Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Maynard Brandsma

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

I was just thinking tonight about an amazing character I knew years ago. In 1972, I moved to Mission Viejo and began a surgical practice at Mission Hospital, now known as Mission Medical Center. When I arrived in December of 1972, I met an internist who had an amazing career and personal history. He was born in Holland and during World War II was supposedly a fighter pilot in the Dutch Air Force in what is now Indonesia. At the time it was the Dutch East Indies. He was also a physician at the time and was chief of staff at the hospital in Indonesia where another physician friend, Sergei Lockareff was born.

Maynard practiced as a physician in Santa Monica and was the personal physician for a number of movie stars, including Humphrey Bogart, Greer Garson and Carole Landis.

Life seemed very good indeed. But Bogie came home one day and told me that he’d run into an old co-star, Greer Garson.
Over lunch, she’d announced that she didn’t like the sound of his cough, and dragged him to see her doctor, Maynard Brandsma, at the Beverly Hills Clinic.

I was so used to Bogie’s cough that I never paid too much attention. He’d been off his food a little, but that wasn’t unusual. I should have realised at once that the mere fact that he’d consented to go with Greer to a doctor was indicative of something serious. Any time I’d ever mentioned a doctor to him, Bogie bristled.

Maynard discovered Bogart’s esophageal cancer and cared for him during that illness. Another physician friend, Burt Meyer, was the surgeon who operated on Bogart and who later said that the cancer was so small that he would never operate on another. If he couldn’t cure that one, there was none he could cure. Burt operated on John Wayne for his lung cancer with better luck.

Maynard was the physician who examined and treated the wife of David Niven for her fatal head injury, suffered when she fell down a flight of stairs in the dark at a Hollywood party.

When I came to Mission, Maynard had been there for several years. He had moved to Mission Viejo after marrying his second wife Mickie. He was active in practice and was kind of intimidating to a new surgeon. By that time, he was 65 years old but still very active. I remember that he tried to get me to join the Coto de Caza gun club, which was abruptly closed by the developer in 1991. At the time that Maynard was a member there was good quail shooting there but I couldn’t afford it.

He was quite the character. One night his telephone did not answer and the hospital asked the sheriffs to go to his house and let him know it was pout of order and they were trying to reach him. They knocked on his door at 3 AM and he came to the door with a .45 automatic held behind his back. Things were far less tense with the police in those days and they thought nothing of it.

The hospital was quite small at the time and Maynard was seeking a second career and life with his new wife. His career at St John’s Hospital in Santa Monica was spectacular in that he had been chief of staff and had a Hollywood practice, as well. One of his patients was John Ford and he made the diagnosis of Ford’s colon cancer that ultimately killed him.

Maynard was a good physician and continued to practice for a number of years after my arrival. Eventually, he and Mickie moved away and they are buried in Montana. He was a very colorful character and I remember him fondly.

Medicine is coming to be a government benefit.

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Obamacare is having serious trouble as I have discussed. The success stories, like California, are an example of what I have called Medicaid for All.

“It’s a total contradiction in terms to spend your public time castigating Medicaid as something that never should have been expanded for poor people and as a broken, problem-riddled system, and then turn around and complain about the length of time to enroll people,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a member of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, which advises Congress.

Most of the new enrollees are Medicaid members and those enrolled in “private insurance” learn that they have severely restricted choice of doctor or hospital.

Now we have a new development.

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New developments at the hospital where I used to practice.

Friday, June 27th, 2014

When I moved to Orange County in 1972, I joined a friend from my surgery residency in practice at a new hospital that had opened a year before. It was called “Mission Community Hospital,” and was owned by a group of doctors with one of the partners an owner of the new development of Mission Viejo. His name was Richard O’Neill and his family had developed Mission Viejo from part of their huge ranch.

The hospital was small with 110 beds total and the staff was made up of young doctors who had recently finished their training like me. The owners were mostly older doctors and practiced in another area of the county. Some of them we would not have allowed on the staff if they had applied. They largely left us alone and over a period of a few years we developed what we thought was the best hospital in Orange County.

Mission Hospital in 1975.

Mission Hospital in 1975.

