Monday, November 26, 2012

3 Good Things (Wearable Maps edition)

Two dimensional representations of our three dimensional world have long fascinated me. This year I'm seeing a few noteworthy additions to the map world in a fashion item I've long ignored: jewelry.  I still don't care too much for jewelry, but the following finds would make awesome gifts for map geek girl (or guy) in your life.

1. Urban Gridded Earrings (or Necklace) by Aminimal Studios.


2. Subway Map Cuffs by Design Hype
3. And if you're more interested in the path you've taken, Meshu allows you to turn your tours or special places into interesting bits of abstract wearable art. I love it! 

Check out how it looks in its facet and radial gallery here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Coming American

by Samuel Walter Foss (1894)

    Bring me men to match my mountains;
    Bring me men to match my plains, --
    Men with empires in their purpose,
    And new eras in their brains.
    Bring me men to match my praries,
    Men to match my inland seas,
    Men whose thought shall pave a highway
    Up to ampler destinies;
    Pioneers to clear Thought's marshlands,
    And to cleanse old Error's fen;
    Bring me men to match my mountains --
    Bring me men!

    Bring me men to match my forests,
    Strong to fight the storm and blast,
    Branching toward the skyey future,
    Rooted in the fertile past.
    Bring me men to match my valleys,
    Tolerant of sun and snow,
    Men within whose fruitful purpose
    Time's consummate blooms shall grow.
    Men to tame the tigerish instincts
    Of the lair and cave and den,
    Cleans the dragon slime of Nature --
    Bring me men!


    Bring me men to match my rivers,
    Continent cleavers, flowing free,
    Drawn by the eternal madness
    To be mingled with the sea;
    Men of oceanic impulse,
    Men whose moral currents sweep
    Toward the wide-enfolding ocean
    Of an undiscovered deep;
    Men who feel the strong pulsation
    Of the Central Sea, and then
    Time their currents to its earth throb --
    Bring me men!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Disgusting.



I saw this image on Facebook this morning.

This juxtaposition of maps (top of the 2012 election results vs. bottom, the slave vs. free states prior to the Civil War) implies that the people in red states voted with the collective-vestigial mind of the ante-bellum south: the idea that a vote for “not Obama” is the equivalent of thinking that blacks should still be slaves.  Perpetuating this image as a "stop and think about it" moment is not only a bit dismissive, but further, a serious slander of near half of the population of the United States.

What might have been a funny quip based on image correlation is shamelessly offered as causation; this conveniently furthers the hateful narrative that people who don’t think Barack Obama is a good President are racist.

I’m not racist. I’m disgusted.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dane-Geld: A.D. 980-1016


by Rudyard Kipling

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
  To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
  Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
  And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
  And then  you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
  To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
  We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
  But we've  proved it again and  again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
  You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
  For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
  You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
  No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
  And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Gadfly Flag


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Study in Force: Creative and Destructive


See more of Bryan Larsen's work at Quent Cordair Fine Art Gallery.

A Thug By Any Other Name


If you -- like me -- were nearly in disbelief over the statements of Maryland legislator Emmett Burns regarding his desperate attempt to shut up a Baltimore Ravens player’s support of gay marriage, I have one question for you: Were you equally outraged to read Mayor Tom Menino’s less-than-subtle threat to wield the power of government against those who spoke ideas which went against his own?

Burns: 


Menino:


Two excellent examples of men who think they own the minds of others. This buffoonery would be laughable except for one thing: the stationery they were written on.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Wisdom of a Statesman


From Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth, sayings collected from Poor Richard’s Almanack were displayed on children’s cups in the early 19th century.  People found Dr. Franklin’s wisdom an appropriate accompaniment to the gift of a porcelain mug for their children.


Now, we have a president who preaches that personal industry is a myth and our only responsibility is to the state which gave us everything. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

100K


You like me! You really like me!

Or you like pictures of dogs.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

After Independence Day


Welcome to the third to last Objectivist Round Up.  

This week those of us who are advocates of a government limited to the protection of individual rights were dealt a strong blow by the Supreme Court decision to uphold the individual mandate, as well as the rest of the Affordable Care Act, as constitutional.  As some in the country struggle with what makes America America, those of us who understand the exceptional wisdom -- and limitations -- of our Founding Fathers continue to fight for its future.
The Declaration of Independence laid down the principle that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” This provided the only valid justification of a government and defined its only proper purpose: to protect man’s rights by protecting him from physical violence.
Thus the government’s function was changed from the role of ruler to the role of servant. The government was set to protect man from criminals—and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. The Bill of Rights was not directed against private citizens, but against the government—as an explicit declaration that individual rights supersede any public or social power.
The result was the pattern of a civilized society which—for the brief span of some hundred and fifty years—America came close to achieving. A civilized society is one in which physical force is banned from human relationships—in which the government, acting as a policeman, may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.

~Ayn Rand in “Man’s Rights

I urge you to read Ayn Rand’s essay in its entirety.


