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, August 26. 2019
Sunday, August 25. 2019
Some things I didn't find a way to fit into my prior posts. Glad some readers have enjoyed the posts.
(For those who might be interested, I have created a Travelogue and Travel Ideas category which can be linked on the left column. Haven't had time to go back and re-categorize older trips to that category, yet.)
View from the garden wall at our Abazzia-hotel:
More below the fold -
Continue reading "My Umbria photo dump #7, with a little more tasty food, reposted from 2012"
Things our teachers never told us, and maybe never understood. What is zero? Is it a number?
I am a swamp-lover too - swamps, marshes, ponds, vernal pools, etc - places full of life.
103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits--
103:3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
103:4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
103:5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
103:6 The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
103:7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Saturday, August 24. 2019
Scotland to London, on the 5th leg of their trip from Boston to Austria
In praise of the semicolon, a most maligned punctuation mark Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:07 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:19 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday notes from all over:
And yet somehow I can still buy a 50" television for $180. There seems to be a disconnect between the reporting and the reality on this topic. Can't imagine why.
That's silly. The hobo bathing in the men's room sink, however...
And every Washington Post story is secretly a political infomercial. Ho hum.
I hear upcycled pallet lumber coffee tables burn best.
Holy moley. That would have made a hell of movie. In 1966. Now, not so much. Stick to Batman, fellers, it's all you know.
They can't wait to give Facebook millions to carry ads that say social media hates conservatives. Well, they couldn't wait.
The article is 129 words. Reuters labels it a "1 min read." Reuters staff must wear hockey helmets to ride the bus.
Netflix thinks spending lots of cash will result in good entertainment. Disney thinks having good entertainment will result in lots of cash. I know which way I'd bet.
If a subsidy falls in a Chinese forest, does Elon Musk make a sound?
Shopify should just buy a newspaper, and say that it isn't a mistake.
Happy Saturday, everyone!
Friday, August 23. 2019
NOT SO FAB FOUR: ALL THIS MONEY "All Bob's money I will give to you."
It's never too soon to have a Will, and a Living Will. Trouble can strike at any time as we all have seen.
Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome by Susan Levenstein
Many interesting experiences. You understand why wealthy Europeans go to New York when they are seriously ill.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:30 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science.
The press makes it all even worse, just to make a story. People of the press rarely have STEM degrees.
Internet wags make jokes about the NSA spying on everyone. There's a hint of whistling past the graveyard in the humor. If you sense a dreadful thing nearby, but can't quite see it, your mind runs a bit wild, and you resort to nervous laughter to break the spell. The average computer programmer is a mental patient about online tracking, for instance. They're constantly touting the privacy benefits of Linux, whenever they can get their computers to work enough to type a sentence. Microsoft is sending telemetry! I don't know what telemetry is, but it sounds bad! Then they load forty apps on a homing beacon, AKA a smartphone, and pay for everything with it. They follow it up with a demand to be anonymous on their Twitter account.
Everyone's mistaken, or lying, on the internet, sometimes both. There's only one real fear here. People are whistling past the graveyard of obscurity, not Warhollian panopticontroversy. The nameless dread they hold is the fear that the NSA, and every other two-bit news or data aggregator for that matter, doesn't care if they're alive or dead, never mind what they're doing online at 2 AM. Their life is like a children's game from the fifties: Look at me, look at me, look at me, DON'T LOOK AT ME! One, two, three, GREEN LIGHT!
Don't get me wrong. Someone, or more accurately, many someones are tracking your movements, purchases, and daily interests, no matter how trivial, ephemeral and chaotic they are. It goes into huge hadoop hoppers and gets sifted and sold hither and yon to anyone who will pay. It shouldn't happen, but no one ever asks me what should happen, so place the blame somewhere else. Yell your dissatisfaction with tracking into your Amazon Echo, or your Nest thermostat, or your doorbell, or I don't know, maybe your refrigerator.
And what good is all that info? Not much. I know absolutely everything about myself, for instance, but I have no idea what I'm going to do tomorrow. What chance does Acxiom have at figuring it out?
