28 February 2009

Trying to Make Sense out of Shambles

Here is a blog article from some 3 years ago. From Dr Sanity of course, who else. This looks surprisingly prescient these days.

26 February 2009

The Sound of Unsettled Science

Our serious and scientific Japanese friends have finally issued a report contradicting the United Nation's IPCC report, likening the Western so-called "consensus" to ancient astrology.

24 February 2009

No Wonder We Used To Worship The Sun

Go here to be turned on by words like "eccentricity," or "precession," or "obliquity."

23 February 2009

Lost and Found


This lovely lady and her blogsite featuring exquisite jewelry and very nice pictures and prose too somehow got lost in the shuffle of rearranging my blogroll. A visit here will not go unrewarded.

Which reminds me to remind you of another site that is a treat for the eyes and your other senses. "Country matters" too. Check her out too: Chickens in the Road.

I'm always cheered and usually amazed when I visit either Ms Mentock's or Ms McMinn's wonderful website.

22 February 2009

This Is The Most Delightful Story I Have Read In A Long While

This is Clover and she comes from a wonderful blog called Chickens In The Road: Life In Ordinary Splendor

I highly recommend the site both for the splendid pictures and the great writing.

21 February 2009

What "Shovel-Ready" Really Means

This lovely piece of artwork comes from the blog of Dr Sanity, a lady psychiatrist as far as I can tell. Check her out, I mean her blog of course.

19 February 2009

This Might Be Interesting


A friend of mine from a previous trip around the world with a large group of undergraduates back in 2004 has decided to do it again and to publish his notes and some pictures regularly as he and his wife and grandson sail merrily around the world starting from the Bahamas and heading for Spain and Morocco. They are heading south along the coast of Africa aiming for Namibia and South Africa, then on into the Indian Ocean etc. It should be an interesting blog as he is a veteran traveler, often by ship, and a former World Bank executive.

The threatening picture above is where they are heading now, which is Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background. The mountain had a "tablecloth" on it when the picture was taken.

Here are Alex's notes on South Africa. Probably has some leads on pictures as well. By now they are well into the Indian Ocean, heading for Chennai on the east coast of southern India.

18 February 2009

It's nice to have big hitters on your side

A week or two ago I asked the question "How do you measure 'saved jobs'?" And now my favorite Harvard economist, Professor Mankiw, asks the same question and then goes on to explain that there is no way of measuring 'saved jobs.' And he says, as always, much other wise stuff. Check him out.

14 February 2009

Another Modest Proposal

I see a fair number of these lumps of dirty ice and snow scattered among the parking lots of our fair city's shopping centers. We've not had any snow for awhile, and the temperatures have generally been above freezing. This observation sets off some reverberations in my temporal lobes giving rise to childhood memories of old men with noses dripping in the winter cutting ice on Lake Sinnissippi. They stored this ice in dark places with sawdust covered by canvas for delivery in the summertime to the few old and poor folks who still had iceboxes rather than the new-fangled refrigerators. I remember asking my grandfather how this could be done because southern Wisconsin summers were fairly warm.

I don't remember his explanation but those thoughts quickly lead to a modest proposal directed toward our environmental whacko friends: if you are worried about polar bears drowning because of ice melting why not encourage dirtying up of the surfaces, say from drilling for oil or some other industrial activity? Would the polar bears object? They would probably adapt as quickly as they are adapting to the ice melting.

13 February 2009

"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"

This is from the Cathedral in Florence, where Micheleno's fresco shows Dante holding a copy of his Divine Comedy next to the entrance to Hell, which Dante says bears an inscription, the ninth (and final) line of which is the famous phrase "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", or "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

This is what comes to my mind as I think about the folly of our elected representatives, and our own in sending them off to represent us. Stimulus, indeed. Have they no shame?


The main question in my mind will be in what circle of Hell they will be consigned to. These are concentric circles representing increasing degrees of wickedness, with each circle's sinners being punished with the same sin he committed during his lifetime.

I suppose there is a chance they may wind up in the fourth circle (see Gustav Dore's illustration above left) made up of the avaricious and the prodigal pushing huge money bags around for all eternity.

But my bet is on the ninth circle, reserved for the most wicked of all, the traitors. They are frozen in a lake of ice to varying depths with their Master Satan at the center. I don't think treason is too harsh a word in these circumstances. The dreams of the revolutionaries of the 60s seem to be at last coming true. Is there any hope that this is a very bad dream on my part?

11 February 2009

Summary of Pres. Obama's "Press Conferences"

You might want to make a note of this summary as it could just serve for future "press conferences" too. I know a good deal of what passes for politics these days is simply an attempt at entertaining theatre. This is necessary because all the action and dialogue occurs on the TV where it competes with a lot of other stuff. Monday night's performance left a lot to be desired but maybe it was just a rough draft. If so the press corps will have to brighten up their roles. And what was that school teacher-like business of calling on only the anointed? To make clear who is in favor and who isn't? Where was the director of this charade?

