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, November 30. 2015
A few stereotype observations from our recent trip:
- They all smoke too much, and everywhere. Strange to see everybody smoking in bars and restaurants. Sort of fun, too.
- They drink too much
- Except for Germans, they tend to be thin. Germans seem to think they look good as overweight people. They do not, and they should not wear thongs or take their clothes off at the beach. Stop that, you Germans.
- Europeans do not work out. Only Americans use gyms. Europeans think going to the spa, stretching, taking a steam bath or a sauna is a work-out.
- Italians do not travel much. But why would they?
- Brits and Germans like to go to sunny climates, get drunk and fall asleep in the sun and burn their pasty skin.
- It is true that Germans do not feel the cold
- There seem to be no Muslims in Portugal
Yale med school dean answers student demands for ‘anti-oppressive curricular reform’
What? And who next? Student pilots?
It is central to all studies, but what does it really reveal?
Above via 18,000 Years of Climate and Civilization (where it is legible)
Decade long ice age predicted as sun 'hibernates'
Climatistas: We’ll Always Have Paris
Surviving an imminent ice age
Guns, paperbacks and cigarettes: vintage spy cameras – in pictures
Rules of life for the ambitious
Bernie Sanders Attacks WalMart on Black Friday
Department Stores Need a Christmas Miracle - But this year, it’s not just Macy’s. Fancy chains like Nordstrom and Saks are ailing too.
Columbia University has called in the emergency diversity squad after a sorority hosted an Olympics-themed costume party featuring students dressed as members of various nations. You can guess what happened next.
Students Referred to Counseling Services to Deal With Trauma After Seeing Confederate Flag
Closed Minds on Campus - Today’s student protesters start with valuable observations, writes John H. McWhorter,
Referred to Counseling Services to Deal With Trauma After Seeing
Confederate Flag - See more at:
You'll Never Guess The Most Charitable Nation In The World
A Europe Without God or Mothers
Sunday, November 29. 2015
Dr. Accad wrote a letter to medical students, but it captures most of the sorts of things that thoughtful phyicians think and worry about all the time, through their careers.
We took the long tram (trolley) ride out to Belem to look at the monastery. Best pastry in the world, Pasteis de Belem. My pic before sprinkling the powered sugar on it. When the King abolished monasteries, the monks of Belem went into the pastry biz. Damn good coffee too. The place makes 8 million of these custard pastries each year with the monks' secret recipe.
More of my Lisbon and Portugal pics below the fold -
Continue reading "2015 Photo travelogue, Part 1: around Lisbon"
Saturday, November 28. 2015
Heading out of the port of Lisbon into the Atlantic at night, at low tide, and with maximum heel to fit under the Lisbon bridge. I think we only had a couple of meters to spare. Mrs. BD thought the drivers on the bridge must have been scared to death. I was not too relaxed, myself.
On departing each port they would blast their "Sail Away" theme music. Leaving port at night under those majestic sails is thrilling:
The best of Canada: Stompin' Tom Connors - Sudbury Saturday Night (Live 2005)
We arrived at the mountain kasbah, and a Berber shepherd met us there. He wears a blue towel on his head, hanging down his back. Naturally, he speaks only Berber (and no Arabic or French either). A humble Berber, he stays outside the kasbah. We hike along a paved road until the paving ends down towards his home village. It's about twelve mud huts, some with cinder block additions, with dirt paths and plenty or trash strewn around. Donkeys strewn around too, and goats. These mountain Berbers are materially poor, but nobody told them that yet.
He took us to the schoolhouse (which looked like an abandoned cinder block shed) and we met the teacher, a brown Berber blue-eyed beauty who spoke good French. (No photo - Berber women are too shy to be photographed.) She asked us to say hello to the little Berber kids because they have never seen an American. So I did the "Bonjours, enfants" thing.
