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 27. 2018
I have many more Iceland pictures to post, but I've been busy. We left knowing our pet bulldog was on her last legs. She'd been diagnosed with congestive heart failure 2 weeks prior to our trip. Making the decision on what to do with her was easy, Mrs. Bulldog said we'd go and let a friend watch our baby. Everything worked out for the best, and we came home to a happy pup, all of 12 1/2 years old. With Thanksgiving coming, she'd get to see all her favorite family members. We took our annual picture on the beach, which she's featured prominently in for all of her years. She was pleased to see her bull terrier cousin, her Nanny and Poppy, and all the people who made her happy over the years. She had even taken a trip down the shore to see my family.
Continue reading "The Loss of a Pet"
Monday, November 19. 2018
I've been back from my Icelandic sojourn for a few days. Needed a few to decompress. We landed at 4:45 on Thursday, but sat on the plane on the tarmac for four and a half more hours due to the storm. Then, after we were disembarked, the public transport at the airport was such a mess we didn't get to our car until midnight and didn't walk in our front door until 1am. Thankfully, I was able to work from home Friday, and the weekend was a mess just trying to pull all the pieces back together (get the dog, go to a birthday, etc.). The old saying that you need a vacation from the vacation doesn't usually apply to me, but definitely did this time.
I think the best place to start, though, would be with the Snaefellsness Peninsula. Our first day was spent up in this northeastern section, as I mentioned a week ago. This is a section of Iceland which is overlooked by guide books. The two we utilized had no more than two pages about it. I think it deserves more coverage. It's true you only need a day to see it, you can drive around it in about 4 hours if you don't stop too much. But you may want to stop, and in fact I say you should especially if you love volcanoes (dormant/extinct), lava fields, waterfalls, hiking and general wilderness. My pictures will never do any of the Icelandic regions justice, but I'll share them so you can all get a feel for the place.
The one thing I found intriguing was, at 6am as we drove north from the airport to our first destination, how incredibly dark it was. Without many inhabited districts, most of the roads are extremely dark, and the cloud cover (which prevented us from seeing the Aurora) was thick. As you drive north, with the Greenland Sea on your left, even with the darkness it doesn't take long to realize there are mountains all along on the right. Most probably aren't more than 1,500 feet high, but all are snowcapped due to how far north we are, which makes them seem positively gigantic. I was told most can be hiked in a few hours.
Continue reading "Iceland Volcanoes"
Monday, November 12. 2018
Two full days in, and a third about to start. It's 8am and no sun yet (not until 9:40, and only until about 4:30). Some quick comments.
Very expensive, as we expected. Not even by a little bit. Dinner at a good restaurant in Grundarfjord was $200 for four people. The starter of seafood soup was phenomenal, and probably all we needed. That alone would have run us $100. Second night was fish and chips and beer for all. $150 all in. Bakeries are less expensive, but also less filling. We brought energy bars, to fill ourselves in the event of timing issues.
Heading to the Golden Circle today. We did Snaefellnes Peninsula, a raw beauty that is overlooked by most tourist books. It's a full day, but you stop to hike, too. 2 hours hiking to Eldborg Crater, 30 minutes at Saxholar Crater, the Black Church, the rocky beach at Hellnar, waterfalls everywhere (literally everywhere). Kirkufjell Mountain is particularly interesting (especially for people who follow Game of Thrones, which I don't but my boys do).
Yesterday did Stykkisholmur, climbed Helgafell and made our wishes (make sure you don't speak, don't look back, and face East). We stopped at 2 fjords, then drove down to Reykjavik and walked most of the city at night. My son wanted to see the Phallogical Museum. It's a real thing, and I guess it's worth about 20 minutes. Personally, I wanted to visit the Punk Rock Museum and my family indulged me. It resides in a transformed public restroom, which seems fitting. It was opened by the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten.
The city is active and beautiful at night. Lots of people out and about. The Opera House is gorgeous and fun.
