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
Saturday, September 18. 2021
For all you hardy souls, a gentle reminder. Dylan, Stanford White, Peter Cooper, Hamilton, McSorley (whoever he was), it's all going to happen next week on Saturday. 10 am in front of the southern entrance to the High Line on Gansevoort St.
6.6 miles, give or take. Figure 3.5 to 4 hours, lots to see and do. No masks required, though if you want to eat in a restaurant you'll need your vaccine card (thanks to the ever-caring nanny state of Warren Wilhelm, Jr.
It's rain or shine. I'm expecting the best shining to be on the smiling, shining faces of our attendees. Looking forward to seeing you all!!
Sunday, September 12. 2021
Just a reminder that the Urban Hike will be Saturday, 9/25. Anyone traveling into NYC or living in the region is welcome. Well, ANYONE is welcome...regardless of where you are, but being in the NYC area certainly helps. I'd do a Zoom of the whole thing, but even that seems a bit much.
The theme this year is Greenwich Village. We'll be starting and ending outside of the Village, and seeing some sights outside of its domain (Chinatown, Five Points, etc.), but the hike is a reasonable distance. It's almost 7 miles and without stops it's 2 and a half hours. So let's assume 4 hours, with stops and a bite to eat. We'll find a pizza place, as we always do.
Wednesday, August 18. 2021
Today I signed an offer letter, so after 9 months I will finally be going back to work. The role is a step below where I was, but after pursuing lateral and better positions, only to find myself making final rounds and going no further (for obvious reasons that shall not be discussed), I felt just getting back on the playing field was important as long as I wasn't going bankrupt. I have always been realistic about just wanting to get back in the office, so the fact it's a step back isn't bothering me. It's a challenging role that suits my talents well and I'm appreciative of the people who recognized I could provide a value to their organization.
Employment opens up other opportunities for me which I'd been reticent about pursuing while I wasn't working. One was to attend a memorial service in Florida to scatter the ashes of a close friend who died during Covid (not from Covid, or even 'with' Covid). With my financial situation sorted out somewhat, I let friends know that I would be attending. One promptly replied they would not be attending due to "Gov DeathSantis" and the "disaster" he "created" down there. I chose not to argue. The statistics are readily available, and this association can't be further from the truth. It is just an example of the truly annoying politicization of the virus. I don't understand anyone who really believes there is a political solution to this. There isn't. New Zealand is unique in attempting to achieve a zero case situation. As an island nation, they have some unique qualities that should allow them to achieve this, at lease in theory. Even they are learning it's not possible in real life.
Afghanistan. I never thought I'd see a repeat of Vietnam in my lifetime. You'd think we learned a valuable lesson there. Apparently, we didn't. Or I should say certain members of our government didn't. It's shocking and must be infuriating for allies of ours to see what is happening and wonder "can this happen to me?" The likelihood is no, our relationship with Afghanistan was not typical or standard. However, to see Biden abandoning tens of thousands who the US did have a legitimate and standard relationship with in such callous fashion is concerning. As a result, it does raise one's eyebrows as to the state of affairs in the White House. I know the 'credible' media spent 4 years telling me that Trump (who I certainly was no fan of) had no policies, was erratic, and unreliable. I think that assessment is more applicable today.
Finally, Cuomo. I recently read a piece by a person who got their first job from Cuomo. He had glowing things to say about Cuomo. Not to rationalize what occurred, but to point out that even those we admire have flaws. I agreed and acknowledged his comments as justifiable. After all, I remarked, I worked for Roger Ailes twice and I won't spend any time trying to rationalize his personal flaws. But I, too, have many stories of his great treatment of employees, his loyalty and promotion of them, and how he really did run a great shop. As leaders go, Ailes was top-notch. However, since he was a Republican, his behavior is demonized while Cuomo got the kid gloves. I doubt one, let alone two, movies will be made about Cuomo's sexualizing of women.
Wednesday, July 14. 2021
Today Marco Rubio made a statement on Cuba that is both timely for the citizens of that nation and for those of us here in the US. "We don’t just condemn this tyranny. We condemn this communist, this Marxist, this socialist tyranny.” Rubio then demanded that America make “clear about whose side we’re on.”
“The first lesson we need to take away from it is that Marxism, socialism, doesn’t work."
Rubio continued, “The way socialism, the way Marxism has always worked, the way it’s always empowered itself, is it goes to the people and immediately divides them. It says there is an oppressor class and that there is this victim class and these evil oppressors, capitalists, in the case of socialism or traditional Marxism, they oppress the victims.”
