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, February 4. 2015
Reposted for the season -
Please do not use the fake truffle oil.
It's basically a slaw. We had that at a restaurant this weekend as a salad sort of molded from a cup on top of a potato fritter. Damn good. I told Mrs. BD that dog kibbles with black truffle oil and parmesan would be delicious. Actually, I have always liked B. Sprouts anyway, especially sauteed with bacon.
(Speaking of bacon, my brother served an hors d'oevres Sunday afternoon - dates wrapped in bacon, broiled. Amazing.)
Culinary tip: Brussel Sprouts do not hit their peak of flavor and sweetness until hit by at least a frost or two. The ones from the stores have not been. Put a stalk of them outdoors on a frigid day for a few hours, and let them freeze. Much better. Serious gardeners leave them standing in the garden all winter, and just go out and cut some off from the stalks. I guess you could try the freezer, too. When we buy them in bags, we leave them out in the snow until we use them.
Heard a good talk from a senior MD/Philosopher Prof yesterday.
His main point was that disease is historically normal and natural, and absence of disease is abnormal. He said we in America live in an abnormal golden age of artificial, unnatural well-being thanks to modern medicine, and have thus tended to be seduced into thinking of health as the normal and natural state. He said we are in a frenzy of labeling things as diseases these days which would have been viewed as expectable misfortunes, the risks of life, the price of aging, the tragedy of existence.
He claimed that roughly half of us in the audience would have been dead already, in 1800. Childhood infectious disease, childbirth complications, cholera, birth defects, tetanus, influenza, pneumonia, TB, polio, diabetes, war, mental illness, mental retardation, accidents, cancers, urinary tract infections, animal bites, bug bites, fractures, heart attacks, - you name it. All normal and natural thanks to a harsh and indifferent Mother Nature who seems to want to disable and kill you - and she will. God may love you, but Nature - no.
He asked us to try to remember how many old folks, and even middle-aged hobbled around on canes, or sat in wheelchairs and rocking chairs, maybe gasping for breath, were half-blind, or had chronic pain or disabling depressions, in our youth when they now would be playing tennis and skiing.
He made the statistical point that life expectancy has changed very little in the past 200 years - if you exclude the childhood and youth infectious deaths, and the trauma injuries which would have resulted in death - which distort the stats and give the mistaken impression that old people are living significantly longer. He said few humans in states of nature lived past age 40.
He also made the point that wild animals always seem healthy. Why? Because the instant they have the slightest problem, something catches and eats them and they are gone. Sooner or later, they all get killed and eaten because something always goes wrong. Animal life is fleeting.
A useful and humbling perspective, I thought, for those of us in the healing professions. Yes, including those in the mental illness and behavioral problem field. Excellent mental health cannot even be defined.
Tuesday, February 3. 2015
We were all raised as free range, weren't we?
World News Videos | ABC World News
Meanwhile, they are still pushing electric cars, which are powered almost completely by...coal.
Energy policies in the Western world are insane.
Nuclear would make everybody happy.
Sunday, February 1. 2015
I'll call my photo A View of People Studying A View of Toledo
A few more pics and comments below the fold -
Continue reading "El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (1541–1614)"
Measles is not particularly dangerous as infectious diseases go. Like Mumps (crazy names, aren't they?), serious sequelae are rare. Most people past 40 had Measles and/or Mumps or were exposed to them. However, these are those unpleasant things which had been eliminated in the Western world.
Vaccine Critics Turn Defensive Over Measles. Can we term these people superstitious know-nothings? Love this quote:
"It’s good to explore alternatives rather than go with the panic of everyone around you,” she said. “Vaccines don’t feel right for me and my family.”
They don't "feel right"? What?
Not long ago, parents tried to expose their kids to other kids with Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (German Measles) to get it over with during Grade School.
Luxury motor homes. Pretty slick, but where do your park it? How is it on snow? And what do you do about poo and pee?
The used one on the right is for sale for $379,000. Specs below:
2009 Country Coach Affinity. This is the top of the line for Country Coach. It has 1 1/2 bath, 4 slide outs, a stacked washer and dryer, 3 tvs, in-motion satellite, king size bed, 650 HP Cummins engine, 3 yrs left on warranty, and more.