Darius Cooper presents Phrygian Cap posted at Practice Good Theory, asking "Do you know the symbolism of a Phyrgian Cap?"

Jenn Casey presents 2012: The Year So Far at Rational Jenn, saying "In this post I take a brief look at my accomplishments in the first half of this year. It's been an ambitious, crazy, productive six months. Soon, I'll come up with some Half Year Resolutions for the rest of 2012. How has your 2012 been so far? What are you planning for the rest of the year? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!"

Stephen Bourque presents A Monument to America's Destruction at One Reality, calling it "A lesson of last week's Supreme Court ruling is that the Constitution is an empty document."

Paul Hsieh presents Another Doctor Squeezed By ObamaCare posted at We Stand Firm, saying "One of my colleagues is struggling to decide what to do after the Supreme Court health ruling. I hope he doesn't quit medicine, but I wouldn't blame him if he did."

Lynne Bourque (that’s me) presents Assonantal Assaults posted at 3 Ring Binder, saying "I had excellent teachers at my parochial elementary school. These are not them."

For inclusion in the penultimate round up to be hosted at The Playful Spirit, submit your post here.



Read.
Think.
Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Assonantal Assaults

What’s more threatening:

Snakes on a Plane (Children, do not press the forward arrow key.)


Hens on the Deck (The poop is slippery, trust me.)


Or

Nuns on the Bus



Really. This would be hilarious if it weren't so disturbing.

Every hour of each day, Catholic Sisters stand in solidarity with all who live in poverty, and we confront injustice and systems that cause suffering.

We cannot stand by silently when the U.S. Congress considers further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families. [emphasis added]

This is too much! Look toward your churches first, Sisters!

I wonder if they're going to confront injustice by chucking chalk at the pedophilic priest – or relieve the suffering they see by liquidating some church properties and distributing the tax-free windfall to those in need. And that’s the funny part!

The disturbing part is that these women, who have devoted their lives to religious missions through medieval mysticism are now pushing their brand of "economic justice" politically. The best government, they assure us, is the one that will further their religiously-based mission. 

Sorry Sisters. Your ascetic altruism is no longer unassailable – it’s a life of evasion, plain and simple. Furthermore, and more importantly, your bait-and-switch morality – offering the grace of God and everlasting life to those who live lives devoted to others – no longer fools those of us who understand that life is all there is:  Every individual has a right to his own life, and there is no magic egalitarian in the sky or in the People’s House.

There are, however, far too many of you who try not to raise the situation, outlook, or abilities of those in poverty, but to feed their irrational suspicions that if someone is poor, it is because someone else is rich. You advance the idea that they are victims of the rich and entitled to other people's money. All I have to say is shame on you, Sisters. 

I could completely ignore you as part of the quirky sartorial charms of my childhood if I didn’t fear that your brand of collectivism has already ruined the world I live in. Get back on the bus and stop stumping before the desperate, big government, whose force against individuals you so sickeningly embrace, realizes that you are not above taxation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

3 Good Things (Locking Yourself Out Edition)



In the spirit of looking on the bright side, here are three good things I made note of as I walked home from the building where I locked my purse, keys, and phone inside an otherwise empty theatre, realizing only after I checked the remote mailbox that the keys in my hand were not my real keys, but merely the mailbox keys, and that the extra precautions I took to make sure the door locked behind me to save said real keys, purse, and phone from the marauding band of thieves in that building was actually a BAD idea. And the worst part? The mailbox was empty!

Now onto the promised good things.
   
  1. I live less than two miles away from said building.
  2. It was a lovely day.
  3. Just earlier today I had noticed children riding bikes in a makeshift sidewalk over the overpass spanning the highway between my house and the building.   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stress Relievers 1940s Style


Sleep shop to mad scientist to convertible houses. 

One question: Why are the kids in the front seat when the mother is in the back?

Okay, one more: Do you think Dr. Laird is medicated?

I'll have to try that forehead wrinkle remover exercise.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Dissemblance of Fragility Tributes

Choosing words carefully not to offend,
Giving less weight to ideas than intend,
Dancing past meaning so each can pretend,
Conflict semantics - not decisive end.

Calling on memories when thoughts had merged,
Sharing and daring, relationship surged,
Prickly points poked but were too quickly purged,
Dearer than different - tolerance urged.

Teetering tenuous bridge of false hold,
Wanting to save what appeared to be gold,
Letting go one end and watching it fold;
Realized in rubble, disvalues all told.

Fearing once fondness forever then lost,
Hiking the hit by remitting the cost,
Cabled connections since tease to be tossed.
Wreckage is wrought from fragility not frost.

