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, December 3. 2014
When we hear how terrible politics are today, we fail to understand just awful they were in the early 1800's. It's not so much that things are bad today, but we should consider as a nation we went through a period of relatively limited political differentiation for quite some time from the Depression until about 1980. The political turmoil we are experiencing today isn't too different from our early years as a nation, much of which was mimicked at the turn of the 19th century. Adams held office at a time of massive partisanship, bickering and outright slander, at times.
John Quincy's years in the White House were spent trying to find things to do to keep himself occupied, since nothing he would propose could ever make it through Congress, such was Andrew Jackson's chokehold on the legislative branch. He was often ridiculed in the press, and often the butt of jokes during his tenure. Yet he persevered and was the only president to ever return to the House of Representatives (Andrew Johnson returned to the Senate).
John Quincy accomplished more before, and after, his presidency than most individuals of any stripe are capable of achieving. He was a master negotiator, a magnificent statesman, and a strong believer in the rights of man. He campaigned relentlessly to free the slaves upon his return to Congress, which led to the famous "Gag Rule," named after one of his comments. Despite being gagged, Adams was an expert Parliamentarian and found ways to have his voice heard.
He was the first US ambassador to Russia, and well liked there due to his role as secretary, at the age of 14, to Francis Dana from 1780 to 1783 in St. Petersburg. He worked hard, along with his father, to gain independence from Britain.
Adams was a promoter of education and science. We can thank him for the development of the Smithsonian Institute. Adams prevented Smithson's funds from being divided for political spoils and putting them to work for the country and education.
He was the first president ever photographed (the first sitting president to be photographed was William Henry Harrison in 1841, Adams' original picture was destroyed and he had new ones taken in 1843).
We often overlook many of our presidents, for obvious reasons. Some are larger than life. It's possible John Quincy was larger than our imagination, mainly because his term in office left him as an asterisk for many schoolchildren. "The son of a founding father and first child of a president to attain that office" is how I learned about him. His lack of effectiveness in office may have led to him being overlooked after years had passed, but it doesn't diminish his impact on our nation. We owe quite a bit to him.
"I'll go on a diet after the holidays." Right. Sure you will, just like last year.
Being fat in the US is highly correlated with social class. Like academic degrees and choice of clothing, being heavy is a social marker of sorts for men and women.
In a sexist way, men are given some leeway for a few extra pounds but only if they are wealthy, powerful, or brilliant.
Black women, recent immigrants, working class and lower middle-class, and the poor seem to display the most consistent overweight. (In the midwest US, fat in women seems to be near-universal outside of urban centers. What is that about?) Cause, effect, coincidence, or what? I have no idea what it is all about.
One must accept that, in many ways, it is a great success of the western world - to give everybody the opportunity to be fat if they want to be, even if on welfare. (See Dramatic Increases in Obesity and Overweight Prevalence and Body
There was a time, over 100 years ago, when prosperous men displayed their prosperity in their bulging bellies. Fashion and expectations change. In eastern Europe and Russia, fat was good. It meant you had more potatoes than the next house. In the 1600s, fat was popular in western Europe too - see Rubens. Today, see a WalMart aisle. It used to be difficult to be pudgy and today it is difficult to be fit. Fortunately for us, we do live in a fitness-oriented world despite our (mostly) daily lack of manual labor. Fitness makes everything in life better and longer, reduces indolence, lethargy, and fatigue, and puts old age farther into the future. Nothing but sinful laziness stands in our way.
In the Western world today, with its abundance of cheap and tasty carbs, thin has been in for 100 years and being fat has been a public sign of giving up on an energetic life in many aspects: sex, romance, social attractiveness, sports, fun, agility, and overall vitality.
In my view, you can be too thin, you can be too heavy, but you can't be too rich.
Tuesday, December 2. 2014
Maybe the growth of co-education brought rape out of the shadows and onto campuses. In any event, rape and any other crime are matters for the police no matter where they occur.
College administrations need play no role in that. Colleges can, however, try to do what they used to do in the good old days: require honorable and gentlemanly behavior from the men and honorable and ladylike behavior from the women. Punishment is expulsion. Why does that sound quaint today?
Where UVA Went Wrong: Students Need to See Rape as a Felony, Not Just a Campus Infraction
UVA Should Help Police Catch Alleged Rapists -- Now.
The Right and Campus Rape - Calling in the cops is not enough.
“It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene.”
