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, August 29. 2016
Lime's apartment building is almost next door to the Imperial Palace, in a fairly noteworthy section of the city. Yet you really wouldn't make the connection between reality and film if you weren't aware of its use, and I wasn't that first day. In fact, I wasn't clued in until my brother-in-law pointed it out to me on my last day in Vienna.
I didn't go to Vienna to do a tour of the film's locations, but trying to visit them will certainly give you a good understanding of the city and its history. It was filmed over some of the more interesting portions of town, and given the timing, the use of British and Soviet sectors helps keep that part of history alive and interesting. A tour of film locations is as good a way to see the city as any other.
To that end, there are some points of The Third Man worth addressing for modern viewers who aren't familiar with history. After all, Austria and its capital city, Vienna, were split by the Allies into zones of occupation and management much like Germany and Berlin. This continued for many years, ending in 1955 when secret negotiations between Austrian diplomats and the Soviets steered Austria into a neutral global position. (It may come as a surprise to some, but Vienna has tended to have a very cozy relationship with Socialism, and Communism in particular. While Austria has been a successful post-war 'Western' nation and economy, its capital city's cozy relationship with leftist politics are evident in location names (Friedrich-Engels Platz), tenement/museums (Karl-Marx-Hof, built in 1930), and even some of their monuments.) As a result, even though the war was long over, the military plays a primary role in the story.
Most of the film takes place in the British zone, which is where Lime's apartment is located. His address is 15 Stiftgasse, but the real location is the Palais Pallavicini, across from the Spanish Riding School in Michaelerplatz.
Since the film was shot in Vienna while it was still rebuilding after the war, in 1949, the devastation is still clear in many scenes. Most notably the road to the cemetery (south of the city toward the airport) or the lot next to the Cafe Mozart. The real Cafe Mozart wasn't used in the filming, as the location chosen was the Neuer Markt.
Continue reading "Vienna and The Third Man"
Saturday, August 27. 2016
It's one of the least healthy but most delightful snacks I've had. If you've never seen or had it, I would best describe it as an ice cream cone, but it's softer, there's a hole in the bottom, and it's served warm (even hot) - so while ice cream works in it, you'd better eat it fast.
The lines at Prague's Tredlnik stands were always long, particularly after 11pm when the drinking crowd started showing up in force. Lines often included young men on their bachelor party, forced to wear dresses, and often being held up by their buddies. When I woke up early to visit the Charles Bridge (you really do have to wake up early if you want pictures of it without crowds), I was stunned to see the same women I'd seen the night before around midnight, firing up their Tredlnik fires and making the dough. I wasn't sure if they were just finishing up from the night before and about to be replaced by the next shift, or if they were really hardcore workers.
Friday, August 26. 2016
Upon arrival, we were told to take the CAT (City Airport Train) into Wien Mitte station, and grab a cab. Not knowing the city, this was our solution, and it paid off. Cabs are expensive, but our cab driver gave us great information about using public transport, and helped us figure out what parts of the city to see. A wonderful fellow, he was a graduate of U of Cal Santa Barbara and spoke perfect English. Gave us insight on how cabs operate, what to be careful of so we didn't get ripped off, etc. It's amazing how much information can be shared in a 15 minute cab ride. I didn't think a picture of the subway was enticing, so I'm opting for a view of the city from the high swing at the Prater (I wanted to ride the ferris wheel from The Third Man, but that took too long, so we hopped on the swing):
Continue reading "Vienna and Subways"
Thursday, August 18. 2016
For me, the corporate world has become a bizarre scenario. Recent management changes in my office have led to responsibility shifts, and being a white male over 50, I'm in an unusual position. I have to continually prove my relevance. That shouldn't be unusual, it's the kind of relevance I have to prove which is unusual. We should all have to prove ourselves capable and competent in our jobs, regardless of age. This seems to be less important today. What I have to consistently prove is how well I 'fit' in the organization. In other words, it's now what you do or say, but how you do or say it. Results aren't gauged by how quickly or efficiently they are accomplished, but by how well they are 'socialized'. To a large degree, it has required a considerable bit of effort to run in place. I've found that my days are spent as much determining strategies to move forward as they are spent trying to get the job done.
