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, June 27. 2016
Inside Silicon Valley’s Robot Pizzeria
Narcissists Get More Dates
PowerPoint Makes Us Stupid - How PowerPoint has killed the art of rhetoric
Bill Maher: Liberals Don't Know Jack About Guns
Alaska rafting deaths highlight response challenges
No it doesn't. Wilderness adventures are not meant to be safe.
The Orwellian Charge of the Campus Bias Response Team
Feds: Schools Must Grant Mentally Disturbed Boy Unfettered Access to Girls’ Locker Room
Maine's First Lady Takes Summertime Waitress Job to Pick up Cash
Exercising your right to own firearms now lands you on a federal database in Hawaii
Once Again Obama Argues We Need Illegal Immigrants Because They “Make Our Beds”
(George) Will to Irrelevance
Everything Is Broken - Cynicism is the cancer at the heart of this election year.
Despite Market Turmoil, Britain Was Right To Brexit
Brexit’s success is unsurprising
The EU's olive oil rules
The Certainty of even More and More Disturbing Power Grabs by the EU
Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Brussels simply went too far. They cross the line moving from an economic union to a political subordination of Europe. Now eight more countries want to hold referendums to exit the EU – France, Holland, Italy, Austria, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, and Slovakia all could leave.
Conrad Black: A fresh start for Europe
Abbas Goes Off Deep End, And Even the NYT Can’t Overlook It
'move jungle to uk' - Calais mayor sparks furious row after demanding that squalid migrant camp be moved to Britain
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I'm looking forward to starting my annual canoe trips on the Delaware River again, at some point. For 6 years (1974-1981), and then again for 6 more (1987-1993), and sporadically afterward, I'd join a number of friends for a weekend trip. The early trips were with Boy Scouts (though if we could find a way to get beer, we did) and the later ones with friends (basically weekend booze-it-ups). We wouldn't drink while canoeing (maybe a beer or two, but it was too dangerous and you had to remain level-headed in the rapids), and it was rain or shine.
Every year, someone would get tossed from their canoe in the rapids. The first year, it was me. Keep your feet pointed downstream, kick off the rocks and get through the rapids before heading to shore. Oh yeah, wear a life preserver. If you canoe hits a rock, not a big deal but don't let it turn sideways, the pressure of the water could bend or snap it (so many canoes wrapped tightly around rocks, it's amazing).
Every year, before hitting the water, we were reminded of how many people died the year before.
It's good to know. You're not going out there for a safe ride on a Disney water slide, you're going out to test your skills against nature. There is a risk, and you've accepted that risk. It's what sets you apart from every other idiot spending the weekend in front of a TV set.
This weekend, I went for a 31 mile bike ride on some old rail lines that have been converted to a walk/ride path. Saw a fellow flip over his handlebars. He was OK, but I've seen really bad injuries on other bike rides. One fellow who died of a heart attack on the Queensboro Bridge a few years ago in the 5 boro bike ride. I rode past him moments after he'd collapsed. Very sad, but it's part of being prepared and knowing what you can and can't do.
Just like whitewater rafting or canoeing.
I would be very much interested in the rails to trails that you know about in your area. I rode from Pittsburgh to DC (Allegheny Passage & C & O Canal) a few years ago; great trip. I have been looking to see if there are more rides that can be pieced together like that. The North East would be great. Thanks.
There are some in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.
I was on the Columbia Trail, much shorter (15.5 miles), an old iron ore line. At one spot is a gorge where a train had fallen in years ago due to bridge collapse. The train is gone, but they have a marker for the spot.
I recommend the first 10 miles, starting south in High Bridge. It's a gentle (unnoticeable) slope upward, but you cut 15 minutes off on return due to a faster pace. The final 5.5 miles in the north are interesting, but don't add to the ride significantly other than making it an hour longer. The trail meanders a bit more, goes through a townhouse development, 2 industrial areas, until finally ending on a road without much parking. We did the first 10 miles a year ago, did the full ride yesterday. The ride a year ago was much more enjoyable and all due to making it 20 as opposed to 31 miles. It's not the distance, either, it's the surroundings.