Features • Washer & Dryer • Alloy Wheels, Diesel Generator • Awning Patio & Electric Windows • Backup Camera • Basement Storage • Full Body Paint • GPS System • In Motion Satellite dish • Microwave • Side-By-Side Refrigerator • Sound System • Television • A/C Roof
Darn, it doesn't have 4- WD. Do you know what a "slide-out is? More of these here.
Saturday, January 31. 2015
It's my alma mater, so I think it's a good place. Tough but supportive sort-of: they will certainly toss you if you don't want to get with the program. Many claim that Andover has smarter, more competition-minded kids, but a colder atmosphere. A visit to Phillips Exeter Academy.
The Exeter Harkness table. You can't hide.
By coincidence, Jeb Bush at Andover.
In my view, most of the elite New England prep schools are extremely demanding academically, socially, athletically, and emotionally. The stress and frequent misery and humiliation are part of their mission, like boot camp. Nobody gets As. These schools feel that if one kid gets an A, that is just proof they are not pushing the kids hard enough. I got 2 As in four years, and I worked my butt off. The mandatory 3-hour study hall every evening helped me learn, and the mandatory chapel, formal meals, lights-out, no TV or radios, and other structures helped center me. After class on Saturday mornings we had choir practice, then sports. Sundays, sleep late, then required church, formal lunch, 2 hrs study hall - then free for the rest of the day but you had better be ready to be called on, on Monday morning: "You read the essay, yes? And Madison's paper? So defend Madison's position on ... in light of the new Constitution."
Sad to say, these academies are not as structured these days but remain academically rigorous.
Caught with tobacco, drugs, drink? Sent home for good in shame, immediately. Sports required for 3 hours every afternoon, regardless of ability. Sex? We were not coed quite yet, which helped concentration enormously.
One of my favorites: Braised Lamb Shanks
The sweetest meat is near the bone. Cook the heck out of it until fork-tender. You can bake or slow-cooker it. Some people like to brown the marinated meat before cooking.
Generally one whole shank per person is plenty. Serve one whole shank, bone in, with a pile of sauce over polenta or white rice.
I have not made it with venison shank yet, but I should. Maybe soon. A saw would save the trouble of cutting the meat off the shank bone. Yes, I do know how to butcher a deer.
Friday, January 30. 2015
Are we witnessing an epidemic of PC bullying? Of course, and the contagion has spread out of academia to the real world. People have become fearful of what and how they talk, as if we were in the old East Germany. Fact is, you can pass yourself off as a victim, you can bully and intimidate all you want.
The argument is that only certain (usually academic) elites can be rational, so it is the job of our moral and intellectual superiors to protect us from bad ideas, bad words, and unhindered speech. Good, concise piece: Yes, Political Correctness Really Exists - Social media gives new muscle to German Marxist Herbert Marcuse's arguments against free discourse.
There is truth in that notion that the biggest megaphones are loudest, but this concern misunderestimates people - even the benighted hoi polloi like us who believe everything on NPR. As you might expect, here at Maggie's we take some amusement from a world full of loony-tunes and liberal fascists -regardless of the size of their megaphones - because we have faith that good old American common sense and resourcefulness will endure and see through the insanity.
Indeed, I believe the Left would be happy to hinder my free speech. I have no desire to hinder theirs, even though I sometimes feel it is fundamentally malevolent. As we often claim here, the desire to control others is a form of mental illness.
CS Lewis: Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.
For an amusing take on the topic, Another Progressive Self-Excommunicates Over Political Correctness Thugsquads
Thursday, January 29. 2015
In 1880, I suppose my WASP culture (and it is a culture) was still the core, dominant Americanism. Now, for better or worse, it's just one tribe of many.
Eugene Volokh discusses The American tradition of multiculturalism
Often, as my Mom taught me, the best way to observe nature is just to sit in the woods or meadows silently and inconspicuously for an hour or two. Things will happen. A Box Turtle will wobble past. An upwind fawn will walk ten feet from you. A Redtail will dive on a mouse. A Blacksnake will slither over your warm Wellies. Dragonflies and butterflies will perch on your hat. A Marsh Hawk will pass just over your head, startling you.
