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Thoughts and suggestions about varied topics

Don't be offended-just read and ponder, please


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The "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" does not protect patients and is not affordable

If you're not mad you aren't paying attention

"The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us...
Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business." Ronald Reagan

The United Nations is not a peace organization and the EPA is not an environmental one

A good read about over-reaching governments at all levels -

Hypocrisy at its finest

Hollywood types are the loudest proponents of ever more gun control, yet vast portions of their own income rely on violence by the very weapons they choose to demonize. When they stop making those films and when they no longer travel with armed guards themselves, then maybe they'll have a more valid argument about gun control.

Maybe there should be a law against murder - that would solve it all, right? Oh wait - we already have that don't we? And that law clearly works just fine - so add some more equally strict laws that nobody will heed and that'll make everything peachy.

Political Correctness

When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to -

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple

Thomas Jefferson warned us to …

Avoid Sustainable Development: “When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”

Avoid the Welfare State: “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Avoid Massive Government Debt: “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

Avoid Government Over-regulation: “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

Avoid Control of Individual Gun Ownership: “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

Avoid Compulsive Taxation of Income: “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

The 10 "Cannots"

An outspoken political conservative, Rev. Boetcker is perhaps best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots that emphasizes freedom and responsibility of the individual on himself. Originally published in 1916There are several minor variants of the pamphlet in circulation, but the most commonly accepted version appears below:

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.

And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Boetcker also spoke of the "Seven National Crimes"

I don’t think.

I don’t know.

I don’t care.

I am too busy.

I leave well enough alone.

I have no time to read and find out.

I am not interested. 

Gardening and self-support/government "assistance"

Recent articles in the news have discussed hunger, both in Maine and across the country. How many hungry people planted a garden this spring? No room for one in your yard? Maybe some of the food given away by the government should be grown by inmates in and visitors to our many jails and prisons. That would be more helpful than just handing out free lunch. People who are under-employed would have the opportunity to work side by side with inmates in the fields around the prisons. The inmates would interact with the visitors, and kids would see why they might want to abide by the laws of polite society. Prisoners would have the benefit if having produced a useful commodity and that would be good for everyone.  Self-esteem doesn't grow when people get things without having to work for them. The health benefits of real food you grow yourself are obvious. Working the soil builds strong bodies, both in the production and the eating.

Why do we think the government needs to pay for so much of what we need? Protesters of the 60s and 70s didn’t trust the government – and rightly so – which is why I can't imagine why we should have any more faith in government today. Just because folks you happen to agree with are now in control doesn’t mean they are any more trustworthy than earlier leaders. When we hand over the control of our lives to someone other than ourselves we hand over more than the financial or nutritional responsibility. We also give away the right to make our own decisions about things. Health care and food supplies are things we should not be relying on the government to pay for and control. You might think that your elected leaders today have your best interests at heart, but what happens when the leadership changes again in a few years? Won't those you don’t trust be in control of your destiny again? It’s unreasonable to expect that things will stay as you want them to. Life is dynamic. Always has been and always will be. Politicians say what they need to say to get elected and re-elected. Currently they seem to think that saying they want to “give” you health care and other things is what you want to hear.  Why is it that we are content to pay for tires and checkups and oil changes for our car but we don’t feel we need to pay for checkups and normal costs associated with our bodies? Health insurance should be used for the expensive stuff, not the maintenance stuff in our lives. Try using your car insurance like your health insurance and see how the premiums increase. Sometimes the mind wanders when I'm hoeing and swatting…Get out and Grow

On this Great Experiment called America

In "Democracy in America," Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated people being governed by "an immense, tutelary power" determined to take "sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate." It would be a power "absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident and gentle," aiming for our happiness but wanting "to be the only agent and the sole arbiter of that happiness." It would, Tocqueville said, provide people security, anticipate their needs, direct their industries and divide their inheritances. It would envelop society in "a network of petty regulations -- complicated, minute and uniform." But softly: "It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them" until people resemble "a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."