This is what the hospital looked like in 1975. The swallows used to nest in that entry area. To the right of the entry, there was a doctors’ parking lot and, for a while, the hospital paid a kid to wash our cars. Tom and I always tipped him extra. The food in the doctors’ dining room was free and good and I got a bit pudgy. The hospital went to considerable trouble to make it friendly to doctors and we responded.

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Rape Culture

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

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The college scene is all agog about rape culture. How do we know if it is a problem ?

It’s a phrase you hear a lot. But, what exactly does it mean? Is there one general definition? Not necessarily. In many ways the phrase evokes the famous Supreme Court comment about obscenity from Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.”

And, you don’t have to look far to see examples of rape culture these days. Whether it’s advertising, movies, music videos or social media — images, words, concepts — it’s all out there illustrating men dominating women.

So, now we know the problem. It is men.

Popular movies are strewn with plots of men with the sole purpose of having sex. In the movie “American Pie,” the entire plot of the film revolves around teenage boys wanting to throw a party so they can get girls drunk and have sex with them.

That movie was when ? Well, it was 1999. That was 15 years ago, wasn’t it ? How old were these activists then ?

It’s also been stated by writer Adam Herz that the title also refers to the quest of losing your virginity in high school, which is as “American as apple pie.” So, it wasn’t just about girls losing virginity ?

How about porn star/student, Belle Knox ?

Despite the ordeal, Knox said she plans to continue both her porn work and her classes at Duke. In interviews, she frequently mentions working to increase the rights of sex workers.

“I really want to break down barriers,” Knox said. “I want to change peoples views on sex work. … I mean, I was the first porn star to go on ‘The View.’ This is really exciting for me.

She complains about the publicity and the reaction of others but “This is really exciting for me.” Feminism 2014 version. Another porn star success story.

Ph.D. program in sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She does cam work, some porn, stripping, and some fetish work. Unlike Knox and L., Parreira is out about her sex work. “The department seems to be a sort of hub for sex workers and sex work research, so it has been a non-issue,” Well, that’s a relief.

Now, back to rape culture. Maybe it’s a tiny bit exaggerated ?

An early sign of an obsession with “rape culture” on campus occurred at Duke during the lacrosse case. In April 2006, in a 2000-plus word statement that declined to mention the presumption of innocence, Duke president Richard Brodhead created a “Campus Culture Initiative,” to explicate and “confirm [emphasis added] the existence of a dominant culture among Duke undergraduates.” There was, of course, no rape, but the CCI proceeded along as if there were, operating under the Orwellian slogan that “diversity makes a more excellent university.”

The Duke LaCrosse team case is a horrible example of leftist agitation in action. The whole story is here. Briefly, a hysteria descended on the Duke University campus after a stripper, later convicted of murder, accused the La Crosse team of a gang rape. The young men of the team were immediate demonized by the usual suspects of campus radicals. Fortunately, the boys came from families that could afford good lawyers.

The immediate frenzy followed the usual script.

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Where is housing going ?

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

UPDATE: Megan McArdle has some doubts about house prices.

housing

The housing inflation seems to be limited to certain cities. How will this last in the poor (except District of Columbia) economy ?

I live in south Orange County and have noticed a huge amount of rental construction going on. This area has been mostly single family homes and condos since 1972 when I moved here. Now, we see big projects like this and others nearby that I don’t know the name of. These are big projects including hundreds and perhaps thousands of units. The builder is the Irvine Company which, in my previous experience, has built mostly homes and condos. Recently, I began to notice more rental projects in Irvine.

The Irvine Company Apartment Communities is dedicated to making it easy to find a home you’ll love with unsurpassed services meeting your every need. With approximately 122 exceptional apartment communities located throughout the prime California regions of Orange County, West Los Angeles, San Diego and Silicon Valley, we offer choices to fit every lifestyle and budget.

They seem to be going to rental property in a big way. Maybe this is the reason.

From reading the mainstream press all you hear are glorious signs of housing resurrection! Come one come all into the house of real estate where the almighty Fed will allow no harm to occur. Just sign and pray and the next thing you know you’ll be the next Donald Trump. The flipping, rehabbing, and housing shows are once again filling the space on a cable station near you. The perception of the Fed being this almighty protector of housing makes a bit of sense but where was the Fed in 2007?

