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
Saturday, December 31. 2011
The visually stunning, dreamlike new production at the Met last night knocked our socks off. The lacy ninjas running around and the traditional Japanese puppetry were, I felt, very cool. I don't get to opera too often these days - maybe twice or three times a year. It's always fun for me to realize that Butterfly was the pop, commercial music of 1904 despite being a sort of soul music with nary a hummable tune. Wagnerian touches, but lyrical and conversational, lush and still subtle. Butterfly was like avant-garde rock, or maybe the REM of the time.
'Twas my Christmas treat for some of my kids (Yes, K - you are one of mine now). One more Big Apple Treat tomorrow for the lucky bambinos before regular life resumes.
I suppose we are Puccini fans, but who isn't? Genius, with a musical complexity beyond my comprehension but fully within the ability to touch me. We visited his house in old Lucca, and his home church where he learned keyboard, two years ago but it feels like yesterday. Carpe diem...
I took a few snaps for you readers who miss NYC.
Intermission at the sold-out performance:
This is not the diva we saw last night. We had the charming Canadian Liping Zhang, not Patricia Racette. It's a tough role, on stage non-stop and singing for three hours. Willing suspension of disbelief - Racette does not look 15 years old but it is Butterfly's youth and innocence which explains the tragic story. Nowadays, it might be considered a story about pedophilia and a dirty old man, but 15 used to be considered marriageable and still is, most places on the planet. Maybe a good idea...
Mrs. BD comments "Can you imagine Leontyne Price playing Butterfly?" No, and yes. (She did.) I always study an opera in advance, and then listen more afterwards. Listened to this bit at least 10 times today, between cleaning-up-Christmas tasks - takes me a long time to get a piece of music because, much as I love it and as much as it can reach my soul, I am musically-retarded (it's a Learning Disability! Where's my free money and goodies for that Disability?)
Can you hear the "waves of grain" with the American naval officer horny rascal Pinkerton, here?:
A few pics below the fold - but not of the production itself. I would not violate their rule because I love what they do for those of us who save our pennies for such wonderful experiences, and pass them on to the next generation as precious gifts.
Continue reading "A splendid Madama Butterfly"
Another year is over of Bird Dog dragging you to a museum or a show in Manhattan. Now, for a quick tour of the San Diego area...where the betters live better.
Friends are visiting from New York for a few days. They’re staying in the downtown Gaslamp.
This used to be the area south of Market full of strip joints, seedy bars, and such. Over the past twenty years it has become a magnet of fine restaurants, dance clubs, fancy hotels, with the huge Convention Center along the bay, next to the excellent sightlines from every seat Petco ball park. San Diego's costs are a fraction of New York’s. My friend is an expert on the Near East. They had dinner Thursday night at an Afghani restaurant, which they both said was some of the best they’d had from that part of the world. The weather this week: 70F+ and sunny.
Yesterday, I took them to Old Town, several acres of authenticish early Spanish and Anglo San Diego...
(Lots more of a tour of lovely San Diego below the fold)
Continue reading "San Diego New Year"
What's become of England's aristocracy?
30 years later, revisiting Brideshead
Vanderleun on prayer
Yuletide Mead on the Trinity
Khan Academy Jumps To 4M Uniques Per Month
Like the Teaching Company and the MIT online courses, this is the new model for self-motivated learning
Brooks: Midlife Crisis Economics
Payroll tax cut raises worries about Social Security’s future funding
California is trying to unionize babysitters too
Lots of small businesses in those stats
The Case for Walmart - New York City politicians should drop their misguided war on the retail giant.
Surber: It’s bully government, not nanny
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:00 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, December 30. 2011
A friend emailed this to me, with the comment "How the heck did the South lose the Civil War?"
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Going Pogo - The life and times of Walt Kelly’s political possum. I never thought of Pogo Possum as being particularly political.
TDB makes some fine duck boats for big water as well as for small. This is their 21 Sea Class.
Ugly boats that only hunters could love. Their website here.
Here's some winter Sea Duck hunting in Maryland:
6 years ago, as we prepared to move to a new house, my wife and I decided to 'declutter'. Since then, we have been in permanent declutter mode, because having too much stuff around is a pain. Not only that, but as the saying goes "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Well, not so much trash, but if I'm not using it, it may was well be trash.
In order to get rid of household items, we utilized a variety of services. The most well known would be Craigslist and Ebay. After all, you can make a few bucks while in the process of getting rid of useful things you consider junk. However, my wife also stumbled on Freecycle.
We use it through Yahoo! Groups, but you can join on the web. It's free, it's easy to use, and you do nothing more than post what you're offering and what town you're in. The person then picks it up at your door.
When I was on my way to the airport one early morning, my cab driver told me she was recently divorced and havig a rough time. She had picked up several things from us on Freecycle saying "you people have been a godsend." Another person sent me an email telling me that the barely used Heelies (kids wheeled sneakers) were the hit of an otherwise difficult Christmas. For our part, we rarely take, but last spring somebody posted "As many perennials as you can dig," and we wound up spending an hour digging up plants which now fill a previously bland portion of our backyard.
