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, April 28. 2008
Kimball shows how they do it.
Quoted from VDH:
The Socialist Green alarmists have co-opted - and are destroying - the American Conservation Movement with Pixie Dust, plus a comment on the Line of Scrimmage
I think so, and Climate Skeptic agrees:
As readers know, we are old-time Conservationists here. We believe in National Parks, State Parks, nature preserves, farmland protection, habitat protection, species protection, zoning, "open space", clean rivers and waters, unpolluted air, and we do not approve of the government subsidizing real estate developers and urban sprawl by building highways to nowhere.
The Audubon Society came into being to protect Egrets. The photo above of an American Egret in CT, with his breeding plumage (sent in by a reader last week), shows the reason. At the turn of the century, those breeding-season plumes were all the rage for decorating lady's hats. Thus our egrets - the American and the Snowy in particular - were hunted almost to extinction. That is called "unsustainable use."
The same applied to the market-gunning and netting of waterfowl - and the Passenger Pigeon. Of necessity, we now have hunting laws, hunting seasons, wildlife refuges, and protected species.
Thus we are not Libertarian when it comes to land-use and unsustainable and irreversible exploitation of wildlife or wildlife habitat. The Conservation Movement of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt had to become politicized, because laws were required in the presence of competing interests: witness, nowadays, the political conflicts in MA and in Europe around the efforts to enforce sustainable fish harvests.
We simply try to be rational about it all. For example, we have no problem with oil drilling in ANWAR or off the Florida coast (as the Cubans and Chinese are doing). We have no problem with responsible logging, which effectively mimics the effects of natural wildfire on forest succession. We love to hunt and fish, and do so responsibly and sportingly. We think the earth probably has more than enough people on it. We favor nuclear power for reasons of energy independence and because it's the closest thing to a free lunch after compound interest. We feel that biofuels are a lousy idea for many reasons.
At the risk of sounding corny, we believe in good stewardship of our inheritance.
What's irrational? The Green Movement is irrational. Most of it represents feel-good ideas that are hooey: symbolic hooey that is meant to make people feel virtuous while accomplishing nothing. Witness the lightbulb craze, "organic" vegetables, "recycling" plastic bottles (totally energy-inefficient), or hybrid cars (which do nothing "for the planet" but which are great on gas mileage). It's empty vanity and fashion, and nothing more (for an example, see this foolish agonizing piece by Michael Pollan, who has caught a bad case of the vain and guilt-ridden sanctimony of the "I can make a difference" disorder).
Pure organic pixie dust for the latte liberals.
The CO2 obsession is similarly irrational, and, deep down, everybody must know it. It is irrational because it is futile, regardless of whether there is any current warming, and regardless of whether there is any man-made warming. (We suspect that it is long-term cooling.) As Steyn said yesterday at NRO:
If anybody thinks the Chinese, the Russians, and, eventually, Africa, intends to stop building fossil fuel power plants, they are dreaming. If anybody thinks wind power will ever be more than a drop in the bucket - even if subsidized as it is - is dreaming. And those who want (more) "carbon taxes" just want another cover, another excuse, to take more of our money. They can have more "carbon tax" if they reduce my income tax to compensate.
Everybody wants more power, and as cheap as possible, because power is the wonderful stuff that makes our modern civilized, efficient and lazy lives possible. The rapidly-developing world understandably wants more of it. Somebody will need to pry my Stihl saw - and my computer - from my cold dead hands.
So, to meander back to my main topic, I agree with Coyote that the CO2 frenzy and the other trendy Green frenzies have "drained the oxygen" from a Conservation movement which has many other compelling areas in which it can be, and should be, effective. And, yes, I do believe that many of those Greenies are motivated by a Socialist agenda using "Gaia" as a front. I will believe their sincerity when they quit driving and flying. However, their socialist-totalitarian streak, plus their wackiness and scolding, have damaged rational conservation goals via guilt by association.
On the other hand, I do favor the use of local, state and federal powers (and especially some non-profits which do the same things free from political considerations) for the conservation goals which are important to me, which I believe to be rational, and which I like to believe contain no ideological agenda but which certainly contain a moral and practical agenda: we do not wish to hand down a planet covered with asphalt and oceans without Codfish.
Some things - maybe just a very few precious things - should be more important than freedom and free markets, but that's where the political debates begin, isn't it? That is the line of scrimmage.
On the "values" scale, we rank individual freedom at the top of the list, but, like everybody, we also have competing values, morals, and interests.
You know, people often ask me why I write for Maggie's Farm. That's a poser, as we say on the Farm.
