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, May 3. 2016
The central tenet of Libertarianism is freedom. It is the right to choose. Not just choose 'stuff' while shopping, but everything. Where to live, who you associate with, who you do business with, who you work for or who works for you, and what you want to do with your life. While it is often contrasted with Socialism and Communism, this commentator points out there is a third thread which is often overlooked, but cuts across the philosophical spectrum - bureaucratic centralism. It's my belief that Conservatives are essentially libertarians (small "l") who like having, or believing in, the direction that centralized government can provide. Which is why Libertarians, more often than not, are lumped in with Republicans. In my recent past, I've learned to distrust and, whenever possible, avoid anything government claims to provide, or that people believe it should provide. If I could avoid, or it was practical to avoid, all things the government provides, I would. Unfortunately I don't have that freedom, since it's been taken either by vote or by bureaucratic diktat.
Monday, May 2. 2016
But Mike Rowe points out another key part of the jobs equation. Jobs don't come to us. We have to go to them. If my best job option is going to be in San Francisco or Chicago, rather than here in NYC, then I should be prepared to go to it. If I don't, I really have no complaints about whatever job I wind up with, because I took what's available within the limitations I set for myself. The US has always been a mobile nation. Mobile as in able to move both physically and economically. People move up and down the wealth and income ladder, but they have also transport themselves to where the jobs are. It's been that way for years. After all, that's part of what Manifest Destiny was all about - following opportunity. It's why Horace Greeley supposedly said "Go West, young man." Today it may be better stated as "Go Weld, young man."
Wednesday, April 27. 2016
We were just there...so I was surprised to see this in my NY Historical Society feed today. Grant's Tomb dedicated on April 27, 1897. Our Urban Hike had some relatively good timing.
Sunday, April 24. 2016
No other announcer can boast Scully's experience, beginning in Brooklyn in 1950, following the Dodgers to Los Angeles, there are few team voices as unique and recognizable as Scully's.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 09:58 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, April 23. 2016
Completed successfully. Group of about 18, from as far away as Maine and Illinois. We made it from the Dunkin Donuts on Delancey St. by the Williamsburg Bridge up to Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb (with many scenic detours) but still not quite sure who is buried there.
Tired, covered about 11.7 miles. More later from others who took pictures. I need to rest the barking dogs.
Mrs. Bulldog says I, as tour guide, started strong, had a weak middle, but we finished strong.
Pic is our sign at our meet spot in the Dunkin on Delancey St.
Friday, April 22. 2016
Why are there so many Canadians and Russians who play hockey?
Why are most of my friends Jewish?
Why is one side of my family comprised overwhelmingly by educators, while the other is in some form of business management?
There is a knee-jerk response by the Left to always and everywhere explain gaps by relying on 'discrimination' of some kind. While this may be true, it's rarely the sole or even the primary reason for gaps. Gaps sometimes happen because certain groups pursue opportunities and benefits differently and/or more effectively. But there are many reasons for gaps, and discrimination isn't even the most interesting one to study.
Saturday, April 16. 2016
“The introduction of this extreme doubt … about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen,” he said. “So I can see where people are very concerned about this and are pursuing criminal investigations as well engaging in discussions like this … they’re keeping us from getting to work, they’re holding us back.”
As far as I know, nobody has impinged upon Nye's quality of life (certainly in no meaningful way, he's still getting his voice heard and making money as a shill), and nobody is stopping any 'work' that I know of. Conservation efforts on the part of Nye, Ed Begley, Jr., and Leonardo DiCaprio are certainly still taking place. They are all doing 'work' to pursue their beliefs in stopping the god of warm.
