We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Tuesday, April 26. 2005
What's the Matter with Thomas Frank?
Honestly, this guy - the auteur of What's The Matter with Kansas - is so out to lunch I cannot believe it. This guy is trying to understand the "culture wars." Hello, Thomas. This has been going on for years. Where have you been? He's supposed to be a cultural commentator, but the guy needs an expedition to talk to normal folks. It's like a safari for him. Load all the Range Rovers with brie, chardonnay, Evian, and baguettes. Make sure the drivers are well-armed, but keep those scary guns away from me!
So now Frank has a big piece in the NYROB in which every "insight" is, like, duh! Who knows - maybe for regular readers of NYROB these are insights into the great unwashed. But I read it regularly, and I bathe (when I have time), and I am a fairly regular sort. The average redneck Yalie Yankee lawyer who prefers Dewars to chardonnay, which is a lady's drink.
Besides seeming only average-bright, Frank aspires to stylish writing and stylish views. But his style is obsolete. As in his book, he assumes that class and materialism are what life and politics are all about. It's his only lens - or is he just pretending it is? He doesn't use the Marxist term "false consciousness," but it's what he thinks he is talking about. That tells me a lot about him, but not much else.
"But in the election of 2004 all the class anger was on the other side. Now it was the Democrat whose aristocratic lifestyle was always coming into question, who couldn't seem to take a step without detonating some explosive reminder of his exalted position. And it was Republican operatives who were gleefully dropping the word "elitist" on the liberal at every turn for his affected, upper-class ways. For his supposed love of brie cheese. For his wealthy wife's supposed unfamiliarity with chili. For his mansion. His yacht. His windsurfing. His vacations with celebs on Nantucket Island. The secretary of commerce said he thought Kerry "looks French." The House majority leader made a habit of starting off speeches with the line, "Good afternoon, or, as John Kerry might say: 'Bonjour!'" The NRA came up with an image that brilliantly encapsulated the whole thing: an elaborately clipped French poodle in a pink bow and a Kerry-for-president sweater over the slogan "That dog don't hunt."
Yeah, I forgot. He also uses footnotes! What is he - a scholar? My point is that you can tell how out-of-it he is by his statements he presents as revealing, as if he were studying the sexual habits of the natives of New Guinea, while he's talking about you and me. Why doesn't he simply give Maggie's a call? I know you won't read it, but here it is anyway.
Along the New England coast, we have mainly Common Terns, some Least Terns, some Roseate and some Forster's Terns if you can ID them, and some Arctic Terns passing through.
Tough to ID them, but their white secondaries are field-marks, plus their blood-red bill. These birds, like Peregrine Falcons, are the great travellers of the world, wintering in Antarctica and breeding in the Arctic. A 25,000-mile migration. I haven't seen one in years, but haven't looked for one either. Have seen them on Cape Cod, taking a rest on their way south.
Not too much known about these fine minnow-munchers, but read more here.
Photo courtesy of P. LaTourette.
Well if only the drink meant something other than rum and coke because it sure don't mean "free Cuba.' Below are some of President Fidel Castro's comments made in another very long-winded and very verbose hot afternoon in Havana. First we here of the marvelous educational system existing in Cuba founded and completed by the Revolution. Secondly we read another one of those long-winded treatises by the effervescent ego manic Castro on the anniversary of General Maceo and Che; the heroes that Castro considers to be the inspiration of the Revolution. These excerpts are taken from Radio Cuba and I can just hear it blaring incessantly through the radios made in America from the 1950s when Capitalism claimed the Island and we know the rest. I can only imagine Lenin, Stalin and Hitler blaring over their radiowaves too. And now we have Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution to contend with so "buckle up it is going to be a bumpy ride." Bette Davis
"Today we are striving to perfect the work accomplished up until now,
and proceeding on the basis of entirely new ideas and concepts. Today
we are seeking for what should be and will be, in our judgment, an
educational system that increasingly corresponds to the equality,
full justice, self-esteem and moral and social needs of all people in
the type of society that Cubans have decided to build.
Such goals will never be within the reach of a capitalist society.
