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, June 30. 2008
As quoted at Evangelical Outpost from an interview with the superb Roger Scruton, titled The Market and Human Nature:
Hayek's concept of "spontaneous order" is what knocks me out.
The world is manifestly full of that kind of mysterious order, from the nature of the cosmos to human nature (aka "design" as opposed to chaos), and I'd love to post a lengthy riff on that enticing topic - but it's too late tonight and I avoid discussing transcendent issues here on Ye olde Blogge. So, instead, I'll post of photo from our men's Bible study group's prayer-and-cocktails-and-sunset dinner-and-cigar outing tonight, down on Long Island Sound. The very existence of our group is an example of "spontaneous order," one tiny example of the order in the universe which I believe to be a manifestation of God.
I wish I could post a photo of this cheery, self-disparaging, Christ-centered and humorous group, each one waving a fine ceegar with a glass of wine in his hand - but I wouldn't do that.
Nice boat. Thanks, bro, for taking us all out on the water tonight. The sea brings me close to Christ. It reminds me of how much of Scripture takes place on or near the water.
In the comments to Saturday's lesson on images, a couple of doods mentioned the free GIMP program. From what I can tell, GIMP stands for "Gastro-Intestinal Monetary Paralysis", or the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you see the $649 price tag for Photoshop.
Actually, it stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, with GNU being the open-source UNIX-like operating system developed back in the 80's. It and SourceForge have produced a number of excellent free programs over the years and, of the sixty-odd free video programs I have on my own site, probably half of them are GNU or SourceForge.
Bottom Line: While a little odd, GIMP is an excellent graphics program and does all the 'trick' things, like smudging and freehand selection, that big bad Photoshop does. Download it here. Click on 'Downloads' then grab just the program, don't bother with the 'Installer'. Don't panic when it takes forever to run the first time.
On the other hand, you'll probably have a heart attack the first time it opens, so perhaps you'd better take a sec and...
Continue reading "Doc's Computin' Tips: the GIMP graphics studio"
Part 3 of Sowell's The Imitators series begins like this:
In my post on The Centovalli Train, I asked "Where are all the people?" Many of these towns in Italy look neat, clean - but deserted, which adds to the stage-set feeling.
Maybe it's the time of day, but part of the answer is No babies in Euroland.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:20 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
And my allusion to Jacques Barzun, who as far as I know is still alive and retired in Texas, reminded me to reference his sweeping book, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500-Present. Via Amazon:
Both books well-worth reading, if you haven't.
Would either of these great Columbia profs, who knew almost everything about almost everything, be welcomed on any campuses today?
Many thanks to Dust My Broom, who came up with these videos. They are simple, clear, and true - and perfect for the beginning of 4th of July week.
In Iraq, "Where's the failure?"
Squash-style wrist techniques are catching on in pro tennis. Times Online
Posted by Opie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 07:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 29. 2008
These people were always finding water all over their pool deck and furniture every time they came home after being away for a few hours. They thought the neighborhood kids were waiting for them to leave, and using the pool. However, they could never catch them doing it. So, they set up their video cam and left. This is what they found out:
Luskin on Obama, with comments on the Social Security mess
Maternity Prom dresses? How enlightened and progressive.
Just give me a dang table gift. Capt. Capitalism
A deep thinker? Justice Kennedy's Song of Himself. Related: Liberals collectively pee in their pants. I just want one more guy or gal in there who reveres the Constitution more than their personal preferences.
The self-inflicted economic death of Ohio. WSJ. A sad story. I like Ohio.
A website about "Creative Capitalism." My view: "Creative Capitalism" is the opiate of the mega-wealthy. If I invest in a business, I want my full share of the profits. I will decide, myself, what to give away, and to whom.
The greatest student prank of all time. Tiger
Via Free Republic:
Another case for global cooling. Reference Frame
It's that good old Law of Unintended Consequences. More:
We re-post this essay by Gertrude Himmelfarb each year. One quote, on the thoughtful Columbia guy Lionel Trilling's thoughts about T.S. Eliot:
A "new man" was all the rage for those who wanted me to be just like they weren't - but who wanted people like me to become some subservient but heroic prole they fantasized about. They were just the new version of the same "old men" of history - self-anointed for "virtue" and "wisdom," and seeking power and perks on our backs and on our nickel while they spun their grand theories. I think they forgot that proles like me learned to read in the meantime.
Eliot, and Trilling, knew otherwise.
Photo: Lionel Trilling. As demanding a Prof as you could ever have.
The equally-great Jacques Barzun was out of that same mold: dignified, formal, remote, but willing to give you two chances to prove that you weren't a complete idiot and just an educated fool. No tolerance for fools, and these guys had a radar for glib assertions, shallow sentiment, and cant - and for out-of-context quotes. Academic boot camp is what these guys offered you.
I'll begin with the hopeful message of Jeremiah 29:11-14 (which is not from today's Lectionary), regarding the dispersal of the Jews and their 70 years of captivity in Babylon. God does not like false prophets. As Matthew Henry's Commentary on this part of Jeremiah says: "Let men beware how they call those prophets whom they choose after their own fancies, and how they consider their fancies and dreams to be revelations from God. False prophets flatter people in their sins, because they love to be flattered; and they speak smoothly to their prophets, that their prophets may speak smoothly to them."
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
Here's the reading from today's lectionary, with the context of Jeremiah 28:
In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, 2“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4I will also bring back to this place King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.” 5Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”
10Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, and broke it. 11And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: This is how I will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” At this, the prophet Jeremiah went his way. 12Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13Go, tell Hananiah, Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars only to forge iron bars in place of them! 14For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put an iron yoke on the neck of all these nations so that they may serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and they shall indeed serve him; I have even given him the wild animals. 15And the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you made this people trust in a lie. 16Therefore thus says the Lord: I am going to send you off the face of the earth. Within this year you will be dead, because you have spoken rebellion against the Lord.” 17In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.
