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
Sunday, September 25. 2005
Stop the ACLU has a fundraiser for an ad in the Washington Times. It has been many years since I have believed that the ACLU had America's best interests at heart.
The Anti-War "Movement"
Ah, the nostalgia for the 60s. They sang "We shall overcome" and "Blowin in the Wind." Lots of "angry grannies." Powerline reminds us of who organizes this stuff, in a 2002 piece by David Corn.
The IFC looks dead
Washington Times editorial, yesterday
It begins like this (I cannot link to it):
Darn right. Big mistake to change the rules of the game. Not very grown-up, either: petulant.
Matthew 21: 23-32
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching and said "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" Jesus answered them "I will also give you a question; and if you will tell me the answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?" And they argued with one another, saying "If we answer 'from heaven', then he will say to us 'Then why did you not believe him?' But if we say 'From men,' we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
"What do you think? A man had two sons, and he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered 'I will not'; but afterwards he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir', but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him."
Photo of the Norfolk, CT, Congregational Church, on a rainy day
Saturday, September 24. 2005
Pennywit revisits the issue, one which always deserves revisiting. Morgagees must always have it - what bank would not insist? There is a larger question: Why do local governments permit building on flood plains and coastlines where flooding is certain? Well, we know the answer: It's about development and real estate. My opinion: I hate the idea that my taxes might be subsidizing insurance that permits people to live in zones where commercial insurors are unwilling to assume the risk. In the part of Cape Cod that I tend to visit, we see houses disappear into the ocean every winter. There's an expression: "Cape Cod Real Estate - Going Fast." The Atlantic is eroding the shoreline at an average of 3 feet per year. Got to accept nature's power.
A Link between Warming and Hurricanes?
Nope, reports Grist magazine hurricane expert.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 08:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Cancelling the New York Times
I read the Times since a kid (yeah, one of those uncool kids), and I have gotten my own daily NYT since a callow youth in prep school. It arrived on a huge library table, labeled by name, each morning as you entered the main building on the way from morning Chapel to the dining hall. (Back then, about half of us got the NY Herald Tribune and half the NYT, and each half viewed the other half as benighted.) It has been part of my daily morning life ever since, wherever I have lived.
But I have had enough of their propaganda, their selective choice of facts, their tilting of front page stories, their condescension, the smugly virtuous attitude, their preference for sentiment over economic facts, the predictably party-line editorials, their writers' total ignorance of even introductory statistics (they seem to hire people who can write, but who don't know anything about history, math, economics, science, warfare, or anything else), and, finally, their embarassing op-ed team which is as deficient in common sense and in respect for the USA as it is in testosterone. The NYT is no longer the "newspaper of record," but a loyal agent (or "useful idiot"?) of the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party, stuck in a combination of moldy rhetoric of the 1960s, the moldy statist politics of the 1930s, the cocktail party anti-American "radical chic" of the goofy, cocaine-addled NYC of the 1970s, and adolescent-style reflexive anti-traditionalism. Test it for yourself: How long has it been since you have been surprised by a NYT editorial? How long since a NYT editorial has provoked you to thought? Q.E.D.
For this post, I had saved about ten recent examples of the above, but decided that would be beating a dead horse, and their editorial on John Roberts pushed me over the edge: it was indistinguishable from a Scrapple Face satire of the NYT. They have a socio-political agenda, and do not let confusing facts or intellectual integrity get in their way...I guess they imagine that they are in the noble vanguard of something wonderful (!), but sometimes I think they aren't even aware of what they are doing, because their prejudice is second nature. They have become a joke, but they don't know it yet. I hope they are beginning to get the joke, because newspapers are fine things. "Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?"
I kept putting the deed off, like delaying putting down a sick old dog, but I finally I cut the cord this week. But I cheat a little: I can read the Tuesday Science Times online, and I kept the delivery of the Sunday for the Book Review, etc. Plus folks email me pieces I should see. For those who need a New York newspaper to survive, try The New York Sun. They are equally good at letting you know what music, dance, gallery shows, restaurants, etc. you are missing, and they do not throw curve balls.
Well, I am not alone. I had an elegant dinner at the home of long-time NYC Democrats last night, prominent in NYC business and politics and charity, supporters of the arts, but old-style Dems - Moynihan Dems, JFK Dems. Smart, lovely, gracious, refined people who would not consider the Clintons to be socially appropriate, but might vote for them. The hostess confessed to me that she had cancelled their NYT too, and replaced it with the Sun. I was amazed. The same week, this story comes out. Other newspapers may blame their circulation declines on a number of causes, but everyone I know who has quit it has done so for the same reasons I have, and with a similar reluctance and a similar feeling of abandoning an old companion - but why begin one's day agitated by a newspaper's transparently biased and manipulative decisions?
