Smallholder on Milk

The Volokh Conspiracy had an interesting thread on the government’s role in agriculture.

I got into it a little bit with one of the liberal Volokh posters (See, Brian, you’re not alone). If you’d like to see feisty Smallholder acting like a true conservative, click through.

As an aside - I can’t reply anymore because the thread is closed, but does anyone see where I argue that the government should preferentially treat family farmers (the last comment accuses me of that). I thought I was pretty clear that I wanted government out and the market to rule.

Cultural Relativism

The Maximum Leader’s previous post is a good illustration of why cultural relativists should not be allowed to raise children. Mike’s permissivefeel-goodism has led his children to deny reality. “Her idea of toast” indeed.

The next thing you know, the little Villainette will prove that black is white and will be killed at the next zebra crossing.

Minion Mailbag!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader realizes that his comments are disabled. Some readers are kind enough to tell your Maximum Leader that his RSS feeds and archives might be intermittently available as well. Your Maximum Leader will have to poke around under the hood of his blog a little more to see if he can resolve some of these problems. In the end he thinks he’ll have to change hosting companies to ultimately finish these problems.


Your Maximum Leader doesn’t get many e-mailed messages about his postings. (NB: Minion Molly, are you still out there? Your Maximum Leader is curious.) But from time to time he gets a little bit of virtual goodness tha is a fun e-mail. He recently received such a message. It came from loyal minion Buckethead from the Ministry of Minor Perfidy. Buckethead writes:

Dear Maximum Leader,
The last few days, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of comments on your bloggy thing. Toast is toast not because of warmth, but because of dryness. Granted, that dryness is often introduced by heat. The perfect toast is crunchy in a thin layer on the outside of the bread, and warm and moist goodness on the inside. Also, who cares which backstabbing medieval eye-tie despot (is there any other kind?) is better? The real question is which emotional state is preferable: fear, or apathy? Additionally, don’t get me started on the Red Dawn. I would have loved that movie unreservedly had it not been for the fact that the guerrilla group shared a mascot with the university of Michigan. Finally, Mary Magdalene is probably buried somewhere in the south of France, because the Da Vinci Code is all true, true I say.

Well… What can we say about all that? First off, your Maximum Leader hopes that Buckethead will not be offended by your Maximum Leader posting his e-mail. Your Maximum Leader has been wanting to post more than he has, but finds that actually writing a post is a problem. Thus, having at least part of a post pre-written for you seems like a great idea!

Now… To address Buckethead’s issues:

Your Maximum Leader, like Buckethead, realizes that toast has to do with dry and not just heat. The question was posed rhetorically because your Maixmum Leader was home at the time with the wee Villain and Villainette #1 who were both suffering from the same stomach flu. Villainette #1 announced that she was going to make some toast. Then she proceeded to put a piece of bread into the microwave for 15 sec on high. She announced that this was “her” idea of toast. This struck your Maximum Leader as some sort of heretical idea. “Her” idea of toast. She might as well have been saying “my personal truth” or some such nonsense. So, we talked for a little while about what makes toast toast. She still hasn’t been won over by your Maximum Leader’s oratory on toast to come around to the fact that warm bread is not toast. But she will. You Maximum Leader thinks she is just being a contrairian…

Your Maximum Leader must differ with Buckethead and say that there is a difference between one medieval potentate and the other. In the end, your Maximum Leader thinks it is better to be Grand Duke of Florence. Reasons being these: 1) Absolute monarchy vs. Some weird system whereby the Doge is elected and still suffers oversight by the city fathers; 2) More artists patronize Florence and more artists are Florentine than Venitian; 3) Better chance of having a family member become Pope; 4) Machiavelli wrote for Florence; 5) Your city, while it might flood from time to time, wasn’t always sinking into a lagoon.