Image: The Prophet Jeremiah (1311, Siena)
Saturday, June 28. 2008
Leaving tonight for a fishing trip (not for Catfish, however), so I will offer this good pile of items:
What it's like to be a bat.
The Englishman appreciates Scalia's historical sense. As do I.
Why humans left Africa 80,000 years ago
Why men are becoming reluctant to volunteer with kids.
Brits harassed for flying their flag
The Canadian Human Rights folks blinked. Driscoll is quite right: it was to save themselves.
What change does Obama offer us? JC Phillips
Americans overwhelmingly support conservative economic policies
Swedish nanny state wants to tell you who to invite to your birthday party. They should tell their nanny to go jump in the lake, or fjord, or whatever.
More on "I hate practicing medicine."
Via Bainbridge: Justice Breyer as culture warrior.
Re guns, Surber's Just ask me
What's really up with Arctic sea ice? (And do we care? Well, it is interesting.)
My view on oil markets. Coyote
Time for a Grand New Party?
Beijing is ready. Just don't breath the air.
I agree that this is stupid.
Liberals as enablers of totalitarianism
Taliban back to their old ways. Gateway
I went to Wiki today to check the history of the Fairness Doctrine
I also had to refresh my understanding of the Turing Test. The real question is whether people can think.
From a piece at Dino:
Re "settled science," McQ at Q&O wonders whether Al Gore has read this yet.
I never thought we would see something this good happen for the Everglades: Florida buys 180,000-acre US Sugar tract.
Krauthammer observes that, as the years grow between 9-11 and the present, old-fashioned "sophisticated" doubt returns to fashion and "people with "deeply-held views"" are viewed with suspicion, if not with fear:
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:48 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
I wish I had written this piece by John Hawkins, Why Liberals lie about what they believe.
It's really quite simple.
Stumbled into this Teddy Roosevelt web site recently. Teddy is a hero and a role model to many because of his overcoming illness as a youth, his adventures in the West, his wide range of interests, his voluminous writings on all subjects from hunting and natural history to policy (he published more books than any other President), his robust approach to life which allowed him to gallop his horse straight down the sand dunes of Oyster Bay and straight up San Juan Hill, and to hike through the chest-deep ice-covered Rock Creek in January as President, often with diplomats in tow. Not to mention his achievements as President, from negotiating the truce in the Russo-Japanese War, projecting American power world-wide, championing conservation, and championing economic justice for workers. The two Edmund Morris volumes tell it all, down to the details of Teddy's wacky tennis game and his remarkable skills as a rifleman, despite poor eyesight. This bird-watching family man with the high squeaky voice, a fine pedigree but chronic money problems, and a giant faith in America, was larger than life.
It's well-known that folks from the NY Metropolitan area rarely or never visit their own tourist attractions, but a visit to Roosevelt's relatively modest home, Sagamore Hill, in Oyster Bay on Long Island (not far from NYC) is a good outing. Little has changed there since his death, except, sadly, for the selling off of much of his farm, which originally extended down to the shores of Long Island Sound. Read the Sagamore Hill sites here and here before you go, because tickets sell out.
Photo of Teddy as NYC Police Commissioner around 1895.
Think about it for one second - don't you have a little itch somewhere on your skin right now? It's considered poor manners to scratch in public, but sometimes you just have to do it. I am not watching you.
Learn all the latest about The Itch.
The Bad News Banks
Amnesty International hits bottom
The EU goes to ground
Why guns are a feminist issue. Class. Values
It's just a question of who they're afraid of. Indeed.
More on the father of Canada's health care system, and his renunciation of it. It's a basic lesson in how reality works.
Why McCain isn't doomed.
Change we can be shocked at. Rick Moran
This is a perfect example of why boats are called "she."
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Lesson 12: Images
A real blogger works only in real-time. His thoughts come to him in a blaze of profound insight that his flying fingers desperately try to keep pace with. If a mixtake is made, so what! Your readers know what you're really trying to say.
Because that's where the honestly lies. That's how they know they can trust you. Because if you went back and corrected every little mixtake and tidied up sentences and made everything 'just so', you'd be no better than the next bought-and-paid-for journalist. Your very integrity rides on your willingness to show the world who you really are, simple mixtakes and all.
Today, that integrity was seriously tested when you realized what you had done mere seconds later, yet, because of the blogger's code, you were unable to touch a thing.
And the horrific results are just now starting to drift in.
How unfair, you think to yourself as the screen-grab from your site is spread throughout the blogsosphere and you become a laughingstock in the eyes of the world. Everybody does it with their vacation pictures! You remember watching slide shows as a kid of the family vacation and there was always one that slipped in! These things happen! It's just not fair!
No, it's not, my friend.
Oh, if only you'd thought to take that night school course in blogmastering. If only you'd thought to be a little more careful when adding pictures to the site. And if only you'd thought to...
Continue reading "Dr. Mercury's Computer Corner: Lesson 12 - Images"
Friday, June 27. 2008
John Hatcher's new book on the plague, reviewed in NY Sun. The glowing review begins:
Related: How Dark was It? A new history of medieval Europe.
I know nothing about Italian gun laws, but it seems timely to post this photo I took of a poster for Delta Firearms Academy last week on a street in Domodossola, while wandering around waiting for the train to Locarno.
Our friends in DC should maybe give Inizio a call.
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