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, November 3. 2020
So far, for the second straight election, the Dems overspent for a "Blue Wave" and as yet it seems more like a ripple.
It's early, but if everything holds pretty much as it is now, it's instructional. Dems do not know how to spend money properly. They spend too much for too small a payout.
Saturday, October 31. 2020
Some examples of where errors may occur:
Thursday, October 29. 2020
The town square in Jackson (for what it's worth, the town is Jackson and Jackson Hole is the surrounding region leading up to the Tetons), has entrances adorned with elk antler arches. Every year the Boy Scouts go to the elk refuge and collect antlers. The story of the elk is both interesting and contentious. They should just pass through but growth of the town has blocked migration routes, and a bad winter many years ago trapped them in the valley. So many died it was said you couldn't walk without stepping on them. Originally, a privately funded rescue was created and the elk were fed in the area. Now it is a National Refuge and they are fed there every winter. It is a mixed blessing...and one which has detractors on both sides. An unnatural state of affairs but a great tourist opportunity.
(more below the fold)
Continue reading "More Vacation Pics"
Just going to post a few pictures of my vacation, an off-season visit to Montana, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons. We had to leave 2 days early due to snow, but it was still one of the best trips we've had as a family. Lots of hiking. Lots of driving. Lots of steak. Flew into Bozeman, drove down through Red Lodge and stopped at Cody. Nice towns to visit. We had to skip Livingston, too much snow and the road condition reports were not good. The next day, the drive from Cody to Yellowstone is magnificent, and we did it in the snow, again. Pictures of our Yellowstone Welcome Wagon below. Saw Old Faithful (the boys were underwhelmed, but it did go off right at the time we were told it would).
Spent 2 days in Jackson, hiked the Tetons and met some moose. No squirrel. Definitely need to return and do more hiking there. Amphitheater Lake looks wonderful, and the hike to 9,000 feet isn't horrible.
Drove through Idaho, where we ran into a cattle drive in Rexburg, to West Yellowstone. A tourist town, but in the offseason it has a charm all its own. Spent another day hiking and taking pictures of geothermal activity, waterfalls, and ran into Wile E. Coyote on a short hike to Clear Lake (which is really quite green and smells like sulphur).
The weather in Yellowstone changes on a whim. We had fog, rain, clear skies and snow all in a 5 hour period. The first few snow storms were pretty mild. Unfortunately, the snow kept getting worse. When 4 inches fell, the park closed and a larger storm was on the way. So we changed the flights and headed home. It was the right decision. Bozeman got 10 inches on Saturday, and we would have had to drive in that snow...
Some pictures below the fold, more to follow...
Continue reading "My Vacation out West"
Thursday, October 8. 2020
That 3 generations could have spanned almost the entirety of the US' existence is rather astounding. Yet it is a fact, there is still one of John Tyler's grandchildren left alive.
I first learned two were alive many years ago when an article about this arcane bit of Americana went viral. It's great trivia, but easily forgotten. Yet one of them died, so the trivial knowledge was revived.
What I find just as interesting is the Gardiner name, which the recently deceased held. John Tyler had married a Gardiner daughter. The Gardiners deserve a bit of study. If you have the time I recommend looking them up, and reviewing the history of their island - Gardiner's Island - off the coast of Long Island. Mrs. Bulldog and I were out on the East End last weekend (lovely weekend on Block Island) and the topic of Gardiner's Island was something we began discussing and started reading about. The family (particularly the last "Lord of the Manor") have an intriguing and eccentric history...as does the island itself.
I don't know how many Maggie's readers utilize social media, in particular Facebook. I do use Facebook, for a variety of reasons, even though I am aware of the privacy issues it poses. It remains a very good tool to share thoughts, experiences, moments in time, etc. It has helped me re-connect, and stay connected, to many family members and friends. I have investigated other, less intrusive, media like Parler, but I have not made that move to utilize yet.
I am not writing about social media, per se, though. Whatever your thoughts on its benefits or detriments are yours and you're welcome to them. Social media is a reality now, and I doubt it will be going away anytime soon. Personally, I don't use Instagram, Twitter, or most other social media. I limit myself to Facebook and Linked In. One for personal, the other for work.