If you haven't tried it, or aren't familiar, Freecycle (Yahoo! link) can help you clean up as 2012 begins, while helping out others at the same time. It's not for everybody, but I'm a devotee.
"Nothing is worth more than this day."
Is Freud obsolete?
Origins of the term security blanket
Harvard Prof Marc Hauser wrote a book about morality:
We've been reading a lot about scientist malfeasance lately
99-year-old divorces wife after he discovered 1940s affair
Middle Class Aided Its Own Decline:
Did people watch too many episodes of Dallas?
Because we're all bozos on this bus?
It's a big nothing, designed for news excitement.
VDH: The Old New Europe
Same old, same old. Secretly and decadently longing for a benevolent tyranny. A lost cause. The energetic Asians will eat their lunch.
The Law School Bubble: How Long Will It Last if Law Grads Can’t Pay Bills?
Might lower the price of basic legal services
Why? Beats me. I thought they snuck here for opportunity, not freebies. Everybody loves a freebie though, right? Even Conservatives...
The BBC As Warmists' Best Friend
Even the Warmists Don't Believe In Global Warming
Top 10 Worst Federal Rules of 2011
Scandal of NHS 'production line' as readmissions soar
Thursday, December 29. 2011
He's the Repub candidate, OK?
Nobody is perfect. Was Obama a perfect candidate? As far as rabid celeb enthusiasm goes, that's more appropriate for Hollywood than for governance. That's kid stuff.
I've been around the block enough times to learn that you will never have perfect political candidates, and that Messiahs are not for this world. Mostly, the best people avoid the toilet of politics. Obama's Messiah shtick was boob bait (but it worked as a trick).
Romneycare? Yes, wrong move - but Newt loved it. There will never be a Conservative Utopia just as there will never be a Socialist Utopia. Freedom and politics are messy, and depend on who can collect votes and cash. Obama will be flush with automatic union, blue state, and ethnic votes - and with automatic Wall St., union, and California cash.
People forget that, last go-round, Romney was considered too Conservative. Hence "moderate, maverick McCain." Go ahead if you want and beat me up about it, but the time for dating is over.
Dog donut, I cannot embed this important, relevant video.
(I am speaking only for myself, of course, and not for the Maggie's crew.)
Addendum: Why Ann Coulter supports Mitt (thanks, reader. I saw this but didn't link it.)
A California State University, Northridge, economics professor maintains a website devoted to promoting sex-tourism in Thailand. The loud denunciations on campus pressured him to take the off-campus website down. Meanwhile, a vile anti-Semitic website is maintained by a CalState, Northridge. math professor, using the university’s own server, and contrary to university regulations it is OKd as “free speech” by the university’s president, retiring this month.
The Manhattan Institute’s City Journal carries my “Cal State’s Chutzpah,” labeling it a “hypocritical university.” This is an update on my post December 6, “Looking Away From Hate At California State University.”
The Chancellor of the California State University system, Charles Reed, fails to weigh in on the side of decency or academic standards or rules, but appoints as interim president the CSUN Provost who signed the math professor’s November letter to the Chancellor that study abroad should not be allowed in Israel. The letter levies charges against Israel (debunked by the reply from Scholars for Peace in the Middle East) not applied to any other democratic nation. This is anti-Semitism, according to the European Union’s Working Definition of anti-Semitism.
At CalState’s sister public university system, University of California, Mark Yudof, president of the University of California system, also pussy-foots around confronting the rife anti-Semitism at U of C campuses. His evasions are discussed here at Maggie’s Farm and in a shorter version at New Criterion.
These are both taxpayer-supported public university systems. Neither wants to do the legal or decent thing in fear of the pro-Palestinian/leftist faculty members who wield predominant power on campuses. Such callow anti-Semitism would be condemned if at a private company, and the malefactors terminated. Continued exposure is necessary if our public universities are to meet standards applicable elsewhere throughout America.
My City Journal article is below the fold. But, please go to City Journal’s “CalState’s Chutzpah” to read it, to demonstrate that Maggie’s Farmers are smarter and more decent than California’s irresponsible and hypocritical public university administrators.
BTW: Keep your eye on the City Journal website for the Winter edition, out soon. Sure to be jam packed with erudite and informative goodies, as always. Needless to say, I'm grateful to its editors for seeing the importance of the scandalous behavior of California's top public college administrators, and honored to be included among City Journal's contributors.
Continue reading "Kesler in City Journal: Hypocritical CalState OKs Anti-Semitism"
From Dr. Milton Wolf, Obama's cousin, in In Obama he trusts - Why our president fails:
OK, but how many Americans trust themselves anymore? Judging from the video we posted earlier today, the youth seem to be trained to want Uncle Sam to be their parent for life.
