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
Saturday, August 9. 2014
If you grew up in Yankeeland, along the coast, clam and fish chowders have been one of your staples. They are seafood cooked with milk or cream, and whatever else. Real simple comfort food, served with hunks of good bread or those cute little Oyster Crackers.
Everybody knows Clam Chowder, for which there are 54,612 different recipes (not including the revolting "Manhattan Clam Chowder" which is poisoned with tomato. A good Yankee Fish Chowder is very similar to clam chowder. One of the best ones I ever had was on Grand Manan Island, where the chunks were huge - quartered potatoes, big chunks of onion, and 4" square hunks of fresh Cod.
The key for chowder is the stock: fish heads and bones, a few lobster shells are good, low-simmered for a couple of hours with some chopped onion and celery, pepper, etc. You do need to use the salt pork. The actual fish (like clams in clam chowder), you only add at the last minute and cook briefly - just until it flakes. Haddock or Cod are the only fish you can use. Scrod is just small Cod. Some use Monkfish, but I disagree: Monkfish is not a tasty fish, and it has a poor, chewy texture. Bacala - salt cod - works fine for any cod dish if it is handled properly. I prefer fresh.
Bermuda Fish Chowder bears no relationship to the Yankee version. It is from England, has no milk, but is wonderful in its own way. I have never tried to cook it, but have enjoyed in on countless occasions on lovely Bermuda. FYI, Bermuda Fish Chower's history here, and recipe here.
Image: Atlantic Cod. Overfishing has been a major problem - the wonderful Atlantic Cod is in trouble, and has been for many years.
Tuesday, August 5. 2014
Handling money is almost, or more, complicated than handling love and sex. People want both so much that it often scrambles their brains and incites irrational or self-destructive behavior (see our morning links today).
Money is difficult to obtain, all too easy to get rid of. Romance and sex are easy to obtain, difficult to get rid of. Having some money put aside means security and power over a crazy world, and love and sex mean, well, whatever they mean to you.
I once lived beyond my means, and made all sorts of rationalizations for it (eg turning wants into needs, like shoes, luxurious impulses, and "therapeutic shopping"). I learned from that, and some discipline from a financial spouse helped. I was smart about love, but dumb about money even though, before I married, I worked for every penny.
This is right: Self-Control Makes for Savvy Saving. Wealthy people hate to spend money.
Re spending saved money, Actually, Some Material Goods Can Make You Happy
Sunday, August 3. 2014
"Self-esteem", "amoure propre", is a strange concept, self-respect is very hard-earned, and self-hatred, whether deserved or neurotic, is a big challenge.
Friday, August 1. 2014
Dr. Bliss' Blissful Fish Stock (Fumet)
Clam chowder is very good, but cod chowder is great. Here's how I begin:
Chop up a hunk of salt pork into 1/2" or 1" pieces. Bacon is a poor second choice. Plus some butter. Chop carrots or parsnips, onion, garlic, celery - easy on the celery, one or two stalks. Sautee in the pork and butter until soft. There's your mirepoix.
Toss that into a stewpot, then a pile of fish heads and/or bones (from lean fish - no salmon, trout, tuna, bluefish etc. Heads are the best - your fishmonger has 'em and will happily give them to you). Add black crushed peppercorns, a bay leaf, some parsley, and one clove. A sprig of thyme is good. Cover with water and a cup or two or three of drinkable white wine, and simmer, covered, for an hour or two, while consuming the rest of the wine.
Cool it, strain preferably through cheesecloth but I use a strainer, chill in fridge then remove any fat on the surface. Some people like to find some bacon or salt pork in their chowder, so you can salvage them from the strainer, or make new.
You can reduce it or use as it is (I always thicken chowder with corn starch), as the base for fish soup or fish chowder. Don't use it as a base for New England clam chowder, though, because the fumet will overpower the delicate clammy flavor.
Clam Chowda requires a different recipe.
I've been preaching this ad nauseam but everybody has his own food religion based on superstition, old wive's tales, antiquated misinformation, and various quackeries.
If ignorance floats your boat, then go for it and be happy with the placebo effects, but just do not pretend that it makes sense.
There is no reason at all to avoid dietary fats, and this has been well-known for over a decade. I was wrong - we should be feasting on fat, says Dr. Mosley.
If your triglyceride numbers scare you or your doc, take some statins.
Eat all the carbs you want, too, unless you want or need to lose weight. If you wish to be more slim, trim, and muscular, quit the carbs and exercise hard. And, for God's sake, quit with the stupid organic stuff. It's just marketing. Marketing genius for sure, just like the people who sell water in bottles.
Wednesday, July 30. 2014
I don't know what practicing clinician has time to write guidelines for other docs, but guidelines are nothing but trouble. The best medical care is both art and science. Knowledge is always incomplete, patients are individuals with unique situations, and all docs have their own preferences and points of view. Guidelines end up being little more than fodder for tort lawyers and time-wasters.
Worst of all, young docs feel as if they have to follow them. Many things go wrong when practicing by the book. Medicine is an art and a science.
Tuesday, July 29. 2014
Thursday, July 24. 2014
Confessionals like this one can sometimes help those people blessed with sunny dispositions to have some understanding of those unfortunates without such dispositions.
Wednesday, July 16. 2014
Educated people often make doctors’ worst patients: anti-vaxxers, cancer treatment rejecters, herbal remedy enthusiasts. Why do otherwise brilliant minds ignore science and reject modern medicine?
