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, February 28. 2014
"As an observer, this is like watching Russia beat up its old girlfriend, and one wonders, why didn't she just get away years ago?"
Says Paul Rahe: Vladimir Putin: The World's Greatest Fool:
"Russia is a banana republic with nuclear weapons."
St. Patrick's Day is the traditional time to plant snow peas around here. It's coming on March 17, and my bags of seeds are ready along with the inoculant.
As has been happening in recent years, due to the crisis of global cooling, this year it may require a snow shovel and maybe a blow torch to melt the soil to get those seeds in the ground.
It looks like one more year when the peas will be late.
Wild beavers seen in England for first time in centuries
Axolotl found in Mexico City lake after scientists feared it only survived in captivity
Why Is It So Hard for Women to Write About Sex?
'Son of God' Set to Blow Away Box Office Projections
Oregon's Sad Focus on 'Happiness'
The battle for the English language - Why are books about English grammar and correct usage so popular?
DeBlasio goes ugly on charter schools
New loathsome nanny-state initiative: Banning bottomless brunches
Is the Internet Bad for Society and Relationships?
The Alcatraz Gang: Eleven American POWs in Hanoi’s Notorious Camp
Anti-Israel Jews and the Vassar Blues - The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Thursday, February 27. 2014
Recently, while Bird Dog was lounging in the Caribbean, I was sent to do a presentation at a conference in Palm Desert, California. Since I was a featured speaker, the conference was paying for my hotel, and as these things are typically boondoggles held at high-end resorts, I asked my wife to join me and she reluctantly agreed. It took a tremendous amount of arm-twisting, two lines of text at a minimum.
My presentation meant a day in a ballroom with 200 of my closest industry competitors. It provided a great opportunity to discuss issues at the heart of my business and I managed to deliver a 30 minute presentation in what seemed like 5 minutes. I'm still learning to present well, though I was pleased to hear my work referenced several times by the speakers who followed me.
Once I got past the fun part, it was 'boondoggle on' and the wife and I availed ourselves of the surrounding region. We took a bike tour of Palm Springs, headed out to Joshua Tree National Park and did an hour's hike up Ryan Mountain for some spectacular views. I highly recommend a visit to Joshua Tree, if you're ever in the area. It has a beauty which is very hard to describe. It may not be for everyone. I found it fascinating. I also wanted to visit the Salton Sea, but time didn't permit.
As we were preparing to leave, my wife noticed an article about Mid-Century Modern architecture in a local magazine. What caught her eye was a house owned by the Kaufmanns, a family I recently wrote about. Apparently, this family was rather innovative in their tastes. Successful in the business of retailing, they expanded the American cultural landscape by contracting with ground-breaking architects, in this case Richard Neutra. Success really does breed success. Their home in Palm Springs is considered the premiere example of the Mid-Century Modern home.
Continue reading "Mid-Century Modern Architecture in the Desert"
News you can use: 74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza
I always get two large. Leftovers for breakfast for a week. Cold leftover anchovy pizza from Ray's is the best and healthiest breakfast ever.
We do not seem to have very many Olympics fans, or even TV-watchers, among our commenters here. However, the closing ceremony music was by Dimitri Zinovievich Tiomkin*, a Russian Jewish composer who emigrated to America and became one of the most distinguished and best-loved music writers of Hollywood. He won a hallowed place in the pantheon of the most successful and productive composers in American film history, earning himself four Oscars and sixteen Academy Awards nominations.
The music was composed for a movie celebrating independent capitalist values as they developed and matured over 25 years in rural Texas. The movie was Giant with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Carol Baker. You can listen to some of the theme in the trailer below. Think Vlad Putin knows?
Continue reading "Answer to yesterday's music quiz"
Posted by Gwynnie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:42 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
A reason to walk your dog: California couple finds $10 million in buried treasure while walking dog
Why are educated adults slim - Causation or selection?
Do Schools Need To Learn a Lesson about gender from... Facebook?
NY Middle School Girls Forced to Ask Classmates for “Lesbian Kiss” Pretend Like They Are On a Date
Why Our Nutrition Facts Need an Overhaul
Dem Candidate Admits Immigration Reform A Cheap Labor Import
Obama's New Asylum Decree Favors Muslims Over Christians
“Cow Sex” Pervert Judge Orders YouTube to Remove “Innocence of Muslims” Trailer
The Period Of No Global Warming Will Soon Be Longer Than the Period of Actual Global Warming
Increased domestic spending may be behind proposed military cuts, CBO report suggests
Obama Asks Court To Make NSA Database Even Bigger
Ed. by Podhoretz: The New War on Israel: And How to Fight Back
France's Reckoning: Rich, Young Flee Welfare State:
Wednesday, February 26. 2014
It's fascinating how crowded Everest is becoming these days, with queues of mountain tourists for the rope lines. The highways are all mapped out, ladders installed, ropes installed, sherpas hired, etc., so it's almost like a rich man's chilly Disney World.
The medical part - and the risk of bad weather - seem to be the greatest challenges. First World Problems, if you will, because nobody needs to do this. However, if it is made too safe, where's the credit?
As with the Olympics, I think it's wonderful that some people want to try these sorts of adventures in life, but I do not admire the amateur tourists. Good film:
The kids and their dutiful parents are getting ripped off royally. What new can I say about this sort of sickening thing?
Look What Freshman Composition Has Become
How many of our faithful readers recognized the majestic music that dominated the Closing Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi?
Posted by Gwynnie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:25 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:16 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Mom and her kids visit an art gallery
Does the 1st Amendment apply to students?
How is your state doing with its government pensions?
Long but good: What Killed Egyptian Democracy?