I see lots of housing flips in southern California, not in Orange County so far.

foreclosure-completions

Even in 2013 we had 1.4 million properties with notice of defaults, scheduled auctions, and full on REOs taken on. Early in the crisis these stories were common since they were a novelty to the press. Now however, many of these properties are shifting over to large investors pushing inventory up. A clear consequence of this is a large pool of potential buyers that are unable to buy.

These may be the renters.

first-time-home-buyer

Yup. The would-be first time buyers have student loans and bad credit. They are renting.

The number of first time buyers is pathetic because household formation is weak and many young Americans are living at home with mom and dad. Forget about buying, they are having a tough time paying higher rents to the new feudal landlords. You would expect with the rapid rise in prices that existing home sales are off the charts but they are not.

Housing prices do NOT mean buyers who will be occupants. Look at mortgage applications !

mortgage-apps-for-purchase

Wow ! We are back to levels last seen nearly 20 years ago! Only difference is that we have 50,000,000 more people today walking the streets of the U.S. of A. than we did back then. Since access to middle class living is getting tougher thanks to weak income growth, more people are opting to rent:

rentals-vs-households

This is what I am seeing in Orange County. I have been looking in San Pedro for a small house near the ocean. I can no longer afford Orange County except condos. I sold my house four years ago and bought a house in the mountains. That was a bad move. I found that I could not tolerate the altitude. I had to sell into the bad market of 2012. That cost me a lot. Now, I have to lower my sights and may just stay a renter for a while. At my age, it may make better sense.

Why healthcare is in trouble.

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Our health care system has been built up over the years in a jury-rigged, ramshackle fashion. Before World War II, there was very little health insurance and what there was often was the product of labor union contracts. The early years were concerned with accident insurance and workers compensation laws.

The American life insurance system was established in the mid-1700s. The earliest forms of health insurance, how­ever, did not emerge until 1850, when the Franklin Health Assurance Com­pany of Massachusetts began providing accident insurance, to cover injuries re­lated to railroad and steamboat travel. From this, sickness insurance covering all kinds of illnesses and injuries soon evolved, but the first modern health insurance plans were not formed until 1930.

The Baylor program for school teachers was the first in 1929.

Medical insurance took stride in 1929 when Dr. Justin Ford Kimball, an administrator at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas, Texas, realized that many schoolteachers were not paying their medical bills. In response to this problem, he developed the Baylor Plan – teachers were to pay 50 cents per month in exchange for the guarantee that they could receive medical services for up to 21 days of any one year.

In those days, the concern was lost wages more than hospital care.

In 1939, the American Hospital Association (AHA) first used the name Blue Cross to des­ignate health care plans that met their standards. These plans merged to form Blue Cross under the AHA in 1960. Considered nonprofit organizations, the Blue Cross plans were exempted from paying taxes, enabling them to maintain low premiums. Pre-paid plans covering physician and surgeon services, includ­ing the California Physicians’ Service in 1939, also emerged around this time. These physician-sponsored plans com­bined into Blue Shield in 1946 and Blue Cross and Blue Shield merged into one company in 1971.

The modern insurance plans were very recent in origin. I was there for much of it. The commercial insurers fought the status of Blue Cross, which was not required to have reserves. Blue Cross asserted that it promised hospital care, not payment, so reserves were not necessary.

The 1940s and 1950s also saw the proliferation of employee benefit plans, and the included health insurance pack­ages became more and more compre­hensive as strong unions negotiated for additional benefits. During the Second World War, companies competing for labor had limited ability to use wages to attract employees due to wartime wage controls, so they began to compete through health insurance packages. The companies’ healthcare expenses were exempted from income tax, and the resulting trend is largely responsible for the workplace’s present role as the main supplier of health insurance.

The war produced much of this as wage limitations were in force but fringe benefits, like health insurance, were permitted. A lot of this history is contained in Paul Starr’s book The Social Transformation of American Medicine.