I visited Cuba several years ago, when I had the opportunity. I felt it was a good chance to see Communism in action, and to see a nation that is (rather literally) stuck in the late 50's and early 60's (and earlier, based on some of the cars I rode in). I was clear that the people, as we are seeing now, want freedom. Many know that Castro hoodwinked them, but once in, there was little they could do to get him out. Castro was good at convincing many, whose families at one time had little or nothing, that his way was 'better'. Over the years, most have learned this is simply not true. Cubans are now aware of the reality of the world, mainly because of (in spite of the government's restrictions) the internet. They lack many modern conveniences and opportunities. But they are not lacking in skill or entrepreneurialism. A nation that can survive, and thrive, in the face of communist limitations says more about its people than it does about its government or system.
I wish the Cuban people well and hope they can somehow manage to toss off their yoke of oppression. If they do, Venezuela's tyrants may not last for long, as Cuba is their last reasonably-sized supporter in this hemisphere.
Cuba still has a lot to offer, and we can hope the people find a path forward in spite of Biden's insistence to avoid the obvious. I notice Bernie and AOC, both believers that Cuba is somehow special and different and 'better' than the US, have been silent. Rubio hit the nail on the head, though, and within his statements, he was taking a swipe at BLM, Antifa, and the other leftists in the Democratic Party.
Tuesday, July 13. 2021
It seems an odd thing to think about, but I'd recently heard a comment about the world's first novel. If you'd asked me prior to hearing this comment, I'd have replied it was Beowulf or Canterbury Tales, mainly because these were items of Western Literature and it's what we read about in school. So you tend to think about what is familiar. I suppose you could also point to The Odyssey or The Iliad, though these are technically 'histories' of a sort, and are also classified (like Beowulf) as epic poems. Given this, the comment struck me as intriguing. Because not only was the first novel not from Western culture, but it also started an entire genre unto itself - the Romance Novel.
The Tale of Genji was written sometime in the 1000's, and was written by a woman, Murasaki Shikibu. This may not be her real name, as daughters' names were rarely recorded, and as a noblewoman, her name was more a title and descriptor of status. Shikibu means "Bureau of Ceremonial" - a post held by her father, and Murasaki is the name of the heroine in the novel. While reading and writing, for a woman of status, was not rare in Japanese culture, what Shibiku accomplished elevated the form, and introduced new aspects to writing as an art. She was creative, unique, and thoughtful. As such, she has been held in high esteem within Japanese culture.
Continue reading "The First Novel"
Thursday, July 8. 2021
We typically do the hike in the Spring, but with Covid we've missed 2 events which involve traipsing amidst the urban confines of New York City.
This year, it appears we are going to be able to have an Autumnal Perambulation. While we've done parts of Greenwich Village, the conversation right now is that it's hard to really "do" the Village completely. So why not give it a shot?
I've already lined up about 20 stops which include a few interesting historical sites, architectural sites, restaurants, bars, and museums. We've enlisted our good friend, the Manhattan Contrarian, to assist us in finding the best stops. Some we've seen already (that's OK, I always enjoy visiting interesting places more than once, and I'm sure we'll be accompanied by new people who haven't seen these locations), and others will be newly 'discovered' by myself, BD, and MC.
We just need to pin down a date, but I'm guessing late September or early October will work best. Not too hot, not too cold. As usual, rain or shine (I still think the best hike was the last one, which was done in the rain and was very enjoyable, nonetheless).
Hopefully we can choose the date and start making solid plans early this year - hope we get to see all our regular attendees, and I'm hoping more will join us!
Sunday, July 4. 2021
Doing some reading, and musing, on this 245th year of the greatness which is our fine nation. Right now, we live in a world where we're supposed to be humble, and there are factions which would prefer to not tout American Greatness. Still others believe our best years are behind us. My view is some of our best years are behind us, but our very best is still ahead, as long as we understand where we've come from, and the principles for which we stand.
I don't believe in being humble about our national identity. No other nation has done many of the things our nation has. Our Constitution was one of the very first, and certainly the first that enshrined individual rights as primary over the predations of a government. Our Constitution started a period of constitutional revolution which spread around most of the world at that time. And while our nations' flaws are evident, we are among the few nations which air our dirty laundry, not proudly, but to learn and improve. Other nations can point to civil or human rights failings we have now, or have had in the past, but none of them have a track record better than ours improving these rights.
Continue reading "Happy Independence Day"
Monday, June 28. 2021
At this point, I should note that in the 5 months I've been laid off, I've now spent 5 hours on the phone with NY State Unemployment trying to solve problems with my account. The idea is to get me back to work - and those are 5 hours I could have spent productively elsewhere...even searching for a job or replying to other inquiries I'd engaged.
