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
Friday, October 19. 2018
About a year ago our niece had a child. Shortly afterward, my in-laws felt it was time to go meet their great-grandchild. It became a family event. 5 of us flew from various locations to Arizona. We rented a van and took the 8 week old on her first grand family adventure, spending a weekend traveling through Sedona, up to Williams, and riding the Grand Canyon Railroad up to see the big hole in the ground.
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." In many ways, the Grand Canyon is much more beautiful than a church or any architecture man could devise.
I had never been to the Grand Canyon before. I can't say anything which hasn't already been said about its grandeur. I'll toss in a few pictures of Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but the reality is pictures simply can't capture the immensity and beauty.
We were on the South Rim, about mid-point of the canyon. It's 18 miles across at this location, and the North Rim is higher than the South Rim, so you look 'up' at the far side. Nowadays, there is no private property in the area, except for whatever was grandfathered in when the park was created. At this location, the El Tovar Hotel is right on the rim. We didn't stay, but it is a beautiful hotel if you enjoy the look of rustic West (I do).
The Grand Canyon Railroad is a fun way to get to there, especially if you're a family with kids. You don't get much time at the canyon itself, about 3 1/2 hours. However, you don't have to drive, you get to take in the scenery, the kids interact with cowboys and there is a train robbery on the ride home. It leaves at 9:15 am from Williams, Arizona (the last town bypassed by Interstate 40, and a town chock full of Route 66 memorabilia) and arrives at the canyon around 11:30. A tour guide gives a running commentary as cowboys stroll up and down the train strumming guitars and singing tunes for tips. There are a variety of vistas which are passed. High plains, forest, ranch, and mountains are all part of the two and a half hour trip. We saw elk, antelope, and jackrabbit galore.
I really enjoyed this trip, and there's so much to see I am inspired to return. I doubt I'd do the railroad again, and I'd like to see the canyon from several different places. I'd also like to go down into it, which I didn't have time to do. Always leave something for the next time. That's pretty much my motto when I travel.
Continue reading "The Grand Canyon"
Thursday, October 18. 2018
For some reason, New York is upset that it pays 30% more, per capita, in taxes than the average state. Well, I'm from New Jersey and we pay slightly more than New York. New York is upset that it gets back much less than it pays out. Again, I'm from New Jersey and we get even less back.
New York is a big state, and a relatively wealthy one. New Jersey is wealthier. I figure we have more to be upset about.
Continue reading "Getting Something Back"
Wednesday, October 17. 2018
Today there was a brief article on Netflix which claims that it's a kind of Ponzi scheme. This is based on a concept which I found interesting, but misguided. Netflix gained 7mm subscribers, but spent $7bb on programming. The next question was "were these 7mm people spending $1,000 a quarter?"
That's the wrong question.
The nice thing about programming is it's evergreen. Once you have it - you have it forever. So it has value over time, value that is increasing, since revenue can be generated forever, in theory. $7bb in programming didn't generate 7mm subscribers, but the range and quality of programming on Netflix did. Assuming each subscriber wants to watch every program on Netflix, that could take some time, especially if Netflix continues to add programs, which they will. Since each subscriber pays $11 a month, the cost of new programming is amortized over about 7 1/2 years, assuming subscribers stay that long. It seems, right now, that the average subscription is about 13 years or more (my parents have had it in some form since it started in 1997).
Continue reading "Netflix Math"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:57 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, October 16. 2018
I stumbled on an article about how people tend to disagree regarding facts. It was clear from the start the author was seeking to explain the hyperpartisan nature of our political divide. I wasn't too impressed with the outcome. The closing paragraph stipulates our liberal democratic institutions are designed for disagreement, but these disagreements hinge on agreeing upon facts, a process which seems straightforward, but which he implies is broken and liberal democracy cannot fix. I'm not sure I agree that the process of agreement is straightforward, and I do believe liberal democracy can fix the issue.
I, however, disagree with the closing paragraph. The problem, as stated, is incorrect. People tend to agree about facts, so the adjudication process remains adequate. The issue seems to be that few people want to agree, even when they know they are wrong and the facts have presented themselves. If you play poker, as I do frequently, you've probably seen exchanges like this. You have 2 Queens in the hole and one on the board. But there are 3 spades on the flop, and betting action convinces you that a flush is in play. You convince yourself the 3 Queens will hold, and shove all your chips in. When you lose, you blame the person with the flush for not folding to the clearly superior bet, rather than analyzing your decision to shove as a mistake in the face of the facts as they'd presented themselves.
