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.
The authoritarian impulses of do-gooders and the Left are often highlighted here. My "problem" - if it is a problem - is that I instinctively rebel whenever a government tries to tell me that they are doing something for my own good. As red-blooded Americans, we know that government is mostly made up of self-important jackasses who couldn't run a candy store and who surely should not be running my life in any way. I can do that myself, just fine.
In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. “It is not clear,” the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, “how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.” The New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt suggests we should reject the notion that we are in control of our decisions and instead think of the conscious self as a lawyer who, when called upon to defend the actions of a client, mainly provides after-the-fact justifications for decisions that have already been made...
From Bottum: The Post-Protestant Ethic and Spirit of America - The new elite class of America is the old one: America’s mainline Protestant Christians in both the glory and the annoyingness of their moral confidence and spiritual certainty. They just stripped out the Christianity along the way.
Beginning with the abolition of slavery, the bitter battles of American political life have often been fought over spiritual issues. It’s hard to know, for example, what else Prohibition was about. And yet the great moralizing and spiritualizing of American politics feels different these days, more complete, more all-encompassing. It’s as though our public life were not a political stadium in which spiritual footballs sometimes appear; rather the field itself has become religious. Our public life is now a supernatural game and our purely political concerns have been reduced to nothing more than footballs with which we happen to play that public game of spiritual redemption.
Our anxious age often seems a moment more tinged by its spiritual worries than anytime in America since perhaps the 1730s. The nation’s unconscious spirituality is splashed across our supposedly secular life.
It was one year ago that my Mom died of complications from a hip replacement. Dad died four months later from the same thing, but he didn't really desire to live without her sparkling, upbeat, and charming company.
Editing this website has been a good distraction/outlet this past year. It's been a tough year for Bird Dog, with long-forgotten memories and regrets flooding in relentlessly. That's the way it's meant to be, I guess.
Pic is a newspaper shot of Mom at age 80 receiving some conservation award, and pic below is her car. (Indeed, she did weed all of her perennial gardens at home and at the farm in the Massachusetts hills, and found great pleasure in it. She liked to work hard and play hard, never knew the word "relax" - "too fancy" was her harshest epithet and she hated any form of pretension or luxury - and all of us kids inherited those New England Yankee traits from both Mom and Dad.)
Mom was active in her two (CT and MA) communities in more ways than I can count: socially, conservation, church, clubs, tennis groups, the Granges, government, etc. Involved, engaged, a real American citizen who took her citizenship seriously. The Farm, after all, was in her family before the Revolution but I think her ancestors were Tories. Politically-naive? My gosh yes. She wanted to believe that everybody was like her family: innocent, highly moral, God-fearing, scholarly, and with all the Yankee virtues, values, and manners. She had genteel refinement and insulated herself from the rough edges of life and from the rough people. A true subcultural WASP in the best sense. Television? No thanks. Books.
I learned at her funeral, from one of my sisters, that she had been writing a weekly gardening column for two newspapers for 25 years. Had she been younger, she might have had a gardening website.
A little snobby and discriminating, perhaps, but she had good taste and she had good pals from every walk of life, and lots of them. She had a talent for connecting with people, so home always had friends and neighbors stopping by unannounced for tea or cocktails. You would never know who might stop in but it was always fun and interesting. As a kid, all sorts of people came by: old farmers, Leonard Bernstein and his "Mrs.", Robert Penn Warren, neighbors, bankers, the local Pediatrician, retired yard guys, lonely widows, the Pastor looking for a glass of Scotch and a jolly chat. Relatives looking for a warm chair by the fire and a hot toddy. Robert Frost and his family stopped by too, but I was hardly conscious then. Mom was pals with his daughter, I think, or his niece. Their two homes - town and country - were open houses, and everybody knew it. Their kitchen (with fireplace and comfy chairs) was rarely empty of people.
Ol' Rodney stopped by too, at least twice a week for a morning coffee. The autistic son of a local farmer who had died, farm sold out to developers, he rode his bike year-round all around town. Mom would let ol' Rodney do some yard work, but he would not accept payment. He just wanted connection and to be useful. Rodney was a true old-style New Englanda' with the old accent, and he never missed Sunday at church.
Mom loved her old reliable CRV and, old-time Yankee that she was, she was a cheapskate and hated to spend money on anything except her yacht club and beach club, the Metropolitan Opera, her favorite charities - and on international travel. Dad, a Yale Prof, a cranky intellectual, and a tough and intolerant SOB with a rapier wit who served in two wars and had some off-the-chart IQ and graduated from Harvard at age 17, was devoted to her happiness, and rightly so: she had spunky vitality and could fly airplanes, ski Killington, win horse-jumping championships, garden-club awards, and sailboat races. A life-long literary amateur scholar too, who could write the world's most gracious Thank-You notes. What's not to like about her except her Yankee moral and cultural sensibilities which could be rather harsh and judgemental? Ouch. Produced 5 fairly average kids, too. In their prime, my parents were pretty cool and embraced life and people in every way that they could.