Then, as we begin hiking up a mountain and out of this village, our guide Hamid pulls out his cell phone and calls his buddy Assam to join us. Eventually, Assam catches up with us with the slow, steady lope that mountain people use in hot climates. This was good because Assam had been to high school somewhere and spoke good French. He also knew about 50 words of English.
So as we hike I try to chat with Assam in my rusty French while he translates to Berber if needed. He is around 45, educated, has never been outside Morocco. He explained that the Berbers love Americans because the embassy is sympathetic to them. Berbers, he says, hate the Muslim "invaders" and refuse to learn Arabic although it is by law that they are supposed to. He says he, like the Berber people in general, has no religion at all. He says the Arabs oppress the Berber.
They both had their dogs with them. Mrs. BD showed them pictures of our dog and of NYC on her iPhone. They were impressed by a pic of last winter's snow at our old house.
He says that Hamid has children in the village, but he has none. He told me that his wife died ten years ago and that he has not gotten over it. Then, "Changez le sujet, please."
We saw 2 wild camels on a distant mountaintop. That was a first for me. "Voila, deux chameaux." Actually, dromedaries.
We also saw goats in trees.
As we approach a mountaintop, Assam asks me to help them collect dead branches from the Argan trees. We built a stone fireplace and had a Berber mint-tea ceremony up there. It is quite elaborate. Assam pulled out his stub of a pipe for a smoke, so I asked him if he would like an American cigarette. Of course. Never tried one before. He took a deep inhale of a Marlboro menthol, and jumped in the air. "C'est froid, c'est froid, hahaha." So Hamid had to try one too, and they both laughed their butts off. I explained that this was mint tobacco, like mint tea.
At the end of our 6-hour (pathless) rocky and desert-like hike, I gave Assam the pack of Marlboros to share with his friends. A real treat. You can not tip a Berber - in their culture it is an insult - so we asked the lady at the kasbah to explain to Hamid that my $20 to him was "a gift to his family." That was ok.
When I told a lefty friend about this adventure, she said we were crazy to go alone into the wilderness with these people. I told her she was racist.
Why do you never see gasoline taxes itemized on your receipt?
Who’s really protesting Walmart?
Barone: Be Thankful for Work
Taxation As A Severe Insult
Imagination Land and crime stats
Western Cattlemen Square Off Against 60,000 Mustangs
Feral horses, actually
Mead: Getting to the Next American Dream - Forward-thinking politicians need
Climate Change Will Not Be Dangerous for a Long Time - Slower warming than predicted gives the world time to develop better energy technologies
Harsanyi: Why Can’t We Talk About Islam Honestly?
Should We Allow Syrian Refugees into America?- See more at: http://bernardgoldberg.com/should-we-allow-syrian-refugees-into-america/#sthash.llAg8nqM.dpuf
Paris Attacks Have Many in France Eager to Join the Fight
'I gave birth to a monster': Russian mother of ISIS poster girl chained her daughter up to try to stop her marrying jihadi
China Unveils Biggest Army Overhaul in Decades to Project Power
Friday, November 27. 2015
Which is why, when I read this piece, I began to question whether it's worth reading any more at all. The article implies the U.S. is somehow failing its children since, as a nation, we lag the rest of the developed world in providing pre-school education.
My parents divorced the year I entered kindergarten, aged 6. I had an older brother who was a year ahead of me, and 2 sisters who were younger. For the next 3 years, she was a single mother raising 4 kids and holding down a regular job. We all went to Catholic school. When my mother remarried, my youngest sister was just starting kindergarten. None of us had pre-school
Despite the lack of pre-school, we were all high performers in school and all of us got a college degree, while two of us continued into post-grad work. Maybe we were genetically predisposed to do well. I doubt pre-school would have helped, though we will never know for sure.
An early start to education is useful, but it is not necessary and does not guarantee performance. It's my guess higher performance later in life has to do more with factors such as the involvement and care of parents in their children's lives, as well as the relative success that allows many families to send their kids to pre-school. You can't replace a caring parent and loving family with a (hopefully) good teacher and assume that will yield great students. But that's the story you'll get from Bill de Blasio, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton (as well as a few Republicans). The OECD and CSM will push that agenda, too.
