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.
You can learn a lot about 19th C. Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in Flashman on the March (he survives a tumble down the falls - and then a tumble with an obese Queen). The subject comes up today because, after church yesterday, friends were discussing their upcoming mission trip to Ethiopia and I regret that I cannot join their group.
On the other hand, maybe Ethiopia ought to be sending some missions to the USA and Europe. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (previously the Coptic Orthodox Church) has been around since about 300, and has taken its own path. Note the outfits of the Deacons.
- political, economic, and religious liberty - full citizenship for women - separation of church and state - freedom of inquiry - embrace of the free market as an engine of wealth Etc.
On their side we have:
- absolute submission to the will of Allah - religious intolerance - servitude of women - barbaric ritual punishments for crime - recourse to suicide bombers as an instruments of policy Etc.
Pace Mr. Buruma, I think that part of what makes “our culture” ours are the customs, values, and practices that have defined it. Some of those values are “Enlightenment values,” some long predate and even conflict with Enlightenment values. But we subscribe to it not because of any abstract inventory of merit but, on the contrary, because it is ours.
You bought a house two years ago, no money down, with a one-year teaser interest-only rate. You knew what you were doing: you gambled that in a year you might be able to make the second year's payments and, if not, the house would have more equity in it. That equity would belong to you.
Can you really blame the mortgage broker?
Or, maybe, you bought a second house or two to rent out, as an investment a speculation, with that same deal, planning to flip it when the time seemed right.
You had no skin in the game, except for your hope for wild profit - it was all the bank's money. You had nothing to lose.
Now the house is worth less than your buying price, and you can't keep up with this year's payment because you didn't get the promotion you hoped for. Logical (if dishonorable) person that you are, you consider dumping your committment and going back to renting again - or hoping that the taxpayer will somehow rescue your reckless real estate investment gamble.
Well, not to worry. The Dems want to bail you out. McCain thinks it's nuts, and so do I. Am I a heartless Scrooge? In truth, buying a home mortgage is no different from an LBO, or buying options on margin. Didn't these people ever play Monopoly?
Newspapers and pandering politicians call these unlucky gamblers "homeowners," but they aren't. They own nothing but debt and a contract.
As prices drop, houses are becoming more affordable to credible buyers instead of crazy gamblers. And, in ten years, there will be another housing bubble. You can bank on it.
If your house is an investment, and not a home, sell it then.
Editor's note: There are comparable moral hazards with rescuing the banks. See Fed eyes Nordic-style bank nationalization. I am not convinced that we are at that point. Power-people see every problem as an opportunity for a power and/or money grab. Just label it a "crisis."
Whatever you want to say about the sharpies on Wall Street, they are pikers compared to Max's and Chuck's friends down on the farm when it comes to picking the pockets of taxpayers and consumers, or concocting a system in which the farmers get all the gains while the government assumes most of the risk.
So I commend you on your "Earth Hour" effort. Persuading people across the globe to turn off lights for one hour supplies the perfect symbol for modern environmentalism: a collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages.
Yu Tang with Kreisler's soulful Praeludium and Allegro (h/t, Classical Virtuoso). It's a wonder to me how youthful musicians can put so much heart into music. Perhaps the young have hearts too. I can't remember.
I guess we would welcome fame and fortune, as long as we could maintain our anonymity. What we would prefer would be to deserve it. But, as Bird Dog often says, we are an "elite boutique blog for the cognoscenti - not mass market." I know he puts it in those transparently flattering terms to feed our vanity and to keep us working without pay, but I know we have some modest impact and some utility for those who have found us.
Anyway, Glenn Reynolds is quoted in the piece:
Fit blogging into the holes in your schedule. “Deal with the rest of your life first,” advises Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee who posts constantly throughout the day on his site, Instapundit.com. The volume and regularity has helped make his political opinion site one of the most popular on the Internet. “The blog is best handled by inserting it into the small bits of free time that rest among the bigger chunks of your work.” Mr. Reynolds slips in posts between classes, as a break from writing law review articles and during slow time at home.
We do that too, Glenn. But what is "slow time at home"? Oh, I get it: the wife has a blog too (our blog-friend Dr. Helen).
...almost everyone thinks he fully recognizes how important incentives and disincentives are in changing cognition and behavior. But this is not often so. For instance, I think I've been in the top five percent of my age cohort almost all my adult life in understanding the power of incentives, and yet I've always underestimated that power. Never a year passes but I get some surprise that pushes a little further my appreciation of incentive superpower.
...We [should] heed the general lesson implicit in the injunction of Ben Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanack: "If you would persuade, appeal to interest and not to reason." This maxim is a wise guide to a great and simple precaution in life: Never, ever, think about something else when you should be thinking about the power of incentives...
This medical post came in over the transom - a cautionary tale about certain handguns:
A St. Louis Missouri guy had a bad accident with his S&W 460XVR Magnum. He was shooting with a two handed hold and got his left thumb up near the lower front of the cylinder. The normal (powerful) gasses blowing out at the barrel/cylinder gap ripped the top of his left thumb off. I've added some of his posts & some pics.
460XVR blew my thumb off today! No joke, about 1/2 of my left thumb is gone what's left is a friggin mess. It's pretty hard to type, and I'm only posting because you never know, it might save somebody else a thumb. I was using a 2-handed grip, fired off a Cor-Bon DPX .460 and the blast came violently out the side of the gun. This is an example of how he was holding his revolver. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
At first my thumb was so covered in blood that I couldn't see how bad it was ... and I was full of adrenaline and felt no pain. And honestly it looked really bad, my whole hand was covered in blood and it was kinda gushing.
The blown-off thumb was on my support hand. I'll re-create the grip tomorrow to see where my thumb was, but it's not like I didn't already know not to get any body part near the cylinder gap. And even if I totally screwed up and did, taking my thumb clean off seems a bit excessive?
