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
Thursday, March 27. 2014
Isn't all sex recreational in some sense of the word? Eating is recreational too, in part, and they are both fun. Well, unless these things are dutiful chores which they can be, sometimes, for some people.
What's wrong with recreational sex (eg FB's, friends with benefits, dorm trios - meaning studly guy plus 2 playful and adventurous gal roomies, one-nighters, etc) among the uncommitted? And isn't lots of marital sex really recreational, in some sense, anyway? If not "casual" - see "kitchen table sex."
It's a serious question. In the old days, people married in their teens so that an extended period of sexual ache, longing, and loneliness was more or less taken care of. Of course, we all have our morals, scruples, religions, ethics, and considerations for the feelings of others to take into account. That's the issue, isn't it?
Frequent sexual and romantic thoughts and desires are, for better or worse, a routine part of being human. People can fall into love, lust, or desire readily. (They can fall out of those things too, fairly readily.) I am constantly reminded in my work about how prevalent, but far from universal, recreational sex is among the young, and among older singles. (No, I am not one who views sex as sacramental but more as an animal aspect of humanity with an overlay, so to speak, of a hundred other meanings. In my youth, I think I was too sentimental, religious, soulful, respectful - and controlled - to ever have been a party girl. Some regrets? Not saying. My fantasies are exciting, but private.)
I informed our readers recently that it's a good idea just to toss a little bleach into your vases of cut flowers.
Here's another tip (also via Mrs. BD's garden club). When you force Paperwhite bulbs, always throw in a shot or two of vodka or gin into their water once they sprout up a few inches. It stunts their growth just enough to prevent them from getting leggy and falling over. It has no impact on the bloom - or the scent.
One might like to imagine that it cheers them up, too. Grey Goose, of course.
Here's a reference on the topic.
It is indeed true that our posture, along with our general comportment, attire, manners, speech, and capacity for chat are what others base their initial impressions on. Rightly or wrongly, those things matter to me too.
To stay strong and upright, I do deadlifts. Like squats, they are highly unpleasant but highly beneficial for leg strength and back strength. If we spend 15 hours per day sitting, we must do what little we can to remain vital and to delay physical decay.
Physical and mental decay begins, according to the experts, in our late 30s.
Wednesday, March 26. 2014
Things in Life That Really Matter: A Maggie's Shout-Out Request for Classic Easy Mommys of America Desserts
Our popular Maggie's Classic Mommys of America Comfort Suppers series reminds me to do a series on classic old-timey Mommy's Desserts. Most Moms today don't make dessert except for special occasions, but it was a nice touch and popular with the kids.
Furthermore, growing and physically-active kids need sweet and sugary treats - for health, energy, and peace of mind - and to feel the love.
Moms never used to buy desserts. People lived on strict budgets, and only the prosperous went to restaurants other than the hot dog stand, which was fast food. People raised in the Depression, or raised during WW2 or the 1950s and 60s, did not buy stuff, and a linen-napkin restaurant was very special, unlike today. They got off their butts and made stuff - even my Mom with 5 kids. I remember some my favorites:
Coffee Jello with Jiffy-Whip (that's how I learned to love coffee in my youth)
Apple Pan Dowdy or whatever version of that sort of apple thing
Blueberry Cake with Hard Sauce (she'd only make it if we picked the wild berries at the Farm)
Yellow Cake (from the box) with Mocha frosting for birthdays. Mom never bought a cake in her life (except for the annual Buche de Noel)
Indian Pudding for winter holidays, with ice cream or whipped
Bread Pudding +/- rum, and English-style custard or rum sauce on top
Apple Pie, from our apple trees, with ice cream.
Cherry pie, from my great-aunt's amazingly-productive cherry tree.
Home-made vanilla ice cream, hand-cranked machine. Sometimes, with home-made chocolate sauce, sometimes with rhubarb sauce, sometimes with butterscotch stuff out of a can or bottle.
Peach Melba, with canned peaches
Trifle with rum- or wine-soaked pound cake - for special parties
Strawberry Shortcake, made with Bisquick
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Brownies, occasionally with ice cream on top
Rice Pudding with raisins. Might be good with dried cranberries too.
