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
Monday, June 30. 2014
I like Pope Francis, and I think he has said and done many good things to date. I think his comments on Capitalism were misplaced, and so is his current commentary on Communists.
Points in time like these remind me why we need to teach basic Economics in our schools. Capitalism has done more to reduce poverty and improve the economic prospects of the poor than Communism ever did.
More importantly, and this is where Pope Francis goes veering off the rails, Communism forces people to 'be good', rather than allowing them the right to choose the proper path of behavior. It is true that certain miseries and unfair behaviors take place under Capitalism, but these are more than mitigated by the greater gains of all individuals across society. Communism, on the other hand, uses force and coercion to fix perceived inequalities and creates a permanent political class system which is not just economic in nature, but capable of enforcing its whims on those who are not part of the class.
It's worth remembering that Economics was originally called "Moral Philosophy." While Adam Smith is considered the father of Economics, he considered himself a Moral Philosopher and was merely seeking to determine how people made their decisions to act in certain ways. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out:
Saturday, June 28. 2014
I don't typically sunbathe, my Irish heritage has limited my hours in the sun. My boys are working outdoors this summer and keep their sunscreen with them all day. We know that any SPF over 30 is a waste, and reapplication is the key to good management of sun on skin. I just hope this early 80's sunbather was using some. My friends in high school would use iodine mixed in baby oil. I tried that once and came away with the most wicked burn I can remember.
Friday, June 6. 2014
Monday, June 2. 2014
I will grab at least one dirty water dog in the Spring, just so I remind myself that this staple is what it's always been - a nice reminder of life in New York City. The only other food I eat on the streets is the falafel or gyro made by Falafel King over by Lincoln Center. Good food at a reasonable price.
Wednesday, May 28. 2014
It began as the Rogue's Gallery, a series of pictures of New York's most notorious criminals, around 1857, some 20+ years after the first photograph was developed. No doubt as the cost of photography fell, the role of a photo as an effective police tool became apparent. It was a critical innovation of Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes, a man known for aggressive police work, in the 1880s. Byrnes is also known as the developer of "The Dead Line" and "The Third Degree".
The Dead Line referred to an imaginary line drawn across Manhattan at Fulton Street, and based on the concept that criminals would be interested in the banks and jewelry stores south of said line. Any known criminal south of this line would be arrested on sight. In a day and age when 28 detectives were available to investigate the crimes among 2 million inhabitants, the money south of this line dictated policy.
Byrnes' most notable case was linked to one of the most famous serial killers of all time. Byrnes had claimed that Jack the Ripper would find it impossible to operate in New York City without being caught in 48 hours. Those words would haunt him.
Continue reading "Thomas Byrnes, Chief Inspector"
Tuesday, May 27. 2014
It's articles like this that remind me Jean Baudrillard was right and I realize this isn't reality. It is an alternate reality, though. It seeks to simulate what the rest of us live. Kanye may feel comfortable calling out people like George W. Bush, or anyone else he doesn't like, but it's pretty clear he hasn't been in touch with reality for a long time.
The real question is why people like this continue to get coverage. My guess is they fear slipping into obscurity, and the best way to avoid it is to be outrageous and 'make news'.
Since real news isn't important to many people anymore, people like Kanye and the Kardashians can continue to dominate. Analysis is meaningless, the only thing important today (and don't think Obama isn't well aware of this) is a good photo, a headline, some Tweets to your peeps, and positive coverage on "The Daily Show" and any other Comedy Central program that purports to 'deliver the news'.
Saturday, May 24. 2014
Looks like Thomas Piketty fudged data to make his case. Not all that surprising, since we're familiar with how those on the Left love fudged data (cough, cough, East Anglia, cough).
It's also not surprising that the true believers still think there's value in his 'theoretical framework'.
I'll save them some time and effort. There isn't.
Friday, May 9. 2014
It ended with two questions which surprised me. The first was to what degree allowing freshmen to have a car on campus would have altered his decision. I responded "Definitely would have no impact." I see no reason for a car on campus and certainly not freshman year.
The second question was "To what degree did the university's commitment to environmental issues play a role?" I replied "None at all."
Seriously? I know a few wingnuts take this seriously, but frankly I can't understand this devotion to 'environmental issues' I keep seeing at the colleges I visited. It truly is a religion and it's astounding when you consider the improved state of our environment today as opposed to, say, 60 years ago.