Monday, December 1. 2014
As I have been saying here for years, forget about it. Dietary fat has nothing to do with cardiac disease. Lowering saturated fats does no good. This video h/t SDA
Keeping thin is a good idea, though, for many medical reasons. Yes, people have been conned. Low-fat is foolish, and science and politics is always a mess. Junk science, indeed. Carbs make you fat and harm your arteries, joints, energy, and everything else.
Sunday, November 30. 2014
There is a book called Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back but it's about dealing with mental illness.
Indeed, Christians are invited to be "in this world, but not of it."
We have posted recently about firewood, green or dried.
Of course, it all depends on whether your fires are for pleasure, comfort, and ambience or for the BTUs. We have an old wood stove in the kitchen which provides tons of heat, but my fireplace in the den warms that little room up very effectively, to the point that I have to open the window.
Fireplaces do radiate heat, just much more ineffectively than stoves.
What wood to burn? Any wood is good. Some people are too afraid of burning fir and pine, but they are excellent, produce wonderful smells, and probably produce less chimney creosote than slower-burning hardwoods. However, if you keep a home fire burning as we do, you must have the chimney cleaned at least twice per winter, and ideally once per cord or two whatever the wood. Chimney fires are the reason so many churches and old houses have burned down in New England.
Generally speaking, the hotter the fire, the less creosote condensation in the chimney. Here you can read all about chimney creosote.
I have read that it takes a year to air-dry unsplit green wood, which can contain over 50% water when freshly cut (dry wood is around 25% water, depending on where you live). I burn green wood sometimes once I have a good bed of coals and don't want a blazing fire, but it certainly does not burn as hot as air-dried wood. I don't care because I am not reliant on wood for heat except when our power is down.
Here is some good firewood info from the Master Sweep.
Here are some good data about firewood
Info re the Franklin stove
Info re the Rumford Fireplace
Brick-lined chimneys? They are obsolete. Best thing is to line them with stovepipe.
Always bear in mind that every time you light a fire you are producing CO2, killing Gaia, and destroying the planet. Coal and oil, after all, are just very well-seasoned old wood. If you truly love Gaia, you would do without mechanized transport, or horses, or A/C, heat, and the internet.
Friday, November 28. 2014
My favorite is a slice of turkey, some mayo, a spoonful of cranberry sauce and a spoonful of stuffing - on white bread, It has to be white bread.
Some people like Turkey hash which is ok if you use enough black pepper. Needs a ton of fresh ground black pepper to not taste like Cardboard Hash.
What do y'all like?
Thursday, November 27. 2014
it's a good opportunity to catch up on the local news. In Maine.
I see this morning that, during the night, Mrs. BD & Co. produced three punkin pies (from fresh pumpkins and homemade crust) and two pecan pies. Nice. My job this morning? Making stuffing (cornbread with sausage, onion and celery) and grilling the turkeys. Then the friendly Indians will arrive bearing their goodies after their annual TG 10 K race. I say they are nuts but they all blame me for introducing them to the running habit which I did, years ago. I quit that when my 3rd kid was born. It did not feel right to disappear for two hours every weekend morning with three little kids around.
Basting is a waste of time, the stuff just runs off the skin. With my frightening horse-sized hypodermic needle, I am injecting cider into the birds this year. Breasts, legs, wings, and under the skin. Once in the beginning, again when half-done. They are not Butterball, just plain fresh turkeys. One is 20 lbs and one is 26 lbs. That's a big turkey. Good leftovers for all. On the grill, I have plain charcoal and I am keeping some oak and apple logs burning and smoking on top of the charcoal. Nice smelling smoke wafting around for a country mile, as light snow falls. That's Yankeeland Thanksgiving. And the Indian Pudding is in the oven.
For a dumb reason, I did brine one of them for 24 hrs. in a ton of herbs and spices and wine, etc. but it really is not worth the trouble. Just inject them with liquids - sherry, white wine, cider, brandy, beer, or anything. You can add herbs, melted butter, whatever. It's a man's job, cooking meat and game. And mashing the taters with cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and heavy cream. Taste while doing to make sure you added enough pepper and to keep your strength up.
Wednesday, November 26. 2014
The Thanksgiving Recipes Googled in Every State - Which foods are unusually popular in each state on Thanksgiving.
It's wonderful to see how regionally-diverse this big nation of America remains, but I would not touch some of that stuff. I mean, Snickers Salad for Thanksgiving? Sheesh! Nothing against Snickers but oh, well, it's all good as long as we are grateful. I don't want to be a food snob, but, gee whiz, there are some limits!