From the first, commercial insurers focused on employer plans while Blue Cross and Blue Shield (which was founded by the California Medical Association to pay doctor bills) were individual plans.

In 1954, Social Security coverage included disability benefits for the first time, and in 1965, Medicare and Medicaid pro­grams were introduced, in part because of the Democratic majority in Congress. In the 1970s and 1980s, more expen­sive medical technology and flaws in the health care system led to higher costs for health insurance companies. Responding to higher costs, employee benefit plans changed into managed care plans, and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) emerged. Man­aged care plans are unique in that they involve a particular network of health­care providers that have been verified for healthcare quality and that have agreements with the insurer about price and related issues. HMOs were originally primarily nonprofit, but they were quickly replaced by commercial interests, and managed care only suc­ceeded in temporarily slowing the growth of healthcare costs.

Two major changes came in the 1970s. In 1978, the federal government established what were called Professional Standards Review Organizations or PSRO. All doctors had to receive training in how to do these reviews and it was immediately apparent that cost was the only consideration, not quality of care.

I decided to educate myself and took a course from an organization called “The American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians. I took the exam and passed, then attended the annual meeting. This was about 1986. People I met at that meeting informed me that the exams were graded by throwing them up in the air. Any that landed balancing on one edge were flunked. Nonetheless, the experience was valuable because I could see what was coming.

I was president of the Orange County Medical Association that year and had served for eight years on the Commission on Legislation of the CMA, now called The Council on Legislation. This gave me an opportunity to meet many legislators, many state level and some federal. The impression they made on me was that few knew anything about medicine and most were not very intelligent.

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Flashdance

Monday, October 7th, 2013

falshdance

I watched the 1983 movie “Flashdance” tonight. It was the big movie of 1983 and I was in England with my kids that summer. I had six teenagers and my wife Jill with me and we spent two weeks driving around the country in a VW van. We spent the first week in London and I got the kids all 7 day passes on the Underground. We rented two apartments in a building at 202 Kensington Church Street where I had stayed many times before.

202 kensington

The building is in the Notting Hill area which has become very fashionable since I first stayed there. Portobello Road is nearby but is no longer the antique market attraction it was when I first visited in 1977. The Notting Hill Underground station is around the corner and the kids were able to go everywhere in London from that base. We had three boys and three girls so I told the boys they had to stay with the girls but they could otherwise stay out late and go where they wanted to go. The oldest was my son, Mike Jr. who was 18.

One place we went for dinner, another old haunt, was Geale’s Fish Restaurant.

notting-hill-1

I have been going there when in London since the 1970s and it is always good. The neighborhood is a bit fancier now. Another wonderful restaurant, which is gone now, was a South African place a few blocks away. We found it because of a profile in Gourmet magazine and when I told the owner about it, they gave us free drinks. I can’t remember the name anymore.

The kids all stayed out until 4 AM and we could never get them up in time to do the tourist things. Leicester Square was the big movie center and I suspect they spent most evenings there. We went to nice restaurants and they went to fast food places and everybody was happy.

One night we had tickets for Cats, which was still a big hit then. I had seen it two years before and it had morphed into a children’s event with the cats remaining on stage at intermission so the kids could go up to them.

cats

During the show, one cat, Rum Tum Tugger sat in the lap of one of the girls and we all had a nice time.

Another day was devoted to a side trip to Richmond and Hampton Court palace. The kids all went and we toured this old Tudor palace. Elizabeth of York had rowed across the river to reach the palace and her son, Henry VIII, used the palace which has many paintings of him.

hampton-court

When we were ready to return to London, Gary, Jills’s son who was 15, somehow got lost and he finally came running to the boat with considerable worry on his face.

After a week, we picked up our rental van and set off for the Isle of Wight. I had stayed there before on another trip although the owner ship of the B&B had changed. It was located on the grounds of Osborne House, the summer residence of Queen Victoria and her children.

osborne

The guest house was called “New Barn House” and it was on the grounds of Osborne House. I can’t fnd it anymore and haven’t been there in years so maybe it is gone. There is a “New Barn Street.” Maybe this is it as I can’t get to a photo. The first time I was there, Osborne House was still one half museum and one half veterans home. The vets stayed in the old servants quarters of Osborne House but their wives could not stay with them and New Barn House was a B&B for the wives. The proprietor was Captain Brooke-Smith a retired naval officer whose son worked at Jeremy Rogers yacht builder in Lymington. When I asked the son for a recommendation on the island, he called his father and verified that they had room for the four of us.