Root Beer or Sarsaparilla Floats in hot weather
I'll get to work on an Official Mommy's of America dessert post, but only if you tell me what some of your favorite Mommys of America home-made desserts were. Since we are read all around the world, the whole world will appreciate, and benefit from, our homey memories.
Tell me in the comments.
When to put Preen on flower beds? Anytime. Just don't put it on bulb areas or on lilies.
Tuesday, March 25. 2014
As the last snows mostly melt, the soil de-freezes (OK, defrosts) a bit, and the blackbirds return, it's time to fertilize flowering shrubs and trees and perennial beds in Yankeeland. Any further snows will be short-lived.
Remember that roots grow long before green shoots appear. By the time growth appears, it's sort-of too late for plants' spring feeding - especially woody plants. It takes a while for the food to get into the soil, and even longer to get down to the roots and then up into the plant.
Rain is required. I cheat and put Preen on the perennial beds. It's not perfect, but it helps. For shrubs and roses, I use a stick to poke a hole near the drip line, and pour some all-purpose fertilizer in there.
If you got too busy to do it in the fall, now is the time. I did my shrubs, roses, gardens, boxwoods, and lawns yesterday, and used up an old bag of Hollytone and an old left-over bag of lawn dolomite (lime) too. I have hollies and hybrid Rhodies in sheltered spots and a few Azaleas too where they are well-protected from winter winds even though we are north of the hybrid Rhodie and Azalea happy zone. North of the Holly zone too, but I love my hollies and the birds do, too.
Heck, I can even get good hardy Crepe Myrtles to thrive here if they are well-sheltered and against the house. Green thumb, or dumb luck? They are well-sheltered, and close to walls and foundations. When they are in bloom up here in August, people wonder what the heck they are because they are a southern shrub/tree.
Need to remember to get my lawns plugged in early June, but I will probably forget to do it because it makes for a week of muddy dog paws on the beds and couches. A hard-packed lawn is an unhappy lawn, and our local tool-rental place rents lawn-pluggers. Fortunately, I decrease our lawn size every time we add a new garden. That's good - but weeding and mulching new gardens is bad. Too hard. In a while I will mulch the heck out of the gardens and let summer do what it will.
Can't win. But fertilizing is worth it.
Monday, March 24. 2014
Speaking of incentives, is virtue inalienable? Are there situations which can mitigate morally reprehensible behavior? Broadly speaking, I'd say no, not usually. However, context is important and always useful in developing a justifiable opinion about some very specific situations. Along these lines, what represents an unfair advantage in making an exchange? Would the person purchasing this egg be wrong to not disclose information he had about it? After all, we do have laws about not disclosing information about what is being sold.
These same laws should apply to the buyer, should they not?
Sunday, March 23. 2014
But this is a good example of how advertising can not only entertain, but co-opt a message which is designed to hurt a business. It may not drive business, but God bless the owner who realized how to turn a bad situation to his favor.
Many people believe corporations and businesses are strong, particularly if they are large and have huge profits (as many car dealers often do). It is my view advertising is proof businesses are weak and competition is intense. Finding new and useful ways to get your message to break through the clutter is good for business. Done poorly, it can annoy, distract, and possibly hurt business. Done well, it can keep your consumer base intact or grow the foundation of purchasers. Or keep your opponents off balance.
Time to prune back roses, too.
This season of Lent naturally has me thinking about the theme of sacrifice. I wondered when Jews gave up ritual sacrifice, and was interested to learn that the tradition was to eat the sacrificed animal - sharing it with the priest who no doubt got the filet, and to let the guts burn to ashes. In Christianity, Christ is the unblemished Lamb of God.
Those are the roots of Christ's instructions about what we now call "Communion." "This is my flesh, take of it and eat."
Saturday, March 22. 2014
Good posture makes people look better. It makes you look younger and inspires confidence, and it feels good.
Good posture is a habit, and so is poor posture. The military is effective at training good posture. Typical causes of poor posture are psychological, lack of training, aging, and physical weakness.