The "Do Not Call" list

Why is that when politicians pass a law they exempt themselves from that same law? The 'Do Not Call" list is a prime example of this. If I don't want other people calling me at inconvenient times then I certainly don't want to listen to canned diatribes from politicians or poll takers either. Do Not Call means Do Not Call. What's so hard to understand about that simple concept?

If a law is good then that law is good for everyone. No exemptions or no law. Pretty simple.

On the "Stimulus Package" from The Federal Government

Please Sir, may I have a bowl of porridge?
The entire nation is now being encouraged to beg for what it wants instead of working for it. Every community thinks that some other more wealthy community will get gored and the poor ones will come out ahead. Nobody will come out ahead. We all lose when we stop striving to have an honest, hardworking life.
Goodbye America

A Tale of a Different Bumper

So, you finally bought that new car. How long was it before someone dinged it in a parking lot? Was it some inconsiderate slob who didn’t pay much attention to how close he/she parked and opened the door too fast and too hard and too far? Or was it someone pulling in or out of a space turning too soon and dragging a bumper down the side of your vehicle?

Washing my wife’s car the other day, I discovered six spots where someone had either scraped or dented the car. None of the offenders had the courtesy to leave a note for her saying they were even sorry. Maybe they didn’t hear the crunch with the cell phone stuffed in their ears?

            Just last week I had the occasion to be in the bank (getting a new credit card because someone needed to steal my money instead of just getting a job, but that’s another story). I was in the bank for no more than 20 minutes and when I came out someone had managed to squash the corner of my rear bumper in by about six inches. They were too lazy, or too busy or just plain too irresponsible to walk inside and inquire as to who owned the car. There were only four people in the bank at the time. It wouldn’t have been difficult to determine who owned it. I suppose whoever did it just assumed that if I could afford a new car I could also afford the eight hundred dollars for a new bumper on my new car. Rude, and just plain irresponsible people seem to be fast becoming the norm.

            So here’s my idea. Everyone start carrying a note pad and pen. When you see someone damage a car make a note of the plate number of the person doing the damage. Watch them. If they don’t leave a note on the windshield of the car they damaged, perhaps we should leave a note saying what the license plate was of the person doing the damage. I don’t think it’s tattling when we hold people responsible for that which they should feel responsible for in the first place. Maybe if people thought they were going to be caught anyway they might just be honest enough to fess up in the first place. When did it become acceptable to damage other property and not take responsibility for it anyhow?

As an aside, I found that by taking the inner tube from a wheelbarrow or other small tire and letting the air out, then stuffing it into the plastic bumper you can pretty much repair a dent like this. After inserting the tube, replace the valve stem in the tube and begin to inflate it. Warm the dent with a hair dryer as you add air to the tube. Shortly you'll see the dent begin to fill out and with just a little patience the dent will pop out and be good as new. 

On PizzAmore and Life.

My response when asked why I do what I do

Why do I do the things I do? Well, I built my house the way I did because it was an economical way to build it. 38 years ago nobody seemed all that worried about how they heated their homes. We’d been through the artificial oil shortage of the 70’s and most folks had tossed wood stoves on the dump when they switched back to oil. Those same people suggested that heating a home in Maine with the sun was just plain silly.  That was just one reason to build a solar house. If someone, especially someone from a government entity, says it’s a bad idea I'm pretty sure to go ahead and try it. Now those folks are asking lots of questions about how we did it and how they might be able to retrofit their own places to be more efficient. The combination of passive solar and a masonry heater, backed up with oil heat allow us the opportunity to shift easily from one source to another or use all three, and to be comfortable at the same time.