Slated with shallow words cried round the lands,
Fated, one tower falls in spite of hands.
Sounded lone truth, one reality bands,
Founded on bedrock, that fortress still stands.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

America vs. Clean Energy

What happens when the heavy hand of over-regulation conflicts with the forceful push of subsidized industry? When the first is the preservation of the very symbol of America and the second is the current Administration's love affair with "clean" energy development -- the eagle buys it.
“These proposed changes will help facilitate the responsible development of renewable energy and other projects, while conserving bald and golden eagles by requiring key conservation and monitoring measures to be implemented,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We are committed to monitoring the impact of projects on eagle populations over the life of the permits to ensure these measures are effective.”

From what I gather in the supporting documents*, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has some avian protection policies that are onerous on those trying to develop clean energy projects.  Therefore, the permits allowing a "non-purposeful take" of eagles are going to be extended from five years to 30 years -- for the good guys, of course.

I am certainly in favor of having real costs of project development considered under any proposed law; the problem here is that this became a concern ONLY when the regulations negatively impact an administration favorite.

Here is a fascinating look at the clash between environmental regulations of the past rearing their ugly heads on the future. Published in 2007 in the Energy Law Journal, the article clearly states that the avian protection regulations, which were fine when they impacted only other industries, are now dogging the wind energy industry. Therefore, something must be done!

The laws that regulate impacts to avian wildlife in the United States are colliding with renewable energy policy and promotion in the United States.  In particular, wind energy systems and the industry as a whole have grown to a scale that wildlife impact issues, long in background, have come to the forefront. Chief among them are avian impacts.  Yet the very problem of avian impacts is complicated, if not created, by other federal and state policies and laws that have not been adjusted to reflect current energy policy favoring renewable energy.  [emphasis added]

While it's difficult to qualify, let alone quantify the unintended consequences of regulations, it is becoming easier to see that we are all the victims of the whims of an overactive and overabundant bird of prey known as the federal government.


*The USFWS Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act page has a link to the permitting process and the Act: neither of these links work. Found full Federal Register publication of proposed changes here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cracked


What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America.

I found this statement to be the best in Stephen King’s recent diatribe.

And what, pray tell, is it that Mr. King thinks makes America, America? According to his essay he touts the equalization of income wrapped in a sash of fairness regarding income tax: rich people should pay more taxes because they are rich. This bears an eerie resemblance of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” rather than what I understand to be essentially American: the right to one's own life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; equal under the law.  

I’m afraid that in addition to many f-bombs, Mr. King has dropped the context.

I can't comment on the tax code itself, because let's face it . . . it's __________(insert Kingly adverb here) inscrutable. However, encouraging Americans to not only accept, but request that more eggs be forcibly extracted from the governed and put in the Big Basket of government just insures a nation of useless, runny, cracked eggs. And while I am aware that there are those who would try to convince me that you can’t make an omelet without first cracking a few eggs, I'd still prefer to eat my own hard-boiled egg rather than forced to consume a communal omelet, thank you anyway. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Romance


It is an internal conflict as old as romance itself: a fascinating woman walks into your life on the arm of a friend.  The more you get to know the woman, the more you think about her – and him – and how she looks at him; you become jealous. 

Because you are friends with the man, you try to normalize your feelings for the woman and act as if nothing has changed between you. You evade your feelings for her until her adulation and hardly hidden passion for your friend breaks through your façade. Hurt, you rationalize your own ardor away, helped by her strong indications that your feelings are unrequited.

Then you begin to question your own lovability? Didn't you do everything right? Aren't you every bit as desirable as your friend? Why doesn't she love you? What is the answer to this seemingly unanswerable problem?

It's simple, really. 

You write a pop song. You use an obscure word in one of the verses. Your conflict becomes immortalized and screamed by throngs of girls throughout the ages. You soon forget all about Jessie’s Girl


(My complete adoration of 80s music is why I do, but should not, listen to the oldies station in my car.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Plainsies, Clapsies


A ball bouncing game from my youth instructed the player to throw the ball up (plainsies), throw it up and clap (clapsies) throw it up and roll your hands (roll the ball) and touch your shoulders (tabapsies). In trying to locate the rest of the ball bouncing chant, I found out not only is my “tabapsies” a mondegreen, but also the motion – touching your shoulders – isn’t even the correct movement!

You are supposed to clap your hands behind your back and say “to backsies.” 

Yeah. That makes much more sense.

Being only slightly deflated by this discovery, I will still share my exciting news. 

In an attempt to counteract the stretching of my wrist from doing front squats two days in a row, I pulled out the tabapsies motion this morning.  This, in itself, is not newsworthy.  However, I grabbed both shoulders with all five fingers!!!

Again, not exciting unless you know that when I was nine years-old, I broke my left elbow doing a running cartwheel; the repair required a pin to hold three broken boney bits together, Dunlop’s traction for two weeks (during which time I learned to play cards with my feet), and physical therapy twice a week for a year.  I regained 95% of the range of motion of that elbow, feeling the loss only during . . . you guessed it – tabapsies! I was subjected to a life of partial tabapsies where I could only graze the top of my left shoulder with some of my finger tips. It was a real schoolyard challenge, but I met it stoically.