If you want to improve your posture, just imagine your Mom reminding to to sit up, or stand up, straight, all day long. Then you can work on your abdominal and back muscles, which are what make standing upright possible. Here you go: Exercises for Better Posture.
Life training matters, and can only come from home. Moms say "Stand up straight, look people in the eye, have a firm handshake and a pleasant but reserved demeanor. Nobody wants to know your natural self."
Friday, March 21. 2014
A Maggie's Farm Scientific Survey: Things we often want to avoid doing, but feel better after we do them.
No pain, no gain? This is about gratifications and pleasures earned in the completion of things one has the impulse to avoid which require possibly unpleasant exertion, effort or discipline in contrast to easy, unearned gratifications.
The capacity to delay gratification is considered a measure of maturity and life-competence, but we all struggle with something ever day. The enemies are "I don't feel like it" or "I feel like it." In other words, self-indulgence. The enemy is us.
The earned gratifications of accomplishment tend to feel better afterwards; unearned gratifications (eg food, booze and drugs, shopping, trips and vacations, watching TV, romantic affairs, surfing the web, etc, etc.) tend to feel good while doing but often worse after because they are easy pleasures or cheap thrills which have costs which are often out of proportion to meaningful gains.
I'll confess some of my personal routine challenges, some trivial and some not:
- Getting to church - hate to dress and drag us there on Sunday morning, but always glad we went
What's on your list of things you feel like avoiding, but feel good after you do them?
In recent years, we have had authors and commenters come and go. We're a voluntary commune. (nb: We encourage commenters. Please comment, readers, if you have anything to say even if it's not brilliant. Just show good manners, please. Polite disagreement - with hard facts - is always welcome.)
Our collective favorite Commenter was Marianne Matthews, a wonderfully-reflective Texan, a Barnard grad, a Taurus (the handy-dandy firearm, not the car) owner and a Greenwich Village folksinger in her youth who died in her early 80s with a pulmonary embolism. We miss her. She once mailed me, at my request, a CD of her recordings with a photo of her lovely self playing guitar. She loved NYC, but she loved her Columbia-trained oil-engineer husband more. She always wanted to come back from Houston after he retired, but was responsibly and lovingly caring for him there when I believe he developed a dementia.
Also missing - our old irascible pal Dr. Mercury. No mystery there. He's a ramblin' man, and rambled on to other things after a while (I do not know what) but left behind the useful Dr. Merc's Computer Corner.
Missing in Action: Buddy Larson, a popular and frequent Texan commenter who always brought something to the table, either deep, witty, or usually both. That's a mystery. I hope he is OK, and I hope we didn't do anything to piss him off.
Capt. Tom: He wrote posts for us for a while, but seems to have lost his writing desire. Writer's block? Perhaps the muse might return. I hope so, because he has lots of experience to share, and can write about photography, fishing, boating, engineering, guitars, and all sorts of things if he wants to. Maybe he is too busy living. He does find time to comment on occasion under his real name, Tom Francis. A Yankee, moved to the Carolinas.
Roger de Hauteville? Not to worry. He is around and healthy, but locked in the uninsulated attic for the moment. Those Norman barbarians need time-outs on a regular basis. He'll be back after the next war. In fact, we have planned a job of work for him which naturally involves Sicilia.
Bruce Kesler, our San Diego/New Yorker. He's sort-of on Sabbatical, but he is in touch with me almost daily and (among other emailers) contributes to our morning links, for which I am quite grateful. At some point, I think he may be back on the payroll unless he gets a better offer (he has had many newspaper op-eds published). And he has a day job plus young kids at home. Anyway, always take the better offer if you can get one!
Here's a poor recording of Marianne in New York, in her younger days (1950s), probably in some folkie den in the Village, long before Joanie, Bob, Phil Ochs, Sebastian, and all the others:
Thursday, March 20. 2014
For years, I have been explaining here that dietary fats are not a meaningful factor in heart disease (arterial disease). Your cholesterol level most likely doesn't matter either unless you have familial hyperlipidemia or diabetes. I believe those outliers skewed earlier studies.)
Here's more evidence: Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link.
The article also says this:
Once again, it's the carbs that are the problem. Best thing is to deal with that carb addiction.
