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
Tuesday, May 31. 2011
One of the problems facing the United States is deteriorating infrastructure. Everything from highways, byways, airports and freight facilities are in need of some sort of repair, renovation or downright replacement.
Recently at the launch/commissioning ceremony for the USS William McClean (part of the Navy’s Prepositioning Program) Fred Harris President and CEO of General Dynamics NASSCO (NASSCO is a large shipbuilding complex outside of San Diego) spoke of the need for a National Marine Highway System . Mr. Harris made the case that vital part of the national transportation is being neglected – mainly the Maritime Coastal routes and facilities.
What Harris is talking about is using what used to be called “coasters” – basically small ships to handle freight movement along coastal routes. His point addresses a larger issue – that our maritime industry has fallen on some hard times. As a nation that relies on sea power to extend our military and diplomatic reach across the world, we have basically relegated our Merchant Marine to other nations to build ships and transport goods. Our Maritime tradition not only extended from the Merchant Marine through the Navy and Coast Guard, but at one time, the world’s second largest Navy was the United States Army!
The problems, of course, are simple – we just aren’t competitive in terms of labor costs and building/maintenance facilities. Our Merchant Marine is highly unionized with the attendant costs associated with union shops – including feather bedding. We’ve lost our ability to produce the tons and tons of high quality steel needed for a vibrant ship building industry. And the same infrastructure problems facing our highway and railway system also affect the Maritime routes that already exist. Our intracoastal waterways system is seeing less and less dredging needed to keep it open and traffic flowing. While the Gulf system seems to be fairly stable in terms of maintenance, the Atlantic system is in dire need of dredging and width repair in several places along it’s length. The last time I brought a boat down that route (a 53 foot Viking sport fisher) there where places in the Atlantic system where we were plowing through the sand and silt – not a good thing for raw water cooled engines. Tugs and barges are also restricted in certain parts of the Atlantic system.
There are other challenges facing a new, bigger and better maritime system. NIMBY is a huge factor in the placement of facilities to off load or on load goods and raw materials. The recent contretemps in Narragansett Bay over the LNG facility is a good example. “Honest” Dick Blumenthal when he was Attorney General of Connecticut killed the Long Island Sound LNG/oil platform facility with misinformation and downright lying about the facilities impact on both the LIS ecosystem and it’s financial impact. Last, but certainly not least, access to distribution points are almost not existent due to the sale of port facilities to real estate developers to build hotels, convention centers, sports stadiums and private marinas. Harbor real estate is expensive and the competition is fierce to obtain and develop it.
Mr. Harris has the right idea – a strong national maritime system able to move cargo, goods and materials using our long seacoasts and river systems should be a priority. I’m certain private investors would welcome the opportunity to be involved in building small ships, tugs, barges and facilities – as long as the government and the Maritime and Port labor unions can be kept at bay.
Just a calendar reminder for book lovers: the 51st Annual Pequot Library Book Sale, July 22-26.
Be there or be square. I'm going. I don't need no steenkin' Kindle.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:00 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
I caught freestyle canoe clap once. The lotion stings.
Classic newsreel: 1946 USA, 82nd Airborne Division victory parade
America is a cool place. Politics is pure insanity.
Commies are always all about materialism. They just want other peoples' stuff.
Mark Steyn: Cowed by udderly insane regulations
Barry vs. Bibi on the Middle East: The Dreamer Goes Down For The Count
and, Mead continues,
Nobody knows what we should eat. I believe we should eat whatever the heck we want to, and ignore the experts and the nannies. We're all gonna die. Just take some Lipitor and hope for the best.
We stumbled onto this joint last week while taking a flyer down local roads en route from Bevegna to Spoleto. Wonderful drive on narrow winding roads through olive orchards, vineyards, small farms with patches of wheat, fava bean, and lentil, and tiny antique villages. But, of course, in Italy, when you stop for a coffee, a "coffee" means a 1/2 inch of intense espresso at the bottom of a tiny cup. A delicious half-mouthful if you add a bit of sugar, but nothing to linger over or to put in your car's cup holder.
If you request a cafe Americano, they just add some hot water to it.
This roadside charmer, like most such places in Italy, offers Italian pastries, beer, wine, cocktails, breads, sandwiches made to order, rustic pizzas, etc., to go or to eat there on plastic chairs in the A/C. Yes, you can have a smoke inside. Everybody does. Often, the serving people fix up your order with a cigarette hanging out of their mouths like the good old days, and I do not think they care deeply about what the EU or anybody else thinks about that.
Dunkin Donuts does not offer beer or wine, and you cannot smoke in there. We stopped for some water (water with "gas" - always - that evil CO2) and a quick cafe.
Never order pizza in Italy - it's terrible stuff. It was the Neapolitan immigrants to America who made it into a tasty treat - and the Italians have little interest in learning about the gastronomic arts from Americans.
I would remind the Italians of these facts: Tomato, from the New World. Potato, from the New World. Squash, from the New World. Polenta, from the New World. Pasta, from China. Risotto, from China. What did they eat before all of that?
