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
Monday, October 31. 2005
A group of Maggie's Farm friends recently returned from a week at the above, with nothing but praise for the lodging and the sporting opportunities, despite having had lousy weather. It's a definite re-do for next October. They donated a spot for the conservation charity we support (Ducks Unlimited) too. Merci bien, Andre. Miramichi Inn.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 19:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Kevins has a fine catalog which focuses on high-quality Southern bird hunting gear. Also, never underestimate LL Bean's hunting gear - it's how the company got started. And to save money, it's a good idea to check Sierra Trading Post for your gear needs, first. You will make some impulse buys there, and keep the economy rolling. They have some good deals on Aigle wellies right now.
Got to ask The Barrister to do a piece on wellies...he is the Wellie Maven.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:16 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
The Precautionary Principle is turning out to be one more nail in Europe's economic coffin because, in an effort to reduce life risk, it adds paralyzing legal risk to everything. The Commons follows the theme because of its impact on environmental issues.
Malanga on the cost of local government:
"The pensions for which taxpayers must now foot the bill far outshine what many of those same taxpayers in the private sector receive. In New Jersey, for instance, a 62-year-old state employee who retires after 25 years gets 50 percent more in yearly pension payments than an employee retiring with the same salary from the Camden, New Jersey plant of Campbell Soup, a Fortune 500 company, according to the Asbury Park Press. In addition, the state employee receives free health insurance for life to supplement Medicare, while full health benefits for private-sector retirees are now rare. In California, a public employee with 30 years of service can retire at 55 with 60 percent of his salary, and public-safety workers can get 90 percent of their salary at age 50. By contrast to these rich payouts, the small (and shrinking) number of private firms that still provide “defined benefit” pension plans—instead of the now-common “defined contribution” plans that transfer all risk to the worker—pay on average 45 percent after 30 years of service."
Red entire in City Journal
Despite its possibly uncertain effectiveness, people are stocking up on anti-influenza medicine, as Maggie's Farm advises. So Roche is restricting the supply. Americans are smart: they view it like buying insurance. We will continue to follow the story of the avian flu closely.
Weekend lighthouse-keepers: CSM
Moslems smuggle SAMs into Europe. LGF
Christian girls butchered in Indonesia. Michelle
Iran, and the western media: Warren
Anti-Israel falsehoods in the NYT: Powerline
Bill Roggio with Col. Davis ( thanks, Instapundit), here.
Cover-up worse than crime? RWN
Saturday, October 29. 2005
Kubla Khan (1792)
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Coleridge"
Friday, October 28. 2005
Miers: Good decision. There was just nothing in that story to get excited about. The White House needs to get its act together.
Worldwide dismay about Iran's goal to eliminate Israel. But is this news?
Interview with Alan Sears re ACLU: Cao
The New Republic has a blog.
Making Music vs. Listening to Recordings
It's about time that someone wrote a book about the effects of recorded music on music, and the way we listen to music, who makes the music, and the way music is performed. Robert Philip has done it: Performing Music in the Age of Recording. From a NYROB review by Rosen:
"Before 1900 in Europe and America, it was at home that music was most often experienced, by family members who played some instrument or sang, and by, willingly or unwillingly, the rest of the family and friends. (In Western society among the lower middle class and upward, most music was made by women, who were generally expected to learn to cook, sew, and play the piano. The majority of professional musicians may have been male, like the majority of professional cooks, but most of the cooking and piano play-ing was the lot of women. Music, like breakfast and dinner, was part of life at home.) More exceptionally, music could be heard in some public places—concert hall, opera house, or church. The public realm was essentially a complement to the private. It set standards and added glamour.
By the twenty-first century, all this has changed. Both private and public music are being displaced by recordings. Few people make music themselves at home anymore. Because of more cramped living space, it is now inconvenient to house a piano, a once indispensable piece of furniture for any household with even modest pretensions to culture and the instrument that for more than a century was the mainstay of classical music. Outside the big cities, live public music is disappearing as well. Most of the smaller towns that used to have a classical concert series have lost that, and if they are too insignificant to sponsor a popular rock group event, their public music must be confined to clubs. Even live symphony and opera broadcasts have been largely eliminated. At home today we play records. Classical and pop radio stations play records. And often ballet companies and theatrical productions play records in place of hiring musicians.
Robert Philip's Performing Music in the Age of Recording is a brilliant analysis of how this has affected performance style. It is also incidentally, for much of the time, the best account I know of how musical life in general has changed since the introduction of vinyl and long-playing records in the 1950s, which made it possible for records to invade everyone's home."