Read the article. I think people tend to be skeptical because "the science" is always in flux so many would rather go with their relatively-uninformed judgement than with the expert judgement of the day which may be obsolete next year. Remember the big scare about hormone replacement? Remember when they claimed that broccoli was good for you? Etc. People do know that physicians are smart and well-educated, but they like to make their own decisions for better or worse.
Tuesday, July 15. 2014
In recent history, sexual interests and inclinations outside of bourgeois Judeo-Christian monogamy have been labeled as immoral and "perversions" in the Western world, and in Western Psychiatry. Western Psychiatry has even categorized them in detail but some (such as homosexuality, which I find to be often a dubious categorization of people) have fallen out of favor due to political pressure.
Among the things which the Western world has relatively-recently and variously considered antisocial (lacking in normal conscience) or perverse (defined as outside local social norms) and/or illegal are polygamy, adultery, promiscuity, nymphomania, rape, incest, pedophilia, necrophilia, miscengenation, internet pron, homosexuality, orgies and wife-swapping and related debaucheries, cross-dressing, childrens' pre-pubertal sexual interests, transgenderism, paraphilias and many fetishes like masochism, etc, prostitution, whoremongering, zoophilia, and so forth.
These are all culturally and/or religiously-determined categories of the wacky and disorderly, Bonobo-like vicissitudes of the human sex drive and of human psychology. Many humans successfully repress their inner Bonobo and happily adhere to their local cultural and moral codes, more or less. Many others lack a strong Bonobo streak, but it's not as if normal people never have wacky and aberrant fantasies and "curiosities".
As a Psychiatrist in the Western world, I can easily accept that many such things are statistically abnormal (ie at ends of bell curves), but high IQ is "abnormal" too.
I recently read this: 'Pedophilia is natural and normal for males'. Not "normal," I think, but certainly culturally-normative in parts of the Arab and Asian worlds. Some of our readers are quick to label perversions as "sick" if not just plain appalling or revolting. So is my natural inclination, but I think that inclination is culturally- and religiously- determined. Many human cultures view things otherwise.
Is there a Western socio-cultural trend to normalize previously-perverse and antisocial behaviors and to abnormalize conventional morality? I think so. In Psychoanalysis, we think of these things as embedded in problematic personality structures, but we could be wrong.
Planned Parenthood Teaches 15 Year-Old on Bondage, Whipping, Gagging & Defecation
A judicial move to normalize incest
I am not claiming that I do not make moral or social judgements about behavior. All I claim is that it's complicated because living in a culture is part of being human, so "natural" loses meaning.
I will await discussion, but I may need to tie you up with duct tape and whip you. Here's your fun fetish joke du jour:
Wednesday, July 9. 2014
Monday, July 7. 2014
The Obamacare rules do not require coverage for cosmetic surgery, at least not yet. Somebody will lobby for "Sagging Jowl Syndrome," you can be certain, in the future. When government gets involved with medicine, medicine becomes politicized and "diseases", "disorders", and "dysfunctions" proliferate.
Tuesday, July 1. 2014
As I have said before, humans are a highly-sexualized animal with omnivorous and often confused and confusing appetites and impulses.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:58 | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, June 29. 2014
A few links:
Rabbi Boteach wants women to get lustier in marriage (video)
When women earn more, promiscuity is more accepted
Childless Elite, Spouseless Poor
Casual Sex Is Actually Excellent for You, If You Love Casual Sex
Saturday, June 28. 2014
Friday, June 27. 2014
Thursday, June 26. 2014
How genetic is it, and how moveable is it? Those are always studied and always in dispute. I always enjoy the company of people with higher IQs than mine, just as I enjoy playing tennis with more talented players.
How important is life "success" and life happiness to IQ? Not very much, I think, unless one aspires to being a Physics or Math genius. IQ is just one factor in a human personality but it is one, like height, which is readily apparent.
Via this post on IQ, Last Call at the Milk Bar, I was led to this good and detailed essay on IQ: Race, IQ, and Wealth - What the facts tell us about a taboo subject.
In the end, the facts do not tell us much.
Sunday, June 22. 2014
Friday, June 20. 2014
I have no answer. There are many people who can not be helped. The world is an asylum, and life is tragic.
Thursday, June 19. 2014
When it comes to sex, will humans ever be liberated from the basic biological needs that drove our evolutionary past?
Let's hope not. Actually the article is a critique of behavioral genetics, aka evolutionary psychology, as much as anything else.
Humans are a highly-sexualized sort of ape, with no estrus period as most mammals and even monkeys have (except for the "great apes" of which we are one). It's difficult if not impossible to determine what sexual behaviors are "natural" for humans because mental activity, fantasy, relationships, and culture are such major parts of being human. After all, rape, murder, theft, violence, pedophilia, etc. are all sort-of "natural" for humankind, and there are cultures in which monogamy is considered a mental illness or a form of infantile behavior. It's safe to say that the Western bourgeois ideal of lifelong monogamous marriage and the nuclear family is very far from "natural" despite being fairly effective for child-rearing and overall life stability in Western culture.
It also is safe to say that humans are the horniest of animals and, with our capacity for wild imagination and strange (by animal terms) sexual desires and fantasies, a rather insane species.
Freud explained a lot of that.
Wednesday, June 18. 2014
Tuesday, June 17. 2014
Sunday, June 15. 2014
Friday, June 13. 2014
Thursday, June 12. 2014
There is nothing new there in the age-old nature-nurture game. Does it really need saying that people who are more closely related likely have more traits in common? "Race" and "ethnicity" are just words for common ancestry, like "distant cousins." Early humans spread around the earth, and bred with others in their own neighborhoods just like Darwin's finches. Naturally, differences happened but not to the extent of new species, but enough so that people recognize their cousins.