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, June 18. 2015
I'll confess that I do not greatly enjoy wedding events, and this season has been, and will be, heavy with these weekend social duties. Of course, I am always pleased when people find life partners, though.
In youth, attending friends' weddings was great fun. Drinking, smoking pot behind the church, getting dressed up, guys meeting new gals and vice versa, making out on the club porch with a new person after too many champagnes. Many youth meet their future mates at weddings, for good reason: they have been socio-culturally vetted.
I also understand that parents like to throw lavish weddings to entertain their friends, families, and business associates. An excuse to check that box. But only the youth really enjoy these things because it's new to them. As an adult, I do not really enjoy attending (although I feel hurt if not invited). They interfere with your whole day and go on too long.
An inconvenience, in fact, but showing up is an obligation to people you care about. It's important to them that you show up. A brief ceremony with sandwiches and drinks after would be fine with me, same as a funeral. Two hours, max, go through the receiving line, leave your gift on the pile, and then get to your tennis game. I've been to enough weddings (and enough funerals too). Throwing a wedding need not be a major imposition on your guests' lives.
- People do not realize that your wedding is not the only one they are obligated to go to this year. For them, it seems like a Big Deal.
- You get seated with people you have to make small talk with. Dull, usually. You keep wondering "Can we leave yet?"
- You have to pretend to have 'fun," and to be grateful for the abundant food, drink, loud music, and the opportunity to dance like a teenager. I do not need any of those things but the youngsters might.
- Old Yankee Rules: Excess and display are tacky. Old Puritan Rules: weddings are not religious matters. Marriage is not a Protestant sacrament but is a solemn, witnessed vow, and a secular contract.
- 67% of American marriages end in grisly divorce
- Weddings without children attending are just no darn good.
- Weddings are an industry today. $10,000 for flowers? For one afternoon?
I don't mean to sound like a curmudgeon (or do I?). Marriage is an essential institution and God bless all who partake and whose vows are deadly serious.
My idea of a wedding event for my kids would be old-time, slightly post-Puritan New England. Bring a fiddler and an accordionist to the town green with a pig roast, with kids crying and running around. Don't even get me started on beach weddings, mountaintop weddings, black tie weddings, and golf destination weddings. But we have boys so I will be mercifully out of the loop.
The "Honored Mother of the Bride"? Gag me.
Here's a traditional New England wedding:
The percentage of pregnant brides is said to have been quite high amongst the puritan Congregationalists, maybe 50% or more.
What caught my attention, though I'm not sure if it caught my wife's, was the trail itself. I was an avid hiker/camper in my youth. My wife is not. El Camino is roughly 800 km, or about 500 miles, if started in Roncesvalles, France.
The history of El Camino is quite lengthy, a pilgrimage which preceded even the Christian era. With the growth of the Church, and the incorporation of many pagan rituals and groups within the Church itself, El Camino took on new significance as a means of penance. The attraction of Santiago de Compostela is related to the belief that St. James the Greater's (Santiago) tomb is in the church at that site. The belief was, for years, that the path offered an opportunity for penance and spiritual growth, as any pilgrimage seeks to provide.
There were, and to some degree still are, many paths to complete the pilgrimage. Which is one reason given to the rise of the symbol of El Camino, the scallop shell, with many routes ending at a single point. Other reasons for the shell include the belief that to 'prove' one completed the trip, a scallop shell was required to be taken as a token. Scallop shells also happened to provide other traveling purposes, such as acting as a plate for food, or large enough for a small drink of water. All the stories about the shell relate back to some myths about the arrival of St. James' body to Spain's shores.
Continue reading "El Camino de Santiago"
Wednesday, June 17. 2015
Today, the documentary world is full of nonsense. Outside of Ken Burns, whose work usually captures my eyes and ears, there aren't many documentary works which are interesting at all. Most documentaries today seem to be paid for by either corporations or left-wing nutjob organizations. They are more propaganda than documentary.
