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
Friday, September 18. 2020
The story of Brave New World preceded 1984 and other dystopian totalitarian/collective novels. It also provides a counterpoint - the idea that there might be a way to accomplish the collective through positive interaction and genuine agreement. Huxley realized this was a seductive approach, but one fraught with problems, all of which eventually bubble up over time. Collectives require some form of force, or provision to derive agreement, to survive over longer periods of time. Widespread collective agreement, even on a small scale, can only be temporary. Huxley saw the value of propaganda, drugs, and psychological manipulation...as well as genetic engineering...to help achieve that "provision to derive agreement" and achieve a means to a presumed end.
There is, of course, no end that is always utopian and happy. That's the farce of our 'science-based' leaders and protesters out there - believing society can be, somehow, manipulated (or forced) into happiness and perfection. Huxley knew that. The critical flaw in Brave New World is the technological advancement and wealth this 'collective' creates. As we know, that is literally impossible. None has ever achieved it, none ever will. Despite that, Brave New World provides a cautionary tale on falling for seductive ideas that run against human nature. And, oddly enough, it aligns very well with the 'science' of the current covid political management...the willingness of people to fall in line to 'save' society.
Wednesday, September 16. 2020
Really two recommendations. Having completed Yellowstone, I'd recommend it if you have the time and inclination. I doubt some of the mafioso tactics employed actually take place, but in today's world, who knows? That said, if you enjoy westerns, the great outdoors, and some intrigue it's worth your time.
If you want a bit of nostalgia, mixed with some humor and good common sense, I'll toss Cobra Kai out there. Anyone who enjoyed The Karate Kid will get a kick out of this update. It makes fun of itself while teaching some worthwhile lessons about perspective and life. Johnny Lawrence, the antagonist in the original, is the star. His life hasn't quite gone the way he'd expected. So he returns to his roots, and once again Daniel LaRusso is his competition. An updated story, relying heavily on the original for perspective on how Johnny became who he was, and how Daniel seems to have dogged him the rest of his life.
Johnny provides good real-world advice to his new students in his dojo, a bit over the top for comic relief, but his students understand how he is lifting them up. It's a rough approach, not 'acceptable' commentary in modern society, but focuses not on how we want the world to be, but how it really is. Even Daniel, with his 'perfect' life, has to face some of his own failings.
At its heart, it is a comedic look at the original. It's got real world lessons in it, too. Some that would be worth having kids learn today.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:01 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, September 13. 2020
Here's a pro
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:27 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Dystopian science fiction writers must be laughing right now.
There is a reason political functionaries are being assholes about wearing masks - and it isn't about keeping you 'safe' (a common lie used to expand power).
Don't get me wrong, masks can play a role in reducing the likelihood of catching the virus, but it's just a delaying tactic. It's not preventive. There is a larger political play here...even if some of us are not capable of understanding it.
Most science fiction dystopias are based on reducing the individual into a collective hive. The Borg on Star Trek, Harrison Bergeron by Vonnegut, 1984 by Orwell - all of these (and many others) found ways to subjugate the individual to the will of the state or hive.
Humans differ from other animals in a few key ways, which in aggregate make us rather special. The opposable thumb, the ability to analyze situations and prepare plans, the sense of self and free will (self-actualization). Where animals that reject individualism have a level of success in groups or hives - what people who overemphasize these fail to note is that humans exceeded the limitations of groups by emphasizing the individual initiative.
Hives have their place, they can be useful even for humans. Collectives can work, temporarily and in small groupings, if they are VOLUNTARY. But the problem with modern people is they fail to recognize that capitalism and free markets allow for voluntary collectives to form, disband, and form again.
Think corporations are powerful? Name 10 that have lasted more than 100 years. The few that have managed to survive that long only did so one way - by playing political games, or gaining some form of monopoly power guaranteed by the state itself. Natural monopolies can exist over short periods of time, but fall apart without state protection. That is why socialism can only fail, over time. It is an unnatural state monopoly formation. Even fascism, which is a form of socialism, fails because it is still the state dictating the means of production. While competition can exist, it's limited and reduced, innovation is stifled and winners are chosen by political functionaries.
Individualism, in socialism and fascism, is reduced to whatever the state says is acceptable and limited.
I had the good fortune to see a Shields race yesterday. They are sleek, low keelboats good for day-sailing or racing.
To my surprise, these boats are still bring made by Cape Cod Shipbuilding.
This is their photo, not mine:
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 05:23 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, September 12. 2020
Maggie's Farm endorses only two watch brands: Timex and Seiko. However, it was Timex (the- then Waterbury Clock Co) which invented the wrist watch for the convenience of artillery gunners.
A Timex "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking." Among other virtues, a Timex signals that you are a thrifty and practical sort. Not a bad social signal even if it's not true. Most of my doctors wear Timexes.
If the strap breaks, or it runs a bit slow after 3 or 4 years, or you get in in salt water, you just get a new one from Amazon. $35 or so.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:11 | Comments (23) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, September 11. 2020
My memory of 9/11 is pretty vivid. I won't go into details about what happened, we all have our personal views on how/why/what all occurred. These views are based on where we were, what we were doing, and what we choose to believe.
I don't believe the 'truthers' and their conspiracies. All you need for a good conspiracy is a couple of willing believers and some good memes that are logical fallacies. But I'm not going to share what I believe happened, either. We're all allowed to believe what we want, even if I don't agree with what someone else believes. That's called a marketplace of ideas. Sometimes there are lemons being sold in that marketplace. The nice part of the marketplace is this - I don't have to buy the lemons.
Getting past that, I have other memories. People coming together. People pulling together. Without any impetus from a 'leader'. Spontaneous organization and commitment to each other. Race differences disappeared. People cared about each other and making sure they were getting what they needed. I remember it as a "lockdown" of sorts. I didn't go back to work for 2 weeks, working remotely from home, just like the last 6 months. Of course, my office was by 14th Street, which had limited ability to cross. Our office felt it best to let the responders have as much space as possible. I saw similar behaviors in the Northeast Blackout of 2003, 2 years later. Spontaneous organization, not something we needed leaders for. People working together, finding solutions to issues we all faced.
Continue reading "A 9/11 Thought"
Thursday, September 10. 2020
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:16 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, September 3. 2020
Who he is:
"Educated at Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford, MARK HELPRIN served in the Israeli army, Israeli Air Force, and British Merchant Navy. He is the author of, among other titles, A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Refiner's Fire, Winter's Tale, and A Soldier of the Great War. He lives on his farm in Virginia."
(I hate that term, "educated at...". No, that doesn't happen. Wherever in life, one educates oneself - or doesn't. Nothing against Helprin - remarkable guy, and a humble one.)
I feel Soldier of the Great War is his magnum opus, but readers may differ. If you start with him, you will want to read all of them.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:13 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, August 30. 2020
The Maggie's List of Basic Life Skills is from some old post that I can't find, but let's note managing watercraft today.
Here's an idea for the no-foreign travel era: Learn at the Helm at Chapman School. It's a 5-day hands-on course, based in Florida. They claim that, by the end of the course, you will be able to back a 40-ft boat into a slip. I can not do that.
Clearly, if you have been a Naval officer or a Coastie, attended the Maritime Academy, etc, this might be redundant. Studying Charles Chapman's classic Piloting and Seamanship is good, but it's not hands-on.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:28 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, August 29. 2020
Michail Bulgakov's masterpiece. Amazon says:
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:53 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, August 28. 2020
The first edition of Aaron Copland's classic What to listen for in music was first published in 1939.
I consider the book to be equivalent to a college introduction to music. It is serious, but written in a friendly style.
I make a rough distinction between Folk music (including things like traditonal folk music from wherever, Country, Rock, Blues, Rap, Jazz, Hymns, Gospel, Broadway, etc), and music which demands more attention. Right or wrong, that's how I think but I love a lot of it.
There is a large grey zone between those rough categories. Copland's Appalchian Spring, for just one example. For another, Verdi's operas were what gondoliers and street-sweepers sung at work.
The only music that truly annoys me is Rap and Praise Music.
By the way, who is Taylor Swift?
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:57 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, August 27. 2020
This book, What Every Body is Saying, is about the learning part: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:17 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, August 26. 2020
Tuesday, August 25. 2020
Written in 1944, still relevant.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:01 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, August 24. 2020
Sunday, August 23. 2020
The first book by Victor Hanson that I read: Carnage and Culture- Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:39 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, August 21. 2020
Same thing applies to tractors, lawn tractors, etc. I learned that idling does not recharge a battery. RMPs have to be at least over 1000. In other words, driving and the faster the better.
Here's a cool gadget: GOOLOO Upgraded 2000A Peak SuperSafe Car Jump Starter with USB Quick Charge 3.0 (Up to 10L Gas or 7L Diesel Engine) 12V Auto Battery Booster Power Pack Type-C Portable Phone Charger
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:52 | Comments (23) | Trackbacks (0)
The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil by Columbia Prof. Andrew Debanco
" In this highly acclaimed work of intellectual history, Andrew Delbanco argues that Americans, who once pictured their history as an epic struggle against the devil, have become indifferent to the reality of evil."
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:57 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, August 20. 2020
Tuesday, August 18. 2020
Monday, August 17. 2020
Between now and Labor Day weekend, I have tried to schedule to post a book each day while I am semi-vacationing. These are books that have made an impression on me and stuck with me, for whatever reason. All sorts of books.
For starters, Melville's Billy Budd.
Yes, his cosmic magnum opus Moby Dick is a grand and ever-interesting American tale (the Great American Novel, if there is one), but Billy Budd gets to the heart of human nature and civilization.
No, not to read each day. Sheesh. It's just a personal book list.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:55 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, August 16. 2020
Friday, August 14. 2020
Friday, August 7. 2020
For northern North Americans:
1. Get your a/c checked out etc in the winter
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:00 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
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