Obviously, what he's implying is that my choice to not agree with him or his cohorts is criminal and worthy of fines, jail, or other punishment he deems adequate. He also feels I should pay into his religion to perform work deems necessary and I don't. Nobody is hurting him. I'm not sure what a public citizen is, at least any more than I am a public citizen and I don't feel I'm being hurt by his behavior. Of course, he does want to hurt me by throwing me in jail, so maybe I'm just wrong about that. Gotta get mine in before he does, so I'll take my shots at him with words, rather than criminal proceedings or taxing him to death to build a temple to the god of warm.
Bill Nye, the Shill Guy is moving closer to beingBill Nye, the Fascist Guy. I think people who misrepresent themselves with the label scientist, when they are really just entertainers, should be faced with criminal punishment. But I doubt that would get very far (yes, I know he has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, but so do my accountant, my financial planner and my plumber, but they aren't making broad proclamations on climate change and law).
Friday, April 15. 2016
Tuesday, April 12. 2016
After much collaborative discussion and email, Bird Dog has mentioned our urban hike will take place April 23rd, rain or shine. We have a limited number of open weekends, so we have to take advantage of the ones which are available. I've walked the city many times in the rain, BD has it right when he says we are waterproof. Of course, we all prefer the shine, so we'll have to hope the weather authorities favor us.
Our starting point will be Dunkin' Donuts at 140 Delancey St. Why not? The march will begin at 10 AM, so be there before then. A little coffee and sugar is good to get your motor running. End point will be Grant's Tomb - if we survive the march and get that far.
Some hikers will flake off, I suspect, at various points but it would be cool if many of us could make it to Grant before it gets too late. We'll have to hustle along like a serious posse.
More details below the fold -
Continue reading "Urban Hike April 23rd"
Monday, April 11. 2016
This past weekend, Springsteen canceled a concert in North Carolina, on 2 days notice, to protest the passage of law requiring people to use bathrooms based on the gender of birth. PayPal, similarly, canceled plans to expand operations in Charlotte.
I understand how tightly politics has become intertwined with business. Making a statement seems to be the most important thing anyone can do, these days. So I'll make a small one of my own. I don't agree with the North Carolina law, but I don't live there. I think it is over-the-top and excessive control of society by imposing a law where common sense should suffice to reign. The passage of law doesn't make an idea 'correct' or morally justified. Even so, I'm still planning to visit my family in North Carolina, spend money there, and enjoy the state's many natural wonders. I'm not going to boycott a state because I disagree with a law. If I did that, I'd have problems living in the state I currently reside.
Paypal and Bruce both have the right to make whatever statements they choose, just as I do. I'm not sure how what they are doing impacts the law, however. In fact, they both hurt many people in an attempt to 'show solidarity' with...some group or another (I can never tell which special interest groups are getting the attention these days).
Continue reading "The Springsteen Moment"
Thursday, April 7. 2016
Bernie Sanders should take note:
Tuesday, April 5. 2016
I remember Firing Line as that program I avoided watching at all costs when I stumbled upon it as a child. It was boring, the man speaking had a funny elitist accent, and it was talking, no action. My father loved it.
Lately, I've been watching some of the old episodes and have determined (to no surprise) Buckley was often touching on subjects that were timeless. Much of what he covered is still very relevant today.
A discussion with Alan Ginsburg on what the Avant Garde is, and how it should be making its point in society, would be relevant today. However, a panel discussion about what a Hippie is...well, that's just good fun. Especially with a boozed-up Jack Kerouac, in his last public appearance, doing his best to mock a clueless academic.
I think a fun program today would be to review old programs like this, stitch relevant parts together, and show just how deep down the rabbit hole Buckley often went.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:49 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, March 31. 2016
But political wives and their treatment have a much lengthier history, too. Edith Wilson is often recognized as the 'first woman president' for the role she played while Wilson convalesced after his stroke. Eleanor Roosevelt was a fiery personality in her own right. Dolley Madison, of course, is remembered for saving Washington's portrait in the War of 1812, but she was also the first to decorate the White House. Few know she lived in poverty after the death of her husband.
