From Pine View Farm

Personal Musings category archive

Meta: Stats 0

I just reinstalled a statistics plugin.

I removed it when I was trying to troubleshoot the issues I was having back in February, issues which, with the help of my most excellent hosting provider, seem to have been resolved for several months now. At the time, I was getting about 600-700 unique visitors a day (not too bad for a small blog in the backwaters of the inner webs, AFAIC).

I was talking with my friend today about completing the day’s blogging (since I mostly do what I call “drive-by” posts–Hey! this looks interesting–I shoot for eight or nine posts a day) and she wondered how many persons visit this site. I told her that, right now, for the above-mentioned reason, I don’t really know, but feeding the blog helps me keep sane during this time of danger to our polity.

As I said, I don’t know right now how many visitors I have, but I do care, because I hope that some persons find my ramblings useful, interesting, or, at least, diverting.

Not the Mainstream, Just a Pathetic Eddy Off to the Side 0

No, Kyla Mandel, Mitt Romney is not the “GOP Mainstream.” Donald Trump is.

The stream has moved far to the right as a direct result of Richard Nixon’s southern strategy, which has come full circle and consumed the party, to the extent that it doesn’t even try to pretend any more.

Those who continue to give lip service to the mythical “moderate Republican” are living in a fable of their one creation. Worse, they are perpetuating the myth to the detriment of reality.

Facebook Frolics 0

At The Denver Post, Diane Carman explains that the blame doesn’t lie only with Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and their ilk. A snippet (follow the link for the rest):

Which brings us to the real problem.


Here’s the deal. You know that advertisement for overpriced slippers that keeps coming at you whenever you access your digital newspaper subscription or perform a Google search or check Facebook? At some point you innocently click on the ad to see what it’s all about, and then they’ve got you. The ads keep coming. And pretty soon you think you really need another pair of slippers even if they cost 150 bucks and, after all, they’re still just slippers.

You’ve been played.

A really really good con job is still a con job. Persons who stay aware and do their homework generally do not let themselves get conned.

The same goes for societies.

Recommended Reading 0

The Iliad and the Odyssey, translated by Samuel Butler.

I have tried to read translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey a number of times and have not been able to get through them. I found the celebrated Rouse translations boring to the point of impenetrability.

I stumbled over a copy of Samuel Butler’s translation at AFK Books and recommend it highly. He makes the correct compromises between faithfulness to the original Greek and English idiom.

There will still be elements of the translation that the contemporary reader might find difficult, because of the cultural divide. The catalog of ships, for example, might have had great significance for the Ancient Greeks, whereas the contemporary American reader could care less (sort of like the “begats” in the Bible spoke to ancient Hebrews, but not to contemporary readers of the Christian Bible).

Nevertheless, if you want a readable version of the Homeric classics, Butler’s translation is a good place to start. And it’s worth the effort.

Recommended Reading 0

I trained as an historian and, through that training and a lifetime of reading history and sociology, I am convinced that the past illuminates the present. Accordingly, I recommend A History of China by William Eberhard, as China is important and most Americans, including me, are woefully ignorant about its history and culture–well, not just ignorant, more like farcically misinformed and bigoted.

I do not claim that it answers every question nor that it is without bias (I don’t know enough about Chinese history to make that claim), but the author’s credentials are impeccable and the book is readable and accessible, having been written for the general reader; it can give perspective to why China is what it is now.

You can get it from Project Gutenberg (easily the most noble of internet projects) and read it with the free FBreader.

Maps of China through its history from illuminate the narrative.

To get a sense in English of day-to-day life in ancient China, you probably can’t do better than Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries, which I first encountered in a marvelous little bookshop on 33rd Street across from Madison Round Garden (it’s not at Madison Square any more and it is round) in New York City when I was involved in an extensive training project there in the early ’80s. I’m rereading them now.

Twits on Twitter, Facebook Frolics Dept. 0

I am certain I am not the only person who finds that #deletefacebook is trending on Twitter to be somewhat ironic.

In related news, John Aravosis retrieves his data from Facebook and finds that the Zuckerborg has slurped up far more information about him than he imagined.

Depressive 0

When I checked into the ER Wednesday afternoon, the nurse asked, “Do you suffer from depression?”

I said, “Only since the last election.”

Read more »

Stray Thought, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Dept. 0

I once had a history professor (U. S. Early Federal Period) who was fond of noting what he called “the ironies of history.”