One may be inclined to say "would you rather have the 5 hours back or solve the problem?" I'm inclined to reply I would prefer to not have had the problem and not wasted the 5 hours - which were not my fault, but due to a bureaucratic error on the part of some unknown official somewhere who hit the wrong processing button.
Errors happen. They happened even in private business, I remember enough that I had to fix at my old job. But the point is private business is far more accountable and I am willing to believe that there is a fraction of the errors or problems that I've experienced with government work, in private industry.
Unaccountable and faceless bureaucrats, or as my father-in-law likes to say "Assholes with a clipboard" cause more problems than they solve. If they didn't, the Soviet Union would still be around.
Sunday, June 27. 2021
I know many who follow Maggie's may be unfamiliar, at best, or skeptical, at worst, of Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency. But there is a lot of promise in the technology, and the tokens (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) are modern versions of 'value transmission' which are not unlike money. They represent the value of the technology.
So, to understand why cryptocurrencies are important, it may help to understand the technology. Here is a brief video which explains the tech behind the currencies. Not all blockchains are the same, that's an important thing to remember. Improvements are made almost every day on all the different kinds of blockchains, and their uses. It's my personal opinion that the next 'big' one may be Cardano, as it has solved many issues behind the concept of 'smart contracts'.
For what it's worth, if you've heard of NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) and still aren't clear what they are, the best way to think of them is that an NFT is a representation of a contract of ownership for a product.
Let's say I take a digital photo and I create it as an NFT, and you purchase that NFT. This is like purchasing any other work of art, but instead of getting a certificate which says you own it, you get the NFT. If anyone uses a representation of that NFT, you receive a payment for it. In a way, NFTs are a means by which trademarks and copyrights may be enforced more effectively (there are still issues with this, but they are being overcome).
So while NFTs are not cryptocurrencies, they operate within the cryptocurrency 'system' because they utilize the blockchain (and many utilize cryptocurrencies as a means of payment). While a currency is fungible - that is, it can be exchanged or used for a variety of different things - many things of value are not fungible (or at least easily fungible). You can use a currency to buy a loaf of bread, or instead of bread you can use it for soup, or a pack of gum. It's fungible because it can be used to purchase any substitutable product or service. A work of art is non-fungible because, well, you're not paying for a cup of coffee with that Degas print you purchased.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:07 | Comments (20) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 14. 2021
I am now a proud "anti-vaxxer." Actually, I'm not. But Merriam-Webster does define me as one. The funny thing is, I've gotten vaccinated. For polio, smallpox, MMR, tetanus, and even recently I received my second shingles vaccine. I got the shingles vaccine on the day I turned down the coronavirus vaccine. I have my own personal reasons for turning down the new vaccine. After all, I've had covid, and it was a bit tough, but nothing I couldn't handle. I have other reasons, too, which I won't share since the information on all of this is convoluted and tends to spark arguments (not discussions). It is not hard science by any stretch. Even my doctor, when I gave my reasons for rejecting it, tried to convince me to get it by saying "we know so little about it, the vaccine is a good idea." I replied that if you know so little, it seems odd that you're convinced that the vaccine will help me. I hardly see that as a reassuring argument. She agreed (which surprised me) and said "just realize you may get it again." I told her I've gotten the flu many times, too. Even after I was vaccinated. My reasons are mine alone and I'll get the answers and make my determinations as I go along. I have that right (in the old United States I did...).
I'm not opposed to the coronavirus vaccine, either. I suggested my father (85, with heart issues) get it when he asked me if he should. He is a retired doctor, I laughed when he asked me, but I was honest. He agrees with my reasons for not getting it. It could be he's not seeking to have a discussion, but I know he has his own questions. Mrs. Bulldog got it (and, as I suspected, had no side effects, as she has been exposed to covid several times and never gotten it. Long exposures, both from me and friends. She really is a Viking.) and I supported her decision to get it. My mother (85 and frail) got it. Other members of my family have gotten it. I just have my own questions about this particular vaccine. I have a right to question it, and be skeptical.
Even today, it's not uncommon to see or hear about fully-vaccinated people testing positive. I doubt this means they have covid. In fact, I'm willing to bet heavily the tests are incorrect (as so many are). I'm also not afraid of getting covid again. I dealt with it once, and it wasn't bad. I'm in better shape now than I was then (lost about 5 lbs, lifting more, using the elliptical for longer stretches - I made it a goal to get in better shape), and know how to deal with it (low sugar, lots of water, Vitamin D and lots of sun and fresh air). There are also improved treatments if I'm wrong.