Continue reading "Deep Disagreement on Facts"
Monday, October 8. 2018
Mao began his Cultural Revolution after the failure of the Great Leap Forward. The Democrats are now enforcing their version of Cultural Revolution now that their economic policies have failed to yield their Utopian Vision.
Now, with Kavanaugh, you can keep your job if you commit slander, but try to provide some semblance of balance and you're going to have to go.
For now, the Cultural Revolution will seek to take away reputations and livelihoods. I worry that it's on the verge of getting violent and taking lives. As the anger and outrage of the Left continues to grow - and if the much-ballyhooed "Blue Wave" does not appear in November (I, for one, do not think it will) - you can be sure it will get increasingly more violent. Reputations and jobs won't be enough.
Friday, October 5. 2018
I've seen this term used to describe Kavanaugh and his friends. It is used in a pejorative manner, designed to wrinkle noses and cause people to roll eyes. A Frat Boy isn't welcome. He considers himself exclusive. He is boorish, usually a heavy drinker and engages in wild behaviors, often degrading women and/or abusing them. He is a troublemaker, not much of an academic, usually superficial and probably narcissistic.
I'm a Frat Boy. Proud member of Delta Tau Delta at Syracuse. Gamma Omicron chapter, and my younger son is also a member. My older son was in Kappa Sigma at Miami University (OH). My grandfather was in a fraternity at Penn, the name of which eludes me. When he heard I'd joined a fraternity (first of his children or grandchildren to join Greek life) he was ecstatic. I never got a chance to share stories with him, he died my junior year. My niece joined Delta Delta Delta and my sister was in Alpha Phi. So I think it's fair to say many in my family are 'Frat Boys' of some kind.
While I understand the negative connotations of the term, I reject them all. After all, I was a shy introverted kid trying to find his place at a large university. I had no money, so I'd go to fraternities during Rush to drink for free. One of them kept inviting me back. I liked all of the guys and had a class with two of them. I turned down their offer. They said think about it. A week later I said yes. The fraternity helped me develop lifelong friendships with people who I won't see for years at a time, and we'll pick up where we left off when we do get together.
Sure, we partied, we had fun, we were wild in many respects. But we didn't degrade women or abuse them. Heavy drinking? Some took place, I did my share. We did have at least 3 people wind up with addiction problems over my 4 years, but that's out of 160 people who passed through the house. Basically 1.5%, but that is well below the estimate of 9.4% in the US as a whole. These 3 are all recovered now (although that's a lifetime thing). I'd say that while we did quite a bit of drinking and smoking, we were pretty a pretty solid group of young men. When our friends announced their addiction, we didn't turn our backs. We were there for them, not as crutches, but as supportive friends. I'd say our fraternity reduced the addiction likelihood because it's an accepting and supportive culture.
Continue reading "Frat Boy"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:53 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, October 3. 2018
I have a habit of posting longer pieces, but this will be relatively short.
A friend called today, asking if I could help her daughter find an internship. Of course, I love helping young people, so I said fine and asked what her major was. "Corporate Psychology" was the answer.
I know several contributors are in the field of psychology or psychiatry, so maybe they can help me understand what this is, and if it's real.
I am aware that it would be in the Human Relations department. Given my recent post on "A Culture of Thank You", I have a feeling I know what kind of stuff is involved. I'm not sure I like the concept. Any time a business meeting starts with phrases like "it's ok to be vulnerable" or "everyone needs to be aware this is a safe space" I become immediately wary of the goals of the meeting. Not being involved will likely work against you. So will being involved but asking the wrong questions. I think that's what Corporate Psychology is about. Manipulating people to devise a particular result. But maybe I'm wrong.
Friday, September 28. 2018
I doubt I can say anything new or add to what we already know or believe about Kavanaugh v. Blasey-Ford. But what has happened is concerning on so many levels. As a man, you worry about being viewed as 'tone-deaf' to women's needs or being hurtful of victims. As a woman, you will be questioned if you're not lined up behind the accuser simply because 'you know' what it's like. As a citizen, you worry about the clown show in Washington and the damage it is causing to the standards we have.
Living in the NYC region, I see and hear things the rest of the country has to hear (media center) but doesn't really want to. I get it in double-barreled doses, though. NYC really is a bubble of tremendous proportions. A friend of mine, today, told me he doesn't think Kavanaugh is fit for the Supreme Court, but not because of yesterday. He felt the Fox interview was weak and showed someone without great knowledge or understanding. Then he added, "His emotional outburst yesterday showed me someone who can't control his temperament." Basically, yes, it was about yesterday. Kavanaugh's background puts his other concerns to rest, but this is Progressive Central - the People's Republic of New York is taking shape.
