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, August 17. 2017
The movie "Jaws" ruined beach fun for millions of people. Like "Psycho" with showers and "Snakes on the Plane" with airplanes, the idea was to make money by creating disturbing mental images for people who live lives blessedly free of elemental terrors. Shark attacks on humans are extremely rare, and probably mostly accidental. Still, the thought of it is disturbing and resonates with our deepest "monster under the bed" terrors.
I never saw Jaws. Didn't want to. I do know the famous lines from it, though. Great Whites are cold-water eating machines. They congregate where the food is. They will live on fish, but seem to prefer delicious mammalian flesh so they go where they can find it.
Does the Bird Dog family swim with the seals? Yes, and the gals often with wet suits that make them look like cute seals. You can't have a life if fear dominates every aspect of it. I do not frequent golf courses in thunderstorms, but I do not frequent golf courses anyway.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:56 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
My observations are that people (mostly men) tend to feel useless if not emasculated by retirement, and end up finding new challenges. Forced retirement, due to health or being let go for whatever reason, is particularly crushing to the male self-image. A vacation is one thing, but a permanent vacation is not so special for most people. You can only play so much golf, and a wife usually does not want a guy hanging around a house all day.
What's your view? Is retirement a life goal or an ending of some sort? I clearly feel that it is a lousy life goal, because life is only today regardless of age.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:28 | Comments (16) | Trackbacks (0)
I don't want to write a commentary on the violence in Charlottesville. What happened is terrible, wrong, and any discussion of violence begins and ends with the violent acts themselves, not the activity commentators choose to associate it with. I rarely take part in group protests or political gatherings because the likelihood of one outlier who wants to impart damage is very high and I neither want to be associated with, nor a victim of, poor individual choices.
I do want to write a commentary on the removal of icons and monuments. In Tuesday's morning news, Bird Dog posted an article about Confederate statues in the Capitol building.
Before I dig in, I want to point out that if a statue triggers your emotions, I suggest you think long and hard about why you're having an emotional response to an inanimate object. I'd further point out that if these emotions regarding the statue are related to taking offense, or increasing your anger or hatred, you may want to see a therapist. I'm not a psychologist or psychotherapist, and maybe one of our other writers who are in that field can elaborate (or even tell me I'm wrong) about this point.
Consider one fact. Since Monday, monuments around the US have been removed, sometimes forcibly, in an angry response to Charlottesville. Taking this further, New York's governor, and NYC's mayor, have decided to review and remove 'symbols of hate'. One NYC councilman said "if not hate, at least symbols of hurt." I'll have to send him my list of statues that 'hurt' me.
I think politicians, and people, get bent out of shape over strange things. When I see virtually any protest forming, I begin to think "Don't those people have better things to do?" It's been a long time since I marched or protested or did anything political in a group setting. I generally don't like aligning with large groups that claim to speak for me. But a bigger personal issue is the current mindset is the assumption that if you don't agree with removal, you must somehow be sympathetic to the white supremacists. Thought Police abound in today's society, driven by emotions of hurt and hate. Moral equivalency is employed with alarming regularity, often unnecessarily and ignorantly.
I'll relate one experience I had in which I'd have to admit I was emotionally 'triggered'. It was a great learning lesson. I was in college. I was working on a TV show about hunger for the college station. A speaker arrived and handed out leaflets. One person pasted several of them on the set. It was an elephant with "GOP" written across his chest, preparing to drop a nuclear bomb. This was 1984, I was 22 years old and Reagan was being protested regularly on campus. I stood up, stated my opposition to the leaflet on the set, saying it neither had anything to do with hunger, and had everything to do with politics which we weren't discussing. I was told to be quiet and do my job. I protested again, saying it "offended my sensibilities" and that I couldn't work on a project like this. The professor who managed the station walked over, put his arm around me and said "you will be asked to do difficult and uncomfortable things throughout your life, and on your job. If you allow your emotions to get the better of you, it will cost you your job. Today, if you walk off the set, you will fail the day's project." I walked off the set, took my "F" for the day and still got an "A" for the class. But I learned a lesson. Don't let your emotions overwhelm you. I could have done the work and still been effective at my job. Today, I guess I could've sued for a "hostile workplace."
Continue reading "Monuments, Identity and Race"
Wednesday, August 16. 2017
Cloud Atlas — Marvelous, just marvelous. One of Tom Hanks' best.
The Martian — One of Matt Damon's increasingly good roles.
The Great Wall — Superb special effects, great monsters, seriously hot Chinese chick. What more do you want?
Rogue One — This is the '½' flick. It is, by no means, a 'great' movie, but there's an important point to be made.
As always, you're encouraged to click on the icon on the lower-right of the player's tool bar to open them up to full-screen size. Hit ESC to get back to windows mode when through.
Goodies are below the fold.
