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
Wednesday, May 31. 2006
Yes, it certainly is. Al Gore used a euphemism for playing fast and loose with the truth, and the estimable Dr. Joy Bliss called him on it. To all my Fark friends, I send you back to the dictionary, where you can find all sorts of words for stressing important things, like: reiterate, and stress; accent; accentuate; belabor; dwell on; feature; harp on; headline; italicize; emphasize; play up; point up; repeat; rub in; spotlight; underline; underscore.
Those are words used by people NOT trying to give a false impression to create a panic they can capitalize on politically, and seeking to innoculate themselves from future criticism by making their bona fides in the good intention department to excuse their ambivalence about accuracy and proportion.
The antonym for these words is relax, by the way; sound advice.
Do we at Maggies Farm... ahem... over represent the Environmental Carbon Cavilling Cavalier's love for everpresent looming armageddon and false alarmism, as characterized by Mr. Gore? You tell me:
Would it look any different, really, if it said:
FILL IN OVER-REPRESENTATION HERE ?
I have been thoroughly farked.
I have never had one of my pieces "farked" before (see my post prior to this one), but I have also never been subjected to so much rage in my life, as in the abundant comments. "Wingnut"? Me? They would never call me that, if they were lucky enough to meet me. 172 comments!
It wasn't even a piece about global warming - just a piece about how the human conscience works. What's the big fuss? Is Al Gore a sacred cow?... or a Sacred Bull? And then does his BS not stink?
This is not war, dear gentle readers.
What especially bothered me is that essentially all of the over-heated comments missed the entire point of the post. Perhaps I should have used the example of "Bush lied so we can get all of this nice cheap oil?" But I have no comparable confession from Bush, nor do I see all of the cheap oil.
Yes, that photo is me, at Cape Cod last summer. Surfer's Beach (White Crest Beach), where the strong and manly hands of the waves will firmly, steadily and relentlessly disrobe a lady of both her upper and her lower bathing garments, if she is not careful, and unveil the glory of her secret delights.
By the way, if I misread Gore's intent, I will say so. I am not convinced, but I am a Mass General doctor with a Harvard MD. Not a lawyer, but not stupid either: I do not parse - I just read, like a normal person. I can't help it if I am attractive - God made me this way, to be a good breeder, and I like it.
Image: Copyright Harvard Medical School Faculty Facebook
A rough day for the ol' blog. We had to shorten things up a
Australian High Schools complain that the press is looking at their curriculum plans. What are they - secret revoutionary cells? Almost sounds that way. Protein. Maybe they should remember who pays them.
Put down the bong, Canada. Update on the Moslem cartoons in Canada and Denmark. Atlas
Why did Bush beat Kerry? Funny photos - very revealing. YARGB
Bad news on how immigration amnesty has been working under current law - a hotbed of corruption, sneakiness, government contract deals, cheating, lying for pay, scummy politics, and general sliminess. VDARE. This needs to be sent around.
Iraq is safer than Washington, DC. More stats at Gateway.
Something we missed on Memorial Day: The 553rd anniversary of the fall of Constantinople. It wasn't pretty. Gates of Vienna.
Radical Chic. You thought it was something from the dopey 60s. Nope - some still think it's cool. Dalrymple on The Guardian's antiquated fascination with totalitarian Marxist thugs and murderers - and their clothing.
What is the hatred of WalMart all about? Is it envy of success, or is it snobbery of the elites, or what? Zinsmeister at AEO takes a look at the subject of the most successful retail organization in the world.
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For us head-shrinkers, public figures make for great case examples, because there is no confidentiality issue. The downside, of course, is that we don't really know them in any depth. All we have are public words and behavior.
Al Gore offered us a nice example last week when he stated, about his admittedly propagandizing and fear-mongering movie Inconvenient Truths:
So it is appropriate to lie? Should we re-name it Convenient Lies?
Although this is not the first time Big Al has made similar statements about his choices (the "no controlling legal authority" case), I will not throw stones, because I do not claim to be perfect. Instead, I'll just take a minute to look at the meaning of his statement.
I take it as a given that all humans are prone to immoral thoughts and to wrong-doing, or temptations for wrong-doing: there would be no need for laws, rules, or morals if that were not so. And it is known that, while a small fraction of the population lacks any meaningfully-functioning conscience, most people have consciences of varying degrees of strength and effectiveness. Whenever we "size up" a new person, that is always an essential item on the list.
The conscience functions by sending up warnings to us when we are heading into behavior we feel might be morally questionable; by punishing us with guilt or shame or remorse when we cross our moral lines; by rewarding us with the wonderful feeling of self-respect when we follow our moral expectations; and by holding up for us an ideal of who and what our best self could be. Living with one's conscience is one of the great challenges of being an adult: we struggle with it, and sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.
There are a number of tricks we can play on our conscience, though, in an effort to make it leave us alone and give us a free pass. Our case example of the day highlights one of the most effective tricks: Rationalizing.