The required doses of humanism and solidarity do not exist and never
will exist in such societies, and their rates of education and
culture, no matter how great their technology and wealth will lag
further and further behind those of Cuba. There are already many
indicators that provide irrefutable proof of this fact."
"Today we are taking another oath, an oath that will be also taken by
the overwhelming majority of Cubans: that we shall be unshakeably
faithful to the homeland, the Revolution, and to socialism, that
imperialist domination and the capitalist system shall never return
to Cuba -- that would be like going back to the colonial system, or
even the feudal system or the slave system which preceded it, and
which were long ago abolished by history.
General Antonio Maceo: Cubans today, brought up on your immortal
example, would like to have shared with you the honor of being with
you that glorious day when you said to the representative of Spanish
colonial power "We want no peace without independence."
Che, beloved brother: all your comrades in arms would have liked to
have fought with you at Quebrada del Yuro and to have battled for the
liberation of America. It was an unrealizable dream. Destiny had
given our heroic people the mission to withstand 43 years of
aggressions and to finally say "NO" to the imperial government which is
threatening us and trying to impose a new Platt amendment on Cuba,
one more obnoxious than that of 1901.
This is why the people whom you helped to overthrow the tyranny are
today waging the most glorious battle in its history against the
government of the hegemonic superpower, which wants to destroy us.
Revolutionary Cubans, in the thick of the Battle of Ideas we are
waging and embroiled in the arduous and heroic defence of our
Homeland, the Revolution and Socialism, on a day like today we are
rendering a special tribute to our two great heroes, with a firm,
We shall all be like Maceo and Che.
Long live socialism!
Homeland or death!
We will overcome!"
Official Translation - New York, 15 June 2002
A Little Prick for Pregnancy
Acupuncture for infertility here.
Is Zapatero Going Down?
He deserves to, but never should have been elected anyway. (PM of Spain, if you forgot his name. Should be called Mr. Lucky.)
Hamilton on Appointments
Watch this story unfold - we first posted on it on the 21st, thanks to Opie. Now John Mack joins the fray.
Who is Against Bolton?
You know how The Chairman feels. You won't believe this. From Taranto.
Fat is Good
Big fat surprise. They changed their mind about obesity being a problem - it's just morbid obesity that's a problem. Why didn't the CDC just say what they knew - that fat is unattractive? Click here: TCS: Tech Central Station - Whoppers and the End of an Epidemic
Removing BC and AD from historic time. Maybe some academics just don't have enough to do.
Reporters fired for Drinking Beer
And all along I had thought that drinking was part of their job description. Crazy.
Monday, April 25. 2005
Must be a member of Ducks Unlimited - The World Leader in Wetlands Conservation.
Bill Weld Returns
The BBC takes a page out of the CBS playbook to advance the Leftist cause. If you considered their veracity before, will you ever again?
"The BBC was last night plunged into a damaging general election row after it admitted equipping three hecklers with microphones and sending them into a campaign meeting addressed by Michael Howard, the Conservative leader."
Read entire. The Tories are going too easy on the govt.-supported BCC.
NYSE Heats Up
Watch the action as Thain, Grasso, Paulson, etc. get ready to fight in the big stadium here. Lots of $, pride, etc. at stake.
Roe V. Wade
David Brooks argues that Roe v. Wade resulted in a catastrophic example of legislating from the bench. Am I naive to think that rights are about protecting the people from the govt.? Personally, I find the idea of abortion disgusting and sad, but that's irrelevant. What is relevant is the will of the people, which has not been heard.
"The fact is, the entire country is trapped. Harry Blackmun and his colleagues suppressed that democratic abortion debate the nation needs to have. The poisons have been building ever since. You can complain about the incivility of politics, but you can't stop the escalation of conflict in the middle. You have to kill it at the root. Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better. " Read entire here.
Last post I'll do on this ridiculous subject. The target shooting seems harmless enough, but literally killing via the internet and remote-controlled firearms seems like a travesty of the idea of sportsmanship, and which California is now banning.