Let's address the outburst. Kavanaugh's reaction was understandable. If I was held accountable for all the stupid things I did when I was 15, I think I'd probably go nuts. If I was being held accountable for something I know didn't happen, I'd be angry and ready to take on the world. Damn right I'd be pissed. The media is judging him poorly because of his emotions. His identity is now being carefully packaged as a person unable to control his anger. I think having to discuss my 15 year old farting would, on its own, piss me off.
My friend said "this appointment is bigger than yesterday." Yes it was. Now it's not. Now it is about yesterday. The Democrats chose a battlefield, spent two weeks preparing that field with full media support, failing to expect what happened. They expected the Republicans to cut and run. For once, the Republicans fought back. From my perspective, and I was never a huge Kavanaugh fan, I shifted my views. I thought he was barely an OK choice originally. Good background, solid credentials, but weak in areas that matter to me. The Democratic strategy made me realize he was an excellent choice. It wasn't about yesterday until it was. It certainly changed my view on his desirability, and I was sold. His identity is one of candid and thoughtful forebearance. Anger plays a role at the right time. But Kavanaugh never attacked his accuser. He showed sympathy and concern. He lashed out at the politics of identity utilized to smear him.
Continue reading "Kavanaugh's Hearings are Identity Politics Run Amok"
Thursday, September 27. 2018
My Senior VP has been in place for just over a year. He's made some changes to our team which are, without going into detail, good. He's altered many of the previous cultural differences between our department and others we work with, and has found a way to eliminate much of our own department's internal strife. Many of the changes he's made are superficial. Overall effectiveness and productivity is unchanged. He'd say morale and confidence of the group are higher. I wouldn't disagree, but it's a subjective opinion. My view has always been an efficient and productive department has the highest morale. People like be useful and productive. It carries its own rewards.
Still, I can't fault him for following the path he has. Either groupthink has set in (my view) or he's made real, tangible differences that will last. I'm a natural skeptic. People can feign behaviors for only so long, but I hope I'm wrong and he's right.
One behavior which he has instituted, however, has me cringing. Not because it's terrible. Not because it's wrong or subversive or disturbing in a broad sense. From my perspective, based on my own personality and 36 years of working, it's just uncomfortable and personally intimidating. Thank you is something for me and whoever I'm with. I'm curious to see what others think. I've shared this with many people and gotten many different responses.
Continue reading "A Culture of "Thank You""
Tuesday, September 25. 2018
For the sake of any college friends who are reading, this is not about Spare Change, the guy who stood on the corner down on M Street. Though I'm sure he was very familiar with Carlo Rossi, this story takes place about 25 years later.
Today in the Morning New links, Bird Dog led off with an article about spare change. I don't know if Mrs. Bulldog told him the story about our spare change jug, but I know Mrs. Bird Dog heard it. Bird Dog was present in the Mohonk Mountain House parking lot when I picked up a dime, handed it to Mrs. Bulldog and said "Look, 10 Paris."
Spare change has some history in our family. About 11 years ago, I'd had a poker game in my basement and someone brought a jug of Carlo Rossi. You know, the good stuff in the big jug, with the finger handle on the neck.
Continue reading "Spare Change"
Monday, September 24. 2018
I agree with most of Bird Dog's review of The Labyrinth. In the comments you'll see I'd take task on the over-40 commentary. A good gym regimen is enough to keep you going and the fact one of our group did the scramble with a new hip says much about will as it does skill or fitness (admittedly, she runs marathons with that new hip, so she's not lacking in fitness). You DO need to be in shape. A good number of us emerged without our jackets, soaked in sweat. Those two fellows waiting at the top of Lemon Squeeze (both in late 20's, early 30's) were laughing in part from our dialogue, but also at the surprise of seeing a group of nine people aged 55+ emerging from that space. If you remember The Phantom Tollbooth, it pays to be Canby, as well. I can be young, I can be strong, I can be tall, I can be small. Be what you can be. It pays off in the scramble.
Hiking and some mountain climbing (my 2 experiences with rappelling were in New Mexico when I was 14), from my Boy Scout days, provided an edge. Mrs. Bulldog has only taken on hiking recently, though she does quite a bit of walking around town. Her 4 experiences of this sort of activity are limited to a climb up Quail Mountain at Joshua Tree with me in 2012, the Labyrinth, and our two previous hikes with Bird Dog and Mrs. Bird Dog.
