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
Thursday, November 26. 2009
"Just like old Saxophone Joe
"Country Pie," from 1969's Nashville Skyline.
Here's live in 2000 in England:
Saturday, August 1. 2009
The latest evidence of warming: New York records its coolest summer thus far since 1903, with only one day over 85; Al Gore's hometown records coldest July in over 40 years; ocean temperatures continue to cool; snowstorms and bitter cold grip Argentina.
The one hot and sunny location? Seattle.
Ed. note: Regardless of the facts, everything that happens is due to climate change now. For examples, see articles at Science Daily. The heads of mice are shrinking!
Friday, February 20. 2009
When the Dylanologist took his Geology 101 back in college he was taught, just as everyone else has been since the mid-1960s, that the process of plate tectonics (or "continental drift") explains the arrangement of the continents and the obvious matching coasts of Africa and South America. The continents were at one point all stuck together as Pangaea, and then, for some reason, they split right down the middle and were pulled/pushed apart from each other, riding right over ocean crust.
Yet, what we were never shown was this map, which shows that nowhere on earth are there seafloors older than 180 million years (blue is oldest, red youngest; by contrast continental rocks date back nearly 4.3 billion years). Not only that, but the fastest rate of spreading is in the Pacific, which is presumed to be shrinking from both sides.
Geologists explain this conundrum by saying that all of the older seafloor has been "subducted" under to continents, and has vanished without a trace. Yet what is driving this activity? Are the ridges pushing the continents apart, or are the subducting seafloors pulling the ridges apart? If the push force is the driver, why is there so much spreading in the Pacific? If the pull force is stronger, how did spreading start in the first place between two connected continents? Geologists themselves don't have a good answer, admitting that they have no clear explanation, and physics suggests that neither force is anywhere near strong enough to cause entire continents to slide across the planet, or to build up huge mountain chains.
What if the answer is much simpler? What if there is no seafloor older than 180 million years because, 180 million years ago, there was no seafloor? We know that sea levels were far higher than today 100 million years ago, covering much of North America (hundreds of feet higher than they would be even if all today's ice caps were to melt). There are fossils of extinct sea creatures which lived 200 million years ago high up in the Himalayas. In the Cambrian, it is widely accepted that virtually all of North America was submerged. Before 450 million years ago, we have no evidence for any life on land, despite the fact that life had existed for over 3 billion years at that time. Did life take 3 billion years to move to land?
All of this implies that the earth may have grown in size, and that the linked lines of seafloor expansion on the map above, rather than being pressure points pushing out, are simply the places where a growing earth has cracked the outer crust and is filling it in with new material.
Ed note: In science, the truth is always a moving target. Science is all about theory du jour, not Truth. Religion is about Truth, but science is about theory-making, theory-testing, and theory-changing. Every theory is supplanted, eventually. Scientists know that. Theory-imagining is what makes science creative and fun - an art, in many ways. There never will be any such thing as "settled science."
Monday, January 26. 2009
From Florence, Alabama -- a few shots from this weekend of the remarkable turn-of-the-century homes near downtown:
Thursday, January 22. 2009
Thursday, January 8. 2009
Extreme Alaska cold grounds planes, disables cars
Wheat prices rise as unusual cold snap may damage U.S. crop
Cold and freezing rain in south and central China
Monday, December 22. 2008
From recent news reports: 11,700 years ago, at the close of the last ice age, a time when fully modern humans inhabited most of the globe, Greenland experienced a 22-degree temperature spike in a matter of years. That's the equivalent of changing from New York's climate to Miami's, and on a human timescale.
Meanwhile, climate alarmists eagerly embraced the news that 55 million years ago, Greenland and barren Arctic islands such as Spitzbergen enjoyed year-round temperatures of 74 F - equivalent to West Palm Beach - pointing to it as evidence of the dangers of high CO2 levels. There's only one problem: at that time, temperatures in the tropics were the same or even slightly cooler than today, making for a balmy, paradise-like world devoid of freezing or baking temperatures.