What Gore said - and I believe that he believes what he said - is that it is OK for him to deceive the public by distorting and cherry-picking and exaggerating facts, because it's for a good cause and because he means well. (No doubt he rationalized illegal fund-raising with a similar justification. Hey - everything can be a "crisis", right?)
Translated, this says: "If my intentions are good, or if I have a good excuse, then the ends justify the means and my inconvenient morality can take a vacation." (When you think about it, though, morals are always "inconvenient." Always. The Ten Commandments were a great gift to our better selves, from a God who well knew our weaknesses and flaws, and who longs for the best for us and from us, but who offers us the respect to make our own choices.)
That form of thinking is enormously corrupt and corrupting, because it can justify anything - lies, theft, mass murder, adultery, injustice, mayhem, exploitation, cruelty, disloyalty - you name it. To use this trick, all you need to do is to convince yourself that you are aggrieved, or that "everybody does it," or that you are such a superb person that you are on the side of the angels - and you get a free pass from your conscience. No wonder it's such a popular self-deception for those with, shall we say, "flexible" consciences, aka serious moral flaws.
If you can believe that the angels are on your side, or that you are a victim, or that you are better than other people - anything goes (especially if you can burnish it with a gloss of phony idealism or victim entitlement). How damnably convenient!
Matthew 16: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Image: I like the image of Jiminy Cricket as the representative of our conscience. We all need him, perched on our shoulder and whispering into our ear, at all times. If you want to enjoy yourself in the short-term - ignore him. He is a party-pooper but, in the end, he is on your side.
Editor's note: For an honest and rational discussion of the greenhouse effect, try Junk Science. And click on our blog headline to read more posts this week responding to this piece, and to the commenters on this piece.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:55 | Comments (174) | Trackbacks (6)
Here's a 1997 Peugeot you might want to bid on, on Ebay.
Unemployed? Like outdoor work? Like sunshine? Want a macho career where you can drive a pick-up, drink beer all day, and wear whatever you want? Gator-catcher.
Chief No Nag explains how illegals are driving Americans out of the middle class. Maxed Out Mama
The Man Without a Country. We all used to have to read this - not a bad thing. Neo-neo reflects on patriotism - another good thing, even if un-cool at Manhattan cocktail parties.
How does Saint Al do this, and how can I? Purchasing indulgences, at Moonbattery.
Beyond Marx: Class Autobiographies. Here's one at S&M. Great quote: "Everyone is scarred by their upbringing. The only question is: how?"
It's about time: a blog called Chesterton and Friends.
Tuesday, May 30. 2006
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:25 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
The names of warblers have been changed like crazy over the past few years. This little guy with his raccoon-eyes is now the Common Yellowthroat - not to be confused with the Yellow-throated Warbler, which is rare.
We are now at the end of the warbler migration, as these tiny jewels illegally migrate from Central and South America to their breeding grounds in the north. This common warbler loves to skulk in thick underbrush, especially near water, but his loud, penetrating song gives him away.
Song, and info, here at CLO.
Best piece I have seen on the politics of immigration. McIntyre at RCP
California Cabernets beat French wines, 30 years later.
Starbucks plans for the future: More than latte. Check out that stock chart, too
A new book from Larry McMurtry: CSM says his best since 1988
Quoted from a piece at Atlas:
How the federal government plays a huge, but hidden, role in land use. NYT Science Times
Monday, May 29. 2006
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace - but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
We posted the Image below of Arlington National Cemetery, last Christmastime, along with the story of Merrill Worcester, of Maine's Worcester Wreath company, who donates these wreaths:
Sunday, May 28. 2006
Al Gore admits lying in his warming movie. He calls it "over-representation of facts" - but it's "for a good cause". I guess there is "no controlling legal authority" for Leftist propaganda. Will write more about this moral weakness of his later, because I think it is dangerous.
Bertie Wooster and the "insurgents" have something in common. They hate shorts. Iraq insurgents murder tennis players - LGF. At the same time, Anchoress points out the hilariously redemptive humor of P.G . Wodehouse, without whom life would be much less delightful than it is.
The military murders in Iraq. A damn shame, if true. We train very professional soldiers, but we must have some sympathy for those few who lose it, in combat. Not to forgive it - but some understanding. Tragic, terribly wrong, but it does not discredit our effort to build freedom. The anti-American, anti-freedom forces will exploit any evil to the max in the effort to create false moral equivalencies. In war, bad shit happens. The best trained soldiers are only human and, who knows, it could have been me. I pray that these guys have not shamed our country by descending to the moral level of the enemy.
John Kerry just won't go away. The reason the Swiftvets had an impact was because it was clear that the guy just smelled like a phony, pompous person, regardless of his military service. Our pal Kesler.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:00 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
1 John 5: 9-13
9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.
