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
Friday, August 28. 2009
The women of the world owe a giant debt of gratitude to Hungarian physician Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss.
Mocked and ridiculed by the experts, he was correct that puerperal fever, which killed many mothers, was somehow spread by doctors and nurses who did not disinfect their hands.
The germ theory of infectious disease had yet to be explained in the 1840s, but he was a practical doc, not a theorist.
Part 1 was posted yesterday morning. This is from Dr. Bliss.
The Headmaster also had a policy that all administrators had to teach something - from the Admissions officer to the Provost and the Dean - and coach a sport too (however badly - nobody there cared if you were a lousy coach as long as we all got 2 hours of strenuous sport and fresh air). That was wise. Everybody was a teacher first. Every kid had to take 4 years of an ancient language and 4 years of a modern language, and you had to take math at least up to pre-calc. Plenty of kids flunked out. They would say to the parents "Sally does not seem to want or to be ready to take what we have to offer her here."
One of the teachers (or masters, as they were called), with or without their spouse as they wished, presided over every (assigned) table at all meals except breakfast, which was a free-for-all. You could not miss a meal. We students rotated the table service duty, and also the dish-washing duty (in what we called the Wombatorium).
We had required, monitored study hall (in old, panelled study halls) every night after dinner except Saturdays, from 7-10. Except for seniors. No talking and no non-textbooks. There was a prayer before breakfast and dinner, which was rotated through the students regardless of their religion.
Yes, everybody had to be in a sport, every semester. And every teacher was "Sir" or Ma'am." No complicated "dress code" - just a school uniform which made school shopping very inexpensive. The beds were hard and the rooms were cold in the winter. The only TV was in the snack shop, which opened after sports and closed before evening chapel.
Everybody rotated through School Duties: Dinner serving, Sunday Faculty Tea serving, scullery duty, lawn care duty, janitorial duty in the halls and common rooms (dusting, vacuuming), etc. No excuses.
There was brief chapel every evening (announcements, a prayer, a Bible reading, a homily, a hymn), and Sunday church, all presided over by the Headmaster with all faculty (and with all spouses and families on Sunday) in attendance. All the features of a low-Anglican service. The Jewish, Protestant (which I am), Hindu, and atheist kids never were converted (as far as I know), but they did learn to appreciate the virtue of a daily rhythm of contemplation and worship. Plus they learned a lot about Christianity. It is worth knowing about.
Darn good organist, who was also a Music teacher.
My parents sacrificed quite a bit for me to go there: new cars, trips, etc. I am true to my school. I still miss it, in a way.
From Prelutsky's The Case Against Mortarboarding:
Most people agree that the meaning of a college degree has degraded over the years, and is certainly no longer an indication of scholarship or advanced learning. With the commoditization of higher ed, colleges across the country have become glorified high schools. It cannot be otherwise, because most people aren't scholars. Just think about it: Does a college degree today guarantee that a person knows anything about anything?
Of course not, and employers know this.
I agree with Mr. Prelutsky that more people need training in trades, whether in apprenticeships of trade schools, whether in computer programming and software development, or in farming, carpentry and gunsmithing. A serious high school education ought to be a good start for anyone's life-long learning - if they want it.
If I had asked people what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse.
Founder and Board Member of HRW Blast HRW's Anti-Israel Bias
It truly is a shame that HRW, which does some very valuable work – particularly in
While on the subject, my local well-informed
Want to really understand what’s up in Af-Pak in the New Great Game? Must read, by Sol Sanders, one of the very few truly experienced and knowledgeable old-hands, who explains it to you.
On the other hand. I’ll leave criticism, much deserved, of Ted for others. And, let’s not forget that he did some things right.
A friend emails:
Do campaign contributions help win pension fund deals? Hey, it’s only our tax-$ and millions’ retirement. What’s the big deal? (with link in article to your state)
Porkulus failed! Who woulda known, at least if listening to the MSM. Ed Morrissey knows. We pay, and pay, and pay.
Insty steers us to the Take A Vet To Lunch program. Please, enlist.
A guest post at my friend Zenpundit’s blog, What’s this about the Mahdi and a call for Islamic mobilization?. The guest “specializes in forensic theology, with a deep interest in millennial, eschatological and apocalyptic religious sects of all stripes.” Good read, even with some of the big words.
Personally, I prefer jugs to cans. Er, what was the subject?
My ballsy, beautiful friend Pamela Geller has a link at her Atlas Shrugs blog to her article in the Washington Times. Pamela has been leading the defense of Rifqa Bary. If you don’t know about this situation, read about it. BTW, here’s Pamela:
Katyn: In 1962, one of my later mentors published the first definitive book proving that the Soviets committed the massacre of
Lawyers are about to smother the war on terror. The rule of law is essential to our thinking and mores. And, law is not the end but a means to moral ends. Is discomfiting a terrorist to be avoided, or avoiding the murder and mutilation of many other innocents? The latter is more moral.