The photo at the top of this post is real, and the subject of the photo really wrote that on the margin, as nearly as I can tell. It's from a fairly notable book of photographs from a fellow named Jim Goldberg. You can find out all sorts of things about Jim Goldberg on the internet, and I think you can still buy this book of photos and captions, even though it was originally published 35 years ago. Look up Countess Viviana de Blonville. All you'll find is see Jim Goldberg.
Is dying alone, unmourned, and unloved made better if it's posted to Facebook? I am beset by doubts. On to today's news!
People believe hoaxes because hoaxes are more interesting than real life. It's voluntary behavior, really. Just a smidgen of reality mixed in with the bosh is all you need to dupe most folks. I've seen fistfights over the last donut in the break room, so killing a crone for a gingerbread recipe wouldn't strike me as far fetched, either.
If you collect and store sensitive info, you should be required to protect it. Make companies that hoard data take out bonds and insurance to cover all potential liabilities. You need to post bonds to undertake real world construction projects in many cases. Want to build a database instead of a strip mall? What's the difference? Can't wait to see what the number at the bottom of the policy would be for creepy stalkers like Facebook.
Remember when CEOs wore short-sleeve dress shirts under their polyester suits and did boring things like turning a profit? Now they're all android people on booster seats in congressional hearings, new-age gurus, and old short-bus James Bond here.
" Jalopy" is an entirely underused word. I'm going to go out of my way to say "jalopy" today. Go forth, brethren, and spread the word of jalopy! And watch Bullitt.
You're only as old as the women you feel.
Now that's some weapons-grade name dropping. BTW, Fat Man and Little Boy is a good movie, in the parts Paul Newman is in. The parts he isn't in are still technically a movie, I guess. Leslie Groves was the genius in that bunch. Except for Von Neumann, the rest were just really smart plumbers. And Von Neumann isn't in the movie.
It's Australia. That baby should eat a dingo.
I expect a photo of the charred remains of Hansel and Gretel's victim to show up soon.
When my gut bacteria talks, my wife listens and leaves the room.
Attention Apple users: farting through silk is now mandatory to use their products, not just to afford them.
Hansel and Gretel committed a murder over a coffee and crumble. They were pikers compared to Starbucks
Have a great Friday, everyone!
Thursday, August 22. 2019
Chinese Social Credit Score Prevents 2.5 Million “Discredited Entities” From Buying Plane Tickets See the list
A timely reminder that in 2016, several major journalists were revealed to be explicitly coordinating with the Clinton campaign or—at the very least—favoring it and working closely with it. None suffered consequences. These folks will help shape 2020 coverage.
It's a tool to optimize reasoning. But takes optimum reasoning to get it. Give the article a try.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:57 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
If you love adult music, I advise visitors to NYC to check out the program. Or, if you request, they will mail it. The best part is that the tickets are not expensive. It's not like going to the opera.
If I lived closer to NYC, we'd get a 10-night subscription.
Their 2019-2020 Program. Remarkable. Nowhere else in the world.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:16 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
This is more inquiry than commentary. Interested to see what people think.
The idea of human rights as myth, in my estimation, is really about using them in a myth-making manner. They are ideals to strive for, and protect. Basic moral goods that apply universally, and from which other 'rights' (perhaps better defined as legal rights) or duties may grow from.
I'd had a conversation about universal human rights with a Progressive who considers them to be a myth or social construct. Only useful or meaningful if they are enforced. I took a different view. I feel they are real things, existing as useful concepts whether they are enforced or not. In fact, I pointed out, enforcing them is the incorrect term. Protecting them, or efficiently allowing their application, is more to the point. But even if they are not protected or applied, they are real nonetheless. Which is why so many people have fought for them over the years, and why nations which do apply them efficiently see so many wonderful benefits to their society.
His next question was "what makes them real? How can you justify a right to a free attorney but not a right to free medical care?" I replied that was a logical fallacy. There is no right to a free attorney, that's just a SCOTUS ruling. That has no bearing on this discussion (though I'm open to other ideas that you may have in comments).