To paraphrase Reagan, I did not leave the NYT; the NYT left me. I do not miss it, yet, anyway. Give me the whole truth, people of the NYT, with knowledge and fact rather than partisan opinion and propaganda behind it, and I will come back home to you, old gal.
Here's the hard part - Stop the ACLU's Trackback Party.
Friday, September 23. 2005
Chirac's face on new Palestinian stamp. Atlas.
Freddie Ferrar is a Goner
Why? Dinkins just endorsed him. A death sentence. Bloomberg wins in a landslide.
Told Ya So
Anyone who would live in New Orleans is a Total Moron and deserves these consequences. Make it a national park for ducks and gators, and ivorybills. Or a Disney thing to celebrate Cajun coonass culture - best food in the USA. Let the mighty Mississippi run wherever it wants to. Or, hey, move back in...there's always next year to ride your roof again.
Someone, please tell me why I should support such below-sea-level idiocy with my taxes...this isn't just below normal sea-level, it's below normal IQ level.
And for those Brit idiots who blame US-caused global warming for hurricanes, check here.
And for those scumbags like Rangel and Mr. Hillary who attack Bush for hurricanes, check here.
And hey, you ignorant emailers who never sucked the yellow fat out of a crawfish shell - learn about coonass.
Time to Cash in on your Blog?
Who wouldn't want to? WSJ has story today. We will entertain any offers over ten million for Maggie's Farm, as of today. Cash only. I told you we were cyber-sluts.
Update: 24 hours and still no emails with offers to buy...I do not understand that at all.
Avian Influenza - Bird Flu
Bird Dog has forwarded me posts by Instapundit and Rick Moran, both of whom have been keeping an eye on the Bird Flu happenings in Asia and Russia. Rick's series of pieces on the subject here. Here's my brief medical background on the story - kindergarten virology.
Viruses are hardly living things in the usual sense. They are tiny packages of genetic material, either DNA or RNA, in a protein wrapper. They are inert until they enter their host (which can be an animal, plant or even bacteria), at which time they enter the cells of the host and replicate. Thus they are obligatory parasites, and each virus has a preferred host. The photo is an electron micrograph of a human influenza virus, in which you can clearly see the helical genetic material inside the spiky protein package.
There are thousands of virus varieties, and most do not cause disease. After all, it is not in the interest of a parasite's future to kill or seriously tax its host. For example, the usual Avian Flu virus typically lives in the GI tract of wild birds without causing any trouble.
Animals protect themselves naturally against disease-causing viral invasion by creating antibodies – killer proteins – which attach themselves to the protein “antigens” in the viral wrapper. However, the animal must have time to create such effective antibodies (known as "immunity") before it dies. Immunization comes from either surviving the disease, or is induced via vaccines, which contain virus surface proteins, permitting antibodies to be produced.
The family of influenza viruses, all of whom use vertebrates as hosts, are among the most commonly associated with disease in humans. There are three varieties of flu virus, Types A, B, and C, and all can infect and cause disease in humans. Type A flu viruses can infect many varieties of animals but their natural host seems to be wild birds, hence “bird flu”. Subtypes of Type A flu viruses are named by the proteins (antigens) in their wrappers. “H5N1” is the one with which we have become concerned.
The problems with viruses and disease are that 1. not being alive, they cannot be killed with antibiotics, and 2. viruses change readily through mutation, altering their infectiousness. They change through “antigenic drift”, which are slow minor changes (of the sort that render a flu vaccine from 2004 ineffective against a new flu “strain” in 2005), and through “antigenic shift,” which are abrupt major changes. Avian flu is prone to both. Thus avian flu has changed to become an infectious disease in their bird hosts, mostly domestic poultry but increasingly in wild birds too. And thus avian flu has already mutated so that it can cross the "species barrier" - to be able to reproduce in new hosts - so as to be able to infect man and other animals.
To date, H5N1 requires physical contact with infected bird material to cause infection in man. There have been dozens of such deaths in Asia over recent years and, when it occurs, it seems to have a 55% mortality. However, infectious disease experts predict that a mutation will occur to make H5N1 contagious – ie spread from human to human in the air, like the regular influenza we are familiar with. Because there is little natural immunity to this virus among humans, such a mutation will create a "pandemic" – a widespread and dangerous epidemic. Jakarta is currently the focus of concern.
