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
Wednesday, March 23. 2011
In 2000, Elizabeth Taylor was recognized by Queen Elizabeth as a “Dame”, the equivalent of knighthood. Like a good Dame, she lived her life fully, with gusto and passions. Today, at 79, her heart gave out. Before then, it stood firmly with Israel.
In 1959, Elizabeth Taylor converted to Judaism. Some said at the time it was because of her marriage to famous Jewish entertainer Eddie Fisher. Elizabeth Taylor denied that, saying she had been long attracted to Judaism. During and following her marriage to Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor was unwavering in her support for Israel.
The Zionist Organization of America issued this eulogy:
Continue reading "That’s why the lady was a Dame"
Dog's name is Sugar. Has a camera on his back. Impressive how well he marks the downed birds. (h/t, SDA):
Tierney: Do You Have Free Will? Yes, It’s the Only Choice. A quote:
A friend who recently moved to New England from Texas asked me for a few good long-weekend getaway spots (to get away from their kids for romance, with good food and good hiking, regardless of season). It's important to couples to get away from it all - daily life routine, internet, rug rats, dogs, - to refresh the relationship.
I don't really like to stay in an inn without a fireplace in the room, but off the top of my head, I offered these (with a range of luxuriousness), although I am sure readers have their own lists of favorites:
Block Island and Newport have cool places too. The 1661 Inn, for example.
Got any favorite spots to share with our readers? Put 'em in the comments.
Photo is Mohonk. The crazy old place is still going strong, and now even serves alcohol.
A nice Spring snow. My friend from Oklahoma calls this "Oklahoma snow."
Bullying: Yes, Violence Can be the Answer
Social Leveling: Socialism and Secularism
Walter Williams: Up from the projects
Ethanol is dirtier than gasoline
Tuesday, March 22. 2011
Bruckner subtitles his essay in City Journal: The Western cult of happiness is a mirthless enterprise. It's a short history of the idea of "happiness." One quote:
Readers know that, much as I value whatever joy and contentment come my way, I find "happiness" difficult to define and, furthermore, do not view it as a particularly meaningful or important goal of life as if is often defined. For example, if performing painful or sacrificial duties is what is satisfying to you, then how can you construct a universal definition of "happiness" when the word may mean "ease and comfort" to another person?
Sometimes I think morality is purely culturally-defined, and sometimes I think there is "natural law." Most of the time I simply try to adhere to God via the Ten Commandments and Christ's teachings (Mark 12:28):
If you are a Christian, those are the revealed word of God. If not, they are cultural. I know when I have done wrong because I feel guilt and shame. Sometimes I feel guilt and shame even when I haven't transgressed in any meaningful way. That's me, not God.
Jesse Prinz argues Morality is a Culturally Conditioned Response.
It's a fun topic for college students' late-night bull sessions with beer.
From Yural Levin, via Ace:
All over the developed world, nations are coming to terms with the fact that the social-democratic welfare state is turning out to be untenable. The reason is partly institutional: The administrative state is dismally inefficient and unresponsive, and therefore ill-suited to our age of endless choice and variety. The reason is also partly cultural and moral: The attempt to rescue the citizen from the burdens of responsibility has undermined the family, self-reliance, and self-government. But, in practice, it is above all fiscal: The welfare state has turned out to be unaffordable, dependent as it is upon dubious economics and the demographic model of a bygone era.
Noted Constitutional scholar on the US intervention in Libya
These guys were diabolical, if they did what is alleged. As Insty puts it:
Monday, March 21. 2011
Sipp found this little ad for Whistler-Blackcomb, and I'm sure our kids and the friends we skiied with there will recognize the spots. Best skiing I've ever had, with fresh powder daily.
After a couple of days, we tended toward the Blackcomb side, but maybe partly because they had closed the very top of Whistler for dynamiting for avalanches. Cool. We did have fun skiing off a cliff and landing in powder over our heads. Sheesh. That was good for some giggles (later), trying to find one's poles and hats, etc.
Sipp correctly identified the video as "tilt-shift." That's new term to me.
I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed. What a beauty of a bird feeder it was, I reflected as I filled it lovingly with seed. First came the chickadees and then within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food.
But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.
Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table. Everywhere!