What I find particularly troubling lately is the number of friends I have posting pictures of themselves mailing in ballots and writing "I voted, make sure you do, too - you know who I voted for." This is no different than taking a selfie while you're in the voting booth and saying "I voted, you know who I voted for." And while some people have done this, most people would find it very distasteful.
This may be the new reality, though. If it is, it's a troubling problem for the democratic process. The social pressures to 'vote the right way' are being ramped up. A new generation may not understand the problems with this, and many people who don't understand Democratic Theory may not, either. Here is a view supporting selfies which I find abhorrent, since the premise is based on the reason it being good is that it allows millienials to "convey information about their political views and engage with their friends about elections." No offense, but the vote itself is, and should be, private. While many of us share our political views, and even how we voted, that's a personal choice - not a fashion statement. Turning voting into a fashion statement is a dangerous thing. For what it's worth, the article supporting selfies points out that fraud is typically engaged via mail-in votes - a fact I'm sure Slate has shifted its position on in the last few months...
A final note. As I pointed out in the first sentence, the privacy issues of Facebook are problematic. Imagine sharing your selfies on Facebook, which already has collected a ton of information about your political views from your posts, what you've clicked on, even sites you've visited (just a reminder - not having a Facebook account does NOT mean you're immune to them collecting your data. They can do it whether you're on there or not - and they certainly do collect it.), and now they can prove from your selfie that you 'did the right thing for the party.' It's a pleasant thought.
Tuesday, September 29. 2020
Friday, September 18. 2020
The story of Brave New World preceded 1984 and other dystopian totalitarian/collective novels. It also provides a counterpoint - the idea that there might be a way to accomplish the collective through positive interaction and genuine agreement. Huxley realized this was a seductive approach, but one fraught with problems, all of which eventually bubble up over time. Collectives require some form of force, or provision to derive agreement, to survive over longer periods of time. Widespread collective agreement, even on a small scale, can only be temporary. Huxley saw the value of propaganda, drugs, and psychological manipulation...as well as genetic engineering...to help achieve that "provision to derive agreement" and achieve a means to a presumed end.
There is, of course, no end that is always utopian and happy. That's the farce of our 'science-based' leaders and protesters out there - believing society can be, somehow, manipulated (or forced) into happiness and perfection. Huxley knew that. The critical flaw in Brave New World is the technological advancement and wealth this 'collective' creates. As we know, that is literally impossible. None has ever achieved it, none ever will. Despite that, Brave New World provides a cautionary tale on falling for seductive ideas that run against human nature. And, oddly enough, it aligns very well with the 'science' of the current covid political management...the willingness of people to fall in line to 'save' society.
Wednesday, September 16. 2020
Really two recommendations. Having completed Yellowstone, I'd recommend it if you have the time and inclination. I doubt some of the mafioso tactics employed actually take place, but in today's world, who knows? That said, if you enjoy westerns, the great outdoors, and some intrigue it's worth your time.
If you want a bit of nostalgia, mixed with some humor and good common sense, I'll toss Cobra Kai out there. Anyone who enjoyed The Karate Kid will get a kick out of this update. It makes fun of itself while teaching some worthwhile lessons about perspective and life. Johnny Lawrence, the antagonist in the original, is the star. His life hasn't quite gone the way he'd expected. So he returns to his roots, and once again Daniel LaRusso is his competition. An updated story, relying heavily on the original for perspective on how Johnny became who he was, and how Daniel seems to have dogged him the rest of his life.
Johnny provides good real-world advice to his new students in his dojo, a bit over the top for comic relief, but his students understand how he is lifting them up. It's a rough approach, not 'acceptable' commentary in modern society, but focuses not on how we want the world to be, but how it really is. Even Daniel, with his 'perfect' life, has to face some of his own failings.
At its heart, it is a comedic look at the original. It's got real world lessons in it, too. Some that would be worth having kids learn today.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:01 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, September 13. 2020
Dystopian science fiction writers must be laughing right now.
