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, October 8. 2014
At one extreme, there are those who practice as if there were neither mind nor soul, as if there were nothing to a person but a bag of chemicals.
At the other extreme, those who practice as if there were no protoplasm and nothing but a bag of conflict and developmental/situational hang-ups.
Both extremes suffer from some form of psycho-utopianism. Most of us come in somewhere in some grey zone, in a confusing and challenging grey zone which keeps our brains working hard. A zone of ambiguity and mystery.
My close colleagues and I tend towards Dr. Levinson's view: Psychiatry’s Underground Economy. (It's not mainly about money, it's about how we think about patients.)
And at the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy
(Links via S&M's The economy as hyperreality)
Tuesday, October 7. 2014
It begins like this:
The Trailhead Queen was dead. At first, there was no overt sign that her long life was ending: no fever, no spasms, no farewells. She simply sat on the floor of the royal chamber and died. As in life, her body was prone and immobile, her legs and antennae relaxed. Her stillness alone failed to give warning to her daughters that a catastrophe had occurred for all of them. She lay there, in fact, as though nothing had happened. She had become a perfect statue of herself. While humans and other vertebrates have an internal skeleton surrounded by soft tissue that quickly rots away, ants are encased in an external skeleton; their soft tissues shrivel into dry threads and lumps, but their exoskeletons remain, a knight’s armor fully intact long after the knight is gone. Hence the workers were at first unaware of their mother’s death. Her quietude said nothing, and the odors of her life, still rising from her, signalled, I remain among you. She smelled alive.
It is a short story. Read it all.
Sunday, October 5. 2014
My impression was that the "disease" model became popular for three main reasons; 1) it made it more comfortable for the addict, 2) it made it more likely to get insurance coverage for treatment and 3) addictions do have a physiological aspect. It never occurred to me that politics had anything to do with it.
I do not mind looking like an American tourist. In fact, I often try to, just for fun.
Northern Italy, 2013, #2: Breakfast time on Lake Garda
Saturday, October 4. 2014
Everything in the attic, basement, and garage that has not been used in two years is on its way out today.
The attic will be emptied, completely. Nothing will ever go back up that attic pull-down stair, so long as I am alive. Will keep a few pieces of furniture that the kids might need when they find their own homes. Otherwise, total clean-out. A dumpster, and two strong helpers. Pancho and Ruiz, our good yard guys. "Nice house, but too much stuff" said Pancho.
Gave them nice tips - deserved it for sure.
Lots should probably go to Good Will but it's just too much trouble. Clothing, furniture, old kids' stuff, etc. If my legal immigrant helpers want stuff, they are welcome to it. I'm sick of my attitude of "I might need it or want it someday." Yeah, right. Will keep my Sawzall, tho. Best tool since the stone-age stone hammer. Chain saws? I use them frequently. Brio train set? A keeper!
If we lived on a busy middle-class street, almost everything would be taken by people if we put it on the curb. That's what my brother does with his excess stuff. Great set of 6 kitchen table chairs which I always liked, etc.
The way we Americans accumulate stuff is ridiculous. It expands to fill and then overflow the space - and then you can't find it even if you wanted to. That's why God, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, created dumpsters. Also, He created rent-a-tool places. Great. Why buy, store, and maintain something if you can rent it for a day or two when you need it?
Firearms? Well, I think I'll save all my spares for future grandkids. All most people really need around the house are a handgun, a deer rifle, a .22, a 16 ga. and a couple of BB guns for the little kids, but I do not even know how many firearms I have. More than I can use, for sure.
Update: It only took us only 5 hours to fill the dumpster over the brim. Found Mrs. BD's wedding gown, kept it (who knows, she might need it someday - it's a nice one and I can be a pain). Lots of keeper kids' books and keeper train set. And some antique oriental rugs I had stored away zipped up in mothballs and forgot that I had. Nice, but I don't need more rugs now. In fact, I already have a stash of very nice antique orientals waiting for my kids' use. They are not in fashion, but I love them. Especially the Caucasians. Well-worn but fascinating to look at.
Now just vacuum the whole attic, and it's done. Onward and upward with the autumn honey-do list...
While the concept of taking regular pictures of a subject is not new, the ease with which it can be done (particularly on an individual level) has improved. As a project for an artist, however, it can yield intriguing results. Nicholas Nixon's study of the Brown Sisters provides a tremendous view of how a subject group, in this case a family, progresses through time. I am not sensitive enough to be moved to tears, though others have been.
My wife and I had very different reactions to the pictures. She focused on the items mentioned in the article, all of which are intriguing. I looked at the individual pictures, seeking to find indications of change and age. While each picture shows differences, I was of the opinion noticeable changes started appearing somewhere around the 16-20 year mark.
Friday, October 3. 2014
For me, speech about criminalizing incorrect speech amounts to fighting words. It provokes me towards evil, defiant ideas.
But maybe it can be taken further. Forget speech, how about criminalizing incorrect but unspoken thoughts? Government doctors and neuroscientists could decide who is guilty. "If my thought-dreams could be seen they'd probably put my head in a guillotine, but it's all right, Ma..."
