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, May 7. 2013
A few relevant and interesting links:
- The Real Problems With Psychiatry - A psychotherapist contends that the DSM, psychiatry's "bible" that defines all mental illness, is not scientific but a product of unscrupulous politics and bureaucracy.
Not to mention the pharmaceutical industry. Always question Authority!
- Psychiatry’s Guide Is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say in the NYT via 1 Boring Old Man's Groundhog Day
Like many fields of endeavor, good Psychiatry is part art, part science, but mixed with much life experience, much interpersonal experience, and as much painful self-knowledge as the doc him- or herself can handle to "sharpen the scalpel" as it were. We are called upon to be experts in real life, relationships, religion, the brain, the mind, the body, and the soul. It's a tall order which is why it is often termed "the impossible profession."
Readers know that I have trademarked the term "psycho-utopianism" to refer to the naive and reductionistic notion that, if all our our chemicals and all of our neurons were straightened out, and if we docs could fix it all by a cookbook, we'd all be some kind of "normal" and some kind of moral and some kind of "happy" of a serene, bourgeois sort. It ain't never gonna happen, and it's for the best that it cannot.
It would not be human, and it would not be real life. I recently was referred an evaluation for depression. Patient fit the DSM perfectly, but it didn't "smell right" to me so I took a chance and ordered her a total body MRI. She had an undiagnosed gastric cancer.
Also, I am also entirely opposed to the idea of minimum wage, especially for people under 18 or 20 years old. All it does is to deprive the youth of valuable work experience. Labor is a market, same as cars or arugula. Child labor is a good thing, much better than teen tours. Work never hurt anybody. Not working seems pretty bad for people unless they are Moms raising a young litter.
The short-lived fort and town of Frederika on the river/marsh side of Saint Simons stopped the Hispanic (Spanish) invasion from Florida into the English colonies in 1742. Its purpose having been served, the population, including many of the Scottish Highlander soldiers, moved to the mainland. The Spanish never tried to invade the coast again.
Most astonishing factoid about Frederika: The Wesley brothers preached there, John and Charles, more or less the founders of Methodism in England. Charles, of course, best known for his splendid hymn-writing. (I once lost a bet of an expensive bottle of wine at a dinner party when I bet that the Wesleys never preached in Georgia.)
A nice Live Oak on the site of the old abandoned village:
Since we had a little time on the road, we also checked out Amelia Island briefly, for lunch. Instead out scouting out the Amelia Island Plantation, we went into Fernandina. Charming little town. Amelia Island is termed the land of eight flags because it has been claimed by eight nations over its history. I'm sure they all wanted to own the golf courses.
A few pics of Fernandina below the fold.
Continue reading "Side trips along the road: Fort Frederika and Fernandina"
Monday, May 6. 2013
In the meantime, I was groping for a fun, upbeat subject upon which to write; a topic that's almost guaranteed to provide warmth, merriment and a sense of joy and wonder in you, the Maggie's Valued Reader™.
Obviously, the search didn't take long.
There's a style of AGW propaganda that I call the 'Little Lie, Big Truth' format. This is when some tiny lie of the AGW campaign is soundly debunked, making the author look 'clinical, scientific and impartial', then, almost as a 'P.S.', it's noted that, by the way, man-made global warming is here, real, and must be dealt with now. One little lie debunked, but one grand truth revealed.
Allahpundit (aka 'God's Critic') over on Hot Air has linked to a number of these articles over the years in their 'Headlines'. Whether he's just skimming over the article and failing to spot the Big Truth paragraph at the end, or actually believes in AGW and is posting these links to appear clinical, scientific and impartial, is anybody's guess.
He's in good company, though. Matt Drudge does the same thing:
Damn good question, right?
Continue reading "AGW Update: The "Little Lie, Big Truth" edition"
Sunday, May 5. 2013
There seems to be something wonderful about something new.
We recently picked up a new car, an SUV of course to help prevent global cooling. (I wanted a Suburban but that is not what She fetched - thought it was too long for her to park.) An off-lease car, because we like the idea of letting the previous owner take the hit on the depreciation nowadays. Stupid not to, since they all come with 4-year warrantees anyway.
Happily, we are down to only three - or 2 1/2 - vehicles and, finally, no boats to worry about.
However, it got me to thinking about the charms of new things. New camera, new car, new house, new dog, new gun, new girlfriend or boyfriend, new painting for the wall, new horse, new piece of furniture, new iPhone, new place to visit, new landscaping plan and new plantings, new paint job, new chain saw, new tweed sport jacket, new TV. New sexual position.
The charm of the new never lasts, but it delights for a while before it lapses into the routine. Unless your new car is a Maserati, perhaps.
What is it about the new that so enchanting, when we know that new becomes old and familiar so quickly? I ask this as someone for whom old things are the most comfortable.
Mohonk. New Paltz, NY. Visited many times growing up. One of my Grandpas loved it.
The Quakers who own it even finally gave in and began serving booze. It used to be that you had to smuggle your cocktails in there and have them in your rooms.
Saturday, May 4. 2013
It would take me all day to solve simple problems with algos. My brain thinks by jumps. Computers need them though.
May Wine has been a tradition in the Bird Dog family. My Dad has maintained a good patch of Sweet Woodruff under a Cherry Tree for just that purpose.
