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
Tuesday, November 4. 2014
It's not uncommon to hear Fed officials and politicians deny that we are monetizing debt. Technically, we are not. We issue debt, the debt gets purchased, and the Fed (which is essentially a private institution, though it's really a quasi-governmental institution) buys it back. Normally government debt is held by the public, which is why economic analysis of the old "crowding out" problem was so prevalent.
By keeping interest rates low, and repurchasing debt, the appearance of private ownership is maintained, but it is a roundabout method of monetizing debt. Allowing rates to rise to any meaningful degree will have severe negative impacts, in the short term. Since we are in a politically driven economy, this cannot be allowed to occur, so interest rates must remain artificially low.
Of course, the long term ramifications of monetizing debt are inflation (followed by deflation) and severe misallocation of economic resources. In other words, bankruptcies, unemployment and a financial morass. Not to mention the end of an expectation of comfortable retirement (how can you retire on a fixed income if interest rates are below 1%?).
Don't expect interest rates to move up any time soon, and don't expect any reporting of realistic inflation. Just vote for the guy/gal who will shovel the most tax money toward you.
No, I am not talking about intelligent design and all that. Also, I understand that evolutionary theories (of which there are several) say nothing about "progress," just adaptation to current conditions. It's just that I find the science and the logic of it all puzzling.
So did the fine essayist Stephen Jay Gould. I enjoyed this, but had to read it twice: Challenges to Neo- Darwinism and Their Meaning for a Revised View of Human Consciousness
Sunday, November 2. 2014
Saturday, November 1. 2014
As someone who is relatively young in business but now occasionally asked to interview possible new hires, I have developed a list of general information questions which I like to use. Math, history, religion, scope of reading, current events, art, etc. After all, unless somebody is a genius in our field, you really want to hire people you want to be around and to work with, and secondarily people who you think can help make money because they are young and that can be hard to predict.
If they don't help you make money you can just let them go, but they at least have been good company for a while.
Thursday, October 30. 2014
More info on the topic: We Are All Confident Idiots. A quote:
Wednesday, October 29. 2014
Governments try to control what kids eat, and they'd like to control what you consume also.
However, government planning rarely can do anything right not only because central planning can never work but because government is plain dumb.
Dietary fats do not cause vascular disease, and dietary fats do not make you fat. From The Last Anti-Fat Crusaders - The low-fat-diet regimen is turning out to be based on bad science, but the USDA has been slow to catch on:
Tuesday, October 28. 2014
Tonight I watched the Kansas City Symphony play the national anthem at Game 6 of the World Series. I began to wonder, if you're a trained musician and you don't make a major orchestra, do you begin trying out for smaller city orchestras? I had no idea. I suppose you begin looking for seats in various cities until you can find one. Then I wondered whether it's lucrative work.
These are extremely difficult jobs. While I may not be deeply involved in the symphony, I am well aware how hard it is to be good enough to be asked to join one, especially the best (Boston, Philadelphia, New York, etc.). That said, how much could it pay?
I was rather surprised. I didn't expect them to live on subsistence wages, but it makes me wish I'd had a greater appreciation for music (and the talent to go along with it) in my youth.
There is reason think so, at least for the moment.
Sad to say, Psychiatric meds cannot really fix anything, just ameliorate and prevent. But that is true of many meds. I do not think that our meds have anything to do with the underlying problems whether in the soul, in the genes, or in the wiring. As I am wont to say, a headache is not an aspirin deficiency disorder.
Our ability to control or prevent psychotic episodes is remarkable, but still the patient is never fully well. Quit the meds, and it can return.
Seems like everybody wants to be a therapist or counselor these days.
Everybody has problems of various degrees, and indeed sometimes it is helpful to talk it over with a trusted person. I have no problem with Biblical counseling. Anybody in a "helping profession" needs to know his limits and needs to be humble about his capacities.
My guess is that biblical counseling as some form of psychotherapy (as opposed to help with relationship to God which I would call Pastoral Counseling) can be most helpful for those whose guilt is honestly come by. By that I mean people who have every reason to feel troubled by guilt and remorse because they have done wrong, have not earned self-respect or earned a feeling of deserving God's love (which is another complicated topic). In other words, non-neurotic guilt.
Monday, October 27. 2014
Henri was a founder and one of the better known members of the Ashcan School, along with several others who were known as the "Philadelphia Four." Among these four artists was Everett Shinn. Everett felt one of our tour stops, Washington Square, was the "most beautiful place in New York."
