29 March 2009

Preventing Truth Decay


And then there is P. J. O'Rourke, who doesn't seem to believe in pulling punches, even with a President with an apparently thin skin. "Black doesn't crack, does it?"

28 March 2009

Welcome To Spring Training

The Twins practice baseball in Fort Myers in the spring. My brother Russ and I went down there from our Sarasota lair in the house of George Loessig late this morning without tickets. An elderly couple kindly provided us with 1/2 price tickets in the shade, which are the seats near the back.

The only problem was the uncomfortable metal seats probably the right size for 6 year old butts. And the fact that 18 people were trying to squeeze into the space for 16. And the fact that the yahoo announcer had to ham up every announcement made as in most minor league parks. Oh, wait a minute this is a minor league park.

This was a good-sized crowd of about 10,000. We could only stand the seat for 5 innings. Saw a number of home runs by the Twins. And a fair number of Minnesota folks come south to live out their days. I'm pretty sure this Fort Myers area must look and feel like Paradise to them. It was 27 deg in the Twin Cities.

The mascot from the Twin Cities apparently came down to scare kids up close. From a distance this critter is fairly appealing but up close he scares them.

There were at least two other games going on in the surrounding fields. Apparently the lower minor league players belonging to the Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays.

They looked to be playing some exciting baseball, what other kind is there, though some goofy errors showed up too.

27 March 2009

26 March 2009

Avoid This House If Burglary Is Your Game


We felt fairly safe staying here with George in a nice residential area of Sarasota. Those are some magazines on the coffee table in the living room to the left.

Of course he carries a weapon. And it is loaded. Those are decals on the entrance to the kitchen to the right.

He does teach in a middle school in a tough urban neighborhood. What other kind of urban neighborhood is there?

25 March 2009

A National Treasure


Not surprisingly, the Wall Street Journal periodically publishes some controversial stuff. By "controversial" I mean stuff that people not interested in the truth might find offensive.

Shelby Steele has a short essay in last Monday's op-ed pages. His last book opined that Senator Obama could not win the Presidency so his track record is a little sullied for some but in my view Steele's problem with predicting elections just makes him a little more credible. In other words politics for him is more than just winning elections.

I must read some other stuff he has written as he seemed to touch on matters in the essay that have been puzzling me for a long time, ever since I took a long sabbatical during the 60s to learn how to be a doctor.

22 March 2009

Post-modern Political Science 101


I found this startling picture mixed in with the usual large number of adorable Obama and family pictures at one of our local book stores. I haven't read a Newsweek article for a long time, probably because I used one of them in writing a term paper without attribution of course. That was back in the late 50s. I'm sorry.

The author, a Mr Frum, says he is a conservative and a Republican. I gather he is one of those political advisors that only offer advice on how to win elections, not the putting forth of political practices that would be best for the country. Because it is necessary to win elections for many reasons and because Mr Limbaugh scares away the people that the Republicans should be actively inveigling to vote like our friends on the Left in order to win elections, Mr Frum says that Mr Limbaugh should keep his mouth shut.

Hence the cover picture. This sounds very much like the fox advising the chickens on security measures. I wonder if the publisher of this magazine should worry about truth in advertising and change the name to Newsweak? Or is this just part of the continuing campaign of the Democrats to keep Mr Obama as President for Life?

18 March 2009

The Obama & Minions Rosetta Stone



While fooling around on the Wall Street Journal website I came across this.

16 March 2009

An Alternate Universe

From Creative Minority Report:

CMR is here to rescue you from the annual humiliation and ridicule of your office NCAA pool by offering an alternative that CMR readers can sink their teeth into. Look, you're not the one with satellite television watching every single college basketball game and watching for the weaknesses in Oklahoma State's point guard. And you don't even care that Morehead State's Center has a bad knee.

But CMR is offering you some brackets that you know a thing or two about. As a CMR reader you've had a front row seat to the spiral of Western civilization into an apathetic, politically correct, death-fetish culture. From abortion to euthanasia to just plain bad taste, let's find out who's responsible for destroying our culture.

With this in mind, the CMR think tank after months of study is now announcing the "March to Madness" brackets. Monday through Thursday of this week, the competitors will battle it out until we reach the Final Four. And on Monday the battle to crown the winner of the most destructive person in our culture will end.

Join CMR and "March to Madness" by choosing your winners in the combox because you can influence the judging by lobbying to see certain people to advance or fall.

In the end, there can be only one. Vote early. Vote often.

15 March 2009

A Softie Sunday Afternoon

Softie's on the corner of 24th and Broadwater opened sometime in March, maybe this past weekend, can't be sure. As usual, it was very busy, you'd think they would open another place to take care of the crowds. Opening of Softie's is a sure sign of Spring here in Billings, MT. That and the kids starting to play baseball outside.

As you can see in the picture to the right this is good stuff. The only problem was that at least on this Sunday afternoon they only had one guy working. It took me about 35 minutes to get an ordinary Softie with a chocolate dip.

13 March 2009

J Peterman Catalog Makes A Comeback


I thought these folks had gone out of business, despite the continued plugs on the Seinfeld re-runs.

For unknown reasons we are back on their mailing list.

I guess Elaine is still working for them judging from the flowery descriptions.
See right and left.

11 March 2009

The Sage of Edinburgh Strikes Multiple Chords

Fans of Alexander McCall Smith are probably aware that he has now at least three series of stories going on at roughly the same time. Two of these are centered on Edinburgh and the third, the series that elevated him to stardom in the book world, is the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, as related in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and following, takes place in Botswana. His website and the fore and end papers of the paperback version of The World According To Bertie mention a fourth series, called The Portuguese Irregular Verb series. I haven't sampled that last one yet.

