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, January 4. 2010
I am back from my skiing and family vacation, and trying to catch up with the past week or so of Maggie's. I'd suggest that you do so too, if you have been away. Good stuff, as always.
Like our link that reminded me that our sexagesimal system (base 60, used for angles and time) derives from the Sumerians.
By the way, if you haven't given up hoping for global warming yet, you would have if you had spent the last couple of weeks in New England.
I believe in open government, but this is nuts: Obama Imperils Intel Briefings
Related: Peru's mountain folk face extinction due to cold. We're all gonna die by freezing! We need more free Government Oil!
Not enough rapes to keep the academic Feminazis happy: The radical feminist empire strikes back at Duke. They were obviously heartbroken that the lacrosse players never raped anybody.
This Henninger piece is worth re-linking: A Rodney Dangerfield America? America isn't dead. It's just dead in the water.
Also, more on science is too white. Racists used to say science was too Jewish. Now I think they mean that it is too Asian.
New Year's Eve. Thanks for the pic, BL.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:12 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, January 3. 2010
At the wonderful Hall of the Fishes at New York's American Museum of Natural History there is a preserved female Anglerfish. Attached to her is a bump with a tiny tail on it, which looks like a parasite.
It isn't. It's the shrunken remnant of a male Anglerfish. The males attach themselves to a female, and their bodies shrink away into nothing but male gonads permanently attached to the females. (You can read about Anglerfish here.)
I was reminded of Anglerfish by Kay Hymowitz's piece at City Journal, "The Incredible Shrinking Father," which takes a look at voluntary single motherhood in America and the role of artificial insemination. It is remarkable that, in one generation, something that had been considered a family tragedy is now considered, by some anyway, a "lifestyle choice."
A quote from her essay:
Leaving aside the fact that single motherhood accounts for a large percentage of America's poverty stats (that's another article in itself), I consider voluntary single motherhood to be the height of selfishness, immoral, irresponsible, and no favor to a kid. I do not believe that "it takes a village" to raise a family, but I do think that, for a number of practical and psychological reasons which I will not go into now, it takes two parents to do it - one of each type. A couple of sets of grandparents, and some aunts and uncles, are good too, if you can get 'em. Paid help is no substitute because blood is thicker than money.
Fortunately, we live in a free country, and freedom implies the freedom to make stupid and irresponsible choices. That is why freedom requires maturity, education, intelligence, and restraint for things to work. Being a free citizen in a free republic demands a lot from a person, and all of us have to dig deep to find the strength.
You can read Hymowitz's entire piece here.
Image: A lovely female Anglerfish
Our old English long-case clock rang 12 times on New Year's Eve, as it has for my wife's family here in New England for between 240 and 300 years. There’s a note pinned inside by her great-great grandfather that reads “This clock was buried in the basement of one of our ancestors during the Battle of Bunker Hill” (which you will recall took place on June 17, 1775). History records that the London clockmaker, Devereaux Bowly, opened his shop in 1710 and died in 1773, so the clock had to have been made between those dates. My wife’s patronymic ancestor, a sea captain, was in Boston by 1736, so he could have brought it to Massachusetts any time during that period.
Of all the furniture that the past bequeathed to the current day, most of us have a particular soft spot for the long-case, or grandfather clock (so-named after the popular 1876 song, My Grandfather’s Clock). It is still and no doubt will be for many years to come the most popular form of household timepiece. Clocks give life to a room, but the tall clocks of the peculiar form that is now 300 years old have a special dignity. To the early American colonist, owning a clock was a status symbol. Most people of that time could not afford a clock of their own and had to rely on the church clock on the town common for the time of day. Privately owned clocks were only found in the finest of homes and were certain to be displayed in a prominent place for all to view.
Long-case pendulum clocks were still a new invention in 1736. In 1580 the Astronomer Galileo observed a swinging lamp suspended by a long chain from a cathedral ceiling. He studied its swing and discovered that each swing was equal and had a natural rate of motion. He later found this rate of motion depended upon the length of the chain or pendulum. In 1640 he designed a clock mechanism incorporating the swing of a pendulum, but he died before building his clock design.
It wasn’t until 1656 that Galileo’s pendulum principle was put to use by Dutch scientist Christian Huygens, who was the first to develop a pendulum based clock. Huygens’s invention however allowed clocks to run accurately to the point of three minutes loss or gain per day. Some years later in 1670 the English clockmaker William Clement noticed that a longer pendulum kept better time, so he lengthened the pendulum to over three feet. This of course required a longer case for the clockworks, and so the long-case clock was born. From then on the clocks were variously called long-case clocks, floor clocks, and even coffin clocks because they resembled the shape and size of the simple wooden coffins of that time.
Grandfather clocks were first made for royal families and nobles, but in time their production cost were cut down to where they were affordable for merchant families and became a symbol of socio-economic status and wealth.