The experience the first time was fun. We were the only Americans and were the object of considerable curiosity in the dining room. All the other tables were taken by individual wives with a few visiting husbands. Before the call (with a bell) to dinner, Captain Brooke-Smith conducted a small cash bar where one could get a glass of sherry for 50 pence.

When we went back in 1983, the house was still there but the proprietors, and the atmosphere, had changed. The wives could apparently stay with their husbands in the rehabilitation facilities in the old servants’ quarters. The new proprietors were a young couple, Toby and Jenny, who had connections to the London art and music scene. The food had improved and the entire scene was very different and much more fun for the kids. In fact, they insisted on staying longer than we had planned. One night, one resident took the girls out on a pub crawl as he checked out the various rock groups entertaining on the island’s club scene. The girls were 14 and 15 so I was a bit concerned but they got back about 4 AM and told us they had seen this new group called Duran Duran.

We finally dragged the kids away from the island but not before we had visited Cowes and saw the Admirals Cup crews, including Ted Turner who gave my wife an appreciative eye.

Our next stop was Broadway in the Cotswalds. Because we had all the kids, we stayed at the Broadway Hotel, which is very nice and one step below the Lygon Arms. The latter is luxury and too expensive for the crew we had. The Broadway Hotel is very nice and we were there again a few years ago with Claire and her husband, Derek.

broadwayhotelvillagegreen

The hotel had one large room in back, almost like a bunkhouse, and the kids stayed there.

Broadway was the home of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, the play and novel. It is a delightful village, heavily over run by tourists in summer. Claire and her husband Derek met Kate and me for New Years at Heathrow airport when they were spending a year in Spain. We spent New Years Eve at the Broadway Hotel and had a great time.

Our next stage was to return home so we checked into a cheap hotel near Heathrow and planned to drop off the van at the airport in the morning. The next day we were driving to the airport when I saw a sign “Stoke Poges.” That, of course, is the village whose church yard was immortalized in Grey’s Elegy. We turned off and stopped at the church, St Giles.

All the kids, except Kate who refused to get out of the car, trooped into the church where there were copies of the famous poem.

789px-Stoke_Poges_Church

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There is an old photo which better shows the churchyard.

So, I will end this small reminiscence with the poem. It is alleged that General Wolfe, as he was rowed to shore for the invasion, recited the poem and said, “I would rather have written this than take Quebec.

A week in Michigan

Monday, August 26th, 2013

grandbeach_web

When my sister and I were very young, I was 10 and she was 7, we used to go on vacation to a small village on the lake in Michigan. It is named Grand Beach. It’s a delightful place across the lake from Chicago. Shortly after the war, we began to spend more time there in the summer. I vaguely remember the first time but the month we spent there in 1948 is one of my fondest memories of childhood. My parents, along with another family, the Coyles, rented a good sized house for the month of August through Labor Day weekend. The house is still there although no longer rented by the owners.

Thirty years ago, my wife Jill and I, plus our three year old daughter Claire, spent a week at Grand Beach with my sister’s family. My sister, Patty, and her husband rented the same cottage last year and this year I joined them for the week. The weather was delightful and we all had a nice time. It gave me a chance to know my nephew Jimmy’s children and my niece, Caroline, joined us for a few days. Jimmy’ wife, Holly, was there and had her hands full with the small kids. The women were also on vacation so we ate most of our meals out. When we were there 30 years ago, Claire hid under a bed with Patty’s dog. Jill was frantic looking for her until someone heard scuffling under the bed. We didn’t have any crises like that, at least.

