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
Wednesday, July 9. 2014
A very cool company, Intrepid Travel. Not expensive either, and they go everywhere.
Mrs. BD wanted to schedule their trip to Jordan, but they are sold out for this fall. Friends told us that Petra was one of the most interesting places they had been to, and they have been everywhere. We rarely opt for organized tours, but for Jordan we thought it might be OK with us even though it's not exactly an exotic place. Mrs. BD wants to see all of the TE Lawrence places. 7 Pillars is a fine read.
Maybe I am a jaded traveller, but I have seen enough Greek, Roman, and Phoenician rockpiles to last a lifetime, and I've read it all, too. Jordan would be something different, with maybe a side trip to Israel.
Tuesday, July 8. 2014
My Rhubarb patch is having an excellent year.
Easiest thing in the world to grow in colder climates (comments there are useful). Just needs sun and fertilizer Spring and late summer/fall (bag of cow manure or whatever).
Can you gnaw on the raw stalks? You bet. Very tangy.
A few nights ago I made Rhubarb Compote (for on top of Vanilla Haagen Dasz) for dessert for friends. So much for those people who didn't think they liked Rhubarb.
Simple. I chopped up about 4 cups of Rhubarb stems, threw into a pot with 2 tbsp. of butter and a tablespoon or so of water, then stirred it around for about ten minutes with sugar to taste. I used only around 1 cup or less of sugar.
More delicious Rhubarb desserts, including Rhubarb Cobbler
Monday, July 7. 2014
The Obamacare rules do not require coverage for cosmetic surgery, at least not yet. Somebody will lobby for "Sagging Jowl Syndrome," you can be certain, in the future. When government gets involved with medicine, medicine becomes politicized and "diseases", "disorders", and "dysfunctions" proliferate.
It's the hurricane of illegals.
Not an Act of God, but an act of governments. Mexico is funneling these people through, and the administration doesn't really mind.
I care more about the status of people who attempt to immigrate legally. It can take many years, even if you are a nurse, an MD, or a Physics PhD, and even then it might not be OKed.
Don't we have enough unemployed Americans? Or have we given up on them by giving them food stamps, welfare, and disability? When you quit having citizenship expectations of people, they often quit having those expectations of themselves. A sad fact of human nature, especially for the weak-willed or the rent-seeking.
Sunday, July 6. 2014
Got the entire immediate family crew coming, plus some significant others. Kids up from NYC, etc. Feeding 11 1/2 in total. Being the man, I am the Griller, and in summer, I like to grill everything outdoors. Winter too.
Vegetables grilled first, of course, because they are good at room temperature. I sort-of hate vegetables, but soaked with olive oil, salt and pepper, basil, then grilled, I can eat 1 or 2. Salads I will not touch. I have really had enough salads and vegetables in my life already, and pretended to like those animal foods for long enough. Family loves them, though, especially grilled Italian-style on a wood fire.
- Grilled asparagus, potato, eggplant, pepper, and red onion and some Asiago and Ricotta Salata on the side - as antipasto. Costco was out of summer squash.
- Two Birthday Cakes - we have 2 birthdays this week! I forgot to get the champagne.
To be a little provocative, I have to say that Jeremy Bentham's comments on the Declaration (well before the American Constitution was composed) make sense to me. He seemed to know that no limited federal government would last and made a strong implication that the founders were naive to imagine that they could invent a new form of government without powers or inclinations to over-tax or oppress.
If you read the Declaration this weekend, most of the colonists' grievances do seem rather trivial especially in light of our current American federal government. From Bentham’s Critique of the Declaration of Independence:
My understanding is that most colonists were not enthused about the war either. By 1789, it all worked out OK anyway, winning admiration from many of the skeptics. For a while.
Friday, July 4. 2014
"It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."
President Calvin Coolidge, via Powerline's Where Are Libertarians When You Need Them?
Thursday, July 3. 2014
- Grilled Pineapple chunks are an excellent side dish for lots of things, but especially with pork or seafood. With grilled Swordfish or Pork chops, it's the best. The grill caramelizes the sugar a bit. There are lots of recipes for it. However, you can just grill plain chunks. Some people use it as a dessert, but I think not.
- I like the flavor of grilled corn (Maize, to our foreign readers) on the cob. Maize on the cob? It's the Indian (American Indian, for our foreign readers) way. Take your ears of corn with all the leafy husks on them, rip off the loosest covering leaves, and soak them submerged in a bucket of salted water for a couple of hours. Then throw them on a hot grill and turn them as needed. The leaves will brown and burn a bit, the flossy stuff will burn off, and the corn inside will steam itself and get a bit browned. When you sense that it's about done (not too long - you have to play it by ear), serve intact and let your guests peel them.
