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, August 28. 2012
With the new football season only a week away, I started gearing up for my fantasy leagues. I'm usually in at least one, sometimes two, because I love the science of football. I love any sport that is highly quantifiable, and football has recently begun to have more than its share of statisticians break it down.
To learn as much as I can and prepare, I've studied the game closely. The best sites I've found are Football Outsiders and Advanced NFL Stats (I'm open to more if anyone cares to share). Call them sabremetricians for football, and as Bill James' work revived my love for baseball, these people keep my enjoyment of football very high.
The real value of fantasy leagues are the communication which takes place between the participants. It tightens the bonds of friendship and improves the vibe in an office. People who once had only work in common suddenly have much to talk about.
The old saw that you don't discuss religion or politics in polite company should probably be revised to include sports. Specifically fantasy sports, but sports in general can be very messy. Many of us have had disagreements and arguments over sports. Regardless of quantifiability, the question of who the greatest players are will always be fraught with emotion rather than pure reason. Barstool logic tends to predominate these discussions.
One could say barstool logic predominates most emotionally driven discussions.
My favorite coach of all time (many peoples' favorite), Vince Lombardi, was often called upon to share his opinions on business, politics, and religion. Vince was a devout Catholic, a very tough taskmaster, but he was known to have a heart of gold. His views on the relationship between success and work for the achievement of victory continue to resonate through the years. He was a man who took control and didn't place blame, he inspired people to perform a job.
Continue reading "Football and Leadership"
But it's cool. As I mentioned in the last update, the tumor hasn't grown any worse, so there's no need to panic. I'm currently designing a web site $600, so I'll get there. For those of you just tuning in, the back story is here. Contributions to the Save Our Doc fund are more than welcome. To those of you who have already pitched in, my sincerest thanks.
One thing I've noticed that seems to be common amongst cancer docs is that they tend to be a fairly upbeat group. My doctor in Miami is a riot. At one point he adopted his 'tough guy' voice and growled, "Just rub a little dirt on it — you'll be fine!" The doctor in Mexico was the one who, after looking at the scans, said "Good news. You have a cancer, not the cancer." Whether or not hospitals specifically seek out cancer docs with an upbeat personality is anybody's guess, but it sure has helped on this end. Whenever I start feeling down and picturing the worst, something one of the docs has said inevitably comes to mind and cheers me up.
I also notice they have a particular reticence to using scary words like "cancer" and "tumor". It's usually just "your condition" or "the problem". I happened to be watching an episode of 'House MD' a few weeks ago and Wilson, the resident oncologist, was talking to a patient and referred to "your condition", so I gather it's just part of the biz.
To finish up on an upbeat note, two of my friends are delighting in sending me 'gallows humor' cartoons to cheer me up. I posted one a few weeks ago; the 'Dead End' sign next to a graveyard. This one's pretty funny:
Animals Are as With It as Humans, Scientists Say
Which is to say, not very much
This Child’s View Of Single-Motherhood
Learning to Like Mitt - Andrew Ferguson, reluctant Romneyite
At Romney event, two reactions to his birth certificate joke: reporters gasped--and a crowd of thousands laughed and cheered.
Karl Rove predicts historic loss for Todd Akin
President Obama has Tour Buses Flown to Stump Speeches
Cheesecake Factory Medicine - Paul Ryan's critics and the architects of ObamaCare reveal their real vision for health care: coercion.
... journalism isn’t about reporting facts. It’s about crafting stories to teach people what to believe. The masses need lessons, not facts.
Swing-voters: Meet the Deciders
President Obama's Problems with Women
Women are concerned about more things than free birth control pills
For someone who grew up in a Republican household that nonetheless considered the Times an essential part of our intellectual diet, the paper’s increasing bias over the past decade has been breathtaking.
Filmed while walking on sand. That might be an error, because the shakiness gives me a headache and I pan too quickly. The minute, despite that, gives you an idea of why we love the spirit-cleansing place. It ain't the Jersey Shore, that's for sure. Nothing against the Jersey Shore, mind you.