When a friend asked if I wanted to help him build a wood-fired pizza oven that was all I needed to begin research into the idea. Having built one at his house, building another here at our house was much easier. The refractory work that makes up the internal parts of the oven go together easily once you have a concept of how high temperature brick is different from regular building bricks. After the interior of an oven is complete the exterior becomes a palette to practice your own artistic talents. We chose Monson slate for the exterior. It matched what we used throughout the house that we’ve built, and was much less expensive than planed slate, which ends up looking like it was manufactured in a factory. The natural faults of rough slate only enhance the appearance of an outdoor oven here in the woods of central Maine.

But that only answers the question of why I built a house and a pizza oven. The other reason for having a wood-fired oven is to meet new people and expand your own knowledge of how others view the world. Personally, I enjoy seeing people experience something new in their lives. Life has become too predictable. No matter what big box store you enter, they look alike the world over. Chain restaurants serve predictable food that tastes the same no matter where you are. While that’s ok if all you want is to feed your body, it doesn’t begin to feed the soul. We must try new things, whether experiences or food. If we do the same things all the time and eat the same foods all the time after a while we’re only eating to feed out bodies and doing things just to keep busy. Now that we’ve had the oven for awhile and served food from it about many times I've discovered that the food, while good, is only half the fun. It’s great when people visit each other while waiting for the next pie to come out, and even better when they come in where I'm cooking to ask questions and feel the dough. Who would have thought that such a thing would be interesting? Many people have commented that they never imagined that whole-grain dough could be so smooth, fine and tasty. Trying new dough recipes and adding various herbs to them to see how they taste with different toppings is always an adventure. Sometimes a combination doesn’t work. Most of the time even the most outrageous combinations are really interesting. When I first put together a marmalade/ pulled pork topping on spinach crust with oregano some people made a face that indicated they thought that rather odd, but the sweet marmalade over the savory herb, mixed with the smokiness of the pork turns out to be a perennial winner no matter who’s here for pizza.

We try to make at least one new combination at each session. The latest was a ricotta cheese over spinach multi-grain crust with shrimp scampi and asparagus. The succulent Maine shrimp marinated in lime juice and Bartlett Maine Estate Winery’s Honey Mead wine and then sautéed at 900 degrees for less that a minute in the oven before being used as a topping was terrific – at least that was the word from the tasting floor.

Sharing Maine’s bounty and the products of Maine’s niche producers is just one of the pleasures I get from cooking, both with the outdoor oven and in general. Maine has some of the most interesting foods, wines and beers you'll find anywhere. I try to introduce as many people as I can to as many of the products I like. When possible I also try to have the producers of great Maine products here to talk about those products. It’s not about marketing – it’s about sharing knowledge and getting folks to think more seriously about what they eat. When we get a great mix of people we also get a great mix of ideas along with them. I often find that if we can get together as friends around a mutual table we can better understand why people think the way that do about issues we all face.

On Vacationland

Ramblings on the season

           Maine is a great place to be any time of the year. Come on up and take advantage of our seasons and our interesting events, restaurants, wineries, breweries and places to stay. If you're not sure what’s going on there’s always the Internet or you can just call us and ask what’s up. Maybe PizzAmore! 

On the "War on Poverty" (And the lack of exit strategy for it)

"By the mid-1930's, thanks to the New Deal,  self-reliance had begun to be left behind, prompting H. L. Mencken to declare: 'There is no genuine justice in any scheme of feeding and coddling the loafer whose only ponderable energies are devoted wholly to reproduction.  Nine-tenths of the rights he bellows for are really privileges and he does nothing to deserve them.' Despite the billions spent on an individual, 'he can be lifted transiently but always slips back again.' Thus, the New Deal had been 'the most stupendous digenetic enterprise ever undertaken by man.... We not only acquired a vast population of morons, we have inculcated all morons, old or young, with the doctrine that the decent and industrious people of the country are bound to support them for all time.  The effects of that doctrine are bound to be disastrous soon or late."

My own opinion on public support of art?

If all the people who think government should take money in the form of taxes and then spend it to "support the arts" actually spent their own money buying real art, the perceived need for government support of art would disappear.

Success in life

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change - Charles Darwin


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