Today we are living one such irony.

The U. S. right wing, which has for over 40 years trumpeted the creed that “the federal government can’t be trusted” has succeeded in creating a federal government, one in their own image, mind you, that can’t be trusted.

Stray Thought, Sunday Dept. 0

I wonder whether the Evangelical right still teaches Sunday School children to sing

Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight

and, if so, do they manage to do so with straight faces.

Light Bloggery, Snow Day 0

It’s snowing as I write this and I plan to enjoy the snow tomorrow, when this will post, as I am writing it last night so I don’t have to worry about it today. (Let’s Do the Time Warp Again and all that.)

We are supposed to be hit hard, at least as folks in these parts measure it. They don’t know from two-foot snows . . . .

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Political Fallout 0

I have a brown leather vest that I truly like to wear in lieu of a jacket on mild days.

Now, thanks to “Judge” Roy Moore, I am ashamed to be seen in it.

I’ve Been Polled 0

I received a call on my cellphone the other day.

Thankfully, it was not from the Health Care Enrollment Center, the phishing scam that calls me pretending that they have “received my inquiry” when I have made no inquiry. (I keep blocking their numbers and they keep calling with new, likely spoofed numbers.)

It was from a legit polling outfit calling about Tuesday’s election. I answered frankly about my political predilections.

One of the questions was, “What made you choose between Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie.”

I said, “One is a good and decent human being; the other is not.”

At which point the pollster lost it.

Many Happy Returns 0

As I have mentioned here from time to time, I do not follow incoming returns the night of the election. Why, I ask myself, should I waste hours looking at the television when I can read the results in 15 minutes tomorrow morning?

Tonight, though, my friend dropped in on the returns and shared some happy news.

I must confess, I am looking forward to tomorrow morning. But, for now, it’s time for another session with Nero Wolfe.

Shamed by the Bell 0

In the silence between the third and fourth movements of the first piece, as the conductor raised his baton, the cell phone rang from somewhere in the back of the concert hall. The conductor stood, motionless, as he and the musicians waited in silence for quiet to return.

Fortunately, I had remembered to mute my phone, so it wasn’t me.


Later, as I returned from intermission, I remarked to the usher, who was quietly ushering in the hallway, “I’m glad I muted my cell phone.”

He was still laughing as I reentered the auditorium.

Stray Thought 0

Rex Stout was a damned fine writer.

I have enjoyed his Nero Wolfe mysteries from the first time that I read Some Buried Casar in the back seat of my parents’ car on the way to visit my grandmother.

Now that I am rereading them from the perspective of having made my living with my pen for a lifetime, I realize that the man was not “just a mystery writer” (Mickey Spillane was “just a mystery writer”), he was a wordsmith. Like Kerry Greenwood, he made words dance.

Fancy Words Don’t Make Stupid Smart 0

Goa6:  What do you have there, Rat?  Rat:  New app I developed.  If you use stupid busines meeting jargon, the Earth opens up and swallows you whole.  Goat:  What jargon?  Rat:  Well, I have

Click for the original image.

When I was a corporate trainer, we fought gobbledygook all the time. It was quite a challenge to get trainees to internalize a growing awareness of this verity.

What Happened to the “Information Superhighway”? 0

It has become a back alley from a Law and Order episode, filled with with debris, overflowing dumpsters, lurking muggers and con artists, and the occasional dead body.

Empty Space 0


JoCat passed away today. She had been fighting irritable bowel disease and it appeared to be under control with proper diet, but, this morning, she started to cough and wheeze (beyond that, I will spare you the details). Before we could get her to a vet emergency room, she passed.

We took her to our regular vet, and the best guess of the vet tech was that she threw a blood clot unrelated to the irritable bowel syndrome. Apparently, cats may do that.

She was a good cat, affectionate as long as she got her way (after all, she was a cat), and she had a life full of love.

She had been a member of the family for 13 years, since my father passed away and she became an inheritance (my brother cares for her sister).

She was a good, if demanding and persnickety, friend, and she is missed.

Stray Question 0

Who is Google anyway to presume to tell me what items in my Gmail inbox are “important” and which are not?

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“Normalization” Nonsense 0

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

I recently subscribed to the Sunday New York Times. It’s a week’s worth of good and challenging reading.

But, as Farron points out, its writer got this one wrong (and journalists sometimes get stuff wrong–it happens, live with it).

No amount of face paint can turn Donald Trump into anything other than a racist poseur.