Love the beach tents where people put their newborns to keep them out of the sun and wind, and to nurse in privacy. All babies require a little bath in the cool water, though, to help toughen them up for life. They love it. All of our kids have benefited from cold salt water, and still love it.
That's Cape Cod Bay, with Plymouth straight across but not visible. The Pilgrims sailed right past this spot, stealing the Indians' corn until the Indians in Eastham found them and showered them with arrows. Hence Plymouth, where the Indians had all died but left vast cornfields.
Monday, August 27. 2012
We're in Maine with iffy internet, lots of fish chowdah, clam chowdah, mussels steamed in white wine with garlic, wild blueberries, corn on the cob, and no hurricanes.
Where are our readers this week?
Can you say "no" to your kids? We do it, and have done it, every day. It's one simple syllable. Learning limits is a painful part of growing up but we all get past it in time. As we shrinks like to say, "Reality sucks." It is also beautiful, and so much of life is free, no charge.
The real achievement in life is not in saying No to one's kids, but in saying No to oneself. We call it "internalizing" the limits of reality and coming to peace with them. Who, at times, would not chose to be a kid again?
McCloskey's books were among my favorites as a kid, and favorites of my kids too. Make Way for Ducklings! Blueberries for Sal! It's real New England Yankee, Maggie's Farm stuff.
Swimming in Maine? It is not for the weak. You have to have the Right Stuff. Failure is not an option. Ya gotta join in.
From a commenter at Carpe Diem:
Don't hold your breath. They have doctorates, and thus know what is best for you little people.
The Romneys love Costco. I can relate to this family and their loyal family connection, and definitely to the annual family Olympics.
'Apocaloptimist' is a humorous term I recently heard that best describes how I've felt about the economy these last 4 years. The concept that it's all crashing down, but not to worry because we'll all be fine, in the end. I'm not sure that it's all going to come crashing down, but we're still not out of the recession/depression and there is a long road ahead before things improve to the point where we can feel confident about the future. Regardless of where we are, a quick review of history does point to one clear fact, and this is simply that mankind has a remarkable capability to adapt, make due, and eventually engage progress of a tangible nature.
We're still progressing today, just much more slowly.
But in the depths of a recession, true pessimists step forward. These are people who cannot see anything good, and refuse to take a simple step of reviewing history and seeing that bad times never last 'forever'. Absolutes can come back to haunt you, if used improperly. "We can never..." is the kind of phrase that inspires someone, somewhere to think, "Well, maybe we can...", and then they actually go out and do whatever it is we could never do.
Most human activity leads to peaks and those peaks are usually followed by valleys. Getting into the right frame of mind is how you get out of the valley and move to the next peak. Statements such as this, however, do nothing to help:
Malthus was wrong, and 215 years later his views have still not provided any meaningful insights on how the world operates.
Armstrong’s America - Small-town boy on moon. A quote from the quiet and modest Armstrong:
New York Times “bleeds” progressivism, says its public editor
To his credit, he has not written a self-mythologizing autobiography. Doesn't need to, because he has accomplished lots of real things in the real world. That is not easy to do.
Our current President is telling lies to the little people
Mark Steyn: War on women? The real war is on children
Negative $4,019 - The Obama years have been brutal on middle-class incomes.
Elizabeth Warren Ad: Let's Be More Like China
The Indians came from China, right?
Al Gore update
Race wars at the Census Bureau
What race is Obama? More importantly, what race is Derek Jeter? Even more importantly, aren't American Indians actually Asian?
How to Beat President Obama -The man who runs the American Crossroads Super PAC on targeting 'the persuadables' with precise messages on welfare, ObamaCare and the economy.
The Romneys Sparkle on Fox. Where Have They Been Hiding Ann?