More below the fold, with photos -
Continue reading "My Class Report on Mohonk"
Tuesday, September 11. 2018
We just witnessed an historic US Open finish in more ways that one. Not only did Naomi Osaka win the Japan's first title in a major tournament, but Serena Williams managed to overshadow this feat with her tirades and accusations of a double standard. Is there a double standard in tennis? It depends on what you mean. If I am to understand Serena, she gets fined for bad language and behavior while men get away with it.
It is possible, but by no means probable, that men do behave poorly more and it is overlooked. But evidence seems to exist to the contrary. After all, it's rare to see a woman suspended for bad behavior (in fact, I have not found any examples of it) on the court. With men, it's a fairly common experience. Connors, McEnroe, Fognini are only a few who were assessed points, games, fines and/or suspended. These are a few of the higher-profile players who have suffered, but it's by no means rare or unusual.
I have seen, in person, quite a few tennis matches. I have rarely seen women assessed penalties. I can't remember all the times I've seen men assessed, mainly because it's happened frequently enough for me to have forgotten. In general, female players are better behaved than the men. If Serena's claim is that men behave badly more often and are not assessed penalties, that's going to be difficult to back up. However, what evidence exists indicates she's very wrong.
The real question is are women held to higher standards? I'd argue no, because I've watched many female tennis players berate judges without being assessed penalties. I've seen it happen at least as often as I've seen men berate judges without a penalty. I think commenting there is a double standard, though, lacks historical context.
To a large degree, the harshness of today's penalties are a result of the bad behavior of players like Nastase, Connors and McEnroe. Tennis' image was taking a beating when these players began creating a new image of 'bad boy' tennis. They were penalized and fined in the hopes of cleaning up that image, but they were good enough and wealthy enough to overlook it and keep going. Female players, in the 70s and 80s, didn't earn the same level of prize money, though they probably could have waved fines off as easily as men, if they were assessed. Still, one player who was far more outspoken and outrageous than Serena, Martina Navratilova, points out that Serena is wrong about her penalty. Navratilova believes (again, without fact to back up the claim) there is a double standard, but just because it exists doesn't mean it justifies behaving the way Serena did. Meanwhile, Navratilova never faced as severe penalties as those faced by Mac and Connors. I saw her play many times, and she was generally good about maintaining her composure - the sign of a great athlete, in my opinion - and that has a lot to do with the reason there may seem to be a double standard. Great athletes usually are good at maintaining their composure.
The reality is, as a friend of mine said, "The facts don't matter in anything anymore. The only thing that matters is the reaction of social media and the emotions it can generate." This seems to be true. Emotional ties seem to trump reality. When McEnroe - who was penalized frequently - says "Serena's right" people will take him at his word. But his word isn't accounting for the fact that he created the situation Serena faces, and that he was penalized more harshly than she was.
What we're going to wind up seeing is a reaction to a generalized 'feeling' that somehow there is a double standard, even if the facts indicate otherwise. Social media works on feelings, not facts, which is one reason the firms running social media have issues trying to determine what is 'real' news and what is 'fake' news. Serena's double standard is fake news, as is any news which is generated by, or relies on, emotions for support in defiance of fact.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:43 | Comments (17) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, September 5. 2018
I'm not commenting that Nike's Kaepernick ad will hurt them financially. So far, it has hurt them (in their stock price) but people are people and will buy things for a variety of reasons. Using Kaepernick as a 'theme' is, however, polarizing on many levels. For some people, the ad may spur sales. For many others, the ad will lead them to spurn the brand. If we look back at the Chick-fil-A and In 'n Out 'boycotts', we're resolved to recognize boycotts which are designed to exact retribution will often result in exactly nothing to harm a firm.
The difference with Nike was their ad is not a perceived slight. It's deliberately offensive. Nike raised the stakes in the marketing wars, and I don't think what they did will benefit them. This wasn't just a misguided statement or an ill-conceived donation. This was taking the Social Justice Warrior mentality and turning it into and ad. It's big question - can social justice be branded? Can the "revolution" of Progressive Thought be promoted in an ad campaign. I'd say no, and the fruits of this campaign may have people talking about Nike...but Nike doesn't need people to be talking about them in this fashion.