It certainly is a wonderful place, vibrant and active on nice days. Shinn caught its beauty on a wet and windy night, as well.
Sunday, October 26. 2014
From Daniel Dennett's Are we free? Neuroscience gives the wrong answer:
Saturday, October 25. 2014
A repost from last November -
A great hunt this morning at a pal's rod and gun club. Heavy snow flurries and a stiff breeze made things interesting. Had two good Labs working for us today. Had to break the ice in their water tubs. Being Labs, naturally one insisted on climbing into the water tub to play with the floating hunks of ice and was not eager to come out.
Before a late lunch we had some venison sausage and I fixed myself a Clamato Bloody Mary while we cleaned and oiled our weapons. For lunch, they made us rare roast beef with Onion Pie, with a nice Chateau Simard '86 (Simard remains an excellent wine for the price). I do not know whether it was just the effect of a long cold day in the field, but this onion pie was about the tastiest, most savory thing I have ever eaten. The cook made it with a plain white-cracker piecrust and maybe sprinkled cracker crumbs over the top. This pie is to a kiche as a Grizzly Bear is to a Teddy Bear. Rice Pudding for dessert, of course: what else would you serve at an old-fashioned guy's club where women are not allowed?
As my friends know all too well, it's great to have somebody else to drive so I can indulge a post-prandial, post-hunt snoring snooze. I do not know why my friends put up with me.
1 unbaked pie shell - try a plain cracker crumb crust
2 or 3 very large white onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese cut into 1/2" or 1" chunks
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk or light cream
1/8 tsp. pepper
Prepare unbaked pie shell. Start heating oven to 400 degrees. Saute onions in butter and dump into pie shell. Toss the cheese with flour, sprinkle over onions. Beat eggs well. Stir in milk or cream, salt and pepper. Pour over cheese. Sprinkle crack crumbs on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce oven heat to 300 degrees and bake 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot, in wedges.
That is soul food with a rare roast beef. Might be a good treat for a holday, too, as an alternative to creamed baby onions (which I also love).
Friday, October 24. 2014
I believe that evil exists. I have seen it in myself, and I think I understand the human desire to externalize it or to deny it. Denial of evil is dangerous.
From The Guardian (really): The truth about evil - Our leaders talk a great deal about vanquishing the forces of evil. But their rhetoric reveals a failure to accept that cruelty and conflict are basic human traits
One quote from this good essay:
It's the time of year when I stock up on bags of Cranberries and throw them in the freezer.
The canned cranberry "sauce" pictured is garbage. It's just congealed sweetened cranberry juice.
The recipe on the Ocean Spray bags is pretty good, but I cut the sugar they recommend in half. It's nothing but water, fresh or frozen berries, and sugar.
A great food, the Cranberry. I love to put them in pancakes (the combination of the sweetness of the maple syrup and the tartness of the cranberries is perfect).
Here's our old post on Cranberry Season and the Heart.
Funny thing about Cranberries: not many animals or birds like to eat them. Maybe bears? I've seen Box Turtles take a bite out of one, but I've never seen anything else eat them. I love Cranberries, as long as they aren't cooked too sweet. Here's a tiny Massachusetts Cranberry bog, flooded for harvest:
Here's how it's done on a larger scale:
I suspect he missed a lot of interesting stuff, but he got the competency.
There are plenty of reasons for "seat time" in many areas of study, but certainly not in all. For example, there really are no valid criteria (in my view) for competency in Art History, or in history for that matter.
Here's the idea: Hacking Higher Ed With Competency-Based Education
Related, competency exams may be racially-biased via disparate impact. Here's that whole story, from Bill McMorris: How the Supreme Court Created the Student Loan Bubble - It all starts with Griggs v. Duke Power Co.
Thursday, October 23. 2014
Does Everybody Want Freedom? Most do, even those who appear to enjoy slavery.
My experience in life has taught me that many or most people would accept some form of feudalism in exchange for safety and security for themselves and their families. Serfdom, if you will.
Caught as most of us are between a job and the government, it's all still basically feudal is it not? Not what the American founders had in mind.
Tuesday, October 21. 2014
This is a 4 year old story discussing why reconciliation is "good", in particular as it applied to the ACA.
