In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Gently Admitting Your Political Position
  2. More Finds
  3. Blogging Note
  4. More Conservative Than Liberal
  5. Bagatelles
  6. Weight and Brains
  7. Bill Links
  8. Finds
  9. Ears Are Ugly
  10. Popular History = Drama

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gently Admitting Your Political Position
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- There is a good deal of wisdom in that old admonition that one shouldn't discuss religion and politics in social situations. I live inside the Seattle city limits, a place that is overwhelmingly liberal. Given my "elite" educational background, folks around here are likely to assume that their politics are my politics. A few days ago we happened to get an impromptu tour of a new house in the neighborhood. As we walked in, I noticed Keith Olbermann sternly staring from the television screen; clearly we had entered a strongly liberal place. Anyhow, the four of us had a jolly 20 minutes on the tour. The other couple discovered my educational and professional background, and I found out something of theirs. Now that I have finally learned to pretty well keep my mouth shut in such situations, they didn't learn that I am an apostate, seduced by The Dark Force. If the social relationship we established continues, a tiny bit of the truth will likely emerge by happenstance. Even so, I'll probably only hint at it and then try to change the subject. Perhaps my best tactic is to mention that I cast my first vote for John F. Kennedy and then mumble something about the Democratic Party drifting away from where it was in the early 1960s (the truth). Nevertheless, it's a tricky matter if you don't want to ruin your social life. Speaking of tricky, things are really dicey when you don't know where other people stand politically. While avoidance of political subjects remains the best policy, I do pay attention to possible clues and adjust my conversation accordingly. Of course a liberal would face similar problems if living in a conservative enclave. I'm pretty sure that many readers are a lot more experienced in dealing with politics in social settings than I am. So I'm curious what you do. Do you avoid the subject? Do you pretend that you agree with the people you are with? Or do you have effective ways of communicating your position without ruffling feathers? Later, Donald... posted by Donald at August 29, 2009 | perma-link | (80) comments

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Finds
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Maybe saturated fat is actually good for you. * The excellent Eadeses have a tempting new book on offer. * Filmmaker and comedian Tom Naughton -- creator of the eye-opening, amusing, and very informative low-carb documentary "Fat Head" -- is interviewed: Part One, Part Two. * Why not add a little daring and bravado to the social mix? Before anyone gets prissy on me: Really, what else do most kids have to contribute but their mischief and their sex appeal? (NSFW) * Strikeout king Nolan Ryan is now raising cattle. * Novelist Lev Grossman thinks that, where the novel goes, the 21st century is going to see a revival of plots and stories. This is modernism-has-passed-its-sell-by-date stuff of a kind that I've been hammering away at for 7 years on this blog, sigh -- but still, it's nice to see these ideas starting to show up in the mainstream. * I've been finding the week of user-generated content -- recipes, tales, and exercise routines -- over at Mark Sisson's blog very enjoyable and inspiring. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 28, 2009 | perma-link | (13) comments