Let's start from the beginning. Kaepernick and other players have the right to kneel during the anthem. We all do. Excoriating them for this is silly, uninformed, and ignores the right to free speech. So set that aside. Let's discuss the real problem, which is the outcome of that decision to kneel, because that's where Nike messed up. They took a relatively benign issue, and amped it up on steroids.
The NFL has a Game Day Operations Policy it chose to not implement, which stipulates players which do not stand for the anthem MAY be fined. Not enforcing this has hurt the NFL's image and proved it to be a business at the mercy of its employees' political views. Try breaking YOUR employers' policies and see what happens. Good luck with that. But, hey - it's the NFL, and these guys are "STARS". So yeah, I guess if you have no backbone, you can ignore your own policies and assume everything will turn out fine.
Continue reading "Nike - A Massive FAIL"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:08 | Comments (38) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, September 4. 2018
I was only 7 at the time. I remember it as 'an event'. At the time, I remember some vague political commentary surrounding it, I was too young to really care. The only thing I was aware of was visiting my cousins in the nearby town where they lived, and thinking the dirty hippies were scary.
Several years ago, I moved closer to the empty nest phase of life, having dropped my second son off at Syracuse (followed in dad's footsteps) for his freshman year. I had fun regaling him with my past life experiences. It was a period of time when past lives were looming. Mrs. Bulldog and I had been married 22 years, and only 2 had been sans children. That's a big gap, and if you've had kids you know what I'm talking about.
A former co-worker, who had been unemployed at that time, landed a job that started in September. He asked if I wanted to take a trip up to Bethel and see the Woodstock museum. I asked my wife if she had any interest, she didn't, so I signed on with him and one other former co-worker to take in some cultural history. Another bit of a past life.
Continue reading "Woodstock at 49"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:14 | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, September 3. 2018
This day, September 3, holds some level of significance for the U.S. Not only because it happens to be the day we celebrate Labor Day, or the unofficial end of summer, with barbecues, beach time, yard work or laying in hammocks. Today, in 1777, at Cooch's Bridge, the official US flag (the one Betsy Ross presumably created) was raised in battle for the first time at Cooch's Bridge. A minor skirmish, a loss for Continental forces, but a holding action to slow the advance of British and Hessian troops through Delaware. It also is known as the Battle of Iron Hill, and was the only military action, outside of naval affairs offshore, which took place in Delaware.
The American flag took on many forms prior to, and after, its introduction. Not many are aware of the fact both stars and stripes were added in 1795 for the admission of both Kentucky and Vermont. The 15 star, 15 stripe flag was to remain the official flag for 23 years, and it was the 15 star, 15 stripe flag which flew over Fort McHenry and inspired The Star Spangled Banner. It is the only official flag which had more than 13 stripes. In 1818, an act was passed which dictated the modern conception of the flag, which added one star for each new state and left the number of stripes at 13 to represent the 13 original states. The 1818 act was passed to recognized Tennessee (1796), Ohio (1803), Louisiana (1812), Indiana (1816), and Mississippi (1817).
Another note to consider, tangentially flag-related, is that Sept. 3 is also the day on which the Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the Revolutionary War in 1783. The treaty was ratified by Congress on January 14, 1784. Benjamin Franklin had pushed to gain all of Canada in the negotiation, but failed in that regard. However, he gained enough land to double the size of the existing land controlled by the newly formed nation, leading to the addition of many new stars on the flag.
Friday, July 13. 2018
They still got a few shots in, because they do have their sheep to tend to. But at least on the main point, they admit he not only is doing what Obama tried to do, but also signed an agreement critical of Russia. Because that's what Russian agents do.
Wednesday, June 6. 2018
This may come across as an ad, though it's not meant to be. It's a series of observations made while briefly visiting to Disneyworld this past weekend with my wife and extended family visiting from Ireland.
Despite my belief that Disney couldn't be so special, I learned Disneyworld really is a magical place. The magic, however, does not reside in what Disney does, how it is presented, or what it provides. That is all a manifestation of Disney’s corporate pursuit of perfection, a laudable and wonderful goal which its cast members manage to achieve daily. Before I explain the magic, I'd like to consider a few things Disney is capable of accomplishing each and every day.
Every morning, they restock and restore food and merchandise stocks to accommodate about 53,000 people. When you consider the average US town is about 20,000 residents, Disneyworld is a fairly large town (2 and a half times as large as the average US town). This town is renewed each day with new 'citizens' with a myriad of different tastes and desires. Many, if not all, share the love of Disney products of some kind, but there is no accounting for the plethora of other wants and needs that arrive daily. From the number of chicken fingers needed to the amount of spaghetti required, the slushies and ice cream served to mouse ears sold - Disney has quite a large number of items to prepare for each and every day. Yet Disney manages to fulfill its requirements in a more than adequate fashion. I'd go so far as to say they overachieve their goals each day, based on my experience.