Then some of the birds turned mean. They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.
Other birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.
After a while, I couldn't even sit on my own back porch anymore. So I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.
Soon, the back yard was like it used to be: quiet and serene.
Now let's see. Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen.
Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly, our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families; and you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor. Your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn't speak English.
Corn flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to 'press one' to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than 'Old Glory' are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.
Just my opinion, but maybe it's time for the government to take down the bird feeder.
Photo is from Best Nest, the official Maggie's Farm-endorsed source for bird houses and bird feeders
My Lenten discipline this year focuses on gratitude.
I am disappointed by my tendency to get exasperated whenever something goes wrong in life, while taking for granted the 99.9% of things that go OK. For example, car goes 125,000 miles and provides a good service. Needs a new transmission? "Sh-t. Dammit. What a pain." Unexpected problems are always cropping up.
It's as if I carry some implicit expectation, hidden in the back of my mind, that life is or should be smooth and go right all the time. A sort of infantile utopian assumption probably partly engendered by growing up safe and comfortable in America in the 20th Century. It's a flaw, and I plan on going to war against it with gratitude for everything that goes well. For example, the fact that my heart continues to beat steadily and miraculously while I accept - and expect - that it cannot do so indefinitely.
Given time, some things will always go wrong or not work out well. When I am forced to be honest with myself, many of the things that go wrong are at least partly my own damn fault anyway, due to laziness, stubborness, poor judgement, boneheaded or wrong impulses, lack of planning, character defects, stupidity, ignorance, etc.
It's the opposite of the Wild Turkey phenomenon. People tell me that Turkey hunting must be easy, because they see Turkeys all the time. I remind them of all the times they don't see Turkeys - and tell them that's what most Turkey hunting is like.
Photo is of your Editor, Bird Dog's, alter ego
Payne toon above from Reason.
Andrea Mitchell Explains Why NPR Should Be Funded With Your Money
Modernist cuisine, with germs and feces
NEWSWEEK gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. Citizenship Test--38 percent failed.
Obama as arms dealer
Who was more conservative, Bush or Reagan?
Apartheid is Alive and Well in Araby
WaPo: Obama’s odd war
BBC World Service to sign funding deal with US state department
El Baradai stoned and shoed: The truth in Egypt comes out. Rubin says:
Cuomo and 'the Rich' - A Democrat who isn't raising taxes.
With the opening of trout season fast approaching, I felt we ought to open the season with this re-post -
Dave Barry's piece begins:
Whole thing here.
Sunday, March 20. 2011
One of my staunchly Conservative brethren at church today (all are my brethren, regardless of their politics) was adamantly opposed to American intervention in a Libyan civil war, or uprising, or whatever the heck it is.
Naturally, we Americans are being labeled "Crusaders." Not an insulting label in my view (because I view the Crusades as an effort to push back against the Moslem invasion and occupation of the Holy Land which closed it off to pilgrims), but I think it's a roll of the dice, maybe too late, partly designed to prove Obama's - or Hillary's - masculine bona fides.
War is always interesting, horror that it is. I do not know whether this all makes sense or not. Latest update: Allied Forces Attack Libya. That article leaves me confused about goals and purposes, but I am not too smart and have never claimed to be.
Now back to yard and farm chores. Spring is coming, and I see the feisty Redwings at my bird-feeder. Lots to get done here to fend off entropy and nature's relentless rebellion against man's efforts to make things his way.
Squaw Valley got 76 inches of new powder snow in the past seven days and snow is expected to continue all week. 190 inch base; 570 cumulative inches for the season.
"Another 14-18" overnight is going to make for an amazing day on the mountain. The season snowfall total has already surpassed 500" [now 570"] guaranteeing spectacular spring conditions and powder for this week.
Weather experts are predicting more snow for a Miracle March and abundant coverage into May." Current report here.
Sugar Bowl to the immediate north has a 287" base.
What's the catch? Interstate 80 is closed from Applegate (on the Western slope) to the Nevada state line due to zero visibility, and most of the lifts are closed due to wind and snow!