Michael Barone: The Evolution of the Republican Party Voter
VDH on California:
Sunday, August 26. 2012
Today's sermon at church was about faith, about Abraham's faith but mostly about the times when his faith was weak or non-existant.
Pastor said "Don't focus on how small your faith is; focus on how big the God is in whom you can have faith." Actually, she said it much better than that.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
A little rhetorical hyperbole there on the Lord's part, but I get the point. However, after gardening and transplanting all afternoon, despite my level of faith, I had to do it all myself. God willing, the plants will prosper.
This appellate decision from 1993 (h/t Volokh) is interesting to read, as much for its content as for the decision.
It tells a life story and a legal story, but the quality of the writing is what most impressed me. That judge's clerk can write, and knows how to tell a Dickensian story. (Clerk informs, judge decides, clerk writes.)
Correction via reader: Judge Posner writes his own opinions!
Fool me once...Well, I can't really say that. Didn't fool me the first time.
I suppose it's slightly ironic that, twelve hours before I might possibly drown from a hurricane, I'm posting an article on fire. Such are the whims and vagaries of outrageous fortune.
Yesterday, I said something in an email that only a Floridian would say:
Only in Florida would someone say it'll hopefully be a Category 1 hurricane.
When I posted on Isaac last Wednesday, it was barreling directly for us. Over the next few days, it moved slightly to the west, as far as Key West, then it turned slightly northward which drew it back our direction. So it looks like we'll get clobbered pretty good.
The good news is that it's picked up a real head of steam over the last few days and is now scheduled to hit us tonight, rather than tomorrow morning as originally forecast. More speed = less time over the water = less time to pick up energy.
For what it's worth, this is the fifth hurricane I've gone through in the six years I've been here. Four in the first two months, now Isaac. We also got lashed a good one a few years ago with Tropical Storm Fey.
As for the video, I don't think you'll learn anything particularly new ("governments are stupid"?), but it's nice to see the subject neatly laid out. As you know, along with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and unscheduled solar eclipses, the recent spate of large wildfires has also been attributed to global warming.
What makes this video exceptional — coming from a left-wing, AGW-loving organization like NPR — is that the expert actually says the following in real, live English words for all to hear:
That's right, even without global warming, the expert still acknowledges that shortsighted government agencies might have played some small, tiny part in this travesty.
I presume he lost his job the following day.
U.S. Open 2012: Federer, Djokovic, Williams sisters highlight tournament
I will be there (watching, not playing). An annual delight.
Why should we? Fruit is just fattening sugar-water - a dessert - and you can get all the vitamins you need from a daily or occasional multivit. Men seem to prefer, given the choice, meat and roots. Life is short: eat what you enjoy but avoid the carbs if you don't like your weight.
In my opinion, not-for-profit education just buries their profits in salaries for administration. What's the difference?
Cigar Hunter: What to do with that humidor you got for Father’s Day
She is good with words. Do not be dissuaded by Rowan Williams
Bonding to Hydrogen - The simplest molecule, made for connection
Chemistry is great fun, if taught right. Mind puzzles are fun, and it helps you understand this world.
My brain chemicals forced me to link that essay. Seems to me that when we make good decisions, we like free will, but, when we make lousy decisions, we do not. Anyway, it is not binary. People are complicated and flawed.
Does anybody care about "non-market-oriented" art?
I can't even understand what she is saying. Tons of Americans do art as a hobby, and it's non-market-oriented. What's the big deal?
A tall purple shrub-like perennial, blooms Aug-Sept:
I added my answer below the fold -
Continue reading "Name that plant - updated with answer"
Saturday, August 25. 2012
It's about Americans who have too much pride to accept government handouts. A quote:
It's in the politicians' interest to grow dependency: dependency means votes. It's in the bureaucracy's interest to grow dependency: that's how they grow their "business" and make themselves necessary and important, and keep their jobs.
For them, it's a no-brainer.