Those Evil Christians
What is it with the Christianophobics? I can't tell whether they are sincere, and therefore paranoid to a degree, or whether they are being tastelessly provocative, or whether it is more cynical target-practice using American institutions for bulls-eyes. This isn't a Christianity I see around me. This example from Charles Cutter:
"...it’s necessary to understand the fundamental goal of the fundamentalist Christians: To deny basic human rights to segments of society they deem unworthy in their god’s eyes. They believe that Americans should reject the Constitutional concept of equality in favor of their religious caste system. They seek to legally stigmatize all non-fundamentalist Christians. Historically, Christianity has been used to justify such atrocities as the genocide of Native Americans and the institution of slavery; current favorite targets include women, gays, atheists, and pro-choice supporters." Read entire if you can stand it.
Raising the Hoop
We thought we raised them big in the US. Click here: FOXSports.com - NBA Playoffs- Great 'tall' of China: 7-foot-8 Sun eyes NBA We may still think the Chinese tend to be short people but what the heck are they putting that bowl of rice? The NBA has three players and now comes the fourth "big guy" on the block. No telling when they will have to raise the hoops.
Counting Coup Before the Battle for the Court
"Here comes the blind commissioner, they've got him in a trance,
Yes, it's about Desolation Row.
Indian braves, in inter-tribal warfare, found glory in counting coup – demonstrating that they could kill, without killing. Like Mountain Sheep butting heads. But when it came down to protecting their buffalo land, things got bloody quick.
And never underestimate the destructive impulses of the weak and the small.
The Condi hearings were part of it. The Bolton thing is another. I have no doubt that Mr. Bolton is a hard-ass, and pro-American. Two strong points in his favor. But the Bolton thing isn’t about Bolton – it’s about demonstrating the power to deny Bush his appointees. Everyone knows the UN is a Sacred Joke - that ain't news.
And everyone in DC knows full well that Frist was playing a game of poker with his nuclear option - it was obvious. It was always meant to be an empty threat and a bluff, and he got called on his bluff. Suddenly, now, he either has to go forward or go backwards. Bad poker player – doctors always are. They have a native tendency for trust which doesn't work in DC, even when the trusting try to be sneaky. Decent folks can't pull it off. He had never intended to go through with it – it would have been a disaster in the Senate. He will now try to quietly retreat while appearing as if he isn't, but he got hurt because he was a schlemiel. He tried to be crafty, but he got out-maneuvered by the big boys like Chuckie Shumer, with Hillary in the wings, doing the hard math and the mafioso work: two Real Greasy Men with sharp elbows and minimal conscience who know the difference between a schlemiel and a schlemozle.
It's a game for this kind of people, I am sorry to say. It is no longer a sport for well-bred gentlemen who respect their opponents with good cheer and and sporting manners - not that it ever was. Honest folk need not apply: "I'm a politician, meaning I'm a cheat and a liar. When I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops." (Hunt for Red October)
But the Repubs – not Frist - could win the long game by losing the hand, and I suspect that is part of the calculus. Filibustering judicial nominees is a double-edged sword, or a double-edged nuclear weapon. Now that it has become “acceptable” for routine use, it will be used much more in the future by Repubs – and they may need it in time – maybe sooner than Repubs want to imagine. The gamble was hedged in that way. Karl Rove ain’t stupid and wouldn’t endorse an unhedged bet. But Frist gets to be the shmuck in the game, and he should suffer because of the impaired judgement in going public by showing a very weak hand of cards.
For the time being, the Dems have won the skirmish by playing rope-a-dope with Frist in the classic Cassius Clay manner. They succeeded in roping a dope and have made the super-majority requirement acceptable for judicial nominees, and for who-knows what else. Maybe everything. Frist blew it big-time, thinking he was clever. Pride goeth before a fall.
You couldn’t run a business this way.
Saturday, April 23. 2005
A 1962 Farmall Model Super A.
