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, January 27. 2012
That's the good olde Beachcomber at Cahoon's Hollow, Wellfleet, last summer. Sippican told me he used to play bass there. It's an entirely pleasant joint with pretty good seafood and generous bartenders.
Building is an old rescue station, right on the ocean beach.
Thursday, January 26. 2012
When we were kids, we played Army Man. In the evenings, we watched Vic Morrow keep his head in Combat, and Christopher George go dunebuggying in Rat Patrol. Entertainment like that was everywhere, and every retaining wall in every driveway had imaginary Guns of Navarone atop it the day after we saw the movie. We'd gather up all our military-ish toy swag, pick sides, and wander the neighborhood sneaking up on each other and arguing over who shot whom. Nothing we had shot any sort of projectile, so there was nothing to do but argue; but we all wanted to die and fall to the ground in histrionic ways and writhe around a bit, so the arguments were mostly about who was "throwing" the war too easily to suit the other side. There was a dirty little secret of all such suburban war games of the sixties. We all wanted to be the Germans.
The Knishman nails the zeitgeist here: Food Fights and Class Warfare.
He is right that weight is a class and/or cultural thing to some degree. There is a sort of logic to it in an era of plentiful or unlimited cheap carbohydrates in the Western world. Being heavy no longer displays prosperity, while being trim and fit shows that you have the ability to delay gratification for more important goals, such as being more vigorous and sexy, and less of a couch potato.
However, unlike Lefties, I don't care what other people chose to be or what they eat. From Knish,
As lefty pols go, in the last photo I saw, Al Gore looked like a fattie, living off the fat of the land. Last photo I saw, Obama looked semi-anorectic for a middle-aged man-boy. Clinton got fat, had a heart attack, and then got scrawny and ill-looking living on arugula salad.
Here is a brief history: The Real Skinny: Expert Traces America's Thin Obsession. What that brief post misses is that, today, in our culture, trim and fit is sexy and appealing to both men and women. In a way, it seems to say that you have not given up on life, or at least that you have not given up on caring about your body. In fact, "studies show" that being trim and fit helps you get a job, or keep one.
I love a Big Mac once in a while. Who doesn't? A Big Mac and Fries is around 1000 calories. To walk that off takes 4-5 hours of vigorous walking, at least. About 3 hours on the elliptical.
More on Charles Murray on Fishtown and Belmont, from Kay Hymowitz:
I respect Murray a great deal, but I think he juxtaposes two extremes. America is filled with middle-class towns and middle-class neighborhoods which are neither Fishtowns nor Belmonts but which are having a tough time in the current economy. While the welfare state has enabled much of the deterioration of civilized culture in Fishtown, the lack of unskilled jobs (largely taken by new immigrants who are grateful for any work at any pay) and semi-skilled jobs (overseas) probably plays a role in that too. It takes a lot of initiative to take charge of one's life nowadays, regardless of one's advantages or lack thereof.
Where are the jobs for a guy who is happy to run a lathe or machine tool all day at a steady job, then go home to his cozy family? Those jobs no longer exist in Pittsfield or Bridgeport, and nothing will bring them back. It is a tragedy, I think, of the changes.
Recently stumbled on this book: The King's Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road, the Route That Made America. I bought it.
The "post" road meant a mail road. It now has different names as it travels through different towns, but locals call it "the Boston Post Road" or "the Post Road" still. Its original name was The King's Highway. That old road, based on an Indian trail. has been part of my life, on and off, forever. In fact, when I was a kid, the old trolley tracks still stuck through the asphalt creating a bike challenge.
Image of the Boston Post Rd in the late 1600s in Pelham, NY, from this site.
A friend of mine told me he is taking this trip this winter, with his two brothers through the Strait of Magellan and then up north along the coast of Chile.
He said they decided that they wanted to bond and reconnect before they get old. Sounds like a very cool trip, and cheap. He said he was going to take photos of Albatrosses. I warned him not to shoot one because nothing good comes of it.
Surviving Girl Land: Sex, Lies, & Proms
4 billion YouTube views/day
Golden Missed Opportunity - School choice is on the move everywhere—except California.
Alternative certification is coming
Wednesday, January 25. 2012
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:06 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Many would claim that Sicily is not really part of Italy (they even speak Sicilian, not Roman Italian). However, the tiny country of Italy contains many regions with separate cultures, genetics (northern Italy is full of lovely blondes), foods, languages - parts of northern Italy speak German or French or Veneto - and accents, etc. that it seems like an artificial nation. Well, it is.
