American Elephants


The U.S Forest Service Has Issued Detailed Instructions on How to Roast Marshmallows. by The Elephant's Child

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Saturday was apparently National Roasted Marshmallow Day, who knew? Obviously must be a promotion by marshmallow makers. Nevertheless, the occasion brought forth a 700-word publication from the U.S. Forest Service on how to safely roast marshmallows.

Well, let’s take it as a given that the U.S. Forest Service is not real enthusiastic about campfires, and wants you to know how to put your campfire out properly. No problem. We don’t like forest fires either. So they want you to obey the rules for fire restrictions which are put in place for your safety.

I grew up in an era and place of weenie roasts, frequent and great fun.

If campfires are allowed, use an existing fire ring or pit. Be sure you are at least 15 feet from tent walls, trees or other flammable objects.

Most importantly, ensure you work closely with children and talk to them about fire danger, proper behavior and rules – then expect nothing less. No one knows how many children are burned in campfire incidents; however, you don’t need statistics to know precaution is a key to great camping experiences. Some experts advocate a 10-foot rule between young children and a campfire.

15074205215_a8b1d953c3 This is the Forest Service’s idea of wonderful childhood memories. Sigh. The bureaucrat who wrote this crap was clearly never a child. Then we get into all of Michelle’s ideas of what constitutes a reducing diet for fat kids. “Think fruit.”   Oh please. fruit is just pure sugar. The object of roasting marshmallows is not eating lots of marshmallows. I’m not sure it’s possible to eat lots of marshmallows. But they deem plain old marshmallows or s’mores as unsuitable for today’s children.

Another way to limit the amount of marshmallows used is to substitute them with marshmallow crème, a spreadable version of marshmallows that helps you more easily regulate portion. For healthier treats, use large strawberries, apple slices, banana chucks, pineapple or other fruit. Put a piece of fruit on a roasting stick, dip quickly in the crème and roast over indirect heat until a delicious golden brown. You’re still having campfire fun, but the focus is on a healthier evening snack.

A little common sense would be useful here. In High School or College, we did lots of weenie roasts, but “lots” translates to 2 or 3 a year, at most. You need good weather, reasonably warm, and a free weekend.  Summer camping trips with the kids, you don’t do marshmallow roasts every night. Even at summer camp for kids, every night is not s’mores night. Two or three occasions are not going to ruin a child’s nutritional health and well-being. A little perspective please.

I am becoming extremely offended by this administration’s intrusive efforts to manage every element of my life. I do not require and I don’t know of anyone who does require instructions on roasting marshmallows. We can do fine without the bureaucratic input from a bunch of unionized public servants whose jobs depend on lots of useless busywork. Vote them out, and abolish the Department of Agriculture. They don’t do anything useful anyway.



How Much Do You Read? What’s the Best Book You’ve Ever Read? by The Elephant's Child

What do you do when someone asks you to read an article because it’s “an important one?” Do you obediently read it, assuming that if your friend recommends it, it is worth your time? Do you accept the article, suggesting that you will read it later when you have more time? Do you just refuse to read it because you’re sure it is not of interest?

I fit in the first category. I’m a speedy reader, and it doesn’t take me long to get through even a long piece. But I have known a lot of what I think of as ‘lazy readers’ whose first reaction is that they don’t have time. Or they only want to read what they choose to read. It’s as if reading is a task to be engaged in only when required. Was learning to read a struggle in school? There are people who read competently, but without enjoyment or need for information, but who will spend hours on Twitter. Do you prefer to get your information instead by video, or podcast? Is reading a chore?

I have a friend who is a special education expert, with particular emphasis on reading, and reading disabilities. She went into her state’s prisons at one time, to test prisoners, and found that the numbers who had some form of reading disability was far, far higher than in the general population.

There are lots of people out there who just don’t read much, and people who do not read books at all.  They are just busy with other things.

If you prowl around the internet and read blogs, you are clearly a reader. But what about those other folks who are not? How do people go all the way through university, and, as adults, never read?

Seattle is usually described as the part of the country where most people read a lot. We have busy libraries, lots of colleges and universities, and lots of writers. Must be something to do with the weather, which encourages a brisk fire in the fireplace. a good book and a cup of coffee.

ADDENDUM: I guess I shouldn’t ask others about their favorite books, if I don’t reveal my own. Patrick O’Brian’s series of books about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and the Royal Navy in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There are 20 books in the series and I have read them probably ten times, and always found them fascinating to re-read. Most novels don’t welcome even a second reading. Master and Commander is the first, and only a page in and you are hooked. Master and Commander was a great movie too, although based on bits from several of the books.



Did You Ever Wonder What Is Meant By “Getting All Your Ducks In a Row?” by The Elephant's Child

It’s simple. Lots of training, and the voice of authority.



Serenading the Cattle With My Trombone… by The Elephant's Child

(via Ace)  You may have wondered why the headline didn’t have anything to do with the video. Ooops — wrong url. Fixed.