Let him without thought crime cast the first stone.
I am very much convinced of this effect, and would like to see the idea enter the lexicon. It's from this: Why ’6 Reasons I’m Happier Because I Went to War’ went viral
It's always been my view that difficult experiences can eventually result in painful psychological growth as often as they can result in lasting damage. It used to be called the School of Hard Knocks but I call it "Reality Therapy," and it's all the therapy most people ever get.
Psychotherapy, in it's most penetrating and exploratory forms, is nothing more than controlled psychological trauma, just as surgery is controlled physical trauma.
Thursday, October 2. 2014
Wednesday, October 1. 2014
The author, Eduardo Porto, makes the claim "Elected governments are certainly imperfect. But to address our most intractable ills, they are the better tool." I wonder if this is something he'd have written if Bush were in the White House? Doubtful. More importantly, it's worth noting 'government as a tool to fix ills' is a common Progressive claim. It's also one which is completely misguided since it relies on having 'the right people' in office. If the wrong person or people are in charge, Progressives (and Conservatives) who believe government is a 'good' claim "government is broken" or "the wrong people are in charge." The first claim is most likely true regardless of who is in office. But if these claims are true, does government suddenly get fixed when the 'right' people are in charge? Certainly not!
If your system of righting perceived ills requires having 'the right people in charge', you have devised an awful system of governance. It's unlikely the right people can ever be in charge.
What really galls is his belief that an imperfect elected government is the best resource for fixing any perceived ills. Porto seems to have no problem with the 'right' politicians getting wealthy as long as they strike a stance which he support - opposition to businessmen getting wealthy because they provide consumers with beneficial products. It's easy to ignore that, for the last 6 years, with people I'm sure he considers 'right' being in place, Porto's perceived societal ills caused by business have gotten worse. After 6 years of His Wonderfulness being in charge, this journalist is still writing diatribes about how awful things are, or how awful they are becoming. Why has he not stopped to consider the complete and utter uselessness of our Empty-Suit-In-Chief? The 'fix' he voted for has failed him miserably, and he is miserable because he knows it, so he's complaining that the 'fix' was improperly applied. In fact, it was applied properly and it's just plain unworkable. Government is an ineffective method of generating social change, regardless of the 'right people'.
Continue reading "Capitalists are Socially Aware"
I was recently driving from New Haven to Boston and picked up the first hitchhiker I've seen in quite a while. He was hitching to Augusta, Maine, a Navy guy on leave.
I asked him why he did it. He told me had hitched since his early teens, and just liked it. I told him I used to hitch all over the Northeast, mostly going to see gals. Nobody gave me use of a car when I turned 16, or even when I graduated from college.
It seems to me that hitchhiking in the Northeast is a disappearing tradition. Too bad - it was a good thing, always interesting, but maybe that was a more innocent era.
Seen any lately? Given any a ride?
Bulldog and I have been working on this for a while.
The plan is to hike from the Battery - South Ferry - to Central Park South. Or maybe vice-versa - we'll let you know details. However, it will be a somewhat meandering route so as to capture some fun sights and neighborhoods, and some cool locations, and for some fun beer/water and/or bathroom stops. We'll post a map of our route in advance.
As a result, it could be a 7-miler, a bit tiring for some but it's mostly all flat. We have no time frame for the hike (maybe 10 AM, until done). Totally doable in comfortable shoes. Cameras are good. If needed, we'll have a leader with an
Be there or be square. It's like, you know, like totally worth a trip to the city. Grab a hearty breakfast, because we aren't stopping for food. Backpack snacks if you need 'em.
Rain, snow, shine, or fire-and-brimstone. Bulldog and I will be there, News Junkie, family members, friends, and whoever, at the start. Join us, whether a Maggie's reader or not. We are friendly (and we do not care about your politics or your religion).
Details to you if interested in a group hike - just leave your contact info in the comments below, or we will post further details soon. Yes means Yes, but not maybe.
Tuesday, September 30. 2014
2 years of unemployment over a 20 year period isn't too bad when you consider how many people are still looking for steady work since 2008. I have a number of friends who have left this industry and entered new careers. It's tough to start over when you're past the age of 45. Which is why I'm glad I'm working and complain very little about my job. I make less than others with similar experience to mine, mainly because each bout of unemployment forced me to rearrange my salary needs and alter spending patterns. This is unfortunate, now that I have 2 kids in college, but it's good, too. I'm less likely to face the ax again since my experience comes cheap.
But I haven't been around Maggie's lately, and it's because I've had issues I'd classify as "First World Problems" over the past few months, which are better than the alternative "Big Problems". But it's worth sharing one in particular because it may help others with perspective, and it sure helps me with dealing with it.
Continue reading "Work: It's All About Attitude"
Sunday, September 28. 2014
At least in the northern climes, it's the last chance to aerate or plug, overseed, and fertilize if you want a half-decent "grass garden" which is suitable for walking and dog abuse. As I always say, lawn grass is a garden. It's not natural, and needs care just like any garden. Lawns benefit a great deal from fall fertilizing. If lawns are walked on at all, they require aerating. It's not a rug. If you have a small lawn, you can do that by hand with a hand aerator or a spade: stick it in, wiggle it, and pull it out.