Betsy brings us a valuable Reagan-Obama contrast.
Remember this? Reagan showing the country on TV what Congress, unintelligibly, produces in such abundance:
At the request of a reader, the entire translated The Law by Frederic Bastiat is available here, for free. I admit to not having read it since over 40-years ago, but do remember how impressed I was and influenced. Many believe it very applicable today, as in 1850 when written.
Oy vey of the day! Even higher taxes coming for Californians: Lower brackets and reduced deductions mean yet higher payments to
Get ready for gruesome pictures on cigarette packages. Research says it works.
This really is an important dilemma: Glimmers of hope for future pollination. No bees, no or few fruits and vegetables. How’s that hi-fiber cardboard gonna taste?
Kennedy's Death a TV Ratings Flop. I was watching the Miss Hooters competition. (Yeah, there was one on TV. Lucky channel surfing.)
Theo tells us that’s the end. Stay cool.
"A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker."
H. L. Mencken, quoted at Am Digest
Thursday, August 27. 2009
While Bird Dog and News Junkie are off on their vacations, I've been trying to help fill their role in news and fun tidbits of the day. It's hard work! They deserve a vacation. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for the "Bruce's Two-Bits" I've been doing, please comment. (Warning: Anyone who suggests I keep doing it after either returns will wake up to a horse's head in their bed.)
"I could be unravelin'
From 1985's under-appreciated album Empire Burlesque. Tune here (embedding is disabled).
Our Editor wanted me to post this draft of a reminiscence about my wonderful boarding school (which will go unnamed), so here 'tis:
My boarding school had a required 4th form - sophomore - course we called "Shit He Wants Us to Know," which we labelled "Shwuk." Real name of the course was something like: 4th Form Required Headmaster's Course. That's where I got my love for stats, and lots of other things.
Besides How to Lie with Statistics - and a week on Liebnitz (who amazed him), the course also involved reading about half of the Bible - with a focus on Samuel - he made it great fun - and Moby Dick, plus one Shakespeare play which changed every year - and whatever else our Headmaster thought any person educated in his school ought to know. The history of Baseball, the history and chemistry of plastic, wood, and cement, Aristotle's Poetics, and how sails and windmills supposedly work. It also included the math of the Parthenon's design (those guys knew the keys to perspective way before the Renaissance), and every tiny detail of The Last Supper - including a discussion of the meaning of cannibalism in religion up to the symbolism of the Mass.
His class was like a real Intro To School. He was a Brit, an Anglican priest with an apparently blissfully affectionate marriage to a beautiful, reserved, distinguished lady who occasionally did book reviews for the NYT and The New Republic, and who loved to shoot grouse in Scotland. They were both shooters. They had four Ivy League boys, who, as I recall, who did extremely well forging their paths in life - at least one of whom returned to the private school world after making bags of bucks on Wall St. Another went to Yale Theological Seminary after Harvard College. I forget the others.
About The Last Supper, I remember him saying something like this "Would you eat human flesh, if cooked properly? Would you? Humans used to do it every chance they got. The Maoris called it "Long Pig" in the south Pacific because it tastes like pork. So they say. They made a feast of it when they were able to spear an enemy tribe in the jungle. Well, many claim you do it every week, if you are a believer, in Communion. In some spiritual sense, I do consume this human flesh too, but from a hunger of the spirit, not the hunger of the flesh. How wonderful it is that we reach back to stone age times for our most powerful ideas to nurture us. Drink this, this is my blood, shed for you. That is powerful stuff, ladies." And then "Now, Miss Bliss, tell us why Leonardo has Christ pointing to a glass of wine, and the what and why of the emotional reactions of the people at this Passover dinner. It's not a great painting, nothing to be nervous about - just a too-famous picture by a hugely talented mind. Explain to us what Leonardo might have had in his mind - besides wanting to get paid - when he painted this scene on the wall of the refectory. Begin on the left side." He was good fun, and there was always a twinkle in his eye.
The only political science was Plato's Republic and Burke's Reflections. Oh, a bit of Locke too. We all had to shoot rifles and shotguns, and learn the basic physics of ballistics. We learned renal physiology, because he though the kidney was a miracle in its ability to make sea-born creatures like us capable of maintaining ocean levels of salts under our land-dwelling skins.
We took a bus to West Rock (same geological formation as the Hudson Palisades) to learn Triassic paleontology and geology. Nothing superficial, he made us dig into it - with real shovels. A serious Christian (he wanted us to know Jesus, but he did not try to convert anybody because he assumed many or most of us were religiously-rebellious teens anyway). He loved Darwin and his Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals - we had to read it along with modern research on the topic. And Orwell's Politics and the English Language.