The pundits say that the reason for the declines in the markets yesterday was Mr Geithner's either not knowing what to do or not being willing to tell us what he plans on doing. That may be at least partly true but it was also necessary to pair that performance with the economic and historical silliness we heard from President Obama the night before.

09 February 2009

From The Back Pages of the Wall Street Journal

This is from an AllState ad on the back page of today's Wall Street Journal. They sell insurance to the parents of 16 year olds. They are hoping to sell more by taking out this ad. They claim that some anatomic parts of our brain don't develop until after age 16. Maybe 18 or maybe even in our 20s: important parts that are critical in coming to thoughtful conclusions. I thought the ad was splendid and Super Bowl-worthy, but they were probably outbid by Budweiser. I don't know if the anatomic part is correct or not though it seems obvious to most of us older folks that there must be some mind functions that take a good deal longer to develop than others. I had always imagined those later developing functions to be the result of experience and learning and maybe some decline in various hormonal influences, but maybe deep anatomy is just as important as surface anatomy in our destinies. I say older folks because much of what we know about these things is often the result of losing them, or at least noticing a decline.

I wonder if there is a condition of persistent holes-in-the-brain? That is, maybe some people never do fill in that hole and thus reason badly throughout their lives? That could offer an explanation of the pathology illustrated by a couple of the letters to the editor in the same paper on this same day, especially those by Bill Moyers and one of his acolytes. Moyers was squealing because he had been skewered so deftly by Danny Pearl's father a few days earlier, and the acolyte thought that because we grieve we can't reason correctly. The third letter in the sequence hits a home run apparently without a lot of energy expended: "At what point do those who participate in the normalization of evil cease to be useful idiots and become evil themselves?"

When Did They Start Naming Cars With Girls' Names?

I was a little surprised when I came across this shiny new automobile in my accountant's parking lot. Not that her clients can't afford a nice new car of course, but it was the name on the door that caught my attention.

Isn't Mary Kay a cosmetics outfit put together by America's most remarkable female entrepreneur that used what might be called a pyramid scheme by people who didn't know better? Didn't they give pink Cadillacs to their best salesladies? Maybe times have changed.

Or is this car named after the school teacher that turned at least one of her students' fantasies into reality? Enquiring minds want to know. Our car companies have done stranger things than this.

07 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I don't think I've ever seen a movie only a couple of months after it has been released. I usually only start to think about a movie after I've seen it mentioned at the Academy Awards or some other show. But wife Carol said let's go to lunch and a movie. That sounded enough like a date to get me hooked.

Slumdog Millionaire is worth seeing. It might be worth checking out the Wikipedia entry before you see it because things move fast and furious, so it might be worthwhile having a look at the scorecard before you get into it. In fact it might be helpful to see the movie before you visit the country as well. It is an Indian (not the Native American type) Odyssey meets West Side Story, or maybe contemporary Mumbai meets old-fashioned Hollywood.

It takes place in Mumbai, actually starting when it was still called Bombay. They rescued some surprisingly cunning kids from the slums, together with some others a few years older and then finally some young attractive (but not too much so, especially the male lead) players who get their life stories told by flashbacks from questions asked on a modern Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."

Thank Heavens there were no deep or unexpected insights into the human condition, only a familiar bad guys v. good guys story well-told in unfamiliar circumstances. I liked the musical score as well. And for once the early Hindi dialogue, I suppose, with sub-titles in different positions on the screen wasn't all that irritating. The switch to English half-way through was smooth and made sense too.

Although the movie is not a traditional Indian movie, it certainly captures the feel of India during the last generation. Confusing, and meant to be so, sensory overload with the now required odd angle photography and quick cuts. Much is mythological and I suppose filled with stereotypes, but it's the kind of story that gets told well that way.

Just to make sure the viewer knows it is an Indian love story plus everything else, the credits at the end roll with a big West Side Story dance sequence at a train station between the tracks, and there is not much touching, and even the kiss at the end is interrupted at the very beginning. Go see it.

06 February 2009

More Reasons For Everyone To Oppose The Stimulus

This lady calls herself a bookworm. She may be that but she is also a terrific writer and reader of a lot of sensible blogs. She writes from the belly of the beast. Check her out, as well as those she recommends.

04 February 2009

Squirrel Appreciation Day + 15

That is two on the ground and one on the squirrel-proof bird feeder with the funny red hat. Apparently the word is getting out in the squirrel community that there is a place on Ramada Drive that needs their attention. It seems only yesterday that I was surprised to see one squirrel in my back yard.

In some places the appreciation depends on the color of the squirrel. Would I joke about such sacred topics?

This may well be a losing battle. Does anyone have an air gun they are not using?

Any recipes for squirrel? Do they taste like chicken?

In case you need any help on how to celebrate this holiday next year, here is the necessary website. Seems to be useful for lots of other things too.

01 February 2009

Something Sublime About Sanity

I usually don't have a lot of confidence in psychological analyses of history or current events but this guy seems to have a lot of common sense. Check him out.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE
Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here