Continue reading "Movie Review: 3½ more great movies"
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 17:00 | Comments (23) | Trackbacks (0)
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:32 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, August 12. 2017
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:09 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, August 10. 2017
Toon on top via Althouse. Image below via the article.
Is academic language in the humanities and social sciences designed to obfuscate, is it just packaged cant from people with nothing to say, or is it smoke-signaling?
One prof claims "As a professor ... one seeks not to find the foundation and the conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change.”
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:26 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, August 8. 2017
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 04:04 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, August 7. 2017
The cup trick. He explains it, sort of.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:58 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
My Meindl "Light Hikers" have over 100 miles on them by now, and are as comfortable as sneakers. Although they are lighter than the Meindl hikers, they are not exactly light (3 lbs). My old Adidas hikers are lighter, but not as tough on rocks so I will keep them for ordinary hikes without steeps, scree, or boulders.
What those Meindls have, besides excellent stability when tied properly, is a velcro-like grip on steep and wet rock, gravel, and mud. I tried many times to see at what point they would slip, and they just would not. That is very cool.
For serious Alpine stuff, I'd go for their regular "Perfekt Hiker", but I have no plans for that.
A couple of points:
- I use liner socks with these boots. Probably don't need to, but why not?
- Since my feet are not used to long hikes day after day, I go prepared for dealing with hot spots and blisters. Didn't have a single problem with that.
- Nothing is waterproof with heavy rain and wind. "Waterproof" boots do nothing for rain pouring in from the top, or from having to cross water that is over boot-level. Fortunately, human skin is waterproof.
- Word to the wise: In Europe, "walking" adventures typically means off-trail steep hill and non-technical mountain hiking with cliffs and boulders. It's not what I call "walking."
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:55 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
Perhaps the author has not read about what Manhattan was like in the David Dinkins era. You can keep that kind of gritty if you want it with the muggings and the morning dead in the parks from gunshot and ODs. What is most obnoxious about the false-sentimentality of it is that the author seems to see Manhattan as NYC.
The author needs to get off the magic island and hike around like the Forgotten New York guy does. There are a lot of neighborhoods in New York, most not Dinkins-era gritty anymore but many fairly rugged and ungentrified. Regular people live there. Millions of them.
Posted by The News Junkie in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:16 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, August 6. 2017
It has been too many years since I could read a novel in German but there was a time when I could.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 16:36 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
The guys began work on one like the one in the photo but with fieldstone not cut stone. It will be on the edge of our bluestone patio. Have to keep up with the Joneses.
Actually, I like any reason to be outside, day or night. On these global cooling summer evenings, a fire, a cigar, and a little whisky make for the perfect contemplative moments. And the smoke keeps the bugs away.
I might decide to learn to make home-made pizza too. How difficult can it be?
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:24 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, August 5. 2017
A service guy asked me to clean out my dishwasher drain filter because it grossed him out. That was a humiliating experience. Clean your own once in a while to avoid that unpleasant experience. Chances are that it is full of gunk.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:20 | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)
The de Havilland Comet was the first commercial jetliner. 1949.
It had problems, like falling apart in midair. In time, those were fixed but it left tourists feeling uneasy.
David Warren flew on one, and another David Warren invented the airplane Black Box.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:46 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, August 3. 2017
Part 1 is here
Now to the related topic of Satiety.
It was not long ago that being pudgy or having a bit of a gut signaled prosperity, and leanness signaled lower class. Now it's the opposite. With incredible food abundance, and with obesity always in the news, funding for nutrition-related studies has grown. So now we know a lot more about how insulin works and about how the three food categories (fats and oils, carbs, and protein) are handled by the body. We are also learning about how hunger and satiety work. It's quite interesting but complicated.
These are "First World issues." In our world of nutritional abundance, recreational, social, and emotional eating, and the constant temptation of food porn, "hunger" often does not denote a need for nutrition except for the skinny, and satiety is often over-ridden by habit, speed-eating, stomach-stretching, delicious foods, sugar-and-carb dosing, and insulin-resistance. That is what it means when overweight people, who have no pressing energy needs at all other than water, vitamins, and minerals, eat hungrily two or three times a day. We term that appetite "false hunger" not because the appetite is not subjectively experienced but because appetite has, for them, disconnected from nutritional need and satiety signals (which are very slow to go into effect). That luxury used to be only for the wealthy.
It's like the flip side of anorexia. Anorexia nervosa is famously difficult to ameliorate, but it is not too difficult for most pudgy or fat people to re-set their bio-psycho-social food-o-stat if they want to. For starters, that entails small portions, plenty of protein to satisfy the hormones, and very slow eating so as not to short-circuit the awareness of the moment at which "That's enough to sustain me, because I don't feel hunger anymore." That way, the "Eat 'til I'm filled or stuffed...now I'm stuffed" effect never has to happen.