Alternatively, I recommend biking along the old D&R (Delaware and Raritan) Canal. Most of it is navigable by bike. We were planning to do Frenchtown to New Hope, but the timing was a bit much (5-6 hours) and I ride considerably faster than my wife, so we knew that probably wouldn't work. Have you noticed is much harder to ride slowly than it is to ride at a pace you're comfortable with? I get tired faster, don't enjoy it, and it's just uncomfortable.
Ironically, we didn't bring enough water with us yesterday. With 4 miles to go, I finished mine and my wife finished hers. I looked her, took the keys and said "I'm sprinting to the parking lot. I'll have the car chilled for you when you get there." and took off. She loved stepping into the air conditioning, and we made the first stop we could for much needed drinks.
Thanks for the info!
I only have issues with pace, if it is much faster than my normal pace. If it is much slower, I get bored, but could ride much further. Drop into a lower gear, and spin the cranks! On a four percent grade, I can spin all day at 80 - 90 rpm.
I've tried dropping into a lower gear, but I just spin like mad and that's annoying. Sure I could go longer, but it's a pain. I'm much more comfortable trying to keep up with a pace faster than my own.
On the article in question - put two women in their late 60s in a raft by themselves and send them down a class III rapid in freezing water 600 miles from any help with the main guide in the final raft, (remember - problems on a river float away from you).
I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
I worked as a professional riverguide for 15 years. Those operators were idiots.
Undoubtedly. But it was the womens' choice to go. Given their age, they should've not only been aware of the risk, but should've wondered why they didn't have a professional with them.
I'm 54, and I have enough water skill to probably do what they did, though I'd be concerned. When I become a bit older, I'd definitely have a second question coming.
Hell, I was only 30 and newly minted in scuba on my first real dive and STILL insisted on having the dive master buddy with me, given the depth (120 ft). The boat captain, who raised the bell on the Andrea Doria, told me I had no worries, because I had more training than he did when he raised that bell. I wasn't buying it.
Knowing the danger is only half the story. Knowing your limits is the other.
Given their age, they should've not only been aware of the risk, but should've wondered why they didn't have a professional with them.
They would have trusted that they were with professionals that knew what they were doing, even if they themselves were unsure of the situation.
There are very few people who have the self-awareness to correctly gauge the level of their abilities and the situation. You are one of the few. After working as a guide for so long I can confidently state that I would not go on any organized adventure tour of any kind where the operator was not known to me. The industry is that dodgy. I could tell you stories that would make you cringe.
The fact that neither of the guides saw their raft flip is the big standout to me. That means that neither of them were paying attention to the single craft with two old ladies in it on a class III rapid where the river had risen dangerously the night before. Criminal.
Yes it is, I'm not suggesting the guides or the company were not at fault. I'm suggesting that it's strange to think all the blame resides there.
Maybe I'm more self-aware than some, but if you've got people who are that trusting, there's something else at work. As I pointed out, even on my first real dive I wasn't willing to take the word of an accomplished 'authority' figure.
Yes, we should rely on the skill and knowledge of the company we've chosen. But in dangerous situations, where life and limb are at risk, we cannot rely on authorities alone. If that WERE the case, then I would be more than happy to turn my life over to the technocrats and politicians, because they certainly seem to know what's best for everyone.
I do believe the firm is at fault, and should be sued. But those people and their families also have to accept some bad decisions were made from the start. Whitewater rafting, canoeing, or any other engagement of, and interaction with nature carries massive risks for the uninitiated and more for the unaware.
When you add to that the distance of any possible assistance or rescue, then the real criminal act is allowing people of that age going along at all and not expecting anything to happen, with or without guides. That said, I'm not saying people should be prevented from doing something they want to do - however risky it is. I'm simply saying assuming that having the guide with them would have made a difference, or even having had a closer eye on them, is pure conjecture. At the root of the discussion is their choice to go, in spite of knowing the risks.
After I learned to dive, I called a great uncle of mine up. He used to fly his own glider and also knew great scuba locations for getting lobster. I asked if he wanted to go with me and show me some of the locations. He simply said "I'm 69 years old. I know plenty of people older than me who still dive, but it's just irresponsible on my part, however healthy I feel, to allow you to take that risk with me."
The reality is that these operators are often running on very tight budgets and one or two more paying pax can flip a trip from a loss to a profit.