Can you grill apples? Of course. You don't need a recipe like this. Just drizzle some honey on them.
Wednesday, July 2. 2014
Easiest thing in the world, and a great side for steak, grilled lamb and fish, or burgers. I like to do it on the grill, burning wood, but of course gas, charcoal, or even the oven work fine too.
Slice whatever you want of these things into approx 1/3-1/2" slices:
Yellow summer squash
Toss all in a bowl with olive oil, plenty of salt and pepper, dried Basil. Then bake or grill until they seem right. Each type of item might require different cook times. The burnt bits are delicious. Serving at room temp. is fine.
Tuesday, July 1. 2014
I recently had a conversation with a multi-multi-millionaire who recently sold his second business start-up at age 43.
He is a humble guy, good golfer. He told me that he was advised that he was not "college material" - and "I am not", he says. "I am not a scholar, not intellectual, not very smart but I am energetic, and strong on practical and common sense. I learned my math at work because I had to." He became an apprentice (I can't say in what area) and in ten years owned a rapidly-growing company with 130 employees and two warehouses.
He told me his future plans too, but I want to keep it short and confidential.
Anyway, it raised the question for me: What is "college material"? Or is that term obsolete?
Monday, June 30. 2014
I like Pope Francis, and I think he has said and done many good things to date. I think his comments on Capitalism were misplaced, and so is his current commentary on Communists.
Points in time like these remind me why we need to teach basic Economics in our schools. Capitalism has done more to reduce poverty and improve the economic prospects of the poor than Communism ever did.
More importantly, and this is where Pope Francis goes veering off the rails, Communism forces people to 'be good', rather than allowing them the right to choose the proper path of behavior. It is true that certain miseries and unfair behaviors take place under Capitalism, but these are more than mitigated by the greater gains of all individuals across society. Communism, on the other hand, uses force and coercion to fix perceived inequalities and creates a permanent political class system which is not just economic in nature, but capable of enforcing its whims on those who are not part of the class.
It's worth remembering that Economics was originally called "Moral Philosophy." While Adam Smith is considered the father of Economics, he considered himself a Moral Philosopher and was merely seeking to determine how people made their decisions to act in certain ways. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out:
Sunday, June 29. 2014
A few links:
Rabbi Boteach wants women to get lustier in marriage (video)
When women earn more, promiscuity is more accepted
Childless Elite, Spouseless Poor
Casual Sex Is Actually Excellent for You, If You Love Casual Sex
A cool plant for those of us who live north of regular southern Hibiscus-land. It is aka Rose Mallow.
They produce large, dramatic, July-Oct blooms, die back in the winter and return slowly - then quickly - from their large, deep, and study roots in Spring. Full sun, and water. If you like cottage-door (biennial) Hollyhocks, these are similar but reliably perennial, and just as popular with butterflies and hummingbirds.
Some varietals grow 3-4' high in a bushy way, others 5-7' high in a hollyhock style.
(This is not to disparage Hollyhock-lovers. I do understand. Everybody's grandma had them at the back door and they are a sentimental favorite, same as Delphiniums.)
A northern shrub, Rose of Sharon, has similar-looking blossoms, but it's a real shrub, not a "flower".
Saturday, June 28. 2014
I don't typically sunbathe, my Irish heritage has limited my hours in the sun. My boys are working outdoors this summer and keep their sunscreen with them all day. We know that any SPF over 30 is a waste, and reapplication is the key to good management of sun on skin. I just hope this early 80's sunbather was using some. My friends in high school would use iodine mixed in baby oil. I tried that once and came away with the most wicked burn I can remember.
Friday, June 27. 2014
Thursday, June 26. 2014
How genetic is it, and how moveable is it? Those are always studied and always in dispute. I always enjoy the company of people with higher IQs than mine, just as I enjoy playing tennis with more talented players.
How important is life "success" and life happiness to IQ? Not very much, I think, unless one aspires to being a Physics or Math genius. IQ is just one factor in a human personality but it is one, like height, which is readily apparent.
Via this post on IQ, Last Call at the Milk Bar, I was led to this good and detailed essay on IQ: Race, IQ, and Wealth - What the facts tell us about a taboo subject.
In the end, the facts do not tell us much.
Wednesday, June 25. 2014
How magical thinking haunts our everyday language, and fossilised ideas live on in even the most sophisticated science. One quote:
Tuesday, June 24. 2014
I am convinced that juicy fat is healthy. All science in the past 30 years says so, but before that the experts said fat was bad.