Which is a shame. The term documentary used to mean something, and not just mean "telling you a story I'm paid to tell you because it's what my paymasters want."
"Nanook of the North" was one of the first documentaries, and this work comprised at least 3 full classes in one semester of documentary study. Even then, much was known about how much Robert Flaherty had scripted, rather than actually documenting 'Nanook's' life. Flaherty defended his position, pointing out the issues a producer has in trying to recreate reality. As a class, we agreed that Flaherty's limitations, based on the bulkiness of his equipment and limited capacity for being in the right place at the right time, gave him some leeway to play somewhat fast and loose with the generally accepted rules of documentary film-making. Even so, his work perpetrated and reinforced some stereotypes, rather than helping to inform people about how accustomed to modern life Eskimos really were.
Continue reading "A Brief History of Documentary"
Friday, April 17. 2015
Sultan offers The Deconstruction of Marriage and deconstruction in general. A quote:
Other topics there, but I can say that, without my marriage of many years, my life would be terrible. To each his or her own, though. Invent your own life if you want, and go for it! Just do not ask me to pay your bills because I have organized my life to pay my own.
I posted about it earlier. Well, it's a "boot camp" deal, 15-30 seconds rest between strenuous exercises - some whole-body, some targeted - for an hour or more, 3 days/week. The aerobics is just built into the non-stop exertion.
He made me clarify my goals, and he tracks everything. I said I wanted to avoid muscle atrophy, to increase endurance, overall fitness, agility, and physical vigor. Going from 36" to 35 belt would be fine too. So he made a plan to destroy me.
A trainer will whip you along like you would never do yourself unless you are far more self-disciplined than I am. It is quite intense because there is no recovery time - and that's the point. When he senses that I need a two- or 3-minute break, he puts me on the elliptical or the bike instead of real rest to keep the heart rate up.
Battle ropes and medicine balls? Sheesh.
Guy says that if I don't hurt all over then he has not done his job. Says that if you are not sore after exercise, you've done no good and wasted your time. Even walking with intention for 30 minutes, he says, should leave you exhausted and sweaty. Says his goal is to get me barely stumbling out to my car, covered with sweat and gasping for air, in the dark around 6:15 am. For the final 5 minutes, he stretches me out and it hurts like hell and he laughs. So far, that has been working.
He caught me checking my watch 40 minutes in this morning, and laughed. Cruel SOB.
He says that, for now, to rapidly convert fat to muscle, he wants me mainly on protein, 4 small doses of food per day. Like one hard-boiled egg for breakfast, a small bowl of plain yoghurt or a little cheese around noon, a slice of meat mid-afternoon, a few slices of meat or fish for supper. No bread or mashed taters, no beans, no pasta, no bread, no fruit except perhaps half an apple with peanut butter on the slices in the afternoon. Non-carb vegetables if I want anytime, but, like me, he thinks they are nutritionally irrelevant for anything other than pleasure or filling a stomach. Says I can take a multivit for the placebo effect. Mind you, I have no weight issue but since I pay him, I might as well follow his dietary advice for a while. Stupid not to. I am determined to be a good and gratifying customer and the notion of converting soft weight to hard weight is appealing. I'll believe it when I see it.
Next week he'll tell me what routine he will require me to do on days between and after sessions. Oh boy - can't wait. Says he just wants to keep waking up my body for a few weeks first. Sheesh. For now, he just wants me pushing the elliptical on off days to stay loose and to keep the muscles awake. The guy is a sadist. Don't most of us prefer comfortable "exercise" most of the time? He says ordinary walking is worthless unless it's just for fun - unless you are over 75.`
Man, I knew my endurance was slacking but I did not realize how badly until there was a guy with a whip (altho a gal with a whip might be more interesting). Ladies, if your hubbie is going a little soft (I mean in general, not you know) and you don't really like it, give him the present of a couple of months of boot camp so I don't feel so alone...