Read entire review here.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 06:11 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, October 27. 2005
Hanson, on 2000 deaths
What a pleasure to see VDH in the NYT:
"... like all wars against amorphous insurgencies, the current struggle requires almost constant explanation by the government to show how and why troops are fighting in a necessary cause - and for the nation's long-term security interests. Unless official spokesmen can continually connect the terrible sacrifices of our youth with the need to establish a consensual government in Iraq that might help to end the old pathology of the Middle East, in which autocracies spawn parasitic anti-Western terrorists, then the TV screen's images of blown-up American troops become the dominant narrative. The Bush administration, of course, did not help itself by having put forth weapons of mass destruction as the primary reason for the invasion - when the Senate, in bipartisan fashion, had previously authorized the war on a score of other sensible writs. "
Bell the Cat and Shock the Dog
If you have an outdoor cat, please bell that cat. The domestic cat is the major destroyers of songbirds, and, since cats come from Egypt, our local birds aren't genetically prepared for them. I don't care whether they are natural hunters - they don't belong here.
As far as turtles go, I use the training collar to train my dogs off turtles when I am tramping through the woods and marshes. This might sound just a little wierd to do, but domestic dogs, along with car tires, are the main killers of turtles like our endangered Box and Wood Turtles and, once again, these dog predators are not native to the northeast. A dog can kill a turtle with one bite. When they get near a turtle, I give them a good shock and a loud "Careful", and that seems to handle it fairly well. (Same procedure works for rattlesnakes in the south and west.) They learn after once or twice that reptiles are surrounded by a magic electromagnetic force field, and leave them alone.
Training collars: Yes, we believe in them absolutely. Used correctly, they will save your dog's life, and help you raise a dog that you can live with easily, without harming your dog one bit. Who wants a disobedient dog? Nobody - an untrained dog is nothing but a burden, whether in suburbia, the city, or in the hunting fields. And a dog that is a burden gets neglected, while an obedient dog gets love and company. Some dog trainers refuse to use the training collars to reinforce obedience training, but I think that is silly and overly sentimental: you cannot reason with a dog, and obedience cannot be optional. Carrot and stick.
What a country! See the list of colleges who have offered to take in New Orleans students.
The Miers story: bored with it
The Plame-Wilson story: bored with it
The Story of the Ford Edsel
Watching Ford and GM struggling today brings to mind the story of the Ford Edsel. The Edsel story is a case study in how not to develop and introduce a new product. That's not exactly the problem that the big American motor companies have today - it's bad contracts and their turning themselves into de-facto finance and healthcare corporations - but they have not been wise for many years. Detroit is suffering: Click here: RealClearPolitics - Commentary - Public Sector Unions Still Living in a Dream World by Tom Bray
From a piece by A. Young:
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 06:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
New Orleans Pundit-Fest
Gelinas in City Journal:
"Yes, New Orleans has a 28 percent poverty rate, and yes, New Orleans is 67 percent black. But nearly two-thirds of New Orleans’s blacks aren’t poor.
Yes, it’s true that nearly 25 percent of New Orleans’s families live on less than $15,000 a year, according to the 2000 Census. But 19 percent of New York’s families live on less than $15,000—and it’s much more expensive for poor people to live in New York, making them poorer. The median monthly New York rent is $705, and the median monthly mortgage is $1,535—compared with monthly costs of $488 and $910 respectively in New Orleans.
Despite the images of collective helplessness broadcast after Katrina, New Orleans does not have a stratospherically high government-dependency rate. In 2002, it had 6,696 families on cash welfare, or 3.6 percent, compared with New York City’s 98,000 families, or 3.2 percent. In 2000, 7.8 percent of New Orleans households received Supplemental Security Income, compared with 7.5 percent in New York.
Anyone familiar with New Orleans knows that the city is filled with hard-working people—most of them black. Welfare reform, in New Orleans as in the rest of the country, worked; between 1996 and 2002, Louisiana cut its welfare rolls by 66 percent. The only virtue of New Orleans’s tourism-dependent economy is that those with few skills who want to work can work; the city’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent during 2004, lower than New York’s 7.1 percent.
But not all black New Orleanians are consigned to working as busboys or hotel maids. The city long has had a substantial black middle class, and indeed a black affluent class."
Walter Williams at Town Hall:
"I share Murray's sentiment expressed at the beginning of his article where he says, "Watching the courage of ordinary low-income people as they deal with the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, it is hard to decide which politicians are more contemptible -- Democrats who are rediscovering poverty and blaming it on George W. Bush, or Republicans who are rediscovering poverty and claiming that the government can fix it." Since President Johnson's War on Poverty, controlling for inflation, the nation has spent $9 trillion on about 80 anti-poverty programs. To put that figure in perspective, last year's U.S. GDP was $11 trillion; $9 trillion exceeds the GDP of any nation except the U.S. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita uncovered the result of the War on Poverty -- dependency and self-destructive behavior.
Guess what the president and politicians from both parties are asking the American people to do? If you said, "Enact programs that will sustain and enhance dependency," go to the head of the class."
