Monday, April 26, 2010

Garden Notes for Late April-

The bleeding heart by the kitchen are getting an early start-

Progress is being made on the back wall. Here is a shot of the area behind the wall "before" (well, "before-ish", -the entire area was overgrown with Burning Bush & grape vines when we started, and in this shot half the berm they were growing on has already been excavated)-

A here's what we have today, with everything cleaned up and several clumps of tall (well, they will be later) perennials already moved over from the front of the wall-

The bee-balm has been moved from in front of the wall and looks happy-

Want some poison ivy? Have we got poison ivy. Here's an example which must be at least a decade old growing up a tree. If you see anything like this, don't touch the "hairs" on the vine (they're actually tendrils the vine uses to grasp the bark), because they've got irritating oil in them, just like the leaves-

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oh, Honestly-

Truth in advertising was never one of Hollywood's strong points, but what if it were?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Caption Contest-

I don't remember exactly where I found this photo, but I do remember that it was captioned- "Disneyland Asked Us to Never Come Back". Surely, however, there are other captions that could apply, so I am asking for your help. Go wild!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Judging a Book by Its Cover-

This is a fun post to write. When we moved I packed a number of 50s and 60s paperbacks into boxes, an d am just now unpacking them. This one caught my eye as interesting in a number of ways-

-to begin, we have that wonderful 1950s "American Family", a husband, wife (of the other sex) son and daughter (and all the same race- boring, but much admired back then).

-but then we have the huge test tube behind them, something of a fore-runner of later families, where science became an issue.

-and finally, we have the "moral life" thing, which I'll admit I viewed a bit skeptically, at first.

Still- it's a great cover, isn't it?

Then I Wikipedia'd Max Otto, and found... nuthin'.

So I Googled him, and found an extensive entry on something called "Philosopedia" which is now defunct, but still has a Google cache. I enjoyed reading this entry, and came to have great respect for Max Otto as a philosopher. I think some of you will also, so I will paste it in its near-entirety-

G. C. Sellery, of the College of Letters and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, wrote the following for Notable American Unitarians:

Professor Max Carl Otto was born in the historic town of Zwickau, Saxony, in 1876, and was brought to America by his immigrant parents in his fifth year. He went to school, through the sixth grade, in Wheeling, West Virginia, where his father kept a restaurant. He studied the Lutheran catechism diligently under a stern, old-fashioned pastor, and also learned to concentrate so thoroughly on what he heard in church that he could repeat the essentials of the sermon to his Lutheran parents. The resulting development of the power of concentration has stood him in good stead ever since.

Young Max served as a waiter in the family restaurant until he was sixteen. Then he went off to Cincinnati and Chicago on his own. In Chicago he was employed as a messenger for the R. G. Dun rating agency, and did incidental human salvage work on Sundays for the Y.M.C.A. This latter avocation led to a regular quasi-religious post in the Milwaukee Y.M.C.A., where he worked with boys. But recognizing the need for further education if he were to "grasp this sorry scheme of things," he gave up his job in the Y.M.C.A. and filled in some of the many gaping holes in his preparation for college by study in local academies. This accomplished, he was admitted, somewhat irregularly, to Carroll College, Waukesha, by President Rankin, who was not averse to stretching the rules in favor of a young man of obvious ability and persistence. From Carroll, after a couple of fruitful years, he moved on to the state university at Madison, where he majored in history under the great Frederick Jackson Turner, and secured a distinguished B.A. in 1906, with election to Phi Beta Kappa. (At Wisconsin also the rules were stretched—or rather broken—in his favor, for he, whose prose is so simple and strong, had not taken the required course in freshman English.)

Otto took up graduate studies in philosophy, and won his Ph.D. in 1911. The philosophy which Max Otto developed did not involved the abstract, deductive systems which ingenious minds have invented through the ages to explain the universe and man in whole or in part; it was not the sort of philosophy one finds in the older histories of the subject. Of course, he knows these systems, and he has been heard to say that he would give his right arm—"well, at least a little finger"—to read the lost treatise of Protagoras on Truth, for its possible anticipation of pragmatism, of which he himself is a representative. Pragmatism is, in fact, essentially an American product—native, democratic, homespun, redolent of the soil. It grows out of and is rooted in the common problems and common sense of men and women—refined common sense, of course, but still common sense, whether at work in business, agriculture, politics, economics, science, or religion. The underlying purpose of this philosophy is the enhancement of human life for all. "Humane, warm, and in the best sense simple," President Burkhardt of Bennington said of Max Otto, "his wisdom is pervaded by a profound sense of dedication to the enrichment of man's intellectual and spiritual life."