All that said, I'm not an anti-vaxxer. Not even a little. Not even a tiny bit. I'll get the vaccine IF my questions are resolved by my doctor AND if I reach a point that I feel it is useful and necessary. In the meantime, I'm not a threat. At least not health-wise. That said, I do oppose mandates and forcing people to do things they don't necessarily want to do. And if opposing mandatory vaccine programs makes me an anti-vaxxer, then I am a political problem to some people.
What annoys me is that I'm defined by Biden and Merriam-Webster as an anti-vaxxer. That's wrong. The dictionary has extended its definition far too broadly. It's also wrong to have a President tell me that I have to choose between a mask and a vaccine. He, of all people, is unqualified to make this determination. He's just a power-mad elderly man with dementia (at least I think he's got dementia, he certainly behaves that way). I've gone without a mask pretty much everywhere (mostly outdoors, though I keep one in my pocket). Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Block Island, New Orleans, North Carolina - I've done quite a bit of traveling. I wear the mask if I'm asked to, but not otherwise. As time goes by, people will see I'm not a risk. But for now, politically, I am. I am a massive risk politically. And I'm loving it. I won't make people do things they oppose. I appreciate others who realize this is the essential reason for the creation of our great nation.
Friday, May 7. 2021
Recently, the term "Man of Kent" was mentioned to me. I supposed I could have responded with a limerick about his nose being terribly bent, and the fact nobody knows where he went. Of course, the limerick was about a young woman from Kent, and the term did specify Man of Kent. This term may not seem much to us here in the U.S. On the other hand, there can be an interesting delineation of culture if, in fact, you are from Kent.
After all, the difference between a Kentish Man (or Maid) and a Man (or Maid) of Kent may (or may not) be significant. It all depends on how you look at it, and whether or not you care much about the term itself. I suppose it's not unlike people being from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. Both are from Pennsylvania, and if that's how you're looking at things, that's fine enough. On the other hand, don't think a denizen of Philly is going to relate easily to one from the Steel City. Even setting aside the rivalries in hockey and baseball (football not being played commonly enough between the cities to be of great importance), Philadelphia has a proud history. It is a birthplace of the Revolution, the Constitution, and was the nation's capital city for a brief period. This is countered by the economic power and free-spirited nature of western PA. After all, divisions from the Whiskey Rebellion still defines socio-political culture, and our transportation systems and urban landscape owe a great debt to the steel plants.
But this is about Kent, and the nature of what it means to be a Man (or Maid) of Kent.
Continue reading "A Man (or Maid) of Kent"
Thursday, April 22. 2021
YouTube, being so bold, fearless and brave, has awarded its CEO the "2021 Free Expression Award", which was then accepted by the CEO, Susan Wojcicki. Wojcicki, in her acceptance speech, detailed how she works to deny freedoms because "The freedoms we have, we really can't take for granted, we also need to make sure there are limits."
I suppose I'd be aghast at the irony, hypocrisy, and outlandishness of all this. But when the Committee of Public Safety arrives, a distinct lack of intelligence is the norm. To paraphrase Monty Python, "Nobody expects the French Revolution." Except we're reaching a point where if you don't expect it, you're just not paying attention, or you love the new-fangled guillotines these modern Jacobins utilize.
Monday, April 19. 2021
The most recent one to implode is "the 1/6 insurrection led to the death of a police officer." That is now absolutely not true. Assuming you believed that (or the "insurrection" meme) is what happened. Being a natural skeptic, I didn't believe much of the official nonsense 'news' that was shared. After all, I knew many people who were there that day, and none of them were in the Capitol, all were outside protesting. While appalled at the few who did rush the building and do damage, they all said it was a small number by comparison to the group outside, which was peaceful.
Other Progressive narratives are breaking down, too, though. Progressive stronghold Portland is still a hot mess. Pulitzer Prize winner Andrew Cuomo's mismanagement of Covid is set aside for a more Progressive-friendly sexual misconduct. Maxine Waters has in the past, and is now, inciting 'insurrection' and won't face impeachment. Gaffe Machine Biden keeps putting his foot in his mouth. His son is on a make-nice tour answering softball questions to clear his image. Wikileaks published emails showing Dominion's legal firm offered assistance to the Clinton campaign in 2016. All this dirt is readily available and very little is going to make the mainstream news (frankly, I'm shocked the Russian bounty story's dismissal made it to the mainstream, as that was one of Biden's memorable hot buttons).
It's hard to understand why anyone pays attention to mainstream news. DeSantis' treatment is such that one can only shake their head in wonderment at the brazen nature of the lies and deceit. Living in one of the few (there really aren't many - just look at the map of popular votes for all the blue sections) bastions of Progressive thought, I am often stunned at what people are willing to listen to and believe. Comfortable lies rule the day.
Say what you want about alternative news sources being 'fake news'. Determining what's real in the supposedly 'credible' media is a feat in itself.