I cannot imagine mowing an entire hayfield with a scythe, but they are excellent tools once you get the hang of the rhythm and the motion, especially for steep or hard-to-reach places. If you sharpen the blade.
We always had a foot-pedal-driven sharpening wheel, with an oil can on top. Handy for sharpening anything. Easy to get kids to do the foot-pedaling for a few minutes.
In the words of Wendell Berry:
Berry wrote a short story titled The Good Scythe.
As for me, I suffer from a decadent weakness for power tools and power equipment - anything that uses gas or electricity - but I am sure Berry is right. I do have two large patches on the farm that require a scythe. One is too steep for the tractor, and one is too muddy for the TR or the tractor. A stuck-in-the-mud heavy machine is no fun at all. A TR on a very steep slope makes for dangerous slapstick, but I've done it a few times.
My Mom still reminds me about how much her Dad - a businessman, Polo player, sailer, fisherman, skiier, hunter and shooter, Poker-player, Scotch-drinker, cigar-smoker, and a good pal of mine - loved to clear his head with a few hours of scything each weekend on the farm. Followed by a few hours of riding over hill and dale. My Mom does not approve of my affection for power tools (unless I am doing something she wants done). I miss the guy, dead from an MI at 63.
He made the most of the time he had, which was and is an inspiration to me. A Congregationalist Protestant, in his will he gave his field next to his house to the RC Church which had wanted to purchase it for a new church, and left them his house for a parish house.
During the War, he made that field into a large Victory Garden with a large chicken coop, and raised cattle on the Farm (and kept his - and my Mom's - horses at the farm too. Big Hunters). My family tradition is to always have some land somewhere, whether for survival or for pleasure.
I disagree that Romney is a weak candidate. He is not a highly charismatic candidate - not yet, anyway - but charisma has its limits. If people want normality, R&R get the vote. If they want more hopey-changey, they will get more of it.
With autumn just around the corner up here, it's time to stock up on pre-fossil fuel. A carbon-emitting friend sent me his pic of his growing woodpile.
It's also a good time to call your chimney sweep, because he will begin to get busy after Labor Day.
AVI: The Vision Thing
Costco U., Adapting to Change in the 21st Century: Making the University a Lean, Mean, Discounting Machine
The "Smokey Bear Effect": How Government Forest Takeover Has Led to More, Bigger and Hotter Fires
For the Amish, Big Agribusiness Is Destroying a Way of Life
A Different Justice: Why Anders Breivik Only Got 21 Years for Killing 77 People
Viral Internet story says Mitt Romney helped locate missing teen daughter of Bain Capital partner
ACORN Back With 174 Rebranded Affiliates
US incomes fell in past 3 1/2 years
Michael Mann says lawsuit against National Review is on! Climate Depot responds to Mann and his lawyer's claims about the Hockey Stick & Climategate
Obama Campaign says Romney's career at Bain Capital "was not about creating jobs, it was about creating profits."
Obama's America released yesterday, #1 in box office
Meeting at Night
The grey sea and the long black land;
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Don't be shy, but you can leave your hat on if you have one.
Friday, August 24. 2012
The college youth are screwed by the Obama economy: America May Have Too Many College Graduates.
It's a very complicated state of affairs, but the economy still stinks for almost everybody without a government job. However, it does not alter my longstanding thesis that a liberal arts education is not meant to be a job credential, and never was. It was designed as life-enrichment, advanced mental discipline, and delayed-adulthood for the clergy, for serious scholars, and for the prosperous elites.
What it is today, no-one knows.
Related: Trading caps and gowns for mops - Real-time advice: College grads are working in jobs unrelated to their studies. What's wrong with that?
Most of the kids today are being challenged to build something for themselves. That's a good thing for everybody, but it works better if the government gets out of the way.
News you can use: What's the Harvard number?
I have heard that the Duke number is $250,000. Maybe colleges should be ranked by their "numbers"
UNC admissions standards remain well-below "college ready"
Florida Passes Plan For Racially-Based Academic Goals