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, May 20. 2007
This morning, in lovely Georgetown with unseasonably cool and comfortable weather for that swamp (figuratively and literally) of a city, Washington, DC.
The first Roman Catholic church in DC, built in 1789.
I did not intend to cut off the steeple in my photo. The building is now renovated as The Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola as part of Holy Trinity Parish, which now has a new sanctuary on the corner of N St. built in 1851.
The parish was started by Archbishop Carroll, who was also the founder of Georgetown University. We cannot underestimate the role of the Jesuits in this nation's history.
My graduating child, who is Protestant, of a more-or-less evangelical flavor, told me that Georgetown holds an outdoor Mass in front of Healy any time something wonderful, or anything disturbing (including things like not winning in basketball) happens. As an approach to both the grim and the joyful vicissitudes of life, I find that wonderful and rational.
Our photo history of steeples.
The growth of wisdom: Boobs are good.
The Earthquake. Acts 16: 16-34
16One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. 17While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” 18She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 20When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews 21and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” 22The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 23After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 24Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
Saturday, May 19. 2007
There are certain persons - politicians - who have come to believe that they understand how all the activities of everybody in the world happen, and how these actions interact, and believe that they can direct this interaction better that the individuals themselves can acting in their own sphere of knowledge and interest.
There are two big problems with this approach, generally:
First, you have no idea what you're talking about. About much of anything. You've never really worked a day in your life. You have only the faintest idea about how the average person gets by in this world. Polite persons are silent when they are ignorant. What does that make you?
Second, even if your knowledge, such as it is, is able to inform your decisions about what we're all supposed to be doing, We can't all stand still while you figure out all the forms we've got to fill out. I know you love standing in line. Check that -- you adore having us all standing in lines you get to cut to the front of. And you adore filling out forms. Check that; you just love having us fill out forms you get to weigh and shred, after extracting the check. And you just wet yourself in glee thinking about endless talking about what to do, rather than the endless doing required of we benighted souls if we're going to get three hots and a cot until we get the bed with a lid.
All bad managers don't like anything unauthorized to happen. That's why the worst managers, the communists, wrote it down for you: If you're not directed to do it, it's illegal. Got that? They just did wholesale what all politicians do retail: pass laws all day long. Sooner or later, everything will be "decided" either way.
So what you get is productive people standing around while the boss, serene in the idea that they're smarter'n everybody else, figures out what we all should be doing. This is how you get Jimmy Carter making out the schedule for the White House tennis court when he's supposed to be, oh, I don't know, responding to the attack on the sovereign US territory that our embassies represent or something equally important. I'm getting around to that. Hold on a second, I'm on the other line.
Anyone who's ever been in a socialist country, never mind a communist one, has read or heard the breathless announcements: Funds are just being released for this now! The Bureau of Reliquary, Fill Dirt, Rice Weevil Eradication and Toiletries is announcing their Five Year Plan for this crater!
We're all supposed to run in place while the Implementation of the Overarching Arrangement of the Synod of Blueprints of the Delegation of Design of the System Subcommittee of Schemes working with the Council of Convocations Delegation to the Body of the Congress of Lickspittle and Nepotism figger out where we all fit in their universe- you know, the one their faux socialist professors banged into their pointy little heads. EU, or Eeeeuuuww -- not a dime's bit of difference.
The paint's peeling off the "Coming Soon" sign from age, generally, if the goverment's involved heavily. It takes a year to get a building permit, minimum, in the town I live in. The house gets built in ninety days, by the people being ordered around by the those folks that need a year to make up their minds if you deserve that roof over your head.
So how am I going to prove it? How am I going to prove that Al Gore doesn't know how to run an Ice Cream Parlor, never mind a country --never mind a whole planet? How am I going to prove that someone that can't find billing records when they appear to be the most important thing in the world is unlikely to be of use running the entire healthcare industry, where laying your hands on records in a timely fashion seems kind of important to the persons involved, as they point the physicians towards the correct limb to remove and so forth? Easy.
I can prove people are busy doing things all the time you wouldn't expect, or anticipate, and no matter how kooky and weird they might be, you can't predict which will pan out. Let's go to the Patent Office. At the Patent Office, everybody's equal; just right it down and we'll see what pans out.
Item 1: Bird Diaper
Item 2: Spaceship Warp Drive
So tell me, all you smartie pants; which one will pan out? Damned if I know. But I know one thing; if I left it up to you, you'd choose wrong, spectacularly wrong, nine times out of ten.