Languages of Italy. Many Italians speak a regional language or dialect, maybe plus the official Roman Italian, especially if they are urban.
The nation turned 150 years old in 2011, so it is still young and culturally divided.
Anyway, this post was meant to offer a sample of classic Sicilian cooking. We had something very much like this Swordfish outside Agrigento two years ago. However, the filet of swordfish, sliced horizonally, was neither pounded nor rolled - just stuffed with the herbs and pignolis, with the other slice laid on top before baking.
It was topped with a wine and white raisin sauce and served on a bed of - you guessed it - Italian-style mashed potatoes (ie with oil not butter, plus garlic). That's Sicilian cooking.
Sicily is on our list of places to spend more time in the future. Due to its relative poverty and its corruption (from what I have read, it's still basically run by the Cosa Nostra, and what we would term "sociopathy"in the USA is normal there), it hasn't changed much in the past century.
If you go, don't forget the Cannolis (they are a Sicilian dessert).
Photo on the right is a couple of charming Sicilian gals
From Girl Meets Gun:
The US has 55,000 miles of oil pipelines already. Who would object to a beer pipeline from Canada?
Cheap beer, for America! That's what we need to help the country grow.
Via Insty, Having An Opinion Is Now "Bullying"
The Tragic Truth About India's Caste System - Untouchables cling to it because they have few other choices
Here's an idea: A call for a Cuban Spring
President Obama’s Very Dishonest Campaign Ad Regarding Energy
Tax rates of presidential candidates, in one chart
Rising wealth of Asians straining world fish stock
The coming disaster in Egypt
Black Women Lead Shift To A Post-Blue World
Taking the money surrenders autonomy
Nile Gardiner on the SOTU: Barack Obama is still driving America towards decline
Exhibition in focus: David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture; Royal Academy of Arts
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:00 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
The killings at Haditha in November 2005 were blown up by opponents of the US in Iraq into an indictment of the US and its troops. This onslaught sapped the will of many Americans. The following rules of engagement and the drawn out prosecution of the Marines involved have undermined the morale and endangered the lives of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Take the premise that at Haditha both the Marines and those who were killed in houses 1 and 2 were correct in their own view. The long term losers are both US troops and noncombatants.
Both Marines and US troops generally are at increased risk due to perhaps understandable rules of engagement that in practice are often excessive and dangerous. Noncombatants are at increased risk of oppression, or more impersonal death from US technology, in countries where thuggish foes seek domination and can serve as refuges for further attacks on the West.
Haditha was a decidedly treacherous town overrun with Al Quaeda led foes who blew up Marines in the convoy and fired on the survivors from the nearby houses. What else could the Marines do but attack and eliminate the threat from the houses? Walking in, exposing themself to harm, would have been suicidal. Those inside lived in fear of the insurgents, who had already executed the local police force, and were aware that an IED was to be exploded. What else could they do but huddle inside? Warning the Marines beforehand would have exposed themselves to extermination. Walking outside, hands up, after the attack on the Marines, may have been a good move, but they knew gunmen were nearby and they didn’t want to be in the middle of a shootout.
Continue reading "Haditha Was Exploited To Increase Danger To The US, US Troops, And To Noncombatants"
Tuesday, January 24. 2012
Tried a good Italian restaurant the other day, and I decided to see what they could do with a simple Braciola - Braciole - (made with flank steak in this case) with a Barolo sauce.
Readers know that I am an obnoxious Italian food snob, but it's not my fault. I never ate Italian growing up, so I never heard of spaghetti and meatballs. Between Mrs. BD's cooking, and many trips to Italia, the two things often thought of as Italian in the US that I can do without are tomato sauce (this good place had no tomato sauces on the menu), and pasta (mostly, with rare exceptions for clam or porcini, or near-starvation with nothing else in the pantry). Another tip: never order a pizza in Italy. Terrible stuff. Only Americans know how to make good pizzas. Furthermore, you can get a better bruschetta in America than the lame, stingy ones you get in Italy.
Italian red wine sauces for meat are simple: briefly sautee a glass of good wine, a hunk of butter, salt, and a little flour to thicken. In Sicily, they add some raisins to it and a little sugar. That is pleasant.
They served the Braciola on a bed of soft, creamy polenta with a splash of oil on it. I think there was a touch of parmesan in the polenta. These are the simplest of foods. For me, that's Italian cooking. You cook that Braciola until it almost falls apart.