So this morning’s full-on tabapsies was a revelation regarding the fact that it’s never too late to improve your mobility.

Tabapsies on, people. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Courting Bellum Omnium In Omnia

I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers. Our landholders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury, obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.
Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1826 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Turtle Shirt


The turtle shirt belongs to my daughter, it’s true
Wearing it, I’m told, is not what I should do.
“It gives children a fright
When your face they then sight,
Expecting a kid but instead, seeing you.”

I was just happy it was clean and it fit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chosen: Appreciated Words, Rejected Premise

The Choice

by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story's finished, what's the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day's vanity, the night's remorse. 

I found the first four lines of this poem as the section marker of a book I am currently reading and wanted to know more. While I relish the clever and succinct use of rich words, I don't find truth in Yeats' inherent choice between life and work. 

Isn't work the action of living? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sound Serendipity



We've owned our car for two years and just found out that it has an Automatic Sound Levelizer. 

Apparently the adults who drive the car suffer from an acute lack of curiosity that the newly-promoted-from-back-seat-to-front-seat child does not.  That’s kind of sad, really, but the discovery has added a bit of auditory thrill to our acceleration/deceleration cycles. 

Okay, maybe that's kind of sad, too. 

In other news, our car also has intermittent windshield wipers and automatic windows, both of which we recognized right away. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hymn of Breaking Strain

by Rudyard Kipling, 1935

The careful text-books measure
    (Let all who build beware!)
The load, the shock, the pressure
    Material can bear.
So, when the buckled girder
    Lets down the grinding span,
The blame of loss, or murder,
    Is laid upon the man.
        Not of the Stuff - the Man!


But, in our daily dealing
    With stone and steel, we find
The Gods have no such feeling
    Of justice toward mankind.
To no set guage they make us, -
    For no laid course prepare -
And presently o'ertake us
    With loads we cannot bear:
        Too merciless to bear.


The prudent text-books give it
    In tables at the end -
The stress that shears a rivet
    Or makes a tie-bar bend -
What traffic wrecks macadam -
    What concrete should endure -
But we, poor Sons of Adam,
    Have no such literaure,
        To warn us or make sure!


We hold all Earth to plunder -
    All Time and Space as well -
Too wonder-stale to wonder
    At each new miracle;
Till in the mid-illusion
    Of Godhead 'neath our hand,
Falls multiple confusion
    On all we did or planned -
        The mighty works we planned.


We only of Creation
    (Oh, luckier bridge and rail!)
Abide the twin-damnation -
    To fail and know we fail.
Yet we - by which sole token
    We know we once were Gods -
Take shame in being broken
    However great the odds -
        The Burden or the Odds.


Oh, veiled and secret Power
    Whose paths we seek in vain,
Be with us in our hour
    Of overthrow and pain;
That we - by which sure token
    We know Thy ways are true -
In spite of being broken,
    Because of being broken,
        May rise and build anew.
        Stand up and build anew!


Bit of poem found in today's WSJ review of new book: To Forgive Design.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Eggs Anyone?

Happily, at my last physical I found out I was fine.

I was kind of surprised that I was fine because when I arrived at the doctor’s office, I was assaulted with some new paperwork to fill out. I say assaulted because, I am told quickly and gleefully, that this paperwork must be filled out and returned, so that the secretary may then put me in the queue to be seen by the health care professional whose services I have contracted near the time I have scheduled that service. I thought my blood pressure would be quite high. 

So what was this new paperwork? HIPAA forms letting me know of my doctor’s intent to share my medical information with other medical and non-medical providers so I can get the best treatment, but really to "simplify" the administration of health records? Nope. I had gotten used to that CYA bit of white tape. Was it for insurance information to prove that I had the ability to pay the doctor for his services or had contracted with another agency that assumed the relative risk of the cost of my health care in exchange for great sums of money in order to pay the doctor for his services? Nope. I always have proof that I contract with health care insurance provider on hand because I've chosen to pay a lot, but willingly, for that particular value. 

No. This new set of paperwork was courtesy of the government’s federal billing standards and “Meaningful Use System.”  Easter eggs from Obamacare.

Not that these provisions were intentionally hidden, as the term Easter egg might imply, but that our elected legislators did pass the bill so we can all find out what's in it after all.  What's in it is a gigantic morass of new rules, new agencies, new standards – in fact, it's 2700 pages worth of legal yarn spun, twisted, and knotted up into an 1.1+ trillion dollar ball of taxpayer's money which promises to spawn over 27,000 pages of further inscrutable regulations administered by government bureaucrats.  And yet, there is nothing that will actually help me gain better access to health care, better understanding of how I'm responsible for the decisions that affect my health, access to better doctors, or a healthier outlook on life.  

Quite the contrary. 

Every government intrusion into what should be a private interaction between an individual and his health care providers pushes the ostensible goal of a populace of healthy individuals further away.