There is a reason political functionaries are being assholes about wearing masks - and it isn't about keeping you 'safe' (a common lie used to expand power).
Don't get me wrong, masks can play a role in reducing the likelihood of catching the virus, but it's just a delaying tactic. It's not preventive. There is a larger political play here...even if some of us are not capable of understanding it.
Most science fiction dystopias are based on reducing the individual into a collective hive. The Borg on Star Trek, Harrison Bergeron by Vonnegut, 1984 by Orwell - all of these (and many others) found ways to subjugate the individual to the will of the state or hive.
Humans differ from other animals in a few key ways, which in aggregate make us rather special. The opposable thumb, the ability to analyze situations and prepare plans, the sense of self and free will (self-actualization). Where animals that reject individualism have a level of success in groups or hives - what people who overemphasize these fail to note is that humans exceeded the limitations of groups by emphasizing the individual initiative.
Hives have their place, they can be useful even for humans. Collectives can work, temporarily and in small groupings, if they are VOLUNTARY. But the problem with modern people is they fail to recognize that capitalism and free markets allow for voluntary collectives to form, disband, and form again.
Think corporations are powerful? Name 10 that have lasted more than 100 years. The few that have managed to survive that long only did so one way - by playing political games, or gaining some form of monopoly power guaranteed by the state itself. Natural monopolies can exist over short periods of time, but fall apart without state protection. That is why socialism can only fail, over time. It is an unnatural state monopoly formation. Even fascism, which is a form of socialism, fails because it is still the state dictating the means of production. While competition can exist, it's limited and reduced, innovation is stifled and winners are chosen by political functionaries.
Individualism, in socialism and fascism, is reduced to whatever the state says is acceptable and limited.
Friday, September 11. 2020
My memory of 9/11 is pretty vivid. I won't go into details about what happened, we all have our personal views on how/why/what all occurred. These views are based on where we were, what we were doing, and what we choose to believe.
I don't believe the 'truthers' and their conspiracies. All you need for a good conspiracy is a couple of willing believers and some good memes that are logical fallacies. But I'm not going to share what I believe happened, either. We're all allowed to believe what we want, even if I don't agree with what someone else believes. That's called a marketplace of ideas. Sometimes there are lemons being sold in that marketplace. The nice part of the marketplace is this - I don't have to buy the lemons.
Getting past that, I have other memories. People coming together. People pulling together. Without any impetus from a 'leader'. Spontaneous organization and commitment to each other. Race differences disappeared. People cared about each other and making sure they were getting what they needed. I remember it as a "lockdown" of sorts. I didn't go back to work for 2 weeks, working remotely from home, just like the last 6 months. Of course, my office was by 14th Street, which had limited ability to cross. Our office felt it best to let the responders have as much space as possible. I saw similar behaviors in the Northeast Blackout of 2003, 2 years later. Spontaneous organization, not something we needed leaders for. People working together, finding solutions to issues we all faced.
Continue reading "A 9/11 Thought"
Saturday, August 15. 2020
It's coming and I don't personally agree that mail-in voting is an option. I can't get anything delivered on time, why should I expect the USPS to handle my vote any better? Not only that, but unless the government pays for the envelope, isn't a stamp a form of "poll tax"? Seems to me, mail-in voting is just make-work to keep a government jobs program (the failing USPS) viable.
There are ways, as Fauci (though he's been all over the map with his views) states, to allow in-person voting. One thing we can do is pay attention to South Korea over the next few weeks.
My personal opinion is that voting should be a three to five day long process and no early exit polls or counts should be publicly shared until polls are closed.
Not that I fear the virus, particularly. But some do - so set some voting guidelines, stick to them, and let's make this work.
Tuesday, August 11. 2020
Sat through a webinar (usually a walking tour) of 5 Points - quite enjoyable.
Learned of a relatively new resource - replications of Manhattan using computer tech.
$12 for an hour and a half by a 'licensed' (not sure why you need one) tour guide. Not that I'm a great tour guide, but I think I've done a passable job as an unlicensed one during our Urban Hikes.