Wednesday, March 31. 2021
Funny to be mentioning the Urban Hike. It's been a long time. We were trying to plan out an Upper Manhattan/Bronx hike last year (much more technically difficult than it may seem), but if we do get to have a hike again, maybe it will be in the fall of 2021. I hope so. I'm thinking movie sites or movie-related sites - which could be very engaging.
I told Mrs. Bulldog that I had found this and decided it was a place we had to visit. Normally, Mrs. Bulldog isn't very interested in this sort of thing, but one thing made me realize she had to go with me.
Untapped New York struck a chord today, by publishing this little item, which we could have "visited" on the last Urban Hike. Those of you with us on that hike may remember standing on the hillside of Coogan's Bluff, just north of 155th Street, which leads to Macombs Dam Bridge, and hearing the brief commentary about walking down to the Polo Grounds from that spot.
The Urban Hike is very much on my mind and I hope we have a chance to run another one this Fall (and then get back on a Spring schedule in 2022). Movies, and movie-related, sites may be a fun source of material. Any thoughts or suggestions from our regulars - or from anyone hoping to join?
Tuesday, March 30. 2021
I know many who follow Maggie's may be unfamiliar, at best, or skeptical, at worst, of Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency. But there is a lot of promise in the technology, and the tokens (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) are modern versions of 'value transmission' which are not unlike money. They represent the value of the technology. So, to understand why cryptocurrencies are important, it may help to understand the technology. Here is a brief video which explains the tech behind the currencies. Not all blockchains are the same, that's an important thing to remember. Improvements are made almost every day on all the different kinds of blockchains, and their uses. It's my personal opinion that the next 'big' one may be Cardano, as it has solved many issues behind the concept of 'smart contracts'.
Continue reading "The Blockchain and Why It Matters"
Wednesday, February 3. 2021
Today I stopped at Costco after working at the food bank. I had to buy some things, but most importantly I had to return the laundry detergent I'd purchased. Naturally, not being aware of anything besides price, I'd bought a brand I was familiar with, but for some reason was on sale at a rate considerably cheaper than Costco's house brand. Seems like a deal. Until Mrs. Bulldog said "No, return it." So today was return day.
As I stood in line, I noticed the 3 people ahead of me having their returns rejected, which I thought was odd. I've returned a few things to Costco, and it's rarely a problem especially if you have a receipt or plan to use the credit immediately (as I intended to). When I got to the desk, I was told that Governor Murphy had passed a "Hoarding Law" which meant certain items couldn't be returned because they were deemed "essential" and the government had worried in March that hoarders would purchase large amounts to gouge prices. Laundry detergent is on the list.
Now, I really have no problem with price gouging. It's part of the natural turn of events in certain crises and will usually help increase production (which eventually drives down prices) and services to the areas which are impacted by a crisis. I don't even have a problem with hoarding. I'm not likely to do either of these things, but if others want to, that's their gig, not mine. But now I'm stuck dealing with this detergent and the ire of Mrs. Bulldog, clearly an event our governor, who is obviously kindly and greatly more intelligent than everyone else in the New Jersey area, doesn't care about. Actually, I'm less concerned with the ire of Mrs. Bulldog and really was more concerned with the people I noticed who were distraught because they'd purchased things they didn't want/need and just wanted to return them.
I should be clear that my Costco isn't exactly in a really wealthy part of my county. Lots of locals, many who probably have been very adversely affected by Covid, shop here. So seeing them getting upset at the counter didn't surprise me. But it's just an annoying example of how politicians insert themselves into everyday lives and make life difficult. Sure they "mean well" - but they rarely realize they are hurting the people they are trying to help more often than not.
Thursday, January 21. 2021
I have posted several times about my Food Bank work. I'm not doing this to say "Hey look at me aren't I so giving?" After all, I'd barely done any work over the years with them, aside from donations and occasional assistance at the pantry.
I'm a firm believer in giving back in some form, and doing it quietly. In the Bible, Jesus made it clear you shouldn't promote your good works in order to promote yourself, and I believe that. My grandfather also felt this way, his donations always came from "A Friend" and no other ID was provided. I tend to do this, as well. Anonymity (or some degree of it) here helps reduce the impact of me promoting myself via 'good works'.
On the other hand, drawing attention to needs, and providing useful information about charitable works is not easily done without a reasonable voice. To a degree, I give some celebrities a pass when they promote their 'good works'. A lot depends on just how they are doing that work. If they make it about themselves and what they are doing (Ed Begley, Jr. and his incessant BS about how 'green' he is would be an example - he's wealthy, so it's easy to be 'green' and it's a means by which he can draw attention to his declining celebrity status), then I tend find their points less credible.