Even further back, we have Mary Todd Lincoln, whose story is often overlooked. It's a strong likelihood she was manic depressive. But even in the 1800's she was aware of the spotlight put upon the wife of a president. She lived an unfortunate and desperate life not long after Lincoln's assassination.
Wednesday, March 23. 2016
I receive emails each week making suggestions for weekend activities. Sometimes they are interesting, most times not. This week, a suggestion to visit certain dive bars before they become Pret-a-Mangers. Not a bad idea.
I love dive bars. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and my stepfather spent time at Mick's Tavern, the local gas station, garage and tavern. Total dive. At Syracuse, we had the student bar, Jabberwocky, which hosted many big name bands before they were names. That was before my time. The Jab also had Oldies Night on Wednesday nights, and Happy Hour on Friday. It wasn't technically a dive bar, but it could qualify. The drinking age was raised to 21 the year I left, and it closed. The real dive bar we used to frequent was Doug's Place, somewhere down near Carrier Circle. Real blue-collar stuff. We'd meet some alumni who lived in the area from time to time. It's where I learned to love dive bars. Pool, dimly lit, cheap glasses of beer, the only 'mixed' drink available was a Boilermaker. Always a few local factory guys in there. Doug's Place is long gone, too. I did hear 'Doug', whoever he is, opened a fish fry somewhere nearby.
When I moved to Queens in the 80's, my roommate was a local who introduced me to My Lady's, a tavern for which I played softball and drank quarter glasses of beer on Thursday nights. I got to know the bartender, a giant of a man, but the classic example of a huge teddy bear. My girlfriend's family came one night to watch college hoops with me and dubbed it The Bucket of Blood because, well, that's pretty much what it reminded you of. The final night it was open was 1991, and early on it was a great party. I heard the rest was very good, too. I guess I had an early start on the evening...
When we lived in Hoboken, Louise & Jerry's was our end-of-the-evening final stop. Louise, a widow in a housecoat, was always behind the bar. When God Bless America played on the jukebox, you had to stop what you were doing and sing with Louise. If she didn't like your look, she stopped you as you walked in, and demanded you leave. She once gave my wife the stinkeye for ordering club soda. When I told her, quietly, that she was pregnant with our first child, Louise smiled and gave us all a round of drinks (but kept the secret). Louise & Jerry's is still open, but I heard it's upscale now.
Recently, I stopped in at the Canyon Club, in Williams, AZ. One of the finest dive bars I've ever experienced. A real honky-tonk. Loved every second, loved the people. Which is important. A good dive bar has friendlies, it doesn't attract surly or violent types. You can have a curmudgeon or two, but people have to want to have a good time.
Some dives are iconic, and unlikely to go away. McSorley's is one. Out where I live, there aren't many dive bars left unless you're willing to take a chance. We used to have the Blue Collar Bar, but that got bought by a high-end group and was transformed into a "dive" bar. It retained the dive nature, but served high end cuisine. Excellent food, but ruined the ambiance. It closed after four or five years. Dive bars, I believe, have short lives.
There is still one place near me, the Garwood Rest, which my buddies and I will gather in to play darts (American Darts - with the wooden shafts and we're playing baseball, not 301, 501 or Cricket) and watch football or baseball once very month. It qualifies as a dive, but it's higher end than any other one I've been in. Here are some more. I'm familiar with the Raccoon Lodge, The Smith, and Hogs and Heifers, though all from 20-30 years ago. When you find a good dive bar, it's a thing to revel in.
Monday, March 21. 2016
Certainly Shackleton deserves his name on a polar research ship. But in a magnificent failure, the British botched the naming process for the ship. Well, temporarily botched. I happen to like "Boaty McBoatface" over "Shackleton" it just seems like a ship where stuff gets done.