Monday, July 13. 2020
I'd really like to take in a ballgame this summer. I know I won't be able to. Which is odd, because if this sport were played indoors, I think I MIGHT be able to understand why not having fans was a reasonable step to keeping people safe. But as I've watched the protests over the last several weeks - all far more crowded than the Sandy Hook beach I sat on during the July 4th weekend - and the crowded beaches themselves, I've noticed there has been no spike in NY/NJ of any meaningful nature.
But let's stick to baseball (or football, soon enough) and mull over the possibility of sitting in a crowd cheering. Is it safer, or less safe, than marching to protest Trump, or the US in general? I'm going to be a heretic and say it's just as safe. Oh I know some people will cry "condemning people to die" or some such nonsense. The reality has been quite the opposite, though. As testing has increased, new cases have (naturally) increased. Like a witch hunt, when you search for something, you tend to find more of it. This, of course, is particularly true of a natural spreading event like a virus. What must be driving the lockdown supporters nuts is the lack of increase in the mortality rate. Recent spikes in mortality were simply delayed reporting. (see chart below fold)
Continue reading "Just Wondering When..."
Tuesday, July 7. 2020
Wednesday, July 1. 2020
Webinars can be hit or miss. The New York Adventure Club, due to the obvious difficulties of getting out these days, have some on offer. I took in one on Five Points that was excellent, and there is one on July 21 about the Brooklyn Bridge that I have signed up for. $10 isn't too much, I guess, though I'd rather do tours on foot (boy I miss the Urban Hike and I hope we can pull one off in the Fall...I was thinking of focusing on movie locations this time).
If you're interested in spending an hour and learning about NYC's history, here's a great way to do it. Just click the link and see what they have to offer.
Sunday, June 21. 2020
I hope all our readers who are fathers enjoy this day with their families.
My father and mother divorced when I was 8, though he'd already left the house when I was 6. For a good portion of my life, my memories of him were of weekend visitations, driving around with 4 kids in Triumph TR5, (2 in the front, 2 in the 'back', which wasn't really a seat). There was a period of several years when he lived in Micronesia with his wife and my half-sister, so our direct contact was minimal. By the time I was 14, I was usually taking a bus to see him for weekends, once a month or so, or for a week in the summer. Eventually I spent three full summers with him while I worked at the Jersey Shore. I was in college, and it was a good place to spend my summer months.
Divorce is difficult on everyone involved. I remember spending time being angry at my father for leaving. I give my mother a lot of credit for knowing that it's important for children to have a father in their lives, encouraging and enabling us to take time to see him. Even scolding us when we spoke ill of him. Eventually, as I got older and more educated, my relationship with my father became much closer. I am lucky to still have him around, and I will be seeing him later today for the first time in 4 months (thanks to this lockdown).
In a way, I may have been lucky, as my mother remarried, and I wound up having a step-father (though he was not officially a step-father as I still had my father). A tough WWII vet, a good man who did his able best to raise 6 children, 4 of which were not his own. He passed 15 years ago. I was able to have conversations about the war, the Depression (which he grew up during) and learned about real estate (his profession). He was a do-it-yourself man, unfortunately not very skilled, but taught me how to do plumbing, auto, and minor electrical work. There were things he passed on to me that my father never could have.
Being a father has no template. We are certainly not perfect. Hopefully, our mistakes are good learning experiences, for both us and our children.
Today will be a good day to share some of the better stories, both good and bad, with our fathers or our children. Of course, we can do that any day, but it's nice to have a day to really focus. Enjoy your day with your family.
Saturday, June 20. 2020
Thursday, June 18. 2020
What has CHAZ (or is it CHOP? They grow up so fast!) done for us? CHAZ has done us a favor by highlighting some truths about the far left.
Monday, June 15. 2020
The larger French Revolution era extended all the way until the end of the Franco-Prussian War. This current situation, as I'd written about the other day, is much like the French Revolution.
The general approach of this crowd isn't too dissimilar to the Spanish Inquisition, either. If you're not in, you're out, and you're going to have to be punished. They claim their 'goal' is peace and freedom. They prefer to see people suffer. They have marketed themselves to their constituency well, shifting everyone's eyes away from historical precedent.