The village is entered from a frontage road that runs along the railroad tracks. The gate is a large white painted arch that pierces a white fence along the road. In 1948, there was less foliage and I used to help the village policeman, who drove an ancient Model A Ford, retrieve the mail when the train passed and the mail pouch was tossed from the mail car. This was usually about dusk. There was a hook by the side of the tracks which was supposed to catch the mail pouch but they usually missed and I had a good time searching for the pouch along the tracks.

grand beach road

The entry road passes the golf course where I first played golf at age 9 and then the playground, seen here. The entire road is lined with white painted cement pillars that were there in 1948. They may have been there in the 1930s.

playground

I have movies of the kids, Caroline and Claire, at this playground when they were small. I have to find them for Patty.

The history of the place is here.

Caroline and Patty

The front of the cottage, no doubt built in the 1930s or earlier has been changed with the addition of new siding. The bushes are larger than they were 30 years ago. Here are Patty and Caroline.

Caroline

Caroline took some photos of Jimmy’s kids, Jimmy Jr, Aubrey and Nathan. Here are her photos of my sister and me

two family copy.

And here are the two children of my sister, Jim Jr and Caroline between us.

four family copy

Cottage front

Cottage front

More views of the cottage.

IMG_0148

Here is a view of the street and the walk to the lake which is just across from the cottage. At one time in the 80s the lake level was much higher and some of the homes along the bluff were undermined and in danger of falling into the lake. It is back to normal and the walk ends in a staircase down to the beach. The location of the cottage is almost perfect and the owners have upgraded it inside, including another bath.

When I was here in 1948, a classmate of mine had an older brother with a motor scooter. He would whiz through the village along this road and the village cop would chase him in the Model A. I don’t think he ever got caught. The poor Model A was on its last legs.

Redamak's

One of the places most people visit for lunch or dinner is Redamak’s in New Buffalo. It does an enormous business from May to October, then closes for the winter. This year, they had expanded into a back room that is almost the size of the rest of the restaurant. The menu is basic sandwiches and beer.

Stray dog

Stray dog

When we wanted a slightly more formal place, we went to the Stray Dog, also in New Buffalo near the harbor. It burned down last year and has been rebuilt. The entry is lined with dog pictures.

Caroline

Caroline

Caroline took lots of photos. She arrived on Thursday evening and went home with us Sunday. The last time I was there, she was about 5 and Claire was three. Times flies. Both are now married and thinking about babies.

The cottage

The cottage

More pics of the cottage. The owners have added a new rear deck and the deck is a nice place to sit in the sun or in the evening. I saw very few mosquitoes and it was cool for a few days.

Casey's

Casey’s

In New Buffalo, we went to this place for lunch. It reminds me of Dartmouth in its decore. It had apparently been closed for a few months and was trying to rebuild its clientele. It is a very nice place with excellent service. I wish them well.

After dinner, everybody goes to Oink’s for ice cream. I weakened the first night and ordered a double scoop cone. It was size of a 16 inch softball, like the ones I used to play with in school. After that night and the reflux that followed, I abstained.

Oink's

There are now some multimillion dollar new homes there but I like the old cottages. There is something that says “Midwestern” about them and they have been well cared for.

Same Sex Marriage or whatever it is.

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I have been kind of neutral on the whole gay marriage issue. I think it began as an artifact of the AIDS epidemic and an attempt to curb the promiscuity of male gay life. It has been taken over by activists who are determined to validate their life style and to force conventional society to accept it as equivalent to heterosexual family life, which it is not. It is surprising the success they have had with the young who seem to accept the argument that it is a civil rights” issue, which is, of course, nonsense. Mark Steyn usually has something worthwhile to say on most subjects and this time is no exception.

Gays will now be as drearily suburban as the rest of us. A couple of years back, I saw a picture in the paper of two chubby old queens tying the knot at City Hall in Vancouver, and the thought occurred that Western liberalism had finally succeeded in boring all the fun out of homosexuality.

He does have a sense of humor amid reflections on a dying culture.

In the upper echelons of society, our elites practice what they don’t preach. Scrupulously nonjudgmental about everything except traditional Christian morality, they nevertheless lead lives in which, as Charles Murray documents in his book Coming Apart, marriage is still expected to be a lifelong commitment. It is easy to see moneyed gay newlyweds moving into such enclaves, and making a go of it. As the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said just before his enthronement the other day, “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.” “Stunning”: What a fabulous endorsement! But, amongst the type of gay couple that gets to dine with the Archbishop of Canterbury, he’s probably right.