In the Western world, "sufficient" can be the stopping point, not "filled." Except Thanksgiving, when feeling ill from getting stuffed with stuffing is expected.
Being too scrawny, with underdeveloped muscle and bone, is life-limiting and unhealthy, but not as life-limiting as carrying excess fat around with its lengthy list of associated ailments. There's no need to carry it on your body, because there's a pizza joint on every corner to prevent sudden death from starvation. Most people, fortunately, make themselves sensitive to satiety signals most of the time so most active adults are neither significantly under- or over-weight.
Obviously, little of this applies to most children and adolescents.
Tuesday, August 1. 2017
Label photo via Salt Water New England. She seems to like Harris Tweed. It lasts forever, except moths.
"Hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides from Scottish wool." It's still a cottage industry on Harris and Lewis. No factory. I am not sure where the garments and hats, etc. are actually constructed, though.
A Harris wool sports jacket is heavy, water-resistant, and heathery-looking, perfect for Isle of Harris summer or winter weather.
Scotland, they say, has no summer and no winter. The wool just keeps growing. Was that a mutation in sheep?
Mrs. BD and the gals forced a sports jacket on me at the Harris Tweed shop on the harbor in Tarbert. Nice lining in it. Nothing really in the tiny village of Tarbert but a ferry dock, a whiskey distillery (where they suggested coming back in 5 years when they will have something good) and the little Harris Tweed shop.
Pics of a weaver, the shop, and bustling downtown Tarbert below the fold.
Continue reading "Harris Tweed"
Monday, July 31. 2017
Photo is the REI 40-L daypack.
I've done reading on the topic of daypacks. I have always used my antique Osprey daypack (made in Dolores, CO) which is about 20-liters. With a replacement waist belt which my shoe repair guy fixed up for me for $10, it sits right and holds anything I might need for an ordinary day hike. (I think any pack without a waist belt is a terrible idea. I have also found that a proper fit and tweaking the adjustments makes a big difference. It has to sit on your butt.)
I bought my Osprey pack in Telluride on a ski trip with the kids. Needed a place for them to put spare winter clothing in as the temperatures went up and down and as snow came and went during the day.
Mrs. BD took the liberty of buying me a 40-Liter REI daypack for our recent Hebrides hiking trip. It fits well, but holds far more stuff than I am ever likely to need other than for lengthy winter hikes.
In fact, it could function as a smallish airplane carry-on. These days, half the people on international flights carry backpacks. They have become standard tourist items, but who needs a backpack or daypack to walk around Florence all day?
Let's say the usual day hike off the beaten track is from 4 to 8 hours. What do you need in the pack? Some liquids, snacks, maybe a sandwich or two, some rain pants and waterproof jacket, a trail map or travel guide, a first aid kit and some blister packs, a wallet, binoculars, a little camera or iphone, perhaps a 2-way radio if remote, maybe a place for hiking poles - and empty space to stuff layers that you might not want as the day warms. A box of ammo if hunting in the wilderness.
Shouldn't a 20-L pack be able to handle that, and more? Unless it's warm weather and you are carrying several liters of water, or unless you are playing sherpa and carrying stuff for other people.
I think the Osprey 20 L pack is a good daypack choice.
We're about to plan our next wilderness hiking trip (day hikes only, thank you, with fluffy towels and hot water at night), so I will decide for sure whether 40 L is overkill.
If you are a regular day hiker, what size do you use, how do you use it, and what do you put in it? And if you would want a 40-L pack, why?
Sunday, July 30. 2017
"Travis Pastrana crushed the Mt. Washington Hillclimb record reaching the 6288’ summit in a stunning 5:44.72. The #199 WRX STI with a specially fitted 600hp engine actually beat the record two times, running a 5:46.28 on the first attempt up the twisty 7.4 mile race course. This is just shy of a twenty-five second gain on the old record of 6:09.09 held by Subaru Rally Team USA teammate, David Higgins, from 2014."
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 12:44 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, July 29. 2017
One of Steve Wynn's casinos lost $10 million on the Baccarat tables.
That is no biggie for his company. The story got me looking into the game of Baccarat. I have never played it. It's a card game, a game of chance with some more complicated versions like Chemin de Fer which I believe is what James Bond enjoyed. Punto banco is the common version of the game.
Is any skill involved in the betting component? I am not clear on that but it mainly seems to be about the adrenaline.
Photo above is Tranby Croft, site of the famous Royal Baccarat Scandal of 1890. A great story.
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:55 | Comment (1) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, July 26. 2017
Hansen himself has always done farm work and brain work. Just one of many quotable paragraphs:
Sunday, July 23. 2017
There are so many rating systems that it can be confusing or misleading. And when it comes to off-trail wilderness hiking, which we did a lot of in the Outer Hebrides, you really need a guide who knows the terrain to estimate what sorts of challenges you can handle. In less wilderness areas, of course, we all get a kick out of doing off-trail explorations on our own. Not always a good idea.
