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
Monday, May 26. 2014
The good news for today: Having Kids Probably Won't Destroy the Planet
Are mass shootings increasing in the US?
Now That's Some Good Bias: Networks Devote More Time to Christie's "Bridgegate" Pseudoscandal in Four Days Than They Devote to the VA Scandal In an Entire Month
Psychologist: PC Trigger Warning Craze Is Terrible
PJ O'Rourke: My Commencement Speech to Rutgers’ Geniuses: Go Forth and Fail - Greetings, Class of 2014. So Condoleezza Rice was too offensive for you. Just wait until Monday morning. Did you learn how to spell KFC?
Down Under, the Immigration "Rules Have Changed"; "Anyone seeking to illegally enter Australia … will never make Australia home
Making School Lunches Healthier Doesn't Mean Kids Will Eat Them - A new study found that less than half of students took a vegetable from the lunch line and ate some of it.
Are Americans Too Ignorant to Buy Good Mediterranean Food?
Who-d a-thunk it? Communist dictator Fidel Castro lives life of capitalist luxury with luxury homes, diamonds, and yachts?
‘Walk of Shame Shuttle’ to offer riders chance to air confessions on national TV
Life After Wartime - Combating the Veteran-as-Victim Narrative
We attended a family funeral on Saturday down in NJ. All of the vets' graves had flags. There were so many that it looked like a field of flags. The husband, my uncle-in-law, of the sweet gal who died was in the Normandy invasion, and in the war until it ended. By the end of the war, he was one of four surviving from his original platoon. Still in good shape. His war stories are remarkable - taking a castle! I sat next to a cousin-in-law USAF Col. at the funeral lunch. Vietnam Vet. All Irish, all warm and amusing - and all fairly sober.
Bruce thought you might like this.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:00 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 25. 2014
Psychiatry has little influence over evil. That's for theology. Evil fantasies are things we (and everybody, pretty much) deal with routinely, but actions are another matter. The devil is stronger than we doctors are. Some evil is everywhere, from boardrooms to government to priests and pastors to teachers to cities to campuses. Please do not tell me that this kid had "PTSD," or an "anger management problem." Some people lack a moral compass almost entirely, but that moral compass spectrum spans from none to spotty to obsessionally scrupulous and fearful. We can deal with the latter relatively easily, but not the former.
The truth is that some people are "born to be hanged," and, at the least, removed from the gene pool. We too often piously imagine that happy and good are default settings for humans as if we could get everybody there with a rearranged psyche and a right environment (we term that "psycho-utopian"). It's an evil lie and an evil vision because it denies the existence of evil itself. My life, and history, have taught me that sin has great power. For all we know, violence, deceit, and destruction of good cheer are the default settings, and civilized behavior a special, difficult undertaking. That happens to be what Freud concluded, and he was smarter and a deeper thinker than I am. Not to mention many prophets, and Christ himself.
It is a positive comment on our level of Western civilization that we are surprised by gross acts of evil rather than taking them for granted. Quite remarkable in human history.
Good and evil remain the basics, as they always have done.
Addendum: I realize that my metaphors sounded as if I believed that evil is genetic. What I mean is that some people simply seem destined for trouble.
He would get the brownshirt treatment today
Dear graduates: Don’t follow your dreams (A commencement speech for the mediocre) - The brutal truth is that most people can't pay the bills by "living their passion." So what can we do instead?
We are all mediocre, but in different ways.
Admiral McRaven says - First thing to do: make your bed! Good, useful lessons from the boss of the USN Seals. "You will fail often." That is true:
Since it's Sicily Month at Maggie's, on this Decoration Day weekend I am reviewing the Allied invasion of Sicily, July 1943.
2300 Americans died in that invasion. Did the Sicilians want us there? Of course not.
At that point, I think it was the most massive invasion by sea in history.
I reflect on all of the historical invasions of Sicily by sea - the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Moslems, the Norman Vikings, the Spanish (barely an invasion), and the take-over by Italy (again, hardly a serious invasion but Italy did send military forces to annex Sicily). Uniquely, the Allies didn't invade to own it and had no aspirations to, but it was a strategic, temporary necessity.
(Reader reminded me that I omitted the Romans and the Byzantines. Too much to keep track of. Everybody wanted to own Sicily, and all of that history is still right there, right down to the Phoenician fortifications, the Greek temples, the Norman castles, the Roman cities, and the couscous and the mosques - and even Greek temples - converted to churches.)
Image is the historic flag of Sicily - most interesting flag in the world.
Related, Tribal leaders demand expulsion of students who wore ‘Siouxper Drunk’ t-shirts at off-campus party
Good grief. Who knew that Indians were so hypersensitive?
Saturday, May 24. 2014
Looks like Thomas Piketty fudged data to make his case. Not all that surprising, since we're familiar with how those on the Left love fudged data (cough, cough, East Anglia, cough).
It's also not surprising that the true believers still think there's value in his 'theoretical framework'.
I'll save them some time and effort. There isn't.
Choice Schools Work Better Than Public Schools
Related, re Newark and Zuckerberg: The Problem with Top-Down Education Reforms
For some fans of Bob Dylan, no level of involvement is enough.
Got up at 4 this morning for the meteors. Clouds and light drizzle, so headed to Dunkin Donuts instead.
Excellent travel site: Travel Insider
All-You-Can-Eat Taco Bars Deemed Offensive
Pope Francis 'Not Pleased' About Scandalous Canonization Banquet
Famous for being famous
How the Hiring Process Marginalizes Candidates on the Autism Spectrum
The VA Really is Socialized Medicine – That’s Why It’s Terrible
Immigration Creates Political Earthquake In Britain
A Blow to Campus Barbarism - A former Princeton president stands up against student-radical intimidation
A big part of the reason why more young people don’t vote conservative (i.e., as a practical matter, Republican) is that they have no freaking idea what is going on.