Class met twice a week in small groups of around 15-20, around a circular table. It was the best and perhaps most demanding course I ever took in my entire education. The volume of reading would be incredible to kids today. The guy was interested in everything - Adam Smith, baseball pitches, kidneys, aviation, chlorophyll - and he treated it all as an adventure and infected most of us with his curiosity about everything. His attitude was "Let's figure this out" because he never claimed to be smart. Never "This is what it is." For him, everything was "What the heck is this?" - whether a butterfly, Hamlet, Freud, God, Newton, or ballistics.
Plus, through this course, the Headmaster got to know each one of us personally, and he was one shrewd dude to do that. No slacker escaped his gaze, and committed slackers were sent packing for good, because he did not believe in offering treaures to those who did not wish to partake in treasure-hunting. If your mind wandered, he would say "Miss Bliss, I Will Throw No Pearls Before Swine. You can day-dream later, or you can do it at home with your Mommy and Daddy if you want." Then he would make you stand and try to explain what he had been talking about. Tough. Love. Loved life and loved people. A lifetime role model.
I recall there was no hiding in his classes. He just said "Stand and deliver, Miss Bliss. You have one generous minute. Tell us everything you know about the Bernoulli Effect." There was no paper and no exam: all based on class performance. That's the great potential of private schools: you can demand performance. And he had a school to run, so could not be bothered with reading puerile or stolen papers. He wanted to know what you had to say for yourself, and he only gave one "A" per group. For that A, he'd write you a gracious college recommendation.)
You cannot be a powerfully inspiring teacher without being a natural learner who assumes his own stupidity. His unique course followed his inquisitive nose, and the model remains with all of us. He did not teach so much as share his enthusiasm and curiosity, but you had better have the answer about how kidney tubules handle sodium concentrations - with the math: he had a talent for integrating things, from the biochemical level to the math to the culinary - he gave us his favorite recipe for steak and kidney pie with his method for not making it smell like a urinal as part of his sessions on the kidney. According to his interests, he would alter the course a bit each year.
It was his personal introduction to the life of the mind, to a life of curiosity. Doing this course was his great joy in life, probably a greater joy to him than his little old farmhouse in Greece.
Did we make fun of his enthusiasm? Of course. Young people do stuff like that. It means nothing.
From Australia on "climate" taxes:
Ed Morrissey describes how Franken got in, and the lesson.
Sorry, I can’t bring myself to quote any of this tour, because it’s ALL so important and well-said. To choose any portion undeservedly downplays the rest. You owe it to yourself to read it all. I will, however, post the conclusion, with the name of the place redacted:
Is it just old history? No, says Elliott Abrams about Obama’s Human Rights Disaster.
Why? Abrams answers:
Nothing is free—certainly not French health care. Very instructive.
ObamaCare I could vote for:
Interesting Admission from HRW re:
As usual, Ignatius – and his Obama -- gets it wrong. The FBI is for criminal prosecutions, backward looking. The CIA is for intelligence acquisition, forward looking. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
When considering Cash For Clunkers rebate, hold out for this one (beats being taxed on the rebate):
Jules: Cash For Cons! Truth is stranger than fiction, and getting stranger all the time, where Obamanomics is involved.
Talking about being really screwed…
Hmmm?: Senator Byrd says to name ObamaCare after Senator Kennedy. Should future earmarks be named after Senator Byrd when he dies, calling them the “giving Americans the Byrd bills”?
To paraphrase, if he’s lost the Washington Post, he’s lost ObamaCare.
Howard Dean, former Democratic National Chairman, at a town hall meeting admits:
Funny, Dean doesn’t mention that tort attorneys are biggest and most loyal contributors to Democrats. -- Politics Daily reports:
Well, duh, it is a republic. Congressional representatives are called representatives for a reason. We pledge allegiance to the Republic for a reason, and not to the representative or The O.
Did you know this?: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, our sex consultant, was an Israeli sniper. -- Theo shows us another sniper who shoots your eyes out:
How did I miss this when I was in the Marine Corps? Oh, they kept them all at HQs.
ABC’s expert reviews Ted Kennedy’s ups-and-downs in the polls during his career.
It doesn’t stop there, as Gateway Pundit informs us:
And, today’s Biblical lesson:
Dinocrat: Do the (immigrant) hustle in ObamaCare
Doug asks: Who is the most detestable, menacing and pathetic politician in
Make your own nominations; many to choose from.
AMA and ObamaCare:
Andrew McCarthy provides a real education on legal hypocrisy
'Cruel and neglectful' care of one million NHS patients exposed: One million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across