I suppose in another 18 years we'll only send kids to schools powered by sun, wind and geothermal energy. The glass, paper and plastic will all be in separated trashcans, every five feet, which are emptied every 20 minutes. Or maybe we're there already.
I know when I want to learn, it must be in the most eco-friendly environment possible and I don't care about the academics, it's all about saving the earth.
Thursday, May 8. 2014
I had no idea snails had a preference for handedness, since they have no hands. Apparently they do, however. There's lots of interesting stuff before the final paragraph, where they discuss the issue of dextral or sinistral snails.
Wednesday, May 7. 2014
Thursday, May 1. 2014
Is it any surprise the idea emanates from a Democratic Party Think Tank? No, not really. Force and coercion are their stock in trade.
Compulsory voting is a very bad idea. While there is sometimes more than one choice on any ballot, I have definitely felt the need to abstain from voting simply because I didn't like the choices. Furthermore, not voting is a 'vote'. It is an expression of either complacency (I'll accept whatever everyone else wants) or disgust (I have no use for anyone on the ballot). When I abstain, it's always out of disgust.
The right to vote is akin to a right of free expression. In fact, it is free expression. Compulsory voting, as a result, is a violation of your right to free speech.
Chalk this up to the two parties (because while the Republicans would likely oppose it, if it passed they would support it just like they are beginning to give up on repealing the ACA) wanting to make false claims of 'popular support' where none exists, and further increase their choke hold on the voting public.
Tuesday, April 29. 2014
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 20:36 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, April 27. 2014
However, the show spent all of maybe 20 seconds discussing Sterling with Dem. Senator Clarie McCaskill before she shifted the discussion to a bill she is working on. I wonder why?
Oh, here it is! Sterling has a 100% track record of Democratic donations.
In addition, Sterling has another honor
Personally, I thought Doc Rivers' son, Jeremiah, had the best response.
Thursday, April 24. 2014
My initial thinking was that air flight is still safe, so if the issue is safety, that's odd. My wife replied, "It's perfectly rational. They think the Malaysian government has mishandled this and they're punishing the government by not traveling."
At first, I thought this was a good reply, but then I thought again. It's still irrational. For two reasons.
The first is a soft reason. 'Punishing' a government is something we all need to do. Governments very rarely do anything right or useful. One could argue the corruption and mismanagement in China is so pervasive, it would do the Chinese tourists well to fix their own government first. I don't know what they are doing, but given the state of affairs there, one could reasonably argue 'not much'. The same is true here, in the U.S., for us. It's a reasonable point, but it doesn't fully make a strong case for how irrational the Malaysian tourism behavior is.
The second reason is that the tourism isn't really hurting the government. Boycotts real people and businesses and rarely send a message to governments. People and businesses who had nothing to do with the missing plane or the mismanagement of the search are impacted. These people rely on tourists, particularly wealthy Chinese, to maintain themselves and their businesses. While it's true this impacts the Malaysian government in terms of taxes, and it could lead to a reversal for the ruling party in the next election. This may impact the current politicians, but is unlikely to yield any meaningful reform. Most importantly, along these lines, it's not expected to be long-lasting. For any meaningful impact, behavior like this would have to be consistent over time.
In the past, I've been guilty of thinking along similar lines when a foreign government didn't do something I thought was right. Over time, I've learned, assuming the government is the people is the wrong attitude. The two are frequently very different things. Chinese tourists may feel better about themselves by not traveling to Malaysia, but it's odd to think they are having any kind of impact, except on the business owners who rely on the stream of visitors they usually get.
We all know that chopping wood requires not necessarily strength, but style and positioning.
Sometimes a new design can help, too. Hooray for physics!
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:20 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, April 23. 2014
Yikes! A friend of mine forwarded me this video. Not sure if it was a competition, but it seems to be given the spectators and the stunts. This not the kind of mountain biking I do, but I am impressed at the skill and guts. Can you smell the fear? Oh, that's me...
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:42 | Comments (8) | Trackback (1)
Continue reading "You Didn't Build That, and We Want More"
Tuesday, April 22. 2014
Friday, April 18. 2014
But what is the cost of the shot clock? Is it worth having a clock at all?
Not in certain regions of the country, because the school conferences recognized even something as seemingly inconsequential as a clock may have costs which outweigh their value. It's basic math. Too bad it
Wednesday, April 16. 2014
During a recent lunch, my wife and I were discussing the growth of small distilleries in New York. They are making a comeback because of a change in the law which lowers the fees necessary to be a small output distiller. This has been a job growth engine for the state, while also producing some much needed state revenue. It is a classic example of how less law can increase economic growth and opportunity.