Thursday, June 11. 2020
Apparently, Seattle is now epicenter of the revolution which we have all waited breathlessly for. The NYTimes has headlines saying it's "Free Food, Free Speech and Free of Police", which I suppose is a start. We are expecting great things from these people. 'New ideas' we've never seen before. Lovely. Maybe the food is 'free', though nothing is ever free, and we certainly know the speech is only free if you agree with them. But I'm fairly certain the area is free of police. For now.
Remember a few years ago at Malheur, and those supposed 'right-wing extremist' loony birds were roundly misrepresented by the press? Yeah, me either. Didn't happen. The Feds didn't kill anyone there, either.
I'm sure this Seattle experiment will go really well. Just like Christiana did originally (cough, cough).
By the way, can I just also mention how proud I am of my alma mater's devotion to presenting fact-based opinions and respecting free speech? We're leading the way! Future donations on my part will not be part of the plan. I can show my point of view by withholding money.
Monday, June 8. 2020
Ghosts don't exist, except in history. These ghosts live in our minds, because we are aware of history and hope 'it can't happen here', or that lessons are learned. But some choose to not be aware of history, and make every effort to bring ghosts to life.
For several months, since listening to the French Revolution portion of the Revolutions podcast I mentioned here at Maggie's, I've told friends we're moving toward a new French Revolution. As Minneapolis moves to defund its police department, one can only wonder, will it be replaced with a Committee of Public Safety? In a perverse way, I hope they do create one.
The ghosts of Marat, Robespierre, Danton and countless others are alive again. I'm sure our modern day radicals will say "This time is different" or "It wasn't done right the last time" or some other excuse will be provided. I have to admit, though, it's fun to see these people turn on their own kind. It's also frightening. A friend of mine was sending me pictures today from Manhattan of the destroyed store fronts. It's pretty extensive, and the minimal news coverage of how bad it was provides a kind of rationale for the radical influence to keep pushing. There is no shame in destruction if it's not visible. But the destruction, too, is a ghost - not visible to many.
Jonathan Turley puts his own spin on it here. Being a modern-day Abbe Sieyes isn't something I thought I'd begin to aspire to, but it may be a worthwhile goal nonetheless.
Friday, June 5. 2020
One of the issues I've been grappling with during all the recent nonsense is the idea, somehow, the U.S. is 'flawed'. In this article, Dr. Benedict Beckeld discusses what is best described as 'self-hatred' or fear of the familiar, oikophobia, as it relates to the U.S.
Sure, of course our nation is flawed. Those flaws are, in a way, our best feature, because they require constant discussion. Our Constitution memorialized free speech to ensure that discussion takes place. A friend asked if we're racist. Answering 'Yes' would imply everyone is racist and all our institutions are racist. So the only answer is 'No'. What IS true is we're more open about the racism which still exists. We show it, we talk about it on the news, we deplore it even as we work our way through it. Our dirty laundry is regularly on display for the world. Other nations either suppress their discussions, or are heterogeneous enough that racism isn't an issue they need to deal with too much. That allows them to judge us, and their judgments reach people in the U.S. and resonates. There is a strange self-loathing which sometimes accompanies wealth and success.
If we, as a nation, have a detrimental flaw, it's the hatred of what we are and what we've accomplished, and engaging that self-loathing. To that end, I can never be a leftist, let alone a Democrat. I hear too much about hate from them. They hate Trump, they hate what the U.S. represents, they hate our history, they ignore our accomplishments, somehow assuming these accomplishments rationalize the errors of our past. Accomplishments don't rationalize anything, they're just accomplishments.
Some of our citizens just need to learn to stop hating themselves. They need to learn to love our history with all its mistakes, and by default, our nation again. We have fixed so many mistakes. Why focus only on errors? We build on our successes, we don't build by focusing on failures. We can use the failures to improve, if we approach them constructively.
