Friday, April 29, 2011

Fight of the Century: Keynes vs. Hayek Round 2

I know it has made the rounds already, but really, it's that good.  (I couldn't help but notice that its production values are better than those of a much maligned, but nonetheless entertaining, movie I'd seen lately.)

It really is very, very clever.

Note the end result of the bout: Who wins and who is declared the winner by the government and acknowledge by the press? Even Keynes is surprised by the declaration!



You bail out the losers, there's no end to the cost! 

My favorite touch is the cornermen: Ickes (?), Malthus, Say, and Mises.

The civility of discourse is simply delightful against the background of what I generally find to be ugly yelling to rhythmic base line. The boxing - not to mention dancing! - economists are priceless.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Word Cloud Poetry


Fun with Wordle

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Pickax to the Head


In yesterday's New York Times, Mark Bittman calls for more regulations! Shocking, I know. This time he’s doing it not for the children, but for the animals.  He really is a champion of the disenfranchised, isn’t he?  No. He’s a food personality who has earned a national pulpit from the owners of the New York Times to spout his out-of-touch – money is no object, the expansion of government is good – bullshit.

The problem is the system that enables cruelty and a lack not just of law enforcement but actual laws.

Despite his utter devotion to the regulatory state, it really is the group of individuals involved that is the problem. Not all individuals who work at animal processing facilities are immune to the sentient nature of animals; a person who purposefully mistreats animals should become an outcast among his peers and seen as a company liability to be dealt with by management.  And that should be the extent of his punishment.

While Bittman disdainfully points out the foolish stretching of the Constitution to include a restriction against videotaping and texting pictures of pet store animals, he neglects to identify that he is calling for an extension of the protection of rights guaranteed by the Constitution to animals as against the actions of men. The Constitution is a proscription for the limits of government, not on the actions of men.

Finally, he plays his trump card in choosing not to believe that eating animals is immoral because he eats meat. So, if he were to become a vegan would he determine eating animals to be immoral? Perfectly unprincipled.

The proper role of government is to protect the individual rights of men. Those who champion the use of government force in an attempt to control every action of their fellow men that they find objectionable are immoral. They certainly have more in common with those who would take a pickax to a cow’s head than I do. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reasons I Blog

(chirp.)









Can't think of a one right now.

Be back when I remember or think of something to say.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Now We're Cooking.

The sarcasm that had repelled, the harshness that had startled me once, were only like keen condiments in a choice dish: their presence was pungent, but their absence would be felt as comparatively insipid. 
Charlotte Bronte (21 Apr 1816 - 31 Mar 1855) in Jane Eyre




This was the last in a list of detailed instructions left for me on the kitchen table by my husband one morning after I asked what I should do to assist in the food preparation for that evening. 

I think his Good Wife's Guide sarcasm is a direct result of the fact that his recipe for apple pie comes straight from the American Woman's Cook Book (c) 1956. 

And I find both his sprinkling of sarcasm and apple pie delicious! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winsome Wednesday

Today is brought to you by the lovely, vocal-like lilt of Gabriel Faure's sweet Berceuse, Op. 16.

Enjoy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

3 Good Things (Family Food Fun edition)


1.       Kale chips (crisped with bacon fat, sprinkled with sea salt - CRUNCH!)

Seen here with faux-tatoes, butternut squash, and chicken?


2.       Mixed berry tropical freeze (coconut milk, oil, mixed berries, and apples - YUM!)


A perfect summer treat.  It's incredibly creamy and delicious!


3.       Guggenheim* (who knows what convenience food treasures this beauty may yield)

Still naming his small kitchen appliances, but this one asked for it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Makes the Man


It’s not quite right without the tie.
It begs that distinct formality.
Burnside is calling, I’m not sure why.
Talk ends with dismissive finality.

But some days later, within my quick glance,
A tie’s seen worn 'round his neck;
In front of his ear, not merely by chance,
Hirsute patches meet my peck.