At our house, we make polenta as a primi, firm and knife-cuttable with a sauce on top - black truffle or Porcini - but this saucy polenta was a good choice by the chef. Soft polenta. My chef friend disparages firm polenta, but I think it's fine for the right purpose and it's real Italian - thanks to the American Indians who genetically-engineered corn (maize, to you in
Like Italian potatoes, tomatoes, squash, polenta (corn meal) were all recent imported products from the New World, and their risotto from Asia. Pasta? It's a topic of debate.
Feel free to tell me how much you like spaghetti and meatballs, and soggy penne with red sauce!
The "for Dummies" series is spotty, but this one is quite good: Neuroscience for Dummies.
I would highly recommend it for students before they take any neuoscience-related courses in school. Our learning theory here is that it's best to learn all you can about a topic before you take a course in it. That way, you will at least be oriented. Sometimes, the whole expensive course might end up being redundant.
I have been asked by readers why I can sound so harsh about education and our current educational systems. The answer is that I care about learning so much. For me, learning new things is relaxing, recreational, and a gift (and does not need to be expensive), but I accept that not all feel the same way. I am a teacher at heart, even though I do not teach although I do help train our young associates. If I were as tough on students as I am on our associates, I'd be fired in a New York Minute.
Here's Walter Williams: Schools of education protect ignorance in the classroom. He concludes:
Sounds true, although those pathetic standards certainly do not apply to my town in CT where, unions aside, the public school teachers are well-educated, enthusiastic, demanding, and dedicated. However, our local school system avoids hiring teaching school graduates.
h/t Chicago Boyz:
What is uniquely American? Dynamite. Prager on "the American Trinity":
Birds of a feather...
The virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel
Blackfive reviews War Horse
Prelutsky: The Divided States of America
The Last Patrician: Romney Falls From Favor as America Loses Faith in Old Money
President Obama approved fiddling with budget numbers, New Yorker reports
Tobin: Lying About the Stimulus
Tracking the ‘Voyage of the Damned’
Graft, greed, mayhem turn Honduras into murder capital of world
Hinderaker: What is "a private family matter"?
With New Super-Fracking Advances, the Shale Revolution Might Be Just Getting Started
Hewitt on the previous debate:
Monday, January 23. 2012
Is Algebra ll too difficult for most high schoolers? It's a big debate in California.
I honestly do not know the answer, but it seems basic to me. If you can't master Algebra and Trig, and use them to hone the brain, it's tough for me to figure out how you graduate from high school.
Somewhat related, The College-Degree Mania in Ohio. As Leef says:
Maintaining standards is an endless and possibly a losing battle with today's credentialism. Someday, we'll have to admit that most people are not scholars (even to the level of Algebra ll), and that learning how to do something useful and practical might be more important. That view, however, runs right up against the Big Education lobbies.
There is no market for Sociology Majors, but there is a big market for Master Plumbers and Gunsmiths. They make more money, too. But they need to know some math to do their work.
Life in the country: His furnace broke,
Mankiw: A better tax system
What climatologists really think of global warming
One Day Ahead Of State Of The Union Address, American Dissatisfaction With Economic, Political Issues At Record
It’s Working in Walker’s Wisconsin - The governor’s controversial labor reforms are already saving taxpayers millions.
Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust
The Ruinous Reign of Race-and-Gender Historians
This Article Explains Why Apple Makes iPhones In China And Why The US Is Screwed
Why Obama's Re-Election Hinges On the Hispanic Vote
Why the Federal Reserve slept before the housing crisis:
Frank Wuterich agreed this morning to accept a prosecution offer of pleading guilty to one count of dereliction of duty, with relatively minor penalty. “Dereliction of duty” is such a broad count that it can cover most anything, and in possible multiple counts possible in the court martial, could have resulted in Wuterich facing much heavier penalties.
This ends his 7-year ordeal at the hand of zealot prosecutors and rush to judgment media. The prosecution in this case, as in all its others, saw its own witnesses either basically testify for the defense or be demonstrated as liars or otherwise unreliable.
Still, Frank Wuterich, as any defendant, faced the possibility of a worse outcome, what is commonly referred to as “litigation risk.” With not just himself but three young daughters to care about, weighed against the honor of the Marine Corps (although including some who may have acted less than completely honorably in this case), Wuterich’s decision is completely understandable.
As usual, Mark Walker’s report, intimate with all the Haditha cases, covers the salient points:
Continue reading "Wuterich Vindicated (UPDATE: The Plea)"