So this is the form my most recent Easter eggs took.

“Understanding Your Insurance Benefit for Physicals”


“Meaningful Use System”

Because nothing protects a patient’s affordability of care better than not knowing what he’ll have to pay for until AFTER the services have been provided except possibly, his doctor knowing the race, ethnicity, and language of all patients everywhere. 

What other rotten eggs will this joyless hunt yield? 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

His Sight is Worse Than His Snark

"Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,"  
"And I'd just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law."   - President Obama

I'm glad to know that the Attorney General of the United States seems to have heard of Marbury v. Madison.  I find it slightly disingenuous that he herein extols the virtues of each branch of government having to uphold the same Constitution when his response was prompted by the Commander in Chief publicly chiding the judicial branch (above) and when members of the U.S. Legislature scoff at having to determine whether or not their proposed laws fall within the power of the Constitution.

Barack Obama is a duly elected charismatic thug heading a group of duly elected lap dogs willing to do his unprincipled bidding at the expense of our individual liberty and justice.

Why we continue not only to elect these power whores, but inexplicably to call for more tyrannical restrictions over the freedom of our actions from an ever-growing, overbearing government is what I just can't figure out.

As voters, is our collective head so far up our metaphorical ass that we can no longer see the light of wisdom in a government limited to the protection of individual life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Or that we can't even recognize an existent threat to that liberty as promised by a limited government?

Has the extraordinary enshrinement of individual rights in our government's founding been so comfortably buried beneath centuries of individual achievement that we've forgotten why it had been enshrined in the first place and what it means to now have a government which frequently violates actual individual rights in favor of imagined collective rights? More basically, does rights mean the right to have food, houses, healthcare, cars, cell phones, internet access -- the goods and services produced by others -- provided for us by an omnipotent government, or does it mean the freedom to act in one's own best interest in seeking our own values? Free from force and fraud.

Is the enticement of equal outcomes, egalitarianism, so deeply twisted into the core of our culture that we have lost the ability to understand that it is each individual's freedom to act -- equal under the law -- which is the critical component of justice? That a person's freedom to act, not how that individual chooses to act, is what the government must protect and enforce?

Has the fear of being labeled inhumane caused us to embrace anecdotal emotional arguments to the very point of turning away from principle and reason? What is humane, let alone just, about government forcing individuals to act against their own best interests?

These are the things I just can't understand.

Why anyone thinks that the government -- both those elected officials and the countless bureaucratic spawn -- will do a better job making decisions about my life than I would, or that government should make decisions about how you live your life makes me wonder what Utopian government he is thinking about. I am looking at the United States government. You know, the one founded on the principles of individual rights which is now so bloated that it is suffocating its own principles with the consent of its governed?

The vision of our nation, as seen through the actions of our duly elected leadership, seems to be that in order to protect our rights we must be relieved of much of the burden of thinking and acting for ourselves.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucky Charms Chicken Salad

Ever since I began to flirt with cooking again, I've been making some combination of this delightful chicken salad using Well Fed mayonnaise which we always have on hand.  Also always on hand are cooked chicken breasts as my family became partial to the dark meat seemingly overnight! Armed with those two ingredients I came up with a chicken salad that I love! And I never liked chicken salad.

Here is my perfected recipe, but you can throw in whatever colorful “charms” you might have in the veggie/fruit drawer that can hold their own in the melange.

2 whole cooked chicken breasts, cubed into ½ inch pieces,
1 large, or 2 small celery stalks, diced,
5 large, or 10 small chive stalks, chopped to ½ inch pieces,
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and diced,
15 walnut halves chopped,
4 large or 6 medium strawberries, diced,
¼ cup of blueberries (if they’re not too tart).

Add a heaping spatula full of Well Fed mayonnaise and if you're very daring, 1 tsp. of cinnamon.

This one has no blueberries as ours were very tart. 

It’ll feed one hungry you, or a dainty you and two polite others.  Actually, I think I made a double batch when it fed all three of us!  If you can manage to make it the day before you want to eat in in order to keep in the fridge overnight, so much the better. I've found that it disappears well before the flavor combinations have time to fully develop.

Try it. I promise . . . it's magically delicious!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Superstar!

While practicing split jerks at the gym, we often evoke the name of Mary Katherine Gallagher and her iconic self-laudatory pose. Hey – it works for me.  In fact, one day I didn't think I'd be able to stop saying it even when the weight started getting heavy and the exclamation tended toward a grunt.  

But this isn't about being a superstar in my own mind; this is about the truth of my stardom.

After hours of secretive, but exhaustive research, my 13 year-old unearthed the movie in which I starred (as an extra) during my sophomore year in high school: The Coming.  Now, I know what you’re thinking – What in the hell kind of crap did that impressionable little girl have to wade through in the sea of internet porn when searching for The Coming? None, apparently. It was renamed Burned at the Stake before going to cable in the 80s, but it seems to have later reverted back to The Coming perhaps when someone became informed that no witches in Salem were actually burned at the stake.