He'd put a bunch of leaves in some chilled Riesling for a few hours, then mix with some Champagne and serve with a bowl of strawberries.
Adding Champagne technically makes it a May Wine Punch. It's fine plain, too.
It's not as good as a Mint Julip, but it's nice.
Friday, May 3. 2013
Here's a video report about Little Saint Simons Island, with some outdoor video with our friend, the young naturalist Abby. It's a good video.
Travel and Leisure Magazine lists the place among the 500 best hotels in the world, and it's in that book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die.
A few more of my pics and comments about the Georgia barrier island.
Salt Marsh, early morning. Despite its short coastline, Georgia has 30% of the north Atlantic coast salt marshes. They go on for miles and are enormously productive. Very productive of Salt Marsh Skeeters too.
Lots more fun pics below the fold, with critters, Southern food, etc. -
Continue reading "A free ad for Little Saint Simons Island, Part 2"
Thursday, May 2. 2013
My list from last week's Georgia trip, as I can best recall. The experts identified quite a few more than I could and went home with longer lists.
The mix of habitats is the key. The 7 mile-long island's habitats include ocean beach and dunes, salt marsh, a 30-acre fresh water marsh impoundment, Wax Myrtle scrub, and maritime forest.
A few comments for you bird people: There is no big warbler migration down there. I don't know why. It must be fly-over country for them. Also, there are no ducks now - they headed north a couple of months ago. There are no Bob White Quail and essentially no Wild Turkey. Seems perfect for them, but they are not there. Snakes are tough on ground-nesting birds.
That's not my photo. That's a Painted Bunting, quite common down there.
Birding is, I read, the fastest-growing hobby in the US. It gets people outdoors and moving and it can be as challenging as you desire. Expertise in anything knows no limit.
My list below the fold for those interested. An asterisk means a first for me.
Continue reading "My bird list from Georgia"
Wednesday, May 1. 2013
My snap above is the main lodge. As I mentioned previously, it's a barrier island accessible only by small boat.
What sorts of people would spend serious bucks to inhabit rustic cabins built in 1910 on the edge of a swamp with far fewer amenities than home, the air full of skeeters, Diamondback Rattlers and gators roaming around, no elegant plantings other than God's, simple home cookin, no umbrella drinks, and where the evening entertainment is an academic talk on bird migration?
Well, as Mrs. BD pointed out, it can be expensive to get that old-timey vigorous WASPy in-the-woods time these days in remote places. A condo on a beach with WiFi and TV, hotel menus, and Pina Coladas and lounge chairs around the pool would be less than half the price tag, but boring as heck. She believes that my Yankee-types, as a matter of taste, like either grand luxe or rustic roughing-it, and nothing in-between. Probably right. In addition, we do not like to sit on vacations. Go Go Hi Ho.
As she also pointed out, the price at Little Saint Simons is all-inclusive - all meals (no menu choices, of course - family-style), all of the naturalist adventures, all the boats and kayaks and bikes, all the booze and cocktail hours and oyster roasts and shrimp boils at the beach. And the entirely private 7-mile island, just for you. Chef is a grad of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America for those of you in Yorba Linda) but he does home cookin like his grandma.
So who was there (all with spouses)? A self-selecting elite bunch of folks. A recently-retired career Army Ranger from Colorado who discovered an interest in natural history. A retired Memphis cotton broker. A NYC doctor. A high school teacher couple from Salt Lake City. An 8th-grade Science teacher from Michigan. A famous nature artist from Massachusetts. An Ornithology prof from Georgia Southern (not a railroad - a university). A professor of something from Boston. A fund manager from Chicago. A jolly, congenial, and intelligent crew, and a tattoo-free zone for sure. Lots of laughs at mealtimes.
Despite the skeeters, they have a high repeat rate. I would recommend March-April-May or October for a place like this. Too hot and too many bugs in the summertime - for me, anyway.
Our temps last week were daytime highs around 76 and nights high 50s-low 60s. Constant sea breeze. Perfect.
I remarked to Mrs. BD that it must be a rare "resort" vacation spot indeed where, when one of the resident naturalists asks for a show of hands for the next morning's 7 AM birding in the marsh, almost everybody present raises their hands.
"Meet at the trucks at 7 on the dot."
More boring travelogue pics and nature details below the fold -
Continue reading "A free ad for Little Saint Simons Island, Part 1"
Tuesday, April 30. 2013
Yesterday, Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay, active, NBA player. Collins is a center for the Washington Wizards and is supposedly the first active professional sports player to come out. I don't think that's true. After all, several female players, such as Brittany Griner who is going pro this year, are openly gay. I'd even argue that if you didn't know Martina Navratilova was a lesbian during her time on the pro tour, you just weren't paying attention. Of course, she wasn't 'open' about it. Not sure how more open she could've been, but it was pretty evident to me and I was only a teen.
But Collins is, supposedly, big news. Big enough to be a top story on every major sports and news broadcast. In fact, I can't get away from it this morning. It's getting more than a reasonable amount of coverage on every morning TV show.
Continue reading "Coming Out in America"
Monday, April 29. 2013
Do not miss this speech - it is fascinating video: The State of White America. It's 60+ info-packed minutes. Murray is like a statistically-armed de Toqueville for our time. I needed to hear it twice. The guy is delightful to listen to.
It's not really about politics, but he does mention American principles, American Exceptionalism, and what is required for a self-governing citizenry. "Self-governing," of course, has a dual meaning.