Max Otto's philosophy was conceived—and born—in Wisconsin. Of course his native endowment of mind and heart, his experiences of life, and his struggles for clarity of purpose underlie the vision he caught at the university. One may also safely assert that the elder La Follette's program for social betterment had a part in Max Otto's philosophy, and that it was nurtured, enriched, and confirmed by the teachings of William James and John Dewey—especially of John Dewey, his good and great friend.

Within the broad reaches of his philosophy, Max Otto, a man of genuine religious temper, places stress on the need of our age for a nontheistic faith. The writer ventures to quote from his own review of The Human Enterprise, written when that important book was published: "The theistic foundation of truth, goodness, beauty, and humane feeling being seriously weakened, it is an urgent requirement of the times that an alternative foundation be found for those who do not accept the theistic foundation. This other foundation the author finds in practical sympathy for the needs of mankind as they progressively reveal themselves in the working out of the actual problems which confront humanity."

Max Otto's abandonment of supernaturalism, which he pushed to its extreme limits in the debate with Wieman and Macintosh, involved him in serious difficulties almost from the beginning of his career as a teacher at Wisconsin. For it inevitably colored what became his great and increasingly popular course, "Man and Nature," where he takes a frankly naturalistic view of the universe. The first attack came in 1912, when clerical critics and their sympathizers in Madison and elsewhere in the state demanded his elimination from the staff as an enemy of religion, and, strangely enough, as a violator of the state constitution, which forbids sectarian religious instruction in the university. The stamina of the young instructor was put to a very tough test. It would have been an easy way out to give up the course; but Max Otto, after prolonged reflection, declined to do so. His students and not a few of his colleagues—some of whom hardly knew him—stood by him, and Van Hise, the great president, irritated though he was by this additional disturbance, in effect backed him up in his forthright commencement address of that year (1912), entitled "The Spirit of a University."

Freedom of thought, Van Hise here declared, inquiry after truth for its own sake, adjustment of the knowledge of the past in the light of the newest facts and highest reason—"this is the essential spirit of a university, which under no circumstances should it yield."

This spirit, President Van Hise proclaims, "forever makes a university a center of conflict. If a university were content to teach simply those things concerning which there is practical unanimity of opinion . . . there would be quiet; but it would be the quiet of stagnation."

Max Otto's student following and influence grew steadily in the following decades, and many liberal theologians gave him their enduring friendship. Nevertheless, he was exposed to three more bitter attacks. In the latest and fiercest of these, that of 1932, he, a professor in politics, was used as a whipping boy for his friends, the LaFollettes, and was assailed in press and platform as an exhibit of the pernicious radicalism—and atheism—they were said to foster. But again students and colleagues, in increasing numbers, rallied to his side, and again the president of the university, now Glenn Frank, defended him—as his predecessors had done in each of the preceding attacks—and his opponents were thereafter reduced to occasional and ineffective sniping. Max Otto had won—the university had won—a veritable "Twenty Years' War."

Professor Otto's knowledge of scientific method and scientific achievements is wide and deep. It is conveniently shown in a pocket-size book entitled Science and the Moral Life (I949), which consists of selections from his writings. (It is one of the series called "Mentor Books," published by the New American Library.) Mr. Otto was not blind to some of the perilous fruits of science, notably the atomic bomb, and he did not exculpate their propagators. But scientific method, he is certain, must be extended to the social and, of course, to the religious field, to what he calls the search for the good life. Scientific method, he makes clear, is a way of investigation which relies solely on disciplined empirical observation and rigorously exact proof, proof that extends beyond inner or personal conviction to outer or public demonstration.

The search for the good life, to Max Otto, involves not only economic reconstruction in the interest of the fairest distribution of earth's bounties to all men, but also political action to promote this distribution. "Unless enough Americans," he declared in 1939, "are willing to invest their idealism in the project of remaking our social order into a positive means for utilizing our resources for the common good, it will not be long before there will be no idealism to invest."

