Progressives: Save The Burning House

I’m a progressive because I value human rights and want our tax dollars to raise lives instead of battle flags (old and new). Like many other progressives I’m disappointed that Sanders and Warren didn’t make the cut. Unlike quite a few of my fellow progressives I also recognize a few things.

1. The United States is a moderate/centrist country. Us progressives are a vocal minority and so Biden beat Sanders. We can rail about how the DNC neutralized Sanders, but the reality is the overwhelming majority of Democrats (and Americans) are centrists and moderates and Biden won the nomination.

2. Progressives will NEVER get their candidate until we are no longer a minority. Until then we have to do what we’ve always done: push for change. We, as a movement, have made changes. Just look at how much has changed in the past couple of decades regarding LGBTQ rights, marijuana decriminalization & legalization, bringing trans issues to the forefront, fighting for immigration rights, the passing of the Affordable Care Act (as flawed as it was, it was a step toward the progressive healthcare), etc. Look at how many candidates have changed their minds or shifted left on issues because of our pushing. Even Obama and H. Clinton were iffy on gay marriage until progressives pushed and they changed their minds. Almost all progress attributed to liberals over the history of this country was because progressive members of the liberal side of America were pushing: not the centrists. So keep fighting. Keep pushing. Keep speaking out. Keep shouting for justice & equality and fair playing fields.

3. The United States is a house on fire (or a sinking ship, whatever metaphor you want to use). I realize that my progressive ideals are ways of home improvement and you can’t improve on a home when it’s on fire. You have to save the house first. Yes, medicaid for all will have to wait. College debt relief will have to wait. Other home improvement projects will have to wait. Right now we need to put out the fire. Then we can begin repairing the damage to the frame. When the fire is out and we are rebuilding the frame, we can push for improvements in the frame and in the rebuild, but we have to put the fire out first. Bush and Reagan and Nixon didn’t set the house on fire. They damaged it, for sure, but they recognized the intrinsic value of the frame itself. Trump does not and he will burn it to the ground if allowed to do so.

4. POC overwhelmingly voted for Biden because historically POC have voted pragmatically. POC as a voting block are majority centrist/moderate: not progressive. That may change in the future, but it’s the reality on the ground right now. If the people dealing with the systemic racism, police brutality, and unequal justice that I’m railing against are voting for Biden, then I need to listen to why.

I will vote for Biden/Harris because right now we need to save this house from burning to the ground. If Trump wins it could be the last free election held in this country. My progressive ideals also include saving Democracy, even if that means I have to put aside my wish list in order to make sure the basic needs of so many are met first.

I won’t have to hold my nose when I vote for Biden/Harris. I will pull that lever, punch that chad, or mark the tablet with my finger with empathy for those suffering in the burning house right now, knowing that putting out the fire is first priority. Getting rid of Trump so that we can put it out, begin repairing the damage, and once again go back to pushing for progressive ideals.

“How can you hate someone for their beliefs or politics?”

“How can you hate someone for their beliefs or politics?”

I was fiends with conservatives about a decade ago. We disagreed about policy: how to fund the Department of Education, what changes needed to be made to immigration laws, gun control laws, what the DOD budget should be, how much should we be isolationists versus how much we should protect others around the world, how do we fix the trade deficit, etc. Policy issues didn’t define our friendship, but highlighted how we viewed the world differently. Those differences were a non-issue.

Over the past 10 years (starting with their visceral reaction to Obama and the racism it generated), things have changed. We’re not talking policy anymore. We are talking about morality and ethics and basic human rights.

If you don’t think LGBTQ should have equal rights and think they should be actively discriminated against, why would I want to be your friend? Back in the day, most of us stood against the Westboro Baptist Church and their “God Hates Fags” signs. Now my old conservative friends are espousing the same nonsense Westboro Baptist Church has been doing for decades.

If you don’t think people of color are dealing with systemic racism or you support or espouse racist or white supremacy views, why should I be your friend? Back in the day most of us despised the men and women we saw in old photos shouting at black protesters who sat in Woolworth’s. Most of us despised the people who shouted at the young black girl going to an all white school in Alabama or Arkansas. Now my old conservative friends are behaving exactly like those white people from the 50’s and 60’s. The photos of them yelling at BLM protesters is the same look of the angry mob of white people yelling at Vivian Jones as she tried to enter the University of Alabama in 1963 or yelling at Elizabeth Eckford (Little Rock Nine) on the sidewalks of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Policy is nuanced and we can disagree in every friendly way about that nuance. The conservative downward spiral that led to those still backing Trump has led to a failing in morality and ethics: once again being on the wrong side of history. The current Trump-supporting Conservative mindset is the same one that led Conservatives to be on the wrong side of every moral and ethical issue this country has faced, from the end of slavery, women’s voting rights, desegregation, minority voting rights, labor laws, anti-discrimination laws, etc.