Much of central Lisbon is relatively new, rebuilt after the massive 1755 earthquake. The old Muslim center remained mostly intact but they chased the Muslims away a long time ago. In the Alfama, there is Fado all over at night when you wander down the old narrow alleys. You hear it issuing from the entrances of all of the cafes. "Fado" means fate, or destiny. It's a mix of ancient sad folk tunes with the exotic Muslim musical influence.
Mrs. BD was not going to leave Portugal before getting some good Fado. In Lisbon, it is like jazz in New York. Middle-aged afficionados love it, but the youth like American pop. We went to the best Fado club one night, Clube de Fado. In the basement club, it felt like Greenwich Village in the old days. They had an excellent band - bass, mandolino, guitar. We did hear this same lady singing:
At Duke, “Intolerance” Can Cost You Tenure
Brown to invest $100M to address racism
Dartmouth vice provost apologizes for saying conservatives are ‘not nice’
Feds Plan to Use Accreditation to Produce More Degree Holders
The College Problem Begins in High School
Why should journalists know anything about economics or history?
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Ivy League Presidents Try Appeasement.
She wore her yellow backpack backwards on her chest for safety on public transport, she explained. During the ride, she gave me her story. She graduated from college in Santiago a year ago, went to work for the family construction business. Decided she wanted to see the world before becoming too invested in work. I asked her where she had been thus far on her solitary travels. She told me, in perfect English: Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Texas, New York, Virginia, Miami, Dublin, London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid. "Maybe I forgot some places."
"Do you take pictures?"
"No pictures. I carry no camera. I just try to be where I am at the moment, to absorb it on my travel. I write notes at night to remember."
"Wow," I said. "I am impressed with your story. Where next after Portugal?"
"Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Greece, then Istanbul if I have time, then I must fly home to Santiago. I've been away for over six months already, and it's time I got back to work. My Dad needs me in the business.
"How do you like the Fado?"
"I love the Fado. The good Fado. The bad Fado is not so good. I would stay here in Lisbon, but I can not."
"How has it been?"
"Great fun. Everything is interesting to me, all you have to do is talk to people and study the travel books. I love Lisbon, so manageable and friendly."
She was right. It is. And she is one adventurous little sweetie.
Apple Pie Has No Place at Thanksgiving
The Miracle of Squanto’s Path to Plymouth
Why Black Friday is a Complete Scam - Retailers rise prices in months beforehand to make discounts look good
Dale Franks used to be a policeman
The ultimate ‘Godwin effect’ – Science In 1941: ‘Global Warming Caused Hitler’
The New Yorker Becomes The Onion
We have reached Peak ‘Guardian’. I repeat: Peak ‘Guardian’…
School study finds racial gap in salad bar use
I Should Not Write this Op-Ed: Confessions of a Non-Leftist Professor
Ponnuru: Who’s to blame for PC culture
Hillary Clinton is very sorry for saying “illegal immigrant”
CNN "Journalist" Caught Red-Handed Doing Media Favors for Hillary
Too Late for Carson to Catch up on Homework
Top 5 Things Westerners Need to Embrace About Islamic Culture
German Leftist Politician OPENLY Brags About Migrants Replacing German People
Thursday, November 26. 2015
Reposted, but still terrible
A Thanksgiving treat and blessing for me this morning - a flock of about 35 Cedar Waxwings in my maple tree. (Photo is that species.)
Three Old Men Having Fun
English is not normal - No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language
Our evil planet kills countless humans every year – why bother to save it?
Thanksgiving: How does it happen that everything has become politics?
Thanksgiving - the one real American holiday, a serious holiday, a Christian holiday that non-Christians can easily appreciate, the best day of the year,
For at least one day each year, let's count our blessings and put aside our gripes and disappointments.