Using both names in the search yielded quick results.

Without further ado, here is my moment of superstardom.  It happens at 13:35, so don’t blink.

The entire horror(ific) movie can be seen in six parts on YouTube.

Okay. Since I’m nothing if not giving, here is a still of that moment to save you the trouble of loading up this lovely little bit of digital detritus. 

There I am, bottom right-hand corner (my cousin is behind me). 
We filmed this at night in the Witch Museum. That was fun. 

And, here I am again pretending to listen to the historic-cum-histrionic ramblings of our ill-fated teacher.

Best of all, however, I have discovered that through Mr. Bacon, I am only four degrees of separation from Nathan Fillion.

See? Superstar!  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Heels and Cleans

As an example of awful training, the trainer at our gym shared this link to Shape magazine which touted the ability to spot slim and tone your legs. The page featured a brief explanation of short burst training, a weird video of an insufferable Tony-Little-wannabee trainer, and a picture of two skinny legs rockin’ a pair of fabulous Christian Louboutin black patent leather platform pumps. 

My only comment on the link was that I loved the shoes.


It wasn’t that I didn't appreciate my trainer’s disdain for the video dude’s condescending approach to his assistant, over-hyped love of Barbie leg sculpting, or serious penchant for the word "tushie," it's just that I think that if this guy's approach moves someone else to move – I'm all for it.

But then I got to thinking about how much I love CrossFit and those Louboutins! In a world of five-fingered rubber shoes where form is king and fat is phat, there is an inherent disincentive in dressing your dogs for potential gam-damage. My question to myself became, is there room within the same body to love lifting weights and rockin’ those heels?

Hell, yes.

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that loving both of these seemingly disparate elements came from the same place. The ability to strut in those stiletto bad boys and the ability to walk up to the 95 lb. barbell and throw it up to your shoulders then overhead are borne of the same trait: confidence.

Knowing you can walk the walk—in the shoes, or at the gym—is very empowering. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

High Class - Low Behavior: Official Study

In this report, scientists, whom I would normally hold in the highest regard among individuals in any group (cue the Professor from Gilligan’s Island), are acting like common swindlers and thugs.

This combination of "seven survey, experimental, and naturalistic" studies purports to show that people of high social class tend to behave more unethically than lower class individuals mostly due to their appraisal of greed. Let’s break down these terms a little in accordance with the support materials given at the end of the study.

High Social Class
Study 4. Manipulation of social-class rank. For the manipulation of social-class rank (2), participants were presented with an image of a ladder with 10 rungs and given the following instructions:
“Think of the ladder as representing where people stand in the United States. These are people who are the worst (best) off— those who have the least (most) money, least (most) education, and the least (most) respected jobs. In particular, we’d like you to think about how YOU ARE DIFFERENT FROM THESE PEOPLE in terms of your own income, educational history, and job status. Where would you place yourself on this ladder relative to these people at the very bottom (top)? Please place a large ‘X’ on the rung where you think you stand.” After indicating where they feel they stood relative to those at the very bottom or very top of the ladder, participants received the following directions:
“Now imagine yourself in a getting acquainted interaction with one of the people you just thought about from the ladder above. Think about how the DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOU might impact what you would talk about, how the interaction is likely to go, and what you and the other person might say to each other. Please write a brief description about how you think this interaction would go.”
Even better than those people you placed on the ladder above you who think they’re so much better than you implied instructions for Study 4, Studies 1 and 2 used the perceived status of an automobile to equate “higher class” drivers with their unethical behavior. In other words, if someone buys a super expensive car and drives like an entitled ass, all people who have the education and or funds to buy that car (determined previously to define a higher social class) are the equivalent entitled asses.

But the perceived status of a car is the concern of an altruistic tendency to look at others for one’s self-worth. Driving a high-priced car like an entitled ass has more to do with the "status" of the car than the money, education, or job (i.e. social class as defined by this study) one might have in order to buy such a vehicle. 

Propensity to Engage in Unethical Behavior 
To assess individual propensities to engage in unethical behavior (6), participants were instructed to indicate how likely they would be to engage in each of the listed behaviors on a scale ranging from 1 (very unlikely) to 7 (very likely). These behaviors were:
1. Use office supplies, Xerox machine, and stamps for personal purposes.
2. Make personal long-distance phone calls at work.
3. Waste company time surfing on the internet, playing computer games, and socializing.
4. Borrow $20 from a cash register overnight without asking.
5. Take merchandise and/or cash home.
6. Give merchandise away for free to personal friends.
7. Abuse the company expense accounts and falsify accounting records.
8. Receive gifts, money, and loans (bribery) from others due to one’s position and power.
9. Lay off 500 employees to save the company money and increase one’s personal bonus.
10. Overcharge customers to increase sales and earn a higher bonus.
11. Give customers “discounts” first and then secretively charge them more money later (bait and switch).
12. Make more money by deliberately not letting clients know about their benefits.
These are simply ridiculous. How were they weighted? I would guess that every employee has done 1-3 (although, I wouldn't think that long-distance is a concern any longer) at some time in the past. Scenarios 4-6 are straightforward theft, while numbers 7-12 are clearly presented as outright fraud. How many folks have reached the level of responsibility where they would have the need to fire 500 employees? To save the company money? Yes. That might need to happen in certain situations. But, that’s not enough. The researches needed to add that in addition to saving the company money, the person doing the firing would also get a bigger bonus. Also "overcharge" customers to increase sales? You mean increase mark-up for high demand goods with higher profits in mind? Nope. Because you "earn a higher bonus" is added in #10. 