The website has a great deal of information about the author who is becoming more of a celebrity every month it seems. It also has some interesting music which you can turn off if necessary. The 44 Scotland Street series—one of the paper covers is seen to the right— now has three separate books and Bertie is the third, apparently written in weekly! installments for a Scottish newspaper: the chapters are all written to about the same length and all have titles helpful to the lazy reader.

Somewhere on the website it mentions that the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is being made into a TV series on HBO with the opening 29 March. And then there is a daily (sic!) serialization of his latest novel, Corduroy Mansions in the Telegraph, apparently going on right now.

This is one busy and productive guy. I am guessing that he has a team of amanuenses just following him around similar to a chess master playing matches against multiple opponents at the same time.

The World According to Bertie probably came into being because the author took to heart some feedback from his readers who told him that the only sympathetic character in this series is the 6 year old Bertie. By the way, he has remained 6 years old throughout the series so far. The city, of course, is very nice, without even talking about the marvelous Festival they have in late August/early September. You envy the folks who live there but these particular characters, mostly the lucky offspring of the people who put together the British Empire, except for Bertie, though sometimes mildly appealing, are on the whole, not that interesting. Of course, they are probably being unconsciously compared to the earlier and still living characters from Botswana, all of them thoroughly loveable.

I liked a couple of the characters from the Isabel Dalhousie series, though I've only read the first in the series. Maybe you grow to like them in the later books. I recommend you start with any of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books: you will be hooked. I'm even thinking of a trip to Botswana because it sounds so appealing. I'm guessing the HBO series will be worth your while as well.

09 March 2009

BumperSticker Wisdom


Some advice seen in downtown Billings, naturally enough on a large Ford SUV.

08 March 2009

A Gentle and Thoughtful Montanan: Dave Budge

At least I think that is where he is from. Well, anyway, he seems to make a lot of sense. And he tells the dopes off in no uncertain terms. Check out Dave budge's blogsite.

07 March 2009

Friends Alex & Brigitte and Grandson Steam Into Chennai

After leaving Cape Town our friends headed into the Indian Ocean and stopped at Mauritius and now are headed for Chennai, which was its old name before the British arrived, and is now again after several hundred years as Madras.

You can follow their trip on this website. Pictures available too. For some local interest you can refer to the trip we took together in 2004. The picture above is from that earlier trip. It was taken in Kochin, on the west coast of India where the monsoon rains start. Kerala is famous for cows, Christians, and Communists. Curious, huh?

05 March 2009

Writing Your Obituary


I suggest that you not do this at home. Hire a professional. See the folks at the Professional Organization of English Majors. An example of their work can be found here.

The group portrait to the left was done by Rembrandt van Rijn, some centuries ago in Amsterdam. It has nothing to do with
P. O. E. M.

04 March 2009

Hard To Beat Informative and Entertaining Too

I didn't sleep well this morning, so I went surfing down my blogroll to find this little beauty: Hot Peppers—Why Are They Hot? The really curious thing about this blog entry is the fact that it has nothing to do with climate change or weather which is what the blog seems to be about for the most part; and it originally came from a blog entry by a chronobiologist with an interest in sleep problems, originally published in July 2006.

Apparently people who suffer from sleep disorders also show a tendency toward procrastination as the blog entry in the latter blog, A Blog Around The Clock [I'm a sucker for double meanings in titles] has comments dribbling in from July 2006 through September 2008!

In comparing the quality of the comments I'm afraid I have to give the Oscar to Watts Up With That? Apparently people who do climate change stuff also have a tendency toward stand-up comedy. I suspect that comparing comments on a sleep disorder blog with almost any other blog is not really fair, but then neither is life.

Who could have guessed that birds don't suffer from too much capsaicin. I am going to try to mix in a few peppers with my next load of seeds in order to keep those pesky squirrels at bay. Watch this space.

02 March 2009

The Pill and Economic Collapse


I've been trying to figure out why I get easily confused by our ways of doing things in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. You'd think that on approaching three score and ten years that maybe you should have seen or heard most everything and I suspect I have but most of the confusing stuff takes place in the last ten or twenty years. So much so that I've been thinking about a long essay entitled Then and Now, comparing the way things used to be and are now.

I think I've figured out that something happened in the 60s that I wasn't paying attention to because I was totally occupied trying to learn how to be a doctor for the whole decade. But for the life of me I can't figure out what. We thought one way in the late 50s when I was in college and then when I finished my medical training and looked around in the early 70s I felt like Rip Van Winkle because it seemed like everyone thought differently.

I thought maybe it was the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King but that sort of thing has been going on for a long time now. The Vietnam War was an important part of the 60s but that doesn't explain a lot of what came later. Of course it wasn't what the politicians were doing and the student revolutionary wannabees were derivative as well. Hmm.

Comes now Father Dwight Longenecker who suggests that the contraceptive pill developed in the late 50s and generally available in the early 60s may have been responsible for much of the craziness we have almost become used to nowadays. He even suggests that the recent economic collapse had its origin in the different ways of thinking pre- and post-Pill availability. He suggests that we began to think we could have anything we wanted and yet avoid all the usual consequences of those actions. It seemed to be true with regard to sexual behavior.

Then fast-forward to the last decade's economic wizardry: "We told ourselves that we could have anything we wanted instantly simply by taking out another loan. If we were the lenders, we insured ourselves against loss in case those loans were not re-paid. The responsibility could always be shifted. The 'problem' could always be solved. Paying the price could always be delayed. We could just re-finance. Just as we got instant sexual gratification for free, so we thought we should have everything else instantly for free." That's probably not the whole explanation but it might be closer to the mark than a lot of other things.

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