A lot of quiet outdoor sitting takes place on deer stands, in duck blinds, etc.
Yesterday, I watched from my office window, a Sharpie attacking sparrows 5 or 10 feet from my window. That's not unusual. What I had never seen before was the frustrated Sharpie just settle on the ground and to begin stalking the sparrows on foot through the hollies where they had fled for safety. He walked with a long slow stride, very alert, just like a Velociraptor.
Have you ever seen that?
After a few minutes of stalking, he somehow flushed a flock of about ten sparrows from a holly and tore off after one. I couldn't see whether he was successful. Wish I had taken a photo.
Sunday, January 25. 2015
Doesn't dying suck enough, unless you are in terrible shape?
Tomasky is in favor of death tax. He'd like the government to take most or all of your estate when you croak, and makes a moral case for it.
Leviathan will eat all he can, and it is never enough for him and never will be. There should be no death tax. Family, and free choice in saving and spending, trumps government. I can make moral cases in opposition to Tomasky. For starters:
- That money has already been taxed once. Why a double jeopardy?
- One reason people work and save is to provide for family and future. Isn't less dependency on government a good thing? In my view, more wealthy families are a good thing. The more, the better. They invest, and if they are not financially successful on their own, at least they do not become dependent on everybody else.
- Who is the government to tell me how much is "enough"?
- Despite Tomasky's dismissal of the loss of family farms and family businesses to pay taxes, I have seen it happen, and sadly. A damn shame.
- Very wealthy families (eg Kennedys, Rockefellers, Kerry-Heinzes, Clintons, etc) find ways around it. Middle class people with small businesses, farms, or small collections of real estate or gas stations, cannot.
Add your own arguments, for or against, in the comments.
This is an annual re-posting.
The global cooling we are experiencing inspired me to consider some truly fine cool-weather all-white breakfast eats which are not easily found in Yankee-land. The good stuff that sticks to your
Creamed chipped beef on toast is the fine old Yankee version of the southland's biscuits 'n gravy. Both have done wonders for warming the hearts and narrowing the arteries of generations of American boys. Add some potatoes and you have the perfect meal for a lumberjack or hunter.
While apple pie is an old-time Yankee breakfast staple, it has been replaced long ago by eggs, toast, and bacon, maybe a chunk of fruit, and preferably home fries with ketchup on them. Not Heinz 57, though - it's not my job to feed John Kerry.
Some people eat cereal for breakfast. Why? Because Dr. John Kellogg, a health-food charlatan in the 1800s, told them to. Zero nutrition. Breakfast cereal is a fraud and a scam, unless it's plain grits or cream of wheat or oatmeal. The crunchy granola stuff? Well, I thought the guy who discovered that you could sell people plain water was a genius, but the people who decided to sell guinea pig food to humans was his creative equal.
(At Maggie's Farm, we are also fond of fish for breakfast, like the Brits. Kippers. Or a lighty sauteed trout someone has caught early, sprinkled with parsley. Or left-over broiled salmon.)
The chipped beef was always a boarding school standard, and half loved it and half barfed to look at it. It does look like vomit, but it's great stuff. It's a gourmet's delight, but nobody makes it anymore.
When I did my time south of the Mason-Dixon, a local favorite was hot dog gravy on biscuits. Grits on the side, of course. Everything white. Not a refined breakfast, just gravy made with supermarket hot dogs instead of sausage. A truly revolting flavor unless you grew up in the hills and hollers, but it will fend off hunger for hours. I prefer my Sabretts on a bun at Yankee Stadium. But other sorts of southern gravy, made with ham or sausage, are just fine. I won't presume to offer a biscuit 'n gravy recipe, because every Southern Mom has her own. Well, here's a Virginia one from someone's Grandma.
Biscuits 'n gravy, and grits. Serious food for the soul.
Image: New Hampshire chipped beef on English muffins - with home fries. They don't do grits up north (except in Italian homes and restaurants, where they like to call grits "polenta") and it's a damn shame. Good stuff.