The problem, as pointed out years ago by Vice President Dan Quayle, is that the elites set the pattern for those whose lives cannot succeed without the structures of traditional society. They set the pattern, unfortunately, by what they say, not what they do.

If the Right’s case has been disfigured by delusion, the Left’s has been marked by a pitiful parochialism. At the Supreme Court this week, Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, was one of many to invoke comparisons with Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. But such laws were never more than a localized American perversion of marriage. In almost all other common-law jurisdictions, from the British West Indies to Australia, there was no such prohibition. Indeed, under the Raj, it’s estimated that one in three British men in the Indian subcontinent took a local wife. “Miscegenation” is a 19th-century American neologism. When the Supreme Court struck down laws on interracial marriage, it was not embarking on a wild unprecedented experiment but merely restoring the United States to the community of civilized nations within its own legal tradition. Ted Olson is a smart guy, but he sounded like Mary-Kate and Ashley’s third twin in his happy-face banalities last week.

These facts are never mentioned in the debate, swiftly being lost by those trying to preserve traditions. I have no credibility here, as I have been divorced twice. The issue for me is not the religious status of marriage but the dissolution of traditional morality as a utilitarian mechanism of civilization. My older son, who considers me hopelessly out of date, was married in the Catholic Church and will mostly likely lead a life of conservative virtues while he attacks those who try to defend them. I know he resents the fact that his mother and I are divorced and I don’t blame him. Had I recognized the terrible damage done to children by divorce, I might have reconsidered. However, I have children born of another marriage and would not wish them away for anything. The dilemma is insoluble but I could afford to take care of everyone, even though it has left me somewhat strapped in my old age.

The reality that no one wants to confront is as follows:

Meanwhile, social mobility declines: Doctors who once married their nurses now marry their fellow doctors; lawyers who once married their secretaries now contract with fellow super-lawyers, like dynastic unions in medieval Europe. Underneath the self-insulating elite, millions of Americans are downwardly mobile: The family farmers and mill workers, the pioneers who hacked their way into the wilderness and built a township, could afford marriage and children; indeed, it was an economic benefit. For their descendants doing minimum-wage service jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology, functioning families are a tougher act, and children an economic burden. The gays looked at contemporary marriage and called the traditionalists’ bluff.

There is the rub. We did not appreciate how important traditional values were for a civil society, Black activists blame slavery for the collapse of the black family. In fact, the black family was in good shape until the Great Society devastated the role of the black father. It was often non-traditional, as illustrated in Clarence Thomas’s book My Grandfather’s Son, in which he describes how his old fashioned grand father raised him and his brother in spite of the hopelessly disorganized life of his mother.

The “learned behavior” types who think man is a “blank slate” at birth and all behavior is cultural are already striking back in the NY Times. In their view, differences in mating behavior between males and females is all learned from cultural “norms.” As one recent paper by a female professor states:

the gender differences in acceptance of casual-sex proposals evaporated nearly to zero.

Therefore women = men in all respects. The old theory that women are more likely to be monogamous because they invest more in children than men do, is old fashioned patriarchal nonsense. The argument heads right to the blank slate debate.

“a leading voice among hard-line Darwinians” You see, if you disagree with the Times, you are “hard line.”

“But the fact that some gender differences can be manipulated, if not eliminated, by controlling for cultural norms suggests that the explanatory power of evolution can’t sustain itself when applied to mating behavior.”

Therefore gay marriage has to be good because women = men.

Some years ago, I was on a trip with my middle daughter who has a degree in Anthropology from UCLA. I had been reading Stephen Pinker’s book, “The Blank Slate”. He makes a pretty good argument, from identical twin studies among other evidence, that behavior is genetic. She refused to read it and told me I needed to read the apostle of behavioral theory, Stephen Jay Gould, whose book, “The Mismeasure of Man is the bible of behaviorists. I told her that I owned the book and had already read it. She still refused to read Pinker’s book, one of about ten he has written on behavior and language. Gould, of course, is a favorite of the left. Among other points, he dismisses IQ testing of any kind. That is handy for the Humanities types who hate the STEM majors.