From a reader in Connecticut, last week.
Wednesday, November 25. 2015
It takes a special breed to be a rough and tumble sort. I recently stumbled on the story of Carl Akeley, who brought taxidermy into the modern age. His adventures seem like dime novels. He crossed a crocodile infested river on a carcass, and beat a leopard to death with his hands. I doubt that could be repeated today, but maybe these stories are fairly common for men who wind up dead. What made Carl unusual was his survival. His stories live on, much like his taxidermy and dioramas. In that survival, I believe, comes the official stamp of 'badass'.
His career path didn't start out as one which put him on the path as a most interesting guy. He had been fired from his taxidermy jobs for napping. It wasn't until he met P.T. Barnum and stuffed the elephant "Jumbo" that his life changed and he began taking an intense interest in making his creations more life-like. It's doubtful you could get away with living a life like his today, given the current political environment surrounding animals and hunting, in general. In fact, Akeley himself shifted his views later in life and began to promote conservation and nature preserves. I guess anyone's life can change at any point and take a turn for the exciting and adventurous.
When I studied French in high school, the teacher told us that Louis XlV had two baths in his life - the first when he was born, and the second one killed him. Like spices for food, perfume had a practical purpose.
Turkey meat is just an excuse to eat lots of mashed potatoes, cranberry dressing, stuffing, and gravy.
There are many ways to live a life. During my (brief) life thus far, I have seen a lot of lives up close. There is no right way to do it, and the safe bourgeois way is not any ideal.
We hired Ricardo with his new Toyota minivan as a day guide out of Lisbon on the recommendation of our perfect boutique hotel, Palacete Chafariz d'el Rei in the Alfama. (Indeed, Portugal, like Spain, is full of Muslim cultural remnants.) He took us out around the countryside and the ocean shores because we handled the city on our own on foot and on the trolleys.
Ricardo seemed about 35 years old, married to a psychologist from the Azores but no kids yet - "Not until I fulfill my need for adventure." He is tall and devilishly dashing, macho. Makes spare cash on the side as a fashion model and thinks it is hilarious that he can do that. Speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and is teaching himself Arabic for fun. Grew up in rural northern Portugal, family had no money for his college so joined the army which trained him as a sniper and gave him language school, and eventually assigned him to UN duties in Somalia, Bosnia, and Africa. Then the army paid him to go to the University of Lisbon, from which he spent a year at the University of London. Then he taught high school history for a few years but quit in disgust because the kids did not seem to be excited to learn anything.
Thus he began his career as a personal guide/historian. When we hired him, he had just returned from running a 5-day camping trek in Iceland. Showed me his iPhone glacier pics and their tent camps by the hot springs. He loves New England in the autumn, especially Vermont, is planning a trip with his father in law to drive from NYC to LA in a camper. They want to hike the Grand Canyon and the Rockies, and to drive on Route 66. He says that the Portuguese do not aspire to money because life is beautiful, but aspire to live with spirit, joy, friendship, and love. That is our culture, he said. He is an exemplar.
He says the Portuguese must learn languages because nobody speaks theirs.
We quickly tired of the routine tourist places he took us to, so we asked him to take us to his favorite countryside place for a typical lunch. He got on his iPhone, called the simple place in the middle of nowhere to ask them to stay open late for his Americans, and the result with their own farm wines was dazzling. One of maybe two or three high points of the whole trip. We insisted that he dine with us on the octopus, lamb, fish, and that fluffy Portuguese cheesecake with the fruit preserves on top. A feast. We skipped dinner on the boat that night.
How he seems to be pals with every cheery cop in Lisbon is beyond me. They come up to his car and slap hands. The police in my town are grouchy to everybody even though we pay their salaries. Or maybe because we do.
(Portuguese cooking tip from that place: We all hate rubbery octopus and squid. For tender octopus and/or squid, freeze first for 12 hours, then boil - and then sautee or grill. Sweet, succulent, and tender.)
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