Saturday, January 24. 2015
From a thoughtful essay by Harvey Mansfield, Our Parties, Part One - The Democrats: how progress became drift:
In AARP Magazine (!), the not-retired Bob Dylan Does the American Standards His Way - In his first interview in nearly three years, the legendary singer-songwriter talks about his new disc, ‘Shadows in the Night,’ his love for Frank Sinatra and about life in his 70s
Friday, January 23. 2015
I may have misinterpreted what Mr. Ma said, but his comment was something to the tune of "If you have a billion dollars, it's not just yours. It became yours because the people who gave it to you felt you would do better things with it than anyone else, like the government. This places a responsibility on the person with a billion dollars, and is why I will seek to do good with this money."
As I said, I may have not heard it precisely or interpreted it correctly. If I did, it is a view I agree with(although people didn't give him anything, they exchanged money for a product or service he provided which made everyone better off).
All told, I'd prefer to not have a billion dollars in wealth. Too much responsibility, too many headaches. People who amass fortunes like this, however, have made the world better and this is why I don't oppose or envy their wealth. As Ma intimated, they can do better with the money. This is one reason I enjoy watching shows like Shark Tank. Not only do I learn insights on how to manage a business, but I see wealth at work producing things people want or need.
People who believe the wealthy sit around pools drinking margaritas all day (I've had people say this to me) have no idea where wealth comes from or how it is made. Those people may exist, I'm certain they do. Their wealth, however, does not last as long as you'd think. Their money must be working at improving lives through exchange or production, somehow, for them to spend the rest of their lives poolside. Real wealth creators, however, are always doing good with their money, even if it's just managing their companies (which provide jobs, goods and services) or coming up with new ideas that people want or need.
By and large, I believe if you're smart enough to earn the money through productive or creative capacity, as Jack Ma did, you're likely to know what to do with it. If you lucked into it, you're unlikely to have a good idea of what to do without some professional help.
Then there is a third group I forgot to mention. Politicians. I believe they are more like lottery winners, though they believe they are producers. I see them as popularity contest winners who are handed a blank check and haven't a clue what to do.
Thursday, January 22. 2015
So when I think about what the President had to say, and specifically who he was speaking to (because he did not speak to me or people like me), I think of another movie, one involving an entrepreneur who built a business and was seeking to keep it running by giving jobs to disadvantaged folk who were willing to work for him because he recognized the value they provided and sought to protect them from harm while giving them a living 'wage'. Progressives believe this man is the government, which is why we were exhorted to "move forward together" even as the President sought to polarize us further.
We know the truth. We know this man doesn't exist. We know the best thing the government can say to Progressives is this:
On the other hand, these are the Progressives Obama spoke to:
Distinctly not gourmet, kid-friendly, unfashionable, and not for weight loss.
Reposted by popular request, I've collected the posts on old-timey Mommys of America non-gourmet, comforting (eg filling), quick 'n easy (eg no lasagna or fried chicken), and sensitively-multicultural (even Shrimp 'n Grits) winter suppers here, in no particular order. Such foods mean family love.
I suspect some of our foreign readers - of whom we have quite a few - might be interested in what American moms (and sometimes modern dads) fix up for ordinary family suppers in Upper Yankeeland (with the exception of Shrimp 'n Grits which is real Southern food and suitable for breakfast, lunch, or supper).
A number of these are suitable to ye olde slow cooker aka electric crock pot.
Corned Beef and Cabbage, aka New England Boiled Dinner
Wednesday, January 21. 2015
Look, everybody must come to terms with the fact that most people will not like us, or be interested in us, or want to help us. That's part of growing up. Despite that, there are plenty of people out there who want a friend. We have to understand that others, like us, are discriminating in their own ways. When friendships and relationships do click, it sure is fun and life-enriching, isn't it?
I once helped a very shy young fellow deal with his fear by commanding him to introduce himself to a pretty girl on a daily basis - including in NYC stores (eg Bloomingdale's), gourmet food markets, and supermarkets. He complied bravely with great faith in my advice, and in a very few instances somebody liked the cut of his jib and his (apparent) confidence and phoned him. Cured by Reality Therapy! He did not become thicker-skinned, just realistic.