Continue reading "Everything Has A Price"
Friday, July 15. 2016
But the Obama speech at the Dallas memorial was a classic in division politics. His supporters have cheered him as a 'caring' man, someone who is 'willing to do something' - even if that something is lie. Lying seems to come easily to this man, and his supporters love it.
The memorial was no place to make a political statement. Yet he did. He made outrageous claims about "our" lack of willingness to fund schools, fund health programs, and how it's easier to buy a Glock than get a computer or a book. Yet school funding is at all time highs, with many of the worst districts among the most heavily funded on a per student basis, and health support is also at all time highs. Meanwhile, I've noticed that Barnes & Noble and Amazon are still making some decent money, while schools hand out computers to their students for use during the school year. How does he have the gall to lie so brazenly? Because he can. Nobody questions him, particularly at a memorial for slain officers.
Meanwhile, his speech was another call for gun control. Which, in the aftermath of the Bastille Day massacre, should raise some eyebrows. After all, are we likely to start asking for 'truck control' now? France did a good job of controlling guns, so I suppose that is the logical next step, is it not?
I tired of emotional appeals in politics long ago, but it seems this is all we get any more. From the bombastic and aggressive emotional outbursts of Trump to the lies and deceit of the 'caring' Left wing triumvirate of Bernie, Hillary, and Barry. We're a nation divided more over feelings and lacking the capacity or willingness to look at what we can, and have, accomplished.
Like how much less violent we really are.
Tuesday, July 5. 2016
We all knew it wasn't going to happen. It's the how it didn't happen that is most unsurprising. "Lack of malicious intent."
Our nation has been unique in that it rarely prosecutes politicians for crimes related to the execution of official duties. There is a good reason for this, since that kind of prosecution can often be driven by political goals and outcomes (a hallmark of banana republics and third world nations). However, in this case, there is a clear dereliction of duty and, in my mind, benign neglect (the best you can say about her behavior) is the same as malicious intent. In fact, benign neglect in any corporate situation can and will get you fired.
But government is not a corporate environment. Which is why I hold politicians and government in such low regard.
The real problem I have to face here in NYC is the stupidity of her supporters who say "The FBI says she's not guilty." No, they didn't. They just didn't feel the case would derive an outcome worthy of taking it to court, but clearly pointed out that she engaged in plenty of illegal activity. Just not maliciously. I'll remember that next time I decide to not pay my taxes.
Monday, June 13. 2016
After all, when housing prices collapsed in 2008, he didn't call for a ban on hammers, nails, bulldozers and scaffolding. Bans which, since they are tool specific just like gun restrictions, would have made house building much more difficult and helped prices rise. A gun is a tool, too. It didn't walk into the club on its own, it didn't pull its own trigger. It required a sick and deluded person to perpetrate the crime.
Tuesday, May 3. 2016
The central tenet of Libertarianism is freedom. It is the right to choose. Not just choose 'stuff' while shopping, but everything. Where to live, who you associate with, who you do business with, who you work for or who works for you, and what you want to do with your life. While it is often contrasted with Socialism and Communism, this commentator points out there is a third thread which is often overlooked, but cuts across the philosophical spectrum - bureaucratic centralism. It's my belief that Conservatives are essentially libertarians (small "l") who like having, or believing in, the direction that centralized government can provide. Which is why Libertarians, more often than not, are lumped in with Republicans. In my recent past, I've learned to distrust and, whenever possible, avoid anything government claims to provide, or that people believe it should provide. If I could avoid, or it was practical to avoid, all things the government provides, I would. Unfortunately I don't have that freedom, since it's been taken either by vote or by bureaucratic diktat.
Monday, May 2. 2016
But Mike Rowe points out another key part of the jobs equation. Jobs don't come to us. We have to go to them. If my best job option is going to be in San Francisco or Chicago, rather than here in NYC, then I should be prepared to go to it. If I don't, I really have no complaints about whatever job I wind up with, because I took what's available within the limitations I set for myself. The US has always been a mobile nation. Mobile as in able to move both physically and economically. People move up and down the wealth and income ladder, but they have also transport themselves to where the jobs are. It's been that way for years. After all, that's part of what Manifest Destiny was all about - following opportunity. It's why Horace Greeley supposedly said "Go West, young man." Today it may be better stated as "Go Weld, young man."