From Shelby Steele in WSJ:
"Probably the single greatest problem between blacks and whites in America is that we are forever witness to each other's great shames. This occurred to me in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, when so many black people were plunged into misery that it seemed the hurricane itself had held a racial animus. I felt a consuming empathy but also another, more atavistic impulse. I did not like my people being seen this way. Beyond the human mess one expects to see after a storm like this, another kind of human wretchedness was on display. In the people traversing waist-deep water and languishing on rooftops were the markers of a deep and static poverty. The despair over the storm that was so evident in people's faces seemed to come out of an older despair, one that had always been there. Here--40 years after the great civil rights victories and 50 years after Rosa Parks's great refusal--was a poverty that oppression could no longer entirely explain. Here was poverty with an element of surrender in it that seemed to confirm the worst charges against blacks: that we are inferior, that nothing really helps us, that the modern world is beyond our reach."
Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
I had a woman down in Alabama
From the song and the album Slow Train Coming.
Wednesday, October 26. 2005
John Kerry* gave a speech at Georgetown University today, in which he offered the following brilliant insights on Iraq:
Apparently Kerry was for more troops before he was against it.
Tomato vs. Vinegar, etc.
To us in the Northeast, the barbecue wars of the South can seem like quaintly endearing rivalries - until you experience two things: 1. the true intensity and competitiveness of the regional barbecue wars (see Instapundit) and, 2. the total lusciousness of each one of these forms of commingled fat, smoke and meat. I hesitate to state that I prefer the Carolina-style pulled pork to the others, but I've never had a barbecue I didn't like. The pulled-pig I had in Kentucky may have been the best, a whole hog smoked in a freshly-dug hole in the ground for about 24 hours. You yank hunks of meat off the hog with your hands like a cave-man.
Our red-state readers hardly need a basic lesson in the regional barbecues, and in pits vs. smokers, and dry rubs vs wet sauce, or even pork vs the blasphemous Texas beef brisket, but I needed a primer, especially after a conversation last week about vinegar-based sauce vs. tomato-based - North Carolina's famous east-west division.
A barbecue primer here. Another piece with recipes here. Hungry already. Too bad this stuff is so scarce in the Northeast. I've had enough sushi for a lifetime, and the very thought of more of it is nauseating: from now on, I will call it "bait," not food. I think I just liked the wasabi and the ginger.
Everything you wanted to know about this delicious game fish.
"Guatemalans working abroad, both legally and illegally, send more than $2 billion back to their families each year, according to the Guatemalan government. The amount is now the second-largest source of national revenue after tourism, having surpassed traditional exports of coffee, sugar and bananas. In the days after the hurricane, long lines formed at banks in Santiago, as wire transfers poured in."
Story here: Lifeline to a Devastated Guatemala
When hurt by a friend
"Yet bringing my feelings of betrayal to God has helped me to see something else, something distressing, but necessary to see. I've come to realize how much my own unfaithfulness to God has hurt Him. For most of my life I've thought of my sin as dishonoring God (which it does) and deserving His wrath (which it does). But the experience of a friend's betrayal has helped me to see that that God of the Universe, in addition to judging my sin, is also pained by it. The God who has sought me out in Jesus Christ grieves when I reject Him in favor of lesser gods, even as Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41; see also Ephesians 4:30). This realization has quickened my desire to remain in relationship with God and to honor Him in all that I do. Thus, ironically and mercifully, God has used injury from a friend to deepen my faith and strengthen my relationship with Him."
Knowing and not-knowing
It is common for people to both know and yet not know something at the same time. Sometimes we call it "not noticing," or "avoidance" or "denial"; sometimes we call it "repression" or "forgetting,"and sometimes we call it "ignoring reality." Sometimes we must call it plain "stupid."
There are many levels of "not knowing," including the always-challenging "not knowing that you're not knowing" (as in the charming Elvis ditty here: I Forgot to Remember to Forget Her. )
There's usually a pretty good reason for "not knowing" something we subliminally know, or suspect: it's almost always to avoid anxiety, worry, pain, loss, shame, guilt, weakness, inconvenience, conflict with others, conflict within ourselves, and other sorts of discomforts.
When we refuse to know what we know, and we act on our "not-knowing", it usually works out badly. Still, it happens all the time, to the best of us. And we all know far more than we want to be aware of about ourselves, and about what goes on around us. "No brain, no pain". When I was in my analysis, which all psychoanalysts must undergo to cleanse the scalpel, so to speak, my analyst used to refer to "un-thought thoughts," which I find to be a very valuable concept in life and in my work as a shrink. Such unthought-thoughts can effect us in all sorts of sneaky ways, beneath our awareness or beyond our willingness to confront them directly. They effect us because there is ultimately no escape from the ideas in our heads, except death. Or maybe good therapy. But there are many such thoughts that we need to know, and need to face, to be fully in reality.
Still, we all waste energy avoiding some of our thoughts. I advise people to sometimes turn off their car radios, put down the book, don't have that second Scotch, step away from that computer monitor (but not Maggie's Farm), turn off the boob tube, listen to those thoughts that drop down in the middle of the night - and confront them. It's not fun, but it is worthwhile: we have a lot to tell ourselves, if we would only listen. It's analogous to prayer: sometimes we need to shut the hell up and listen.
Therefore it is fascinating to me, but not surprising, to see that there is a defineable neurophysiological correlate to such common occurences: why not blame it on your brain and let yourself off the hook? Science Daily.
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