Pic is my standard Yankeeland cooking. I use half the sugar, twice the berries. My mother in law always makes raw cranberry and orange relish - deliciously tangy and different from this.
How did they celebrate their first year and their first harvest in the fall of 1621, when they sat down with their Cape Cod Wampanoag friends?
"Deer and wildfowl." What else? We don't know. I don't think they had the grain to brew their beloved beer until the next year. What we do know is that these folks had been through a nasty voyage in a rotten, leaky boat, landed at the wrong place - remember, they were headed to the Dutch New Amsterdam area - which was better idea. They managed to scrape out a living, thanks to the Indian's education (these folks weren't farmers, anyway) as they watched their family members die.
Only 53 of the original 104 immigrants survived until fall, 1621. Then they gave thanks to God. Thanks for what? Thanks, I think, to God for being there with them through thick and thin.
It's always been a wonder to me that they didn't all catch the next flight from Logan back to Leyden. Trust in God is strong stuff, and many of us are not strong enough to handle the powerful grip of God. Thanksgiving is about putting our faith in the Lord, or trying to - and nothing else. God Bless us, and America, please, and make us Pilgrims in our own time, in our own ways.
Tuesday, November 25. 2014
It looks like we're down to only 20-25 (not counting rug rats) of friends and family for Thanksgiving this year at the Maggie's Farm HQ. Some of my sibs are doing TG at their new vacation house on Cape Cod, appropriately-enough.
The way we do it is like the Indians did: everybody brings part of the feast. We rent a few round or long tables with chairs to put in the parlor, light up a couple of fireplaces, decorate things a little, and warm up the grill.
Best holiday of the year - no presents, just festive get-together. No TV allowed, generally-speaking.
Our home team is, as usual, providing 2 turkeys, stuffing, gravy, wine and beer, green salad, and Mrs. BD's pumpkin pies and Indian Pudding. Oh, and whipped cream. Soup is just too much trouble. Guests are bringing apple pies and ice cream, grilled brussel sprouts, pickled beets, sweet potatoes, mashed taters, mashed rutabaga, roasted parsnips, cranberry relish, champagne and Martinelli's, and hors d'oevres.
Low-carb, fat-free, vegan, and gluten free of course!
Sunday, November 23. 2014
You all know this already, but I just wanted to jot it down -
In the US, government has grown in importance as it has grown in power, in firepower, and in money. There was a time when nobody really cared about the federal government because it had no impact on daily life.
The Civil War, the Progressive Era of Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, etc. changed all that. Government changed the culture. Over 100 years, government trained the masses to think "government should do something" whenever life presents them with obstacles, challenges, heartaches, bad luck, and expenses.
To win votes and to enjoy power, government decided to turn citizens into neo-serfs and to cement the impulse to turn to government instead of to God, to their own ingenuity, to family, to neighbor, etc. This infantilises people, weakens them, takes away their dignity.
Nowadays, everybody has his laundry list what government should do for them in their own interest. It is like a list for Santa. I want governments to do less and less.
Santa, keep your toys.
Saturday, November 22. 2014
This is a re-post:
One historical detail I picked up in reading Philbrick's wonderful Mayflower is that the Pilgrims only permitted civil marriage ceremonies - no religion involved, and no preacher present.
As Calvinists, the Pilgrims/Puritans/Separatists of colonial New England viewed the Anglican sacraments as Papist, and thus representative of the Anti-Christ - and they meant it. As a consequence, Congregational Churches, the heirs of the Puritan movement, still have no sacraments per se, although many have liberalized (or backslided?) to the extent of doing baptism, communion - and, of course, weddings which, even if not technically sacramental, are viewed as sacred vows. People long for a touch of the sacred and sacramental.
It is fascinating to be reminded that our nation's deepest roots are in Calvinist theocracy: pre-enlightenment, for better or worse. They viewed the Indians as equals (though living in spiritual darkness), but they hung some Quakers in Boston as blasphemers (but mainly tried to just send them away).
They even hung an ancestor of mine, who ran away from her husband and kids in Kingston, Rhode Island and was caught on a trail outside of Boston, headed north. Her crime? She refused to return home. We suspect she was not overly fond of her husband, who had previously been suspected of throwing his first wife overboard on the way to Rhode Island in 1640.
Friday, November 21. 2014
I have been perusing this out of print book: Truro - Cape Cod, Landmarks and Seamarks by Shebnah Rich (1888). I have a copy of the book, and wonder how in the world it got online.