So you have the case where two people turn up, in this case old women who shouldn't be out there, but they could be obese or any other type unsuited to the task at hand, and the guides know that they shouldn't go but they're overruled by the company owner.
The oldest person I ever saw go down a dangerous stretch of serious whitewater was in his 90s and walking with the aid of a cane. The heaviest person I ever saw taken had to have weighed over 300 pounds. They wrapped two lifejackets around him with a length of rope as the largest one didn't have a hope in hell of fitting.
The experienced guides with half a brain will refuse to take such customers but inexperienced guides with a point to prove will step up and do it to prove to the old guides that they "have what it takes".
I've had raging arguments with unsuitable clientele. You go up to some porker and say, "sorry, bud - you can't go because you're not physically suitable" and they go batshit crazy. Their family also goes nuts. You've insulted them. How dare you tell someone the size of an elephant who can't even hold a paddle in their fat stubby fingers that they can't go rafting. How dare you embarrass them like that in front of the other customers? Don't you have any feelings?
Hell is other people. No scratch that - hell is other people on a 12 day wilderness expedition miles from anywhere.
Re: Paglia: Transgenderism as a Symptom of Cultural Collapse
I agree with Paglia that transgenderism is a symptom of the West's decadence and thus is evidence of its moral collapse. The author of the column, Stuart Schneiderman, also agrees and rejoices in her analysis.
Note well: every single cell is coded for biological gender. Few people have had the nerve to stand up against the transgender propagandists. Hats off again to Paglia for telling it like it is and for speaking truth to power.
But I think the greater evidence of our moral collapse is that we are willing to accept as reality things that are plainly imaginary. I don't think anything defines a civilizational collapse more than that.
"Alaska rafting deaths highlight response challenges
No it doesn't. Wilderness adventures are not meant to be safe. "
As someone who worked outside the 911 bubble, at sea, I can't tell you how many times I've had to emphasize to people with full blown Peckerhead Degrees, PhDs, that we were 9 days from helo range and that was a long time to bleed or be in pain. Or to hope to survive that second heart attack after their recent one.
People have gotten used to rescue and can't comprehend how big and dangerous the world is outside the bubble or if the services breakdown.
On boys playing girl's sports: How long before a man tells Olympics people, "I'm a woman and I will compete in track and field"?
Marita Koch, East German sprinter
My boss, at my first job, had a poster of an East German shot putter. It was a joke, but the picture clearly showed outlines of anatomical irregularities....
National Lampoon had a cover in the 70s (I think) with a rendition of a USSR woman athlete with 'anatomical irregularities'.
A sports trainer at a rather large high school (3500 students) says this is becoming a danger as more MtF students insist on being part of female teams. The male body has denser bones and muscles than females, regardless of hormone treatments, and competitions are resulting in more serious injuries. She knows who is who on her teams, but has no control over those at other schools nor is there a policy addressing this issue yet.
Seriously? How many M2F high school students are there? Our high school is well over 1,000 and I asked my boys if there are any and they said no.
Might they not be aware? I don't see how. They know intimate details about the lives of all their classmates - almost shockingly intimate, at times.
It's amazing to me if there are that many...but I suppose it all depends.
Re: Maine's First Lady working as a waitress
Now that's a public servant. Funny how most all the real public servants I know - the ones the public willingly pay for services rendered like cashiers and plumbers and mechanics and landscapers and cooks and dry cleaners, you know, the private sector workers who actually have to serve the public if they expect to make a buck - don't make as much as the "humble public servants" living off the government teat.
Isn't the robot-made pizza the same as a frozen pizza you buy at the grocery store? Those are all assembled by robots in a factory somewhere...easy enough to translate that kind of production to a restaurant. The only thing you'd have to do is be able to add the different sauces and toppings.
Anyway, I don't see this as somehow revolutionary.
Eventually, just as there was a resurgence in 'farm fresh food' vs. factory food or 'conglomerate' type farms providing food, there will be a resurgence of 'hand-made by people' food someday down the road.
I don't care how my food is made, as long as it is made correctly and tastes good. Less people touching my food may make foodborne illness a lot less common.
I think the uniqueness is the pizza finishing the baking process, in the truck, on the way to the customer. Otherwise, you are right, they have to have the frozen pizza making pretty much automated at this point. One half of a freezer aisle at my local grocery store, is dedicated to frozen pizza's.