Nope. I will not be friends with them. I have no doubt in my mind that their downward spiral would have them yelling at the protesters in Woolworth’s, standing on the school steps yelling at Vivian Jones, screaming at civil rights protesters, and rooting for the police beating the marchers as they crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge.

I cannot be friends with someone who fails the moral and ethical judgments and rails against the human rights of others. This is no longer about policy. It is about human lives and my old conservative friends have failed the morality and ethics test big-time.

I am glad to see moderate Conservatives starting to rise up and speak out. Their voices are desperately needed in this fight against a morally bankrupt administration and its cult-like followers.

Synthentral’s Top 33 Albums of 2018

Synthentral‘s Top 33 Albums of 2018!

I normally do Top 30, but I could not in good conscience remove three more albums from my final list. Just getting down to 33 from the initial 500+ was hard enough as there was so much amazing music released in 2018.

Here are the criteria I used to qualify for the initial list of over 500 albums:

  1. Albums only: no singles or EP’s.
  2. The album could not be a remaster, re-release, remix or compilation album.
  3. The album had to have a minimum of 7 original songs.

I narrowed the 500 to 96, then to 47, and finally to 33 using the following:

  1. Did I want to listen to every song on the album and not fast forward or skip any songs?
  2. Did I want to listen to the album over and over again?
  3. Did the album make me “feel.”

I fully admit that the final three criteria are subjective and you may have chose a different Top 33 for 2018. Looking at some of the Top lists already put out I’m in disagreement with quite a few of them because art is subjective and music is art. I waited until the very end of 2018 to make sure I gave albums released in December a fair chance at the list.

I did not break the Top 33 down from 33 to number 1. I will list them (and play a song from them on the 12/28 show) in alphabetical order by band.

Check out the albums and if you like what you hear, then support the band: buy their albums, like their social media pages, and definitely go see them on tour!

Top 33 Albums of 2018 in alphabetical order by band name. Click on the band’s name to go to their social media page. Click on the album title to go where you can listen to and purchase the album. You can listen to the show featuring one song from each album HERE.

Aïboforcen, “Sense & Nonsense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APSÜRDE, “Inglourious Heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ash Code, “Perspektive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashbury Heights, “The Victorian Wallflowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Binary Park, “Life On Lines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blume, “Ashes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caustic, “American Carrion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cesium_137, “Rise To Conquer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmicity, “Twice Daily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Covenant Of Thorns, “Shadows & Serenades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CTRL, “0009:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defiant Machines, “Delirium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Echo Over Voices, “Bittersweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Electro Spectre, “A Man-Made Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Lied To Us, “Presence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gunship, “Dark All Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halo Effect, “SHOUT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johan Baeckström, “Utopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korine, “New Arrangements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mitra mitra, “Marionettes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neuroticfish, “Antidoron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Haze, “Love Is Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norderney, “From Fiction To Reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nórdika, “Venus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occams Laser, “New Blood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radioaktivists, “Radioakt One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitary Experiments, “Future Tense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train To Spain, “A Journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unity One, “Awakening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V2A, “Gravity Killer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VNV Nation, “Noire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wice, “Wice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xenia Beliayeva, “Riss

Fallout 76: My Take

Someone asked me my take on Fallout ’76, so here it is…

I’ve been considering posting about it, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

The game, in and of itself, is just fine. Those bitching about the actual gameplay are the same ones who bitched about Fallout 4, New Vegas, etc., and then played the game every day for five years. Everyone bitches about the games when they first come out and then it becomes their favorite.

The graphics are good. The gameplay is good. There are challenges of running into characters and monsters at significantly higher levels than you (more so than any other Fallout series games). I also love that unlike other exploring/open map games where no matter where you go the characters and monsters tend to match your current level or are just a few levels higher, wandering or exploring too far from your missions can mean you’re a level 10 running into a level 62 Angler that kicks your ass in two seconds.

Survival mode is default. You have to eat and drink or you’ll die. Your weapons and armor degrade and you have to constantly repair them (luckily weapons/armor/tinker workbenches are common, but you can only carry so much junk with you). You can catch diseases from sleeping in the wrong place, getting attacked by monsters can give you diseases like blood worms, bleeding sores, etc. So you have to make sure you have a stock of food, water, disease cures, etc. I enjoyed playing survivor mode in Fallout 4, and while 76 is a bit watered down from full blown survivor mode in Fallout 4, it still creates a bigger challenge than just running around carefree.