Perhaps, but Repubs have their share of low-information voters too
Radical chic and today's politicians
Everyone knows that they have major "issues," but it's not permitted to say it. Except here.
A Miracle for Breakfast
At six o'clock we were waiting for coffee,
A piece about Bishop in the WSJ
Friday, May 23. 2014
Boating season, finally. Boats with the sea are those things that make life rich. An over-40 victim of fate? Not me, not yet. See y'all in Newport, or maybe Watch Hill, Cuttyhunk, Block, Hyannis, Montauk, or the Vineyard. The tune brings a tear to me, every time. I can not imagine life without boats and salt water, and I don't care what sort of craft.
For a change this season, my pals and I are leasing a 35-foot sailing craft to share, instead of power. Will maybe get one photo, despite my photo-phobia (cameras ruin direct experience, I was taught by my Dad who has refused to ever take a photo so I have never owned one).
Coffee will help, or an early alarm: Stay Up Late Tonight For Meteor Lottery
But first - don't forget the "cannolis" (connolo is singular, cannoli plural, naturally). I confused a waitress by asking for un cannoli.) I got the same stern "Are you retarded?" look I'd get when we didn't want vino with meals. Even tho Italian food doesn't taste too great without a glass or two of wine (as I have said, Italian food is designed for wine on the side), I really do not want to feel sleepy at 2 pm in a special place.
A sign in Petralia Soprana:
The cannolo di ricotta is a Sicilian-origin afternoon pick-me-up treat, same as gelato is. After school, kids pack the gelato and cannoli "bars" on their way home. In Sicily, the shells are thick, very hard and crunchy, deep-fried hard. They do not fill them from a pastry bag until you order one, like an ice cream cone. The filling is thick and only slightly sweetened. At your request, they will dip the ends into chopped chocolate or chopped pistachios. Mrs. BD and I would share one, but I have no pics because we consumed them too fast.
Speaking of pistachio, a great thing on an antipasto plate: Slice of fresh ricotta sprinkled with chopped pistachio and then a drizzle of honey. Simple country food.
More good fun travel adventures and info below the fold -
Continue reading "Sicily Photo Travelogue, #4 of 5: Now rambling around eastern Sicily"
I forget where that image came from
California’s New Solar Plant: Burning Up Taxpayer Money, Land, and Wildlife
AVI on a book I enjoyed too: 1493 by Charles C Mann
Driscoll on Mark Steyn's new book: Mark Steyn Surveys the Passing Parade
Here's What Happened When I Went To Vegas With 1,800 Hedge Fund Managers
The Rise of Mob Rule in America
Where VA has taken veterans, Obamacare is leading all Americans: Kevin O'Brien
Bernard Mandeville, Psychiatrist in the Marketplace
Will America’s Future Be Whiter Than We Think?
Barack Obama has a strange habit of acting like somebody else has been president these past years. It’s really odd.
A commenter there noted "The peoples of European countries never voted for, and don't want, a "United States of Europe". They want individual sovereign States within a Free Trade Area, which IS what was voted for."
Chart below via Watts:
Thursday, May 22. 2014
Pic is my caffe gelato and my caffe, and her nocello gelato just off the large piazza (to annoy Mrs. BD, just ask which way to the Pizza del Domo) in Ortygia during the passaggiata. Prego.
Do you have to be raised Italian to know what the word "prego" really means? Probably. I've tried and I don't get it. It's used for answering the phone, and it's used when they deliver a gelato to you. Literally, I believe it is translated as "I pray" or something like that, so I think the connotation is something polite like "at your service" mixed with "you're welcome," "thank-you", "hello," and other things.
Help me out if you can.
Most important Italian term to know: "Dove il gabinetto."
Seemingly the most common name of towns in Italy when driving: Uscita. A mystery town to which the arrows disappear.
Basic Italian Words Travelers Should Know - Italy Travel Glossary
It's time for a new free speech movement on the campi.
Postal service: Committee OKs end to door-slot mail for millions
Chatting With ‘A Climate Heretic’
Critics call Obama funding plan for health insurer losses a 'bailout'
You have a right to be offended
Billionaire plans to target Republicans in seven states
Folding knives in NYC
Chipotle and Guns: Three Separate Issues
Tiananmen: How Wrong We Were
Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World - See more at:
Wednesday, May 21. 2014
Pic above is the NYC central PO, the James Farley US Post Office. Once a beehive, now pretty empty inside the grand building. A temple to commerce, paper communication - and Christmas mail.
They are communal spaces where everybody goes - or used to. They employ many people who might not be easily employable elsewhere. They lose money, but so do schools, libraries, parks, highways, passenger rail, and the US Navy. Everything governments do loses money. Organizations and institutions exist, in part, to do things that are difficult or unprofitable to do otherwise.
Naturally, whenever large numbers people are involved, politics enters and, at that point, money mainly is about votes.
Why is the Post Office any different?
Well, perhaps it isn't any different. What seems different today is that many government civic "amenities" and "services" have competition from private operations who carry the risk, so taxpayers are less willing to throw their money away to governments who don't really worry about the money.
Parks are operated by operations like Coyote's, libraries have to compete with Kindles, government schools have to compete with charter schools, government rail has to compete with cars and air, and even the military hires tons of private contractors. Despite the massive increase in the size of government, there are more and more people willing to provide traditionally (meaning since the Progressive Era) government services more efficiently, more cheaply, and unburdening the hapless taxpayer of the risk of money-losing services.
What's your take on it?