Thursday, March 17. 2016
Young O'Donnell rushed into a church, placed his rifle under a pew and entered the confessional. "Father," he said breathlessly, "I've just shot down two British lieutenants!" Hearing no response he went on: "I also knocked off a British captain!" When there was still no response from the priest, O'Donnell said, "Father, have ye fainted?" "Of course I haven't fainted," replied the confessor. "I'm waitin' for you to stop talkin' politics and commence confessin' your sins!"
Wednesday, March 16. 2016
We already know Hillary plans to continue Obama's war on coal. Coal isn't, or rather shouldn't be, a dying business. But it is, and it's dying because of politics. At a time when politicians keep saying they want to create jobs and improve the general welfare, why would they be attacking a healthy industry? Yes, natural gas has become cheaper and more plentiful - but only because of fracking, and the people seeking to shutter coal are also trying to end fracking. So this is not strictly an economic consideration, there are political currents swirling everywhere.
As I drive my son to college in Ohio, I drive through coal country. Billboards about this war have been up for the last 3 years. The job losses are mounting. Some regions of PA and WV are starting to hurt severely because of this war. It's a political war, and it's driven by a lobby group with significant access to the current administration. Coal has long been one industry the US could rely on to produce energy when other methods faced economic uncertainty due to politics or economics. That is changing, and yet 4 years ago, we were told there was no threat. But even as other nations open coal fired plants, the US shutters its plants because of political, not just economic, realities.
However, as he passes one fellow, he collects a business card. In handing the card, the charitable soul says "This is a soup kitchen nearby, you can bring your children here and get hot meals."
The fellow looks up and replies, "Free food? Here, in Manhattan?"
"So I can bring my kids?"
"So you're saying I have to travel up to the Bronx to get my daughter, then travel down to Brooklyn to get my son, then bring them both with me to Manhattan to get free food? Is that what you're telling me I have to do?"
"Sir, you don't have to do anything. It's free food. It's your choice, but it's a place to go."
He didn't get angry, didn't cause a scene. But it occurred to me if he was really destitute, this wouldn't be an issue. I realize some panhandlers are professional. There is one who sits by my office with a dog and a sign that "the dog comes first, I come second." I'd say he's been there for 3 years, except it's not a he. It's a them. There are 3 or 4 different people who switch out on any given day.
I don't mind giving money to people in need. There's a limit, though. When the ability to get a free meal prompts the kind of response I heard on the train, alarm bells go off. If you're in need, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Yes, everything requires work, even 'free stuff'. It's not as if his tromping through train cars isn't work. If he has real money issues, I'm sure he's not covering his costs by panhandling all day. But he must be doing well enough to keep doing it, and he should realize that it requires significant effort.
If this sounds like someone who has what he needs criticizing someone who is without, I'm sorry. That's not my intent. I'm not judging these people, I'm simply saying work is work. A 'free' lunch of any kind requires effort. It's a shame we don't have a political class that understands this when they make promises to people with money that isn't theirs.
Thursday, March 10. 2016
My goal was to get a feel for the Grand Canyon and Sedona for a longer trip in the future, while being able to see some of the impressive natural (and man-made) wonders that abound.
Sedona was stunning. Visually moving. It is not nearly as awe-inspiring as the Grand Canyon, it's just very pretty. The trip up 89A through smaller canyons, up switchbacks, along Oak Creek (which was full of swimmers and sunbathers) on our way to Williams, was full of even more nature's grandeur.
Continue reading "Arizona Part 2 - Sojourn Through Sedona and Williams"
Wednesday, March 9. 2016
A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of an old church in Europe, commenting "I wish we had old things like this here in the U.S." My tongue-in-cheek reply was "We do! The Grand Canyon is much, much older." It's also much more beautiful, in my opinion.
This was my first trip to the Grand Canyon, and I enjoyed it immensely. There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said. I'll toss in a few pictures of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but pictures simply can't capture the grandeur.
