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
Sunday, August 30. 2015
Saturday, August 15. 2015
When you visit Vienna, pick out, in advance according to Bird Dog's Museum Rules, what you want to see in a museum in one hour - and then leave and go to a cafe for a vino or a Vienna caffe, and walk around.
Last time we went, we just saw the Peter Breugel rooms in the Kunsthistorishes Museum. Worth the trip to Vienna and the climbs up the marble stairs. The wealthy Viennese loved those Dutch painters. Me, Mrs. BD, and lad. Another day, a daughter and I did the Belvedere while others did other things. We two had a fine day together, as she had figured out the train system in minutes and is loads of fun to explore with. Adventurous. We even visited Freud's apartments. Nice.
(My wife and kids are so adventurous, I just tie my sneakers and follow them. I love their company, but I think I am naturally more of a lazy cafe person. I rely on them all to enrich my life.)
Now they have a show of their 16th C tapestries. Faden der Macht. I'd like to see it but Vienna again is not on our 2-year Master Plan. We need to plan one or two more total-family parental trips before we grow old. Cape Cod, Tuscany, Provence.
Thursday, August 13. 2015
Saturday, August 8. 2015
Here's one of the few inns in town:
Here's what I think is a classic 18th Century colonial - rare on the Cape - with the typical later additions on the back:
And here it is - a true antique Cape, uncorrupted by dormers:
more on continuation page below -
Continue reading "Wellfleet architecture, Part 1"
Thursday, August 6. 2015
Tuesday, July 28. 2015
Tuesday, July 14. 2015
Man, do we find NYC endlessly interesting and stimulating. To each his own, I guess, but we all know how to try to extract the most from this most amazing venue in the USA without being rich. Having a place too far from it would make me feel socio-culturally deprived and isolated. I know some readers feel otherwise, but they have not been properly introduced by us.
BTW, Bulldog and I are planning a second Maggie's NYC Urban Hike for September. Details when ready. Different route this time, different sights, probably on the West Side including the High Line and Clement Moore's Chelsea. That link does not make it clear that all of Chelsea was the Moore family farm/estate which was called "Chelsea". Wow. Serious real estate.
Saturday, July 4. 2015
Happy Independence Day! If you're like me, you're with your family and being independent together (h/t to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer).
If you're like me, you're probably having hot dogs and hamburgers, potato or macaroni salad, soda or beer, or other kinds of foods which were purchased at a store after being shipped from some other part of the U.S. or even another nation.
If you're like me, you probably don't spend time worrying about the details of how your food reached your table. But you may know people, as I do, who think the whole "eat local' idea will save our health and economy. We have a restaurant here which is excellent, but very expensive, and always booked. We need to make reservations several months in advance to get a table. They only serve locally grown foods (I believe it's a 50 mile radius), and it's BYOB (so I guess they're OK with bringing French wine to go with the Jersey Tomatoes).
Normally I don't go in for faddish trends, and I really don't buy the whole "local food" movement. But this is a good restaurant and just because I don't agree with it doesn't mean I'll avoid a good meal. Good food is good food. There are reasons why I don't necessarily think the local food movement is ever going to change how we live, and it certainly is not going to make our lives better.
As this video (45 minutes long - so be prepared) points out, most nations with small farms have economic problems. This doesn't intrinsically mean small farms are impoverishing those nations, but there's no doubt being a food exporter (and the U.S. is by far the largest) is an indication of economic strength through size. This video also points out the hypocrisy of our nation's politics and its 'solutions' to perceived problems. We have deemed some banks "Too Big To Fail" and willingly subsidize their moral hazard, while at the same time pointing to large agricultural firms and saying they are "Too Big To Succeed" and impose excessive regulations on them while subsidizing failing small farms. So the policy of the U.S. that we subsidize failure, and engage double standards wherever we see fit.
The Jungle is often touted as an example of what would happen if we did not support regulation of the food industry. Unfortunately, this novel was a work of fiction designed to draw attention to the plight of the working man. It was the lies of Upton Sinclair about the Chicago Packing District that stick in people's memory, however. By and large, most food businesses provided healthier foods than smaller firms. It was in their best interest to do so. One does not win new consumers by killing or injuring those you have. In fact, most of these businesses wanted regulation as a means to raise barriers to entry against their smaller competitors, and to prevent foreign foods, which had raised trade barriers, from being too competitive.