10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Saturday, May 27. 2006
This is a somewhat re-worked piece from earlier in the week:
We have always asserted on Maggie's Farm that the Left has fascist impulses, which is the main reason we fear them. Many of us have been there - in our liberal youths - and done that, so we know what it's like to imagine that one knows how to run a utopian world.
We believe that the Left wishes to control everything and anything they can -from the food we eat, to the games we play, to the cars we buy, to the guns we shoot, to the medical care we seek, to the stores we use, to where we enjoy tobacco, to the ways we participate in politics - in their illusion of wisdom and their will for power. I believe that this is why they can seem so strangely sympathetic towards, and apologists for, dictators like Stalin, Fidel, Chavez, Saddam, Hamas, etc. No Pasaran takes a look at the "progressive" adoration of Chavez.
The concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" persists, but, as it has always been, that becomes the dictatorship of thugs and the power-mad. Plato's philosopher-king doesn't work in real life.
When I see people from liberal democratic societies kissing the feet of socialist dictators - feudal kings, in effect - it gives me a chill, and gives anyone a chill for whom individual freedom - the free choice which confers dignity, and the consequences of our choices which confer humility as often as they confer joy and glory - is the holy grail. I know I am preaching, but I fear the tendency in the human species to be willing to sell one's birthright for a bowl of lentils or a bottle of snake oil.
But more than that, I fear the lentil salesman.
Life was meant to be difficult and to stretch our neurons and muscles and spirit to the fullest as we seek our path through the dark woodlands and deserts of life, guided by whatever star or stars we chose. And still, we will fail in many ways. "Fail, and grow. Succeed, and stagnate." I said that.
Which leads to the subject of Risk. The freedom to take risks is one of the fine things about free capitalist societies, and you could make a case that people are compensated, in part, by the amount of risk they are willing or able to shoulder in their work (military, cops, miners, and firemen excluded - those are government jobs, so they don't count). Risk and responsibility go hand-in-hand. As a newspaper reporter, I have minimal responsibility other than covering my local assignments glibly, and, if I screw up, no-one really cares. But a whole world of work is open to me, if and when I decide to jump into the cold water and make a change. Freedom to fail - a very fine thing indeed. But it hurts.
Part of being American is a willingness to sustain the hurts without running to Mommy Government for a kleenex. (Americans run to trial lawyers instead - which is almost as much of a culturally-subversive trend.)
A self-ordained professor's tongue
(Ignore that continuation page below - I can't make it go away)
Continue reading "The News Junkie Lets it All Hang Out"
Friday, May 26. 2006
As regular Maggie's readers know, Roger Scruton is in our pantheon of essayists, right up there with Dalrymple. From his recent piece on John Stuart Mill (a very smart guy but perhaps lacking in wisdom and life experience - but I detest retrospective judgements, especially when performed by intellectual inferiors like me) whose thinking evolved from utilitarianism to liberty to socialism:
Yes - in other words, a return to Feudalism. And ah, that pesky Law of Unintended Consequences. Here's the whole piece at Opinion Journal. Mill's thinking on various subjects seems as alive today, as ever. Here is a brief synopsis of his life.
Booze is healthful for men, but not for women. Call it "medicine." We do.
Review of the R. Crumb Handbook in NY Review of Books. Hey, Mr. Natural - we miss ya, dude.
Galloway claims it's OK to kill Tony Blair. Or at least understandable. No wonder that this jerk likes Fidelito and Chavez: he is a latent fascist murdering thug himself. Who elects this guy? And also - Blair himself is Left, just not totally loony Left. But close enough for government work.
Why the "hockey stick" is a new low in climate science.
Bow-fishing. The Indians did it, but I did not know people were doing this for sport. I do not like the idea of "snap back". And I wonder how the refraction of the water's surface effects one's view of the target.
Age Warfare? In Britain, as in the US, it's the older folks who have the wealth. So what? Wealth is wasted on the young.
The following report is from this week's Stratfor Geopolitical Report at Strategic Forecasting, Inc.
If it holds.
If it holds, the rest is almost easy. If it doesn't hold, the rest is impossible. Therefore, the fate of this political arrangement will define the future of Iraq and, with that, the future of the region -- and in some ways, the future of the American position in the region. It is not hyperbole to say that everything depends on this deal.
The deal that has been shaped is about two things: power and money. First, it addresses the composition of power in Iraq -- defining the Shia as the dominant group, based on demographics, the Kurds next and the Sunnis as the smallest group. At the same time, it provides institutional and political guarantees to the Sunnis that their interests will not simply be ignored and that they will not be crushed by the Shia and Kurds. In terms of money, we are talking about oil. Iraq's oil fields are in the south, unquestionably in Shiite country, and in the north, in the borderland between Kurd and Sunni territory. One of the points of this arrangement is to assure that oil revenues will not be controlled on a simply regional basis, but will be at least partially controlled by the central government. Therefore, at least some of that money will go to the Sunnis, regardless of what arrangements are made on the ground with the Kurds.