Archive for October, 2011
31 Oct 2011

In the Latest Virginia Sportsman

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(click on image twice for larger versions)

I make serious efforts to bar my wife from publishing photographs of me at sporting events and in the hunting field, but for some unaccountable reason I do feel a sense of gratification when I find myself accidentally present in a photograph of that kind of event published elsewhere completely independently.

I was, therefore, tickled to find, in the latest Virginia Sportsman, a feature article on last Spring’s Virginia Hound Show, which shows me sitting and leaning on my cane while watching professional huntsman Dennis Downing putting a couple of our own Blue Ridge foxhounds through their paces in the English ring. (My face is hidden behind the elbow of a photographer snapping a picture.)

31 Oct 2011

NASA Engineer’s Halloween Costume

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Hat tip to Ben Slotznick.

31 Oct 2011

After You, Byron!

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Warmist whackjob Byron Kennard has a modest proposal for reducing entitlement spending on nursing home care for decrepit baby boomers.

I call on boomers to imitate the example of the Inuit, a tribe who occupy Greenland and Northern Alaska. In olden days, when food ran short, elderly Inuits who felt they were a burden on their community would wander off by themselves into the wilderness where they would perish of their own accord. …

• A hero’s journey, in the mythical sense, is the highest goal to which humans aspire.
• There’s something about being alone in the wilderness that evokes humanity’s most intense, sublime experiences.
• Preservation of wilderness is of paramount importance to the future well-being of the planet.

My proposal builds on all this. It provides a strong new rationale for preservation of wilderness areas. After all, if aging boomers are to wander into the wilderness to die, there must be wilderness to wander into. But, of course, nobody wants suicidal seniors flooding into existing parks such as Yellowstone or Yosemite that are already crowded with vacationers looking for a good time. So my proposal calls for expanded wilderness protection in order to accommodate large numbers of nearly-dearly departed boomers. Think of this as the ecological dividend of your sacrifice.

Now, despite my emphasis on volunteerism, I’m realistic enough to know that economic incentives are what really count. Accordingly, my proposal includes a prod to encourage any boomers who are reluctant to “step up to the plate.” Cutting off their income ought to do the trick.

Under my proposal, Social Security payments would end automatically when beneficiaries turn 90. This sounds harsh, I know, but frankly, isn’t it reasonable to assume that by age 90 your overriding concern will be death with dignity? Well, anyway, that’s what it ought to be if you guys have any taste or gumption or healthy sense of self.

At present, most really old people lie terminally bored in rest homes watching Law and Order re-runs for the hundredth time — a fate worse than death. Most actually expire hooked up to expensive machines in overcrowded, unsanitary hospitals.

Hey, boomers, wouldn’t you rather bid life farewell on your own terms, in the great American outdoors, surrounded by scenic wonders, communing with nature? Sure you would!

Here’s the icing on the cake. As things stand now, you guys are going to exit life’s stage amid catcalls of derision from the younger generations you’ve screwed. But as followers of the Inuit’s honorable tradition, you’ll stride offstage to thunderous applause from a grateful posterity. And think how proud Mom and Dad would be.

It’s kind of hard to tell how much, if any, of this is tongue in cheek when it comes from someone with Kennard’s political views. His lot has a record of really implementing these kinds of ideas.

Hat tip to Stephen Frankel.

30 Oct 2011

December 6, 1948 at King’s College, Cambridge

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George Humphrey Wolferstan Rylands CH CBE (23 October 1902–16 January 1999) was always known as “Dadie” Rylands

I’ve been reading a good deal of the wicked, reactionary (and bisexual) British writer Simon Raven recently.

Raven’s politics assure that author’s neglect by precisely the same intellectual establishment his louche aestheticism would normally attract.

In his memoir, Shadows On The Grass, described by one reviewer as “the filthiest cricket book ever written,” the Anglophile reader finds a very entertaining account of the founder’s day feast at King’s College, Cambridge on December 6, 1948.

Raven falls into conversation with George Humphrey “Wills” (sic) Rylands, “the poet, the beauty, the wit, the actor, and the sage (one of the most notable lecturers in English at either university), the toast of the twenties and the ornament of the forties.”

Rylands serves up, in Raven’s account, some extremely witty deprecatory comments on the personalities and accomplishments of several of the great men of the college, in the artful manner characteristic of people of his particular persuasion, then suddenly grows serious, and expresses both loyalty toward and apt concern for the future of the ancien regime.