These guys will negotiate fees for a package deal especially during their slow hours. I go at 5 am instead of milking the cows. Some American ladies I've seen in Walmart could use this too but, around here in Yankeeland, many or most ladies do hard things to stay trim, youthful, and desirable. Admittedly, it is social class-related to some extent. However, as Murray says, social class (not $) is correlated with self-discipline and goal-orientation.
"Letting yourself go" gets just so easy, like letting a garden fill with weeds. I do not want that for myself.
Thursday, April 16. 2015
This gives a very close idea, I'd say +/- 3 points. It is context-free so has nothing to do with education, just pure mental horsepower. Give it a try. You will either be humbled and hate yourself for being an overachiever - or hate yourself for being an underachiever. No, not really. Many will figure they had themselves pegged correctly.
Speed counts, of course. No allowances for slower thinkers or "disabilities" because it is not a test of knowledge or operations. I came out 123 which I think is about right.
Wednesday, April 15. 2015
I’m not going to paint this post with pictures or videos, but just let the words stand on their own. Today is Yom Hashoah, the day of remembrance of the millions of Jews singled out for slaughter in World War II and the heroes who fought back. Everyone says “never again”, but we all know that is a hollow pretense for almost all who say it. We have watched mass slaughters, including some specifically targeted against discrete ethnic or religious groups, and done little or nothing. As always, almost all say it’s not their business or they don’t want to get involved or similar. So, where does that really leave the Jews of Israel who are daily, openly threatened with extinction by MidEast fanatics who are gathering the means to do so, and getting closer? It leaves the Jews of Israel to do everything possible within its limited persuasion and power to protect itself. That’s the simple truth of the matter. And, the other simple truth of the matter is that the enemies of Israel have so infected this administration in Washington that it is speeding and easing the day of confrontation, in effect and in direct consequences of Washington’s weakness.
It is not surprising that some Jews in the US go along, either out of comforts or lack of ever actually feeling the wolf’s breath. There have always been such. And, although fate has not been kind to them in the past, they are an infection that is not due any excuses for their perfidy. These are simple truths. We will all face the violent outcome and consequences -- regardless of religion or national background -- either by fallout or the burning of our souls in the hell deserved for cowards. Or, we can be more forthright and outspoken and involved in doing all we can, really, to turn this administration away from utter capitulation and the prospective presidential candidates from any shadow of such policies.
I have posted about IQ in the past. It's said to be a measure of "g", which is not much different than saying IQ is a measure of IQ.
IQ and total SAT scores are well-correlated so, at the least, it says something about one's power to handle relatively, but not extremely, complex cognitive tasks like higher math, challenging reading, high-level abstractions, etc. etc. It's about cognitive potential more than anything else. In today's world, cognitive powers matter more than they used to and more than they should, I suppose.
Many psychiatrists and psychologists have learned over the years to estimate peoples' IQs quite accurately, just in conversation. Subtlety of mind, rigor of logic, and curiosity as manifested by breadth and depth of knowledge are some of the markers. Of course, there is the birds of a feather issue too: people tend to find others within a similar range most engaging.
Very high IQ is a life handicap, sad to say. There are few of those, though. Lower IQs which are fully-functional and effective in life are far more common.
Medium-range IQ is the most life-adaptive (ie 110-115) for 95% of things in life from plumbing to software sales to money management. It's often been reported that the ideal IQ for CEOs of large, intricate organizations is near or around 130. Of course, character, personality style, sense of humor, and ability to connect with others in a positive way play perhaps larger overall roles in life although they will not help you perform, or even understand, a regression analysis. Furthermore, even moderately alert managers can easily hire brighter people to carry their water and make them look good. We call that "savvy" or "street smarts," not intelligence.
Here's a good essay on IQ and professional performance.
Lots of awkward nerds there.
Report says schools still shortchanging gifted kids - UI research finds many high-ability children bored and unchallenged, despite increased access to programming
Most public school teachers can rarely keep up with the truly gifted
IQ and wealth are the two of the main things social justice warriors hate. They sort-of tolerate every other sort of inequality like musical talent or running speed.