A lot of it is about class and "social capital" in America.
One quote from him: "The upper middle class seems to be keeping all the good stuff to itself: religion, marriage, morality, civic and social engagement, industriousness, and long work hours..."
Another: "The federal government can be accused of confusing itself with the rooster who believes that his crowing is what makes the sun rise..."
Another: "Marriage civilizes men." (Yes, the gals do try, don't they? And we guys fight back, pathetically, by not shaving on Saturday morning.)
Another useful phrase: "The people who makes things more difficult for their fellow citizens..."
All very interesting and relevant. I don't care much about class, college degrees, or elitism, but I do care about integrity, responsibility, curiosity, industriousness, and a number of other character traits. And of course I do care about traditional American culture and the work ethic. Like Murray, I do not buy into the European "relaxation" ethic and the aspiration for a stress-free life: humans are not cattle, and cannot have dignity or pride without being productive or constructive in whatever ways they can find. Anybody can make themselves useful if they want to.
Sunday, April 28. 2013
Executive decision-making is a skill. Good executive decision-making seems to be a talent. These are neither skills nor talents that I was blessed with, but that's probably just as well. I've never been much of a leader, and never a good follower either. My major life decisions have always made me nauseous. Medicine has been the right field for me. Independent work, endlessly interesting, and cautious, careful, conservative decision-making comes easily to me.
From Harvard Biz School, "While elevated narcissism and self-promotion has been shown to result in quicker promotion early in one's career, its negative impacts are revealed in positions of higher authority."
As in the sports world, in the biz world, if you cannot produce winning decisions consistently and with integrity, you will eventually go down. It's rough out there. I hear all of the stories and all of the excuses, but the most talented and honest do pretty well and never make excuses for their disappointments. Competition is a big part of life, and an exciting part of it.
Friday, April 26. 2013
From one of our Maggie's heroes, Bruce Thornton:
A friend told me the other night that he was served hot pepper mashed potatoes at the home of a friend in Delhi. I did not know they made mashed potatoes in India. He said it was so hot he was in agony.
Well, I like hot but I respect the sanctity of ordinary mashed taters. Nonetheless, I have to try it.
When it comes to running programs, it really doesn't matter how many other programs you have on your computer. Normal programs are 'static', just sitting there awaiting the call, and when you fire up a program, those are the only files being read.
It can, however, make a big difference on a few other levels, like running a virus scan, a fix-it program, or making an image file backup of the whole C Drive. More files means more time to scan, fix or copy. And since we're talking about files that might be multiple gigs in size, this is the real deal.
I've covered a couple of these in the past, but only in regards to a related subject. This time we'll look specifically at reducing the size of the C Drive.
There are five main areas of concern:
1. Getting rid of the 2 gigs of unnecessary backup files Windows 7 left after doing its big 'Service Pack' update
2. Getting rid of the 2-gig 'Hibernation' file
3. Getting rid of the 4-gig 'pagefile'
4. Cleaning out the 'Temp' folder
5. Scanning the drive for any large 'temp' files a program might have left
We shall pull out our #10 scalpel below the fold. Or blowtorch, if necessary.
Continue reading "Doc's Computin' Tips: Freeing up hard drive space"
Thursday, April 25. 2013
I greatly enjoy contemplating urban issues. As someone who grew up frequenting NYC, I suppose my bias is towards the high-density, mixed-use (ie residential and commerce combined), mix of very old and brand-new buildings, and the mixed-use (ie residential and commerce combined) environment that makes downtown New York such a vibrant and constantly interesting place, day and night. The city that never sleeps.
If I could afford a pied a terre there, I would do it. (The only reason NYC real estate is so high is because of government controls.) Take the elevator down, say Hi to the doorman, walk seven blocks to a neighborhood French bistro or your favorite pub past all the people taking their dogs for a walk. Nice way of life. New Yorkers are skinny because they walk everywhere - including to work in the morning. Well, subway if it's over a mile I suppose but it depends on the person.
Here's the article: Houston Rising—Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think - While urbanists and developers tout the oldest and priciest American cities, they ignore or deplore the real growth that’s happening in more spread-out urban newbies, writes demographer Joel Kotkin.
We know that a minority, probably a small minority, of American college students are natural scholars or passionately curious. More want, or need, the credential.
40% of Germans become apprentices. In America, 0.3%.
A few more links on the topic:
It seems to me that much of the discussion of "mission" has to do with confusing "higher ed" with Liberal Arts education. I do not know how much of Higher Ed today is Liberal Arts and how much is vocationally-oriented (eg Nursing, Agricultural, Hospitality, Education, Law Enforcement, Business, Engineering, Communications, Performance Arts, etc etc, but I know that a lot of it is.)
Cornell for example, a strange hybrid of state university and private university, has 7 undergrad colleges. Only one of their undergrad schools is Liberal Arts, and many large universities are similar. It's been many years since "college" has meant Liberal Arts.
I think most of the angst is only about the "mission" and "purpose" of Liberal Arts higher ed. Nobody is confused about the "mission" or "purpose" of degrees in Nursing or Civil Engineering.
If any reader can find those Higher Ed stats, I'm sure we'd all be interested. Specifically, I'm interested in what % of US undergrads are attending vocationally-oriented colleges and programs compared to those doing Liberal Arts programs.
