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
Tuesday, August 26. 2014
Monday, August 25. 2014
Photo below is the Marsh Mallow plant which is a native of marshy areas in the Old World, now wild in North America. You can read about it here.
Apparently it is easy to make your own Marshmallows at home.
I prefer my Marshmallows plain, on a stick over an open fire, preferably permitted to burst into flame to produce a black crust before blowing them out. Few can resist some campfire S'mores, but I can. Too sweet for me.
In three years, any ordinary, motivated kid can get through the HS basics: Essay-writing, grammar, basics of research papers, math up to or through Calc 1, American History, World History, Bio, Literature-reading, Chem, Physics, Civics, and whatever.
Why not just complete HS requirements as quick as you can, and then leave?
I still do not understand the mission of Middle School.
"[W]ealth is, for most people, the only honest and likely path to liberty. With money comes power over the world. Men are freed from drudgery, women from exploitation. Businesses can be started, homes built, communities formed, religions practiced, educations pursued. But liberals aren't very interested in such real and material freedoms. They have a more innocent -- not to say toddlerlike -- idea of freedom. Liberals want the freedom to put anything into their mouths, to say bad words and to expose their private parts in art museums."
P. J. O'Rourke
Sunday, August 24. 2014
We noted in our piece on Visiting Colleges that responsible parents can decide what their kids need to learn in college, even if they go somewhere with minimal core requirements.
This should not be left to the kids to decide, because 1. It's too important 2. We know better than they do what they need to know to be educated adults with an openness to the richness of life, 3. We should have our own ideas about what we want our own kids to know (eg, any kid who doesn't know basic geology is a bore), 4. Colleges, in their pandering to students, tend to not want to tell them what they need to know, and 5. Who pays the piper calls the tune.
Here's an example of Mom and Pop's Minimum Required College Courses for a Liberal Arts education, regardless of major or interests (these can be met with High School APs or equivalent too):
Math and Science: Math through at least first year calc (BC calc), Statistics, Bio with lab, Physics with lab, Chem with lab, Geology intro, Astronomy
General: History of Western Thought (or Western Civ, or whatever it might be called), Art History Survey, Music History Survey, a political science course, Micro and Macro Economics, a Bible-based Christian Theology course, Intro to Accounting (if you can find something like that in a fancy college. If not, take over the summer at a local college. It will be a huge help to anything a person does in life, including volunteer jobs.)
History: American History, European History, Classical History
Literature: Shakespeare plus 2 other lit courses
This is a minimal foundation for "lifetime learning" and reading. A young person with this foundation ought to be able to discuss almost any subject that comes up - if maybe only superficially - and to know how to learn more about it efficiently when they want or need to do so. Corny but true.
nb: Before you debate me on this, note that these are minimal requirements. You ain't eddicated if you don't know this stuff. Of course, you can get it all at Great Courses.com, cheaper and better and without exams.
Please don't do this when there is a line of ten people at a busy Dunkin Donuts in Wellfleet at 9 am, as happened on Thursday:
A chubby short gal around 40 finally gets to the front of the line. Nice lady asks her for her order. "Let me think," as she scans the overhead menu which has been in full view of the line. She decides on the #8. OK. Then, "but can I have it on a croissant instead of a bagel?" Nice lady says OK. Then, "I want extra mayo on that too."
Everybody in line is now rolling their eyes.
Nice lady explains that DD has no mayo at all. Short gal takes time to express her disappointment in DD. I'm thinking "Does she think this is a restaurant?"
Then she has to decide on how she wants her coffee. Decides on cream and double fake sugar, of course, because only fat people and anorectics use fake sugar. The nice lady at the counter then rings her up.
For some women in lines, this requirement to pay always comes as a surprise. She starts rummaging through her bag to try to find her freaking wallet amongst all the crap in there, and has to go through her change purse too. (Ever notice how guys always have the money in their hands when they order?)
She doesn't say "Thank you." I think she is still pissed about the mayo.
Don't be like this.