America has the best pizza in the world.
Monday, May 30. 2011
Watched this movie on my flight from Paris to the USA earlier today (or yesterday?). Not a great boxing movie, but it does capture elements of the Irish (or could just as easily be Italian) blue-collar world of New England.
The movie is set in Lowell, MA, a rough working-class town outside of Boston. My olde New England contains a disappearing old Yankee breed, a disappearing semi-old multi-ethnic farming contingent (especially Poles from the later 1800s), and, in urban and semi-urban areas, large Irish and Italian-origin populations which stick to many of their old ways. Increasing numbers of Mexicans are appearing, too - some in the illegal drug biz and the better ones are masons or in the army of unskilled laborers.
Bumped from 2009
The Memorial Day choice is not about whether to BBQ steak, chicken, hamburgers, or franks, although that's what it has become to most Americans. The Memorial Day choice is, rather, about choosing to remember and honor those who served in our military with fatal consequence in order to preserve our freedoms to choose.
Even if you haven't lost someone you knew, visiting a military cemetery will quickly acquaint you with many you would be proud to have known. Just knowing a few names, their service branch, and the year they died will set your mind to at least imagining their lost opportunities so that you can have some.
Just take a moment to raise the flag in their memory and to honor them. Take a moment to explain to your children that this day is to respect those who made their life more secure.
Then your BBQ will be more savory, flavored with love of freedom and gratitude for those who gave their all and everything.
Sunday, May 29. 2011
Mrs. BD and I have concluded that Umbria is a more varied and interesting place to visit than Tuscany. I have a well-travelled friend who agrees. Umbria is, except for the tourist magnets of Perugia and Assisi, off the beaten track. We have been around much of Italy in the past, and the Latin and Italian scholar lad has been literally everywhere there.We had not toured Umbria and the old Via Flaminia (which it is still called). Mrs. and I just returned home from our delightful adventure. As I get my thoughts and pics organized, I will go over some of it: History, food, geography, etc.
I do have some ideas about how to make it more interesting and educational than a totally dull photo slideshow for Maggie's. Will do my best with a multi-part series of my travel snapshot journal. Bear with me: I will try to make it interesting.
Too tired to begin that now, but here's one photo to maybe inspire some interest in my posts to come, from one of Norcia's (pronounced nor' - cha) famous pork, cheese, and Black Truffle shops. They love their aged Cinghiale meats and sausages in Umbria (Cinghiale is Wild Boar, not our American feral pig which is not too tasty). In much of Europe, wild game is sold in markets (which is illegal in the US).
The market shops always have samples of their own aged ricotta dura (a harder and delicious version of ricotta which is good for salads), their superb Pecorino from sheep milk, or of their sausages. I was tempted to smuggle a large wheel of Pecorino Dura, but decided not to test the mysterious customs laws on importation of foods.
They roll the aged ricotta in toasted wheat for a skin, as below:
A patient told me that she had seen something useful on Oprah a while back. Some therapist-type had suggested that, when something about somebody bugs the heck out of you, write a letter to them telling them about it.
But do not mail it. Cross out their name, address it to yourself, and read it as if directed to yourself.
The psychology of how and why we tend to be so annoyed by things in ourselves that we wish to disown, and thus react against in others, is too messy for here. It's enough to say that we all have many tricks that we use, usually unwittingly, to feel OK about ourselves instead of sinking into painful self-reproach. It does not always apply, but applies often enough to be a good rule of thumb.
Give it a try. It is not much fun, but could be educational.
Cheering the University’s Collapse links to New York Magazine:
I was surprised to stumble upon the fact that the common earthworm, the gardener's friend, is not native to the US and Canada: most worm species are "invasive" introductions from Europe, and have been spread across the country in plant material.
A few more interesting facts:
- The earthworm has been very destructive to several types of forest habitat by consuming deep forest litter (leaves). Ecologists consider them invasive pests in some habitats.
- Earthworms are killed by most pesticides. Fertilizer doesn't seem to bother them.
- Darwin calculated that earthworms can recycle and refresh the surface soil to the tune of 10 tons of soil per acre per year. Count me as a skeptic on that number, but they do churn the soil.
- Yes, some species of earthworm can regenerate lost body segments. No need for tears when you chop one with the shovel.
- Worms need food. For a wormy lawn or garden, it needs to be top-dressed or mulched with organic material. I do a generous top-dressing of peat moss or well-rotted cow manure once or twice twice a year, and after the heavy spring lawn growth, I leave the grass clippings where they fall. I like to mulch up the early autumn fallen leaves with the mowers, too.
A green lawn treated with pesticides, nurtured solely with inorganic fertilizers, and with automatic irrigation, is little more than a corpse with make-up.
Vanderleun at American Digest suggests we all "Buy American" after a run-in with a cheap Chinese mirror:
Vanderleun's a guy, so he's understandably unaware of the parable of age visiting a woman. Doorbell rings. Woman answers. "Hi, I'm age," the fellow at the doorstep says, then grabs both her breasts and yanks down on them as hard as he can. Unwisely, she turns around to run away, and, well...