Continue reading "The Real Magic of Disney"
Tuesday, June 5. 2018
“If freedom makes social progress possible, so social
I was provided this quote today, and agreed with it at first. Then I realized it is problematic. "Social Progress" is a broad term, and the method of achieving "social progress" is not defined at all.
There is no doubt "social progress" does enlarge freedom. If that progress is achieved naturally, fluidly, organically. As communities and people come to accept new and interesting ideas and people, the scope of their capabilities and imagination for greater things is enlarged and improved.
Where this quote is badly flawed is applying it to law. Social progress does not occur with passing laws that force people to think, or behave, a certain way. Too many people believe that it is possible to nation-build, when virtually all attempts of it have failed. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that it's just as hard to 'community' or 'society' build using laws and regulations. Eventually the laws themselves act as catalysts for behaviors that undermine the original goal.
Monday, April 30. 2018
I had the good fortune, and position, to have attended a few of these White House Correspondents' Dinners. It was a long time ago in a previous job. They were not, by any means, for the faint of heart. The roasting was often hot, barbed, but generally all in good spirits (with one or two notable exceptions, naturally involving Republicans). I heard it described as the "Super Bowl of Washington and general news journalism." I'd have to say this was an accurate description. The people in the good seats were high-profile, the coverage (like any in media) was extensive because what's better than the media reporting on itself?
The past two, however, have taken on a different look and feel than those which preceded. It's no surprise to me that Trump wouldn't want to attend. I do think he can handle a barb or two, even a few good-natured jabs. But the press refuses to deal with him in any tone except the most vicious. I've never hidden the fact that I am not a Trump supporter. That said, I don't hate him the way his opposition and the media does. I don't see a good reason for making outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about him, or using them as the basis for mean-spirited attacks. I also don't see any logical reason for attacking his support staff or supporters, even on the basis of some of the more lurid details which are well-known about his behavior and commentary.
Continue reading "The WHCD and Source of the Hate"
Monday, April 23. 2018
I was asked today why I took a hike around Brooklyn. To non-readers of Maggie's, the answer isn't easy since I prefer to blog with a pseudonym and try to keep work and blogging separated, for a variety of reasons.
However, the answer I give is that I enjoy history, architecture, art history, and the company of people who enjoy these things as well. While the original hike was an attempt to meet some of our readers (and a chance for me to meet our editor for the first time), we knew just walking around aimlessly wasn't going to suit people's purposes.
After working with Bird Dog to put the first walk together, I began having some fun actually finding interesting and wacky things to look at around New York City. I saw a question in an open forum on another site which asked "What are some things about New York that nobody knows about and I should go see?" I felt qualified enough to answer that question, and most of the Maggie's hikers - certainly any who have gone on all four - should also feel qualified. As Bird Dog asked while we stood in front of a townhouse completely covered in mosaics, "Where do you find this stuff?" Most of it I've found just by scouring the internet. Places like Untapped Cities, Atlas Obscura, and New York Historical Society are obvious starting points. It's strange to say "places" for a virtual location, but our virtual world is an addition to our real one, and it should be used in that fashion. For many it is just a place to escape from reality, through games or social engines. That's fine. But it is also an amazing learning tool that is often underutilized.
Within those starting points, we can spin off further. Following links within articles which lead to stories about locations and art. Even the social engines are useful. Mrs. Bulldog, after all, found our DUMBO/Manhattan Bridge picture location because she is on Instagram and saw it was one of the best photo locations. Interestingly enough, her research on that also led to the addition of the Commandant's House (late editing note: when we visited this, I merely said the Commodore of the Navy Yard lived here. This was not incorrect, however, I missed that Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who opened Japan and whose flag was displayed on the USS Missouri during the signing of documents ending WWII, lived there), the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, and the Old Stone House. So even social media is useful in doing research, though we often malign it as useless.
Ultimately, it's good fun, it's great exercise (I was very stiff the next day, not sore), and it's a chance to socialize and learn from our surroundings and our fellow travelers. An annual mini-Canterbury Tales, if you will. A pilgrimage to nowhere in particular, except to exercise our bodies and minds.
