26 June 2006

Hazards Vs. Freedom

Following 9/11 Lucianne Goldberg (hardly a left wing operative) wrote a wonderful column with a concluding line: "Don't Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You". The thesis was that there are hazards just by virtue of being alive. You cannot spend your life in fear of what might happen outside of taking reasonable precautions for your own safety.

There will always be evil people in the world. Should the athletes at Munich not have participated just because Palestinians hated their country? Maybe I should stop shopping because gunmen regularly mow down people at the mall. Let's take the kids out of school. They don't need an education if it means another Columbine.

Those people on those planes and in the Towers did not go looking for trouble, but it came to them. A few thousand people died. Thousands more have died in Iraq. Within very recent memory, Mother Nature has polished off several hundred thousand people. Do you think we could get her to give up tsunamis and earthquakes ... Everybody move out of Los Angeles, she tends to be stubborn.

It is right for the government to take action to protect its citizens and curb the actions of those who wish us ill. It is not right for them to do it in such a manner as to threaten the rights of all. A secret, uncontrolled government is much more of a threat to the citizens of the nation in the long run.

We have a President who operates in secret without the consent of Congress or the knowledge of his fellow Americans in order to trace the money transfers of an enemy who has known for more than three years that he is tracing money transfers. This is more of a danger to the Republic than anything Al Qaeda could do. They are just an enemy and a threat to our safety. He is a threat to our Freedom.

Benjamin Franklin Wikipedia is credited with the following, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. "

Live dangerously. Drive on the freeway.

22 June 2006

Adam Smith

The picture here is the resting place of Adam Smith.

The people who worship what they think is the doctrine of Adam Smith and the "invisible hand" have probably never read his works. This god of Capitalism believed that it could not survive without a code of ethics that was fair to the employee simply because all wealth derived from labor. Whether it was your own or your employeess, that labor was to be rewarded in proportion to the wealth produced. Thus slavery was not an economical structure because the cost was greater than the benefit.

All people operate from a position of self interest. Even the good deeds we do are because we are rewarded by our self image of ourselves as decent people.By racing to the lowest common denominator towards slave labor, modern corporations see short term gains in profits but have higher costs in social services or in the worst cases higher disease and mortality as populations increase and labor becomes cheaper and cheaper. While higher salaries as a reward for education and accomplishment produce lower birthrates and greater long term profits.

This isn't Communism or Socialism that reward everyone no matter what they produce. So when Conservatives accuse Liberals of Socialism they are totally out of line with the Capitalism they profess to support. Then there is that whole biblical injunction (for those who lean in that direction) thing about the Laborer being worthy of his hire. This wisdom has been out there for centuries.

No one does something for nothing. There is no free lunch. The greatest achievements come from everyone being satisfied with their production to reward ratio. That's why Jefferson put the whole "pursuit of happiness" bit in the Constitution. You don't get rewarded for sitting on your rear, but if a society creates a climate of reward for effort, you have success for everyone.

16 June 2006

Flora and Fauna

The Birds of Prey exhibit is where I got to hold the owl. The gentleman who runs it saves birds that have been injured in the wild and cannot return. He supports this activity by exhibiting the birds and instructing the public at a shopping center in Argyle.

This is Hamish. He is a bull like none you have ever met. He comes when called, loves the shoppers who visit the center near where he lives and will eat out of your hand. There is only one warning sign on the fence he could easily walk through but never does. "Do not touch my horns. I don't like it."

Hamish will allow you to pet his nose and stroke his side, but if you touch his horn, he will toss his head. He's not mean, but with a rack like this, having him toss it in your direction could be hazardous to your health.

Boats and Blossoms

You are now visiting a little bit of England. Friends in Cheshire were kind enough to provide room and board for all my rambles.
To the left are the magnificent Rhododendrons of the

Dorothy Clive Garden

One of the more delightful ways to travel at a reasonable cost are the narrow boats and canal system of England. The whole family can bed down for a weekend or a month simply moving from town to town through locks and scenery that must be seen to be believed. If you are interested in a truly unique vacation, this is the way to go Narrow Boats

Cheshire is delightful. Mow Kop may look like a ruin, but was built by the land owner to have a different view from his window. It is well worth the hill climb from the road both for the unique experience and the view of the valley below.