Cape Cod began growing in European (English) population around 1630.
Farming and fishing were the main occupations. The soil was rich then due to the old forests. Today, there is no topsoil left. By 1750 there were few trees left on the Cape due to lumbering, land clearing for farming, and for fuel. The scrub oak and pine that predominate today is not the tall virgin hardwood forest that the colonists encountered.
Everybody grew things and raised animals. There was not much cash except from fishing and boat-building, and there were no shops. Main subsistence crops: orchards, maize, pumpkin and squash, root vegetables, beans, rye. No wheat, no flour, no sugar unless very wealthy - but there was molasses from the West Indies. Also, pigs, steer, milk cows, chickens, and horses for transportation. Cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries grew wild. There were plenty of deer and rabbits too, and of course abundant shellfish. Beans with a little pork was a standard meal. People baked their bread once a week, made of mixes of corn (maize) and rye flour. Food: Early American food and drink
When you slaughtered a hog or steer, you shared the meat with neighbors. They did the same.
You were allowed to shoot a wolf or a "problem Indian" but the Indians were not much of a problem and soon settled into Indiantowns and learned English. King Philip's War was not a big deal on Cape Cod.
A village Meeting House served many purposes including local government meetings and church. Most of the early congregations were "united," ie Methodist and Congregational worshipping together. In the early days there was a hot market for pastors and Harvard began grinding them out in 1636 to meet the demand. Like the Boston colonists, the Cape Codders were not Puritans like the Plymouth group.
Other than local rules made in town meetings, there was no "government" in evidence at all. Town officials were by vote, and volunteers. There were no police but there were informal militias. Every adult male citizen was required to own a firearm (mostly matchlocks). Later on, recruiters would pass through towns demanding recruits for the French and Indian War. The structure of grammar schooling varied widely from village to village.
Truancy from church was a crime. So was swearing. Sunday church services generally had two one-hour sermons and around an hour of prayer. The service was around four hours in all. No music, of course, and no communion. Those were Papist things. Each church had a guy assigned to wake up drowsers with a long stick with a feather on one end (for the ladies) and a knob on the other end (to conk the drowsy men on the head). A fun task, no doubt.
Thanksgiving: There were fall harvest Thanksgiving feasts all over the Cape. Nothing to do with the original Pilgrims, just a traditional harvest time thanks to God. The Pilgrim Thanksgiving? They had very little to be thankful for with half their group dead in that first winter, but they were anyway. Remember, they were headed for the already established town of New Amsterdam (New York), not Massachusetts. Got blown off course.
There were windmills all over the Cape, very early. Their main purposes were making corn or rye meal, or for filling up salt flats for salt production (to make salt cod).
Fishing meant mostly Cod on George's Bank, but later Mackeral too. Some guys were fishing schooner skippers by 25. Some of them went on to be transoceanic ship captains. There was some near-shore whaling, and the occasional stranding of a pod of Blackfish (aka Pilot Whales) was hitting the jackpot.
Death: Mainly infectious diseases of early childhood. Some TB in young adulthood. Also, puerperal fever killed a lot of wives so men often went through a series of them. After that, fishermen drowning was the main cause - which provided widows for the widowers. If you escaped those things, most people lived into their 80s. (Those childhood death rates and accident death rates are what skews old-time life expectancy data and thus the averages are meaningless.)
Illumination and heat: Fireplaces for heat, and one in the kitchen for cooking. Wood stoves came much later. Bayberry candles, whale oil lamps.
Transportation, etc: Roads were terrible. Transportation was mainly by water and to be a town you needed a harbor. With its fine harbor, Provincetown was the largest on the Lower Cape. Early on, there was regular travel and mail, via Boston packets.
We might consider these settlers poor and deprived, but all they saw was abundance, faith, and hope. Life was hard and highly uncomfortable (by our standards), and was expected to be. You fended for yourself. If judged utterly helpless, the church came to your aid.
Housing: The history of colonial housing is an interesting one, mostly borrowed from England and from Holland in areas around New York. However, the rural Cape Cod cottage was an American invention and typical on colonial Cape Cod. No plumbing. Every village had an amateur post and beam carpenter in an era where most trades were amateur and everybody was a farmer, including schooner skippers, pastors, and doctors.
Photo on top is the Jonah Atkins house, Truro, Mass.