At the time, parts of what is now Colombia had an annual average as low as 78 f or less, meaning that CO2 is unlikely to have been the warming agent at work (at the time, CO2 was at approximately 3,500 ppm, vs. 380 ppm today. Mammals apparently flourished like never before or since in this climate).
Scientists guess at changing air circulation patterns and ocean currents to explain these phenomena, but the fact is we simply have no idea what was responsible.
Wednesday, December 10. 2008
Thursday, December 4. 2008
A re-post, but well worth it:
"Huck's Tune" was released on the soundtrack to the movie Lucky You last year. A Spanish YouTube user has put the whole song up along with a homemade music video. There are a few transcriptions of the lyrics available online but I have decided not to include them so as not to spoil it for first-time listeners.
Damn good stuff.
Wednesday, December 3. 2008
Downtown Manhattan, from the Brooklyn Bridge walkway this weekend. Statue of Liberty in the distance on the left.
Saturday, November 29. 2008
Saturday, November 22. 2008
From an Reuters story today: "Islamist militants in Somalia took steps on Saturday to attack pirates behind the world's biggest hijack and rescue the captured Saudi Arabian supertanker, an Islamist spokesman said."
Who do you root for in this situation? The terrorists are using a religious rationale for recapturing the Saudi tanker, but they are clearly jealous of the success of the local pirates.
Maybe it's best just to sit back and watch the game?
Thursday, November 20. 2008
Friday, November 14. 2008
Somebody has compiled clips of Peter Schiff, the Ron Paul economic advisor and president of Darien, Connecticut-based Euro Pacific Capital, from Fox News business segments over the past few years, debating with the likes of Ben Stein and Art Laffer. Schiff gets the last laugh.
Monday, October 27. 2008
Yesterday, near Lebanon, TN
Sunday, October 19. 2008
He claims it's not about race, then proceeds to make a series of statements that make little sense outside a racial context:
The linked story, which refers to Powell as "one of the country's most respected Republicans" -- an odd choice of an adjective in light of Powell's reputation having been knocked down and dragged through the mud by the left after his WMD testimony -- also features the following curious quote:
No, that's what we'd be looking at with a Republican administration. Assuming that Powell knows that the House and Senate will have substantial Democrat majorities as well, this "Republican" is voting for the Democrat on the basis that he would have "difficulty" with conservative justices? It's been well known for years that Powell leaned toward the left on most domestic issues, and this charade of continuing to call Powell a "respected Republican" is wearing more than a little thin.
More from NE Republican. The Left is already rejoicing at the news, despite the fact that some of the the very same people spent endless hours cataloging Powell's alleged lies and deceptions to the UN in 2003, essentially destroying the man's public reputation.
Monday, October 6. 2008
We had Apple Week two weeks ago. To compensate for our Dylanologist's busyness with his life (and his running out of what he considers worthy live video performances), I'll post a tune daily for a little while.
If you do not appreciate Bob at the end of the week, we will gladly refund your money. Today, Blind Willie McTell. It begins:
Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Entire lyrics here.
Here's the haunting 1983 tune as he recorded it (along with somebody's homemade video):
Here's a rare live performance of the song, which I do not find very satisfying:
Sunday, October 5. 2008
Saturday, October 4. 2008
Tell Tale Signs, a new collection of Dylan rare recordings and outtakes, will be released on Oct. 7.
Lots of streaming samples from the record at the NPR preview above.
Be sure to listen to the earlier version of Time Out of Mind's masterpiece Mississippi.
Thursday, October 2. 2008
Portland, June, 1999. Bob opened many performances with this song during that time. Prior to that, he liked to open with Down in the Flood.
Here's the version of this old gospel tune that Bill Monroe used:
Hallelujah (I'm ready) I'm ready (Hallelujah)
Sunday, August 31. 2008
Go away, and never go back unless you enjoy floods and evacuations, because NO is below sea-level. NOLA is warning residents that no help will be provided to those who choose to stay behind as Hurricane Gustav nears:
"It's sugar for sugar and salt for salt, if you go down in the flood it's gonna be your fault..."