Thanks for comments and help, readers. From Undergraduate Fields of Study, info below -
In 2009-2010, "college" in the US yielded 800,000 Associate degrees and 1.7 million Bachelors degrees.
"College" doesn't mean what it used to mean. It used to mean Liberal Arts but now it can mean Hotel Management. The change has already happened.
It was a tiring, three-plane, 24-hour flight, getting in late the night before, April 7. We stayed at a delightfully friendly inn near the Prime Minister's residence, about a 15-minute stroll to the Old City. We slept and had a hearty breakfast from the inn's large, delicious buffet. After 2-minutes of sirens all over Israel during which all stop to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jason's Bar Mitzvah took place at 10:02AM on April 8 at the Haas Promenade overlooking all of Jerusalem, the Old City at the center of view. Here we're carrying the Torah to the Promenade, then part of the view over Jerusalem (hazy due to a sand storm in Saudi Arabia blowing sand far into Jerusalem's skies).
Instead of a long post with deeper observations, maybe to come later, instead this post will simply present some of the joy on Jason and younger brother (8) Gavin's faces at their experiences. (Jason was totally jazzed, and performed his prayers and Torah portion with enthusiasm and ease. Gavin was a bit jet-lagged in the morning of the 8th but recovered his boisterous energy and spirits by noon.) A few photos with me may sneak in. But. for me, these of Jason and Gavin are the most important. Look back at your albums. The photos of sites are nice momentos but the photos of your children at the sites are the heart that beats and stirs.
Both boys rose to be champion travelers, terrifically behaved and engaged, and their reflections on what they saw and experienced have been all that a father could hope for from this exposure to the land, history, and traditions of our Jewish religion and peoples. Jason acts and takes seriously that he is now a young man, with such responsibilities following this core rite of passage. Gavin says he will be nicer after experiencing and discussing the centrality in our faith of replacing bad with good in ourselves and the world, bolstered by meeting so many pleasant Israelis and visitors from all over the globe.
(Many more photos below the fold; There is a 10-hour difference between California and Israel, so the dates on the photos reflect San Diego time, not Israel's)
Continue reading "Jason's Bar Mitzvah Trip To Israel"
In the meantime...
First, when I'm wrong about something, I admit it. That's how we grow.
As it turns out, I was wrong about the new Internet Exploder version 10. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
They did make an improvement.
Now, in my defense, I should note that they haven't made an actual, visible improvement in over a decade, so I admit I wasn't specifically looking for one, slacker that I am.
It now has a spell-checker. A real, live spell-checker, utilizing the latest modern software innovations, direct from the late 80's when the first spell-checker hit the scene. The fact that IE now utilizes this valuable late-80's technology speaks highly of the programming team.
Quickly going the other direction is Firefox. They've changed how the download box works and it's now a minor pain. Normally, it's an independent box, so you can do whatever you want with the browser, including closing it, and the downloads keep to themselves. This is also how IE does it.
It's now part of the actual browser, and if you click elsewhere, it disappears. And it's even more confusing with multiple windows and downloads going, so the whole thing comes across as kinda dumb.
The trick is to hit Ctrl-J, which will open the old independent downloads box. ('J' for 'Just the box') You can also open it from the Tools menu or the 'Download' button, 'Show all downloads'. They've eliminated the 'Pause' button for no known reason, but you can still pause the download by right-clicking on it. And, best, it means we don't have to worry about keeping browser windows open or not.
It's come to this.
Wednesday, April 24. 2013
In my professional opinion, younger guys seem to be OK and relatively calm with sex twice daily. They are monkeys. Older fellows seem to get by with anywhere from daily to 3-4 times/week, depending on how hard and long they work at their jobs. Women are an entirely different topic, but my general advice to women is to remove the TV from the bedroom. Not to worry ladies - they will put it back in our bedrooms 24 hrs/day when we're demented widows in the nursing home. We can catch up with our shows and movies then. Carpe diem.
Apropos of the topic, I saw that Glenn Reynolds linked this book: Lube Jobs: A Woman's Guide to Great Maintenance Sex. Library journal commented about it, "Most people spend the largest part of their adulthood slogging through committed relationships, and they need books like this."
Good cozy marital snuggles can make up for a lot of troubles. But "slogging"? If you're slogging, it's your own darn fault. I have patients deep into their 70s and 80s with quite satisfying and jolly sex lives even when they know far more than they want to know about their spouses, and when their equipment is not what it once was. We are, in part, biological beings.
I've been an admirer of Heather MacDonald for years and we have linked her essays many times, but it was not until last week when I read her review of the 2013 new productions at the Metropolitan Opera that I felt motivated to find out who she really is. She is versatile. I admire/envy her brain and her fearlessness.
She is a Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a frequent researcher/reporter/pundit at City Journal and many other places. She lives in NYC. I guess she qualifies as a "public intellectual." I've never heard her speaking on TV, but we don't watch TV here.
Were she a Leftie, she'd be a star at The NYT, the WaPo, TNR, or anywhere.
Her CV is impressive too.
I hope to have the chance to meet her sometime. If I had the spare $, I'd be a significant donor to the Manhattan Institute and meet some of the folks I admire like Rudy Giuliani, Heather MacDonald, Roger Kimball, John Leo, Kay Hymowitz, et al.