Many have already read George Will's fine essay, Pencils and Politics. It's a brief intro to Econ 101. A quote:
Yes, it's the miracle (or poetry, or spontaneous order) of markets and the free flow of goods and services. Read the whole thing. Another quote:
When I think of trade and markets, I think of the paleolithic (500,000 years ago) trade in amber (for jewelry) and flint (for tools). Scandinavian amber being found in Italy. Or obsidian from Idaho being found in Indian sites on Long Island.
But when I think of pencils, I think of the Thoreau Pencil which, in the 1830s, was the finest pencil made in America. Thoreau supported himself during most of his life by working at that Pencil Factory. There is no reason to think that he enjoyed a minute of that work, but everybody has to make money.
We have to give Henry David Thoreau credit for this, though: He was a practical Civil Engineer and inventor and not just a dreamy transcendentalist with a love for nature and a way with words.
Jesus at WalMart:
1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Saturday, March 19. 2011
While I do not believe that a parent owes a kid a free college education, I think it can be a heck of a nice present for a kid who is eager for it, and can use it. Those without an avid hunger to learn things in a formal format need not apply.
Nothing is more costly, or more over-priced, than education today. At the same time, knowledge has never been more available and accessible - few people remember more about Plato from college than they can read as a refresher on Wiki. (I always believed in reading an encyclopedia entry on a topic before studying it, to get oriented.)
With some gracious grand-parental assistance, we have paid for private college 2 1/2 times thus far - one half to go. Prep-schools too, but that's another story. (Like the Obamas and Clintons and most Dems, we are not huge fans of government schools when it comes to our own kids. It's an investment - we expect them to take care of us in our old age when we are broke or broken-down - and will be happy to do the same for our parents if and when they want it or need it.)
Because most colleges and universities today have relatively few standards about what a college-educated person ought to know, I had to do it myself. Re-inventing the wheel, you might say, because Socrates and Aristotle might have made a comparable list.
Here are Bird Dog's Basic, Minimum Requirements for payment for his kids' "higher" educations, whether in school or outside of formal schooling (high school AP counts, as does a serious approach to a Teaching Company course):
I put "higher" in quotes because this doesn't sound very higher, does it? My requirements leave plenty of room for a major in Underwater Basket-weaving or Female Studies. (When I was in college, we did our studies of females mostly on weekends with beer, and usually flunked the quizzes.)
My kids have mostly kept to this. In my view, if you don't know this basic stuff, you are not fully schoolin'-eddicated and not fully and cushily prepared, as the cliche goes, "for a lifetime of self-education and informed citizenship." After all, this stuff is just foundational and all of it could be self-learned, but college makes it more likely to happen, and a good guide is always helpful.
When you think about it, a decent high school ought to be able to do most or all of it. After all, they take four years to do two full years' worth of hard work. Why else did they call it "high" school? (My theory is that they slow it all down to the pace of the stragglers and slackers.)
I also advise them that any random course with a great teacher who knows everything about everything is worth many courses with ordinary profs in subjects they think they are "interested in." How do you know whether you are "interested in" something until you dig into it? Everything is interesting, in my opinion.
Finally, I expect them to earn their spending money. Jobs during college. (My lad bussed tables at the B-school faculty dining room while being reporter, editor, then Editor in Chief of the newspaper and running a softball team. My middle pupette was a restaurant receptionist, then a part-time assistant at Merrill-Lynch - while playing Div. 1 Tennis and majoring in Econ and Math. I don't know how they did it all. I admire their energy and initiative. My little one would too, but there are no jobs in a tiny college out in the lovely woods and fields of central Ohio. She works hard in the summer, though.)
What do you require of your kids?
(Pic is an old one-room schoolhouse in Westport, CT. Those kids could learn more than our kids do, as witness Abe Lincoln, John Adams, Tom Jefferson, etc. Of course, exceptional individuals who were highly motivated.)
At American Thinker, The Totalitarian Minority. A quote:
Government unions gone berserker: "Governor Scott Walker wants to kill puppies."
Related: The Greatest Blog Post Ever Written?
That's crazy. We all know that God is a woman.
Blackfive: The UN actually acts on Libya- now what?
Obama Administration Compounds the Inherent Contradictions in Foreign Policy
Government Motors Guilty of Fraud on Chevy Volt
Sixty-four senators call on Obama to take up tax and entitlement reform