As we approach the new year, a common theme of many sites is to review the previous year's events, while casting an eye to the future. Part of my job is to create business models for various lengths of time, so the idea of 'predicting' the future is something I have a level of comfort with. However, the art of prediction is art only. In making any kind of prediction, I've found it is useless to suggest that something will happen with a level of assuredness that exceeds even odds. In fact, my models typically have a High, Medium and Low outlook, with High having about the same likelihood as Low, and Medium being most likely. But Medium is couched as a 50/50 possibility.
Another problem with predicting things is that you can go overboard. Making absolutely outrageous predictions may garner headlines and attract attention, but unless you get extremely lucky, you only wind up looking foolish. I don't need to make myself look any more foolish than I already am. Unless I'm going to make a reasonable prediction, I'd prefer to not make any at all.
It's far too difficult to make assumptions about the behaviors of others, the outcomes of their actions, and the potential ripple effects to make a prediction that is completely assured. That is, unless you rig the system. I don't have the power to do this, so rather than discuss how I'll rig things to make sure I'm right, I'll just link to some predictions from others, make several of my own, and let Maggie's commenters have some fun thinking about how the new year will unfold.
Continue reading "2012 Predictions"
Listen and weep. These kids want rainbow pony:
"We get too soon old, and too late smart."
An old German saying
In Hamburg, the largest model railway in the world:
'I'm the only person in the world who didn't get an iPad': Hilariously ungrateful Christmas gift tweets
Something useful: THE LORD'S PRAYER IN CHEROKEE
Parents, have you read your child's textbook lately?
Top 25 OWS backers worth over 4 billion
Badly Written Bad Rules - New studies show the quality of federal regulation is plummeting.
Women owning guns, update
What Ben Nelson's surrender means for 2012
Egypt’s sinking economy belongs to the Islamists now
It seems like yesterday:
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 04:52 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, December 28. 2011
As a favor to one of the local guides, I took part of an over flow party out on Lake Murray recently for a quick fishing trip. One of the clients was commenting on how my digital sonar looked a lot different than his. A discussion began about sonar, how it works and why my depth finder/sonar looked different that his. Sonar seems to be misunderstood as a fish finding technique even among experienced sports fishing fans so it might be fun to clear a few things up.
Echo location is a fairly well understood technique – transmit a signal, it reflects back a certain amount of energy to a receiver (or receivers), a quick calculation is made (return time) and the results displayed. Bats, whales and dolphins, certain fish and as unusual as this may sound, a bird species called cave swiftlet all have a means of echo locating objects and prey.
Sonar (SOund Navigation And Ranging) uses the mechanical propagation of a sound signal to locate a target's position. There are two main sonar techniques – passive and active. A good example of passive sonar is a relatively simple technique used in the late 15th Century – a simple open at both ends tube stuck into the water with a listener on the dry end to detect approaching ships. Anybody who's ever spent some time underwater on a busy lake with lots of boaters can relate to “listening” to the props move the boats through the water – that buzzing sound you hear is a form of passive sonar. A sailboat would produce a “whooshing” sound as the hull creates the bow wave.
Continue reading "Fishing Tech: Do I Hear An Echo?"
"Being that stupid should hurt."
Slightly adapted from a recent observation by Neptunus. It can seem like a shame that ignorance is painless, but maybe it's all for the best...People used to say "No brain, no pain," but I like the way Imus says "That is so dumb it makes my hair hurt."
A former intern at my office is now working with this speaker and directed me to this presentation. It's a fascinating discussion of choice. Recently, there was a post on Maggie's about the Runaway Boxcar. How do we approach choice in a crises? Stress alters how we make choices, as well as how we view them. So, too, does culture. At times, the speaker in this video criticizes American views of, and approaches to, choice. It is unfortunate, because the entire presentation is wonderful. She points out Americans could benefit by incorporating more collaborative approaches to choice, as opposed to the highly individualistic view we tend to have. But she fails to mention other cultures lack the insight the American perspective has, and could benefit from more choice, rather than less. It is also worth noting that the American perspective allows for greater collaborative approaches to choice, whereas other cultures tend to look down on individualistic views.
Choice is difficult. Choices can, at times, be paralyzing. But it doesn't mean that more choice is always the answer or that the American narrative on choice is wrong. It just means the American narrative of choice is different, and that American history shows more choice may not be better, but yields better overall results.
And, honestly, I can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. They have very distinct and different tastes. Coke is better (to me).
Some readers felt that my last post about Maine was Maine-bashing. Not at all. I am simply curious about their politics.
This scenic and rugged rural (woodsy and rocky, post-glacial or should I say "pre-glacial") state, often proudly referred to as "The West Virginia of the Northeast," has more welfare recipients than taxpayers.
That is a problem, isn't it? I wondered whether it was an official policy. A legal vote-buying policy. It sounds like it is.
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