Tuesday, April 14. 2015
I have a better idea. Shut it down and generate taxes via another method.
I think there are some easier ways to take money by taxing financial transactions, given the size of those markets.
But even if that isn't going to work, and income taxes remain the main method of tax taking, then funding the IRS is a terrible idea. The best way to raise revenue isn't to force people to adhere to a difficult and unworkable code that is punitive. It's to simplify that code and reduce the work. The idea of increasing enforcement is a 'jobs creation' idea that produces nothing. Let jobs be created where they add, rather than take, value - in the open market.
To do this, make the income tax low and flat. You earned $10,000? Fill out the form on the back of a postcard. Maybe you have deductions for family members living at home, but beyond that, you pay 10%. So $10,000, deduct yourself and pay $900. $250,000, deduct the wife and 3 kids and pay $24,600. Easy to file, easy to audit, easy to enforce, hard to avoid...lower staff, lower costs, higher collection rates.
It really is that easy. But again, it's just another good idea that won't pass because people are too caught up in how things have been rather than considering how they can be.
Monday, April 13. 2015
Photo: I look in pretty good shape for a country boy, don't I?
Mrs. BD decided that my lazy middle-aged, sedentary-working ass needed a trainer. Well, I happily do outdoor work all I can on weekends, but there is church, theater, museum, music performances, etc...
In long-past years, I would routinely swim a mile a day racing friends, or run 5-20 miles. As I say, middle-aged lazy ass now. It's crazy, isn't it? In America, many people pay for physical exertion while, mostly, the whole world prays for work with no lifting. I love sort-of mindless physical work like ditch-digging or log splitting or chain-sawing. Mental work fatigues me.
How in this world can physical labor be a luxury good? Anybody, no matter how impaired; every person can do at least useful simple physical work and I am not talking about Steven Hawking who works 10 hrs/day.
I haven't even been playing tennis regularly since the organizer of our group died (dropped dead on the tennis court, which I said he would have always wanted, but not right then. I feel the same way, but one would feel bad to interrupt a good doubles game that way).
Anyway, Mrs. BD gave me 20 beginning sessions for Christmas with this young trainer she uses, quite inexpensive, in a hole-in-the-wall gym (not Equinox). (For presents, our family goes more for the experiential than the material.) 5 am sessions, fine with me. Get it done before work. An Ohio farm lad. He is good, cheerful, not a body-beautiful type and with just the right amount of sadism to laugh when you feel pain. He asked me what my tolerance for aching muscles was. I honestly told him that I love the feeling of physical fatigue and ache - bring it on - and only hate mental ache and worry.
Naturally, he asked me my goals. I said maintaining and improving strength, fitness, and endurance in middle age. I have no weight problem or physical problems (thus far). I can ski all day and hike up hills all day, do manual labor all day, but I do tire. My many sibs are all exercise nuts, wiry, a bit too skinny, hard-bodied, and far more fit than I am.
For no good reason I can see, Mrs. BD wants me alive so she made me get a physical and an echo stress test before starting. I avoid "physicals" like the plague, and figure every 5-7 years is just barely tolerable. Anyway, I went. Passed. I quickly found out why she wanted that. This guy said I won't need too much aerobics for a while because his fitness training plan for me will be highly aerobically stressful in itself. He does not allow rest periods and claims any endurance improvement will come from that. It's called "boot camp." Whew!
Trainer said my weight is fine, but I am soft, with some signs of age and muscle loss. Gee, thanks - but I knew that. He wants to build muscle weight and eliminate soft weight so it comes out about even. He said quit carbs and eat a hard-boiled egg, or a small plain yoghurt, or one slice of meat or 2 of cheese after hard work-outs as breakfast, to inject a little protein in the bloodstream. Nothing more. Said that was plenty for a guy doing a hard morning workout since I have mostly sitting or just walking afterwards. I guess I can handle that, altho I never have eaten any breakfast except coffee since I was a teen and do not like to eat in the morning. 2 coffees and a smoke is a perfect breakfast.
