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
Wednesday, February 5. 2020
It's never too early to plan!
Now that it's February, and a mild one due to man-made hotcoldwetdry, my mind has taken to thinking about what sites we should see in April or May. Also socks, my mind is on socks because it's good to be comfortable while walking 9-11 miles.
Last year we hiked on May 5, a Sunday. This year, Mrs Bulldog and I will be out of the US from April 16-May 2 as we take a drive through Benelux and France. So early April (a tad chillier, but reasonable enough), or the second and fourth weekends of May are open.
Just thought I'd get some thought starters out there - share any ideas of what you'd like to see and/or which weekends work for you. Right now, The Bronx (the only borough with a "The" in it) is the first choice, ending at Arthur Avenue. But I believe we can entertain all kinds of options. Let us know your thoughts!
Saturday, December 28. 2019
I'm sitting watching "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" during the holidays, enjoying myself and the general happy tone of the season, and I check my email. I get a notice from a college roommate that he has pancreatic cancer. He's happy, has had one round of chemo, and is in good spirits. Christmas was great, family is good, and he just thought my inquiry into his health deserved an answer. Admittedly, he's got the absolute best outlook on life of anyone I know or am associated with, and that goes a long way in situations like this.
I'm a fairly young person, or I like to believe I am. I've never had to deal with the mortality of any of my friends. Yet. Hopefully not for a while longer. I wish him the best, but his news got me thinking about how we deal with mortality.
I can't say much that hasn't been said by others already. I have no special insights or points of view. Generally, I enjoy dark humor and make jokes about this kind of thing. It's easy to do when it's not too close to home (though I certainly hope if things get tough with me, people don't hold back...I'll need a laugh and it's easy to laugh at myself).
News like this opens the door to taking stock, and that's something I'll be doing as I enter 2020. I'm not prepared (who is, after all?) to really think about the worst outcomes for a dear friend. So I'll remain positive that he's going to be fine. It takes quite a bit to bring me to tears, and I squeezed a few out as Mrs. Bulldog and I talked about this.
2019 isn't ending on an up note, so that only means 2020 is going to be great. All of you be well, and I hope your year ends well and gets better into 2020.
Wednesday, December 4. 2019
I don't have time to watch the impeachment hearings. In fact, I probably wouldn't, even if I could. It's boring stuff, and it's a rigged circus anyway.
That said, a friend called me to watch Jonathan Turley, saying "He's tearing it up, and all off notes from a play."
Took the time to watch the video this afternoon. Well worth it.
Monday, August 26. 2019
While I thought the Urban Hike of 2019 was one of our best, despite the rain, the Brooklyn trip of 2018 remains my favorite so far. To that end, this article about Battle of Brooklyn sites is worth a look-see. We stopped at a number of these sites, such as the Old Stone House, the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn Heights, and the monument to the prison ship martyrs.
The article did miss one site, on the side of a bank, which commemorated the battle (perhaps the author is unaware of this plaque, but we stumbled upon it and I wish I had a picture or a location to share).
Looking forward to planning 2020's Urban Hike. Need some thought starters. Right now, Wave Hill to City Island is what I'm considering, but that's more walking and less sightseeing.
Thursday, August 22. 2019
This is more inquiry than commentary. Interested to see what people think.
The idea of human rights as myth, in my estimation, is really about using them in a myth-making manner. They are ideals to strive for, and protect. Basic moral goods that apply universally, and from which other 'rights' (perhaps better defined as legal rights) or duties may grow from.
I'd had a conversation about universal human rights with a Progressive who considers them to be a myth or social construct. Only useful or meaningful if they are enforced. I took a different view. I feel they are real things, existing as useful concepts whether they are enforced or not. In fact, I pointed out, enforcing them is the incorrect term. Protecting them, or efficiently allowing their application, is more to the point. But even if they are not protected or applied, they are real nonetheless. Which is why so many people have fought for them over the years, and why nations which do apply them efficiently see so many wonderful benefits to their society.