No Aurora yet, and the weather reports aren't being kind. My main reason for coming here may not be fulfilled (I guess that's good...reason to return since we're only doing the western side).
Pics to come later.
Friday, November 9. 2018
I'll be heading out to Iceland this evening.
Looking forward to getting away from the madness of the last few months. Huffpo is now assuring me that the Dem's minor victory was a massive rebuke of Trump. I still don't see how outspending the Republicans by about 15% and only gaining a slim House margin while losing seats in the Senate is a massive rebuke. Democrats seem to live in a dream world. I know they felt a lot of pain on Wednesday and now they are just trying to rearrange chairs on the deck of the Titanic. Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Occasional Cortex are the new face of their party, and it's sure to cause them problems nationwide. I don't expect much to change for the Democrats.
In NYC, the self-righteous and self-assured were absolutely certain the 'blue wave' was coming. The only blue wave I'm looking for is in a thermal pool in the next few days. I'll simply take in some fjords, the Aurora Borealis, see Glacier Bay, lava fields, etc.
It was supposed to be a relaxing trip with me and the Mrs. Once we'd booked (cheap - $320 per seat R/T all in) flights and our AirBnb, we added our sons. Sticker shock upon arrival with food and drink, I've heard. The boys follow "Game of Thrones", filmed in Iceland, so that will be an enjoyable portion of the trip for them.
Maybe I'll even learn to pronounce some of their words.
Tuesday, November 6. 2018
Just voted. Took me 45 minutes. Longest it's ever taken, midterm or otherwise. Lots of older people, but it's midday so younger people may vote later. Still, given the rain, I was shocked at so many people who were there. It's pouring, and typically that keeps older people at home. Not this year.
The time it took was due to several factors. New machines were confusing. More people than expected showed up. Rain meant some poll workers were cleaning up rather than assisting people. Too much going on. My son came home to vote, and he took over an hour.
I don't care who he votes for, as long as he doesn't vote for Menendez. I've never liked that corrupt jerk. I told my son this, then told him the letter-writing battles I had with that fool back in the 90s when he was my Representative. Back then, he was a Gephardt-style protectionist. Today, he pretends to be a free-trader. He's not. He just wants money shoveled into his pocket for his support down in DC. Corrupt as can be. Hopefully my son will not vote for him.
It's my view the high turnout is better for Republicans than Democrats. While some will say that's counter-intuitive, due to new registrations and younger people not being apathetic as they usually are, I have a different view. National elections with high voter turnouts usually indicate a desire for change.
Either way, one party is going to have some soul-searching to do. If the Republicans suffer a "Blue Wave", there will need to be some work done on what they stand for and represent. I don't believe this outcome is likely at all.
I do think that the Dems will get a small House majority. Very slim. But this will force them to re-think what they stand for, because they are looking for a referendum. I do not think they will get one.
If the Republicans (which I don't think will happen) manage to hold or extend both the houses, that will be a very clear message to the Dems that they need to be retooled in a major way. Frankly, I'd prefer this because it's the best chance to extend the addition of Constitutionalists into the Supreme Court. With Breyer and Ginsburg nearing the end of their useful tenures, it will be important to maintain this position.
2 of the 3 outcomes, and the one I believe is most likely, don't really favor the Democrats in the long run. But anything can happen, and polling has been notoriously awful. From the extremely small sample size I've seen, though, I don't think the Democrats are going to have their 'blue wave'.
We shall see.
Tuesday, October 30. 2018
Today in a meeting, which for the sake of clarity is 50% male and 95% white in its make up, someone mentioned a trade article. The article stipulated that "watching XYZ practice occur among companies is like watching a middle-aged white man try to dance." Obviously, the idea is that middle-aged white men can't dance, it's awkward, and funny to see them try. These companies clearly are not doing something well, I get it. That's not an issue.
