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, July 13. 2014
It's not likely that anybody would get a Pulitzer for reporting on journalistic malfeasance.
Been there, done that. The tough old-timers I knew felt they were doing the devil's work, seeking unpleasant truths, rocking all boats, and creating chaos, but the modern young ones think they are doing God's work. Silly people. Still, as the old saying went, it's tough to argue with people who buy ink by the barrel.
Related, Orwell Would Be Proud: US Media Admits Divine Right To Decide What Public Needs To Know
Saturday, July 12. 2014
I guarantee it, unless you have aerated them. If you haven't aerated in a while, I'd recommend going over it all a few times. The more, the better. The machine can be a bit physically-challenging, but it is sort-of fun.
Between now and September is a perfect time to do it. A single thunderstorm will eliminate the plugs, and the grass will look great afterwards - especially with some rain and some fertilizer. However, I would not fertilize in midsummer except for an irrigated or dampish wetlands lawn.
Readers know that I do it every year, and my lawns are lovely and healthy and full of worms despite dogs, horses, kids, the occasional truck and tractor, etc. Do parts of my lawns burn and go dormant in mid-summer? Sure. That's normal for them, without irrigation. A lawn is a garden. Lawns are dumb things to have, but they beat weeding.
Friday, July 11. 2014
I am gonna make us some. Maybe some Margaritas too, if I can find my lost shaker of salt...
Life has taught me at least one thing: have your Margaritas on the weak side and life will go better. Especially with bathtub-sized ones like the above, in Cabo last March.
Here's a good ceviche recipe. (It is "ce-BEE-chay.") All I would say about it is to make it 1/2" to 1" cubes, add some chopped garlic to the mix - not too much - and forget the parsley. It has to be fresh cilantro. Red onions, not white. Some carrot slivers are fine, too, to add some crunch but no cucumber, please. Avocado and orange slices for garnish, and definitely a bowl of chips. 2-4 hours marinating in the fridge - no more, no less. Some people quickly -20-30 seconds - blanch the seafood first, but it certainly is not necessary and I never do it. My local fish market has the freshest.
My family and I could live on this stuff, in the summer. Fork, and a spoon to finish off those delicious cool fishy juices.
What fish? Well, as I reported in March, Spanish Mackeral (Sierra) is the best for ceviche but you have to go out and catch that yourself. However, any salt-water firm-fleshed (ie not sole or things like that which would turn to mush) white-fleshed fish will do, as long as very fresh. Bay or Sea Scallops are a good addition, and I have had it made with just scallops. I don't think it needs shrimp, but a few whole shrimp in the mix works fine for a garnish. It's supposed to be about the raw fishiness. Too much hot pepper distracts from that, but too little is no fun at all.
Mahi Mahi, Fluke, Shark, Sea Bass all good. I've heard of ceviche-starved Yankees using Cod and Haddock. Maybe I'll give it a try because I love that Cod.
For an appetizer, you can put it in a little bowl on some lettuce like a normal seafood salad, but I like it as a meal. There are very few cold dinners tastier than this.
Got a favorite ceviche? Let us know.
Thursday, July 10. 2014
I like Guggenheim S&P500 Equal Weight (RSP). For equities, I prefer it to S&P 500 funds, which are weighted by market cap, but I keep my equity money to a relatively small % of my modest pile of financial assets.
My Godfather was one of the original inventors of mutual funds. At the time, he only sold his funds to rich guys.
His first fund was simply to sell shares of his own portfolio from his inheritance from his family. He had done well with it, and had sold the family business.
When I was a kid, he would tell me that he was certain that, in the future, retail funds would be a big business, diluting risk. I didn't really know what he was talking about. He was slightly ahead of his time but made enough money to build a custom 92-foot sailboat which is all he ever dreamed of.
Guy did not leave me a penny, but left me the memories of his companionship and the example of his Christian faith which has been a great gift indeed. I never told him that before he died at his desk in his office, aged 88.
I do not care to pay for actively-managed money. When it comes to investing on the retail level, I have always said that one can never get rich that way unless one is blessed with the same combination of recklessness and luck that wins the Powerball. Like investing every penny you had in Microsoft when it first went public in 1986. Some office secretaries did, though, just like all the regular citizens of Omaha invested in Berkshire 40 years ago just because they knew Warren from around town.
Over time, however, one can hope to maintain one's financial assets and keep up with inflation and sometimes exceed it. Public equity markets are a sophisticated casino. Over the years I have gotten some very good tips, but a prudent person without inside info never wants to risk enough for it to make a meaningful difference in the end. I will confess that I own a few individual stocks.
It's those occasional base hits in bullish markets which keep retail citizen dopes like me coming back to the casino, while the people making big money in markets are those who construct and sell the financial products we little people buy, and the people in the non-public markets (eg venture capital, hedge funds, etc).
I am still waiting for a major market crash or correction. I have cash waiting in my "retirement" account, but that ammo is getting rusty.
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
It's bogus to compare nations, really. It's apples and oranges. In America, K-12 has tons of immigrants who are not yet acculturated and do not have excellent English. And when it comes to college, America aspires to send everybody there, not just the scholarly. Why? Don't ask me. A credential I guess. Thus it makes no sense to compare with places like Finland or Singapore, or places like the UK with high bars for university entry and without mass-market schools.
As Schneiderman asks, How good are American universities? How can you tell?
The main NYT article is Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.
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:
(Page 1 of 179, totaling 4465 entries) » next page