But this is the really the heart of the matter.

The researchers determined that greed accounted for the unethical behavior of the participants in Studies 5, 6, and 7. How did they define greed? 
Measure of attitudes toward greed. For the measure of attitudes toward greed (4), participants indicated their agreement with each of the following items on a scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). These items were:
 1. To be a successful person in this society, it is important to make use of every opportunity.
2. It is not morally bad to think first of one’s own benefit and not other people’s.
3. One should be concerned with the benefit to the group as a whole rather than with one’s own benefit. (Reverse-scored)
4. An individual’s pursuit of self-interest should be allowed only insofar as it will not jeopardize the public welfare. (Reverse scored)
5. I like competition.
6. It is very disgusting to exploit other people to further one’s own self-interest. (Reverse-scored)
7. There should be more emphasis in school on the kind of education which helps students to be more concerned with the welfare of the society or groups rather than their own personal benefit. (Reverse-scored) 
Could these questions be more loaded toward collectivists?  What do you think is meant by exploit in #6? To employ to the greatest possible advantage? This would then be just a restatement of #1 with a red-flag word. 

But it is statement #7 which encapsulates the entire study: individualism is bad; collectivism is good.

This would all be laughable if the headlines of such studies did not seep into the culture as fact and if the findings were not then used by politicians and bureaucrats as proof that somehow we must all be less greedy people and the government is just the institution to nudge us to fulfill our best selves.

Shame on the people who present this as science, on the people who report their presentation as science, and on the people who blindly accept collectivism as the moral primary over self-interest. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Throw Me a Bone.

With less than 24 hours to go, all the mushers are in!

Well, all the mushers that my family members chose to follow in this year's Iditarod, that is.

The scientific mind clearly runs in the family as my son chose Nicolas Petit as his musher for the following reasons in descending order of relevance:


  1. Sponsored by Mr. Prime Beef.
  2. 2011 Rookie of the Year as last minute medical replacement (beat that, Stephen's hottie).
  3. Appearance (sweet hat\shades combo, prominent Adam's apple (Stephen's hottie's "Eve apples" will not come into play due to winter coat)).
  4. Sponsored by Ray Redington Sr., son of Iditarod co-founder Joe Redington Sr. Ray Sr sponsored my selection over his own gd son, Ray Jr., bib# 2. Drama!
  5. Sponsored by Spiff, Wiggy's, and a funeral home. 

My oldest daughter chose Dallas Seavey who, at 24, has a proven track record of success and a real potential to win the darn thing! She reports that he's a third generation musher, is married to a veterinarian, and thinks that, "Dogs, like people, just want to fit in." Well, he may be right about his dogs (and some people), but my daughter did not forget to mention first that "he's pretty good looking." (It's good to know that our hierarchy of values did not go unnoticed.)

After great deliberations, however, the youngest surprised me by choosing veteran musher DeeDee Jonrowe. First, she told me she could not possibly pick a musher without seeing his dogs. Funny. No one else thought we'd need to see the dogs who actually PULL the sled first before choosing our mushers! Then, after checking out all the pictures of  "men with long hair and fake mustaches and women with shampoo issues" she chose Jonrowe because she was "all cool and old."  I love that.

While their reasons for choosing a particular musher vary widely, they did all have one thing in common: they all willingly participated in their goofy mother's latest kooky project.

That's a win right there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mush!

In what I thought would be a bit of family dog fun, I asked everyone to pick a musher to follow for the Iditarod dog sled race which begins in two days. Let's just say, the response had been less than enthusiastic. After an additional prompting email, this is what I have received so far: 
Because I have little else to go on here for choosing a musher, I'm going to have to revert to the standard, typical, and admittedly shallow, male evaluation criteria: When in doubt, pick the hottest babe. (I believe that rule-of-thumb is comparable to the female, "You might as well marry a rich man.") Having thus degraded myself, I will now throw my enthusiastic support behind Zoya DeNure. Go Zoya! Go Eukanuba!

And here is Zoya:
She obviously meets his criteria here,

but I love her 80s look, 

and her Flock of Seagulls meets Martha Davis tribute. 