It is a certainty, as Lord Acton once said, that power corrupts. In many cases of political activity, that corruption isn't just apparent in bribes, graft or other rackets that take place. It's visibly evident in the hypocrisy of power. In reality, reconciliation is probably bad every time it is used. I say this because it was mainly designed to overcome filibusters. Filibusters exist in order to extend debate on contentious issues on which neither side can claim a clear and overwhelming majority agreement (read as "bipartisan" - a term I despise since I view it as a means to push a slow growing Progressive agenda, but which many people think is a "good").
If a system's success depends on having the 'right people' in place, there's probably something wrong with the system. As our republic is aging, it seems there is a distinct and overwhelming stench coming from Washington because both parties are putting people in place who are perceived to be the 'right people'. Yet things just keep getting worse.
America's founders never promised us a rose garden. Quite the opposite. They offered, to the world, a novel and very difficult life breathing the air of freedom and independence from government and any other powers.
Adventurous people from all over the world have been attracted to the ideas of dangerous freedom, opportunity, risk, insecurity, and self-reliance.
Those things bring out the best in people.
You all know all of this. In my view, if you want anything from the federal government other than legal justice and protection from invading powers, you lack the vibrant American spirit and perhaps might prefer to live elsewhere, where a more feudal state plays a more parental, controlling role. It's a big world out there and the American idea is not/was not for everybody.
American people do not have delimited rights. American governments have delimited powers. That was the idea and the ideal, anyway.
Freedom or rights for stuff rather than from stuff? It sickens my soul. Quit helping us, please. Our ancestors did not come here for help other than help from God and maybe from our neighbor if we had one. They struggled and endured freedom, and so should we all. "Gimme" is not American: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Gimmedat:
Monday, October 20. 2014
Exploring southern Manhattan on foot, as if a tourist: A photo report from the First Annual Maggie's Urban Hike
We began our jolly urban hike on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, Battery Park, where the ferries depart to Staten Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
What is fatiguing is not the hiking itself - it's the overstimulation. So much going on, so much to look at.
Below the fold, a photo summary of our hike, with relevant links -
Continue reading "Exploring southern Manhattan on foot, as if a tourist: A photo report from the First Annual Maggie's Urban Hike"
Sunday, October 19. 2014
Cooked up a large casserole pan of this simple squash recipe last weekend. Everybody ate it all up.
Next time, I'll grate more Parmesan for it.
Saturday, October 18. 2014
All in all, the trip was a success. We stuck to the agenda, with a few extra stops baked in, up through to Chinatown. After that, minor adjustments were made to accommodate individual needs and schedules. But we made great time and managed to take in a good portion of the city's major sites and neighborhoods.
I hope everyone had a great time, I know Mrs. Bulldog and myself did. We enjoyed the company immensely. It was great to meet so many people and enjoy one of the world's great cities on such a personal level. From Fraunces Tavern to Cooper Union and McSorley's (where one member of the group was proud to announce he'd celebrated his 21st birthday recently - lucky young man!), we managed to soak in the flavors of New York. I think the one thing that surprised me most was that Stanford White designed the arch in Washington Square Park. In addition, one of the statues on the arch was designed by Alexander Calder's father.
I'd like to personally thank BD and Mrs. BD for introducing us to the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central. One of the coolest drinking establishments in NYC that I've ever been in. I will return with friends and family...and maybe even a few clients.
Poetic language is an intensification of the use of words. Prof Booth likes to look at the "physics" of poetic language. When a person gets into a poetry state, whether writing or reading, the mind can take over and let the inner physics of the thing just happen the same way you can hit a moving car with a snowball without knowing the math and the brain physiology of it.
I found this essay to be fascinating, and had to re-read it: Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense - What the Bard can teach science about language and the limits of the human mind. One quote:
Friday, October 17. 2014
I told you that in Sicily this past Spring we had Parsley Pesto (with grilled swordfish) and Pistachio Pesto (with grilled pork), but we never saw a Basil Pesto. They do love their Pistachios in Sicily - they use them with everything. We brought a small, overpriced jar of pistachio pesto home, but it's fairly easy to make.
"Pesto" means something that is pestado - pounded or ground up, as in English "pestle and "paste." Walnut-Parsley is a popular combination. Also, fresh mint pesto. The Cuisinart is what made Pesto easy.
More: Move out the way, basil. Cheese + nuts + olive oil + garlic + whatever the hell you want = awesome pesto.
An academic resume may matter socially, but after your first job it doesn't matter much for career. We wish strongly to believe that an elite "education" provides a foundation for more life enrichment and a dream-fulfilling career, but as time goes by I have my doubts. If you really care about intellectual enrichment, the Great Courses is all anybody needs.
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