I am not a big eater at all but I am known to nibble. I can appreciate fine food but I don't need it - a small sandwich or a small bowl of soup for supper is plenty for me. I am not a carb addict other than mashed taters (in a lifetime of Dunkin Donuts, I have almost never bought one of their pastries - maybe one a year at most).
I'll confess it's a good, luxurious feeling to put part of your well-being in the hands of an expert.
Sunday, April 12. 2015
OLD WORDS AND PHRASES REMIND US OF THE WAY WE WORD by Richard Lederer
About a month ago, I illuminated old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology. These phrases included don’t touch that dial, carbon copy, you sound like a broken record and hung out to dry. A bevy of readers have asked me to shine light on more faded words and expressions, and I am happy to oblige:
I sauteed a pile of chopped carrots, onions, whole head or two of garlic, celery (all skin on) in olive oil until browned.
You always brown bones, meat, and carcasses for a French, Anglo, or American stock. I browned a pile of veal bones, chicken wings, a chicken carcass, and turkey legs in the oven. Then I threw it all in the stewpot with a jug of Chardonnay, a bottle of cheap ruby port, some water, a handful of fresh thyme sprigs and a handful of fresh parley, a handful of frozen blueberries, half of a small can of tomato paste, a handful of dried oyster and porcini mushrooms, and a handful of peppercorns, and low-simmered it all for 6 hours. Three hours with lid on, three hours with lid off.
Then I strained it all, and I am reducing it a bit more. Smells good. Not sure what I would call this, except delicious and fragrant. Not for beef, though. As a base, you can add currants or berries or berry jam to it for a venison sauce, some chopped apple for a pork sauce, mushrooms for a poultry sauce, etc.
It's glace when a stock is reduced to a syrupy state, which I rarely if ever do. You have had glace in restaurants though, on the plate under a piece of meat. I just aim for a thick, intense stock and I call it "jus" or "gravy," although it is not gravy. It's super-jus.
Stocks and glazes, including:
Friday, April 10. 2015
I had several questions about the project. For one, was there a revenue impact which was expected to offset the cost, and if so how was it calculated? What was the timeline for introduction at departmental and company-wide levels? What were the expectations of the use of the data? Was it better to implement in a piecemeal fashion, department by department - continuing the current path we are on - or was their top-down approach more efficient and likely to yield better results? Each question received an answer, sometimes dismissive, which led to more questions.
I was viewed negatively for my inquisitiveness. I explained I wasn't opposed to the project, but that I'd seen projects like this many times. None have worked as expected and most never paid off. These were not reasons to avoid doing it, but it is good to ask questions and be sure. I was told to 'trust' the data scientists, none of whom I know, and don't stand in the way. I acquiesced, and ceased my questions. Groupthink is a powerful thing. Data was here to save our business, I was assured.
On the train ride home, I ran into a colleague from another department who is much closer to this project and he told me even more details about the project. For one, it was the third attempt by this team to implement the 'vision' (so much for trust!). For another, they were abandoning all the work done in the previous 2 operations and starting from scratch, meaning work which had been done on all the old systems had to be reassessed and either tossed or transferred to newer platforms. Finally, they'd spent exorbitant sums of money already, to the point that break-even was probably 10 years off, assuming they met their 4 year timeline. He listened to my questions and nodded, saying they were all the right questions and there was good reason to question the nature and scope of this project.
Google, Facebook and all the other firms with huge data systems have the benefit of being young and starting from scratch while new technologies were being introduced. This is how business works, it's part of the process of creative destruction. The newer companies benefit from untried, but potentially beneficial products, living or dying by their ability to manage and incorporate these ideas and technology. Older companies have to try and keep up, and many are incapable of doing so. However, these older firms need to be careful about the implementation. Data is as much about art as it is about what the data tells us, sometimes less is more. Sometimes your gut tells you as much as $10mm worth of information does. I have seen people collect information on months-long projects only to confirm suggestions which were made at the outset. The delays cost money. There are rare, very rare, occasions when the data tells us something different. Sometimes the reason it tells us something different is due to the time delay in collecting the data. Perhaps this is a form of Heisenberg's Cat played out in the realm of business.