Thomas Jefferson: Mr. Natural Rights
A wonderful book, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, has done a lot to rebalance the early history of America. It is rarely recalled that the Pilgrims were headed to the New Amsterdam area - already a busy and growing Dutch settlement - but got stuck in Plymouth due to
A bad bad war, crazy. I mostly blame Lincoln but, in general, the northern Republicans. Any union ought to be voluntary. Slavery? That was going away anyway in the Western world. Today, we would say "negotiate." Result? 600,000 Americans dead, and a federal government with more power than it was ever intended to possess.
Tragic, all around. Liberia was a good solution and a good recompense, but I am glad for most of the African-American influence in American culture. Better off here than slaves of Moslems in Africa, but better if none of it ever happened.
Sunday, June 28. 2015
Friday, June 26. 2015
An 1866 lithograph by Robert Dudley shows the HMS Agamemnon, one of the first ships to attempt to lay a transatlantic telegraph cable, dwarfed by the SS Great Eastern, the ship that eventually accomplished the task, and the first one large enough to carry the entire cable length by itself.
The story here: A Wire Across the Ocean - The first telegraph cable to span the Atlantic revolutionized communication, but it also transformed business, politics, and even language.
Wednesday, June 17. 2015
Monday, June 15. 2015
Sunday, June 14. 2015
I feel sad to be reaching the end of this book, packed as it is with the history and culture of the rowdy Jacobean England which was the context for what is considered the finest work ever written in English. My ditto on that.
The translating committee members needed to know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Their instructions from King James were to produce a book majestic and poetic in tone but simple enough for an illiterate plowman to comprehend. James' goal was to have one bible for one people, and he even included Separatists on the committees. (The two Bibles in English at the time were neither majestic nor poetic. Those Separatists who became the American Pilgrims used the Geneva Bible which was a dry tome.) The King James has a few notorious mistranslations (eg camel and needle), but that's niggling.
God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible (2005) by Adam Nicolson
Thursday, June 11. 2015
Wednesday, June 10. 2015
My visit to the lake was very short, but deliberate. I had a full day of history in Rome at the Forum, Colosseum, Circus Maximus, and Catacombs. My family is not fond of 'history' or 'battle' vacations, so I decided the best way to handle this was to pack it into the drive from Florence to Rome. On that drive, we first stopped at Siena, and spent several hours walking the beautiful streets of this city. Siena was too short, and worthy of a separate post altogether. But for me, the visit meant we were only an hour from Lake Trasimeno, which was 15 minutes out of our way on the final ride to Rome.
As a result, it was easy convincing everyone that dad could have one more slice of history pie.
Along the way, I told the story of Hannibal and the battle, and why it was so significant. First, it was the largest ambush in history, and remains so. Second, it was one of the first examples of a military turning movement. Finally, it was a decisive victory for the Carthaginians, wiping out two entire Roman legions by a factor of at least six Romans to one Carthaginian. However, some estimates put this ratio at 11 to 1.
Continue reading "Lake Trasimeno"
Sunday, June 7. 2015
Friday, May 29. 2015
Wednesday, May 27. 2015
Sunday, May 24. 2015
Thursday, May 14. 2015
Tuesday, May 12. 2015
We recently linked Surber on Col. John Gunby. A history buff pal emailed this comment:
Wednesday, April 15. 2015
I’m not going to paint this post with pictures or videos, but just let the words stand on their own. Today is Yom Hashoah, the day of remembrance of the millions of Jews singled out for slaughter in World War II and the heroes who fought back. Everyone says “never again”, but we all know that is a hollow pretense for almost all who say it. We have watched mass slaughters, including some specifically targeted against discrete ethnic or religious groups, and done little or nothing. As always, almost all say it’s not their business or they don’t want to get involved or similar. So, where does that really leave the Jews of Israel who are daily, openly threatened with extinction by MidEast fanatics who are gathering the means to do so, and getting closer? It leaves the Jews of Israel to do everything possible within its limited persuasion and power to protect itself. That’s the simple truth of the matter. And, the other simple truth of the matter is that the enemies of Israel have so infected this administration in Washington that it is speeding and easing the day of confrontation, in effect and in direct consequences of Washington’s weakness.
It is not surprising that some Jews in the US go along, either out of comforts or lack of ever actually feeling the wolf’s breath. There have always been such. And, although fate has not been kind to them in the past, they are an infection that is not due any excuses for their perfidy. These are simple truths. We will all face the violent outcome and consequences -- regardless of religion or national background -- either by fallout or the burning of our souls in the hell deserved for cowards. Or, we can be more forthright and outspoken and involved in doing all we can, really, to turn this administration away from utter capitulation and the prospective presidential candidates from any shadow of such policies.
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