That being said, there are legitimate gripes and bitches about this game. These are mine:

1. Forcing me to buy PS Plus is bullshit. I had to spend money for PS Plus beyond the price of the game. There’s no reason for PS Plus at all. Other online multiplayer games didn’t need PS Plus and this one didn’t need it, either. This was purely a money-making scheme and it’s bullshit.

2. There is no single player mode at all: it’s 100% online and there’s no reason for that, either. The forced online doesn’t affect the experience of gameplay at all and has zero bearing on missions, exploration, etc. I personally don’t connect with anyone on the servers, don’t play with friends or join random stranger’s teams. I play by myself. There are Lone Wanderer cards that give you bonuses for being alone. The only time I even interact with, as in play next to, other players is at “events,” which are scattered throughout the map. I get that not interacting and wanting to play alone is a personal choice, but I think the forced online is a problem, especially when you consider that…

3. There is no way to pause the game. The only way to save is to setup your camp and rest. You can only setup camp outside of areas. That’s if you want to move and rebuild your camp all the time, which a lot of players aren’t doing because they’re building elaborate camps. My camp is nothing more than a bed, my stash, a cooking station (to boil water and cook food before it spoils – that survival mode again). So you have to make sure that when you play you have time set aside for no work, no calls, no girlfriend asking you to come help her get something off the fridge, no bathroom break, nothing at all that pulls you away from the game. If you’re stationary too long the game seems to intentionally send something to attack you (I admit this may be correlation and not causation, but it has happened ever time, which lends me to believe it is intentional). The three times I found a “safe place” to hide while I took care of something I ended up being attacked and had to run back into the room. One of those times it was a mole rat on the roof of a seven-story building that had no mole rats in it while I was exploring the building itself. It took me so long to get back to my office that I was at 10% health and about to die before I killed the mole rat and had to use three Stimpaks to get back to full health and had to cure a disease the damn thing gave me. The fact that I can’t pause it when my girlfriend needs my help drives both of us bonkers. I’ve just had to die a few times because relationships are more important than games. Which, by the way, if you die, you lose all your junk and have to go back to your “grave site” to collect your brown bag of junk (did they get that idea from No Man’s Sky?). Or you can just leave it there and find new junk.

4. A lot of players truly enjoyed the aspect of building settlements, keeping the settlers going and happy, and experimenting with building. The game teases you with finding “workbenches,” but they’re useless and can be taken over by other players if you’re not there to defend them, which unless you’re not sleeping, not eating, not taking a bath, etc., then you’re going to lose that workbench as soon as you sign off. I don’t think Settlements are necessary for this game, but I think having them would have significantly helped tone down some of the anger, allowed for more junk storage, and would have kept with the entire Vault 76 mission.

I enjoy playing the game, but I don’t play it as much as I did Fallout4 (which I still play) or New Vegas because I rarely can allot several hours of uninterrupted time that allows me to play. I’ve spent significantly more time playing Red Dead Redemption 2.

Doing the online only was a bad move in my opinion. Making online an option would have made this game much better in many ways.

My Favorite Austin Burgers

How do I judge a burger?

First thing I always do is eat just a piece of hamburger meat with nothing on it. Does the meat have its own flavor? Is it juicy? Is it cooked correctly at medium and no more than medium well (exception made for sliders)? Is the bun too dry or does it perform the job of sopping up juice and add flavor and depth to the burger? Does every burger a place offers taste good or only a single burger? If only a single burger, then that’s fine, but it does detract from being a “burger joint.”

There are a tons of great burger joints in Austin, but only a few were pure bliss, what I call the “hallelujah burger.” The burger that hits your mouth and sends you to that special place in your head where you’re at peace with yourself and everything around you. That place where if you were butter you would melt instantly and ooze all over the floor of the joint. There are also a lot of places that are not burger joints, but have a good burger. Those places had to really stand out to make my list, as I focused on places that catered to the burger lover in me.

NOTE: I fully acknowledge that taste is subjective. I don’t think judging a burger on the quality of the meat, how it’s cooked, if it’s juicy and has flavor on its own is subjective, but once you get past the meat and onto the bread, condiments, and add-ons, then you enter subjective taste. I fully expect people to disagree with my list and that’s perfectly okay. I encourage you to post your own top burgers!

The List

So here they are, from least to best (least being the wrong word to use here, since it did make my list):

But What About?

Where are the standard ones you see on so many Austin lists like Sandy’s, Hut’s, Dan’s, P Terry’s, etc? Well, they’re somewhere between Wendy’s and McDonald’s because they’re not only just sliders, but mediocre ones at that: especially the exceptionally overrated P Terry’s.

So with that said, here’s are my favorite slider joints (that aren’t above):