Wednesday, March 19. 2014
Now, the lefties just use name-calling and "Shut up" as debating tools.
As a youth, I used to debate my Conservative friends over beers and/or a little weed. My political evolution from adolescent Lefty to conservatarian began happening when I entered the adult world and learned more about human nature and how it is expressed, in part, through the miracle of markets. My evolution continues, because each year I realize more how precious and rare freedom is, and how dangerous and oppressive the State is.
Tuesday, March 18. 2014
Rado was born in Cambridge in 1945, his father a refugee from Nazi Germany. He was studying architecture and science when he met Syd Barrett and Roger Waters. He joined them, along with Nick Mason and Richard Wright, to perform under a variety of band names. He was less interested in rock, enjoying jazz and blues. He was also a serious student and chose to leave the band to pursue his studies. He is believed to have been one of their most talented members. Clearly having an artistic streak, he followed his interests into photography.
He became an acclaimed photographer, and some of his work is available online now. His guitar work is available on two recorded tracks which are available, a cover of Slim Harpo's I'm a King Bee and the original Lucy Leave when the band was called The Tea Set. These often appear on Pink Floyd bootlegs. Klose remained close to his friends in the music community, occasionally working on some albums in the 2000's.
Monday, March 17. 2014
Re-posted from last year -
St. Paddy's Day is next Sunday, March 17th. Just wanted to set the record straight on the historical facts. Even worse, his name wasn't Patrick.
He was an England-born slave of Irish raiders.
The Irish do not cook Corned Beef and Cabbage - except for American tourists
What is Irish? Shepherd's Pie is.
I happen to love corned beef and cabbage (plus potatoes) - as long as there is plenty of horseradish mustard and beer.
The real name of the meal is New England Boiled Dinner. I cook it all together in a giant pot. If the beef needs a knife, it's underdone. I think it should crumble.
Sunday, March 16. 2014
The story lays bare difficulties which face humanity on many physical and spiritual levels - love, anger, acceptance and forgiveness.
His broadsides against the Church and God should have been directed at individuals within the Church itself, or the misunderstandings of the nature of God. Instead he engaged a series of stereotypical and repetitive misconceptions which are common. His most egregious being a comparison of God to terrorists by discussing how many people died in an earthquake in Turkey. Getting past this requires an understanding this is a critical part of developing the story, however acidic the commentary employed.
To Frears' film-making credit, Philomena comes across as a truly great person - devout, loving, and understanding what being Catholic really means, despite having had to deal with great tragedy and hardship. Her difficulties often were by the hand of individuals who called themselves tools of God.
She epitomizes all that is good and right in the human condition - making few demands of anybody, finding great joy in life, and forgiving those who wronged her, intentionally or otherwise. She recognizes her shortcomings and errors, and accepts them for what they are. She pushes on through life bravely, assured in her relationship with God and her faith. As Stephen Frears' character attempts to snarkily put her down, her 'ignorance' instead puts him in his place and he comes to learn that despite being a respected public personality with a broad arc of learning, he still has much to learn from people he holds in low regard.
I recommend this film, because it is great in many ways, and has only one very bad flaw that is necessary to the story, yet is overcome by the uplifting nature of the main character.
Saturday, March 15. 2014
Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Co. builds fine firearms in the state which is historically known for firearms. They also sell guns from other manufacturers, and have a cool store in New Britain, CT.
Pic is of their fancy shooting/travel bags. Nice stuff, but too fancy for me. I carry ammo and gear in a waxed canvas bag. I'd take one as a gift, though. When you think about it, a woman's pocketbook is really a shooting bag adapted for women's uses.
From a History of the Pocketbook:
Thursday, March 13. 2014
I think so. I got an article which crossed my desk this morning:
King Digital Entertainment (makers of the Candy Crush Saga mobile game) is planning to launch an IPO valuing $7.56 billion, which is worth more than 15 percent of S&P 500 companies. Each of King's 22.2 million shares would be priced between $21 and $24, and is expected to debut the trading on March 26. Fox Business reports King would command a market value worth more than other major tech companies like AOL, Lions Gate Entertainment and even 2.8 times more than struggling J.C. Penny. Last month, King revealed that its fourth quarter revenue hit $602 million, and $159 million in profits.