A few links, just in case Bird Dog didn’t return in time. I heard he got arrested at Walgreens for developing the TRUE photos of what he’s been doing, or having done to him. Transgender? Does this mean Bird Dog is now Bird Bitch?
Did you know that Food Stamps buy lobster? I’m signing up; otherwise lobsters are expensive.
New leader in the Middle East = Saudi Arabia
I guess when Obama gets stood up, he has to make something else up, Whodathought: Obama Cites Poland as Model for Arab Shift
Shoes for Mama?: 10-year old boy wrestles alligator; drags it home
Politically Correct: 'Hatred Towards Conservative Women is Last Acceptable Misogyny in U.S.'
Weinergate: “Either way, the photo was hardly impressive.”
From today's Lectionary: "for indeed He is not far from each one of us," and "He does not live in our shrines."
17:23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands,
17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.
17:26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live,
17:27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him--though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
17:28 For 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.'
17:29 Since we are God's offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.
17:30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
17:31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Saturday, May 28. 2011
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:00 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
No man loves marshes and bogs more than I do. The variety of life they contain, protect, and support, from protozoans to minnowsto bass to amphibians to snakes to deer to woodpeckers to geese and ducks to eagles to bears is astonishing, and feels primeval.
Except for river-fed or run-off-fed marshes, though, most sizeable fresh-water marshes are ephemeral geographical features. In the northern US, most are the remnants of post-glacial ponds and lakes, gradually filled in with plant detritus and, just before they become the damp meadows that the Moose enjoy so much, the sphagnum bogs which, in Canada, are the source of most of our soil-enhancing peat moss.
The only sources of new marshes in the US are man (who is more inclined to fill them for building lots than to create them or rehabilitate them - except for Ducks Unlimited), and the Beaver:
And that is one reason we appreciate the remarkable beaver so much. He not only creates marshes, but he recycles them. I doubt that there is a single beaver marsh in the US which has not been used, on and off (until they have eaten or cut down everything they can find) over the several thousands of years since our last Ice Age buried Manhattan under a mile of ice.
Here are some of the critters I see (or hear) most often in the immediate vicinity of our small (8 acre) beaver marsh in western MA over the past few years - off the top of my head and probably omitting some:
Beavers (of course)
I like to keep track of our wildlife. It is one way of loving and embracing this world.
There are two sorts of people: those who love breakfast, and those for whom breakfast is nothing more than coffee and a cigar or, some days, a glass of OJ and five aspirins.
Breakfast is my favorite meal, but I rarely bother with it beyond a couple of cups of coffee. If I had breakfast every morning I would weigh 30 lbs. more than I do.
What are my favorite breakfasts?
- Home-made fresh cut-up fruit in a bowl - including Pineapple
I cannot pick a single favorite. Love 'em all.
Please post your favorite breakfasts in the comments.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 06:12 | Comments (18) | Trackbacks (0)
The word bites like a fish.
If you want to understand the “right of return” issue, read this to know its genesis. The early, narrow work by historian Benny Morris is often cited by pro-Palestinians, ignoring his fuller following work. In this piece, Morris shows how the pro-Palestinians also ignore the first half of the 1947-8 “civil war,” facts being inconvenient to their narrative.
And, the facts on the most humanitarian asymmetric war, according to UN
Addictions? Or excuses? As George Carlin said, mother’s milk leads to marijuana.
AmsterDAMN: Netherlands to close cannabis coffee shops to tourists
Ads: “We steal our stories from everywhere. Marketers, it turns out, are just really good at giving us stories we want to steal.”
RAPES: When Vaseline isn’t enough
And, for some variety: The Greeking of Germany
The above Rapes gang-bang just took a few minutes to gather. Perverted politics.
“Real leadership is rare,” says retiring Sec. Of Defense Robert Gates, who served under 8 Presidents, at the US Naval Academy graduation:
Friday, May 27. 2011
"It is thus necessary that the individual should come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole ... that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual. .... This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture .... we understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow man."
Adolph Hitler, 1933. There is no doubt that the Nazi movement was, at its core, a Socialist movement. The only thing about it that could be construed as at all "rightist" was its ardent nationalism.
My question is this: If the National Socialist Party had left the Jews alone, would the Nazis have been heroes of the Left, as Stalin was?
I am a regular reader of fellow Psychoanalyst and Psychiatrist 1 Boring Old Man. Most of his posts go straight to the heart of the turmoil and controversy which is going on in our field today.
That's why I hope he receives this message from me: Your fonts are too small to read, and the color contrast between your print and your background is too slight. Those of us without 25 year-old eyes need a magnifying glass to read your good and interesting posts.
If you are one of those folks who keep the house at 55 both summer and winter, you can ignore this post. Otherwise, you may be grateful for this reminder about the ideal serving temperatures for red wines - 55-62 degrees F.
That is cellaring temperature, not room temperature. In the summertime, you will enjoy your reds much more if they are chilled a bit, rather than drinking them at 85 degrees. Yuk.
Here's a site which discusses storage and serving temps for wines.
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