Wednesday, July 23. 2008
From LiveScience comes the news that Antarctica may have been a dramatically warmer place at a geologically-recent time. Summertime temperatures could have averaged in the mid-50s fahrenheit along the coast -- comparable to New York in October, at a time when Antarctica was already sitting squarely over the south pole. Today, summer temperatures hover around 25 degrees at the same location.
Co-author David Marchant said "climatologists are uncertain exactly what caused this intense period of cooling."
Thursday, July 17. 2008
"Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Complete lyrics here.
1965's "Like A Rolling Stone," off Highway 61 Revisited, accompanied by a solid 1986 performance with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We have somehow avoided featuring Dylan's most famous song ever since Thursday Dylan postings started appearing on Maggie's Farm in 2005, but there's no sense in putting off the moment any longer.
Friday, July 11. 2008
As our News Junkie has noted in a link to Ed Driscoll, the Left has been behaving in ways that seem oddly, well, conservative in recent years. This behavior has been especially pronounced in the area of agriculture, where the fanatical opposition to genetic engineering, antibiotic feed additives and modern methods of farming and animal husbandry seems bizarrely Luddite for a faction which likes to wear the badge of science on its chest when shouting down evangelicals.
Take Michael Pollan's recent book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, where the left-wing New Yorker, anti-corporate and anti-factory-farm Pollan finds his utopia not in some Berkeley commune or fetishized indigenous village, but on a Virginia farm - not too far from Monticello, incidentally - run by a right-wing Christian fellow. The anti-corporate and pro-animal welfare concerns of the left and the anti-government, pro-traditionalist views of the right approach each other and, for an instant, cross paths. In its hurried dash away from big agriculture, the Left does not run into Karl Marx, but into Thomas Jefferson and the image of the virtuous republican farmer, tending to his fields and animals without help from nitrogen fertilizer, tomatoes from Monsanto, or growth-promoting antibiotics.
In this ideological battle, the anti-agribusiness left has aspired to portray itself as latter day Jeffersonian faction, fighting the perceived intrusion of the Hamiltonian merchant and manufacturing class into the livelihood of the free and independent farmer. If it sounds too absurd to be true, consider Jefferson’s own articulation of the plight of the farmer versus that of the manufacturer:
This statement seems hardly relevant at a time when less than two percent of Americans make their living through farming, and where those few remaining farmers are totally dependant on products designed by scientists and supplied by manufacturers. Even at the time Jefferson was writing it may have seemed more romantic wishfulness than sound economic reasoning. Today’s “Conservative Left,” however, seems determined not just to stop the clock, as Jefferson wished to do, but to grab hold of the hands and turn it back. Many technological advancements are spurned as being tools of corporate control, while the appeal to nature is invoked frequently to justify the adoption of traditional farming methods.
The libertarian successor to Jefferson merely wishes to be able to run his family farm as he wishes without burdensome federal regulations which disadvantage small farms and traditional methods. He does not seek to impose his farming methods on others. The conservative leftist, on the other hand, like his forebears, tends to view things in revolutionary terms, with a creeping capitalism as the age-old enemy. Rarely discussed are the potentially catastrophic consequences of serious state tampering with modern agricultural methods. The rather poor record of the Left in implementing agricultural revolutions during the past century – comrade Mugabe, in Zimbabwe, being only the latest in an undistinguished chain – does not inspire much confidence.
Where the two points of view do overlap, and the Conservative Leftist meets the nature-loving, self-sufficient Libertarian or Conservative, there are actually worthwhile insights. Michael Pollan’s work is an good starting point for these, and rather than continue, I will defer to his excellent book, linked above. For the moment, though, a few words from Joel Salatin, whose Staunton, VA farm was the object of Pollan's admiration:
Thursday, July 10. 2008
"I'm Not There (1956)," from circa 1967, and never officially released until the film of the same name appeared late last year. I will not try to reproduce the lyrics for the simple reason that it is impossible to do so.
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