(Abridged from The Cleavage in Our Culture. edited by Frederick Burckhardt

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Crisis at the MMB Offices...



And now Four Dinners has mentioned British Butter, so it seems only right to add this-

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Please Don't Confuse Them-

Today I take the liberty of shamelessly stealing a theme from Joey Polanski, because I think the lesson may be valuable to some people in the Media-





Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Musings...

- Fox news is treating the white, Christian anti-tax nut who dove his airplane into an IRS building as a “seriously disturbed individual who nonetheless had a legitimate grievance”. Any bets on how they’d have described it if he’d been a Middle-eastern Muslim?

- Tiger who??

- I was glad to see the Russian skaters back to ugly costumes- it makes me nostalgic for the 80s.

- I guess that the use of the word "batshit" in a book catalog entry really depends on the context, doesn't it?

- Oops. Those cheap chocolates I bought at Danny's Deep Discounts weren't "Ferrero Roche" –they were "Feral Roaches". They’re crunchy though, and if you hit them hard enough they stop scurrying around the plate.

- Sweet Jesus- between Global Warming & the radioactive tritium leaks from Vermont Yankee nuke plant just up the river, by July we'll have mosquitoes the size of raccoons. They’ll be carrying off squirrels in their claws and we’ll have to go after them with baseball bats. I can’t wait to make a bug-zapper big enough to deal with ‘em though...

(all the lights in the neighborhood dim)

(The smell of roasting bug drifts through the yard).

I can’t wait for Summer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Retiring, but not Shy...

It was George the Mailman's last day on the job after 35 years of carrying the mail through all kinds of weather to the same neighborhood. When he arrived at the first house on his route he was greeted by the whole family there, who roundly and soundly congratulated him and sent him on his way with a tidy gift envelope. At the second house they presented him with a box of fine cigars. The folks at the third house handed him a selection of terrific fishing lures.

At the fourth house he was met at the door by a strikingly beautiful woman in a revealing negligee. She took him by the hand and led him up the stairs to the bedroom where she blew his mind with the most passionate love he had ever experienced. When he had had enough they went downstairs, where she fixed him a giant breakfast: eggs, potatoes, ham, sausage, blueberry waffles, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. When he was truly satisfied she poured him a cup of steaming coffee. As she was pouring, he noticed a dollar bill sticking out from under the cup's bottom edge.

"All this was just too wonderful for words," he said, "but what's the dollar for?"

"Well," she said, "last night, I told my husband that today would be your last day, and that we should do something special for you. I asked him what to give you. He said, 'Fuck him. Give him a dollar.' The breakfast was my idea."

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Exclusive Pictures =>

our Superbowl Party at Foggygates-

Monday, February 08, 2010

In case you missed it-

last night's most surprising Superbowl ad-

and the story behind it-

How the Letterman-Oprah-Leno Super Bowl Ad Came Together
Jay and Dave together? Could it be true?

It is, and there they were, Jay Leno and David Letterman sitting on a couch – with Oprah Winfrey between them - upstairs at the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Mr. Letterman tapes his show.

The spot was shot last Tuesday afternoon, under the strictest of secrecy which involved both Mr. Leno and Ms. Winfrey flying in surreptitiously to New York, and arriving incognito at the theater, while Mr. Letterman was in the midst of taping his show for that night. It also involved Jay wearing a disguise: hooded sweatshirt, glasses and faux mustache. If you happened to be on Broadway between 53rd and 54th street last Tuesday about 4:15, you might have seen a man fitting that description slip into the theater by a small entrance under the marquee.

According to staff members of the “Late Show with David Letterman” who were on the scene that day - including the executive producer Rob Burnett – it all happened because Mr. Letterman had an idea he thought would be truly funny: a Super Bowl ad that featured the two longest-running adversaries in late night, sitting with Ms. Winfrey as though at a Super Bowl party.

What gave the idea extra spin, of course, was that the relationship between Mr. Letterman and Mr. Leno has been especially fractious of late in the wake of NBC’s moves that led to the departure of Conan O’Brien from the “Tonight” show and Mr. Leno’s impending return to the show, where he will once again go head to head with Mr. Letterman.