Recognition dawns in an adoring smile,
You’re so wonderful!, I cry.
He’s taken aback at my reaction a while,
Thanks, he says thinking, I try.

It’s not the superficial: not manner nor dress,
Certainly not in his trying to please.
It’s his benevolence, his very being, no less:
Rationally selfish – the rest is at ease.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Liberty Quotes: Education

For the past year or so, I have been receiving one, two, sometimes three quotations about liberty in my inbox each morning courtesy of Liberty Quotes. Some I've heard before, some I don't really understand the context in which it was said (a problem with receiving only the pithy parts), and some really hit home. My favorites are the ones I've never heard before from the infamous. Today's are so good I needed to share them all:

Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.
-- Josef Stalin
(1879-1953) Communist leader of the USSR



The education of all children,from the moment that they can get along without a mother's care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.
-- Karl Marx
(1818- 1883) Father of Communism, Author of the 'Communist Manifesto'
Source: The Communist Manifesto


Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
-- Vladimir Ilyich Lenin[Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov] (1870 - 1924), First Leader of the Soviet Union

The problem with government school is that its customers - those who must be satisfied in order to be a successful endeavor -  are not the parents of the children they educate, nor even the children themselves, but the prevailing political and pedagogical ideologues. The Jeffersonian ideal of educating young children in history as they will become the very "guardians of their own liberty" has been replaced by the students learning how they fit into their schools and their communities; knowledge, the integration of facts into an understanding of the greater world, has been replaced with social awareness as the measure of a successful student. 

No one disputes the importance of education, merely many of us see it as too important to leave to the whims, - or worse, program - of government. 

Liberty Quotes found through Beth, I think. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Dog! My Ducats! My Duty to Myself.


Earlier this year a bill requiring ALL DOG OWNERS in the state of New York to successfully complete an obedience class with ALL DOGS OWNED or risk losing the animal, was introduced in the New York state legislature. Seriously:

Section 4 Amends Section 118 (1)(h) to allow a dog to be seized should any owner fail to complete a basic obedience course with his or her dog.

Justification: The goal of this bill is: to minimize vicious dog attacks, the destruction of property and unnecessary human or canine deaths; to better acquaint dog owners with their dogs; to teach dog owners proper obedience techniques, which will help owners to have better control of their dogs; and to minimize aggressive dog behavior and negligent dog owner behavior. 
Does the government need to force a dog owner into obedience classes in order for the owner to become better acquainted with his dog and techniques to control it?


Happily, the bill was recently defeated, but its mere introduction shows how deeply many of us have succumbed to the idea that government can and should attempt to control all human activities marginally identified as potentially dangerous through arbitrary regulations rather than ensure the protection of our individual rights through the prosecution of objective laws. In fact, in that bit of sleazy justification, this one states that this burdensome requirement is being done in the name of protecting property and human life.  

Really? 

I wonder about the real threat to property and life from owned, but untrained dogs? As a dog enthusiast, it seems to me that mostly packs of feral dogs and those specifically trained to attack are a danger, not the owned, but untrained ones; in that alone, this proposal misses the biggest portion of the potentially dangerous dogs. But further than the menace posed by specifically trained dogs is that they are a distinct value to their owners and are most likely treated as such (e.g. handled deftly, careful not to fall foul of local laws and risk seizure or destruction of their investments). Still, I'll readily admit that there are bad people who train killer dogs and let them out into the world. These people must be identified and punished for the damage done by their dogs. This proposal will not do that.

So how much damage and how many deaths occur from owned, but untrained, vicious dogs each year? And, with regard to curbing these destructive or tragic events, reported as the justification for this new law, by what means and how often are the owners prosecuted for the damage done by their dogs? Finally, how does that prosecution of the actually responsible parties compare to the toll of time and money taken from each potentially responsible dog owner should the proposed bill pass? Not that one human life should be sacrificed for lack of time and money, but no proposal can guarantee the prevention of even one such lethal attack! 