Tuesday, January 20. 2015
A number of people, mostly born-and-bred New Yawkers, have recently been suggesting to me that New York is in decline. With Mayor Bill, I have a hard time refuting this. On the other hand, their 'evidence' is a host of articles and commentary about the closing of this deli or that dry cleaner, some other diner, or the changing cultural makeup of some community which they'd prefer never change.
"That deli was iconic, how horrible!" "Landlords forced them out by raising rents!" Oh the horror! To me, New York is cool because it doesn't stay the same.
Face it, who wants it to stay the same? Sure I love Carnegie Deli and Katz'. If they closed tomorrow, sad as I'd be, something else would come along. Jack Dempsey's was gone long before I arrived in 1985, should I regret it's passing (I'm sure many did)? Though I haven't been in McSorley's since our hike last fall, and only to use their restroom, I admit I'd fight tooth and nail to keep it open...though probably not. Better to have one last beer and let the past go, if I must.
Bond's is a great example of the idea that New York is improving rather than getting worse. I've eaten at Bond 45 a few times. The food is good, though I consider it comfort food. Still, for a business or friendly lunch in the heart of Times Square it's good to know there is a reliable and reasonable place to eat.
Even so, isn't it lamentable that Bond's is gone? Sort've. I mean, the clothing store and "international casino" are long gone. So is the concert venue, which was iconic because of The Clash in 1981. Well, really iconic because those 'greedy' concert promoters sought to fill overwhelming demand to see a red-hot band (everyone won in that transaction, if I remember correctly...fans like my brother-in-law got to say they 'were there', promoters made some good coin, Bond's made a pretty penny, and The Clash got their cut and made a name for themselves - wait, where was the "greed" again?)
I am reminded of a fellow at a recent event I attended for my alma mater, Syracuse University. This schmuck, after hearing of all the very positive changes the university was implementing, stood up and asked "But what are you doing to preserve traditions, places, and buildings from my past?" The chancellor gave a good, pat answer. As we walked out, I commented to my wife "I don't think that question has any meaning to me. I wonder how someone who graduated in 1880 would feel if he walked the campus today? Would he wish it looked and felt exactly the way it did in 1880, or are students better having things which suit them in this day and age?"
I love standing on campus, making note of the changes, and then commenting about what I did in that building, or how I used to sled down that hill, or how we once sneaked chickens into Bird Library (a feat unlikely to ever be duplicated). The past is the past, and keeping a building around simply because it's always been there isn't a winning idea anymore than it is for me to continue to wish I could still be on the Quad throwing a football.
Progress is painful, especially on our emotional ties to the past. But progress is a net positive, and we shouldn't simply let the past get in the way of progress. Even if it is because of some 'greedy' landlord in a city that epitomizes (or used to) progress. I like the fact I saw several games in the old Yankee Stadium or even Shea Stadium. But the new stadiums are still a great place to see a game, regardless of their limited history.
The (no math) science of fire
He included this oldie but goodie in his post:
Beechwood fires burn bright and clear
Oaken logs, if dry and old
Sunday, January 18. 2015
Good art opens vistas to the viewer that he or she wouldn’t ordinarily see or know are there. The new film American Sniper is great art, and we have Clint Eastwood to thank for it. For a nation in which so very, very few serve in the military and in combat, there is huge ignorance of the simple and essentially heroic motivations of our defenders and their sacrifices unimaginable to a civilian. Each and every serviceman experiences war in their own way, and each has a story that is unique. Most do not share that story with anyone or with more than a trusted few. I’ve probably seen as many “war movies” as anyone, and it is rare that the connections to a man’s service is served up so realistically to the audience. There are no John Waynes. There are individuals who stand tall when needed and meet their responsibilities at any cost. The theater was packed and entirely silent, not a person stirring in their seat. We filed out in silence, each person experiencing the film in their own way and thinking. How rare for a film to take the audience’s breath away. That’s art.
(Page 1 of 191, totaling 4754 entries) » next page