Extracted from our commenter Taquiya
Venezuela Violence and Latin America's Divide
The Stakes in
The story of a remarkable reporter: Political Hatred in Argentina - An Interview with Uki Goñi
Tuesday, February 25. 2014
Roughly as I predicted, our blackbirds arrived sometime last night - over a week late. They all made a racket at 5 am on my way to the gym. That's proof of global cooling.
Also at my feeder today along with the usual (Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Titmice, W-T Sparrows, Blue Jays, and House Finches, and an occasional Carolina Wren) a handsome Fox Sparrow. Haven't seen one in quite a while. A pleasure to see the guy on his way to the far north.
I am highlighting a link from this morning: Voting to Hike Subsidies for People Who Build in Flood Plains.
Whether you accept global warming alarmism or not, on the face of it it makes no sense for the average sensible taxpayer to subsidize others' living or building in recognized flood zones, whether on the NJ coast, the Mississippi, the North Carolina barrier beaches, or anywhere else. It's like pitching a tent in a Western river gulch which is prone to flash floods. Periodic flooding in coastal areas and on flood plains is natural and environmentally-beneficial. The unpleasant consequences for people are entirely predictable. I would neither live in a flood zone nor in a wildfire zone without calculating that I could lose it all. People do not act this stupid unless they are paid or subsidized to do so. At the least, let the owner pay the full cost of the insurance. Caveat Emptor.
Yes, I do remember that Al Gore just built one of his new mansions in an ocean flood zone in San Francisco, but that's Al Gore and he can hold back the water (or was that Moses, or Obama?).
"Decisions, decisions, decisions!" This often is spoken in a mixture of ennui and smug irony for decisions such as "should I buy the Audi, the BMW or the Lexus?" But this piece is nothing like that, it is about the general confusion and questionable value of our medical establishment.
The three "decisions" are apt because the diagnosis and treatment of three major illnesses have been called into question in the past year and this is disconcerting if not alarming. If you are unfamiliar with the work of Dr. John Ioannidis I recommend you find him on the web. His view of the state of medical research is summarized as "Lies, damned lies and medical research."
The original quote actually was by the British prime minister, Gladstone: "There are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics."
The recent study out of Canada declaring the value of mammograms in women under fifty without value is noted. One doctor at Sloane Kettering has already balked and we have yet to hear from the Susan Komen foundation. The other disqualifying report identified antidepressant medication as simply placebo with no valid clinical evidence to the contrary. As a clinician my experience does not support that position, but there are facts that are hidden from us. For example, the FDA requires two "positive" studies to approve a medication for the treatment of a condition. That there may be six negative studies is not required to be revealed to us, and, as Ioannidis points out, many of the "successful" studies measure the new product against drugs that are known to be less than effective, if effective at all.
But it is prostate cancer I want to focus on. To PSA or not to PSA, that is the question. (Excuse me Prince Hamlet.) I have learned a great deal about this question from a man whom I have known for many years and who has had prostate cancer diagnosed. There was a series of articles in the popular press questioning the need for and value of the PSA test around the time his PSA began to increase incrementally. "You will more likely die with the prostate cancer than from the prostate cancer." This is very reassuring, unless you have witnessed a patient or a relative die the excruciatingly painful death of metatstatic prostate cancer.
The concerns expressed, in our behalf, is that the PSA can lead to biopsies which can be painful and prone to serious complications. While I am not a urologist, I can say I have seen one man who complained of persistent pain following a biopsy. That is all. What most of the articles failed to make reference to is something called the Gleason Score, an assessment of the aggressiveness of the tumor's malignant cells. The numbers of the score range from low to high but what you need to know is that a score of Seven is at the dividing line of could be serious and is serious. Eight and up are without question serious. Without that information one cannot make sensible judgements about how to proceed and one can only have that with the prostate biopsy. You can see the circularity of this process. With that information in hand one is then given a menu of treatment choices to consider. Watch and wait, radiation, surgery - robotic and standard supra-pubic surgical removal of the prostate gland, proton beam treatment, cyberknife, aggressive sonic ablation - more than most doctors, let alone lay people, can assess when in a state of some anxiety. Every treatment brings its own list of complications and ill consequences. "5%" risk of whichever one sounds reassuring but, if it is you who experiences that ill consequence it is 100%.
And what is most important is, as my friend learned, there is no evidence that any treatment is superior to any one of the other treatments and there may never be a study to pit one against the other to determine which is best. He chose surgery and has done well now for a few years. His PSA is zero and hopes it will remain that way. So, we ponder these three conditions, each afflicting roughly 10% of the general population, and we are asked to act or not act on the basis of flawed and insufficient information. What else are we missing?
Makes you think, doesn't it?
Pic above is the USMC museum
Miley Cyrus´ Behavior Sign of ´Cultural Sewage´
Asperger's or mild autism? In Defense of Bronies
Another US energy milestone: US was the world’s largest petroleum producer in October for the 12th straight month'
Congress & America’s Diverging Priorities
Sounds like fun
Billionaire tech star Peter Thiel, big GOP donor, says time to “seriously consider” $12/hr minimum wage
Soros group triples its lobbying spending
Russia’s Vladimir Putin is acting like a grandmaster of chess while Obama stumbles at checkers
Simple arithmetic: The Coming Collapse of the Welfare State
Monday, February 24. 2014
"Public service" and non-profit "service" are highly overrated as signifiers of virtue.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:27 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
I have a reason for re-linking Driscoll's ‘The Prussian System Was Much More Appealing’
Let's take a college course to talk about books, to help me become a more discerning and considerate reader
Ahh, the wonders of the Liberal Arts and those darn complex temporalities.
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