It is an impossible and wholly undesirable position to charge the government with protecting us from all potential harms at the actual expense of our right to choose how we live (i.e. spend our time and money). This is a very real danger of our increasingly regulatory state.

Treating every New York dog owner as the bearer of a potentially lethal weapon and forcing him to undergo training is wrong; it considers every dog owner guilty unless he holds the correct government papers. It is similar to the basic gun safety class in Massachusetts. There is no way that I would have attempted to shoot a gun without that class, just as I would never let my killer Pug loose on an unsuspecting world. It was in my own best interest to become better informed about them, so I did. 


There is, however, a large portion of the population that is knowledgeable about firearms, and another which is well-informed about dog training, neither of which need to take the time or expend the funds for a basic class in those fields to satisfy some meaningless exercise in government force. Furthermore, a person bent on murder will never be stopped by legal requirements of gun ownership just as an irresponsible dog owner will not magically become responsible by some got-my-paper-and-I-was-free legally required dog obedience class.

Proposals like this bill do not protect human life and property; they merely bring us one step closer to an all-powerful government making collective decisions for its foolish and lowly subjects under the bloated and specious banner of general welfare. In fact, I would go further and suggest that, when enacted, proposals like this actually encourage negligent behavior. As government veers further from protecting our individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in favor of ways to regulate our collective, one-size-fits-all health and happiness, it assumes a responsibility for our choices which, in turn, relieves the individual of not only the ability, but also the necessity of choosing.

At this point, I suppose I should be happy that it was only a dismissed-as-overreaching state proposal rather than an embraced-as-necessary federal one. For now.

n.b. For more exploration on how general welfare relates to General Welfare, see here

Monday, April 11, 2011

I’m On My Way


Fifteen days after feeling a little SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! in my back while doing back squats, and no fewer than seven weeks after pounding the crap out of some bone in my foot (right below my big toe) while doing tuck jumps, I'm on my way back to being able to join the human race as someone with a normal range of motion.

Oh, I attempted to rejoin immediately after both incidents, but that didn't work out so well. My foot seemed to heal quickly, until that second set of tuck jumps within a week. It hasn't healed since then.  In fact, the second time I injured it, I became unable to do even regular rope-jumping or running (such as it is). This, in everyday life is not too much of a problem, but to someone currently enjoying the challenges of CrossFit, my lessening mobility brought me a little closer to hell.

After the foot injury, I had to do something for warm-up, so I had to the opportunity to row instead of jump rope or run.  As bad as I am at running, I am at rowing, and in the same way: when I'm alone, I don't like the activity but I'm okay with how I'm doing; when I am with others, or compare my abilities with others' I realize how much I really suck at it. So I try harder. 

It's not an exaggeration to say I hate rowing. In fact, I am beginning to suspect my short-legged spastic row (trying to catch up) laid the foundation for the aforementioned back injury. I just can't seem to get into a rhythm. On the rower, I am one giant, uncoordinated, bending, stretching, pulling, oxygen sucking clod. And I hate it. Did I mention that already? 

Devil's Alley (photo from Wikipedia Commons)
It’s a crying shame, too, because it’s really one exercise that does it all. And yet – still hate it.

Anyway, two Saturdays ago, after a rowing warm-up, I was back squatting not too heavy (130 lbs.) with many repetitions (5@5). The SNAP! happened on my 23rd (cumulative) squat and the CRACKLE! POP! on my 25th.  I knew something was wrong, but it didn't really hurt too much. So I finished the class with tabata sit-ups.  Maybe completing the conditioning was not my best move – maybe it was.  I'm not sure how it all works.  I figure, if I am able to walk, then I had better.

As it turns out later, I was able to only roll into and out of bed for an entire week (sneezing and giving myself a subconjunctival hemorrhage somewhere in there)! Then, when I could move without wincing, I needed to go back for more.  In an attempted slow and gentle 1000m row, I felt SNAP! within the first 400m (@324m to be exact is where I stopped immediately). Okay. No rowing. More's the pity. With my cardio options dwindling before my very eyes, I couldn't take it anymore! A week later, I began to jump rope for the first time in many weeks. Then I did a few 105 lbs. back squats. My foot didn't hurt anymore than it had coming in and I was feeling pretty good until SNAP! on the tenth (cumulative) squat. Poo.