Wednesday, April 27. 2016
We were just there...so I was surprised to see this in my NY Historical Society feed today. Grant's Tomb dedicated on April 27, 1897. Our Urban Hike had some relatively good timing.
Sunday, April 24. 2016
No other announcer can boast Scully's experience, beginning in Brooklyn in 1950, following the Dodgers to Los Angeles, there are few team voices as unique and recognizable as Scully's.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 09:58 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, April 23. 2016
Completed successfully. Group of about 18, from as far away as Maine and Illinois. We made it from the Dunkin Donuts on Delancey St. by the Williamsburg Bridge up to Riverside Church and Grant's Tomb (with many scenic detours) but still not quite sure who is buried there.
Tired, covered about 11.7 miles. More later from others who took pictures. I need to rest the barking dogs.
Mrs. Bulldog says I, as tour guide, started strong, had a weak middle, but we finished strong.
Pic is our sign at our meet spot in the Dunkin on Delancey St.
Friday, April 22. 2016
Why are there so many Canadians and Russians who play hockey?
Why are most of my friends Jewish?
Why is one side of my family comprised overwhelmingly by educators, while the other is in some form of business management?
There is a knee-jerk response by the Left to always and everywhere explain gaps by relying on 'discrimination' of some kind. While this may be true, it's rarely the sole or even the primary reason for gaps. Gaps sometimes happen because certain groups pursue opportunities and benefits differently and/or more effectively. But there are many reasons for gaps, and discrimination isn't even the most interesting one to study.
Saturday, April 16. 2016
“The introduction of this extreme doubt … about climate change is affecting my quality of life as a public citizen,” he said. “So I can see where people are very concerned about this and are pursuing criminal investigations as well engaging in discussions like this … they’re keeping us from getting to work, they’re holding us back.”
As far as I know, nobody has impinged upon Nye's quality of life (certainly in no meaningful way, he's still getting his voice heard and making money as a shill), and nobody is stopping any 'work' that I know of. Conservation efforts on the part of Nye, Ed Begley, Jr., and Leonardo DiCaprio are certainly still taking place. They are all doing 'work' to pursue their beliefs in stopping the god of warm.
Obviously, what he's implying is that my choice to not agree with him or his cohorts is criminal and worthy of fines, jail, or other punishment he deems adequate. He also feels I should pay into his religion to perform work deems necessary and I don't. Nobody is hurting him. I'm not sure what a public citizen is, at least any more than I am a public citizen and I don't feel I'm being hurt by his behavior. Of course, he does want to hurt me by throwing me in jail, so maybe I'm just wrong about that. Gotta get mine in before he does, so I'll take my shots at him with words, rather than criminal proceedings or taxing him to death to build a temple to the god of warm.
Bill Nye, the Shill Guy is moving closer to beingBill Nye, the Fascist Guy. I think people who misrepresent themselves with the label scientist, when they are really just entertainers, should be faced with criminal punishment. But I doubt that would get very far (yes, I know he has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, but so do my accountant, my financial planner and my plumber, but they aren't making broad proclamations on climate change and law).
Friday, April 15. 2016
Tuesday, April 12. 2016
After much collaborative discussion and email, Bird Dog has mentioned our urban hike will take place April 23rd, rain or shine. We have a limited number of open weekends, so we have to take advantage of the ones which are available. I've walked the city many times in the rain, BD has it right when he says we are waterproof. Of course, we all prefer the shine, so we'll have to hope the weather authorities favor us.
Our starting point will be Dunkin' Donuts at 140 Delancey St. Why not? The march will begin at 10 AM, so be there before then. A little coffee and sugar is good to get your motor running. End point will be Grant's Tomb - if we survive the march and get that far.
Some hikers will flake off, I suspect, at various points but it would be cool if many of us could make it to Grant before it gets too late. We'll have to hustle along like a serious posse.
More details below the fold -
Continue reading "Urban Hike April 23rd"
Monday, April 11. 2016
This past weekend, Springsteen canceled a concert in North Carolina, on 2 days notice, to protest the passage of law requiring people to use bathrooms based on the gender of birth. PayPal, similarly, canceled plans to expand operations in Charlotte.