I was raised, along with my sister, by a black nursemaid who instilled in us the traditions of family life. Her own family in Georgia owned property and she had been raised to value traditional virtues. She was strict and once when I called her the hated “n word” she chased me under the dining room table with a broom. She had chosen a life of celibacy to raise other people’s children. We were not her first family but we were her last. She was 40 when she came to live with us when my sister was born in 1941. She lived a long life and even saw my youngest daughter, born in 1990. She was in a Catholic nursing home at the time but we brought Annie for her approval.

What is coming I fear but I am relieved that I shall not have to deal with it. I am too old and my health is not good. I do worry about my children but three of them voted for Obama and can take what comes as best they are able. They have the advantages I have been able to provide. They are educated and, while my behavior has not been exemplary in some ways, they have seen the world and they know I love them. When I started out, I had none of the advantages they have had. My father did not respect education, although he did send me to Catholic school. I began college on a scholarship but it was not the college of my choice. I did succeed in gaining admittance to medical school but would have preferred other sources of training. All in all though, I can’t really complain.

The future will be what it will be. I hope for the best but fear the worst. In the coming hurricane, gay marriage will seem, and be, a minor distraction.

Rye Bread

Monday, March 4th, 2013

I am in Tucson spending a few days fixing a few things in the house here. A post of Chicago Boyz got me interested in the idea of making bread again. I had a bread machine for years and even made some French bread according to a Julia Child’s recipe years ago. I had a bread stone but it has been lost in my moves the last several years.

The progress of my effort will be recorded here. I used partly the recipe given in that post and partly another that I found on the internet. We’ll see how it turns out.

rye-bread-001-500x375

Here is the first illustration from the post with the ingredients.

rye-bread-002-500x375

Here is the second, which specifies 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

In the mean time, I have repaired the drip irrigation system, cleaned up some areas of the yard and helped my daughter move out of a house near the campus that she shared with another girl who has gotten rather difficult the past several months.

The first day was spent making the “sponge” which is rye flour, and water and yeast.

First

The sponge this morning had risen to about twice its size yesterday. I altered the recipe to add sugar and white flour to the sponge, as recommended by the second article. For that reason it is larger than the view in the second post of the rye bread series.

Rising

Here it is a little larger and is rising this morning.

SEcond rise with spoon

Here is has risen to the max and has been squished down again. I shaped it as a square as the second article suggested. A spoon is added for scale.

Loaves prerise

Now, after the second rise, it has been divided into two loaves, as per the first article. The recipe from Chicago Boyz suggests baking at 300 to 350. The second article recommends 15 minutes at 450, then the rest of the time at 300. This is what I will try to see if we can get a good crust.

The oven is preheating and taking forever.

risen loaves

The two loaves have about doubled in size while we are waiting for the oven. I finally gave up on the oven reaching 450 so the loaves have gone in at the max temp, probably about 400. I’ll turn the thermostat down to 350 at 3:15, Tucson time. The loaves went in at 3:00 PM.

While doing all this, aside from some garage cleaning, I’ve been reading Genius, The life of Richard Feynmann. It has gnawed at me that I never had the chance to see him at CalTech. I actually applied before he was there and was accepted but did not have the money for tuition. I was a National Merit Scholarship finalist but my father refused to cooperate and did not send in some material on financial need so, I got a letter congratulating me that I did not need money.

Anyway, back to the baking. More to come as they bake.

Now, it is 3:58 and the loaves are out of the oven.

Finished baking

Here are the baked loaves. Still too hot to cut.

Baked closeup

Here is a closeup of the loaf with the cuts showing how they have expanded.

Tonight we will have brats and sauerkraut with beer and this bread. A final report will follow after eating.

I had the first slice of the bread while waiting for my daughter to arrive and it is great ! The crust is very crusty and the inside is delicious.

My daughter and I just finished a dinner of sausages, sauerkraut and beans with the fresh bread. We ate most of one loaf and washed it down with Guinness beer. The next loaf is for tomorrow. I already have some pastrami.