Frankly, those seem like pretty compelling reasons…

And lastly… Dan Brown… Gawd your Maximum Leader thinks about Dan Brown and wonders if that sumbitch is waking up every day laughing at everyone who bought his book, bought tickets to the movie, or created some DaVinci Code knock-off book that probably pays him some sort of royalty. If Dan Brown isn’t laughing his arse off every day - he ought to be.

Direct comments, questions, desperate pleas for help, or photos of yourself (if you are cute and female) to your Maximum Leader at either address on the left side nav bar.

Carry on.

Cross Purposes

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader finds himself getting rather more emotional about things than he ever used to. He is sure that as time goes on he’ll find himself more and more emotional about things that had never, previously, elicited an emotional response. He figures much of this is the result of being a parent and having a longer view of life than he did when younger.

While your Maximum Leader wouldn’t call his parents “old” he recognizes that they are “older.” He reads that 50 is the new 30, which means that 60 must be the new 40. One presumes that 70 is the new 50… Your Maximum Leader’s grandparents are all dead. And he knows that one day, his parents will die. He’s talked, informally, with hisparents about their wishes for burial and such. He wants to know what they want to do so that he may act in accordance with their wishes.

Indeed, your Maximum Leader feels that it is encumbent upon him to respect their wishes so long as he is able to do so. Pretty much, short of some sort of twisted vile ritual dismemberment of the corpse, there aren’t many traditional burials to which your Maximum Leader would object. Even if their choice is not what your Maximum Leader would have chosen, it doesn’t make much difference. It is their choice, not his.

Your Maximum Leader mentions this to frame his mindset when he approached a recent article in the Washington Post. It is a 5 page (on the internet) article entitled “A Family at Cross-Purposes.” The article is about the dispute within the family of Billy Graham about the future burial arrangements for Billy and Ruth Graham.

First off, your Maximum Leader is inclinded to agree with the one commentator who said (in rather purple prose) that after the original Apostles, Billy Graham is the greatest Christian Evangelist in history. (Your Maximum Leader thinks that the commentator actually might have said that after the Apostle Paul, Billy Graham is the greatest evangelist in history.) Your Maximum Leader would put Billy Graham and Pope John Paul II as the two most significant religious figures of the past 100 years - and quite possibly the most significant religious figures in 200 years.

So we know that Billy Graham is an important person, and an inspriation to many. But, according to all accounts, he is a modest and humble man. A man truly touched by the Spirit and mindful of his place on Earth and before the Lord. This makes the news of the article that much more difficult for your Maximum Leader.

Billy’s elder son, and heir to the evangelical empire that has sprung up around Billy Graham, is Franklin Graham. Franklin, it seems, wants to bury Billy in a Disney-esque theme park replete with talking Holstein cows and gift shops. Ruth, Billy’s wife and Franklin’s mother, wants to be buried near a small chapel in the mountains. Other children appear to be taking sides. Billy, who it would seem could take a final decision on this, does not appear willing to do so. (Although it is possible that he may not be mentally able to take such a decision. There seems to be an undercurrent of mental frailty in the article. This is not the same a dementia or such. Just an inability to take such a decision. Your Maximum Leader saw similar behaviour exhibited by his own grandfather at times.)

The story made your Maximum Leader angry. Very angry. Mostly angry at Franklin Graham. (A reaction that was, perhaps, intentionally written for by the piece’s author.) Perhaps if you read the peice you will feel the same. Your Maximum Leader just hopes that Billy and Ruth Graham are buried together near the small chapel in accordance with Ruth’s wishes.

Carry on.

Churchill’s Art

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees on the news wire that a Winston Churchill painting just sold at acution for 612,000 Pounds (or $1,200,000 US). This amount was a record for any Churchill painting.

The painting, “A View of Tinherir” was done by Churchill in 1951 while the Prime Minister was on holiday in Morocco. It was given by Churchill to George C. Marshall (former Chief of Staff, US Army and former Secretary of State) as a gift. The painting has been in the possession of the Marshall family since, but was auctioned off by Marshall’s grand-daughter.

