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
Sunday, November 29. 2015
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
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:
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.
My favorite is a slice of turkey, some mayo, a spoonful of cranberry sauce and a spoonful of stuffing - on white bread, It has to be white bread.
Some people like Turkey hash which is ok if you use enough black pepper. Needs a ton of fresh ground black pepper to not taste like Cardboard Hash.
What do y'all like?
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
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.
Wednesday, November 25. 2015
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.)
Does ‘Downton Abbey’ Have a Problem with Christians?
How wily wild turkeys struck it lucky in America
Majority of Americans Feel Alienated by What Is Presented to Them as Their Country
“Straight guys just can’t get over you having the male parts."
guys just can’t get over you having the male parts. - See more at:
guys just can’t get over you having the male parts. - See more at:
Not Even a Criminal Referral to the Dept. of Justice Can Get You Fired From the V.A. - Two Dept. of Veterans Affairs officials to return to work after scamming the agency for personal gain.
It Was All a Lie! German Scientist Confirms NASA Fiddled with Climate Data
Princeton Students Fight Back - A group
Western Washington University Cancels Classes Due to ‘Hate Speech’
Occidental Professors Voting to Give Students Power to Report Them for Microaggressions - Would also mandate diversity training
Global refugees take long detours through Latin America to reach the US
Obama = Merkel
Amanpour demonstrated exactly how Islamic radicals have learned to take advantage of those bearing her viewpoint.
Prince Charles: Climate Change is to blame for War in Syria
I blame Charles for it
He is right. ISIS is not the problem. Europe is the problem.
of Americans Feel Alienated by What Is Presented to Them as Their
Country - See more at:
Tuesday, November 24. 2015
Re-posted from past Thanksgiving seasons -
We did one turkey in the oven, stuffed with cornbread stuffing, and the other one on the grill with occasional doses of soaked apple wood chunks from my neighbor's tree, and with white wine in the steam water. Both birds were brined 24 hrs before cooking, and each around 18 lbs. but I feel that's a waste of time.
We had plenty of family and friends to eat it all up.
I think people preferred the grilled (no stuffing in the grilled bird). It was my first time trying grilled turkey. Beginner's luck: It came out perfectly: moist, with a pleasant hint of smokiness. It took around 3 1/2 hrs to cook. Keeping the temp at near 325 involved carefully titrating the number of briquettes and fruitwood chunks to keep the heat low, but to not let the fire go out. Basted it with veg. oil and honey. Just for fun, I use my heavy-duty poultry injector to squirt sherry or cider into the meat. Why not? I don't buy butterball turkeys.
Nice grill, eh? This cast-iron thing weights 500 lbs. I had to assemble the darn thing off a truck, and got most of it right. Except for the wheels, which fell off. Now it takes a few pall-bearers to move it.
This is halfway:
The puppy seemed equally happy with scraps from the grilled and from the oven-roasted turkey.
In Las Palmas on Gran Canaria (5th largest city of Spain despite being on Canary Islands) we hired a cab for the day to take us to all the places Mrs. BD had mapped out. We agreed to a price of $80 (I call Euros "dollars" for the fun of it) for as long as we wanted him - all day. After driving us around for about 6 hours or so, at 3 pm, we managed to indicate to him that we wanted to stroll around the old city and find some "authentico" late lunch (guy spoke Spanish only - not a single word of English). We agreed he would pick us up at 5, 2 hours later, in front of the old basilica. That was five fingers.
Then he drove off without asking for a penny. We explored the old city, checked out Columbus' house there, grabbed some delicious grilled fish and vegetables and a beer and waited for him to return to the large ancient square where they were blasting ridiculous Spanish versions of American Oldies - like They're Coming to Take You Away, HaHa and Camptown Races. Doo-dah, doo-dah. Hilarious.
At 5 on the dot, he pulled up to drive us back to the seaport. I gave him an excessive $20 tip to reward his trusting nature.
Agriculture Linked to DNA Changes in Ancient Europe
Watch the EcoLog 590 work
University bans yoga for promoting Western colonialism
Columbia Student in Anguish Because She Has to Read Books by White People
Hysterical Yalies protest a free-speech panel.
Alan Dershowitz told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “After 50 years of teaching at Harvard, I have never met a less courageous group of people than tenured faculty.”
Why college protestors are telling the media to stay away
Mead: The NYT editorial board has come as close as it can to the devastating realization that blue model governance is breaking down.:
McArdle: It’s not Obamacare’s fault that it didn’t manage to do the impossible: provide cheap, nearly comprehensive health-care coverage without
Rotten Elites Give a Bad Name to Elitism
Clinton campaign promotes ´Bill and Hillary´s love story´
State Department Issues Worldwide Travel Alert "Due To Increased Terrorist Threats"
Scottish Town Reworks Welcome Sign for ISIS: “You Tw@ts Can F*ck Off”
Why Does the Left Continue to Insist that Islamic Terrorism Has Nothing to Do with Islam?
Dick Morris: Dems 'Committing Suicide' on ISIS, Refugees
Brussels is in some ways a satire of the European project
It’s a sad day when the President of the United States makes a French socialist leader sound like George S. Patton.
Why did America lose the Vietnam War?
Monday, November 23. 2015
For the past two weeks, Maggie's readers have been treated to the morning links and morning reflections of Roger de Hauteville. Roger was pinch hitting for me while I was sailing the ocean blue.
I am grateful to him for doing that, and for approaching the job with daily dedication and with his gifts on full display. If I owned the Wall St. Journal, I would hire him to replace Taranto. Taranto has fine wit but more cleverness than wisdom, I feel, in his observations of the passing scene. Plus Taranto needs staff. Sheesh.
I'll tell you a little bit about Roger. Roger ll was of course the first King of Sicily - the Viking who conquered Sicily from the Moslems but who wisely kept most of the Moslem viziers and bureaucrats in place because of their skills and education. Roger ll did another fine thing: he grandfathered Frederick ll, King of Sicily, later Holy Roman Emperor, a remarkable man who is often considered the first "true European".
So thanks again, Roger. And, as always, feel free to contribute at will because you are a master of this medium and I will never be one. I am a plodder.
Photo is of the big schooner (5 masts, 5 Marconi rigs and 1 jib) that we've been traveling on in the eastern Atlantic. Can make 12.5 knots under those huge sails. When I get organized, I'll do my usual travel posts with pics, food, etc., but what I will get around to first will be a few posts about some of the people we met. Corny as it sounds, if you travel enough it's the experiences and the people that make an impression. New foods are somewhat fun, but sights are just pictures, old churches and buildings are a dime a dozen and can be seen on the internets and in books, and history can be read in books at home by the fire. I can say, now, that hanging out in the souk and in the medina in Marrakesh for a few hours is something worth experiencing once. Just once is enough, for me, tho. I am all souked out and there is nothing I wish to buy anyway.
Sunday, November 22. 2015
In Florence, the Antico Setificio Fiorentino since 1786. Their warp technology invented by Leonardo. Two cool videos.
Saturday, November 21. 2015
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