From Williamson's Shut Up, Have a Cheeseburger - So you say you want the best solution?
Bravo to him. I hate Washington with the aggrandizing, pre-fascist pseudo-Roman pretensions of that town, as if it were an imperial city with its statues, monuments, pillars, and memorials imitating ancient Rome. I hate the idea of a luxurious presidential mansion. I hate the pomp, the parties, and all of the government limos. I hate all the money that flows through there, tax dollars, lobbying dollars, legal dollars. I hate the idea of a "national art gallery" and a national theater and all those sorts of imperial trappings. I hate those giant buildings filled with bureaucrats with power over me. I hate the amount of power which is ensconced there. I think all of the grandiosity and money and power and scheming and careerism and celebrity is disgusting and un-American.
I even dislike Arlington cemetery. Those boys and men should be buried at home with their families, in my opinion.
George Washington would have hated his monument, and Lincoln would hate his. Those were humble men, not seeking idolization.
Monday, June 23. 2014
Prof. Mankiw makes the case that inherited money is good for the economy.
Who cares? It's their money to do whatever they want with it. They are free to just burn it if they want to (or is burning money illegal?) Mankiw is correct, though, about reversion to the mean.
Sunday, June 22. 2014
From Razib Khan's Living in a World That Is, Not as It Ought to be:
... no matter what establishment voices assert intervention in foreign lands in a ham-handed fashion to prop up our American values is bound to lead us down a path of tears. As Shadi Hamid states the future of democracy in the Middle East is going to be illiberal. This may be inevitable. We don’t need to avert our eyes from it, and we need to acknowledge that so we were, so they will be. It took the Thirty Years war to finally purge the enthusiasm of sectarianism from the cultural DNA of Europeans (and even then, religious minorities were second class citizens for centuries). There will be no calm reasoning with Iraqis of any stripe because the march of history continues, and only sadness can convince all parties that moderation is necessary for the existence of modern nation-states. Intervention in some fashion may be inevitable in the world, but our goal should be to prevent hell, not to create heaven on earth. The former is possible, the latter is not.
Saturday, June 21. 2014
Monkeys Are Better Stockpickers Than You'd Think - Why dart-throwing primates demolish S&P 500 returns and most active fund managers don't even come close.
Actively-managed equity accounts are widely considered a rip-off for the muppets. I am not rich enough to get into hedge funds, but I'd like to be because those smart folks can do far more than I can, hedging currencies, national economies, sovereign debt, etc. while the average Joe like me is stuck with mass market retail products.
I like to have money, and enjoy the concept of making money in markets while busy at my day job. I keep spare cash in a Vanguard bond fund, while my IRA is miscellaneous but mostly Vanguard funds with a focus on proven income-producing equities and some balanced funds plus some good (legal, of course) stock tips, and some cash for the next market crash, locked and loaded. I control my IRA.
I also have substantial debt in the form of a low-interest but fairly large mortgage which I intend to keep as long as I am able to work. As I have calculated it, keeping a mortgage is a net gain for me.
Most people want capital-preservation above all, but if you want risk to make real money in markets, do what monkeys do and use your crystal ball and pick the right stocks instead of
What do y'all do with your spare cash and with your long-term savings?
Friday, June 20. 2014
Americans seem to want a little bit of both. The Founding Fathers knew that you can’t have both.
Portrait is the deeply-wise dead white male James Madison. To be an American, you need to know what he thought about this experiment in freedom.
Thursday, June 19. 2014
When it comes to sex, will humans ever be liberated from the basic biological needs that drove our evolutionary past?
Let's hope not. Actually the article is a critique of behavioral genetics, aka evolutionary psychology, as much as anything else.
Humans are a highly-sexualized sort of ape, with no estrus period as most mammals and even monkeys have (except for the "great apes" of which we are one). It's difficult if not impossible to determine what sexual behaviors are "natural" for humans because mental activity, fantasy, relationships, and culture are such major parts of being human. After all, rape, murder, theft, violence, pedophilia, etc. are all sort-of "natural" for humankind, and there are cultures in which monogamy is considered a mental illness or a form of infantile behavior. It's safe to say that the Western bourgeois ideal of lifelong monogamous marriage and the nuclear family is very far from "natural" despite being fairly effective for child-rearing and overall life stability in Western culture.
It also is safe to say that humans are the horniest of animals and, with our capacity for wild imagination and strange (by animal terms) sexual desires and fantasies, a rather insane species.
Freud explained a lot of that.
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