His next question was "what makes them real? How can you justify a right to a free attorney but not a right to free medical care?" I replied that was a logical fallacy. There is no right to a free attorney, that's just a SCOTUS ruling. That has no bearing on this discussion (though I'm open to other ideas that you may have in comments).
So what are basic human rights? To me, they are real things. Things you are endowed with at no cost, upon birth. The right to free speech, for example. The right to associate with whomever you like. The right to believe what you want. The right to worship as you see fit. These cost nothing. They do not impact others' rights, or other people (physically or directly) in any limiting fashion. What are typically known as "Natural Rights" - a thing Progressives don't believe in because, to them, everything is a social construct and open to manipulation.
Wednesday, August 21. 2019
As I scrolled through movie listings recently, Mrs. Bulldog suddenly said "Oh, I read that book, it was good."
A Man Called Ove was the listing. It's Swedish, with subtitles. Outside of Bergman's work or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I'm not aware of many Swedish films. But it was a slow day and I gave it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.
It's a poignant drama with just enough comedy to keep up interest. An everyday man's life, one which is heavily driven by routine and basic beliefs and expectations. A curmudgeon who finds himself put into uncomfortable situations, and how he responds to these circumstances. Naturally, since this is for public consumption, we determine he's not as basic or curmudgeonly as we'd expect. He's just seen a lot, done a lot, and determined that he's comfortable doing what he's doing. Whatever you want to do, fine. Don't make it his problem, but he doesn't care, really.
He takes his shots at the government (as you can imagine, there's enough Socialism in Sweden that it's a common theme), calling its functionaries "whiteshirts". His life, and as he finds out the lives of others, are not enhanced by the appearance of these "whiteshirts". He also does his part, and more, to keep life comfortable for others. Mainly by making it comfortable for himself, which has knock-on effects.
It's on Amazon Prime, if you have it. If not, I'd recommend it as a rental. It's not Bergman, but I think the Swedes have a unique view of life and it was the kind of movie that allowed me to relax, and think about life just enough to be both entertained and informed.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:34 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, August 9. 2019
I'd like to pitch for a podcast I am now addicted to. For what it's worth, I am not a podcast person. The Revolutions podcast, link attached, is excellent and worth your time if you like history. It was recommended by a good friend who thought I'd enjoy the current episodes on Communism. Instead, I went to the beginning (which I highly recommend doing) and started from scratch. It's worth it.
I'm now in season 3, the French Revolution, and enjoying every minute of it. To say the least, if you don't see parallels between today and the French Revolution, you probably may not know as much about the French Revolution as you think. I know I didn't see them, and I thought I understood it. I did not. For what it's worth, the narrator is not pointing them out, I just think they are very, very noticeable.
At any rate, I recommended to my brother, who then sent me a note telling me that he hated me with the heat of a thousand suns because he has found himself hopelessly addicted to listening. The stories are both entertaining and informative, and very funny in some of the most appropriate places.
The narrator also did a history of Rome, which I'll turn to once I'm finished. And he does tours, which I hope to take part in (maybe we should invite him to our Urban Hike, though right now he's living in Paris).
Thursday, July 4. 2019
On most holidays, we celebrate 'something', but one thing worth celebrating is the ability to celebrate. So many things can happen which would alter the circumstances of enjoying any holiday. Last week, a fraternity brother sent me some pictures of his brother's plane, which crash-landed in the desert. His brother and sister-in-law were fine, though a team was helicoptered in to check them out. His sister-in-law was asleep during the test flight when the oil pressure dropped and the engine stalled. He woke her and asked her to use the phone cam and record the landing, to keep her mind off the event.
The video is pretty intense, but shows what a well-trained pilot is capable of doing. Today, husband and wife are celebrating with family and I'm pleased my fraternity brother gets to enjoy more time with his family members. I like to call today one of 'his' holidays, because after college he joined the Marines and served our country.
Sunday, June 30. 2019
About a year and a half ago, in the midst of the last Bitcoin bubble, I wrote about how cryptocurrency will eventually become meaningful. You probably haven't noticed it yet, and over the last year and a half, you've probably felt that article was a one-off. But what you haven't seen is how blockchain is slowly entering your life. Not visibly, but managing things you may purchase and providing a store of value while others are less available.