The conversation with my wife, however, revolved around any laws which may exist (and they do, in some states) that limit production to using only agricultural products which are produced in-state. My wife had no problem with this, saying it would grow more jobs. I pointed out any state putting such limitations on distilling or brewing would hurt the economy, because if a distiller wished to use product from another state to start up, he couldn't, and since the law would force him to purchase only in-state product, prices for those products would increase dramatically as more brewers or distillers opened, becoming a prohibitive factor in new business.
I'm all for local-grown product, if that's what you like. But everybody, from consumer to brewmaster to distiller needs to have choices. If I might like a product which is made in one state, but utilizes grain from another, I may never have the opportunity to try it. Laws which limit inputs are, by definition, limiting economic growth. Which is why protectionism is always a bad idea. Limiting opportunity can only limit growth. This concept can be applied across a broad swathe of legislation which seeks to 'create' equality by creating new inequalities.
That said, it is nice to see small pockets of legislators learning "less is more" when it comes to laws and jobs. As for my bourbon, I'm still a fan of Buffalo Trace and Maker's Mark. However, I've tried Widow Jane, out of Brooklyn, and it's quite good. I also received some Hillrock as a gift and it, too, is very good, though the cinnamon aftertaste is a bit different than I've had. Still another recommended Hudson Baby Bourbon, though I haven't tried it yet.
Still looking to try my first Pappy Van Winkle, though.
Monday, April 7. 2014
It's a fun read, if you're up for it. Because Ezra Klein spends quite a bit of time discussing how we willingly delude ourselves into wanting to win battles we can't win. The problem, of course, is that Ezra only spends time using examples of topics that are contentious and don't have clear-cut answers. Ezra deludes himself with politics, becoming increasingly stupid through the course of the article, without even noticing it, and using it to create a stance of moral superiority built upon...well, not much.
Strong start with the title. Pretty pathetic follow through. Ezra doesn't spend a moment questioning himself or his beliefs, or how he could have fallen victim to the accusations he lays against others. Furthermore, he doesn't take the time to analyze some critical philosophical points which are more meaningful than the numbers he claims support his view. Choice, to me, outweighs all the perceived (and I'd say non-existent, though I know the math says otherwise) benefits of forced behaviors. I should have the choice to get a vaccine. I should have the choice to own a gun. I should have the choice to own a Hummer. Even if Ezra feels the benefits of forcing me to believe what he believes, and behave as he behaves makes him feel better about society as a whole, I should still have that choic
It's not about the math he employs, it's about the choices I should be permitted to be able to make.
Friday, April 4. 2014
It's worth noting his donation has been known about since 2008. It's also worth noting Eich penned a blog post about his donation and how it did not conflict with his position, that his role as CEO was to pursue Mozilla's goals regardless of whether employees agreed with his personal views or not.
This is not enough anymore. As this author notes, your views are meaningful and can play a role in what happens to you. Should they? If I disagree with much of what Donna Shalala supports, should I prevent my child from attending her university even if it's the best place for him to go?
I don't agree with most of Zuckerberg or Gates' political views. I still use their products. I fail to see what led to Eich's ouster. They hired him knowing his views, they may have expected a backlash, but felt they could deal with it. They should have.
I opposed gay marriage legislation, too. Admittedly, for wholly different reasons, since I think gay people have the right to be as miserable as the rest of us married folk. I opposed it because I just don't think government is the proper guarantor of contract, or grantor of right, of marriage. Were Martha and George Washington married? As far as I can tell they were, though not necessarily, because the US government didn't exist when they got married. In fact, government involvement in marriage was originally designed as an exclusionary tool, not an inclusive one. The earliest laws were designed to prevent miscegenation. The easiest way to avoid the discussion is to simply say government shouldn't have passed any laws preventing people who consent to marriage from entering that contract. Since I opposed gay marriage legislation, could I suffer the same fate as Eich? Quite possibly, in our intolerant society, I could, because I don't support laws giving special exceptions to existing laws, I just want to do away with those laws altogether.
Personal views are personal views, and as long as Eich was cognizant of his long-term goals as CEO, and didn't let his personal views impact his treatment or management of people within the organization, then he should have been kept on. Otherwise, his removal is an act of cowardice and shame.