I am a huge believer in collecting and managing data. My job relies on it. But as I tell my boss, data and technology are like Stradivarius violins. You can give me a Stradivarius and I will make awful noise with it. Give it to a concert violinist, and beautiful music is made. The same is true of data. Many data scientists today, I've found, make very basic mistakes in their assumptions about what data tells them. The most common is the confusion over causation and correlation. I have had arguments with PhDs over this very issue when they present correlative data without proving the linkage to causation.
Baseball is a great example of this point. Sabermetrics have revived and increased my interest in the game. Yet Sabermetrics have limits. A cute, sappy movie Trouble With The Curve illustrates where data intersects with knowledge and experience. Data can provide support, but it takes experience to know what that data is telling you.
Dr. Joy Bliss recently posted about this issue, as the problem has infected even the realm of medicine and health.
Data can do many things. But the last thing it should be used for is policy-making, because data is typically utilized under the 'pretense of knowledge' and applied in a fashion that has unintended consequences. They may also have politics, which don't benefit you, built in.
Michael Crichton famously warned us of the problem of politicized science and data. Sadly, many intelligent people remain ignorant of misplaced trust in data, demonizing critics without explaining fully why the critics' logic is flawed.
A company, like the one which employs me, is just as likely to politicize positions. We call it groupthink. In my briefing, I was not part of the groupthink. I enjoy being on the outside. I may be wrong at times, but when I am, I'm happy to know that I have played the role of Captain Obvious, asking difficult questions in a fashion to open up the thought process further - if it can be opened up further. Sadly, as I watch what happens in the office, I begin to understand why Progressives remain so prevalent in our society. They are incapable of moving past groupthink. If everyone else is doing it, it must be good - right?
Thursday, April 9. 2015
I think it's generally a bad idea, but I have done it many times including around NYC. A good adventure for sure at night, but daytime is fine. Here's something, but it's the half-drunks and the immigrants in cars that are the problem and I do not think this will have any impact on them because they are too busy jostling cars and dinging pedestrians to worry about bikers:
Wednesday, April 8. 2015
There's a name for that: Orthorexia nervosa.
It is indeed an eating disorder which is probably related to, and often overlaps, the other eating disorders. Unlike the other eating disorders, it seems harmless enough although irrational, a waste of time, and annoying to others. A waste of effort and money too. Basically another variant of the obsessional neuroses.
Vegans, organics, gluten freaks, Whole Foods, and all that silliness.
Nobody can define healthy eating and it doesn't matter as far as we can tell. Therefore, if you worry about food we say you just need to get a life. A social life, wholesome hobbies, etc. Unless you need to lose weight for health and vigor, to prevent arthritis and diabetes, etc, that is. Does your cholesterol count matter for anything? Not at all, unless you have the genetic disease of hypercholesterolemia which is detectable early in life. In that case, you take pills, cross your fingers, and pray.
His speech on the topic: Let’s Render Some Federal Codes Unenforceable
I am on board. I'm the guy who had to litigate being required to rebuild the fence around my pool by the town after a flood knocked it down, but was forbidden to replace the fence around the pool by the state EPA because the area was technically wetlands. It cost me $12,000 in legal costs to finally get a waiver from the EPA. The new fence was installed in one day for $1500.
Next time, I will just quietly hire some Mexicans to put the fence back.
Mind you, just 60' from the end of my pool there is a highly-dangerous - and unfenced - small river with steep banks. A true attractive nuisance and a nice trout stream too.