Truth be told, the proprietor of this sorry place, Bird Dog, promised me hookers and blow if I joined the Maggie's team. So I attended the Christmas party expecting great things. It didn't work out exactly as I had planned.
At this point, it's just plain stubbornness keeping me around. On a farm, sometimes being stubborn is all you got.
From Manly. It begins:
Read the whole thing.
The surrender of free speech in the face of Jihad: Bawer at City Journal
And it looks as if Rev. Al has learned from them. Isn't this terrorism, of a sort? Rev. Al is another Rage Boy.
"Operatic" displays of guilt and grief on the Left. Thompson
Obama's character: Is it a distraction? Krauthammer
The deep swimmers of the Left: Why Bill Ayers is more dangerous now
Terming Obama "too extreme" is racist? The NYT says so, so it must be true.
Some atheists want their own churches and ministers. Quote from NY Magazine:
We posted a painting by James Buttersworth last week. This one, Welcome Home, is by his father, Thomas (1768-1842).
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:01 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, April 27. 2008
Bush at the Correspondent's Dinner last night:
"Hillary Clinton couldn't get in because of sniper fire, and Senator Obama's at church."
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:41 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Talked with an older gent this weekend who had been a Skipper of an LSM in the Pacific during the war. He correctly guessed that I could not describe an LSM. Landing ship, medium. Odd-looking craft.
We built over 500 of them. Designed for island-hopping, smaller and quicker than LSTs, carrying just 3-4 tanks and crews. He said he did a lot of ferrying, and they were too small potatoes for kamikazes or subs to bother with. He said they put plenty of 40 mm in the air, but thinks that they never hit anything.
For landing, they threw out a stern anchor, then headed for the beach. As the tanks off-loaded, you could maybe float off. When you loaded tanks on, you needed the stern anchor winch and hoped for the best. You were not supposed to get stuck.
Marines deploying in Afghanistan
Attitudes of disdain. VDH
Greenpeace founder wants nuke power. So do I.
Reverse racism in the Dem primaries. Jules
Rev. Wright, in context (if you want to hear more)
Duck hunting on Long island: Dec 26, 1920
A good rant about the govt and oil prices. Wizbang
Not a warrior, and other thoughts about war. Comfortably dumb.
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’
Saturday, April 26. 2008
After a long hiatus, they're back. Here are a couple of brick bungalows, of a style very common in the streetcar neighborhoods of Nashville, built for middle-class families in the 1920s (these two are both from the Edgehill neighborhood, close to Vanderbilt). They don't try to be flashy, but are solid, well-proportioned homes that are now far more popular among buyers than their much more recently-built ranch style counterparts in the same neighborhood.
Quoted from our old friend Marvin:
Politics sucks, but Socialism doesn't quite make it in the Land of Opportunity. Almost, I am sorry to say, but not quite. You can go to other countries if that is what you want. Sweden or England. Not China. Vive la difference. Except for the slackers who want freebies, people who come here to the USA want the opportunity, not the hand-outs. If America doesn't stand for individual freedom and the opportunity to pursue your own goals and values and to stand on your own two legs, it stands for nothing at all. It works pretty well, too, if you are willing to take your lumps along with your chances.
American ideals, perhaps, are not for everybody, and yet we take darn good care of those who stumble, run into bad luck, or cannot handle it. Charity, via government and via private charities. We are generous as heck here, thanks to our Christian values. Love to help folks, but do not enjoy doing so at gunpoint. That doesn't count as virtue - and taking care of our own families comes first. As it should, for adult humans.
Figuring out your own path through life is the blessing of freedom.
Posted by Gwynnie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Darwin's garden, at the NY Botanical Garden
How McCain is dodging McCain-Feingold
Oxblog's David Adesnik's life is too interesting for him to find computer time
Beyond Discrimination: African American Inequality in the 21st Century
TNR: Cheer up, Democrats
The biofuel backlash
England removed from the European map. My brave ancestors, castrated and played for suckers. Very sad to watch cultural suicide unfolding before ones' eyes.
Repubs are racist? Not the ones I know. Let's start with Lincoln, and work forward towards Eisenhower. We will vote for a Conservative guy or gal - brown, black, yellow, Jewish, or Mormon - in a New York minute.
A quote from Norm:
The words, with Peter Spier's illos, here.
(Thanks, reader. A great old tune, and Spier is the best.)
Lesson 3: System Backup
It's an amazing thing, really.
Consider what a phenomenally different reaction I have when my system melts down than you do.
You're innocently typing away on a blogsite, or reading some article, or working on a personal project. Suddenly, the computer locks up, or just reboots on its own. Or maybe all you did was turn it on for the day. And all you get is a...
Your computer has melted down. All it takes is one little video driver file to become corrupt and poof! It's off to the shop for a week and — $250 later — it's working again.