But yesterday, two days after the last SNAP! I jumped rope again and did fifteen 95lbs. squats. No SNAP! 

After two weeks of doing virtually nothing, this paltry achievement alone was enough to celebrate, but that's not all. It was so gorgeous out we just had to go for a walk. Well, darn it all if I didn't just break into a run! (Disclaimer: my run pace is close to, or possibly slower than, someone else's walk pace.) It was only for about ¼ mile, but after months of no running, I'll take it. I feel much, much better today having moved my body without breaking, twisting, jamming, or snapping anything! 


And I've made a decision to try to run there, because the only thing I'm getting by rowing is bitter. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Commercialism

From the American Heritage dictionary, 4th ed.
com·mer·cial·ism (kə-mûrshə-lĭz′əm) n.
1. The practices, methods, aims, and spirit of commerce or business.
2. An attitude that emphasizes tangible profit or success.
Enjoy this commercial which is as far from crass as sublime can get:




I'll freely admit that this particular piece of music has long been quite close to my heart, but to use the unique sound properties of wood when trying to convey its familiar, textural comfort is brilliant.  I don't know if it will help sell more units, but it certainly makes me want to touch the product.

Thanks to Christina for bringing it to my attention.

If you missed it before, be sure to check out the Words that Transcend Time series of commercials from UBS.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Opera, Not Oprah!

With some trepidation, I did something Wednesday night that I’d never done before and I’ll tell you – I can hardly wait to do it again. Stephen and I—not to mention about 225 other people whose median age was well over 68— sat in a dark little theatre for over four hours simply captivated by the Metropolitan Opera’s encore presentation of Lucia di Lammermoor , Donizetti’s tragic opera, Live in HD!

My early introduction to opera was something on PBS my father suggested I watch, “It’ll be good for you.”  He probably escaped to another room leaving me to sit through thirty grueling minutes of gray, non-descript scenery with strange over-actors practicing extreme vocal sounds in an attempt to tell an incomprehensible story. “It’s like a musical for cultured people.”

Yeah, right.

Armed with that keen experience, I have successfully avoided opera, except for the random piece heard here and there, until Wednesday night. 

Ever since getting all teary-eyed hearing Andrea Bocelli a few years back, I decided that maybe I ought to give the Italian operatic voice another chance. Rather than run right out to the opera house, we were thrilled to take a chance on the Metropolitan Opera in HD at a local movie theatre. I figured it wasn’t that much of an investment (financially speaking – though the time involved is nothing to sneeze at). So sometime last year, I went to get tickets for a performance a whole two weeks in advance. The ticket lady laughed at me. “Those were sold out three months ago.”

What? I said OPERA, not Oprah! Who knew how popular it was?

Of course, now I had to see the Metropolitan Opera in HD! My inability to get the tickets coupled with recently hearing my youngest practicing hard to master only the first few lines of Il mio bel foco put me in just the right mood to enjoy the vocal gymnastics displayed by Natalie Dessay as Lucia. The Lucia role, I came to find out, was written for a coloratura soprano, and Natalie Dessay is one of the best. The tenor who played Edgardo, Lucia’s lover, Joseph Calleja, was really good (I love tenors), and the baritone, Ludovic Tezier, was perfectly creepy as her brother.

The story of Lucia di Lammermoor was a sort of Isabel and the Pot of Basil meets Romeo and Juliet (by way of Ophelia), but the staged production was so much more than the story alone. 