A major essay from a Maggie's hero, Roger Scruton, with a survey of the evolution of the modern university. He begins:
A cousin had a copy of my (recently-late) Mom's recipe for Danish Wedding Cake, in her own hand. "Spray the Bundt pan with Pam!" He scanned it and sent it. Sounds a lot like a cheesecake.
Tuesday, April 7. 2015
But the final game last night was a masterpiece, with lead changes galore and a personnel chess match which eventually led to Duke's fifth championship banner.
The real story, though, was who got them there. Their stars carried them all season, but got in foul trouble. So a forgotten freshman steps up with the team facing a considerable deficit, and single-handedly changes the tide of the game.
His story, one of great expectations which were never really fulfilled on a team loaded with talent, is one we can all learn from. I shared it with my sons, pointing out that you never know when your chance to make a difference will arrive. But if you're not prepared to make that difference, if you've let your skills diminish, if you've stopped caring, then your chance will arrive and pass.
I reminded them of the Prodigal Son. His celebrated return wasn't about how great he was, but how he returned to the fold. The personal recognition of his fall from grace and the need to redeem himself, returning to his father. Grayson Allen may not be the prototypical prodigal that leaps to mind. But all talented people, that is everyone, suffer down moments. What defines them isn't how they got down, but how they are able to pick themselves up and keep moving and make the most of what they have. Allen did that.
There are hundreds of elitist, WASPy, old private communities like this scattered around the Northeast. Many operate as, or like, private clubs and some are more informal. I know about a lot of them, but have not been to many of them. They tend to be so discreet that you would not know about them.
Blooming Grove is great with thousands of acres, several streams and lakes and great old houses, but you have to be related to one of the founders to have a house there.
We all live in different realities.
Sunday, April 5. 2015
Our great art institutions are cheating us of our artistic patrimony every day, and if they wanted to, they could stop.
Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Michael O'Hare has plenty of complaints about art museums in Museums Can Change—Will They? Our great art institutions are cheating us of our artistic patrimony every day, and if they wanted to, they could stop.
Some of his gripes are reasonable, but some are not. Here are some of my points:
Museums are not just show places. They are safe repositories. Their stored things are used for sharing with other museums, for special exhibitions, study, etc.
Can looking at pictures be brain-deadening? Sure. I call it "museum brain." My limit is one hour, to see some things targeted in advance. It's overstimulating.
Are museums sort-of deadly environments? Yes. They are designed to highlight precious stuff in a sterile, non-distracting environment where everybody has access. Access is a good thing. However, little or nothing that one sees at the Met or at the Kunsthistorisches Museum was made for museum viewing. It was all made for a function, or for decor, in non-museum places - public or private. For entertainment, really, whether in church or in secular. Treating pictures as sacred relics in a Church of Art distorts the thing. When you see a single Picasso oil in somebody's living room, it's a different experience and you see it for what it is - totally cool and interesting decor mostly.
Related to that, the most comfortable museum I've used is the Belvedere. It is one of the first public art musems in the world. Everything is just hung or placed in the old Hapsburg palace as if it belonged there. Give it a try. The Frick is a bit like that too. It was somebody's house and people can still throw parties, weddings, etc. there with the Fragonards doing what they were meant to do - produce delight.
I love deviled eggs. An egg salad sandwich is good too, with some celery in it, lots of pepper, on white bread.
Thanks, Easter Bunny, for laying all those pretty eggs. Easter Eggs for Grown-Up Tastes
What does Resurrection mean? Easter and the Cosmic Christ:
It's that gentle knock that can eventually get you out of the chair or sofa, and open the door.
That painting hangs in St. Paul's in London. I was surprised to see it there.
Saturday, April 4. 2015
For Passover, a friend sent along his reminiscences of growing up Jewish:
Brisket is not the same as Corned Beef!
Before we start, there are some variations in ingredients because of the various types of Jewish taste (Polack, Litvack, Deutch and Gallicianer). Sephardic is for another time.
Just as we Jews have six seasons of the year (winter, spring, summer, autumn, the slack season, and the busy season), we all focus on a main ingredient which, unfortunately and undeservedly, has disappeared from our diet. I’m talking, of course, about SCHMALTZ (chicken fat).