And our wildly different reactions when our computers crash?
You: Oh, no! My computer's broken! The last time this happened it was gone for a week and cost me $250! I'm too busy right now! This is a nightmare! What am I going to do?? Gawd, I hate computers!!!!!
Me: Dang! Now I have to clean the bathroom!
Pretty amazing, eh?
If you, yourself, would prefer cleaning the bathroom for 10 minutes while your computer is being restored, rather than having it spend an expensive week in the shop, then please...
Continue reading "Dr. Mercury's Computer Corner: Lesson 3 - System Backup"
Friday, April 25. 2008
"It may be perpetual motion, but it will take forever to test it."
A site for perpetual motion machines and other things that don't work. (Toon from the site). h/t Neatorama
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:20 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
We enjoy seeing our local Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds buzzing around, and we plant things that they like.
Wayside lists 56 varieties for them. Butterflies tend to like similar plants.
Gardens without hummingbirds and butterflies feel sterile.
Photo: An Agastache (Hyssop).
Video of an amazing and hair-raising walk. Not my cup of tea.
I read the Los Angeles Times article we linked about how the Bush administration failed to protect New Orleans, and it just didn’t smell right. We looked into the departmental files and found a clipping from a blog called MemeFirst, and it reminded us of the Save Our Wetlands lawsuit where a wise Federal Judge stopped the Corps from building proper dikes.
Some of you will recall that in the comments section of this post last week, I mentioned that flood planning and abatement measures take decades to build, and I wrote that I wouldn't be surprised to find out that relevant planning decisions went back to the Carter or Reagan administrations. Actually, it was the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson that set in motion the modern flood protection system for New Orleans - or at least the flood protection system that New Orleans was intended to have. After Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Congress approved and Johnson signed a law to build the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Barrier Project to protect New Orleans from future catastrophic hurricanes.
The centerpiece walls and gate systems mandated by the bill, however, were never built. Why?
A lawsuit begun in the mid-70s by environmentalists stalled development well into the 80s. After nearly a decade of litigation that prevented implementation of the plan, the Army Corps of Engineers finally threw in the towel and shifted to a compromise plan that had less of an "environmental impact." Some protection, after all, was better than none. Bottom line, the federal government had a plan to protect New Orleans from hurricanes like Katrina, but was unable to implement it due to interference from local environmentalists and the local judiciary.
The environmental group that brought the lawsuit - the now-ironically named "Save our Wetlands" - hasn't yet taken down the web page boasting of shutting down the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Barrier Project. In the document, the group claims that because its attorney broke down and wept in front of Judge Schwartz, he issued an injunction that shut down hurricane barrier construction. Here's the text:
...And also the reason New Orleans does not exist today.
Getting-what-they-want-by-crying has been the modus operandi of the environmental movement in the U.S. for decades, figuratively speaking. In this case, environmentalist do-gooder busybodies actually cried to get what they wanted. On a lark I used Google Earth to investigate the fate of the home of the presiding judge - Charles Schwartz, Jr. - which backs up on the Metairie Country Club. It's still standing, but he'd better find himself a pair of waders, especially if he plans on playing the back nine anytime soon. Who's crying now?
The left-wing think tank, Center for Progressive Reform, takes the position that the injunction was simply a minor annoyance that would shortly have gone away, but also reveals that the left, the enviro-loonies (and the local Democrat machine) had mounted fierce opposition to the Corps.
Let us look at the sentence that starts with “It is beyond dispute that”. Has the dear reader previously noticed how the left loves that phrase? The actual translation is, “I don’t want to talk about it!” That in turn relates to the fact that the speaker actually lacks the facts, the logic, or both to dispute it. The writer would have us believe that if the Corps had merely written a more extensive (expensive) environmental impact statement, the litigants would have happily dropped their complaint. Anyone with even the most passing familiarity with environmental strike suits knows that complaining about the EIS is merely the opening gambit for litigation designed either to stop a project altogether or to make it too expensive for the proponents to proceed.
The Corps chose to drop its fight and comply with the community’s expressed wishes, for which they are entirely unwilling to accept the consequences. In fact the city sued the Corps for $77 BILLION in damages for its actions, but in an article February 1 entitled “In Court Ruling on Floods, More Pain for New Orleans”, the Times sniffs, “There is disappointment but little surprise in New Orleans after a federal judge grudgingly absolved the Army Corps of Engineers of liability in the flooding of the city after Hurricane Katrina.”
The leftyloonies at the Times (and the federal judge) appear to actually believe that the Corps of Engineers should be held liable for damages to New Orleans for conceding that it had lost a lawsuit