Continue reading "Arizona Part 1 - The Grand Canyon"
Tuesday, February 16. 2016
He is deeply involved in holistic and alternative medicines. That, in itself, is no big deal. I know plenty of people who use these approaches, as I have from time to time (despite being the son of a doctor). My father once told me, "If it works, it doesn't matter what it is. Even placebos have a place in medicine." Of course, he wasn't all that thrilled about me seeing a chiropractor, but I figure that was just professional jealousy kicking in.
What the CRO said to catch my attention was this - "there is no incentive for the medical community to cure cancer because they make far more money by just treating it." From someone as highly educated as he is, I was shocked.
It's not like I haven't heard this comment before. I just never heard it from a person capable of thinking deeply about an issue like this.
His premise is based on the existence of one thing called 'cancer' which must be somehow curable. I tried to explain to him there is no single thing called 'cancer'. There are forms of cancer, and they are all quite different. In addition, we all have some form of 'cancer' within us, it's really just a question of whether the deadly or invasive form has been activated. Furthermore, the term "cure" isn't perfectly applicable. There are many ways of dealing with disease, such as prevention (one example is vaccines - the HPV vaccine should reduce the rate of cervical cancer over time) and altered diets and behaviors (there is evidence that healthier eating habits, reduced sugars can help slow some cancers from spreading - and even ending smoking or drinking can help). But even treatment is a form of 'cure' (many lymphomas are now 'cured' if caught early and treated aggressively). Regardless of how you approach the issue, strides are being made to find a 'cure'.
The idea that you "make more from treatment so you're not looking for a cure" is like saying "the attempt to cure the disease generates so much revenue, they aren't really trying to cure it." In other words, the money generated from 'curing' it isn't really an attempt to 'cure' anything. Which is a nice bit of circular logic I guess only a lawyer can get away with.
The truth is, many cancers may be 'curable', but because all cancers are such complex diseases there is no magic bullet. This, of course, makes Obama's State of the Union call a bit outlandish, and it also tends to forget that we've been trying to find a cure since 1971, when Nixon was the first president to declare "war" on cancer. This doesn't mean we should stop trying simply because we haven't cured all forms yet. However, it does mean we should keep everything in context. We've 'cured' several forms, we've made tremendous progress, and there is no value in ignoring everything which has happened to improve the lives of those with various forms.
If treating diseases generates so much money that 'curing' them isn't a goal, then I'd like to know why we do have so many curable diseases today? Treating diseases like smallpox, polio, and a host of other diseases generates plenty of money - why did we 'cure' them by finding vaccines?
In a way, the logic employed by my CRO friend is an application of Bastiat's "Broken Window Fallacy" - the idea that breaking windows makes us wealthier by keeping the glazier at work, and money changing hands. It's a logic that ignores the massive costs of lost value and misallocation of spending. Cancer's costs on productivity far outweigh the revenue any treatment can generate. 'Curing' all its forms is a goal simply because the overall gains in productivity will be greater than the revenues generated by simply managing it.
Tuesday, February 9. 2016
Reading the morning links, the Signs of Bad Science piece caught my attention, having just read this bit over at Manhattan Contrarian:
There's plenty of good science out there, but there
Thursday, January 14. 2016
For years, I've been taught that 'win-win' solutions are the best. They certainly are, and I try to find them whenever possible. But in this vein, how is compromise necessarily 'win-win'? It can be, certainly, but it is not always and definitely. In my day-to-day life, 'win-win' is what I live for. It's what keeps business running. But it is no longer useful in politics.
My friends who are Democrats bemoan the Republican stance saying "How can they block Obama at every turn? Why can't they compromise?" I don't doubt their sincerity of motive, their desire for what's best. I know they want to do well and good for themselves, others, and the nation. All they hear are flowery stories of 'curing cancer' or 'feeding the poor' and decide "Hey! That's a great idea, and politicians say we can do it by taxing the rich."
But I prefer shrinking the government. So do many people in this nation. When a Democrat says "I want to grow government infinity, and you don't, so let's compromise and only grow it 10%" I immediately start to get angry. Only growing it a little less than you want still constitutes growing it, and I am opposed to growing it. Where do we compromise?