It's cheap at the price - roughly a one to one price to (annualized) earnings ratio. However, this is a gaming company, and gaming companies are notorious for their price fluctuations. Very few companies which make standard XBox or Playstation games have remained at reasonable price levels, the competition is fierce and consumer tastes are fickle. Less standard gaming companies, such as Zynga (based almost entirely on Facebook registrations) have suffered mightily after going public.
King Digital has been very profitable, but I've had experience with firms like this. Typically, when they are privately held, they are fast, nimble, and aggressive. When they cash out, they become bloated, lazy and unresponsive. Can they break the mold? Since it's my view the market is artificially overpriced, my guess is this is a stock that will jump quickly and far early in its trading life, and then slip back down as reality hits home.
I can't blame the stakeholders for wanting to cash out, and perhaps this is the best time for them to take what they can get.
On the other hand, maybe investing in really useful stuff like this might be a better option.
Wednesday, March 12. 2014
I have written many times here about food fetishists. I am not referring to people with diagnosed eating disorders, just to people with neurotic concerns about "healthy food" and the silly wealthy people who go to Whole Foods.
"Healthy food" cannot be defined, because humans evolved as opportunistic omnivores. We can and will thrive on anything and everything we can stuff into our gaping pie holes. Americans and Europeans are the most over-nourished people on earth, as is most of the Western-influenced prosperous world.
Here's this looniness: Food Fetish on Campus - Colleges and universities are embracing "food studies" primarily as another way of pushing leftist beliefs.
"Food Studies"? Yes, with a minor in beer and pizza after classes. Unless you need to lose fat, have a pepperoni pizza and a beer, then some ice cream, find some other more productive interests to think about, and you'll do just fine in life. I regret informing you, as a physician, that "You are not what you eat." It's just too bad that life is not that easy.
In the Western world, too much nutrition is the biggest concern. It's now termed a "First World Problem" - How little of what will I eat for supper?
The point Obama makes here is valid, but begs a larger question, because it impacts his argument in support of a higher minimum wage.
The caller on this program made $36,000 per year, more than double minimum wage (and likely due to multiple household earners). However, if minimum wage is so low, can people on minimum wage who have cable and a cell phone (and many do) make the same choices? Minimum wage is providing enough for certain 'luxuries' which, in the grand scheme of things, are really just trade-offs for what we consider important in our lives. Obama's response indicates even the most leftish of liberals recognize this.
The discussion on minimum wage is much larger, of course. Most people earning it are not Head of Household, and most live in larger family groups with several earners. Regarding the president's response, however, we exposed to insight on the man's psyche. He realizes that managing your life is a series of choices, some better and some worse. But he's unwilling to allow people to make most of those choices on their own. It must be on his terms. His healthcare, his minimum wage, his regulations must all be in place before you or anyone else is allowed to make the necessary choices needed to run your life.
Me? I'd rather have health care than a cell and cable when my finances are strained. But you may not. Right now, Obama's argument to raise minimum wage is that you shouldn't have to make this choice. But we all make choices, Mr. President. It's how an economy works.
Tuesday, March 11. 2014
Top predators are essential to maintaining some sort of wobbly balances in ecosystems, but is their role overrated?
As Moose populations gradually rebound in New England, and as White-Tailed Deer become pests in some areas because of lack of hunters and of predators, I am all in favor of bringing Wolves back to our neighborhood. Wolves kill coyotes, so there's that benefit too.
The earth is an ecosystem, not an organism. Volcanic eruptions and asteroid collisions have serious consequences on the planet, on species (extinctions, for example), on climate and who knows what else. If the carbon density is a factor leading towards an environmental disaster, and it is a big if, what suffer you to reduce your carbon footprint? Or would you rather be the thirty-five year old who doesn't buy health insurance because "statistically I am at low risk for serious illness." You do the math.
Also, and this is dicey, no one factors the amount of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere every minute by 7 billion plus people not to mention the bovine methane from the cows contributing to your McDonald's diet. I'm just sayin' . . .
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