I eventually got to order two small black coffees, and asked the lady for extra mayo with them, and got a good jolly laugh out of her. One of my jobs in life is to lighten the loads of service people.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 11:34 | Comments (27) | Trackback (1)
Paul's Letter to the Romans 12:1-8
Wellfleet is for swimming.
My niece is an ocean lifeguard out there. Cool job.
Lots of seals swimming off that stretch of beach. Harbor Seals or Grey Seals? I could not tell. Happy seals, anyway.
Saturday, August 23. 2014
Took this pic of a clamming boat coming into dock in Wellfleet in September a couple of years ago. The refrigerated truck will arrive just as he ties up.
Those are Sea Clams which are harvested along the Northeast coast by dredging, from deeper water than the Quahog of the tidal flats but much shallower waters than those inhabited by the deep-sea Ocean Clam. Here are Sea Clams up close:
Sea Clams are the main processed clam in the US, and their shells are commonly used as ashtrays.
The hard-shelled clam, the Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria - why that name?) is the clam of Atlantic US estuaries and tidal flats. It tastes better, in my opinion, than the Sea Clam - especially when you dig them yourself. Unlike the Sea Clam, you eat the Quahog feathers and all: Littlenecks and Cherrystones - and the chowder-sized Quahogs.
This is from Thoreau's Cape Cod:
The entirety of Thoreau's report of his amusing 1849-1867 ramblings, Cape Cod, can be read here.
A monkey's diversion. Hmm. You know, Darwin didn't have a clue compared to Gregor Mendel, but we are just monkeys when examined dispassionately. I've never heard the Internet described properly until just now, in my head. I asked Google what the Internet was, which I was afraid to do at first. If you ask the Internet what the Internet is, that's like dividing by zero. I could have broken the darn thing, and then everyone would be angry at me. So I asked with some trepidation, but nothing much happened, good or bad, just like when you search for anything else. It told me this:
No, that's way too many words. I hereby declare: The Internet is A Monkey's Diversion. Someone go update the Wikipedia page, will you? Now on to some desultory links, with crabby commentary. A Monkey's Diversion!
Be flexible. Line up work in advance. Get banking set up. Don't plan to work 40 hrs/wk. Travel light (28L backpack). Go.
Regulation has plunged us back to the hunter-gatherer stage, this time for pixels. If this behavior bothers you, don't fret. Everyone young that tries to copy this method will never procreate.
There is nothing serious that cannot be made trivial, and nothing trivial that cannot be made serious.
It all began, as these things so often do, with a drink. One drink, which led to another, then more besides. Each one, generously given by a genial customer. Each one eagerly slurped by the monkey chained to the bar
That reminds me. I can't wait until Saint Patrick's Day!
A recent report from Reuters has also suggested Apple is in talks with multiple health providers at Mount Sinai, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Allscripts, with the company pushing HealthKit and its Health app as an all-in-one patient data resource for medical professionals.
The biggest heist ever committed in America was bribing politicians to make Apple the defacto computer used in public schools. They were useless for any sort of productive work, which made them wildly popular with academics. Apple smells sweet, sweet Obamacare money now.
Knowledge Vault is a type of "knowledge base" – a system that stores information so that machines as well as people can read it. Where a database deals with numbers, a knowledge base deals with facts. When you type "Where was Madonna born" into Google, for example, the place given is pulled from Google's existing knowledge base.This existing base, called Knowledge Graph, relies on crowdsourcing to expand its information. But the firm noticed that growth was stalling; humans could only take it so far.
Asking the Internet for facts is like telling a bicyclist to go get moon rocks. Facts aren't located on the Internet, dudes. But you knew that. They're looking for their brand of facts.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go through training as an ISIS terrorist? Or better yet, where you would go to find such advanced training? All you have to do to find the answer to these questions is turn to the nearest ISIS media twitter account and click on that bright blue Justpaste.it link. Let’s take a look at the photos posted in July showing one of the Islamic State’s training camps in Ninewa Province and see what we can learn.
Please note the trivial amount of effort it takes to find where these nests of vipers are located. But we're married to proportional response now, I guess, if that. Please also notice the comment section that immediately devolves into: But Christians teach Creationism in Texas Public Schools!