To be 'money', a product needs to be many things. First, it needs to be a Unit of Value - meaning it needs to be generally acceptable for use in purchases and exchange. For this reason, primarily, people have commonly said items like gold, silver, or even cryptocurrency are not 'money'. But they are. Each one is accepted, maybe not widely, but generally enough to qualify. Some examples of cryptocurrencies being accepted have popped up frequently enough over the last year and a half for this one item to apply.
Another quality is portability. It goes without saying cryptocurrencies are portable. Their digital nature assures this. As long as you have access to your digital wallet, you can make a payment using cryptos. They are also, by definition, less expensive to create than standard currencies. All currencies (paper, coin, check, bonds, etc.) carry a price of creation. They can also be destroyed (and replaced). But because they can be created, hard currencies can suffer from Gresham's Law. Unlike hard currencies, cryptos can't be counterfeited. Cryptos are also indestructible. Most hard currencies are "indestructible" because a government, somewhere, backs its value. But governments fall, and central banks print more than should be printed, and in the process destroy the currency. A visit to Venezuela, or even revisiting Zimbabwe (which seems to be reigniting its inflation) are recent example.
Continue reading "The Blockchain Bubbles Yet Again"
Wednesday, June 19. 2019
Sports shouldn't seem to have much in common with the Electoral College, but in fact they share very interesting facets. Sometimes the team that reaches the championship level doesn't 'seem' like it should be there, or even deserve to win. Yet that team, amazingly, will wind up victorious.
I still have friends who want to eliminate the Electoral College. Apparently, they didn't take any courses about history while in high school or college. More and more states are approving bills that will give their Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular vote. That will 'work' until the national popular vote winner is someone they do not like. It may be Donald Trump, in 2020, who makes that happen. It would be amusing to see these states passing a bill like this because of 2016, and pulling it back because the man they hoped to stop made them look foolish.
Tuesday, June 11. 2019
Part of the process of cleaning out my inbox is finding neat stuff that I'd forgotten I wanted to watch/read.
Since I posted about Manhattan's wooden homes yesterday, and Hamilton Grange was a stop from our Urban Hike, here's another little tidbit about how it moved:
Monday, June 10. 2019
There are still a few wooden homes left in Manhattan, 11 of them are listed here. As luck would have it, we actually saw 3 of the 11 (Morris-Jumel, Hamilton Grange, Sylvan Terrace) on our urban hike, and could've seen 2 more (if I had known and added them...more research needed next time).
Thursday, June 6. 2019
Just finishing Michael Lewis' Flash Boys, a terrific history of high frequency trading, front-running and markets in general. It reads like a thriller. You'd expect a Wall Street drama to be all about ego, bad guys ripping people off, and money being 'stolen'. Certainly that all plays a role, but it's not central to the story.
One of the best parts is the side story of Serge Aleynikov, one of the few people arrested, tried, and imprisoned after the crash in 2008. What's truly sad is that he had little to no involvement in any of the events leading up to that, nor was he involved in any transaction coding or theft of any kind (though Goldman Sachs and the US Government said otherwise). It's a sad state of affairs when someone capable of 'fixing' the problems that lead to flash crashes and other tech-driven market impairments is listed as a 'bad guy'.
At any rate, he lost his money, his family, his reputation - but eventually won his case and was freed. He has a great quote:
“If the incarceration experience doesn’t break your spirit, it changes you in a way that you lose many fears. You begin to realize that your life is not ruled by your ego and ambition and that it can end at any time. So why worry? You learn that just like on the street, there is life in prison, and random people get there based on the jeopardy of the system. The prisons are filled by people who crossed the law, as well as by those who were incidentally and circumstantially picked and crushed by somebody else’s agenda. On the other hand, as a vivid benefit, you become very much independent of material property and learn to appreciate very simple pleasures in life such as the sunlight and morning breeze.”~Serge Aleynikov
Monday, May 13. 2019
Dystopian fiction is fun, but dystopias rarely come about. Even the Dark Ages weren't so 'dark'. Dystopias, when they occur, do tend to be regional in nature, and often (though not always) occur for short periods of time. The future is almost always brighter than the past, which may be why dystopian fiction is popular, particularly among sci-fi fanatics. The fear of a frightening future most likely prevents it, or should prevent it. Always expecting things to be good and wonderful can create a society of Pollyannas. Of course, it also creates Cassandras.