Around 1685, long-case clocks were imported into American colonies for the first time and roughly 10 years later their construction in the New World began. New York, New England, Pennsylvania and Virginia became long-case clock making centers, but, until the 19th century American introduction of inexpensive brass movements, English clockmakers reined supreme.
Ed. note: I'm sure most of our readers are familiar with My Grandfather's Clock:
There are lady soldiers, lady cops, lady firepersons, lady mailpersons, lady everything - for better or worse.
Why are there no lady garbagepersons?
(By the way, I appreciate this past week's Dr. Bliss Festival of Reruns. When I read them, I honestly cannot remember having written them. I would write each post differently if I were to write them today - or maybe not write them at all.)
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 09:07 | Comments (19) | Trackback (1)
I hope our News Junkie will be able to get back from the north country tomorrow, because we are tiring of covering the links for him. Will stagger on just one more day.
Vanderleun: What I learned from Avatar
Solar Farm Held Up for Two Dozen Tortoises. I'm with the Desert Tortoises. Solar is a subsidized joke. Give me my nuke plants, and leave the ancient reptiles alone.
For Some in Japan, Home Is a Tiny Plastic Bunk. Their unemployment rate is at least half what ours has been this fall.
A new carry revolver: The Rhino
A Democrat right wing racist? Nobody can take a joke these days.
What every young man needs to know about fighting and violence. The ladies count on us guys to protect them and to apply force when needed.
What did Palin do as gov of Alaska? Lots of things.
There's no cure for stupid. Mortgages and the people who cannot pay them.
Or is Obama a religion? Joan Walsh of Salon Finds Criticism of Obama "Traitorous"
Fineman: Obama’s Health-Care Gamble, And why he may come to regret it.
Re Napolitano: her potential is almost unlimited. Really?
Reason: Upholding the Right Not To Be Offended - The First Amendment protects even the ugliest forms of speech.
At Yale, they are having to turn students away from the Great Books course. Smart kids still want to know the good hard stuff.
Goldberg: Capitalism Fingered as Fiend of the Past Decade - Reducing “capitalism” to its alleged sins. One quote:
Doormat image is from this site. You may be needing one.
Saturday, January 2. 2010
This morning. If you are deprived by not being familiar, that's the eastern edge of Central Park on the right, around 92nd St - a darn pleasant neighborhood.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:19 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:57 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
From a piece by Lazarowitz at Am Thinker:
Marty Peretz: Can a Republican Really Win Teddy's Seat?
TimesWatch: Presenting Times Watch's Top Ten Lowlights of the New York Times in 2009
Manzi is right: You cannot eliminate the risks from markets
Your government at work: U.S. to Lose $400 Billion on Fannie, Freddie, Wallison Says
A government of fear-mongering: Obama's Message: Be Afraid, Very Afraid
Timeline of your health reform future. What a mess.
Dems Stick It To Poor: Kill DC Voucher Program
A melancholy chore to take ye olde tree down. However, it will have an extended life outdoors for a couple of months as the needles slowly drop, providing some cheery outdoor light and a place for the sparrows to hang out in and in which to hide from the Sharpies that haunt our area.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:30 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, January 1. 2010
Why don't colleges just collect all of the grievance study groups and put them in one department. Fat Studies, Anorexia Studies, Queer Studies, Women's Studies, Hispanic Studies, Black Studies, Indian Studies, Transexual Studies, Lesbian Studies, Klutz Studies, Oppressed Studies, Ugly Studies, Not-Too-Smart Studies, Too-Short Studies, etc.
You could call it Boo Hoo Studies, and in it you could sequester everyone who expects college to cater to their narcissism instead of teaching them about bigger, better, and more important things than themselves. Baby bottles in the coke machine, over in that department.
Eventually, they will need to include one more increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised minority in Boo Hoo Studies - Regular People Living Without Grievance. RPLWG just can't get a break these days, can they?
Editor's note: Or, to borrow the phrase from The Anchoress, could it be called the "It's All About Me" Studies Department?
Sig Sauer P239 CCP: High Quality Carry Gun.
I never leave home without my carry gun, my keys, my wallet with some cash in it, and my cell. Who would?
Update: In response to queries, I now carry a Colt Cobra with which I very much enjoy trying to shoot beer bottles and cans down on the lower 40. Do not mess with me if you see me in downtown Hartford.
I have never needed to aim a gun at a person while in civilian clothing, although I have performed a Dick Cheney once or twice in thick woods with birdshot. Most bird hunters have. It's something to be avoided, because it pisses off your pals and makes them reluctant to invite you again.
His wonderful 1936 essay, Shooting an Elephant. One quote:
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:52 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
A good one for the beginning of a year. Bob picks it a bit in his Bob way on this version of Watching the River Flow in Sweden this past summer:
If there was no Internets, I'd have to stand on the overpass and yell at cars.
