because, e.g., it didn’t have spikes on the railing to prevent dumb assholes like him from doing dumb asshole moves like he did?) 

Lastly, during this public humiliation, you will learn who your friends are. They will understand what we all inherently know but often forget — that while there are many of us who would have never done anything as wild and risky as what you did, we likely all know and care about at least one other person who might.

 Yeah, no. One thing you learn when you become an adult – and our reckless slider is pushing 30 and has no excuse – is to behave yourself. When you don’t, you’re going to suffer the consequences. And part of being an adult is doing just that, and you don’t whine about it, and you plead with your friends’ moms to please not write sympathetic drivel in the local paper. You’re a dick. Try not being a dick in the future. 

AV Photo Daily

22 Nov

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Good News Everywhere

22 Nov

The Ford Stamping plant is adding 350 jobs and a 3rd shift to help feed parts to nearby Canadian Ford factories that are being crushed by demand for Ford’s excellent new lineup of cars. (Now imagine if Ford didn’t have to be in the business of providing health insurance for their employees and could just concentrate on hiring the best people to produce its cars, and if people had the freedom to apply for those jobs without regard to health benefits. That’s how it is in Canada, and that’s why Canada is attractive to manufacturers like Ford, Toyota, Honda, and GM. A 2002 analysis found that the labor cost to automakers in the US came out to $45.00/hour; in Canada, with its socialized medicine and all, the rate was closer to $30.00/hour). 

Governor Cuomo has been in WNY practically every two weeks ever since the locals decided that the NY SAFE Act was a horrible affront to 2nd Amendment rights because every American has the right to have an arsenal powerful enough to defeat the most expensive and powerful military in the world. Or something. 

Yesterday, he came to town to announce $225 million project to create a green energy campus at the site of a barren brownfield in Buffalo. Two companies are being attracted from California to develop and produce energy-efficient LED lighting and solar panels. The state is developing the property and buying the companies some machinery, and the companies will be hiring hundreds of locals for well-paying jobs and investing $1.5 billion in the move. Tax breaks are expected to attract even more businesses and jobs to the new green campus. 

Jim Heaney’s Investigative Post analyzes the deal, and declares it to be “progress”, although not a “game changer”. However, one selling point is that it may lead to 5,000 new, well-paying jobs over the next decade. Not a bad day, even if it’s only half as successful as that. 

 

Stuffing Waffles

22 Nov

Next week is Thanksgiving, during which we give thanks for our good tidings in a reasonably non-theistic way. Over the years, I’ve come to the realization that roasted turkey sort of sucks. It’s not whether it comes out dry or moist – it’s just that it’s a somewhat flavorless bird whose preparation we often overcomplicate. Remember a few years ago when everyone was buying the massive Ziploc bags and brine kits from Williams Sonoma? All it did was make the bird exquisitely salty. 

My wife agrees with me about turkey, so we’ve been known to substitute out a lobster dinner or a beef Wellington or something because you don’t need a turkey to give thanks, and even Tevye was pragmatic enough to eschew tradition. 

I do, however, enjoy the accouterments – the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, gravy and whatnot that goes with the turkey. But to top it all off, I came across a recipe in Serious Eats (from which I got the whole Kettlepizza/Baking Steel idea) that we are absolutely trying next week, and I pass it along to you, so it might become “viral” as the kids say. 

Stuffing waffles. Not stuffing made from waffles – waffles made from stuffing. Here is what they look like, served with some gravy and maple syrup (because maple syrup goes wonderfully with many savory foods): 

Via Serious Eats

Writer Kenji Lopez-Alt’s favorite Thanksgiving thing is stuffing, and his favorite part of the stuffing are the crispy edges. So, if you take a sausage stuffing recipe and use it in a waffle iron – presto, you get the best thing the best way. The article that describes the process is here.  Here is the recipe for the process itself. Here is the recipe for the underlying sausage stuffing recipe. Here is the recipe for his simple turkey gravy

Enjoy and let me know if you try it and how it comes out.