After all, Spring is here and it's been a long cold winter in New Hampshire. Here 'tis: Dartmouth Calls Off Classes to Discuss Diversity, Civility. Toga! Toga! Toga!
So are most employees. They've tried this junk on me but it didn't take. It just makes me worse.
Tuesday, April 23. 2013
Cut 'em down. Replace it with something else. Mountain Laurel grows to 10-12 feet, and tends to be naturally leggy in its natural Northeastern Oak woodland habitats (see photo above). If it's "overgrown" that way in your around-the-house landscaping in places where it is meant to look green and full, it's because it was planted in the wrong place. It wants to stretch out, unless in full sun. With plenty of sun and rich, slightly acidic soil, it grows like this:
Another alternative is, again, to cut it down to about 6-10" sticks in the Springtime, and let it re-start its growth from the bottom. Regrowth, though, will take far too long for most people to put up with.
The same principle applies to leggy Rhododendrons. Come to think of it, also applies to leggy Lilacs. Shrubs get leggy without enough sun or without proper pruning.
Mayor Mike, the Nanny of all Nannies, is a control freak. He could have been the inspiration for the quip "If you're so rich, how come you ain't smart?"
Mayor Bloomberg: Interpretation of Constitution Will ‘Have to Change’ After Boston Bombing (fixed) I think he'd prefer a police state. He already instituted Food Police in NYC. "Freedom" is not in his lexicon.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin, 1759
Monday, April 22. 2013
Have Americans lost the sense of evil? I don't really think so. Some say that, nowadays, the cognoscenti can only use the word ironically, but I don't agree with that entirely either. After all, I have read too much vitriol from the Left directed towards people like me, labeling us (non-ironically) as evil.
In other words, I think "evil" has been secularized or politicized. At the same time, attempts are made to psycho-babbleize it away.
Without writing an opus on the topic, I'll make just a few points about evil (from a non-religious standpoint). Evil thoughts and impulses exist in everyone, to varying degrees, whether consciously or unconsciously. It never appears in pure form.
A normal human conscience, along with social pressures, fear, a desire not to be destructive, etc. permit most of us to live without enacting very many evil deeds. Some people, in denial of their own dark sides, project evil into others. Some people attempt to deny the existence of evil anywhere. Some people try to erase the presence of evil by what we call "identification with the aggressor", of which the Stockholm Syndrome is an extreme example.
To look upon evil, wherever it is and however banal it may appear on the surface, is frightening. In the movies it can be exciting, but in real life it is deeply scary. Thus thoughts like this: St. Louis U. student asks, “Why don’t we talk about evil anymore?” and this: Why Does Evil Make Liberals Stupid? A quote from that:
I am sorry to say that Mukasey has it right: Make No Mistake, It Was Jihad - Let's hope the administration gets over its reluctance to recognize attacks on the U.S. for what they are.
All sorts of things can help unleash the cruelty and destructiveness in people, but I won't get into all of that now because I only want to mention one of the things: communal support of evil. If only 7% of Muslims are inclined to active Jihad, that's 100 million people. That's no mob - that's a large nation of killers and would-be killers of infidels and they are all on the same page.
Jihadists believe the West is evil. "Submit or die." They are convinced of their virtuousness, but they are as wrong as can be because all that we in the West want is to be left alone and to truly "coexist" peacefully.
Here's an interesting 1996 book by Columbia Prof Andrew Delblanco: The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil
Sunday, April 21. 2013
Here's a fun selection of Pauli "Walnuts" quotes. Sociopathy can be amusing.
— The same day repeats itself, over and over again. He wakes up, and it's the exact same day. He, alone, is stuck inside of some kind of crazy time loop.
— At first he's in despair, then he realizes he can use it to his advantage to land the fair damsel.
— This he does, then everything goes back to normal and they live happily ever after.
Yep, the movie 12:01 sure is fun.
Ah, but I know what you're thinking. Just another pale imitation of the immortal Groundhog Day, right?
Except it came out a year before 'Groundhog Day'.
Oh, and there might have been a few other small differences. What was his ultimate goal in Groundhog Day?
To get into her pants.
What was his ultimate goal in 12:01?
To save her life and the world.
Did he actually care for the girl in Groundhog Day?
Not in the slightest.
He truly cared for her deeply and sincerely, if only from afar.
Of course, convincing someone you're actually stuck in a time loop — without them calling for Security or the medical staff — might not be quite as easy as it looks. Here are his first two attempts.
All in all, a warm, sensitive movie about a caring guy on a noble mission.
In other words, nothing at all like Groundhog Day.
We'll be Unstoppable below the fold.
Continue reading "Movie Review: '12:01', 'Unstoppable'"
Saturday, April 20. 2013
From Lindsay's essay:
Come on, we all know that nowadays it's just a credential for most college attendees except for the special ones for whom it is a wonderful opportunity for intellectual adventures. The business needs to please the consumers. "The customer is always right."
Sad to say, an Ivy "A" means nothing today and everybody knows it.That's why so many firms these days avoid hiring Ivy grads. Too arrogant and entitled for today's world, often. I am happy to report that they still like Dartmouth kids, though.
Friday, April 19. 2013
So, how 'bout a movie review? First, 'The Avengers'. Language warning is in effect for both of these clips.