A collector's item.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:13 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 22. 2005
I feel offended by the Maggys posts about colleges, all the criticizing etc. It makes someone feel like they aren;t good enough if they didnt go to Harvard or UCONN or someplace fancy. I graduated college and I had a good job doing the books at a very important body shop in Waterbury but no benefits but they let me go for no reason even though I had a degree and I had to drive 6o miles to get there, and my mom paid for it by working OT at Kmart for 4 years plus her regular job in the school cafeterai with good benefits because a union job, plus financial aide from the State, and my Dad left for Vegas before they had Foxwoods many years ago, and now I can't find a job anywhere around here even though I'm not afraid of work. That farmer now he is a good guy and sounds like my gramps who was a chicken farmer and a turky farmer which are all big business now and not around here, and your blog is nice but lets get off this college thing. My whole family was very proud to have there first college grad and they had a big party about it at the Lithuanian Hall, and gramps drank some beer and gave a little speech about 3 genertions of Lithuanian farmers in Uncasville CT and now we finally had some education in the family and no more chicken-shit and dirt etc. and he said it in Lithuanian for the old ones and in English too, and about being ready to move to the city like Bridgeport or Boston or Providence or Worsester where the big money and important jobs are. Sorry if this is like a term paper.
Anonymus in Uncasville
Dear A in U:
I am sorry you feel that way. I do happen to know where Uncasville is, in eastern CT. Nice country. We don't want to disparage anyone, unless we do it on purpose. It sounds like college taught you to be easily offended, which is something they are specializing in these days. You sound like a fine young fellow, but a bit self-pitying, and your Mom is great, but it's not like 40 years ago when you could walk down to Wall Street with a freshly-minted degree and at least land a spot for life on the bond desk at Morgan Stanley. If you don't want to move away from your comfort zone in northern CT, then maybe you ought to consider something entrepreneurial or a franchise, etc.
Good luck to you,
(note from BD: I think this email from Anon. illustrates exactly what is going on. Innocent kids like him get scammed into all sorts of expectations, while street-wise but unwise kids know they're just buying a piece of paper - but it looks better than no piece of paper. It's a damn shame. Soon, we will do a feature on college cheating and plagiarism, when we collect enough true stories to report.)
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
First trout expedition of the year, leaving noon today for the weekend. Where's my waders? Where's my wooly-buggers? Where's my brain?
The Next Clinton Scandal
Just when the news was getting boring...don't hold your breath for the MSM to get on this case, despite FBI involvement. Thanks to Scott at Powerline. Piece here.
Greg Parke for Senate
Got to be an improvement on Jeffords, who is retiring. Read here.
Next Dylan Tour
Announced today. Interestingly, again with Willy Nelson. Drove down to see them in New Haven last August - seeing Willy was a nice appetizer.
Get your tix beginning Apr. 23, via BobDylan.com, link to left.
Thursday, April 21. 2005
The Wave of the Future: The Big Merger
Click here: The New York Times > Business > Goldman Seals a Deal, and Its Status I understand we are always standing on the brink of the future. But this merger smells of nepotism. Of course, John Thain was instrumental because his allegiance is to Goldman the company which put him on the map and made him a zillionaire. I feel bad for the traders and seat holders who are going to be looking for jobs that no longer exist. Don't get me wrong, my feelings are not for the ones that made the millions and billions but for the guy on the floor yelling his head off that was just earning a living. Like the egg cream at the counter, the 5 & 10, and the penny candy, another memory has been made. At least the Plaza will remain and won't Eloise fans be glad.
Never seen in New England! And never will be.
This Lilac-Breasted Roller, also known as the Rainbow Bird, photographed by Matt Grimes on the Savuti Channel in Botswana last month.
Bird photography is tough. Just try it. This is a very fine shot.
The Poetry Issue
The New Criterion's annual poetry issue is out, covering Richard Wilbur, Eliot, Lord Rochester, etc.
And including a fine essay on Formalism by poet David Yezzi. Excerpt:
"Today, as I have said, it is not necessary to understand prosody at all in order to write a successful poem in English or to be a successful poet. Still, I can’t help wondering if the art isn’t made poorer by contemporary poets’ self-assured disregard of traditional verse technique. As Brander Matthews himself once famously said: “A gentleman need not know Latin, but he should have at least forgotten it.” Prosody is not far behind Latin in terms of its obsolescence, even within the specialized discipline of poetry. And this goes for readers and critics, as well as for poets."
