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 29. 2020
Wednesday, June 17. 2020
Octave Durham, who went to prison for stealing two paintings by the artist, explains the difficulties encountered in this line of work.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:43 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, June 12. 2020
A northeastern accent, now disappearing
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:41 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, June 8. 2020
Ghosts don't exist, except in history. These ghosts live in our minds, because we are aware of history and hope 'it can't happen here', or that lessons are learned. But some choose to not be aware of history, and make every effort to bring ghosts to life.
For several months, since listening to the French Revolution portion of the Revolutions podcast I mentioned here at Maggie's, I've told friends we're moving toward a new French Revolution. As Minneapolis moves to defund its police department, one can only wonder, will it be replaced with a Committee of Public Safety? In a perverse way, I hope they do create one.
The ghosts of Marat, Robespierre, Danton and countless others are alive again. I'm sure our modern day radicals will say "This time is different" or "It wasn't done right the last time" or some other excuse will be provided. I have to admit, though, it's fun to see these people turn on their own kind. It's also frightening. A friend of mine was sending me pictures today from Manhattan of the destroyed store fronts. It's pretty extensive, and the minimal news coverage of how bad it was provides a kind of rationale for the radical influence to keep pushing. There is no shame in destruction if it's not visible. But the destruction, too, is a ghost - not visible to many.
Jonathan Turley puts his own spin on it here. Being a modern-day Abbe Sieyes isn't something I thought I'd begin to aspire to, but it may be a worthwhile goal nonetheless.
Monday, June 1. 2020
Some of us enjoy disparaging the NYT's David Brooks, but his imaginary commencement address is enjoyable, especially the part about what you feed your head with.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:05 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 29. 2020
I am not sure what success is, except in specific goals like deadlifting. This piece from MTC is Who Succeeds, and Why?
It is puzzling to me that family environment has so little effect. That does not apply to me. Most of my life-long interests, tastes, and pursuits were nurtured at home but that might not be statistically normal.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:02 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, May 27. 2020
Monday, May 25. 2020
Monday, May 18. 2020
Ever since seeing A Clockwork Orange, Gene Kelly's work has taken on a whole new meaning. Along these lines, I will share this video, sent by a friend and created by a comedian, which has completely changed how I will view The Association's Windy from this day forward. I can't say I know how to describe my feelings as I viewed it, but I've settled on amused. Sorry I don't have an embed version, you need to click the link.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:15 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 17. 2020
Friday, May 15. 2020
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:15 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, May 13. 2020
I am used to working from home. I have done it once a week for close to 6 years, sometimes twice a week, but rarely that often. I was much more productive working from home that often. It helps reset your mind, helps keep you out of office politics, is relaxing and allows you to concentrate.
That said, I've now been working from home for 2 months straight. I'm comfortable doing it, but I will admit the productivity question is an odd one, and I would like to know if others think they are more productive, about the same, or less so.
Here is how I view the situation. I'm about as productive as I was at the office, but I take more time doing the work because I have to. So, by that standard, I'm LESS productive. I find myself working earlier and later, with more breaks than I would have at the office. Most of my daily 'ad-hoc' work shows up at 5pm, as people realize things need to get finished or as the West Coast sends in requests prior to end of day. I don't like to leave my work undone for the day, I prefer an empty email when I shut down. However, this situation is such that I've found myself responding to emails at 11pm, even midnight.
Working from home reduces access to co-workers who may have answers or assist (it takes longer for them to respond), it reduces access to information (the rapidity at which we shifted limited how many files I was able to move to a shared drive), it reduces brainstorming opportunities, it reduces camaraderie (sorry, Zoom meetings 'for fun' are not fun in any way, shape or form).
So I'm curious - how has the lockdown affected those of you who are working from home? More, less or the same in terms of productivity?
Tuesday, May 12. 2020
Saturday, May 9. 2020
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:39 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 8. 2020
Master the fundamentals of drawing with this discounted course bundle. Get the bundle for $40.
Painting is a fine challenge, but drawing is the basic visual art form. This is excellent, and I have no talent for it. I did it before it went on sale. All it takes is a pencil and piece of paper. No tech, no paint, no cameras.
I remember working with charcoal and pencils in secondary school, and I loved it but never pursued it.
Drawing has been the foundation of the visual arts for over 50,000 years, and it still is.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:42 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, May 7. 2020
Wednesday, May 6. 2020
Mike Rowe, who has plenty of life experience, had a good podcast yesterday about safety. I'd vote for him for president or for anything else.
His point is that "Safety First" is just a reminder to be careful. If people took "Safety First" seriously, nobody would drive a car or take an airplane trip, much less do all of the hazardous jobs (like fishing or construction) that people do.
If you actually live by "Safety First," you will not have much of a life.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:58 | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, May 5. 2020
Rightly or wrongly, Trump and other national leaders took the advice of medical experts when they offered terrifying predictions.
Experts are of course fallible, but another problem with expertise is the tendency to view things through their specific lens. Safety experts, for example, might wish the max speed limit to be 35 mph. It would save many lives.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:05 | Comments (11) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 3. 2020
Last weekend was emptying a storage closet. 95% of what was in there ended in the trash. Even some good stuff, but never needed.