Blogging Note
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Aside from unusually heavy political news this month, the calendar still insists that it's August, which apparently has something to do with dogs, days and such. [Yawns] So, what to write about? Well, since it has been almost four years since I signed on as Second (in terms of posting frequency) or Third (in terms of active seniority) Banana hereabouts, I thought I'd mention a few things about 2Blowhards that might be of interest to newer (and perhaps to some long-time) readers. Over in the panel to the left is a segment with one-sentence descriptions of this blog's writers along with our email addresses. My name happens to be listed first because the names are in alphabetical order. This artifact leads some folks to think that 2Blowhards is my blog, so I occasionally get emails proposing advertising, link-sharing and other fabulous deals. I also get emails regarding everyday blog-related stuff. But [bad alphabet! ... naughty, naughty!] it's Michael who's the 2Blowhards proprietor and (unfortunately for him) should be the target for any pestering or (lucky him) be deserving of any kudos you want to pass along. As most of you know, Friedrich was the other member of the original 2Blowhards pair. He was a college pal of Michael and their email correspondence about the arts and such was the genesis of this blog. Business and family responsibilities were such that Friedrich had to cut back blogging activities, though he still contributes thoughtful, well-received postings. Fenster and Francis posted for a while after Friedrich changed his focus, but are inactive contributors (until they decide to post something). I don't know how how other "group blogs" -- those with more than one writer -- are organized. However, I suspect that their organization is pretty loose, as it is here. When I joined, Michael's main expectation was that I should contribute at least two posts per week -- one being longer, the other could be short. A little later he mentioned that, if one of us posted something that had taken a good deal of effort to create such as interviews, then the other bloggers would, as a courtesy, hold off a day or so from burying that posting with new postings. Since Michael lives in New York City, Friedrich lives in the Los Angeles area and I live in Seattle, we don't get together in person much. Actually, Michael and I have only met once, that being near Santa Barbara, a favorite 2Blowhards haunt. We've talked on the phone , but mostly when I was getting on board. We email once in a while to give the other a heads-up. For example, if Michael has an interview series in the works, he'll let me know. And I'll inform him if I'm going to be traveling and unable to blog at my usual pace of three or four postings a week. Otherwise, we work independently, monitoring future content using the "Entries" feature of the blogging software. Due... posted by Donald at August 28, 2009 | perma-link | (5) comments

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Conservative Than Liberal
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- An interesting new poll from Gallup has found that -- despite the number of Dems currently in political office -- more Americans self-identify as conservative than as liberal in all 50 states. A not-suprising conclusion: "While Americans' party identification and political ideology are related, they are by no means one and the same." Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 27, 2009 | perma-link | (20) comments

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Patrick Courrielche wonders if the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is being politicized, urging artists to create works sympathetic to the Administration's programs (via Jude at the Hugh Hewitt blog). This leads me to wonder how much Franklin Roosevelt's employment programs for artists did something similar. There was a Progressive tinge to some government sponsored art in those days, but I haven't studied the subject enough to know whether it was something that bubbled up from artists with strong leftist beliefs (and was tolerated by administrators of the arts programs) or was actually encouraged by some of those administrators. * Even though some Progressives are really uncomfortable with advertising and marketing, others seem perfectly happy to push customers' hot buttons. Note the buzz-words painted on the wall PCC (Puget Consumers' Co-op) is a Seattle area food market cooperative (background info here) appealing to the Whole Foods and Trader Joe's crowds, but with the twist that it's non-profit. * Slogan seen on back of a lady's sweatshirt this morning: I didn't claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables Later, Donald... posted by Donald at August 26, 2009 | perma-link | (9) comments

Weight and Brains
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * A new study shows that the brains of obese people deteriorate. * Michelle has lost more than 70 pounds by following a low-carbish / Primal-ish regime. Here's Michelle's own blog. * Read our q&a with Primal fitness guru Mark Sisson: Part One, Part Two. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 26, 2009 | perma-link | (7) comments

Bill Links
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Bill Kauffman celebrates the just-deceased Western novelist Elmer Kelton, and the hillbilly actor and '70s movie icon Warren Oates. Bill Kauffman himself is an exciting and significant cultural figure. Access all five parts of our interview with Kauffman from this posting. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 26, 2009 | perma-link | (0) comments

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * How did superstar photographer Annie Leibowitz wind up $24 million in debt? * Why are Paul Krugman and Niall Ferguson lobbing grenades at each other? (I wrote a posting about Krugman back here.) * Thanks to Bryan for spotting this provocative look at health care in America. * Nearly twice as many Americans are on antidepressants as was the case in the mid-'90s. (Link thanks to Razib.) * The Primal crowd shows off their breakfasts and lunches. Read our interview with Primal guru Mark Sisson: Part One, Part Two. * There's a website for everything. Best, Michael * UPDATE: What the Western-guy love of Asian chicks looks like from the point of view of a Westernized Asian chick. (Link found thanks to Days of Broken Arrows.) The gabfest continues at Half Sigma. (Link thanks to Peter.) Yet more.... posted by Michael at August 25, 2009 | perma-link | (32) comments