The one thing that worries me, more than anything else, is a decline in standards. I don't mean a decline in standards of general behaviors. There is politeness in good society and there is excessive or unnecessary politeness. Miss Manners was never my friend.
I'm referring to standards of right and wrong. Too often, we choose people as role models of what is good and just. I used to do that, but have not for many years now. I trust no politicians, even those I like or prefer. Athletes, celebrities, businesspeople, all exist in a pantheon of model humans. None for me. I will admire individual traits, and focus on those. No whole person is perfect, and we can't really expect them to be. That inability to have a perfect role model (for what it's worth, I'm not including Jesus here, though certainly He is a great starting point) creates misunderstandings about what is good and bad in humanity.
When right and wrong become fungible, as it seems they slowly are, we need to worry. When 60% of Millenials surveyed don't distinguish between right and wrong, it's time to start discussing what we're teaching our kids.
Continue reading "A Frightening Future"
Monday, May 6. 2019
I'd like to thank everyone who braved the rain and chill yesterday to join Maggie's Annual Urban Hike. As Mrs. Bulldog and I approached the Natural History Museum, we were curious who would actually show up. We were very surprised to see a hardy group which totaled 13.
The choice of Northern Manhattan was a good one. I'm not sure we could have made the Cloisters even on a nice day, but by the end of the 9.2 miles (or so) that we did complete, we'd seen a good chunk of the Upper West Side, Harlem, and Washington Heights.
We passed 2 (of 5 planned) Carnegie Libraries. Took a gander at, and some pictures of, Pomander Walk and Sylvan Terrace. We saw Alexander Hamilton's house (which the city has moved twice), Aaron Burr's house, and the lot where the Collyer Brothers made hoarding a headline (as their house is gone). We passed the Polo Grounds and finished up at Highbridge. The group determined the Little Red Lighthouse should be our final stop - but we nixed it as walking there is far more complicated than we imagined. We'll save it for another trip.
I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately, so hopefully others who did can share them. The rain was definitely not a deterrent. While we considered cancelling (discussing whether "rain or shine" means "light mist or shine"), I think we made the right decision as it was one of the best walks we'd had.
Great fun, good people, nice conversation, wonderful views of New York.
We're running out of new things to see in NYC. Next year may be an interesting one to plan.
Friday, May 3. 2019
The current weather calls for temps in the upper 50's and rain. 100% chance of precipitation in the AM, but stopping and being partly cloudy. We've had lots of luck on our annual walks, so I'm calling in a chip here with the weather manager and imploring him to keep our positive streak going. That said, we've walked in the rain (really more mist) so be prepared with rain gear.
We're looking forward to seeing everyone! 9 am by Teddy's statue at the Natural History Museum.
Wednesday, May 1. 2019
While I feel bad for Joe and his touchy-feely problem being under attack (not really, I figure he's getting what he deserves for promoting and supporting bad ideas - these idiots all eat their own children and/or parents), he's finding that having a long, storied history is probably going to be harder to overcome than being a creepy uncle.
After all, he was a plagiarist. That cost him a run for the presidency years ago. But now, his racist colors are starting to come out. Yes, it seems Joe was a racist, and even looked to team up with other racists. To stop busing which would help integrate schools. Let's not forget this doozy:
Most Democrats are closet racists. Yeah, they say nice things, and 'feel' the right things. But their practical application of ideas is designed to create, support, and extend servitude of groups they can buy votes from. Which is a practical application of racism.
Tuesday, April 30. 2019
The time is upon us. That is, spring time. A time of hope, renewal, and (for the last 5 years) the Maggie's Farm Urban Hike.