Many difficulty- rating systems are based on altitude changes, steepness of grade, length, agility-requirements, and risks (eg weather, cliffs, boulder fields, etc.). Other rating systems are based on technical difficulty alone.
I'll pick one example: the famous and popular Tuckerman Ravine trail up New Hampshire's Mount Washington. Alltrails rates it as Hard on their Easy/Moderate/Hard system. But what does that really mean? 9 year-olds prance up it with daypacks. What it means is that there is a substantial altitude change, variable weather (foolishly-unprepared people have died of exposure up there but it would be difficult to be that stupid), and high rocky steps at times, but it is a relatively easy hike if you are in good health and cardio condition. It's a 7-hr hike up to Lion's Head and back down - what Europeans call "hill-walking." In the European system, the Tuck hike probably would be rated in the 2 range on their 1-5 rating system.
Several of our Hebrides hikes would be rated Hard (if you sometimes have to be on your hands and knees grasping rocks and heather to get up the steeps) in some US systems, but all were around level 2-2.3 in the Euro system. I like that Euro system which takes into account your fitness level and the hike's challenges.
In my view, though, those Euro ratings - "Easy" to "Expedition-Level" - do underestimate the challenges. The Euro level 2 to 2.3 range is plenty for me. On level 3, I suspect that I would be a slowpoke in a group. People do not like to have to wait for the slowpokes. On straight steep uphills, off-trail, with unstable footing, I need a minute to catch my breath every 20-30 steps. I call that "admiring the scenery" or "taking a picture."
Since we're talking about hill-walking - all-terrain hiking - and not technical mountaineering, we are mostly talking about stamina and cardio conditioning. Strength is not a major factor but mental and physical stamina are.
Trailmaster posts about two common American rating systems in Choosing a Difficulty Level for Your Hike is a Key to Wise Hike Planning
Here's another piece about different rating systems for hikes and mountain bikers: TRAIL DIFFICULTY RATINGS SIGNS
And yet another to rate hikes you have taken: Hike Evaluation Calculator
Photo is from the popular hill walk/climb, Breakneck Ridge Trail in the very pleasant village of Cold Spring, NY. It's a 6-mile hill walk but the first mile involves lots of scrambling and a 2000-foot altitude change which is why some people rate it at a rather high - too high - 3 because anybody in decent shape can do it.
Wednesday, July 19. 2017
Like many fans of 'NCIS', a big chuck of my interest in the show went out the window when Michael Weatherly left a season ago. It just wasn't going to be the same without our lovable ol' Tony.
Just to get us into that Tony mood, I'm going to include a couple of clips from his NCIS days, then we'll move on to his new show.
What's interesting is that Weatherly played a multi-faceted persona on the show, sometimes being sentimental, and sometimes comedic. Here's a short clip that puts both facets on display.
Gibbs has received (yet another) medal of achievement, doesn't even bother to attend the ceremony, so Tony accepts it in his stead, as usual.
More on this interesting story below the fold.
Continue reading "Whereupon Michael Weatherly morphs into Jason Bull"
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:00 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, July 18. 2017
His political incorrectness would get him instantly fired anywhere but in his own office, but his female assistants just get a kick out of his bawdiness and Trumpism. We always talk about weight lifting and hiking and a little about sex. Conversation becomes a bit one-sided once my mouth is full of cold stainless steel tools of torture, but I am getting the hang of it over time. I wish he were a bit slower, because yanking a bad tooth before the novocaine has taken full effect is unnerving, but getting out of there faster is preferable for me. Why does it help so much when that sweet Filipino gal puts her hand on my shoulder when the going gets tough? Filipino Magic. Wonderful people - the best.
He recently completed his 6th muti-day hiking and camping trip in the Grand Canyon with his brother, a buddy, and uncle. No wives signed on. 45-lb packs. I suggested that it might be time to try a new place, and he said they would, having done all the basic GC trails including the worst one which scared the crap out of him. Maybe the Indian Trail. Like me, he is acrophobic but does it anyway. (Lots of people hate heights, so it's really normal. Even when I am snorkeling somewhere, and there is a steep drop-off on a ledge or reef, it gives me the creeps but I generally conceal my fears as much as I can. It's a guy thing.)
Isn't facing down your fears the thing that builds the "can-do" in a person, whether male, female, or gender-confused? One of my greatest fears is walking into a dental office, but I take the valium he gives me, then man-up and walk in with a flirt with the sweet gals and a fresh joke ready - ready to act cool...like a mass-murderer to the execution room.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:41 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, July 17. 2017
A very brief summary of Harari's best-seller Sapiens
Posted by The Barrister in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 13:20 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
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