Continue reading "On the Nature of Charity"
Wednesday, January 20. 2021
My weekly time at the Food Bank has been very enlightening. Yesterday was different, I did something I wasn't used to doing. "Separating and stocking" it was called. Normally I pack food into boxes for shut-ins, SNAP supplement, or other family assistance. Some of that food is donated by large supermarkets or food producers, unsold stuff that hasn't quite hit expiration. Most is purchased by the bank itself, from donations. A commenter had asked where the food came from, and I have learned that a good portion is purchased, another good chunk donated.
Yesterday I learned about another big portion of it. Individual donations. When you clean out your pantry and drop it off at your local Food Bank, it goes into a bin and when there's enough volunteers like me spend hours unpacking and sorting. It's astounding, to be honest. For several reasons.
First, and I say this because we don't tend to think about it, and we mean well, but a good portion of the food donated is useless. Not the majority, but a noticeable minority of it.
To explain why, and maybe help save other volunteers time and effort, it's worth noting how the food is broken out. There are about 20 separate boxes, among them: Coffee & Tea, Cereal, Rice & Pasta, Canned Protein, Condiments, Baking Goods, Snacks, Drinks, Water, Peanut Butter, Vegetables, Fruit, Soups and Broth, and Peanut Related products. There are more, but these are the main ones.
There are at least 3 reasons I noticed for why food is tossed. First - boxed foods often are donated partially opened. Even if there is a wrapped package inside, many banks will reject the food immediately. Particularly if it includes individually wrapped packages without expiration dates on them. And that's a second reason - Expiration Dates. While a canned good dated Oct. 2, 2020 is acceptable until 2022, a boxed good with the same date is not always. It may have a 3-6 month acceptable shelf life, and if it is baby food it must not be past expiration.
These may seem somewhat questionable guidelines for food freely donated, but trust me, the artichoke hearts I picked up 3 years expired were not in the least appetizing. I may have eaten them if I'd stored them in my refirigerator at home, but realizing the nature of the situation (as my supervisor said) is such that maybe a year ago we MAY have been willing to push some limits, but right now we can't afford to.
In addition, I picked up 2 twenty pound bags of rice. Some of the rice spilled out, and I knew that bag had to go (who wants to attract rats and insects? That's the third reason...resealed boxes/bags. The first bag I threw out. The second wound up getting tossed when a supervisor noticed a hole which someone had taped over.
One other thing I learned had to do with peanuts. As you probably realize, anything that had peanuts in it, or was prepared in a facility with peanuts, was put in the "Peanut" box. What you may not realize is how much food is prepared in facilities that handle peanuts. I handled 3 different kinds of Ramen packages. The most well-known brand, Top Ramen, was a "Peanut" product. The others were Soup and Broth, but I was shocked at all the items that wound up in "Peanuts". Sometimes you just don't think much about it.
While I am always proud that we manage to prepare weekly food boxes for people, often up to 750 in a 3 hour shift, yesterday was another kind of learning experience. When I donate food in the future, I'll be sure to box it, separate it and make sure the expiration dates are acceptable. I'm sure I meant well donating a jar of olives that was 3 years past expiration, but I had no idea I was probably making someone do the work I should have done and just tossed them. Or that half open box of mac and cheese, which I taped closed, and which someone could have used. That someone being me...not someone else.
It was good knowing we sorted 524 boxes of these various foods. They are sent to local food pantries for distribution, or used in local food kitchens.
One last thing I noticed while I was there was the number of meals served each year. This past year, 2020, the number more than doubled.
Part of that was due to the ill-considered and misguided lockdowns which cost us jobs and productivity. But every year from the year it was founded, the Food Bank has seen the numbers of meals served increase. This past year may wind up being an anomaly. I hope it is. But it's worth knowing that volunteers are needed, and if you have it in you to spend a few hours a week, it's worth it. Hopefully I can convince my next employer that this is an important thing I do and get 3 hours a week to continue doing the volunteer work. I recommend it. As much as I I'd like to say I'm doing it because I ike to help people, the reality is I'm doing it for me. It makes me feel good. That's pretty much why we do most of whatever we do in life, and I'd never recommend doing it if you find it annoying or a pain in the ass. I have learned a lot, I can say that.
Sunday, January 17. 2021
Five Points is a bit of an interest of mine. We stopped there on the second Urban Hike, I've read several books about it, and I find its history a useful guide. Knowing about Five Points allows us to see how far we've come economically, spiritually, socially and politically. It is an indication of how much we've improved our lives, in a broad, general sense. When people say "things never are getting better" I remind them of Five Points. I'll mention Dickens. I'll mention the death of a president's son due to a staph infection in the 20th century (remember, a president in 1924 was getting some of the best medical care at the time). There may be some places in the U.S which are bad, but it's hard to say they are as bad as Five Points was, even in a relative sense.