As in Babar, we found an old Father Christmas in there, and, stuffed in the furthest back under the eaves, two boxes of Christmas decorations and ornaments. Forgot we had them, but we do less-decorated Christmases these days.
Yesterday's project was the kitchen drawers. Just for a few examples, we found my wife's grandmother's walnut pasta rolling pin, her mother's rolling pin, and of course, ours. I think we have enough kitchen tools for three households. And I found two sets of meat-injectors (I guess I couldn't find the other one so bought a new one), and three basters. One steel, two plastic. Clearly, could not find a baster so got new.
And you know those great tongs you use to take pasta out of the pasta pot and dump directly into the sauce? We had three. The thing with cooking tools is that there are many of them that you use rarely, like meat thermometers or meat injectors, so they end up invisible in the backs of drawers, so you say the heck with it and just make do without.
Virus projects. We are not on any sort of phobic lockdown, but there aren't many places to go except for hikes and horses. Have we been home-cooking more? You betcha. Twice/week takeout from our favorite places, but otherwise, more.
Are our readers doing similar?
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:53 | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 1. 2020
I am a fan of John Constable's work. I will admit this is something I picked up from my father, and something I continued on with while studying in London in 1983. I did several papers on his work that semester, and spent a great deal of time in the National Gallery. I will, quite selfishly, say I was very happy to have my father join me and my class as we did presentations on various pieces. That day I did a little piece on Constable's "The Hay Wain" and having him there made me very nervous.
So, I was very pleased when Mrs. Bulldog told me about the Frick Gallery's "Cocktails with a Curator" which featured Constable's "The White Horse" today (May 1, 2020). It's part of their series during the idiotic isolation. But I HIGHLY recommend this. It may be one of a few good things that come out of this waste of time. Please, if you like art, and even if you believe Frick was a jerk (as I do), it's worth watching.
My relationship with Constable took an interesting turn in 2018. Mrs. Bulldog and I were lucky enough to travel to London for Wimbledon. We went for a week, and she planned a 'literary walk' not unlike Maggies' Urban Hikes. It started with a walk through Hampstead Heath (a favorite Constable locale), to Kenwood House to view the artwork, then to The Spaniards Inn for a drink, and through Hampstead to see the homes of various great literary figures. Orwell, Keats, Waugh, Ian Fleming, Bram Stoker, among many others. One stop, for Stoker, was an old church at the end of Church Row in Hampstead. He wrote a good portion of Dracula while sitting in the church courtyard. H.G. Wells had also lived on Church Row.
At this point, you're asking "What's this got to do with Constable?" Well, that's the interesting part. In the church courtyard is a list of everyone buried there. I was most excited to learn John Harrison, the 'discoverer' of longitude was buried out front. (At this point, Mrs. Bulldog is saying "What a nerd I married") But also included on this list was John Constable! Sheer luck had led us to some rather interesting historic locations, and I was totally wrapped up in the moment. I was further pampered by getting to spend several hours in the National Gallery yet again, revisiting many of my old friends.
If you like art, please check out this series on YouTube. I promise it's worth your time, and make sure you have a cocktail in hand.
Posted by Bulldog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 19:28 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
I tend to do most of my thinking in the morning shower where there are no welcome distractions. This morning, some of my thoughts had to do with virus panic and the desire for a risk-free life, if not a death-free life. Most of all of our ancestors were serfs, slaves, or something similar, for thousands of years.
Maybe it's dreams of childhood, or dreams of Eden, or some vision of utopia or Heaven that inspire. One thing diseases do is to remind us to be humble in the face of nature. Two days ago an asteroid passed close to earth, which could have eliminated much of civilization not to mention millions of humans.
Are governments supposed to have the powers to do the job of an all-powerful, merciful, and loving God? I kind-of thought so, or hoped so, in my youth, but no more. Life, even as a peaceful serf with others well-armed to protect me, was no free life. Relatively safe, but no freedom or opportunity.
Fears of injury, damage, financial ruin, or death? Most of us have those. Rightly so. But there is probably a Bell Curve (as with most things) of fearfulness and risk-aversion amongst humans. An ordinary pandemic, like the Hong Kong flu of 1968, or another Chinese bug of 2020, highlights that as you can probably see in the people you know. There is such a range of fear.
There is prudence of course, but in the end there is no safety in life if one lives with energy and adventurousness. The most dangerous things I do in life is to drive my car and tractor, ride my horses, and to invest.
If you want a risk-free life, try another planet or become a timid mouse.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:34 | Comments (18) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, April 30. 2020
Tuesday, April 14. 2020
In 2002, Crichton wrote (actually, a lecture) about humanity's inability to predict the future. A bit of a long read, but worth it. One quote:
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:30 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, April 11. 2020
The most entertaining way to get some sense of Chinese 19th C history: Flashman and the Dragon.
You can see where Mao came from. His horrors were just normal before him. Of course, this is historical fiction but Fraser tried to make it feel realistic. Sir Harry, I feel, was the original James Bond.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:12 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, March 24. 2020
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