SCHMALTZ has, for centuries, been the prime ingredient in almost every Jewish dish, and I feel it’s time to revive it to its rightful place in our homes. (I have plans to distribute it in a green glass Gucci bottle with a label clearly saying: “low fat, no cholesterol, Newman’s Choice, extra virgin SCHMALTZ.” (It can’t miss!) Then there are grebenes – pieces of chicken skin, deep fried in SCHMALTZ, onions and salt until crispy brown (Jewish bacon). This makes a great appetizer for the next cardiologist’s convention.
There’s also a nice chicken fricassee (stew) using the heart, gorgle (neck) pipick (gizzard – a great delicacy, given to the favorite child), a fleegle (wing) or two, some ayelech (little premature eggs) and other various chicken innards, in a broth of SCHMALTZ, water, paprika, etc. We also have knishes (filled dough) and the eternal question, “Will that be liver, beef or potatoes, or all three?”
Other time-tested favorites are kishkeh, and its poor cousin, helzel (chicken or goose neck). Kishkeh is the gut of the cow, bought by the foot at the Kosher butcher. It is turned inside out, scalded and scraped. One end is sewn up and a mixture of flour, SCHMALTZ, onions, eggs, salt, pepper, etc., is spooned into the open end and squished down until it is full. The other end is sewn and the whole thing is boiled. Often, after boiling, it is browned in the oven so the skin becomes crispy. Yummy!
My personal all-time favorite is watching my Zaida (grandpa) munch on boiled chicken feet.
For our next course we always had chicken soup with pieces of yellow-white, rubbery chicken skin floating in a greasy sea of lokshen (noodles), farfel (broken bits of matzah), tzibbeles (onions), mondlech (soup nuts), kneidlach (dumplings), kasha (groats), kliskelech and marech (marrow bones) . The main course, as I recall, was either boiled chicken, flanken, kackletten, hockfleish (chopped meat), and sometimes rib steaks, which were served either well done, burned or cremated. Occasionally we had barbecued liver done to a burned and hardened perfection in our own coal furnace.
Since we couldn’t have milk with our meat meals, beverages consisted of cheap soda (Kik, Dominion Dry, seltzer in the spritz bottles). In Philadelphia it was usually Franks Black Cherry Wishniak (vishnik).
Growing up Jewish - below the fold -
Continue reading "Brisket is not the same as Corned Beef!"
Friday, April 3. 2015
Gosh, I love this crazy city, but sometimes I like to get away from it for a little serenity. Then I get bored, and need to get back. As a country boy, you just need all that stimulation and hustle-bustle.
From my reading, it seems that New Amsterdam was more foundational to America than Plymouth ever was. And New Amsterdam was there first, as a speculative project of the Dutch West Indies Company. It was a wild and crazy multicultural tolerant, commercial place in 1623 and they mostly got along with the Indians. It is often omitted from the history that this is where the Pilgrims were headed.
Thursday, April 2. 2015
Popularly known as Easter. The word Easter comes from the Teutonic goddess of spring, Eustre.
Bon Appetit: Our Ultimate Guide to Easter Food
Easter menus from New York’s restaurant past. Hot Dogs for Easter?
The BD family will also be celebrating another almost- arising from death on Sunday. My father in law recovered from his quadruple bypass after a near-fatal heart failure, returning back home from San Diego on Saturday and we'll all provide an Easter feast for them down in NJ after their Mass - if they can get to Mass. They never miss Mass. At worse, a priest visits but they do not need that yet. Guy emails me that he feels great.
Along the way, he learned that one or two drinks per day can help prevent future heart problems. Will not need to twist this Irishman's arm about that wholesome remedy. It seems mild to moderate alcohol enjoyment prevents heart disease. Diet, otherwise, does not seem to matter at all so no fruits and greens and nuts for this Irish meat and potatoes mensch.