Like a lot of people, I draw a fairly distinct line between Science Fiction and Science Fantasy when it comes to books and movies. As long as it's somewhat scientifically possible, it's good in my book. Or movie, as the case may be. Throw in a magical cube that can harness the power of the universe (this movie, the two 'Transformer' movies, etc, etc) and you've pretty much lost me. Put another way, some guys are Batman guys, other guys are Superman or Green Lantern guys.
That's just how it is.
As a Batman guy, I've been fairly luke-cool to the rash of superhero movies that have hit the big screen in recent years (read: Hollywood is so out of fresh ideas that it's now making movies of comic books), with the one big exception being 'Thor', which earned its own review.
Each of the superheroes in 'The Avengers' has already had a movie or two, and this is the gang getting together to fight the deadliest foe of all. You know, the guy with the magical universe-harnessing cube.
Meh. See above. It was okay, but when you've got vicious armed aliens pouring through an interdimensional hole in the sky, I think it loses a bit of its charm.
Discount all that, however, and it's a pretty good flick. I wouldn't put it on my Recommended List (see above), but it certainly gets a nod for some excellent special effects and some very witty banter at times, especially when the irrepressible Robert Downey Jr. is around.
The reason I'm doing a review on it is because of two scenes that I thought were really well done and I thought I'd share them with you. Both involve the very pressable Scarlett Johansson.
In the first one, they're speaking a bunch of Russian that's accompanied by on-screen subtitles in the movie. They're talking about a couple of key players and their status in the Russian mob. The head bad guy is so sure of himself that's he blabbing away.
Then the phone rings, spoiling everything.
In the second scene, the Avengers know Loki is going to use one of them as part of his evil plan, but the trick is to find out which one.
Obviously, the answer is to send in the master interrogator.
Again, while being a bit too fantasy-y for my tastes, it has some great bits and the special effects are outstanding. Certainly worth the rental.
We'll continue with 'The Big Bang' below the fold.
Continue reading "Movie Review: 'The Avengers', 'The Big Bang'"
Thursday, April 18. 2013
Gun and Bible-clinging redneck New Yorker that I am, even I did not really object to the background check law in itself. Seemed harmless enough, but also seemed pointless to me because the bad guys never get background checks. Even Sen. Feinstein acknowledged it would do nothing for gun violence.
My issue was beyond the symbolic issue, it was the incrementalism. Federal registration for the good citizens. That's where people like Morning Joe don't get it: Morning Joe Host Shames Senators Who Killed Gun Reform: ‘We’re The 90 Percent And We’re Going To Win’
No you will not "win", and definitely not as long as politicians and celebs and rich folks get their own personal protection from armed guards. Peons like me do not have those perqs or the money to hire them.
Here's another interesting piece: Exploiting Families Of Sandy Hook Victims Backfires. Indeed an embarassing and disgusting display. Boob bait, but the bubbas weren't biting.
But here's the key piece. From Tim Stanley's Barack Obama can't pass gun control despite 90 per cent support. Truly, he is a lame-duck president:
Barack Obama is a lame-duck president. Nobody listens to what he says anymore, nobody is interested in winning his approval and nobody much cares if he thinks they have “let the country down”. This is typical for a second-term president who has lost all their leverage because they’re no longer running for office and everybody is patiently waiting for the day when he quits the White House. But Obama's difficult personality has doubled the size of the challenge. Gloating in victory, adolescent in defeat – the Prez doesn’t make it easy to work with him. Why should conservative senators give him a legislative victory after he has spent four years painting them as knuckle-dragging rednecks who hate women and the poor?
Photo is, once again, our dear friend Marianne's home protection Taurus Judge. No elderly woman with a disabled husband should be without one in her knitting basket, whether in town or country.
(The reading of Milton's classic On Time on Dr. Merc's sim-gaming post here this morning is a perfect example.)
Here at Maggie's, we have always posted a Saturday Verse, with the general advice to read them out loud. One poem per week, like one masterpiece of art, is about all most people can or are willing to process. We might be tempted to read more poetry if they were Juvenal writing poems from the standpoint of a Roman switch-hitting prostitute servicing both his master and his master's wife to good and profitable effect. The wife first, one might hope.
Wednesday, April 17. 2013
Some clips from On The Road Again:
Before you travel with a gun, you must be sure: 1. You have all the proper licenses to possess the gun in the state in which you reside; 2. You have all the proper licenses to possess the gun in the state of your final destination. Plan ahead. Make sure you know the law and comply with it. Not only do you need to know the laws on possessing guns, but you also need to know how guns have to be transported or stored. Some states require certain guns be carried unloaded and cased. Some require trigger locks.
I am realizing that I object to the language of "rights" as if they were things doled out by the state, or as if our rights were at the pleasure of the state. That, I think, is an adolescent view of government as parent. The reality and the history is the opposite. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were never meant to limit the freedom of the people, or free enterprise.
I prefer the entirely different vantage point and language, the language of freedom and the limited rights and powers of government. Government powers stingily doled out to the state by free, intelligent, self-sufficient citizens. Land of the free and home of the brave, and all that. There is nothing at all intelligent about people in government, especially in a democratic republic. After all, you could not even run a corner candy shop with a democratic republic, much less with the doofus losers and sociopaths who mostly want to run for office.
Is it possible to be a Conservative Libertarian? I try, but I run into logical inconsistencies and conflicts. Take gay marriage as an example. The Conservative in me believes that Judeo-Christian ideals and ordinary family units are the foundation of society and of our civilization. Precious things. My Libertarian impulses want government entirely out of marriage except insofar as people want to make it a legal contract or a sacramental vow.