Why aren't more people jumping up and down and screaming "the sky is falling" about H5N1? Well, there is this little thing called "denial" - "New Orleans will never flood"; and there is a sense that the infectious disease folks have cried wolf in the past; plus it's all complicated and far away - and we don't think the break-out has happened, yet. Should we wait for the levees to fail before we get excited, blaming, and planning? This is an historic opportunity for public health organizations to get in front of a major problem, and I suspect that they will. Australia has just issued a warning, and the business world is on top of things - see this week's conference hosted by Deutsche Bank.
What can be done? First, cases, when they occur, need to be quarantined (which would have saved millions of lives worldwide with AIDS). Second, people in an at-risk area need to be immunized. Currently Jakarta has 10,000 vaccine doses, and 12 million people. Let us all hope that the vaccine factories are working overtime. Third, anti-viral drugs need to be warehoused on a massive scale, even though their effectiveness is unclear against H5N1. This disease could go global very quickly, once it starts. We have been forewarned, and we know what to do to try to minimize a danger which man does not have the power to prevent.
(One last thought: Those of us living in the secure and highly comfortable USA have become a bit arrogant when it comes to the power of nature. We would like to imagine that, when bad things happen like hurricanes, crime, earthquakes, plagues, war, ordinary diseases, accidents, bad luck, or plain death itself, someone dropped the ball. No. We are a little transient part of nature, and our proper response is one of awe in the face of nature's power in relation to ours. Nature is bent on killing each one of us, in time, and our species too, eventually - God or no God, government or no government, doctor or no doctor, vegetarian or carnivore, good or evil. We are created to be destroyed, which is a strangeness which goes far beyond my job description and my pay grade into a realm which I view as theological hard-hat territory.)
One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license.
P. J. O'Rourke
Thursday, September 22. 2005
Brewton does State Power
Our neighbor blogger Tom takes no prisoners when it comes to defending the power of the individual in relation to the State, and, given human history, he is rightfully mindful that States, however well-intentioned or paternalistic, always absorb power from people :
In an earlier article the point was made that both German voters and American liberals have affirmed their allegiance to the National-State collectivism of socialism. More than coincidence is involved.It was in Germany that the world’s first welfare state was inaugurated. The history of socialistic welfare systems makes clear that, while for public relations purposes intended to benefit the people, they are in fact merely power instruments for the collectivized National State.
Tom G. Palmer, a Fellow at the Cato Institute, noted in his February 3, 2000, letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal:
“Bismarck considered the creation of Germany’s social security system his greatest accomplishment..... He defended compulsory social security in 1881 on the grounds that it made people dependent on the state: “Whoever has a pension for his old age is far more content and far easier to handle than one who has no such prospect...”
Bertrand Russell, one of the world’s most prominent socialist theoreticians, much earlier had made the same point. In “German Social Democracy,” his 1896 study of socialism in Germany, Lord Russell wrote:
“.... Bismarck’s measures of ‘social reform.’ These measures, which provided insurance against accident, sickness, and old age, were, so far as they went, socialistic. It was Bismarck’s aim, first to muzzle the official Social Democrats [socialists], and then, by a series of small bribes, to wean the proletariat from their adherence to revolutionary principles. Bismarck’s State Socialism has excited the admiration of many critics, and it is often supposed that the Socialists have been ungrateful in not supporting it more cordially. But in reality the name is very misleading, for there is much more State than Socialism in his policy. This policy may be briefly described as military and bureaucratic despotism, tempered by almsgiving.”
Lord Russell’s depiction is completely in congruence with Alexis de Tocqueville’s descriptions, in his 1835 “Democracy in America,” and in his 1856 “The Old Regime and the French Revolution,” of the effects of socialism on the French citizenry. Tocqueville’s summation was that Frenchmen became largely self-centered, concerned only about their share of government largesse and indifferent to their neighbors or to the greater national interests. So long as they received their benefits and the rulers gave lip service to the Revolutionary slogan of Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood, French citizens were prepared to accept any degree of political despotism.
This picture obviously applies to the welfare-dependent populations in New Orleans and most of our other cities. The effect of dependency is servility and indifference, coupled with resentment that benefits are not larger, boiling over into aggressive hostility at any provocation, as we have seen in repeated riots, burning, and looting across the nation since enactment of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
Read the rest.