Macclesfield is a beautiful town with all the amenities of a city while resting beside one of those canals that the narrow boats travel. Be warned, everything in the old section of town is cobbled with very steep hills. If you don't like walking at a 45 degree angle, take a bus or cab. If you do visit, take the time to go through the Silk Museum for a unique look at Britains past as an importer of raw goods and exporter of finery.

New Lanark World Heritage Site

Take the time to visit the web site for New Lanark. There is a 360 degree player from the center of the town well worth viewing. New Lanark The cotton mills were powered by the falls of the great river Clyde visible in the top left photo. The tour photos are a bit dark, but are of Robert Owen quotes and a working loom. At various places throughout the site are "statues" of the workers, management, and their families. I'm the slightly less wooden one.

Robert Owen had a vision of being a success while helping his workers. There was child care, medical care, schools, and decent housing for everyone. Even at that the working conditions from almost 200 years ago sound brutal to us today. He eventually brought his ideas to Harmony in the U.S., but unlike New Lanark, this was a failure.

15 June 2006

A Bottle of Scotch

This was one of my favorite stops: The Glengoyne Distillery. Any place that gives you a free shot of 30 year old pure gold should have a shrine at the front.

I brought home a bottle intending to nurse it slowly. It lasted a week which necessitated doing some more shopping once back in the states. Do your self a big favor and stop by


More, More, More

On the midle left is the view of Loch Fyne from the home where I stayed in Clynder. On the right, the home I will try to buy when I win the lottery. You can't tell from the picture, but through that gate on the right is over an acre of gardens. This used to be the chapel in Clyder, but has since been converted to a private home with a store on the front (the wall on the left).

On the far left is Edingburgh apartment buildings. They cluster around a treed courtyard. In a city of stone, virtually every living area has access to greenery. Through the arch is the main street of the city. The public including hoards of tourists pass through daily, but it is the cleanest city I have every seen. On the far right is a view of the Edinburgh business skyline taken from the road into town.

Trip of a Lifetime

You dropped by for a visit, so now you get to look at the scrap books. The easiest way to get to Bute is via the ferry though there is both rail and bus service. Of course if you have your own boat, just head for the harbor at Rothesay. The Victorian mansions overlooking the shore were originally the residences of wealthy 19th century merchants. Sorry, those pictures didn't turn out so you have to settle for one from the internet. If you want to kick back and just enjoy the lovely town, do so, but the walking, horseback and biking trails are not to be missed. In addition, Bute is a "Site of Special Scientific Interest" with rare species of animals and birds as well as the colonies of seals at play on Scalpsie Bay. All this makes Bute a nature lovers' paradise.

Rothesay Harbor

Once there, drop in to a little place named Mount Stuart. The Marquess of Bute and his family live on the top floor when in town, but the public has full access to the grounds and bottom two floors. Don't forget to buy some mead before leaving.

More later.

13 June 2006

Rest and Be Thankful

This is one of my favorite places in Scotland. The winding road that you see takes you across a long glen to the top of a mountain. The point at the top is called Rest and Be Thankful since the trip used to be so arduous that travelers were happy for a break before starting the difficult trek down the other side.

Sometimes you just need to take a break from family, politics, and the world to look at the pretty pictures, sing songs, and indulge in humor. On the right is Birse Forest. This used to cover a huge section of northern Scotland. A small percentage is left and wonderful for a leisurely drive or hike.

One of the wonderful tongue twisting songs of all time is Mary Mac

There's a nice wee lass and her name's Mary Mac
Make no mistake, she's the miss I'm going to tak
There's a lot of other chaps that would get up on her track
But I'm thinking that they'd have to get up early.

Mary Mac's father's making Mary Mac marry me
My father's making me marry Mary Mac
And I'm going to marry Mary
To get married and take care of me
We'll all be making merry when I marry Mary Mac


Now Mary and her Mither gang an awful lot together
In fact you never see the one or the one without the other
And the fellows often wonder if it's Mary or her mither
Or the both of them together that I'm courtin'


Now the wedding day's on Wednesday and everything's arranged
Her name will soon be changed to mine unless her mind be changed
And we're making the arrangements
and I'm just a bit deranged
For marriage is an awful undertakin'


It's sure to be a grand affair and grander than a fair
There's going to be a coach and pair for every couple there
We'll dine upon the finest fare I'm sure to get my share
If I don't we'll all be very much mistaken