It is easy to look back over periods of our life and see some things, particular to ourselves individually, and say "things are worse" while ignoring larger trends which clearly point to overall improvements. This is one reason small sample sizes should be considered, but not used as yardsticks. Many fall in for small sample sizes to 'prove' points which are often untrue.
All that said, Five Points is a wonderful place and time to learn about. The horrors of its existence, but also the great gains and learnings which took place during and after its existence are what make the U.S. a great nation. My own ancestors, the Irish, made up a good portion of the people living there. At the time, the Irish could realistically call themselves 'discriminated against' - but life was so much better than where they came from, all they focused on was moving forward. This isn't to say any discrimination should be supported or approved. Certainly not. But there are ways to recognize life is improving and getting better while also pushing back on behaviors and opinions which are misguided and drag us all down.
Having read Tyler Anbinder's excellent book, I'll recommend this virtual book talk. As I mentioned early on, some good things have come out of lockdowns. Not many, but virtual events of this and other type have been quite wonderful.
Friday, January 15. 2021
Parler being dumped by Amazon Web Services wasn't the first shot. Gab was in 2018. Gab is still around, though it is private now and subscription only. That may be the future for Parler and others like it which fill a need.
But going private isn't the only solution, there are other solutions. But private is probably bes. However, being aware and adept at meeting the Progressive/Leftist challenges to free speech is essential. I am particularly fond of The Mises Institute's approach.
This is a space in which I'm uniquely informed and aware. I've been seeing this slowly developing for years, and it's been a growing concern. I've been told for years "oh it will never get that bad" and now it really is that bad. Many said Net Neutrality was necessary because the provider of the pipes would throttle, reduce and limit ability for sites and apps to work. Ironically, the purported supporters of Net Neutrality are the very same businesses who are throttling free speech - you know, the free speech they felt Net Neutrality was required to prevent OTHERS FROM THROTTLING THEM. Except, they will argue, 'this is different'. It's not. And Net Neutrality would have given these tech oligarchs more power to do this very kind of thing.
That said, because all this has happened slowly at first, then suddenly (due to the Capitol incident), Hemingway's description of bankruptcy fits these moves restricting the freedoms on speech very well. When it's taken, unlike bankruptcy - which is usually noticeable, this is going largely unnoticed and unmentioned. Or, at least, it's being done in a manner many consider 'acceptable'. Because the main beneficiaries are the very groups doing damage to free speech - the tech oligopolists. Who know 'better than you' about how things should be done, how you should live your life, and what you can or should say.
Don't get me wrong. Tech in't bad. Social media isn't bad. It's not inherently evil. It is ambivalent to morality. But individuals themselves can be good or bad, and as a result can have overbearing and long-lasting impacts on our realities. I'm sure Gutenberg was not loved by leaders of the day and "War of the Worlds" certainly sent many scurrying to talk of the damage radio can do. TV was described as a "vast wasteland" and Bill Gates felt there was little commercial value to the internet.
What is happening now requires individual awareness and action. It does NOT require fighting or violence. Just intelligence and smart, cordial and meaningful action. The Progessives are just starting, in my view. I don't believe violence will help solve issues - it will be used to justify positions. But being louder, smarter and more aware will make a difference.
Sunday, January 10. 2021
Mrs. Bulldog and I went into the city to meet our boys for brunch and decided to visit the "new" Penn Station which is formerly the US Post Office (across the street from the "old" Penn Station and Madison Square Garden). It is designed to handle what were very crowded spaces in Penn (ugh...some nights were unbelievable, especially when trains broke down) and provide a bit of a 'link' to the past as the old Post Office's architecture and interior were somewhat similar to the original Penn Station, which was destroyed (tragically) years ago.
I have included 2 pictures. I am not impressed. The open interior, with glass ceiling that lets a ton of light in, is excellent. What was formerly an interior parking area is now the main part of the terminal. Beyond that, as Mrs. Bulldog said, "The great train halls of Europe need not worry of competition."
It is antiseptic, utilitarian and lacks a soul. Clean (though new), bright, cheery - these are all positives, but in terms of originality and whimsy, there is none. I found nothing interesting or inspiring. Where Grand Central has all kinds of angles and views to catch your eye and keep you interested, Moynihan Train Hall has none. It's boring and uninspired.
But maybe it's not supposed to be inspiring. Millions will pass through there on the average week, mostly commuters to Long Island and New Jersey. Who needs to be distracted?