P.S. - I was sharing thoughts with a friend about what binds us as a nation. It is the Constitution, from my perspective. I know most of the people I referred to in this post, if they hate the U.S. and what it stands for, then they hate the Constitution. But the Constitution is, still today, an astounding and outstanding achievement. It does not grant rights, it protects them. Its amendments attempts to enumerate some of these rights, but makes it clear those listed are not all there are. This is very different than almost every other nation's basis. From this point of view, we are very much a nation, since the right to oppose, or hate, the Constitution is enshrined in the Constitution itself.
Sunday, May 31. 2020
This morning, watching the news, I simply told my son "never join a mob." The police can't win in a situation like this. If they do nothing and people get hurt, businesses and homes are destroyed. If they do something, a video will call out the 'bad cops'.
There's nothing to be gained in a mob. You get to be part of a crowd, and sure that's 'fun'. You're in with the 'in crowd'. But when it all goes south, you stand a chance of getting arrested or worse.
I hope we can all agree what happened to George Floyd, and many others like him, was unnecessary and requires action. I hope we can all agree peaceful protests of this kind of thing are useful and necessary as part of our nation's traditions. I'm sure we can all agree riots and destruction are counterproductive and unnecessary. They do not represent a revolutionary movement.
I've seen many people making comparisons of the looting and riots to the Boston Tea Party. This is just nonsense. While it's true that John Hancock and Samuel Adams were happy to see the tea tossed because it kept prices on their smuggled tea high, many others opposed the Tea Party, with Washington and Franklin calling for restitution to the East India Company. So criticism of destruction also has a long history in our fine nation.
That said, the East India Company existed by mandate of the Crown, and was an arm of the government. While it was 'private' in construct, even Parliament recognized it was both a political and economic entity. Taxes were only part of the way the Crown benefited from the East India Company. So any attack on the tea was an attack on the government, by default. Burning or looting Target stores are not an attack on the US government or local governments. The looting had nothing to do with depriving the government of anything, nor is it a statement about government. It's just violence and destruction for the sake of violence and destruction.
Taking the comparison further, the Boston Tea Party was not an uncontrolled riot. It was, by most accounts, generally orderly. Armed British ships did not make a move to intervene. The participants went so far as to sweep the decks clean afterward. This was not mob behavior. This is the kind of protest one should feel comfortable joining.
After being cooped up for 2 and half months, any spark was likely to result in an overreaction. Criminal elements love a protest, particularly one they can turn into a riot. Protests require strong leaders, soft guidance, and respect for order. But none of this exists with the 'protesters' in our current situation. There is no Martin Luther King here.
George Floyd should not be dead. His murderers should be arrested. The reaction is still wrong and cannot be justified. Each is a separate crime in itself. The riots should not be linked to Floyd's death, they should be linked to violent thugs seeking to cause problems.
Don't join a mob.
Friday, May 22. 2020
Yesterday, a post by a fellow commentator addressed whether anyone would listen to epidemiologists again. This, in itself, is not a controversial question. There is a range of opinions, even among epidemiologists, on how to deal with viral outbreaks. That said, most posts are designed to create a discussion. None are likely to ever come to any complete answer, though hopefully some shared ground can be hammered out. It seems this did not occur and considerable animus was shared in the comments section.
I will begin by saying I have not lost anyone to Covid, but I can list about 15 people in my family who are at risk. They have all been isolating, as they should. They know isolation won't prevent them from getting ill, as we know there are many other problems with isolation. But it is a safety feature. There are no guarantees for any of us.
The questions which remain are whether we 'flattened the curve', actually 'saved lives', and even if we could do these things.
There is no way, literally none, to answer whether we 'flattened the curve' or 'saved lives'. Saying we did will only be based on what you presume may have happened otherwise. That's not science, that's an opinion. My opinion is we didn't and can't do either, but my opinion is no better informed than yours. I base my reasoning on logic. Isolation has happened, and people are still getting sick despite isolation. The virus spreads more easily in confined spaces, and shutting up a family with one asymptomatic member may well doom the entire family. Multi-generational homes in Italy, where that kind of living is more common than in the US, certainly played a role in the Italian situation.
Continue reading "The Personalization of Disease"
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