A Spring or Fall aeration or plugging, a Fall overseeding, and three fertilizations per year ought to be good enough for any grass lawn, with or without irrigation but using a mulching mower. Readers know that I top-dress in Spring, but it might not be necessary for everybody. I like doing it.
(The only purpose of irrigation is to make a lawn green when it doesn't want to be green. It's fine for ahow, but spray paint might be cheaper.)
I advise doing those chores all at once. Do it now, and if you have a crabgrass problem, you can deal with it in the Spring with crabgrass-preventer. (You can't overseed and use crabgrass-preventer at the same time because the weed-preventer will prevent germination of your grass seed.)
Best, most logical plan? Minimize your lawn and grow lots of trees and shrubs, and mulch the heck out of them. It's a shame that the "gracious lawn" became the American Way, as if our little 1-2-acre plots were English estates. Heck, all anybody needs is room for Croquet and Badminton, some walking paths and maybe a cool little putting green, but the American lawn has become the expected standard.
Saturday, September 27. 2014
In the US, I can easily see California and Texas as their own countries. They were never envisioned at the beginning anyway. Either one would be more of a nation than Canada, Australia, or Austria. Smalleer governments are more accountable and more responsive.
Even Spain could break into its constituent parts if the empire permits a vote.
Dismantling Empires Through Devolution - Democracy is not the most potent political force of the 21st century.
Should the American civil war have been subject to a confederate referendum first?
Friday, September 26. 2014
Many articles I read about Jihadists refer to "disaffected youth," even this one about the Algerian beheading of the French hiker.
I am sorry to say that these are not "disaffected youth" (as if they were Holden Caulfields or Benjamin Braddocks), they are deeply "affected" people from all walks of life who do not mind dying for their beliefs. They are true believers, Muslim fundies following their scripture and their religious leaders. Any efforts to psychologize them are amateurish, naive, ignorant, and Western cultural-centric.
Multicultural dogma says that we must comprehend people in the context of their cultures, not in the context of our materialist, secular, and therapeutic culture.
I am more from the William F. Buckley Jr school:
The regulation-maniacs assume, of course, that we common folk have no sense, no information, and few morals, and constantly need their guidance, rules, and laws. Most of them, I suspect, have minimal contact with us regular folks.
How foolish and depraved are people anyway? We are told that we are an irrational tangle of biases, to be nudged any which way. Does this claim stand to reason?
It's an interesting article. I have always figured that humans are partly and sometimes rational and practical, often emotional, frequently uninformed or misinformed, etc. etc. I feel the same way about the regulators who seem to me to be irrationally obsessed with the idea of controlling others to try to make the world fit their fantasies. I'm sure Psychiatry has a term for that tendency. After all those who like to regulate are heir to the same human foibles and temptations as everybody else. Just more grandiose in their self-esteem and less humble and self-doubting.
Sunstein seems, currently, to be preoccupied by digital regulation.
I wish people like him would worry more about their own lives, and leave me alone.
Thursday, September 25. 2014
My explanation: He has already retired. Job is too easy. Also,
And from Curl, Obama’s Breathtaking Naivete at the United Nations
No, we did not associate with the climate-communism marchers on Sunday. We went to the museum.
Mrs. BD thought you might like the current arrangements in the lobby. Hydrangea, curly willow, and something else. They are always spectacular.
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "NYC, last Sunday"
Wednesday, September 24. 2014
Complain to me if this is not the best and simplest chicken you have ever had:
Have the butcher de-bone Cornish Hens - aka Spring Chicken, aka Poussin, aka a small chicken (1 per person, or maybe 1/2 per person).
Marinate in bottled Italian dressing for around 5 hours or overnight. Try to squash them flat in the marinade. Then squash the boned birds to spread out flat on a charcoal and/or wood fire, season with salt and pepper, several minutes per side, until the skin is crispy.
Never overcook a bird - they dry out. Chicken needs a little pink in the middle of the breast. If you want, you can brush some more vinaigrette on it while grilling.
Serve on a bed of mashed taters with garlic spinach on the side.
De-boning a bird takes practice, but butchers are quick, generally no extra charge. You can do this with a large chicken, but it won't be as good.
My chef friend/advisor says that one should never cook any bird without marinating first, unless it's in a stew.
Rosh Hashanah, which begins tonight, is the first of the intense ten Days Of Awe (or Repentance) that ends with Yom Kippur. Is ten days enough time to make good on our better selves and set a course for a better year and life ahead? For some it may be. For most of us however, it takes many years to set ourselves straight with others and with G-d’s desires for how we should live. It really doesn’t matter as long as you get there. What does matter is the realization that every day that goes by without thinking about it, without in some way working at it, is time lost forever and opportunities lost forever.
Shana Tova Umetukah is the traditional greeting at Rosh Hashanah. It means I wish you a sweet and good New Year. It is up to you to make it come true.
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