For the record, here is my chosen musher, who happens to be very cute and there are two of them! (Strangely, my criteria was far less scientific than Stephen's.)

If you're interested in following the race with us, leave your musher's name and link in the comments before Saturday. 

Go, Dogs. Go!

QR Experiment


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yummy Spheres O’ Delight

Today I made three grain-free recipes, two savory, one sweet. Oddly, all the food I cooked had the same round, single-serving form.  There is something very attractive to me about single servings and the roundness comes from the easiest shape to make freehand as in the case of the Italian Scotch Eggs, or cooked in forms, such as the Greek Meat Muffins and the Gingerbread muffins.

The first two recipes were from Melissa Joulwan’s fabulous cookbook, Well Fed, and the third was from this blog under flourless gingerbread.  All are delicious!


Here are my flourless gingerbread muffins but I didn’t have any maple flavoring and I don’t use stevia, so I substituted for both with 2 Tbsp of maple syrup. There is only one of a dozen muffins left and there are only three people in the house and that’s all I’m saying.


Italian Scotch Eggs: I add my favorite red sauce and it tastes like a Chicago-style pizza (you know, if you haven’t ever had a Chicago-style pizza – but it is really good.) This picture makes it look much more anemic than it is in real life, but that does give me even more of a hankering to make corton which looks rather gray on its best day!


Greek Meat Muffins made with one addition: feta! Spinach, lamb, and feta! Hello! What's not to love? These are delicious and so conveniently packaged.

As I was rolling the egg in its Italian seasoned pork blanket and realized that the gingerbread muffins were also round individual servings, I couldn’t help but think of Cher in Mermaids. Does anyone remember that movie? In addition to sharing screen time with the erstwhile Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling in the only other role I've ever seen him in), Cher, as the single mother of two girls, knows only how to make party finger food and that’s what she feeds her family.

Today, as so often happens for various reasons, I felt like Cher. I think we’re all just glad I didn’t get it in my head to use a cookie cutter to make everything shaped liked stars (or dogs). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WKC or WTF

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post this afternoon. The WKC has just jumped the shark in placing an alien footstool (thank you Eric Asimov) on the same pedestal with such dog greats as Uno, Carlee, James, not to mention Rufus! This little dirty-cotton-candy-dragger-gone-bad dustmop shouldn’t even be in the same species as the regal Rufus.  If I were a cussin’ gal (and I am) I might scream out WTF WKC!?!  But as this is a family blog (sort of), I’ll constrain my colorful language to initials. Still, I try to remember that like the Poodle, the Peke-devil may be in the do.  (Of course that doesn't explain its motion like that of an inanimate object under the influence of dark magic.)

At least you could see its eyes. Malachy or Malarkey?

Now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, let me get to some of the good parts of the show.  In the Sporting Group, where there are lots of nice, real dogs, I would have chosen the black and white Pointer, the Weimaraner, or the Field Spaniel.  But the judge went with the gorgeous-but-dumb Irish Setter.  Sure, she’s a working mom as David Frei pointed out last night, delivering a little of 15 puppies last May(!), but that hardly makes her the best dog choice. It’s also possible that due to my past bad experience with the Irish Setter, I may have an irrational hatred of this beast.  At least that’s what my daughter said. Of course, that’s easy for her to say, she’s never met one, let alone been herded by one!  

Next group, the Working Group, held many of my favorites.  From the noble looking Anatolian Shepherd Dog to the fierce looking black box (aka: the Black Russian Terrier) these were dogs that you could be proud to share your life with! Sadly, I think that I am falling out of love with the Cane Corso as he looked more morose and drooly than strong and confident. But, finally, there was a group judgment I could agree with! The sleek and well-proportioned Doberman Pinscher, Fifi, won the group!!! Yay!
Photo from NBC Sports
Fifi and owner sharing a little rest in the benching area.

While I've always liked the apparent focus of the Dobermans, I think that I am leaning more toward their breed traits in my next dog search.  (For the record, only in times of severe stress would I agree to sleep in the crate with my dog.  Thus, it is essential that I get a bigger dog than I have now for the years ahead.)

Finally, the tenacious terriers trotted into the tournament ring. Yeah. I wasn't so much charmed by this lot this time either. I liked the Airedale, the Irish Terrier, and of course, the Colored Bull Terrier, and  I enjoyed seeing Adam, the Phantom of the Opera-faced smooth fox terrier again, but none really struck me as the one. Okay. Maybe Zeb, the Australian Terrier, with his wind-tunnel front stood out from the pack a little. 
But the judge chose Kerry Blue Terrier. Meh.

I’ve already told you who won, so except for the 10:55PM emergency late-night phone call of shared outrage from my daughter at college, the rest of the evening was a serious downer.  

I think my next WKC adventure might be with the World Kettlebell Club. THAT’S how disappointed I am.

To end on a positive note, however, you can read some funny live tweets from the Guardian. Sadly, this does not change the outcome. You have been warned.