I understand how tightly politics has become intertwined with business. Making a statement seems to be the most important thing anyone can do, these days. So I'll make a small one of my own. I don't agree with the North Carolina law, but I don't live there. I think it is over-the-top and excessive control of society by imposing a law where common sense should suffice to reign. The passage of law doesn't make an idea 'correct' or morally justified. Even so, I'm still planning to visit my family in North Carolina, spend money there, and enjoy the state's many natural wonders. I'm not going to boycott a state because I disagree with a law. If I did that, I'd have problems living in the state I currently reside.
Paypal and Bruce both have the right to make whatever statements they choose, just as I do. I'm not sure how what they are doing impacts the law, however. In fact, they both hurt many people in an attempt to 'show solidarity' with...some group or another (I can never tell which special interest groups are getting the attention these days).
Continue reading "The Springsteen Moment"
Thursday, April 7. 2016
Bernie Sanders should take note:
Tuesday, April 5. 2016
I remember Firing Line as that program I avoided watching at all costs when I stumbled upon it as a child. It was boring, the man speaking had a funny elitist accent, and it was talking, no action. My father loved it.
Lately, I've been watching some of the old episodes and have determined (to no surprise) Buckley was often touching on subjects that were timeless. Much of what he covered is still very relevant today.
A discussion with Alan Ginsburg on what the Avant Garde is, and how it should be making its point in society, would be relevant today. However, a panel discussion about what a Hippie is...well, that's just good fun. Especially with a boozed-up Jack Kerouac, in his last public appearance, doing his best to mock a clueless academic.
I think a fun program today would be to review old programs like this, stitch relevant parts together, and show just how deep down the rabbit hole Buckley often went.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:49 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, March 31. 2016
But political wives and their treatment have a much lengthier history, too. Edith Wilson is often recognized as the 'first woman president' for the role she played while Wilson convalesced after his stroke. Eleanor Roosevelt was a fiery personality in her own right. Dolley Madison, of course, is remembered for saving Washington's portrait in the War of 1812, but she was also the first to decorate the White House. Few know she lived in poverty after the death of her husband.
Even further back, we have Mary Todd Lincoln, whose story is often overlooked. It's a strong likelihood she was manic depressive. But even in the 1800's she was aware of the spotlight put upon the wife of a president. She lived an unfortunate and desperate life not long after Lincoln's assassination.
Wednesday, March 23. 2016
I receive emails each week making suggestions for weekend activities. Sometimes they are interesting, most times not. This week, a suggestion to visit certain dive bars before they become Pret-a-Mangers. Not a bad idea.
I love dive bars. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and my stepfather spent time at Mick's Tavern, the local gas station, garage and tavern. Total dive. At Syracuse, we had the student bar, Jabberwocky, which hosted many big name bands before they were names. That was before my time. The Jab also had Oldies Night on Wednesday nights, and Happy Hour on Friday. It wasn't technically a dive bar, but it could qualify. The drinking age was raised to 21 the year I left, and it closed. The real dive bar we used to frequent was Doug's Place, somewhere down near Carrier Circle. Real blue-collar stuff. We'd meet some alumni who lived in the area from time to time. It's where I learned to love dive bars. Pool, dimly lit, cheap glasses of beer, the only 'mixed' drink available was a Boilermaker. Always a few local factory guys in there. Doug's Place is long gone, too. I did hear 'Doug', whoever he is, opened a fish fry somewhere nearby.
When I moved to Queens in the 80's, my roommate was a local who introduced me to My Lady's, a tavern for which I played softball and drank quarter glasses of beer on Thursday nights. I got to know the bartender, a giant of a man, but the classic example of a huge teddy bear. My girlfriend's family came one night to watch college hoops with me and dubbed it The Bucket of Blood because, well, that's pretty much what it reminded you of. The final night it was open was 1991, and early on it was a great party. I heard the rest was very good, too. I guess I had an early start on the evening...
When we lived in Hoboken, Louise & Jerry's was our end-of-the-evening final stop. Louise, a widow in a housecoat, was always behind the bar. When God Bless America played on the jukebox, you had to stop what you were doing and sing with Louise. If she didn't like your look, she stopped you as you walked in, and demanded you leave. She once gave my wife the stinkeye for ordering club soda. When I told her, quietly, that she was pregnant with our first child, Louise smiled and gave us all a round of drinks (but kept the secret). Louise & Jerry's is still open, but I heard it's upscale now.