A beautiful life, well-lived with lots of energy and a commitment to community. We would all like to have that said of ourselves, would we not?
"One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches." My wish is that my kids will absorb all of this family tradition.
That glass filled with mistrust, and then she makes
The gesture for her maid, but not before
She finds a candle at the mirror’s base,
An armoire, and the dregs of this late hour.
Krisak's translations often appear in The New English Review, with this:Len Krisak has published in The London Magazine, The Oxonian Review, PN Review, Standpoint, Agni, The Antioch Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, The Dark Horse, Agenda, The Hopkins Review, Commonweal, Literary Imagination, The Oxford Book of Poems on Classical Mythology, and others. His latest book is Virgil’s Eclogues, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Forthcoming: The Carmina of Catullus, Carcanet Press, 2015, Afterimage, Measure Press, 2014, Rilke: New Poems, Boydell & Brewer, 2015 and Ovid: The Amores and The Ars Amatoria, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.
Using it can void your car warranty, and destroy your gas-powered tools. This ethanol fad is a government/farm crony scam, and is hurting all of us except the Big Farmers who quit growing food to get in on the deal. Heck, those farmers are rational businessmen:
Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers, according to data released this month by the Census Bureau. They also out-numbered the total population of the Philippines.
The tragedy of government dependence is the tragedy of the slowly-dying human heart - the loss of hope and the rejection of any personal revitalization that requires more than a bare minimum of effort (followed by immediate and dramatic rewards). In my own time working with at-risk youth in Kentucky, my wife and I found it extraordinarily difficult to compete with the no-strings-attached federal money, where it was all too easy to reject any true reform or true personal initiative in favor of the life they knew.
Over the past few decades we have decided that marriage should be all things to a couple. The worst part is that people expect it to be a therapeutic experience. When it does not provide us with a therapeutic uplift, we feel that something is wrong.
It's not a tourist town, just a working town. My pic is from a hillside above the town. "Sulfur Town," from the volcanoes. Empress Josephine grew up there. I asked a cab driver where all the white people were. He said that they are around during the workday, but go home after.
I haven't asked Bird Dog if our government researcher has been embedded yet. It's been quite a while since Zachriel showed himself around here, and he's the closest thing to an enforcer we've ever had.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to read this is how far we've sunk. Obama's true colors continue to show as the economy slumps further.
It isn't often a sport gets a complete makeover. Singular moments are rare, but over time the impact of certain individuals and how they play create indelible memories.
In college basketball, this was best exemplified by the Larry Bird/Magic Johnson NCAA Final in 1979. The NBA had Bill Russell and the Celtics in the 50's and 60's. When a reboot began with Bird and Johnson, Michael Jordan joined them and created an era of his own. Football experienced a similar revitalization with the arrival of the West Coast Offense and Joe Montana. Baseball has gone through multiple reboots recently, though few have had a positive spin. Steroids and strikes have had bigger impacts on the face of baseball than the arrival of a dominant player or a new method of playing the game. Sabermetrics have been a net positive, and even my interest in the sport has grown over the last 15 years because of the new math which opens a window onto what real productivity is in the sport.
I haven't watched much of the Olympics, but I've been fascinated with Ted Ligety for some time. In a sport which is usually decided by hundredths of a second, Ligety crashes down slalom courses with seeming abandon and winning by what can only be called massive margins. His dominance is of the type rarely seen in any sport, let alone skiing.
Ligety is one of those people who has reinvented his sport. I did a limited amount of downhill racing in my youth, and I remember the coach telling us the point was to find the fall line and make the course as short and fast as possible. For years, that was the formula for reaching a victorious finish, often by slim margins of a second. Giant Slalom, in particular, was usually a visual of tight turns around the gates and keeping as close to a straight downhill line as you could accomplish.
Ligety, on the other hand, takes wider turns and gets as parallel to the ground as he can. This approach has turned the US team into a powerhouse. Ligety creates power on short portions of the course where others coast briefly, and as a result he is able to smash the competition by moving rapidly, and effectively, from turn to turn. Long ago, someone told me Beckham was a geometry genius because he could figure out how to get a ball from Point A into a goal around the wall. I doubt he understood much about geometry at all, but he certainly understood how to make a ball do what he wanted it to do. Ligety, by the same measure, is a physics genius. He's determined how to turn portions of his run from potential to kinetic energy and power himself faster than others are able.
Most of the Olympics has been a bore, outside of hockey and Ligety.
There apparently was too much swelling in his leg to do the needed surgery, so the current stabilization technique (photo yesterday) is temporary for a week or so, then I assume a tibial rod or other internal fixation.