We used to. We shouldn't anymore. It's time to say no. It's time to push back and take back. Which is why I don't particularly like the methods used in Oregon, but I support them. After all, Eric Holder took part in an armed takeover while at Columbia. How was his 'good' and theirs 'bad'?
The only compromise from here on in, as far as I'm concerned, is to agree to grow a Democratic program while cutting a larger one somewhere else - or not agree to growth at all. It's time for these people to choose what's important, and not throw shit on a wall to see what sticks. Nearly every article in the mainstream is heralding the idea that Joe Biden is going to cure cancer. This is, without question, one of the most laughably stupid concepts I've heard from anyone, anywhere, anytime. 'Cancer' isn't one single disease that a silver bullet cure can be created for, and chasing all the cures needed is absurdly expensive and outlandish regardless of what the mainstream journalists say.
Wednesday, January 13. 2016
I watch less TV than the average American, but more than a little. M*A*S*H reruns (it's on when I get home from work and it's still great television), sports, and movies. I was a regular viewer of The Sopranos and Mad Men. I never watched Breaking Bad (though I may since many people have recommended it), but I have gotten hooked on Better Call Saul. Most of this viewing has been done via binge-watching. Late at night, when nothing else is going on and I can squeeze two or three episodes in on VOD or Netflix.
Recently, the wife and I got a recommendation to watch Fargo. The original film is classic, thoroughly enjoyable. Coen brothers at their very best. I wasn't sure how telling fake 'true crimes' tales in serial format would play out. Despite my reservations, the show is fantastic. I finished the final episode of season two (because I can't get season one yet) this week and had a difficult time taking a break from viewing.
In true Coen brothers fashion, there is plenty of violence, dark humor, and outlandish twists of fate. The Coen brothers often have a theme of unstoppable and overwhelming evil running through their films. Fargo is no different, with several characters, who can only be described as psychotic, pursuing various goals. Each one meets a different end, some more surprising than others.
Without providing spoilers, there is one particular theme which caught my attention. It was mentioned early, and barely discussed until the very end. A secondary character is reading Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus for a class. This detail is brought up in conversation on occasion as the story progresses, several characters comment on the book. As the story unfolds, plot twists hint at the absurdity of life, how boring and difficult it is to live a life that only leaves you dead, without much to show for it. As you begin to think there can't be any redemption, the primary characters (the police) continue to pursue their goals, against odds that slowly stack against them.
Then the script flips. It becomes clear each character is Sisyphus, pushing their own particular boulder up a hill each day. A criminal seeking to make his boss or himself happy, a police officer engaging crime prevention and enforcement against increasing human stupidity and avarice, a mother dying of cancer trying to make life comfortable for her family, and a woman seeking personal fulfillment. Each day, they wake up and push that same rock up the hill again.
What becomes clear at the finish is the rock we all push, the thing we consider a burden, is in fact a privilege. It can be family, a job, any repetitive detail in our lives which we view with some level of disdain simply because it has to be done over and over again. Camus insinuates the reward for this seemingly useless behavior was death. Fargo alternately embraces this point in some cases, and rejects it in others. The characters point out our duties are what provide meaning and value. The show is full of death, and someday we will die. But on every other day, we will live. Living a life expecting nothing but an absurd finish is a fate for many, who don't expect much else. For others, death gave their lives meaning and highlighted what was good in the lives of those around them.
Fargo closes with a standard Coen brothers flourish. We're happy, but not completely so. Life goes on, happy enough for those we're pleased to see finish in good spirits, but it takes bizarre twists for others. Good has triumphed, but only barely, and evil continues in various, new, formats. It's not Hollywood. It's close enough to real life to relate to, but strange enough to keep your interest and make you think.
I look forward to watching the first season (no spoilers in the comments, please!).
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:39 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
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