Just be careful with those 460's. That case operates at such high pressure, it's just asking for trouble. BTW, I bought my 460 new and had exactly 12 rounds through it. Info about the gun, it's a full-size 460 with the 8 3/4' barrel and factory installed compensator.. It's one of the Whitetails Unlimited models. Ammo was 200gr Cor-Bon DPX.
The gun only had 12 or 13 rounds of the Cor-Bon through it, and 10 45 Long Colt rounds through it. So it was essentially still brand new.
Saw a hand specialist while there today. Lots of ways to try and save what's left, but first I just have to hope it doesn't get infected in the next few days then surgery early next week.
The hand specialist I spent a few hours with last night said that in gunshot wounds there is always a lot more damage than is first visible ... same with things like fireworks going off in your hand. A lot more flesh around the wound is dead, and will rot and fall off over the next couple days. That's why it's so important to keep clean, and that's also why they can't do surgery now. If they wrapped new skin over dead skin it would just flake out, possibly turn gangrenous, and they'd have to start all over again.
If you aren't squeamish, what's left of the guy's thumb is on continuation page:
I guess I am a bit of a Gilbert Munger (1830-1904) fan, although I cannot say that he had an entirely coherent body of work - but who does?
Others of the Hudson River School achieved much more prominence, and one of Munger's claims to fame was spending a day sketching with Bierstadt, the master of the School. But Connecticut-born Munger did get around a bit, from Yosemite to Venice, his work evolved, and did not have the over-dramatic Victorian quality that Bierstat is sometimes accused of.
But man, would I like to have a Munger over my office fireplace. The image is is Cazenovia Cornfield, but look at his pictures on the link - good stuff.
This is his Lake Marian, Humboldt Range, Nevada, 1871:
Borat is gone. Now it's Bruno, in Kansas. (h/t, Althouse). Cohen has fun with life, doesn't he?
How to turn a bread basket into a basket case in ten easy steps. It's not Malthusian - it's another socialist train wreck.
How to retire cash-rich. Dr. Helen. I don't want to retire cash rich: I'd rather be cash-rich now. Plus I have no intention of ever retiring. Retirement seems like a foolish goal to me, but sometimes it is forced upon one. If one has Yankee values, one turns leisure into effort anyway.
Cell-phonesdangerous? I don't believe it. I rarely use mine, though.
"Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?"
It says 1997, not 1998, on these fine cigars our friend Nathan sent me. Many interesting tart, sweet, funky, sexual, and multi-layered aged flavors in them. I like the 43 ring size, but my humidor is a bit too high on the humidity right now - I think. Stepped on the meter like a complete klutz and broke it a while ago, and I think it is like the Everglades in there right now, judging from the draw.
I did spill some water in there, too - don't ask.
I think I will leave the thing open for a few hours to dry out a bit, and order another crappy $5 hygromificateristicalmeter. Got some fine tobaccy in there: I want it in perfect condition when Nathan visits from Jerusalem next month.
Larry Kudlow said today, on the radio, that the Obamas have no retirement plans or savings. They have no investments either, other than real estate, despite making well over a million a year for a while and making de minimus charitable contributions. What's up with that?
CEO of S&P 500 company—$8.5-million NBA player—$4-million College football coach (NCAA Division I)—$1-million Neurosurgeon—$530,000 President of public research university—$397,000 U.S. Senator—$162,500 NASA astronaut (top pay grade)—$130,000 Reporter—$42,000
The neo-Malthusians in the environmental movement religion. I learned a new word today, in relation to that: "cornucopians." I guess I tend to be one of those - although I would guess that the human race would be better off achieving a sustained human population rather than continued growth. The checkout lines at Costco are too long as it is.
Opie tells me that this essay pretty much captures her view of the Iraq war:
Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat. The Nazis had sunk more than 400 British ships in their convoys between England and America taking food and war materials.
At that time the US was in an isolationist, pacifist mood, and most Americans wanted nothing to do with the European or the Asian war.
Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, who had not yet attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.
France was not an ally, as the Vichy government of France quickly aligned itself with its German occupiers. Germany was certainly not an ally, as Hitler was intent on setting up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, as it was well on its way to owning and controlling all of Asia.
Together, Japan and Germany had long-range plans of invading Canada and Mexico, as launching pads to get into the United States over our northern and southern borders, after they finished gaining control of Asia and Europe.
America’s only allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia. That was about it. All of Europe, from Norway to Italy (except Russia in the East) was already under the Nazi heel.
The US was certainly not prepared for war. The US had drastically downgraded most of its military forces after WW I because of the depression, so that at the outbreak of WW II, Army units were training with broomsticks, because they didn’t have guns, and cars with “tank” painted on the doors, because they didn’t have real tanks. A huge chunk of our Navy had just been sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor.
From The Art of Literature and the Science of Literature by Brian Boyd in The American Scholar (an excellent magazine, BTW). A quote:
For the last few decades, indeed, scholars have been reluctant to deal with literature as an art—with the imaginative accomplishment of a work or the imaginative feast of responding to it—as if to do so meant privileging elite capacities and pandering to indulgent inclinations. Many critics have sought to keep literary criticism well away from the literary and instead to arraign literature as largely a product of social oppression, complicit in it or at best offering a resistance already contained.
Literary academics have also been reluctant to deal with science, except to fantasize that they have engulfed and disarmed it by reducing it to “just another narrative,” or to dismiss it with a knowing sneer as presupposing a risibly naïve epistemological realism. They have not only denied the pleasure of art and the power of science, but like others in the humanities and social sciences, they have also denied that human nature exists, insisting against the evidence that culture and convention make us infinitely malleable.