The painting, like many Churchill works, is quite good. Churchill’s reputation as an amateur artist is good (as far as your Maximum Leader knows). Take a look at the record-breaking painting..

View of Tinherir by Winston Churchill.

Quite good, quite good indeed.

Carry on.

Better Gig?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a hypothetical question for you.

Which was the better gig during the Renaissance? Being Grand Duke of Florence or being Doge of Venice?

Discuss amongst yourselves. Or just yell at your monitor since comments here are disabled.

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is wondering something…

At what point does bread become toast?

Bread removed from the oven is warm, but not toast.

Bread put in a microwave to be warmed is also warm bread, but not toast.

Bread exposed to fire or a heating element for a period eventually becomes toast - or a burning cinder.

It is the quality of the heating, and not the simple act of heating itself, that makes the bread toast.

Humm… Toast…

Carry on.

Mary Cheney

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads on the news wire, and in the Washington Post, that Mary Cheney is pregnant. Mary Cheney is the daughter of the Vice President and Lynne Cheney. You may also know that Mary Cheney is a lesbian.

Now, your Maximum Leader has already read a few articles all giving some sort of opinion on Ms. Cheney’s prenancy. Frankly, your Maximum Leader was a little disgusted by them all. Disgusted by the fact that not a single author on the subject seems to have any shred of empathy, compassion, or even happiness for either Ms. Cheney, her partner, or the Vice-President.

Your Maximum Leader wishes Ms. Cheney, Ms. Poe, and all their families the best. He hopes it is a pregnancy without incident and that the baby is healthy and happy.

Carry on.

Preserving Afghan Culture

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw some news articles (albeit very short ones) about how some of the most magificent treasures of the National Museum of Afghanistan were hidden and thus preserved for decades. The Washington Post just put up a good article on this story of a few good people who were determined to preserve their country’s heritage. Here is the opening:

It was then, on the eve of the Soviets’ 1979 invasion, that a small group of Afghans put love of art and country above all else and hid many of their country’s cherished national treasures. These museum guards, curators and other antiquities lovers became known as the “keyholders” because they held the keys, literally and figuratively, to a priceless fortune in art, including 22,000 pieces of gold known as the Bactrian Hoard. And they pledged never to give up their secret.

Years turned into decades, and Afghanistan became a failed state, the battleground of a succession of warlords, drug lords, tribal chiefs, terrorists and Islamic fundamentalists. They included Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, which ordered the destruction of any art with a human likeness and in March 2001 blew up two giant stone Buddhas in Bamian.

Kabul became a killing field, and entire families lived on less than $1 a day. The National Museum in Kabul was bombed and looted, and rumors circulated that its treasures were fetching millions on the international black market. One keyholder was tortured, international art officials say. Another survived by selling potatoes in the Kabul market. Through it all, they kept their secret.

It takes a very special type of person to be a good curator to begin with. These Afghan “keyholders” are truely special people. To endure what they have endured to preserve priceless treasures for the sake of their countrymen, and to do so with no renumeration or thought of reward. Those people are, themselves, national treasures to the Afghan people.

One wonders… Would the Archivist of the United States, in a “Red Dawn” senario for instance, hide the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, then not talk under torture, to preserve our national documents? Would the Secretary of the Smithsonian preserve some of the treasures in his care under similar circumstances? Would Laura Bush (or some future First Lady) grab the Lansdowne Portrait on her way out the door of the White House in the face of advancing armies? (BTW, your Maximum Leader thinks that Laura Bush probably would…)

What courage and patriotism these brave Afghanis have demonstrated to the world and to their countrymen.

Carry on.

USS Arizona

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will take a moment to remember, today, those Americans killed 65 years ago today during the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Some of you may have noticed this interesting piece in the Washington Post about how scientists are creating omputer models of the USS Arizona in an attempt to figure out when the deterioration of the ship’s hull will trigger the release of oil still trapped in the ship.

Very interesting stuff.

Carry on.