You may be an ambassador to England or France,
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
From Dylan's Gotta Serve Somebody, on Slow Train Coming
Bird Dog's New Nephew
Nathaniel is famous already with this Maggie's debut, with a Keith Richards hairdo and Yoda mannerisms, and getting used to a windy Cape Cod beach a couple of weeks ago.
Nat? Gnat? Nate? Yoda?
May the Force be with you, little fella.
Smallest robots built by Dartmouth researchers.
Positive review of Stones new album: A Bigger Bang. In The Week.
Soros is back. Is this guy an American citizen and, if so, why?
Why engineering is a lousy career path, by Kern at TCS.
The Krugman Report, by Luskin.
Merkel's failure: Not much of a politician, I guess. NYT
VDH on Katrina Reporting:
Darkness at Noon
Hitchins has done us a favor by highlighting Arthur Koestler in Slate magazine. Koestler was a Hungarian Jew who spent much of his life searching for something to believe in: Marxism, Zionism, hedonism, and who ultimately committed suicide. His disillusionment with Marxism resulted in the anti-Stalinist Darkness at Noon which is, or was, on every high school reading list.
A couple of quotes from Hitchin's piece:
Read the whole thing.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 08:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Too Much Good Stuff Today:
More on family collapse as cause of poverty: Bray at Detroit News
Newspapers dying a slow death, grieving from Eric. Why? Is it because "You are stuck on stupid, reporter" ? - video here, thanks to Political Teen. Or is it because of pieces of stupidity such as the disparagement of motherhood by the NYT yesterday, reported by Charmaine.
Sheehan is gone for good. Why? The Doc suggests that it is because she took on the media's sweety-pie - the lovely, charming and feminine Hillary.
And speaking of feminine, California women feel oppressed by having to wear bathing suit tops, reports Right Wing Nation. Story here. The link to Nude Beach at the bottom is x-rated - do not visit that site.
Boston most expensive town in US: Martinipundit
Go to Stormtrack for details. And scroll down a bit to see his school bus posting.
A sane Moslem, in a nation which is well on its way to becoming majority Moslem - Sweden.
Latest on the Bird Flu
Fred Barnes on the difficulties in getting a conservative court
Scott on Pork - did we need Katrina to remind us of pork? It must be fun to be so generous and extravagant with other people's hard-earned $.
England update at New Criterion.
Bork on Roberts. Sample:
Scheisse. Demarche on Germany's unraveling.
Stronger Than Katrina
Amazingly, just three weeks after Katrina reached an atmospheric pressure of 902 millibars out in the Gulf, Hurricane Rita has been measured at 897 mb, making it the third most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin (behind only Gilbert in 1988 and the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935). Conditions have been perfectly suited for intensification thus far (stormtrack has details here), but as the storm continues on a collision course with the Texas coast atmospheric patterns should become somewhat less favorable, hopefully helping to weaken it somewhat before landfall. While we here at Maggie's Farm are praying for the safety of everyone in the path of the storm, it's still awe-inspiring to look at the satellite images of this astonishingly powerful hurricane.
Wednesday, September 21. 2005
More Tax Revenue
Since our so-called conservatives have become big-govt conservatives, Kudlow offers the solution.
Why Citizens Need to be Armed, Part 18
Right equals Might explains it, in NO
Courtesy of Cox and Forkum:
The C of E is terminal
Not surprised, from what I have heard. I know they threw out the Ten Commandments years ago, I know they adopted secular, leftist values rather than religious ones, and I knew that the weighty theologian John Lennon convinced them that God was obsolete, and I knew no-one was going to church in England any more - why would they? You can get the secular propaganda from the newspaper and the telly (the C of E blames the West for 9-11, for example. For all you can tell, the Bishops are Moslem).
The C of E is going down the same dead-end path as the main-line US churches. The Protestants tried a revival in opposition to the C of E in the 1600s - and it was a great success in keeping Christ alive in the English-speaking world, even though they tried to kill my ancestors. Time for another revival in England, and let's just bury this useless corpse of a "church." God will surely not miss such a travesty of his will and his word.
Piece on the subject by Mullen, on Farewell, C of E.
A Festival of Excellent Essays
1. Star Parker takes issue with Bush's blaming racial discrimination for black poverty, here. One sentence:
2. Leftist Taboos - What we are not allowed to say (except on blogs), where we say what we think. And the Presumption of Incompetence, coming from our betters. Chantrill at American Thinker:
3. Ben Stein wrote about the Katrina media riot. VDH does it, without humor:
4. Powerline's Mirengoff and Johnson take on the influence of Hegel, via Wilson, on the Supreme Court and the Fed Govt in general: