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, December 18. 2014
Had to visit my friendly local dentist early this morning for what I term a "cosmetic emergency." Mrs. BD did not want me going through the rest of the holiday season looking like a Halloween pumpkin - or like a visitor from England (famous for its rotten and/or missing teeth).
He did give me one tip while I was there: he advised me to use interdental brushes instead of flossing. He said they are best for your gums, and clean better between teeth.
They come in different sizes to fit your tooth spacing. These things are news to me. I always avoided flossing and these are easier to use. He gave me a demo.
Tuesday, December 16. 2014
...because a cute, perky young gal held the door for me at the gym at 5 am this morning. Sheesh.
And because my lad now fits into my tux. He borrows it when he needs it, but the legs and sleeves are a little bit short but not so's you would notice at a crowded event.
I've had mine for many years. Admittedly, Brooks did let out the waist an inch for me (35 to 36) a while ago and it has been dry cleaned many times.
The lad fits into my formal dress shirts too, and I am happy to loan him my grandpa's gold studs and cufflinks. If one is not wealthy, as I am not, a classic Brooks tux remains a bargain, is always appropriate, and is cheaper than an ordinary fancy suit. They last forever unless you get fat or live a far more hoity-toity life than I do. It's holiday season now and, in Yankeeland, you have to dress up a little for special occasions. Year 'round, really. At Christmas and New Year's, I just do it by adding my red holiday cummerbund and red bow tie.
It's a uniform. Maybe we remain a little old-fashioned. Nowadays, we easily forget that the tux was invented (in Tuxedo Park, of course) as a casual dinner get-up for the jazz-age youth who rightly rebelled against wearing vests and tails to dinner and parties.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:22 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
It's called "horizontal gene transmission." The gene that jumped - Genes that leap from one species to another are more common than we thought.
The know-nothings out there know nothing about biology.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
We'll leave out the billionaires, because they are too few to move the dial. Let's just look at the very high-income people who make America look unequal in the statistics.
Who are the piggish people with multi-million annual incomes?
Pop music stars
I don't begrudge any of these people their incomes, but I sometimes envy it while aware that I would not be capable of doing what they do. Still, if we taxed them all 100% over 1 million, we'd eliminate the statistical "crisis" and people would have to bitch about something else.
Who am I missing on my list?
Monday, December 15. 2014
Pic was the Maggie's HQ tree set-up in the parlor last year. Yes, there is an outlet in the floor. This year, we're in process of going back to colored lights for the darn pagan tree.
Tree is a fire hazard, but the fake ones just feel fake and seem to create the unpleasant feeling of bank-lobby to me. I don't like to keep a real dead tree up for over 14 days but maybe I'm a scaredy cat.
I like the tree in the middle of the room, away from heat and far from a fireplace. I keep the water full, and I use this tree water recipe. Same trick that makes cut flowers last longer. Best to use warm water to soften any sap that would block water uptake. Cut trees are thirsty.
I use a heavy and heavy-duty welded steel stand like the one below. It holds a gallon of water and could easily hold a 12' tree.
After 14 days or so, I carry the tree with its stand and lights out to the front of the house to abide a while, or even months, with an extension cord to keep it lit. I don't even try to keep last years' lights anymore.
Good news: Mrs. BD is already practicing her carols on the pianny. It's a delight for Bird Dog, even the missed notes.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:49 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, December 14. 2014
My only problem with Messiah is that my brain changes "We like sheep..." to "We like lamb...". Here's Fred Plotkin's Searching for Messiah, in Dublin and New York.
And here 'tis -
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:18 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, December 13. 2014
(I've also heard some claim that it's to make it easier for guys to unbutton ladies)
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:35 | Comments (8) | Trackback (1)
Friday, December 12. 2014
Tuesday, December 9. 2014
Christians use Christmas lights and Christmas candles to symbolize and celebrate Christ's coming to illuminate a dark, painful, and sinful world.
There are two mysteries to those strands of colored lights which I have never understood:
- No matter how carefully you stow them away, they always come out tangled. Are they self-tangling?
- You stow them away for 11 months untouched, but when you take them out in December, half the strands don't work and you have to run to Home Depot or CVS. Do they have a built-in obsolescence?
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 19:06 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, December 7. 2014
Perhaps politics has always been about irrationality, propaganda, pandering, deception, etc. Socrates himself fell victim to a democratic witch hunt. There are always plenty of people out there who desire power, money, easy jobs, public recognition, etc. and who will do lots of things and compromise whatever integrity they have to get them. I understand that, but I do not respect it. I do not respect calculating, manipulative, dishonorable people, and I desire to insulate myself from them.
In recent years, it seems that the contagion of truthiness (useful fictions) goes hand-in-hand with the generation of underlying long-term politically-driven narratives. The seemingly-sociopathic Al Sharpton proved, in the 1987 Tawana Brawley episode, that a lie which fits the right political narrative can be profitable in many ways. In fact, his reckless, destructive ballsiness made his career as a public figure - while destroying many others involved in that famous non-story.
Truthy stories cannot get a foothold without media support or incurious acceptance. The media made Al Sharpton by refusing to treat him like the charlatan he is. The media made the Duke rape story, the "Hands up" story, and so many similar stories now culminating in the UVA gang rape story. None of these things were stories - they were ginned-up fictions to provide data points on a narrative line. That is what novelists and poets do.
These are modern versions of yellow journalism. We need more people willing to call "Foul" against tendentious PC baloney.
I don't really think this is all about gullibility and wish to believe. For the most naive, perhaps, but generally I think it's more cynical and calculating than that. There are agendas which seem, to some, to be more important than the truth. There are hardly enough Walter Duranty awards left to go around these days.
Advocacy journalism doesn't just run with fairy tales. Just as importantly, the MSM refuses to cover stories which would be fueled to near-fatal or fatal levels (eg, the IRS story) were a conservative in power. May I note the dearth of aggressive "investigative journalism" since the Left has held power in Washington? Has the Obama administration done anything worse, thus far, than the Nixon administration did? He has known, all along, that the MSM will cover for him because he is a lefty and has brown skin. Good insulation.
Pretty much everybody knows all of this now. The news is mostly spinfotainment and the only thing the public can do about it is to switch to FOX where "fair and balanced" means something - to the chagrin of the lefty narrative-spinners. Or Morning Joe too.
A few related links:
The author of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, now says that it
Sabrina Erdley, Rolling Stone, and the Media Put the Cause Before the Truth
Rolling Stone’s disastrous U-Va. story: A case of real media bias
Jonah Goldberg being called a rape-supporter
"We have a member of the administration feeding a bogus story to a social
"What is truth?" asked the very clever Pontius Pilate
We'll see what happens with that UVA story eventually. To my mind, a "rape culture" is a feminist invention to keep their movement alive. Rape is a serious felony in the US, and is becoming more rare as time goes by. The criminality of rape is not controversial in the US although it is acceptable in many parts of the world and in many cultures. Dubious rape stories, like dubious racism stories, only harm a cause and create backlash. The same thing has happened to the "climate" hyperbole. For rape or attempted assault, call the cops, same as with a burglary or mugging. It's that simple. For climate, enjoy the day whatever the weather. Not to worry, in New England it will change tomorrow.
In no place in history on this planet has there ever been less sexism or racism, or more opportunity, or more generosity to the unfortunate, the feckless, the disabled, the homosexuals, and the transgenders, than there is in the Anglosphere today, and especially in the US. So why are the voices so shrill? Could it be because they see their relevance disappearing?
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:20 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Mrs. BD snapped this pic of one of the wonderful tiles in NYC's Astor Place subway station."In the mid-to late-19th century, the area was home to many of the wealthiest New Yorkers, including members of the Astor, Vanderbilt and Delano families"
Why beavers? Because John Jacob Astor, at one time the wealthiest man in America, made his fortune in beaver pelts (and wisely went on to invest his beaver wealth in NYC real estate).
Why the Waldorf-Astoria? Because Johann Jakob Astor was an immigrant from Waldorf, Germany.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:52 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, December 3. 2014
"I'll go on a diet after the holidays." Right. Sure you will, just like last year.
Being fat in the US is highly correlated with social class. Like academic degrees and choice of clothing, being heavy is a social marker of sorts for men and women.
In a sexist way, men are given some leeway for a few extra pounds but only if they are wealthy, powerful, or brilliant.
Black women, recent immigrants, working class and lower middle-class, and the poor seem to display the most consistent overweight. (In the midwest US, fat in women seems to be near-universal outside of urban centers. What is that about?) Cause, effect, coincidence, or what? I have no idea what it is all about.
One must accept that, in many ways, it is a great success of the western world - to give everybody the opportunity to be fat if they want to be, even if on welfare. (See Dramatic Increases in Obesity and Overweight Prevalence and Body
There was a time, over 100 years ago, when prosperous men displayed their prosperity in their bulging bellies. Fashion and expectations change. In eastern Europe and Russia, fat was good. It meant you had more potatoes than the next house. In the 1600s, fat was popular in western Europe too - see Rubens. Today, see a WalMart aisle. It used to be difficult to be pudgy and today it is difficult to be fit. Fortunately for us, we do live in a fitness-oriented world despite our (mostly) daily lack of manual labor. Fitness makes everything in life better and longer, reduces indolence, lethargy, and fatigue, and puts old age farther into the future. Nothing but sinful laziness stands in our way.
In the Western world today, with its abundance of cheap and tasty carbs, thin has been in for 100 years and being fat has been a public sign of giving up on an energetic life in many aspects: sex, romance, social attractiveness, sports, fun, agility, and overall vitality.
In my view, you can be too thin, you can be too heavy, but you can't be too rich.
Monday, December 1. 2014
Ted Dalrymple takes a look at Pope (and Hume):
Does anybody read Pope anymore? If not, why not?
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 18:22 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, November 30. 2014
We have posted recently about firewood, green or dried.
Of course, it all depends on whether your fires are for pleasure, comfort, and ambience or for the BTUs. We have an old wood stove in the kitchen which provides tons of heat, but my fireplace in the den warms that little room up very effectively, to the point that I have to open the window.
Fireplaces do radiate heat, just much more ineffectively than stoves.
What wood to burn? Any wood is good. Some people are too afraid of burning fir and pine, but they are excellent, produce wonderful smells, and probably produce less chimney creosote than slower-burning hardwoods. However, if you keep a home fire burning as we do, you must have the chimney cleaned at least twice per winter, and ideally once per cord or two whatever the wood. Chimney fires are the reason so many churches and old houses have burned down in New England.
Generally speaking, the hotter the fire, the less creosote condensation in the chimney. Here you can read all about chimney creosote.
I have read that it takes a year to air-dry unsplit green wood, which can contain over 50% water when freshly cut (dry wood is around 25% water, depending on where you live). I burn green wood sometimes once I have a good bed of coals and don't want a blazing fire, but it certainly does not burn as hot as air-dried wood. I don't care because I am not reliant on wood for heat except when our power is down.
Here is some good firewood info from the Master Sweep.
Here are some good data about firewood
Info re the Franklin stove
Info re the Rumford Fireplace
Brick-lined chimneys? They are obsolete. Best thing is to line them with stovepipe.
Always bear in mind that every time you light a fire you are producing CO2, killing Gaia, and destroying the planet. Coal and oil, after all, are just very well-seasoned old wood. If you truly love Gaia, you would do without mechanized transport, or horses, or A/C, heat, and the internet.
Wednesday, November 26. 2014
The Thanksgiving Recipes Googled in Every State - Which foods are unusually popular in each state on Thanksgiving.
It's wonderful to see how regionally-diverse this big nation of America remains, but I would not touch some of that stuff. I mean, Snickers Salad for Thanksgiving? Sheesh! Nothing against Snickers but oh, well, it's all good as long as we are grateful. I don't want to be a food snob, but, gee whiz, there are some limits!
Pic is my standard Yankeeland cooking. I use half the sugar, twice the berries. My mother in law always makes raw cranberry and orange relish - deliciously tangy and different from this.
Monday, November 24. 2014
Sunday, November 23. 2014
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, November 22. 2014
This is a re-post:
One historical detail I picked up in reading Philbrick's wonderful Mayflower is that the Pilgrims only permitted civil marriage ceremonies - no religion involved, and no preacher present.
As Calvinists, the Pilgrims/Puritans/Separatists of colonial New England viewed the Anglican sacraments as Papist, and thus representative of the Anti-Christ - and they meant it. As a consequence, Congregational Churches, the heirs of the Puritan movement, still have no sacraments per se, although many have liberalized (or backslided?) to the extent of doing baptism, communion - and, of course, weddings which, even if not technically sacramental, are viewed as sacred vows. People long for a touch of the sacred and sacramental.
It is fascinating to be reminded that our nation's deepest roots are in Calvinist theocracy: pre-enlightenment, for better or worse. They viewed the Indians as equals (though living in spiritual darkness), but they hung some Quakers in Boston as blasphemers (but mainly tried to just send them away).
They even hung an ancestor of mine, who ran away from her husband and kids in Kingston, Rhode Island and was caught on a trail outside of Boston, headed north. Her crime? She refused to return home. We suspect she was not overly fond of her husband, who had previously been suspected of throwing his first wife overboard on the way to Rhode Island in 1640.
Thursday, November 20. 2014
Sunday, November 16. 2014
What I am reading now - judge me if you must, but be gentle because there is too much of our culture to keep up with, and it is up to each of us, as a duty, to contain and to transmit all of it that we can. Duty.