If you know what that means, you've just seriously dated yourself.
Sure, it'll cure your lumbago and get rid of athlete's foot and do wonders for gout, but can it do anything useful? That's really the question of the day.
Question asked, question answered.
Even the AMA has changed its tune:
And, with two states legalizing it and more sure to follow, the whole question of marijuana etiquette arises.
Unless, of course, you're Miss Iowa:
I do not think it should be used for anything but recreational use and health care.
(audience applauds, nary a boo to be heard)
As these things go, and given that the Miss America pageant is a uniquely American event, that's quite the little moment in television history.
Continue reading "Marijuana: The dirty low-down"
Tuesday, April 16. 2013
Every four years I let my Dermatologist buddy scope out my skin with his special lights and magic glasses. He doesn't miss a single square centimeter of it, scalp to anus to the bottoms of my graceful feet. I'd like to avoid death by melanoma, if possible. Not sure what I want to die from, but I just want it to not be right now.
$175, cash for 1/2 hr. consult (he won't do insurance), including the good conversation and comraderie, plus a pile of samples for my spot of eczema and a little nitrogen zapping of some ancient sun damage to my face.
He knows that I have spent all of the time I could in my life outdoors, usually without hat and never with disgusting sunblock (except maybe on the nose when the Mrs. makes me). When I was at prep school, we termed sunshine "catching bennies," ie the beneficial rays of the sun. Studying Latin or dozing on the lawns.
I have happily spent all the time I can on boats, soccer fields, lacrosse fields, golf courses, tennis courts, tractors, trout streams, skiing, beaches, gardens, and hunting fields since I was a kid.
As he scrutinized my beautiful, well-fed, pasty-white-skinned body, he told me that one problem he has is people with sun phobia. He said people require an hour or two daily of exposure to unblocked sunshine (not sunburn), and that sun phobia (especially with kids covered with hats and sunblock) is a more important health hazard than benign sun-related skin cancers (which are pretty much all easily-curable when found in a timely way).
Our skin produces instantly-bioavailable and natural Vit D, necessary for normal bone growth, vitality, and disease-avoidance (cancer, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis, etc.). In the US, they add Vit D to milk (but only enough to prevent rickets in little kids) and it's far from enough to substitute for wholesome playing in the sunshine.
Sunburn bad (possibly but not definitely associated with melanoma, but definitely associated with wrinkles), but wholesome sunshine (even through clouds) is good for us. Not to mention the reality that a little tan makes us crackers look more attractive.
My dermatologist claims that we evolved to live in the nude, outdoors. Sheesh. I'd try it, but I would get arrested because I do not live in San Francisco - and I would have to fight off the women.
The complete History's Mysteries series is here.
Before I'm accused of committing the first anti-Semitic Google Earth hate crime in history, a few things might be pointed out:
1. From this page:
I'd note the 'still in use today' line, which at least explains the current buildings in Asia. As for the others, they probably figured no one would ever notice, they didn't wish to bow to convention, or they simply couldn't afford to raze and rebuild the whole goddamn building just because the local Jewish Aviators Club got its knickers in a knot.
Continue reading "History's Mysteries: The Swastika"
Monday, April 15. 2013
The problems (videos not playing, freezing up the system, strange error messages, etc) started almost a year ago when Flash introduced some new security protocol. As a bit of background: Java, which was the Flash of its day before Shockwave/Flash came along, is so riddled with exploitable holes that the most recent advice from the experts has been to disable it completely. With Java fading and Flash coming into its own, the malware hackers have pulled out their 3000X electronic microscopes in an effort to find any weaknesses. So Flash can't be blamed for battening down the hatches.
Another pesky problem that's cropped up is Firefox opening new windows under the present window, not on top of, when clicking on certain links (in the WordPress editor, e.g.) or using the right mouse button on a link to open it in a new window. This is pretty common on sites like Hot Air, Instapundit, PJ Media, Drudge, etc, that don't automatically open external links in a new window, as they should. The reason they don't is because they want you to hit that 'Back' button to get back to their site, which adds another 'click' to their total which means they can charge more for their banner advertisements.
But I stray.
To fix this pesky problem:
— On a standard 32-bit Windows system, open 'Computer', then the C Drive, then Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash
— On a 64-bit Windows system, open C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash
— Edit the "mss.cfg" file with Notepad. Add this line to the bottom:
Save the file, reboot.
Speaking of Firefox, it went through a major security update of its own recently, so unless you're sure yours is updating automatically, go to the Help menu, 'About Firefox', click the 'Update' button.
Any questions or additions, give a holler in the comments like usual.
Sunday, April 14. 2013
I heard this fellow Tom Corley interviewed on the radio last week. He studies the life habits of prosperous people compared to less prosperous people.
He said nothing surprising. For a few examples, he said the prosperous tend to delay gratification, exercise, set life goals, make life plans, volunteer, severely restrict their kids' TV and computer time, set examples of hard work and self-discipline for their kids, to be constructive with their time, and to be frugal except in matters of health and charity.
Sounds old-fashioned, doesn't it? Socio-cultural-character tendencies. These things have not made me rich, but they have made my life better. People tease me about my frugality, but I am never frugal about truly life-enriching things and I hate being slothful. God did not make me to sit on my butt.