Recently, I stopped in at the Canyon Club, in Williams, AZ. One of the finest dive bars I've ever experienced. A real honky-tonk. Loved every second, loved the people. Which is important. A good dive bar has friendlies, it doesn't attract surly or violent types. You can have a curmudgeon or two, but people have to want to have a good time.
Some dives are iconic, and unlikely to go away. McSorley's is one. Out where I live, there aren't many dive bars left unless you're willing to take a chance. We used to have the Blue Collar Bar, but that got bought by a high-end group and was transformed into a "dive" bar. It retained the dive nature, but served high end cuisine. Excellent food, but ruined the ambiance. It closed after four or five years. Dive bars, I believe, have short lives.
There is still one place near me, the Garwood Rest, which my buddies and I will gather in to play darts (American Darts - with the wooden shafts and we're playing baseball, not 301, 501 or Cricket) and watch football or baseball once very month. It qualifies as a dive, but it's higher end than any other one I've been in. Here are some more. I'm familiar with the Raccoon Lodge, The Smith, and Hogs and Heifers, though all from 20-30 years ago. When you find a good dive bar, it's a thing to revel in.
Monday, March 21. 2016
Certainly Shackleton deserves his name on a polar research ship. But in a magnificent failure, the British botched the naming process for the ship. Well, temporarily botched. I happen to like "Boaty McBoatface" over "Shackleton" it just seems like a ship where stuff gets done.
Thursday, March 17. 2016
Young O'Donnell rushed into a church, placed his rifle under a pew and entered the confessional. "Father," he said breathlessly, "I've just shot down two British lieutenants!" Hearing no response he went on: "I also knocked off a British captain!" When there was still no response from the priest, O'Donnell said, "Father, have ye fainted?" "Of course I haven't fainted," replied the confessor. "I'm waitin' for you to stop talkin' politics and commence confessin' your sins!"
Wednesday, March 16. 2016
We already know Hillary plans to continue Obama's war on coal. Coal isn't, or rather shouldn't be, a dying business. But it is, and it's dying because of politics. At a time when politicians keep saying they want to create jobs and improve the general welfare, why would they be attacking a healthy industry? Yes, natural gas has become cheaper and more plentiful - but only because of fracking, and the people seeking to shutter coal are also trying to end fracking. So this is not strictly an economic consideration, there are political currents swirling everywhere.
As I drive my son to college in Ohio, I drive through coal country. Billboards about this war have been up for the last 3 years. The job losses are mounting. Some regions of PA and WV are starting to hurt severely because of this war. It's a political war, and it's driven by a lobby group with significant access to the current administration. Coal has long been one industry the US could rely on to produce energy when other methods faced economic uncertainty due to politics or economics. That is changing, and yet 4 years ago, we were told there was no threat. But even as other nations open coal fired plants, the US shutters its plants because of political, not just economic, realities.
However, as he passes one fellow, he collects a business card. In handing the card, the charitable soul says "This is a soup kitchen nearby, you can bring your children here and get hot meals."
The fellow looks up and replies, "Free food? Here, in Manhattan?"
"So I can bring my kids?"
"So you're saying I have to travel up to the Bronx to get my daughter, then travel down to Brooklyn to get my son, then bring them both with me to Manhattan to get free food? Is that what you're telling me I have to do?"
"Sir, you don't have to do anything. It's free food. It's your choice, but it's a place to go."
He didn't get angry, didn't cause a scene. But it occurred to me if he was really destitute, this wouldn't be an issue. I realize some panhandlers are professional. There is one who sits by my office with a dog and a sign that "the dog comes first, I come second." I'd say he's been there for 3 years, except it's not a he. It's a them. There are 3 or 4 different people who switch out on any given day.
I don't mind giving money to people in need. There's a limit, though. When the ability to get a free meal prompts the kind of response I heard on the train, alarm bells go off. If you're in need, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Yes, everything requires work, even 'free stuff'. It's not as if his tromping through train cars isn't work. If he has real money issues, I'm sure he's not covering his costs by panhandling all day. But he must be doing well enough to keep doing it, and he should realize that it requires significant effort.
If this sounds like someone who has what he needs criticizing someone who is without, I'm sorry. That's not my intent. I'm not judging these people, I'm simply saying work is work. A 'free' lunch of any kind requires effort. It's a shame we don't have a political class that understands this when they make promises to people with money that isn't theirs.