Thank you all, again, for joining and looking forward to next year. I'm thinking Upper Manhattan. The Cloisters, Mother Cabrini, the High Bridge, Morris-Jumel Mansion, the old Polo Grounds, Battle of Harlem Heights, etc. Northern Manhattan is walkable today (it certainly wasn't in 1985, when I first moved here). If we're lucky, maybe take a gander at Yankee Stadium, even though it's not the original.
I promise to keep it under 10 miles this time.
Sunday, April 22. 2018
This was not the longest hike we've had, or so I thought. After reviewing the last three, I came to realize I'd bitten off a bigger chunk of steak than realized. We clocked in at just over 11 miles, and prior to yesterday, 10 was the longest. For some reason I had believed our hike two years ago was closer to 13 miles when in fact it wasn't even 9.5.
As always, an enjoyable group. We renewed friendships from previous years' hikes, made some new ones, and I even learned my cousin and his friends have never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, despite one of his friends working for Pinkerton. Kids these days!
Mrs. Bulldog and I enjoyed a cocktail with two of our fellow trekkers at Ryan Maguire's, near where we'd parked. We commented what a pleasant and interesting group of people we did these hikes with. Everyone is open to chat, friendly, full of fun and information. Good people, no microagressions were noticed, no need for safe spaces.
One thing I did not factor into the hike at all was the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn. I really didn't think there was much left to look at. I was wrong. We did run into several items which discussed the battle and its locations. A plaque on a bank, just after lunch, indicated the spot Washington had used to observe the battle as it began down in Gowanus (then the Guan Heights) and the Old Stone House had more information about the holding action a Maryland regiment had engaged to allow the Continental Army to escape. I'm an old dog, but still learning new tricks.
Thank you all for putting up with my error regarding 7 Middagh Street. Where I'd first said it was the location of the Plymouth Church, on the ride home I was sorting through my notes and found I'd flipped addresses and that it was actually the location of a home which was shared (over time) by W.H. Auden, Gypsy Rose Lee, Carson McCullers, Paul & Jane Bowles, and Richard Wright. Thankfully, my error was offset by a wonderful view of lower Manhattan and New York Harbor - so plenty of picture opportunities. In fact, we did hit Plymouth Church two stops later, so we didn't miss anything at all.
Several intriguing spots were missed on the second half, and that's fine. It was getting late, and we had to get the (not in service) water taxi. But we did finish, found a great dive bar (Sonny's) that was unfortunately considered by many to be a great dive bar...it was far too crowded.
All in all, a fun day. Pictures below of the Manhattan Bridge (Mrs. Bulldog pointed out it's the most heavily posted picture on Instagram, and judging by the crowds clogging the street at 10:30, she was right), the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, and the Williamsburgh Bank Tower (once the highest building in Brooklyn).
It's easy to see why the DUMBO picture of the Manhattan Bridge is so popular...
Monday, April 16. 2018
Details: Meet at Dunkin' Donuts, 64 Fulton St. in Manhattan, 3 blocks south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Well, it's Dunkin' Donuts or Ruben's Empanadas. Maybe it's both. I'm fairly certain there's a DD there, Google Maps is never wrong. Ever. I'm guessing we meet at 9:30 and get started ASAP. We'll leave a trail of donut crumbs for stragglers.
I have made one update, but the map was tapped out...so on to two maps (which Bing interestingly allows and Google does not). We are always open to suggestions for additional stops. At this point, the hike is about 12 miles long, close to 4 hours of walking without stops. We will have stops, however, so let's call it 5 to 5 1/2 hours right now. Maybe 6 with a stop for lunch.
Also, give us a heads-up if you want to come. No need to use your name, but we'd like to anticipate rough numbers. Right now, I've got 14 that I am 100% sure of.
Friday, February 16. 2018
One more shooting. One more chance for the Progressives to screech and whine about gun control. I'm really tired of this cycle. Progressives complain about the cycle, too, because they want action, and they want it now. In 3 weeks they'll be bored again, or outraged about something new such as the fact that Trump doesn't have a dog and doesn't seem to care for them. Progressive try to make it seem like those of us who actually support freedom and the Constitution are uncaring, because we don't do something other than the one thing they deride - "Thoughts and Prayers". I've noticed some are taking a new tack. Not necessarily better. Like every other event, they trot out the same emotions, same flawed statistics, bizarre comparisons to nations without cultures remotely similar to ours, and then one or two tricks. Progressives are not old dogs. They are young dogs and haven't learned that new tricks aren't necessarily smarter or better.