Tallis, a neurologist (and amateur and impressive philosopher) wrote the book as a critique of biological and evolutionary reductionism.
Here's a brief review from the WSJ.One quote:
Here's a quote from an Amazon reviewer:
Aping Mankind is negative research. While most popular-science writers attempt to weave compelling stories from the latest neuroscience experiments to explain 'why we are the way we are', Tallis attempts to show why these stories simply cannot be true. If you are skeptical of media--and scientific journal--headlines such as "Researchers discover the location of love in the brain", then you may enjoy Aping Mankind. In this work Tallis exposes the odd proclivity of scholars, from biologists to literary critics, to anthropomorphize pieces of matter while simultaneously dehumanizing human beings. In effect we are systematically transferring our humanity to matter, and this may not be good for our health--just like vitamins.
Returning to Signorelli's impressive review which opens like this:
Brandon Smith put a lot of time into this post: Are Individuals The Property Of The Collective?
It's a fundamental issue, isn't it? One of the things that stunned De Toqueville was the abundance of voluntary affiliations and organizations in the US. Of course, The Collective doesn't do voluntary. I hate the very concept.
Saturday, April 13. 2013
We like to eat lots of those skinny French beans. We steam them in Costco-style bulk, and they last a week.
Mrs. BD likes to dress them with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon (which is the Italian way with vegetables), but I prefer olive oil and wine vinegar. And salt of course.
Add a little crumbled goat cheese or Feta cheese, some bacon, maybe a chopped tomato, and you can make a fine lunch out of them.
Name, and date of birth if possible, please.
This beauty was parked next to us in the Lincoln Center parking lot tonight. We went in with friends to see the Nederlands Dance Co. on one of their very rare visits to the US, at the David A. Koch Theater. All 3 performances were sold out, unsurprisingly, but we got lucky.
On the drive home, Mrs. BD delivered a fine exposition, on our demand, of what the intentions were of their new choreographer team (splaining that it was less about rhythm and more like talking in movement). Their 20-person troupe is remarkably skilled. Then the topic of Sophie Guillam somehow came up, so after that she waxed eloquent about Sophie Guillam's performance in Sleeping Beauty with the Royal Ballet, which she had taken a BD daughter to see in NYC a few years ago. Our daughter had said to her Mom in the lobby - "Mom - Look! There's a real Princess." Her Mom said "No, sweetie, somebody just dressed up for the opening," and then turned and looked and saw it was Princess Margaret dressed in princess clothes to the nines, jewels, tiara, and a long green gown with a couple of attendants and guards.
Daughter had just thrown a sun dress over her wet bathing suit, rushing from swim team practice, never having combed her wet hair. She certainly felt underdressed. It seems that was an immortal performance because Guillam could do things with Sleeping Beauty that nobody else alive could do. Guillam later switched to modern dance because she became bored with her mastery of Ballet technique and wanted new expressive challenges.
We had a nice seafood supper first at the Atlantic Grill down the street from Lincoln Center.
NYC is always a blast for us, a jolt of vitality, a change of pace.
Friday, April 12. 2013
It's been many years since we have bought either fresh or dried Thyme at the store. It's the easiest herb to grow in full sun and dry, lousy soil, and it comes back after hard freezes and cold winters. An advantage is that the leaves stay on the plant all winter, so you can just go out and scratch the snow off and harvest the sprigs you need. (I just throw the sprigs in with the leaves on, so my cooking often ends up with denuded Thyme sprigs in it.) Cooking with Thyme.
Another advantage is simply the smell it creates in a garden on a hot summer day. 4 or 5 small plants in the Spring will spread all over, only needing a little watering the first year to get started.
Thyme is the ultimate "savoury" flavor, but it's mild enough to make it difficult to over-use. I think it's basic to most stews and soups, Italian or otherwise. My chef friend uses it in muffins and biscuits, and on vegetables. She uses chopped Thyme blossoms on fruit cocktail. It has to be part of any bouquet garni.
Thyme comes in many varieties, some man-made and some wild. Most is Thymus vulgaris - common Thyme, with variants thereof. I assume it has Mediterranean origins. In the Massachusetts Berkshires, we have acres of Creeping Thyme as weeds in the less-fertile meadows, and my Mom always planted it between flagstones. Smells good in the summer when stepping on it, but watch out for the bees.
As a lady with refined sensibilities, Mom was always attentive to the small, charming details of life. There were always small vases of wildflowers around.
Tuesday, April 9. 2013
It's been far too long since I studied, or used statistics other than to read medical journal articles. Everybody talks about Bayesian Statistics nowadays. They are the new old thing, almost 100 years older than Fisher Statistics (Fisher was an interesting fellow).
In my youth, I learned to be always skeptical about any research results, but I am told that running data through Bayesian methods is a good test of data.
Can somebody explain the concept to me in simple English? I don't intend to use it, just to get the ideas (I can do the math, but I want something conceptual for starters.) Most Liberal Arts students learned basic Stats in college, the p and the t-test, etc., but the Bayesian is new to me.
A Lefty wonders why. He thinks it's mostly self-selection.
I think a more interesting question is why so many of the successful people in business are Obama people. Over half of the very wealthy people I know are ardent Democrats, and are people who understand how the real world works. Of course, I do inhabit New England where blue is the cultural color of choice.
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