The issue became the humor of the statement, as our leader stood up and pretended to do a 'dad dance' and soon everyone (except me) was howling. The jokes about middle-aged white men dancing flew for about 2-3 minutes. I've got a sense of humor, so I wasn't offended, and I even think the joke was on the mark. But I started thinking what if the joke had been "like watching an obese woman climb the stairs"? Add in any racial qualifier just to salt it a bit. What might have happened? Would someone have been fired or, at the very least, brought into HR for a stern talking-to and some sensitivity training? Absolutely.
The other night, Hillary Clinton stated that Political Correctness is about "politeness". Boy, that's pretty telling. As far as I can tell, PC behavior is about not having a sense of humor about yourself and your background. It's about taking yourself too seriously. What was even more amazing, to me, was that she followed that up with a joke about Eric Holder and Cory Booker being black and "they all look the same." Well, she's a female, a Democrat, and wife of the first 'black' president (remember that gem?). So she gets a pass. She's fundamentally diverse and I, as a middle-aged white male, most certainly have no diversity in me.
Diversity is not a goal. Diversity is barely a thing. If it's something you want, great. Diversity is important. Maybe it isn't. That's up to you, it's up to the companies that want to pretend it's something more than virtue signaling. But if it is real, then the behavior I saw today has to stop. Nobody has a claim on the right to champion 'diversity' if they think this kind of thing is 'funny' but changing the gender or race makes it 'not funny'.
Sunday, October 28. 2018
“Only a few prefer liberty; the majority seek nothing more than fair masters."~Sallust
Saturday, October 27. 2018
I spent the summer of 1982 with a group of 7 other people, one who was my brother, the rest were his high school and college friends. We had a 36 year get together not too long ago, and 2 of them had become lawyers. As the weekend wound down, we were entertained as the two of them talked 'shop' and one asked the other a question - "Does your firm have a diversity officer?" The reply, not surprisingly, was "Yes." Thereupon they launched into a Q & A regarding "What exactly does a diversity officer do?" The answer from both was "I don't really know."
I work at a major corporation and we have a diversity officer. I'm not sure what that position does, besides pay well and provide a public face at industry events which address diversity. The reality is the position isn't much more than virtue signaling.
I happen to support diversity as a concept, but not as a goal. For one reason. It can't be a goal because it can never be 'finished'. My favorite moment at any HR event was many years ago when my firm was giving everyone an update on diversity and pointed out that our employee base mimicked the make-up of the US in terms of percentages for gender and race. That, in itself, was considered an accomplishment. But more needed to be done, of course.
My boss, a female, raised her hand and asked a simple question. "When are we finished?" HR was floored. What did she mean? My boss said, when you have a goal to achieve something, you are finished at some point. She was curious what the goal of diversity was and when it would be met.
I've mentioned this story before. It's important to revisit. What's really at stake when corporations invoke 'diversity' isn't anything truly tangible. I know there are almost no firms that value older employees. They are expensive and their experience is no longer valued the way it once was, so the 'diversity' they offer isn't a valued diversity. Older employees are often viewed to be technologically impaired, owning mindsets which are not as 'out of the box' or forward-thinking (I take issue with both these points). Diversity for most firms isn't really diversity at all. It's just virtue signaling to the public. True diversity is recognizing that different personalities and viewpoints have value and welcoming them as part of the mix so the overall organization benefits. It's not a goal, just something which should be done naturally. Do you need an officer to tell you how that's done?
Friday, October 26. 2018
Not really a new story, there have been plenty like this in the past, but it is possible to build a home that can withstand a hurricane.
It's still more expensive than a standard home, by about 20%. Those costs are coming down, though.
Surviving a massive hurricane is a mixed blessing. If everyone else has lost their home, you've lost your neighborhood, and a good portion of your value.
However, as the costs for building this sort of home continue to fall, more homes are likely to survive, and overall values along the shoreline will be maintained more effectively.
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.
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