Each one has had its own persona, as we've explored various parts of NYC. Art, architecture, history, music, food, humor - we do manage to run the gamut of interests and topics. We encourage anyone and everyone to join, the group has always been a great deal of fun to meander with.
There is a 'set' path we follow, and there will be some additional commentary along the way. But we are always willing and open to adding more places based on interests, or hearing additional commentary from our companions, especially if they are familiar with the history/stories of New York (and elsewhere, as the case may be).
The hike is 11 miles this year. That's a little longer than it's been the first few years, though shorter than last year.
Bring comfortable shoes, and rain gear. Right now there is a 50% chance of rain. I have friends in high places, so we'll work on arranging the weather machines to produce some sun. The temperature should be nice, in the 60s.
Meeting at 9am at the Natural History Museum - the statue of Teddy Roosevelt on his horse. There is a Dunkin' around the corner, so if you need coffee and donuts, it's not far.
Thursday, April 25. 2019
When I was working for Roger Ailes, he'd tell us stories about what it was like to be working with Nixon. One story he told was the advice he gave to Nixon when the Watergate story broke, which was (remember, it was his story and I'm telling it second-hand) "Tell the truth, you had nothing to do with this, it was overzealous campaign members going overboard. The American people have a great capacity for forgiveness."
That story was one I heard about 23 years ago, and I can't confirm it ever happened, but based on the (limited) interactions I had with Ailes it was probably fairly accurate. I was raised to believe most people have a great capacity for forgiveness if you're sincere, if you're honest, and you're willing to make amends.
I no longer think that's as true as it once was, and it certainly is not true with Progressives (unless, of course, you are a Progressive and they need to protect you). This is why Confederate statues are coming down, history is being rewritten to suit their feelings, people are castigated for views they had, behaviors they employed, and words they used which no longer are 'acceptable' in this overly PC environment today. This is why social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter are employing questionable means and methods to block speech.
Recently, my favorite hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, removed Kate Smith's statue because it suddenly came to light that she sang a few song with racist lyrics in them. Kate's dead, and can't defend herself, let alone apologize. So what option do we have to deal with this? Expunge history. Make her disappear. She is a horrible person who is irredeemably terrible and nobody should know about her.
Kate played a large, if indirect, role in the Flyers' winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975. But today she's persona non grata for doing things which, in her time, were deemed perfectly acceptable. From my perspective, it's a learning moment. Keep her history alive, and do teaching sessions around who she was, what she did, and why she's still an important part of the team's history regardless of whether we find a few of her song off-putting.
Today's America is about forgetting our past - pushing it aside, and not allowing for any forgiveness whatsoever. That is, in what is Progressive America. You know, the urban elitists and academics who have a good portion of the political upper class in their sway. Naturally, if THEY do something wrong, they'll find a way to apologize, expunge or set aside the misbehavior - maybe even vote one of their own into power, despite having done something 'wrong'.
Generally speaking, however, the goal is to completely eliminate and never forgive.
Monday, April 22. 2019
In light of Elizabeth's massive giveaway to the irresponsible and unaccountable, I thought this piece was particularly good.
I do the right thing, I get bupkus. Make your kid irresponsible, unaccountable, and let him/her/it/whatever-is-popular-now study Transgendered Poets of the 18th Century from Madagascar, and you'll have $1 Trillion in debt accumulate, with an entire generation incapable of being able to pay it back or understand what they did wrong. All you'll hear is "It's NOT FAIR!!!"
Let's not forget the MSM is saying "It's good for the economy!" No, it's not. It's good for a few people who are lazy and shiftless. It would damage the economy severely.
The entire Democratic Party has gone full-on Leftist, and is more dangerous than ever. Once there was a time worth considering voting for a Democrat. That was probably not more than 20-30 years ago. There are no worthwhile people in the Democratic Party. Not saying I'm fond of the Republicans, either. At least they show a veneer of accountability.
Monday, April 15. 2019
Starting a mile further north at a Dunkin' (Donuts) near the Natural History Museum (yes, Dunkin' Donuts is our traditional launchpad). I've done what I can to keep this at 11 miles. I'd like to make it shorter - but The Cloisters is the goal. So we can make choices along the way to see how people feel and what can be cut. The Little Red Lighthouse was something I considered cutting - but as Mrs. Bulldog says the view of the GWB is pretty spectacular. I could cut out the Collyer Brothers' Park, but let's be honest, if they can clutter up their house, we can clutter up our walk.