In addition to the pleasure of experiencing the excellent singing and acting by Dessay, was the pleasure of seeing and hearing from the performers themselves during the set changing intermissions.  But wait, there’s more! Because of the mobility of the cameras, we also got to see behind the actual scenes themselves, watching the 90+ workers tearing down and building a set behind the curtain at the famous opera house

The curtain itself had to be lined by some type of sound-proofing material because those sets were HUGE and those workers were LOUD! It was incredibly interesting to see all the rigging, the stretched-fabric walls, the trim, the scrims!  And then have the curtain rise and see a seamlessly complete room, or cemetery.  Soprano Renee Fleming worked backstage interviewing the performers, the director, the technical director, and the master carpenter (who wore a mic). As a special treat—well, it was for me—she interviewed the handlers of the two Irish Wolfhounds who appeared in Act 1 (the opera was set in Scotland and they were pret-ty cagey about how their dogs beat out the Scottish Deerhounds for the role).

So the performance is billed as four hours longs with two intermissions.  But the intermissions are no time to run out of the auditorium; they’re a time to sit back and be amazed at what goes into such a production (so buy your Goobers early).  During the time the stage at the Opera House is dark you get to experience what you would never experience live. 

Finally, regarding the performance itself, there can be no way that attending the opera in person would allow you to see the expressions and the action of the presentation any better than in the theatre on a 30 foot screen. The production values of the entire The Met Live in HD were simply outstanding.  Close up and personal, behind the scenes, educational, and a must try for any opera newbie – like me.

We ran out of the theatre and scooped up three of the last 13 tickets for the upcoming Die Walkure.  Yes, I will be singing I killed the wabbit, but I don’t think I will be alone on that one. Check out the costume sketches and a brief preview of the technical spectacle of the set and performance!

So far, I’m gearing up for the first and last of next season’s performances, and if all goes well next month, the rest of the Ring Cycle.


I loved it! Who knew?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dreadlocksmith

Stuck in what seemed like an interminable red light queue (at the first, and one of only two actuated traffic lights in our town) my husband and I were distracted by a mini drama occurring in a parking lot bordering Main St: Someone had locked his keys in his car.

There was a young man with dreadlocks pumping a thick wire rigorously down into the door of a car, while another button-down-shirt-wearing man bent over the front of car, looking anxiously through its windshield. I wondered aloud if the man peering into the car foolishly thought he was helping to direct the guy with the wire when the lock mechanism he was searching for was inside the door. Then, with the appearance of two ears and a tail, his concern with the interior became apparent.

“Ooooh. There’s a dog in there.” And so I became more invested in the vignette of the button-down man trying to get his dog out of the car. Questions ran through my mind: How long had it been in there? Why did the man call the local lock company instead of AAA? What would become of the pooch? Why couldn't that kid with crazy hair get the door unlocked?

Immediately, I pointed out that I probably wouldn't feel too reassured that the kid, apparently from a local lock company as indicated by the van parked behind the car, would be able to unlock my car. He was wearing a t-shirt and a mountain of sandy blond dreadlocks—a look I associate with being stoned (or veganism), not professionalism and competence. Did the lock company care that he looked more like a car thief than a locksmith? My concern for the dog grew in tandem with my distrust of the young Rasta-coiffed worker.

Sadly—or happily, depending on your point of view—we sat through another light cycle and got to watch the drama play out. The dreadlock dude finally released the lock—Et voila! In a plot twist that could be successfully orchestrated only by real life, we were shocked to see the button-down businessman return the wire to the van as the Rasta-man reached into to the car to retrieve Rover!

That’s right.

Mr. Dreadlocks was the owner of the car and dog, while Mr. Button-Down was the locksmith.

Why the men switched apparent roles is unclear, but I’m pretty sure they didn't do it for our amusement. Nonetheless, we laughed so hard at our initially understandable, but inclination-enhanced misapprehension of the situation that we almost missed the next green light.