The Geography of Nowhere by James Kuntsler (the first half is better than the second)
The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization by Arthur Herman
Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel by David Limbaugh (it's ok, not great but raises plenty of interesting issues to talk about)
The Salt book: Lobstering, sea moss pudding, stone walls, rum running, maple syrup, snowshoes, and other Yankee doings (a good deed to write all that stuff down)
Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer MD (delightful - can't help but admire that fellow)
On my to-read pile:
The Ruby in her Navel by Barry Unsworth
The Real Nature of Religion by Rebecca Bynum
Your God is Too Small by J. B. Phillips
The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson
Books maybe of interest:
The Joy of Automotion: Musings From a Vehicular Dilettante by Dale Franks
Where Have You Been?: Selected Essays by Michael Hofman
Thursday, November 13. 2014
From Violence is Golden:
I'm talking about good casual leather shoes and boots, and dress/dress work shoes. "Casual," of course, is relative.
Well-made examples of these should last a lifetime, and often would except that our feet increase in size somewhat with age (due to gravity).
If cheap shoes are disposable items, that's one thing, but $300-$500+ men's shoes deserve some attention and the custom-built deserve the most, for sure (for example, John Lobb's custom leather shoes cost as much as a lady's fancy handbag).
Guys with fancy jobs wear $1000+ shoes, but I would die first. Lady footwear is beyond my ken, but I overhear things about it from my daughters and it sounds insane to me. With the cost of appropriate womens' shoes you need to be a Saudi to afford your harem. (We had a fun time last year waiting in the Milan airport while Mrs. BD identified the multi-thousand dollar shoes under the black burkhas.)
Hard-work shoes, hunting boots (if resole-able) and athletic shoes (which you throw out when worn out) are different topics.
- Everybody knows that you should never wear the same pair of nice shoes two days in a row. They do not get time to dry out from your foot sweat. I often ignore that rule out of laziness.
- New shoes, I am told, should be polished and maybe waterproofed before wearing.
- Waterproofing is not a bad idea, does not damage or discolor leather (but mink oil does).
- If your feet expand a bit and you want to keep the good old shoes with the patina of age, shoe stretchers do work.
- Rule of thumb (for men's and women's footwear) generally speaking, I think, good shoes are not noticeable except to women and to gay guys but bad or ugly shoes are, and make a bad impression. You have to be either very rich or very powerful to get away with wearing bad or inappropriate clothing.
- Cleaning and shining are not just for appearance. They are for endurance. Pros do a better job (your local shoe man, or those guys in Grand Central Terminal if you ever pass through there and have a spare 20 minutes). It can be a good exercise to do it yourself: The Perfect Shoe Shine
- Good source for shoe care stuff: Shoe Care Supplies.com . Paste stuff is better than the hard waxes, it seems to me. It doesn't take much. The challenge is matching the colors.
Pic is Brooks Brothers' cordovan tassel loafers - for some people they are casual weekend shoes, and for some - like me - they are more like dress shoes but my life does not require dressy tie shoes altho I have one or two. That applies up here in Yankeeland and the Northeast US, anyway, where lizardskin boots would be an affectation and Ralph Lauren things are for wannabes. Choice of dress in general, besides appropriateness and just plain "what you are comfortable with", is part of tribal identification and signaling, like Indian headdresses.
More random shoe topics -
Most comfortable shoes for men and women? Definitely Mephisto. They might not be proper for high-level white collar work, but they are, by far, the best for comfort.
Wednesday, November 12. 2014
Our urban hike just won't go away. Yesterday, Bird Dog posted pics of Trinity Church. Today I'm posting one location we didn't happen to visit. It was on the original agenda, by the time we got to Washington Square, taking a swing west would have added too much time to the walk. Spirits were high, but it seemed too much to ask. There's always next year.
As a young arrival in New York, I was single and had small amounts of cash to spend on entertainment. There were plenty of ways to find that entertainment at South Street Seaport, midtown in some of the (much more expensive) watering holes, Greenwich Village, and even portions of the West Village. In particular, The White Horse Tavern (warning - the full article, if you wish to read it, requires joining the site, but there is plenty in the portion I've linked to) was one of my favorite places to go after work on Thursday and Friday. For some reason, I never stopped in on the weekends.
Continue reading "The White Horse Tavern"
Tuesday, November 11. 2014
Humans are innately tribal, are we not? We have ways of communicating our tribal identifications by dress, manners, comportment, tone of speech, appearance, etc.
People can almost instantly identify a fellow tribesman/woman, and can just as easily tell the real from the fake (eg, Ralph Lauren Polo is fake).
Here's the preppiest website I have ever seen. It's for real, and done by a gal named Muffy: The Daily Prep.
Hooray for sexual liberation! Now I can die lonely and poor
I’m 41, Single and Pregnant. Welcome to the New Normal.
She sounds like a 14 year-old, maybe got the numbers reversed
"We should stop putting women in jail. For anything.”
Innocent little things, victims of oppression.
It takes a village
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