Sunday, April 6, 2014

I think I'm becoming a hophead

I think I'm becoming a hophead

When life leaves me feeling disappointed or disillusioned by the state of this broken world — as illustrated by my last couple blog posts — I find myself needing to seek refuge in the simple things that remain fundamentally beautiful and comforting. Like the smell of the Pacific Northwest in spring. Or stories about redemption. Or authentic conversation with friends.

Or beer.

This weekend's selection was from Bale Breaker Brewing Company, a new family-owned enterprise situated, quite literally, in the hop fields of central Washington near Yakima. The hops they use are sourced directly from the plots of land that surround the brewery. If you try the Top Cutter IPA, you'll taste how the freshness of that ingredient truly defines the beer. This brew packs quite a punch with its hoppy bouquet — but if, like me, you've developed a serious soft spot for that attribute, you're bound to appreciate what it offers.

Plus, it comes in a can. I now love canned beer. I never thought I'd say that. But canned beer no longer belongs exclusively to the likes of Budweiser. Hallelujah.

Try it on a warm, sunny spring day while sitting outside at a beer bar near the water. For a moment, however fleeting, you'll be freed of whatever it is that burdens you.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Democracy sold to the highest bidder

Democracy sold to the highest bidder

This week's Supreme Court ruling on McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission is devastating and disgraceful. As the dissenting opinion put it, "If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today's decision may well open a floodgate."

Let me take that a giant leap further: "May well" is a laughable understatement. "Absolutely will" is more like it. Do you think American democracy is headed toward oligarchy? Too late. We're already there. We were a long time ago. If you don't think so, you're not paying a lick of attention.

There are ways to reverse this, of course, and none of them will happen as long as the current trend continues. Once money is infused into the political process on this level, trying to stop it is like trying to patch the hull of the Titanic with Saran™ Wrap. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't put a laser focus on these objectives:

Friday, March 28, 2014

When rules and sanctimony are more important than people

World Vision's U.S. headquarters in Washington state.
World Vision's U.S. headquarters in Washington state.
I didn't want to write this post, but it needed to be written. It pertains to an organization near and dear to my heart.

Before I begin any discussion about what has happened, I need to start this by talking about what World Vision does, lest anyone is unfamiliar.

World Vision is an organization that provides food and agricultural support to malnourished children and impoverished communities. It installs access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation in areas where people would otherwise suffer from dysentery and other waterborne diseases. It offers medical care and builds clinics in regions where infants might otherwise die of preventable illness. It builds schools and helps pay for education for children who might otherwise wander the streets alone. It empowers communities with microloans and other economic development. It rescues boys and girls from abuse, neglect, forced labor, conscription, and the sex trade, and it helps rehabilitate those who have faced the worst kind of trauma and evil. It lobbies lawmakers to pass policies that help the poor, both here in the United States and abroad — no easy task in the current political environment.

World Vision does all of these things — and much, much more — in nearly 100 countries around the world. It does so in the name of Jesus Christ, whose life and ministry made clear to his followers that they must do nothing less.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

About those Canadians and their second-rate health care…

You should stop what you're doing right now and watch all seven minutes of this congressional testimony, made available by the office of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. That's right — he's the traitorous, communist pig who wants to drown our flag in maple syrup and trample on our liberty with his vision of socialized medicine.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How does an airplane just disappear?

How does an airplane just disappear?
This story is just creepy, if you ask me.

As I write this, the latest development on the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — which apparently just vanished in the sky last Saturday over the Gulf of Thailand or the South China Sea — is that a search of an area where Chinese satellite indicated the possible presence of floating debris has thus far turned up nothing.

And the most disquieting suggestion thus far? The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the plane may have been "airborne long after radar disappearance," according to U.S. investigators.

Not only that, but this, too: "U.S. counterterrorism officials are pursuing the possibility that a pilot or someone else on board the plane may have diverted it toward an undisclosed location after intentionally turning off the jetliner's transponders to avoid radar detection, according to one person tracking the probe."

What the hell is going on here?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Where I like to spend a rainy weekend

Where I like to spend a rainy weekend
A cozy, inviting bar at the Dray, where you're greeted by an espresso machine and a beer selection that will leave
you seriously debating what to have next. A perfect spot for a rainy winter night.
Last weekend was a wet and gray one here in Seattle. I'm not talking a light mist, either. It was a veritable drenching, which we'll no doubt appreciate come the much drier days of August. But for this final stretch of winter, it's an excellent opportunity to stay indoors and drink beer.

A year ago at this time, I was in Whistler. With no trips planned until the end of next month, however, I need to figure out how to while away the washout weekends of early March in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Evidence that raising the minimum wage doesn't kill jobs

Evidence that raising the minimum wage doesn't kill jobs
Graphic: CNN Money
Several posts back, some debate was generated when I suggested that Democrats could use the issue of the federal minimum wage to save face and even win in a year that is otherwise shaping up to be a very bad one for them.

The common refrain among those who oppose the application of such a safety net is a familiar one: Having a minimum wage kills jobs. Job-killer. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

So I was intrigued by this Bloomberg article, which talks about the situation here in Washington state, where the minimum wage is the highest in the country (albeit still not high enough). Back in 1998, voters approved a minimum wage increase that would subsequently be tied to the state's cost of living. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the service industry opposed the measure at the time, saying that it would — you guessed it — kill jobs.

However, according to the article: "In the 15 years [since the initiative passed]…job growth continued at an average 0.8 percent annual pace, 0.3 percentage point above the national rate. Payrolls at Washington's restaurants and bars, portrayed as particularly vulnerable to higher wage costs, expanded by 21 percent. Poverty has trailed the U.S. level for at least seven years."