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ears Are Ugly
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- The punchline is the title of this posting. Have you ever given human ears a good, hard look? They're oddly shaped. Skin curling, folding, even drooping. All this concentrated into areas a couple of inches high and about an inch and a half wide. Tacked on the side of a smooth part of the head. And sometimes sticking out like air brakes on the sides of a F-86 Sabre jet fighter. I'll admit that some ears are less awful than most. Delicate ears that lie fairly flat against the head of a pert young woman can be tolerable -- especially in comparison to those of president Lyndon B. Johnson. Still, from a purely sexual-aesthetic standpoint, how did the human race survive with everyone sporting such seeming deformities? We should have become extinct due to mutual gross-out. I have a hypothesis: We tune them out. That's when they aren't explicitly hidden by being covered over by hair, as many women's hairdos do. When looking at someone's head we tend to focus on the eyes (especially), mouth, nose, chin and other features of the face itself. If one is within a couple of feet of the other person and focusing frontally on the face, features farther away, including the ears, fall slightly out of focus and therefore aren't being noticed. Hmm. Depth-of-field as a survival mechanism. Interesting concept. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at August 24, 2009 | perma-link | (7) comments

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Popular History = Drama
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Longtime readers might recall that from time to time I claim inability to create works of fiction: to plot, in particular. That doesn't mean I ignore the craft of fiction. Occasionally I'll thumb (or scroll) through a how-to book or article on the subject. One source on science-fiction writing I recall from many years ago stressed putting the protagonist into a dramatic situation right off the bat; this advice was primarily for short stories, but applicable to novels also. There is good reason for such advice. People like drama -- but usually if the drama applies to someone else, I might add. Personally experienced drama can be upsetting or even frightening while its outcome remains uncertain. For example, how do you feel when flying through turbulent air and the airplane is lurching and skewing while its wings flex alarmingly? You might also recall that I'm a history buff. When I was young, I gravitated to the exciting parts. This was pretty much the same experience as when I watched U.S. Cavalry movies such as "Fort Apache" or "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" -- I squirmed during the romantic scenes hoping the movie would quickly get to the Indian-fighting sequences. So my history reading focused on wars and other conflicts or adventures. For that reason, I've never paid detailed attention to U.S. political history between 1915 and 1898 except for the Mexican and Civil wars. If my interest concerns itself with science and technology, then other years and eras would apply. Nevertheless, I didn't get very far into Paul Johnson's The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 because it dealt with a period I never really wanted to sink my teeth into. Please don't think my history reading focuses exclusively on 1861-65, 1914-18, 1939-45 and other strictly war-delimited periods. I've always been fascinated by the interwar (1919-1938) years, for instance. Moreover, I have read about plenty of non-wartime periods; it's just that this reading is comparatively thin compared to the action bits. And I do read biographies. But again, I tend to focus on important personalities associated with dramatic times. Examples include political personalities Louis XIV, Richelieu, Talleyrand, T. Roosevelt, F.D. Roosevelt and Churchill as well as military figures such as Napoleon, U.S. Grant, Foch, Eisenhower and Patton. I should admit that as I've gotten older, I've delved more deeply into nuts-'n'-bolts aspects of history. This is related to an increasing interest in what makes things in general tick. Too many people these days (I base this on anecdotal evidence) seem pretty ignorant of history. Biased me, I think this is a bad thing because history is what allows us to put current times into perspective, and lack of perspective likely leads to making more mistakes than otherwise. I think our president's current problems are partly due to his seeming ignorance of history (and economics). (Just what subjects did he take while in college? Does anyone know?) I might be wrong -- I'm relying... posted by Donald at August 23, 2009 | perma-link | (15) comments