I have been taking a little time to think about how participating in a website like Maggie's, if you don't watch out, can have the effect of making you run faster and faster to keep up with the latest idea/opinion/reaction etc.
I can react, but I cannot really think, while looking at a screen - or while reading at all. I can reflect on something when I put down the book or close the page. I can reflect, and perhaps generate a thought, only by getting away for a bit from external input so I can hear some "internal input."
Am I unusual? Almost everybody I know thinks they have some degree of ADD.
I know everybody's mind works differently under different circumstances. My brain tends to think impressionistically, not sequentially and in linear fashion (except when it is demanded of me or, less often, when I demand it of myself - then it kicks into gear), and works best when I am under some sensory deprivation, like in the shower, in the car with the radio off, or with closed eyes. That's when ideas and connections come to me from my pre-conscious.
Giving myself a writing assignment is one way to force myself to think sequentially. Most of the time, no interesting thoughts appear and I end up trashing the piece. Opie likes to say "Those who can, think. Those who can't, link." We link a lot here at Maggie's, but I'd like to try to steer Maggie's away from trying to cover news. Had we the time and the brains, I'd like to post more pieces like neoneo's Give Me Liberty or Give Me Social Justice along with our usual eclectic mix of fun and/or informative non-political stuff.
Having thoughts and ideas is a discipline, like prayer. But disciplines can become good habits over time.
This year, I resolve to think more.
And here's a Google Tech Talk on the topic from Computer Science Prof. David Levy -
The charming New Year's Babe is via Theo, of course.
Good fun: A summary of mathematical astronomy
A man and his plan: You have probably never heard of Francis Everett Townsend, but his enormous and controversial legacy is with us today.
Barone: It's a wonderful life working for the government
Mayo Clinic begins dropping Medicare patients
Just as the warmists want warming to be true to justify their existence, their view of the world, and their political agenda, I always think these Sharpton sorts want to find racism and oppression for the same reason. What ever happened to the "Duke 88"?
Liberal conspicuous agonizing. Thompson:
Allahu Akbar: It's The New "Cry For Help". Poor babies. No wonder they want to be mass murderers: they're
What's up with this? No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction in Past 160 Years
Thursday, December 31. 2009
A Dr. B. re-post from our long-ago archives -
"Why do I do all these things for Jim, Dr Bliss, when for the past six months I can't stand his presence and I can't even stand the way he eats? Is it because I feel guilty, or have no self-esteem?"
Guilty? Self-esteem? It's of interest to me how the morality-free zone of psycho-babble in our popular culture can obscure the persistence of the old virtues, even among those who live them.
The language of duty, loyalty, honor, self-sacrifice, endurance, perseverance, reliability, courage, self-reliance - the things Bill Bennet wrote about - has been replaced by a language of "feeling" and "guilt" in some strange and ill-informed distortion of psychoanalytic understandings.
Indeed, "my feelings" appear to have replaced the virtues to the point that "not being true to your feelings" is like a modern-day sin. And yes, I guess it is a sin - if you regard yourself as a god.
But back to my patient. I know her well enough to know that she was raised with the sturdy Mid-Western Presbyterian virtues, internalized them, and lives them. Her kindness and thoughfulness with her husband are driven by character (in the old sense of the word) - not guilt, and surely not, at the moment anyway, by "loving feelings." For her, it would not be so much "guilt" in betraying her character - it would be "failure." And not life failure, but a failure to be who she was built to be.
The point I want to make is not about my patient's psychology, or how she ought to deal with her situation. That's another subject. It's about the pop-psych assumptions that are in the air that would cause a person who "does the right thing" despite her emotions of the moment is somehow afflicted by "guilt" or some other pathology (although guilt is not a pathology), rather than being a mature person whose habits of character are stronger than her emotions.
I sometimes joke that if we were all true to our feelings, we'd all be in jail.
A few take-home points:
There is one tonight, for whatever it means.
and here's Dylan's cover of the tune from 1970's Self Portrait:
Except for the lift lines one can expect this weekend, I wouldn't mind waking up tomorrow morning in Killington:
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:36 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
So I learn from my post yesterday about HDR that I now have to learn about Ansel Adams' Zone System. Sheesh. I just like to take casual family snaps.
I do not aspire to be an expert in this. Can't do everything.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:03 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
New Years Eve. Time to party hearty? Been there, done that in youth. No more. There's no point to it.
We ask our readers to please drink responsibly. Each reader is precious to us, and we cannot afford to lose one to a traffic accident.
Speaking of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, here's an interesting report on The Three Types of Alcoholism. I am not sure whether it corresponds well to my clinical experience or not. Probably not. However, this does:
In other words, substance addiction often - but not always - has underpinnings of either neuroticism or sociopathy. In the end, every human - drunk or sober - is a unique individual with his own basket of issues.