I wrote about mass shootings, and school shootings in particular, slightly over 5 years ago. Have my views changed since then, and the presumed thousands of mass shootings that Progressives point out? No. Not in the least. Does the fact this involved children change my views? Nope. Am I cold and heartless? No. I'm just rational. Gun control won't stop this. People who want to kill will kill and they will use whatever method they can. The Progressive argument is "with guns, you can kill MORE" and that's just not proven to be true. It's an assumption based on incomplete data sets. What is the real issue that needs to be discussed after a shooting and the outrage is building?
Continue reading "Here We Are, Again. Or the Politics of Outrage"
Wednesday, February 14. 2018
Here we go - planning a Maggie's Farm Urban Hike is a great Valentine's Day conversation for your spouse, significant other, or someone you'd like to impress. It's time for the first glimpse of the 4th Annual Urban Hike Itinerary. As we ate pizza last year outside of Chelsea Market, there was a general consensus that we needed to see the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. As you know, there's nothing in Brooklyn aside from a bridge, some heights, and possibly Patty Duke's identical twin cousin. And for those of you into bad 1970's B movies, The Warriors. Fuhgeddaboudit. Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Clemenza's house is in Gravesend, Brooklyn, but Paulie was probably killed in NJ since we see the back of the Statue of Liberty).
As usual, all are invited and welcome. I expect this may be our most well-attended hike yet. Last year I was surprised to learn one couple was from my hometown (hope we see you again), while yet another travels quite a distance from the MidWest just to share a few hours with us. They've attended the last two, and I hope we see them again, as well (my wife and I speak about your wandering ways often). A number of people in my office heard about last year's hike and asked me to inform them about this upcoming one.
Last year we were all dazzled by the 'secret lair' of the Manhattan Contrarian (my wife is still gushing). I suspect we'll be equally dazzled by some new sights this year. So feel free to add comments, observations, or suggestions. Even if you're not plannning on joining us (please join!), but you have suggestions, we'll welcome them if they fit into the time span/distance. We encourage additions, we encourage any additional commentary during the walk which you find useful (last year we even managed to glom on to a professional tour at one location). This is all about knowledge sharing.
The current plan is to start in Manhattan, possibly at a Dunkin' Donuts on Fulton, by Gold, about 3 blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. We'll walk over the bridge, then head north to Dumbo, east to Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, and Admiral's Row. We'll then double back to the Heights where we'll take a look at Roebling's apartment (I think I've got the right address - 110 Columbia Heights at Orange and Pineapple), a brownstone that isn't a brownstone, the Atlantic Avenue tunnel, the original Abraham & Straus (a New York thing, A&S was an iconic store), the Wyckoff Street Mosaic, Gowanus Ballroom, the Gowanus Canal, the Red Hook Warehouse and the Red Hook Grain Terminal. Some other places of note where there may be stops include 299 Sands St (King's County Distillery - but it's early in the hike so maybe not), 141 Lawrence (Circa Brewing), Cacao Prieto (chocolates!), Prospect Park (a bit of a stretch, but we'll see), 195 Centre St (Other Half Brewing), 40 Van Dyke (Sixpoint Brewing), and 218 Conover (Widow Jane's Distillery - great bourbon).
Monday, February 12. 2018
After last weekend's exciting trip to the Super Bowl, I was having some conversations with a good friend about our various superstitions. Invariably, big games include a conversation about how we're going to be managing ourselves, or how we behaved.. I've never hid, nor have I pretended to not have, my superstitions. They are a part of how I enjoy the game.
I told a workmate, prior to leaving, that I was seriously considering not attending since my nieces felt I was a jinx. After all, the team did quite well with me lying on the floor in front of my TV, why change what works? He laughed and said "You're the most rational person I know. I had no idea you were so superstitious. You do know you have no impact on the outcome of the game, right?" I looked at him and said "Maybe I don't. Maybe." Then I smiled and gave him a nod. Of course I have no impact. But I'll never believe I don't.
In 1997, I traveled to Scottsdale with friends to watch Syracuse play Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Syracuse took an early lead, relinquished it, and made a strong comeback in the second quarter. Things looked pretty good. I decided to go to the bathroom, and it was all downhill from there. My good friend was with me, and he explained to me my little trip was the problem. Obviously, I had to take care of business before the game starts, and just deal with it after that. Over the years, we've developed a good repertoire of what works and what doesn't. In 2003, when Syracuse won the Men's Basketball National Championship, I was communicating with him every step of the way. No missteps could take place on the part of anyone in our group, and none did.
Continue reading "Justifiably Irrational"
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:40 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
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