Obama Will Not Rest — In a While… by The Elephant's Child

He does tend to repeat what he believes to be a good line.



But That Was Then, This is Now. by The Elephant's Child

Barack Obama on “Change” in Grand Junction, Colorado, May 20, 2008. If politicians actually kept up with technology, and learned about You Tube and Smart Phones and human memory, they might have to speak truthfully, and tell us when they changed their minds and why.

Could a society die if politicians had to be honest and straightforward? Sounds like a good science fiction story there!



The Origins of Liberalism: A New History by The Elephant's Child

The “narrative” of the Left, to use a newly favorite leftist word, contains a view of America as “an exceptionally guilty nation, the product of a poisonous mixture of territorial rapacity emboldened by racism, violence, and chauvinistic religious conviction, an exploiter of natural resources and despoiler of natural beauty and order such as the planet has never seen.” ( Thank you, Howard Zinn) So says Wilfrid M. McClay in a review of Fred Siegel’s new book: The Revolt Against the MassesThere is as well a second view “in which all of history is seen as a struggle toward the greater and greater liberation of the individual, and the greater and greater integration of all governance in larger and larger units, administered; by cadres of experts actuated by the public interest and by a highly developed sense of justice.”

It’s an important book, “a critique of liberalism by someone who came out of the left.” Siegel believes that liberalism has come to be the mortal enemy of the ordinary working people who are the backbone of America.

Siegel traces modern liberalism back, not to Woodrow Wilson’s progressivism, but to the aftermath of World War I, and the intelligentsia’s view of  the dreary middle class nature of American society.

Between January of 1920 and July of 1922 when the Twenties began to roar, the country endured an economic collapse nearly as steep as that between 1929 and 1933. But the plummet was followed by a rapid recovery under Harding, who was devoted to less government through lower taxes and less regulation. This might have seemed a vindication of the American way, particularly as compared with Europe’s ongoing woes. But the short, sharp downturn, resolved without government intervention, drew only passing intellectual attention. Literary elites soon returned to their central themes. …

[The radicals of 1922] many of them Harvard men, were driven by resentment. The so-called lost generation…was “extremely class-conscious.” They had “‘a vague belief in aristocracy and in the possibilities of producing real aristocrats through education.” They went to Europe “to free themselves from organized stupidity, to win their deserved place in the hierarchy of intellect.” They felt that their status in America’s business culture was grossly inadequate, given their obviously exceptional intelligence and extraordinary talent. Their simmering anger at what they saw as the mediocrity of democratic life led them to pioneer the now commonplace stance of blaming society for their personal failings. Animated by patrician spirit, they found the leveling egalitarianism of the United States an insult to their sense of self-importance.

Well, the radicals of 1922, the radicals of the sixties, not all that much difference. The Democrats of 2014 have a remarkably squalid bench. Hillary is supposed to be the first woman president, but her accomplishment list is scanty, her tenure as Secretary of State is measured in frequent-flyer miles, and a “reset” button. Her tenure as a senator in a safe Democrat seat has nothing to add to the resume. Her claim to qualifications is as Bill’s wife. If you remember, she started out the Clinton reign by wanting to be the co-president. The people were not impressed. Bill was a natural political animal. Hillary simply does not have his political instincts.

The alternate to Hillary is being drummed up as Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) the faux-Indian law professor from Harvard, who is unable to understand the simple direct meaning of the Hobby Lobby case. She issued her “11 commandments” for Progressives this week, which only show that her understanding of cause and effect, and how regulation works is remarkably thin.

Tom Sowell recently pointed out that: “The fundamental problem of the political Left seems to be that the real world does not fit their preconceptions. Therefore they see the real world as what is wrong, and what needs to be changed, since apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.”

As I said, the new word is “disproportionate” Sowell adds: “A never-ending source of grievances for the Left is the fact that some groups are ‘over-represented’ in desirable occupations, institutions, and income brackets, while other groups are ‘under-represented.’ From all the indignation and outrage about this expressed on the left, you might think that it was impossible that different groups are simply better at different things.”

Yet runners from Kenya continue to win a disproportionate share of marathons in the United States, and children whose parents or grandparents came from India have won most of the American spelling bees in the past 15 years. And has anyone failed to notice that the leading professional basketball players have for years been black, in a country where most of the population is white?

Most of the leading photographic lenses in the world have — for generations — been designed by people who were either Japanese or German. Most of the leading diamond-cutters in the world have been either India’s Jains or Jews from Israel or elsewhere. …

If the preconceptions of the Left were correct, central planning by educated elites who had vast amounts of statistical data at their fingertips and expertise readily available, and were backed by the power of government, should have been more successful than market economies where millions of individuals pursued their own individual interests willy-nilly.

And to return to where I began, with Wilfrid McClay: “The arrogance that looks upon the actual lives of ordinary people with pity and disdain is, at least potentially, the same arrogance that knows what would be better for those pathetic folks, and presumes itself fit to impose upon them a new way of life that is more fitting and fulfilling than their present condition, had they the wit to realize it.”




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