Almost.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

King of the Kitchen

Monday, April 4, 2011

I started Early – Took my Dog –

By Emily Dickinson (656)

I started Early – Took my Dog –
And visited the Sea –
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me –

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands 
Presuming Me to be a Mouse –
Aground – opon the Sands –

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Boddice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Opon a Dandelion's Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know –
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –


I am currently reading Kate Atkinson's latest book, Started Early, Took My Dog.  Of course, I had to look up the Dickinson poem that inspired the title.  I enjoy the implied meanings and subtlety of her poetry, and like many of her other poems, this one seems sexually explosive. 

What do you make of it?  And what became of the dog?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Couldn't Care Less About Holding the Fort



Actually, I could care less about holding the fort, and it bothers me that I've used it incorrectly in the past,  but I won't make that mistake again. It's the could care less that makes me crazy when I hear it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Weapons: Real and Imagined


After a week or so of being unable to work our On-Demand movie delivery system—near as we can figure, I broke the box with my incessant demands—I headed to our local cable company to get a new box as was recommended by the Help Line folks. The snow/rain mixture yesterday was perfect for a New England April Fools, but since my car was in the garage, I didn’t really pay attention to the weather conditions outside. Upon arriving in the cable company parking lot, I realized that I didn’t want to return my reportedly faulty cable equipment wet, so I slipped the 10"x7"x1" black box into the front of my coat and walked to the door.

Once inside the lobby, I was greeted by the receptionist who asked if she could help me.  As I reached into my coat to retrieve my broken cable box in order to explain the situation, I must have hesitated in my explanation of needing to return it for another. When I finished my one sentence, she looked at me, startled, and finally said, “You scared the hell out of me!”

Wha. . ? Ding.

I knew in an instant what she meant.  Here I was, dressed in my usual Johnny-Cash-all-black, reaching into my coat, without speaking (that millisecond of hesitation), and pulling out a shiny black object to present to her. Crap. In addition to being quite apologetic for frightening her, I felt really, really dumb. I joked that she must be used to some serious complaints about really bad service, but in reality, she probably holds contentious conversations with dissatisfied cable customers all day and she does sit behind safety glass while doing it! I really should have been more aware of the fact that my wordless reaching into my coat and pulling out the slim and long black item could have been misconstrued. Damn.

As if my readily-perceived-as-threatening actions weren’t enough, I am currently sporting a rather bright and obvious subconjunctival hemorrhage in my right eye that would give even the crazy, possessed-looking Black Swan a run for her money.  In fact, since discovering it on Tuesday, I have used its gory and disgusting irregularity to my greatest advantage in delivering the ultimate evil eye to anyone who is being particularly disagreeable with me (cue photo of my cute family). I must say, I enjoy having the ability to have a heated discussion end with my eyes wide open while looking slightly to the left, making unsuspecting folks shudder. It’s a superpower – of sorts.

While my stupidity with retrieving the cable box in a puffy-coat-meets-matrix manner is regrettable, my bigger disappointment is that my blood-filled conjunctiva only looks scary. In an odd moment of trying to console me in my disfigurement, my husband informed me that if my eye could actually shoot fire, it would most certainly be listed among our assets. (He’s a keeper.)

Scaring people inadvertently is not good.
Grossing them out on purpose is fun. 
Being able to shoot fire out of your blood-red eyes – now that would be priceless! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

In Appreciation of the Stylists of America



By the way things look, as well as the way they perform, our homes acquire new grace, new glamor, new accommodations expressing not only the American love of beauty, but also the basic freedom of the American people which is the freedom of individual choice. 

Is it any wonder that I love mid-century modern design? Yes, the very idea that Americans have cornered the market on love of beautiful design is ridiculous, but the pride in having the freedom of choice and the embrace of modern convenience is what makes me want to tie on my polka-dotted apron and celebrate it every time I encounter it.

Some of the cool beans designs shown:
Ericofon (Swedish)
Bertoia chairs
Eames rocker and chairs (and cards)
Barcelona chair (German)
Troppo table (looks like a new design)
And tons of other Danish designs.

And then there's Zooey Deschanel.









Click on the speaker icon to hear my favorite designer 
(clip can be viewed if you click on her words).