So we'll go for it. I'm sure I'm missing a few things. However, High Bridge, Morris-Jumel Mansion, Collyer Brothers, several Carnegie Libraries, Hamilton Grange, the Fascist Building at Columbia, the Battle of Harlem Heights....it's all there. UPPER MANHATTAN in all its glory to be invaded by Maggies' Farmers. I'll find subway stops for those who need to leave early, have swollen feet, etc. If you're hardy enough...maybe we shall return to Lower Manhattan and have a drink. Mrs. Bulldog and I have started stopping in at The Ear Inn - a magical place - where we have seen a ghost (or at least I believe I have) throw a glass. I'm sure there's a logical reason for it having broken by flying off the rack...but I WANT to believe. Alternatively, the Campbell Apartment is a good place to relax.
Looking forward to seeing everyone. I have been trying to find a weekend to do a test walk to pin down eateries, but weekends fill up quick these days. I may drive it just to see how it goes...
Monday, April 8. 2019
May 5th is the date for the Urban Hike. Upper Manhattan is the route. We have some interesting stops. Starting at Lincoln Center, then working our way up, we will take a gander at 5 of the remaining Carnegie Libraries in Manhattan. There is the Collyer Brothers Park, where the infamous pair lived (the house torn down). High Bridge, Morris-Jumel Mansion, Sylvan Terrace, the Little Red Lighthouse.
Right now the trip is 11 miles. My plan is to hike it a week or two prior, plot out some resting locations and eateries, and then make adjustments. 11 miles is long. Shorter than last year's, but still very long. 9am start time - but beware. May 5th is the Five Boro Bike Tour. We shouldn't have any issues with this. The tour is more or less out of the Central Park area by about 11am, and it's all on the east side. By the time we reach the Collyer Brothers Park, most of the bikes will be past. However, beware of getting to the city early! The Five Boro Tour usually can add 30-45 minutes of entry time into Manhattan if you're coming from the north or east of the city. Plan ahead and keep your radio tuned to traffic reports as you try to get to Lincoln Center.
Here is the current path.
Wednesday, March 6. 2019
Aside from being one of my favorite films, A Clockwork Orange is a lesson on society, management of society, and freedom. The book, more than the film, drives this home. The film, however, does outline some important aspects of choice and what happens when you reduce or limit the choices available to society and/or the individual.
Alex DeLarge suggests the man who chooses to be bad may be better than the one forced to be good, since at least a choice was made. This concept completely underlines my opposition to Socialism - because most people will choose to be good, while very few choose to be bad, if left to their own devices. In fact, the free market literally relies on good behavior, or it would fail on the whole. Without trust, the market is useless. The net result of the incentives provided by choice is increased productivity and value for all humanity. Alex lived in a Socialist world....and in being forced to be good, willingly chose to be evil, as it was the only choice he had available in a non-free society.
Alex was a creator, a creator of chaos within the order which was forced upon him. He, like most people, loved the process of creation. His form of creation, within the limits of the society he was raised, happened to be highly destructive.
Thursday, February 14. 2019
While he was not considered a generally 'good' mayor, Robert Van Wyck certainly is an integral part of the city. I've taken the Van Wyck Expressway many times, but I've never wondered who Van Wyck actually was.
A Tammany operative, his scandals eventually cost the group power. Robert was the first mayor elected after the consolidation of the five boroughs.
On Valentine's Day 1899, he signed a law renaming Western Boulevard. Western ran north of Columbus Circle, and his law changed its name to Broadway, thereby extending the famous thoroughfare. Today, Broadway runs all the way north on the west side, then turns east at Inwood toward the Spuyten Duyvil, across into The Bronx, and up into Yonkers (where it becomes South Broadway). At 178th Street, it becomes Route 9.
(Page 1 of 18, totaling 426 entries) » next page