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.
Yer editor at work, editing the heck out of an overgrown 15-acre boulder-strewn meadow. Photo does not capture the height and density of the overgrowth, nor does it fully capture the Yankee red-neck elegance of the world-famous blog celeb Bird Dog.
We were happy to see that there were still struggling grasses underneath the growth, which will now have a chance to thrive again. I think we will need to mow again in September in an effort to thoroughly discourage the saplings and to give the grasses and wildflowers a good head start next Spring.
We carefully gave a wide berth to a huge Painted Turtle who decided to dig a hole and lay some eggs in the field while we were working. Got some photos. This is the meadow adjacent to the beaver marsh.
A paradox of faith is that only by giving away (our) judgments and notions can we attain anything like Godly wisdom. Only by saying, “I surrender my notions of what would make me happy, to wholly accept yours,” can we hope to find true happiness and that peace “which defies all understanding.” Jesus went through an awful lot to demonstrate the power (and value) of “thy will be done,” and yet, we still struggle with it; we still resist, and want our own way.
Anne LaMott likes to quote a priest-friend of hers: “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Or, taken another way, “you can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that the plan God has for the world is, by happy coincidence, precisely aligned with your positions.”
“Vote yourself a home!” has been our national motto for the last fifty years and today Americans are as addicted to the home mortgage deduction (and the even less justifiable deductions for second mortgages and home equity loans) as Greeks are to early retirement and government employment. Political popularity makes the policies harder to change — but no less damaging and destructive.
I am not a big fan of pasta dishes anymore (used to be, but have pretty much tired of them - especially with red sauce). Still, a favorite snack for me is pasta with garlic and oil - Pasta Aglio et Olio. Simplest thing in the world.
Tips: For this or any other spaghetti recipe, use thin spaghetti - never the full size. For this recipe, the amount of chopped garlic you use, and the extent to which you brown the garlic, is to your taste. I like tons of garlic and I like it brown. I do it with coarsely chopped Italian parsley, and plenty of it. Plenty of fresh ground pepper too. Lastly, make spaghetti the Italian way, by throwing the spaghetti into the hot saucepan and tossing with the sauce. That's the right way to coat the noodles and heat up the pasta at the same time.
A pal told me at a guys' night out barbecue dinner last night that his favorite pasta is Pasta alla Norma, the hamburger of Sicily. I've never had it.
Liberalism, as we have known it for decades, is on the defensive. With the welfare state unsustainable, it has nowhere to turn and its adherents are turning tail in every direction. They are mad and they are, in many cases, unmoored. Lifetime ideologies are beginning to crumble. Personality constructs are at risk.
Every murderous totalitarian government of the 20th century began with some insulated group of faux-intellectuals congratulating each other on how smart they are, and fantasizing about how, if they could just install a dictatorship-for-a-day, they could right all the wrongs in the world.
My only meaningful disagreement might be that I do not see Rush's bragging as genuine, but as radio shtick. Nobody who says "I speak with half my brain tied behind my back, just to keep it fair" is a serious braggart.
I think what drives Lefties nuts about Rush (besides his opinions) are his cheerfulness, infectious optimism, fair-handedness and kindness with callers, and his regular-American (as opposed to elite American) points of view.
The lack of angst and anger is simply not fashionable and is, indeed, repugnant to the elite Liberal mind.
This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gays or abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between two competing visions of the country’s future. In one, America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise—limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.
We are, I fear, living on inherited social capital. We have cultural patterns and folkways in our society that were created in a time when conscious moral struggle and individual moral responsibility were the subject of more serious introspection and education than they often are today. These patterns are eroding and the folkways are losing their power and, unfortunately, so far we seem to be falling short in our efforts to find new ways of building spiritual commitment and a striving for moral excellence in the rising generation.
This almost never ends well; fortunately a surprisingly large number of young people today are worried about the moral and spiritual vacuum around them.
Tracy is believed to have smuggled 270 Somalis into the U.S. through Mexico. Let me say it again: An associate of al-Shabaab has snuck in nearly 300 Somalis from where they operate into the country. They remain here and we don’t know what they are up to.
Rules, limits and boundaries are critically important aspects of psychological life, necessary to a sense of safety and security. Even if we don't always appreciate this fact consciously, boundary violations are perceived unconsciously as wrongful, serious threats to our safety. Without an appreciation for the profound psychological significance of boundaries, we cannot begin to appreciate why it is inevitable that immigrants unlawfully streaming across the border into Arizona are perceived as a menace to safety by many Arizonans.
But not just "perceived," Dr. X. People are getting fed up with flagrant violation of the law. It is not the best way to begin a new life in a new place as an outlaw, and this sort of thing does not help the illegal cause.
Till Bruckner worked for NGOs in Georgia and Afghanistan before managing Transparency International's Georgia’s aid monitoring programme in 2008-2009. He writes in Aid Watch: Just Asking That Aid Benefit The Poor about Secret NGO Budgets.
Are you ashamed of your organization’s budgets? Do you think your supporters would be shocked if they could see exactly how you are spending their money? Do you feel the need to keep your finances hidden from your local partners and clients? If you answered all three questions with “yes,” you might be working for an international NGO.
Private donors in wealthy countries simply lack the information needed to hold aid and development NGOs to account for how their donations are used thousands of miles away. The only information available is that which is voluntarily provided by the NGOs, which are extremely reluctant to open their operations to scrutiny....
Institutional donors like USAID usually do have a presence on the ground in developing countries, but they rarely directly monitor NGO activities in the field. Instead, they usually, though not always, rely on information provided by their grantees. Interviews with dozens of donor and NGO representatives in Georgia, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan suggest that neither NGOs nor donor country offices have an incentive to document instances in which aid money is stolen, wasted, or unwisely spent. Projects are almost invariably portrayed as successful, irrespective of realities on the ground....
Aid organizations have responded to concerns about their lack of accountability through a variety of initiatives and mechanisms intended to create transparency within the aid community. Senior staff members at NGOs’ global headquarters readily sign up to noble-sounding initiatives and commit their organizations to meeting certain standards. But these measures lack teeth and often require organizations to act as a whistleblower against a partner agency. As a result, they are almost universally ignored in practice.
A respondent to Bruckner's top piece says he's afraid to alarm the natives:
Although open accounting can seem like a good practice, it is very tricky in poor countries. I have been running international projects for twenty years. The rent on my house is higher than the salary of many of my staff. My salary is nearly triple the highest local salary. Additionally, my top staff is paid well–many times more than what our beneficiaries receive. I think that telling our beneficiaries how much we earn would reinforce the gap between them and us. It would also complicate relations with our government partners (who earn less). I am always happy to share general information about costs (our program in the Haitian-Dominican borderlands is around $650,000/year), but see little upside to sharing details.
Today is the birthday of the Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883, ranked as one of the technological wonders of the world for its great span and innovative construction methods. Next to the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge was iconic of the United States’ reach for freedom and for advancement.
Since the bridge was completed in 1883, the idea of illegally selling it has become the ultimate example of the power of persuasion. A good salesman could sell it, a great swindler would sell it, and the perfect sucker would fall for the scam.
Today’s political con artists don’t have a bridge to stand on. They peddle the illusion that spending money one doesn’t have is the path to freedom and advancement instead of to digging holes in the water that will drown us and our children in debts that will enslave and regress us to the control of those who direct our labor and choices to feed their power.