So what are basic human rights? To me, they are real things. Things you are endowed with at no cost, upon birth. The right to free speech, for example. The right to associate with whomever you like. The right to believe what you want. The right to worship as you see fit. These cost nothing. They do not impact others' rights, or other people (physically or directly) in any limiting fashion. What are typically known as "Natural Rights" - a thing Progressives don't believe in because, to them, everything is a social construct and open to manipulation.
When I was younger, I discovered stoicism. At first I was put off by their slogan, Amor fati, because hey, no fat chicks. Then I dug a little deeper. I got out my Rosetta stone, and translated from Latin into Greek, and then into Demotic, and back into Latin because my cuneiform is pretty rusty, and finally back into English. That's when I discovered Amor fati only tangentially refers to dating plus-size girls. A closer reading of the texts resulted in a truer meaning: "Sh*t happens." I decided right then and there that this was a worldview I could get behind, if not walk behind.
So I'm a stoic now. I'm in good company. Shakespeare said that there was nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. Or maybe it was Rodney Dangerfield. In any case, there are a lot of us stoics out there. For instance, often I'll say something extremely stoic, if that's even possible, and people will remark that stoics are really out there.
To get you in the stoic swing, I've decided to invite the granddaddy of all the stoic scribblers, Marcus Aurelius, to weigh in on today's news items.
"The man who has a house everywhere has a home nowhere"
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
"The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject."
"If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it."
"Never act without purpose and resolve, or without the means to finish the job."
"Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, THE ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial"
"A wrongdoer is often a man who has left something undone, not always one who has done something."
"Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life."
"He who eats my bread, does my will."
"...if a man comes to his fortieth year, and has any understanding at all, he has virtually seen - thanks to their similarity - all possible happenings, both past and to come."
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
Have a modestly successful Thursday, everyone, whether you want to or not. That's how stoics do it. I hope you enjoyed Ol' Mark's take on today's news. Remember, don't get down in the mouth about today's events. To quote the two most famous stoic philosophers:
"Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so." -Marcus Aurelius
"They don't think it be like it is but it do." - Oscar Gamble
Wednesday, August 21. 2019
Simple as pie. Roughly chop up a few cloves of garlic. Roughly chop up an onion. Throw them in a big pan with plenty of olive oil for a few minutes on medium heat.
Chop up an eggplant into about 1" square chunks - skin on. Also, a couple of zucchinis and yellow summer squashes to about 1" chunks.
Before the garlic and onions brown, throw in the vegetable chunks with a cup of water, stir it up a little, throw in some salt and plenty of ground pepper, and cover the pot.
No tomato - it messes up the subtle flavors.
Then get some sprigs of thyme, oregano, and basil from the garden and throw them on top, and let it slow simmer and steam on low medium for a while, covered. Gently stir it around a little.
As soon as the veggies begin turn soft but before they fall apart, take off the stove. Throw a handful of fresh-chopped parsley on top before serving. Even vegophobes like it.
As I scrolled through movie listings recently, Mrs. Bulldog suddenly said "Oh, I read that book, it was good."
A Man Called Ove was the listing. It's Swedish, with subtitles. Outside of Bergman's work or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I'm not aware of many Swedish films. But it was a slow day and I gave it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.
It's a poignant drama with just enough comedy to keep up interest. An everyday man's life, one which is heavily driven by routine and basic beliefs and expectations. A curmudgeon who finds himself put into uncomfortable situations, and how he responds to these circumstances. Naturally, since this is for public consumption, we determine he's not as basic or curmudgeonly as we'd expect. He's just seen a lot, done a lot, and determined that he's comfortable doing what he's doing. Whatever you want to do, fine. Don't make it his problem, but he doesn't care, really.
He takes his shots at the government (as you can imagine, there's enough Socialism in Sweden that it's a common theme), calling its functionaries "whiteshirts". His life, and as he finds out the lives of others, are not enhanced by the appearance of these "whiteshirts". He also does his part, and more, to keep life comfortable for others. Mainly by making it comfortable for himself, which has knock-on effects.
It's on Amazon Prime, if you have it. If not, I'd recommend it as a rental. It's not Bergman, but I think the Swedes have a unique view of life and it was the kind of movie that allowed me to relax, and think about life just enough to be both entertained and informed.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:34 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)