Continue reading "Moynihan Train Hall"
Friday, January 8. 2021
Hopefully calm will be restored as the nation moves back toward some semblance of whatever it is we consider 'normal' for the last 9 months. I hope things continue to improve as we move out of the Covid scare and fear mongering (yes, Covid is real, I had it as have many friends, but no it's not so bad for 95% of the people who get it). If we can move past all this, my job opportunities may improve.
Then again, who knows? I know few of you are on Facebook, but I am (or was). It allowed me to reconnect with friends and family and it's a useful tool. I've also shared Maggie's articles there with my friends, and met many other people who I share interests with. I am well aware of the privacy issues, but I know how to navigate them (part of my everyday job) and manage them effectively. There is, however, one thing I can't manage. It's the real problem we're facing today. It's the reason I deactivated my Facebook recently (after letting people know how they can reach me if they want/need to).
I am aware of many HR Departments doing sweeps of social media to find things out about people. I have heard several stories of pro-Trump people losing job offers. This doesn't surprise me at all in NYC today. The shift here has been significant from not just hating Trump to full-fledged belief that anyone who supports him is a deranged psychopath. I have never been a Trump supporter, but that doesn't mean anything because I've never hated him, either. It's best to hate him with the passion of a thousand suns in order to win approval with many organizations today.
I haven't loved him, haven't hated him, I've merely tolerated him, and realized his persona was a massive problem but that he was accomplishing some good things. I was for honesty and balance of thought and reason. Today, you can't be that way. You have to be a true believer, or at least not come across as a believer of "the other side". In other words, it is almost a requirement to be Progressive to be "acceptable". Such is the nature of modern definitions of Diversity - be like us or you're not acceptable. I'm all for Diversity. Diversity of thought, and respect for other views, without accepting the enforcement of those views on others by law, social shame, or other means of behavioral modification (brainwashing via education, for example).
Continue reading "A Dose of Reality"
Wednesday, January 6. 2021
"Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure."
Jefferson would have shrugged off today, much as he shrugged off Shay's Rebellion and (more or less) supported the Whiskey Rebellion (later repealing that stupid tax). He also supported the French Revolution, not for what happened, but for its original principles.
People can't always be well informed - and certainly with nonsense information spewing from not only the 'mainstream' media but also from myriad other 'sources' like Qanon - we need more than ever to look back through history and put things in perspective both ideologically and historically. Few people remember 1954 and Puerto Rican nationalists shooting up Congress. Today's events may have been wrong and lawless, but they are not at all unusual or necessarily misguided in the larger scheme of US history.
The real issue I see coming out of what's going on in DC is not what has happened. What occurred in DC is not that different from what's been going on all summer. It's not right, it's uncalled for, and it doesn't matter who you support. It's just lawless behavior and it should've been stopped in the summer - just as it should be stopped here (and I'm sure it will be). It's wrong that the media spent the whole summer telling us riots were 'peaceful' protests and didn't care about the destruction of businesses and livelihoods. That was wrong. The only thing we 'lost' here was a few hours and a slowdown to the certification.
As a result, the credibility of our journalists has reached a new low. Today was wrong - we cannot pretend that this kind of behavior is acceptable regardless of who we want in office. But we've been told all summer that rioting is fine. It just matters what you're rioting 'for', I guess.
The REAL problem, as I see it, is that finally the politicians have a taste of what they've wrought...and they will use it to insulate themselves further from the people. And that will be a very bad situation. These politicians have outsourced their riots to other cities for years. They've never felt the wrath of the people. Now that they have, they are blaming the people for the problems they, the politicians, have created. You can be sure they will find ways to continue to distance themselves from us rather than realizing this is just the start of the people demanding our PUBLIC SERVANTS act like what they are, rather than acting as our overlords.
Saturday, January 2. 2021
I don't support vandalizing anything, or anyone's property. But in this case, it's hard to deny that Nancy didn't somehow get what she deserved. Pelosi's apologist position, promotion of leftist causes, and general lack of interest in pushing back against the extremes of her own misguided ideology have repercussions, and if there is anything which is true in life, it's that leftists eat their own faster than they destroy their enemies.
Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but 'Cancel Rent' and 'We Want Everything' (presumed to be about stimulus checks, though I think it is more than that), are not what I'd expect to see from right-wing protests. I'm sure the media will spin it that way, somehow, because the Left is never dangerous or wrong when modern media analysis is engaged.
It's too bad she didn't see this coming. But I did believe a Biden win would embolden the Left to become more aggressive and violent, and that still seems to be true.
I'm sorry Nancy has to learn the hard way. Destroying property is always wrong. But she's done her fair share of damaging property throughout her tenure...but has done it 'legally'.
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