‘It would appear,’ he said, ‘that I’ve been very much running the Provost down this evening. In some ways it serves him right: it is an essential part of your education that you be taught to recognise the techniques of faking, whether in life or art. But there is one thing I very much wish to impress upon you all. So long as we have this Provost or someone like him as Head of the College, then absurd as he may be in many respects, we are nevertheless safe. Our values will be preserved. Festivals like this one will be properly celebrated. Honourable connections will be respected and maintained. It will continue to be recognised that it is better to give a place to an amusing or beautiful boy who will only get a third class degree (or may perhaps even fail) than to give it to some boring swot who might manage a second with the wind behind him. There will be diversity, and a certain amount of wealth. Wide interests will be encouraged as much as specialised studies; there will be tolerance and civility; in a word, there will be civilisation. The present Provost stands for and guarantees all of this.

‘But there is a new kind of man who will surely come to us in time. I’m not sure how soon; I suspect in about twenty years; but sooner or later come he will. This new sort of man will be a scientist, or possibly a practitioner of what I believe are called “social studies”; he will be a philistine and a prig; he will be left wing; he will wish to repudiate the past and to disown its monuments; he will be determined, as he will put it, to “cauterise” or “disinfect” the present, that is to sever all the old and well loved links, with people, with families, with institutions, so that the spirit which now obtains, having had its lifelines blocked or wrenched away, will die for want of nourishment. He will destroy and expel and pervert. For all I know, he may even let in women.’

I was myself at Yale both before and after coeducation, and am well acquainted and appreciative of the advantages thereof. I acquired a wife from the post-revolutionary coeducated Yale. But it is easy to understand why Dadie Rylands made reference to coeducation, treating it as a metonymy for all the vandalism and deracination that the spirit of leftism was determined to unleash on Trans-Atlantic elite universities as soon as the likes of King’s College’s provost had been replaced by men whose personal faith was only invested in progress and reform.

30 Oct 2011

A House Divided

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Anne Applebaum contends that the really important class division in the United States isn’t between the infinitesimally small category of the Super Rich and everybody else, but the ever enlarging fissure between the haute bourgeoisie and the ordinary middle class.

I would argue that the growing divisions within the American middle class are far more important than the gap between the very richest and everybody else. They are important because to be “middle class”, in America, has such positive connotations, and because most Americans think they belong in it. The middle class is the “heartland”, the middle class is the “backbone of the country”. In 1970, Time magazine described middle America as people who “sing the national anthem at football games – and mean it”.

“Middle America” also once implied the existence of a broad group of people who had similar values and a similar lifestyle. If you had a small suburban home, a car, a child at a state university, an annual holiday on a Michigan lake, you were part of it. But, at some point in the past 20 years, a family living at that level lost the sense that it was doing “well”, and probably struggled even to stay there. Now it seems you need a McMansion, children at private universities, two cars, a ski trip in the winter and a summer vacation in Europe in order to feel as if you are doing minimally “well”. You also need a decent retirement fund, since what the state pays is so risible, as well as an employer who can give you a generous health-care plan, since health care is so expensive.

Anne Applebaum focuses her brief discussion on the economic gap between the community of fashion elite and the old-fashioned middle classes, but I think that the cultural and political division is even more important.

The American Upper Middle Class constitutes the constituency of Progressivism, Scientism, Statism, Collectivism. They are the people who consider eating at the newest restaurant vitally important, but who never attend church. Members of the American community of fashion elite feel more comfortable and at home in Rome and Paris than they do in Akron or Bakersfield. They are more sympathetic to Islamic insurgents overseas than they are to tax protestors at home.

A certain small number of Americans (myself and a number of the contributors to Maggie’s Farm are typical) have a foot in both camps, having acquired elite educations and expensive tastes, but somehow mysteriously having avoided complete assimilation to haute bourgeois liberalism. From our uniquely privileged perspective, it is exceptionally clear just how deep, and how bitter, the recent new class divisions really are.

It isn’t only, as Anne Applebaum notes, that the upper middle class and ordinary middle class have become increasingly distinct and different. They now really detest one another.