The Betrothed, by Kipling
"You must choose between me and your cigar."
Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
Friday, August 22. 2014
Russell Kirk: A great American thinker ready to be rediscovered
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:43 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
How much of it is vanity, and how much functionality?
It seems clear that if you are fly-fishing for big fish, you might need a decent drag, etc. I have a cheap Cabela's 4-weight reel for small trout on small streams, and for drag, if ever needed, I can just palm it. It's just a line-holder really.
Over time, I have turned against fancy, expensive sporting equipment. What makes a fly reel worth the money?
If you google the question, you get many opinions.
I have often fished for big fish, but never fly-fishing.
Life has become a complicated muddle, hasn't it? There are many big decisions. Should you become a newsreader because you have a lisp? Should you become an athlete because you're missing limbs? Should you join the military because you're a pacifist?
College calls. It needs deconstructivists like you. The NBA needs midgets, and the NFL needs gay men. International politics needs a low handicap, and international banking needs wizened ovaries, bad. There's a place for everybody, and you just have to follow the signs and portents to figure out where you fit in.
The only really big question is if you should have any hair below your eyebrows. The rest is easy.
Attention bosses: Set up a strong hierarchy and your workers will function better.
Thursday, August 21. 2014
with some references to autism
We have commented on the subject of the human diet and health before, but it's time for another comment, because the NYT Science Times has written on it.
"Healthy food" has been an on-and-off American obsession, comparable to the obsession with flavor in France.
Since Rev. Sylvester Graham, a minister, vegetarian, and food-obsessive invented the Graham Cracker in the 1820s to provide "digestive fiber," Americans have been food faddists and vulnerable to food quackery.
More famously, Dr. John Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan, an 1870s charlatan with a diet fad, fooled Americans into thinking that cereal was breakfast food. It is not. In Yankee-land, breakfast is eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, potatoes, fruit and apple pie.
Eat what you want, and be happy. All humans are prone to "magical thinking" - aka "wishful thinking." We'd like to imagine that we have some control over things like health, and that things we put in our mouths will make a difference. There is essentially no evidence for that idea, assuming absence of a disease, or a problem like high cholesterol, or pregnant, etc.
Even being fat doesn't seem to make any significant difference to health. (Being obese is a bad plan, though.) I advise patients to eat plenty of salmon, trout and char for their magical properties, and whatever else they want; to exercise and work out if they want to be strong and fit but not because they will live forever; to lose weight if they want to look better and feel less tired; to eat all the salt and steak they want; and to avoid magical health diets. Vegetarian? Fine. Leaves more lamb and steak for me. Just don't imagine that it's about health. What's a healthy diet? Any average mix of stuff, but most of all - enjoy it, and don't fuss about it too much.
(Image from the excellent medical blog Kevin, MD. That steak could be a bit more rare, if you ask me.)
Re the Government-Academic Industrial Complex:
Almost all lies are acts, and speech has no part in them.
Lots more here.
Does anybody use bathtubs anymore? I mean, unless they have 1940s-era bathrooms?
I don't mean big Jacuzzis, or outdoor hot tubs, but real old-fashioned bathtubs. Does anybody use them anymore, unless they are just the antique bottom of a nice shower?
Who would want to float in dirty, soapy water?
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:59 | Comments (16) | Trackbacks (0)
I only read the "newspapers" when I cover for Bird Dog. Do you people really read that stuff, and act on what you've read as if it's informative?
Oops, did I just call our readers "you people"? Jeez, I'm sorry. I meant to say, Do us people really read this stuff...
No, that won't do. Does we people really reads that stuff...
I can't remember all that subjunctive gobbletygook from my McGuffey's Reader, so let's just agree that the newspapers all suck and move on. On to the news -- or whatever it is:
There's a lot of words until you get to that paragraph right there, the only one worth mentioning: It really doesn't matter what crazy people believe. They're crazy.
A Norwegian extrovert looks at your shoes when he's talking instead of his own.
Wow, Nancy Sinatra sure was a sh*tty singer.