Thursday, November 20. 2014
Silly me, thinking that illegal immigration was against the law rather than being rewarded. A few links:
Immigration Lawyer: Obama’s Plan Is ‘Like The Golden Ticket’
Christian Adams: Obama, Our Modern John C. Calhoun
I never learned in school that a president can make his own laws whenever he is frustrated by Congress, but the NYT says it's ok to do that. I can easily imagine what they would say with a Conservative pulling something like that. Anyway, what's the urgency?
Wednesday, November 19. 2014
Apparently, it is a protected opinion against religion and thus religious in some sense: Atheists and Secular Humanists are protected by the First Amendment regardless of whether their belief systems are “religions” or not.
It is legally interesting, but in my experience most atheists have faith in some thing or some things as a life foundation, mainly pagan or materialist sorts of things. In the US, most atheists live on a Christian foundation.
In New England, Indian Pudding is as essential a part of Thanksgiving dinner as Pumpkin or Squash Pie. Great stuff, if you like the flavor of molasses. It's not just for Thanksgiving.
It's called "Indian" because it is made with corn (maize) meal - the staple food of North American Indians.
Simple rustic ingredients. No sugar? You use molasses. No flour? You use corn meal. The only trick is to make sure it is neither too firm nor too runny. Serve warm.
Here's a bit of the history of this dessert, with a good recipe.
The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis - What a growing body of research reveals about the biology of
On reading about this piece, I found myself wondering about the premise of the questions in the surveys. A question like "How satisfied are you with your life these days?" seems like a very American question to me. Most people on this planet think about whether they are satisfied by their meal, or whether their god is satisfied with them, and all sorts of other things other than narcissistic or hedonistic satisfaction.
Tuesday, November 18. 2014
Monday, November 17. 2014
This has nothing to do with "liberation." Women have always had healthy sex drives, but just kept quiet about it. The illusion of genteel innocence can be sexy to men. On the other hand, the image of dirty, nasty and accessible femininity can be sexy to men too. Almost anything can be sexy to men. Despite modern lesbian feminism, men should never underestimate female sexual longings and fantasies. Female fantasies are at least as reckless as those of men.
Women are, perhaps, more discriminating than guys but their needs for sex are abundant, especially in middle age. Perhaps Mother Nature wants us to get knocked up before it's too late.
Relaxed and enjoyed the sound of waves, played dominoes with the in-laws, ate fish every day, did some surf-casting (caught plenty, but nothing big enough), read my book (The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan), and today I'm going kayaking or paddle-boarding. If I can, paddle-boarding, it's better for your core. But either is a good workout.
I had blackened lane snapper last night at a restaurant that didn't appear to be more than a hole in the wall, probably the best I've had. Sometimes it's best not to judge based on the superficial appearance. We had breaded hogfish the night before, at the in-laws'.
Flight home tomorrow in the early morning. This is the second year I took a mid-November vacation. It's a good time to go south. Not only do you stay warm when the rest of the country is chilling, but you get two shortened workweeks heading into Thanksgiving. Then you roll right into the Christmas holiday season.
Sunday, November 16. 2014
What I am reading now - judge me if you must, but be gentle because there is too much of our culture to keep up with, and it is up to each of us, as a duty, to contain and to transmit all of it that we can. Duty.
The Geography of Nowhere by James Kuntsler (the first half is better than the second)
The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization by Arthur Herman
Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel by David Limbaugh (it's ok, not great but raises plenty of interesting issues to talk about)
The Salt book: Lobstering, sea moss pudding, stone walls, rum running, maple syrup, snowshoes, and other Yankee doings (a good deed to write all that stuff down)
Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer MD (delightful - can't help but admire that fellow)
On my to-read pile:
The Ruby in her Navel by Barry Unsworth
The Real Nature of Religion by Rebecca Bynum
Your God is Too Small by J. B. Phillips
The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson
Books maybe of interest:
The Joy of Automotion: Musings From a Vehicular Dilettante by Dale Franks
Where Have You Been?: Selected Essays by Michael Hofman
The potato is a native American food, as American as turkey. Good for your soul. I suspect my Indian ancestors made their holiday mash with Moose or Elk milk and cream. This is my Mom's delicious Thanksgiving and Christmas recipe:
1. Boil potatoes (peeled or unpeeled - I prefer peeled) in water till they're tender (when you can stick a fork in and it comes right out).
Serve, if you must, with a side of steak, roast beef, turkey, pork chops, lamb chops, or roast chicken, and daintily drizzle a reduced jus of the meat on top of your potato piece de resistance.
Can make it the day before, and warm it up later.
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