A re-post from May, 2006
Japanese Wisteria blooms in May in New England.
It's a sentimental Victorian plant that is perfect for shading pergolas, arbors and porches.
Once established, it grows like a weed, up to 10' per summer. It takes work to keep it under control.
Robins love to nest in their tangles: I have a pair of robins nesting in mine right now, so I cannot trim it until the babies leave the nest.
Like many exotic, introduced plants, it can be very invasive and aggressive: eliminating wild stands of wisteria is a tough job.
I grow sweet-smelling Autumn Clematis up my Wisteria vines, so the vine serves double duty. Autumn Clematis is another one of those strong vines that grow like crazy, with amazing September perfume.
Last year's Game Dinner menu. Yum yum.
The Connetquot River. Trout fishing on Long Island. Unique.
Must a man be willing to die?
Worm of the Week: Our friend, Mr. Earthworm
Friday, May 18. 2007
Harold Brodkey, from The State of Grace in a collection of short stories, First Love and Other Sorrows:
Image: Brodkey, drawn for The New Yorker in 1995.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:08 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
It is now widely believed that essentially all 6000 world languages evolved, by geographical separation, from one proto-language. (This theory tends to undermine Chomsky's claim to fame for theorizing an internal hard-wired grammar - Chomsky's sole interesting idea, in my opinion.)
However, languages are dropping like flies, as the planet shrinks. McWhorter in the NYSun argues that this is a good thing, but he hopes hobbyists will keep the old ways alive.
Will the universal language be English? I hope so. It's a pretty good language, but Italian is far more musical, and I'd be happy to have an excuse to learn it. Would no longer need a translated libretto for the operas I love.
Carbon for me but not for thee. The hypocrisy - nay, deception - abounding amongst the carbon fanatics causes me to doubt whether they really believe anything of what they say. Perfect example, at Samizdata. I guess gummint carbon doesn't count. Gaia apparently loves Government Carbon.
Here's my pledge: When politicians, bureaucrats, and Greenies quit flying and driving, and quit generating tree-murdering piles of paper upon which are written unintelligible rules for me, I will reconsider their sincerity.
I'll never forget my Greenie friend who preached thus to me in my cozy red-neck bar one snowy night this winter in the Massachusetts Berkshires: "I have to drive to get to work, but you could ride a bike because you're closer." My reply: "They will have to pry my F-150 out of my cold dead hands."
Yes, she had driven to Rudy's Bar and Grill too, in her Camry, and somehow made it home without a DUI. I don't approve of wasting precious ethanol as a fuel, but I do believe in that old "in vino veritas." My friend is very moral and sanctimonious, but she does like to drink stuff with ethanol in it.
She prefers Wild Turkey (which is entirely organic), but she isn't too picky about guys.
Photo: Is that my friend? Or is it Gaia herself, in human form? I forget.
The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
Muhammed Ali, who I still remember as Cassius Clay
Good news for Dartmouth. At Powerline, Mr. Smith goes to Hanover.
David Thompson disputes Geras and Bauman on socialist assumptions. A quote:
Yes, we certainly are in favor of social nets - but as nets, not as things which are to be an approved way of life except for the most disabled. Due to human nature, socialism only works half-well within familes, where there is a combination of authority and love bonds. Even kibbutzes fall apart over money and effort issues. Whole thoughtful piece here.
By Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh, and famously sung by Billie Holiday
Grab your coat and get your hat
There is a Harvard study of life success and health. A quote:
The assertion that "Character is destiny" is attributed to Heraclitus, around 500 BC. Read the whole thing.
Thursday, May 17. 2007
Rudy Giuliani might not be your favorite candidate, but he is an impressive, likeable, and engaging communicator. Watch. It is quite amazing that the Repubs have such a deep bench. Lots of folks I'd happily vote for, and no-one is ever perfect. Rudy is not my candidate, but I'd vote for him without complaint.
Another grim milestone. Dust my Broom.
Widgets, drive-bys, and bots. Nasty things from websites. BBC
The Hollywood blacklists. Mark Steyn via Driscoll. Probably like you, I was taught that the blacklists were one more reason that America was a bad country. Wrong. These guys were traitorous, hated America, and allied themselves with Russia via the Communist Party. Nothing was wrong with pointing that out.