29 Oct 2011

Two Previously Unknown Photographs of Wyatt Earp

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The LA Times reported recently that a pair of sharp-eyed brothers apparently discovered two previously unknown photographs of Old West legend Wyatt Earp, one as a small boy, in a family photo album that they purchased in an antique shop in San Bernadino County for $50.

They could make a lot of money selling the photos at auction (if experts agree on the identification), but they have expressed the intention of keeping and licensing the images.

29 Oct 2011

Because 4% of the Energy Controls 100% of the Photons

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Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

28 Oct 2011

Perry Proposes to Campaign, Rather Than Debate

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Byron York reports approvingly that Rick Perry (who has suffered in popularity due to his non-stellar debate performances) intends to skip some of the excessively numerous upcoming GOP debates (that not many Americans watch anyway).

Perry opened the subject Tuesday night when he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that it might have been a mistake for him to take part in the debates. “These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates,” Perry said. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the [debates] when all they are interested in is stirring it up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people. …”

I think myself that this is another case where Rick Perry demonstrates both independence of mind and good judgment. A competition for the smoothest and safest 30 second sound bite in what amounts to a liberal press-arranged melee of mud-slinging by Republican candidates at one another is not really terribly useful or a very meaningful test of qualifications for the presidency.

On the contrary, Perry’s ability to see through the charade and to understand what really matters and what doesn’t is far better evidence that he is likely to make sensible decisions as chief executive and commander in chief. A president’s ability think for himself and possession of sufficient courage to set aside false expectations and pointless conventions matters infinitely more than how glib he is, or how pleasing his voice. Barack Obama speaks beautifully, but he is obviously utterly and completely incapable of thinking or operating outside the Weltanschauung of the left-wing community of fashion. Obama is ineffective as president, and is trapped in a pattern of self-destructive political behavior, precisely because he lacks that kind of independence of mind and is simply a captive of his ideology.

28 Oct 2011

The Birds of Anger

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If Angry Birds was a Hitchcock movie…

Hat tip to Ben Slotznick.

28 Oct 2011

Witty Rejoinders

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Don Surber:

From the Hill: “President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly referring to the Congress as Republican even though their party controls one-half of the unpopular institution.”

[Emphasis added]
Wait till next year when they start calling it a Republican White House.

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Ann Althouse:

Occupy Wall Street food servers get sick of the “professional homeless people.”

“They know what they’re doing.”

    For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

    They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.

[Emphasis added]
What if everyone suddenly got sick of freeloaders?

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

27 Oct 2011

Obama: “Self Reliance? Oh, No! Not That!”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

There was a time, not so very long ago, when every school boy read Emerson’s essay on Self Reliance. That particular essay was looked upon as as a fundamental expression of our national ethos, as vital instruction on how an American ought to approach life.

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark. …

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser, who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, — “But these impulses may be from below, not from above.” I replied, “They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.” No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.

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Today, we live not in the age of Emerson, but of Obama, and for many Americans, including the current president, the American ideal consists of statism, regulatory protection, and dependence on government.

ABC:

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

“The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

Dan Riehl called Obama “the first truly un-American president.” via Bird Dog.

I think the seedy, crooked detective who delivers the 1:17 opening monologue of the Coen Brothers’ “Blood Simple” (1984) speaks for a lot of us:

LANDSCAPES

An opening voice-over plays against dissolving Texas
landscapes–broad, bare, and lifeless.

VOICE-OVER
The world is full of complainers.
But the fact is, nothing comes with
a guarantee. I don’t care if you’re
the Pope of Rome, President of the
United States, or even Man of the
Year–something can always go wrong.
And go ahead, complain, tell your
problems to your neighbor, ask for
help–watch him fly. Now in Russia,
they got it mapped out so that
everyone pulls for everyone else–
that’s the theory, anyway. But what
I know about is Texas…

CUT TO

ROAD NIGHT

We are rushing down a rain-swept country road, listening to
the rhythmic swish of tires on wet asphalt.

VOICE-OVER
And down here… you’re on your own.

13 months from now, Barack Obama is going to find out that the whole country is a lot more like Texas than he’d like.

27 Oct 2011

Occupy* Versus Tea Party

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Cost refers to costs for cleanup and extra police to municipalities hosting protests.

26 Oct 2011

Herman Cain Ad

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Message to Obama: “Get real, punk.”

26 Oct 2011

New Opportunity For Homeowners

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