In the weeks since the decision was announced, Mr. Letterman had been notably acerbic in his on-air jokes about Mr. Leno, suggesting he was a schemer in some way in the moves that led to the changes in late night, and Mr. Leno had responded with jokes about Mr. Letterman’s well-covered romantic entanglements.

That added to the surprise viewers encountered when the ad came up and there the two comics were, flanking Ms. Winfrey, in essence for a promotion for Mr. Letterman’s show.

As Mr. Burnett described it, Mr. Letterman had the idea to invite Mr. Leno to participate, playing off a similar ad he put together with Ms. Winfrey the last time CBS had the Super Bowl in 2007. “Dave wrote the bit himself,” Mr. Burnett said. “He just thought: it’s the Super Bowl, you’re supposed to entertain people.”

Steps were taken to contact Ms. Winfrey, who agreed immediately, Mr. Burnett said, and then Mr. Leno. Mr. Burnett said he spoke with Mr. Leno’s executive producer, Debbie Vickers. “She asked if this was for real and then she laughed for about 10 minutes,” Mr. Burnett said.

Mr. Leno quickly agreed, but the idea had to be passed by the top NBC executives, including the chief executive, Jeff Zucker. Permission was granted.

Mr. Leno was able to get Tuesday free – NBC had rearranged its schedule to pre-empt his 10 p.m. show that night - and took the NBC corporate jet, Mr. Burnett said. There seemed little chance though that Mr. Leno could sneak into Mr. Letterman’s theater unseen, so the idea was hatched to try to sneak him in during a live taping - in disguise.

Both guests turned up while Mr. Letterman was on stage doing his show. They were kept in a secret green room until the show was over and the theater was cleared. Then Mr. Leno and Ms. Winfrey went up to the theater balcony where a living room set was fashioned with a faux TV and a couch.

Mr. Letterman arrived a short time later. The two late-night rivals greeted each other warmly, Mr. Burnett said. “It was very friendly, very professional, totally cordial,” he said. “You could tell these were two guys who have known each other for a long time.”

The idea Mr. Letterman came up with was for him to be first seen alone, complaining about being at the worst Super Bowl party ever - then to be seen in a two-shot with Ms. Winfrey as he had been in 2007, with her telling him to be nice. And then Mr. Leno would be revealed at the other end of the couch saying that Mr. Letterman was only complaining because he was there.

Mr. Letterman followed doing a mock-Jay voice. The entire spot was shot quickly and efficiently, Mr. Burnett said. “I’d say it took no more that 20 or 30 minutes,” he said.

“I think everybody wanted to do it just because they all knew it would get attention and they all just wanted to do something funny.”

After the taping was completed, Mr. Letterman thanked his guests and they said a cordial goodbye, Mr. Burnett said. The two stars slipped back out into the Manhattan night, Mr. Leno back in his faux mustache.

“This wasn’t done to help Dave or to help Jay,” Mr. Burnett said, “though I think it does help both of them. It was just done because Dave thought it would be funny and would entertain people. Nothing went beyond that.”

Sunday, February 07, 2010

There's absolutely no way...

...that this is going to end well.


There are many important issues facing us today- joblessness, global warming, tea-baggers, deficits, Republican obstructionism, and Sarah Palin, but let's all step back for a moment to discuss something really important-

The Super Bowl.

By this time tomorrow I assume the Indianapolis Colts will be the new Super Bowl champions. I'll be rooting for the Saints, but even I don't actually expect them to win. The Colts seem to be the perfect package this year, an unstoppable combination of brains, determination and skill.

And that's why I hope those wimpy, whiny quitters lose.

That's right, I'll say it- the Colts are quitters.

Stop and think about it- this year they had a chance few pro football teams ever get, the same chance the Patriots had a few years ago: the chance to run the table, to go undefeated from first game thru the Superbowl. But the Colts decided to rest their starters in Game 16 and intentionally bagged the game, in order to have a better chance to go all the way.


When you have a chance like that, you have to go for it. Sure, the Patriots tried it and lost at the very end, but they came soooooo close. And the simple fact that their arch-rivals, the Pats, tried it and failed two years ago should have made it all the more essential for the Colts to do it this year. But instead they bagged Game 16.


Sure, they'll be Super bowl champions tomorrow, but they won't be Real Champions. To be a true champion you at least have to try, and the Colts didn't.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Oh well...