Al Gore threatens the free press. I missed this scary quote from Anchoress' piece:
Sheesh. Al, check in with your doctor, and check your porphyrin levels.
It looks like a set-up for a lawsuit to me. Protein. To what extent should religious accommodations be made in schools and the workplace?
No more blunts. Vaporizers are the thing, dude. Like healthy, man.
Behind the DC gun lawsuit. Alphecca.
What ever happened to Magic Johnson? Classical Values
I'm a registered Republican and consider socialism a violation of the American principle that you shouldn't stick your nose in other people's business except to make a buck.
A quote from Michael Novak's piece on the subject at First Things:
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, May 16. 2007
Whales evolved from dogs. PBS Video. That explains a lot. We love dogs.
We don't know what it is, but there is a heck of a lot of it. Dark matter
Not your ordinary small luxury cruise ship. The Atmosphere, at Forbes
Cleared by DNA after 20 years in jail. A terrible story.
Europe's demographic collapse. Quote from a piece by Sensing:
The greedy geezers of the AARP. Conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid quotes a letter written to AARP:
A harsh piece by Bernard Lewis quoted at Insty. One quote:
A quote from our pal Coyote:
Last I heard, Envy was a deadly sin. Whole piece here.
Comment from The Barrister: Coyote gets right to the point. America is not about making money. It's about having free choices to do what you want, and, as Bird Dog said yesterday, being adult enough to live with the consequences of one's choices. If you want to pursue wealth, great. If you want to pursue other things, great. All I ever wanted to pursue was a bit of modest comfort, work, friends, a relationship with God, and a happy family, and I feel blessed to have found those things. I love to make money (doesn't everybody?), but it has never been my main objective. However, I do hate being held up as an object of angry envy by pandering politicians just because my life plan worked. I had a basic life plan, and I just followed it. It was not rocket science. To maintain my plan, I will need to keep working - if I live - until I am 75 or more. No problem. I am happy to do that, as was my Dad, my Grandpa, and my great-grandpa, who died at 86 in the fields with his hands on the plow on his farm in CT just up the road from here. That farm was lost, to the family's perpetual resentment, to cover estate taxes and is now covered with absurd mini-mansions on 1/2 acre lots and has a street called Azalea Drive. Great Grandpa would be rolling in his grave if he saw that on the land that is soaked with generations of family sweat. And, if he ever saw an azalea (which I doubt, up here in those days), I am sure that he would have considered it a vulgar display. Even today, where I live, the wealthy happily drive rusty old cars, Yankee-style.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 11:02 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Old Cape Cod fireplaces. Sippican has photos of several. I stole the photo on the right from him. It's in Truro. Hope he doesn't get mad.
Why I am a nationalist. Tangled Web
Manhattan residential real estate up 23% in the past 12 months. Average sale price? 1 million. That is mainly apartments, of course. Prices also up in the boroughs. Average sale price outside Manhattan: $411,000.
Moderate drinking and heart disease. NYT Science News
How cool is Fred Thompson? Quick video on Michael Moore
Bottom-scraping fishing trawlers plow and destroy the ocean bottom.
To what extent is addiction-proneness genetic? Live Science Video
Is France ready for Sarkozy? LLosa at TCS thinks not:
Whole thing here.
Tuesday, May 15. 2007
A disturbing brief video memory of Communism. Thompson. Thank God police-state-enforced socialism is in the past...or is it?
Fear not - the bold, brave, cantankerous, gnarly farm hands of Maggie's Farm are manning the barricades against those who want to "do us good" whether we want it or not. Do not do good to me. I am a moderately intelligent adult who is capable of making decisions and choices, for better or worse. My ancestors came here so people would leave them alone. Leave me alone, because I have the Yankee American attitude: I do not trust experts, and I am willing to live with my own mistakes without asking anything from anyone. Self-reliance, no matter how tough it can be at times. Reliance on God is good, but reliance on government is for the birds.
Our friend and Aliyah Diary author has been truant for quite a while. Too busy writing books and patrolling Jerusalem by bicycle, armed - but he sent this in yesterday:
For the 40th anniversary celebration, a few moments from the ceremonies at the Kenneset building in front of Chagal's mosaic.
Editor's Note: One of these days, we will post an excerpt from one of Nathan's books (linked above), which mainly consists of in-depth interviews with Israeli citizen-soldiers from elite combat units.