Jon Pareles reviews Dylan's current tour: "His latest band, anchored as it has been since the early 1990's by Tony Garnier on bass, could turn "John Brown," his early-60's song about a shattered soldier, into banjo-picking Appalachian rock, and it could sashay through Mr. Dylan's Tin Pan Alley-flavored "Bye and Bye." It had a violinist, Elana Fremerman, who was joined for keening, soaring twin-fiddle passages by Donnie Herron in "Absolutely Sweet Marie." But its core was in the blues, with Denny Freeman playing jagged guitar solos, George Recile on drums making shuffle beats leap ahead, and the whole band, completed by Stu Kimball on guitar, finding new riffs behind old songs like "Masters of War" - almost a minor-key blues in its latest incarnation - or "All Along the Watchtower." With this band, Mr. Dylan's indictments became both pitiless and exhilarating."
Read entire review.
As you know, Bird Dog, in Vermont it is now Mud Season. They call it Spring down south. But we're just getting into a world of ---ing brown mud, and will be for a couple of months. Gotta be careful where I park my precious Fairlane - could be sucked under the mud by morning, unless there's a good frost. Got my shiny new black Wallmart wellies on every day, and about 50 times a day the mud tries to suck them off. Or does. My old pair had so much duct tape holding them together they looked like silver dancing shoes when I hosed em off, so I finally splurged on new. $19.99. Made in Thailand. But if I turn into a shopper, please shoot me. Well, too muddy to plow anything this early of course, still got standing water, but we got the equipment mostly tuned up and greased and ready to go. That Ford machine is burning oil like a -----, but life ain't never perfect, is it? When it burns as much oil as gas, I will worry. We'll do #1, #2, and #3 and #5 in silage corn as usual, but as I said we'll do #4 in red clover this year and give it a rest and fatten my venison and my turkeys. Plus the hay fields which I think are fairly good for this year, seeing as we redid a couple of them last year with timothy and they are beginning to green up nice. And no, those are not two fat bucks hanging in the dark corner of the barn - those are sheep - lamb. Somebody give em to me, I forget who. But no bear. Bad luck. Coulda had a few turkeys but who wants a body-shot turkey? Nobody. And I think I see a bit of a rain leak in one of the silos. We may have to call Art the silo man down in Rutland. Seth says he can fix it. I doubt he can.
(note from Bird Dog - silage is the corn (maize to non-Americans) - stalks and all, that sort-of ferments in the solo and provides winter food for dairy cattle.)
Who needs expensive think tanks when you have one-man volunteer think tanks like Bainbridge and Brewton around? In this piece, Brewton hits every important button:
"Those two doctrines of human understanding – individual economic liberty and individual moral responsibility – are inseparably intertwined. Mandating a purely secular society, as liberal-socialists do, is the equivalent of removing an individual’s oxygen and draining his life’s blood. It is metaphorically to decapitate civilization."
Read entire Adam Smith vs. Robert Reich.
The New Food Pyramid
What kind of idiot would look to the govt. to find out what to eat? The last one suggested 8-11 servings of grains, cereal, pasta, and bread/day. The new one is visually incomprehensible. It says I should have 3 cups of milk and 2 cups of fruit. Cups of fruit? What the heck - I'm having coffee for breakfast. Dunkin Donuts.
Soros' Five Year Plan Exposed
All very hush-hush. Hans Nichols reports: "George Soros told a carefully vetted gathering of 70 likeminded millionaires and billionaires last weekend that they must be patient if they want to realize long-term political and ideological yields from an expected massive investment in “startup” progressive think tanks." Read here.
Joseph Bottum in the NYP: "Benedict XVI understands his predecessor's support of both democracy and life — because he understands what ties these issues together. The encyclical that John Paul II issued in between, Veritatis Splendor ("the splendor of truth"), insisted that there are certain moral markers about human life and human behavior that cannot be argued away. A grown-up, serious people doesn't abort its babies. A grown-up, serious people doesn't murder its sick and old. And a grown-up, serious people doesn't destroy the structure of the family just for the sake of easy sex." Read entire here.
In the lonely night
Not one more night, not one more Kiss
Wednesday, April 20. 2005
Cool stuff. What Kind of English Do You Speak? I turned out 40% General American, 40% Yankee, and 10% Dixie. Try it. Plus their other entertaining quizzes.