St Paul in Rome

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads on the new wire (yesterday actually) that Vatican archeologists digging under the Church of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome believe they may have found the tomb of Saint Paul.

Your Maximum Leader will have to admit a few things… First off, when he first read this piece he didn’t catch that the archeologists were digging at St Paul Outside the Walls. Your Maximum Leader thought they were actually digging in the Vatican itself. Your Maximum Leader thought the prospect of both Saints Peter and Paul being buried near each other was pretty interesting. Of course… Your Maximum Leader re-read the article and discovered he was wrong.

The second thing he thought was this… How amazing that they are digging in these great churches and finding such amazing stuff! Next thing you know they will find the sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene under the Roslyn Chapel in Scotland…

Carry on.


Wiped Out

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wasn’t surprised by the election results in November. He wasn’t pleased with them. But all in all they were close to what he expected. And as much as your Maximum Leader would have like to see a George Allen victory, there was only one Republican who was defeated for whom your Maximum Leader can honestly say he feels deep compassion for.

Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.

Ehrlich was popular, had high approval ratings, and was widely regarded as being one of the most effective governors in years. Your Maximum Leader should add that he (out of habit) pretty much hates Maryland. So for your Maximum Leader to get all worked up about the Governor of Maryland is saying something.

Your Maximum Leader wants to smack every single Marylander who voted against Ehrlich because in their mind a vote for Erlich was a vote “for” George W. Bush. As crazy as it sounds, that is how a good many Marylanders probably did cast their vote. For Pete’s sake, Martin O’Malley (the Governor-elect) mentioned George Bush more in the campaign than he did Robert Ehrlich.

Stupid, stupid voters… Serves them right…

If you haven’t already read Brendan Miniter’s peice on Ehrlich in today’s Opinion Journal you should… Of course it just made your Maximum Leader angry.

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s alma mater doesn’t field a football team. Among the very few regrets your Maximum Leader has about college (and he doesn’t have many in fact) is that the only experienced the fun of college football as a second-hand observer.

As an observer, as it were, he’s rooted consistently for Virginia Tech in football. Mrs. Villain attended VT, so did her sister, so did one of your Maximum Leader’s best friends (and sometimes author here - the Air Marshal). And of course there is your Maximum Leader’s sainted father, also a Tech alum. Hokie football is a constant fall pursuit at the Villainschloss.

Although a poor start and many off-field antics hampered Tech’s start, they did finish strong. Indeed, your Maximum Leader thinks that Tech probably should have been playing for the ACC championship… But those are the breaks… Regardless of their overall standing in the ACC, they have been invited to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. There th Hokies will be combating the Dawgs of Georgia for the Chick-fil-A Bowl championship - such as it is.

Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain will not be attending the bowl game - although we have both indicated that we would like to attend some future bowl game. (Your Maximum Leader and the Air Marshal did attend one Bowl game years ago… The Outback Steakhouse Gator Bowl. The Hokies were defeated by the Tennessee Volunteers in a game that was Peyton Manning’s “comming out” party. Ever since then your Maximum Leader has disliked the Vols and Peyton Manning…

In other bowl game news… It seems as though the Florida Gators will get a shot at defeating Ohio State for the National Championship. Your Maximum Leader thinks that Ohio State will trounce the Gators… In fact, your Maximum Leader generally dislikes Florida schools so he will likely be rooting for the Buckeyes against the Gators. Your Maximum Leader is pleased that the Wolverines of Michigan will not be playing the Buckeyes again for the National Championship. Given the way the current system works (or doesn’t work) he didn’t think that the Wolverines should be given another shot.

And while he’s speaking of college football… Ladies and Gentlemen… Although they will not be playing in any bowl game… The Harvard Fight Song:

Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight!
Demonstrate to them our skill.
Albeit they possess the might,
Nonetheless we have the will.

How we will celebrate our victory,
We shall invite the whole team up for tea. (How jolly!)
Hurl that spheroid down the field,
And fight, fight, fight!

Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight!
Impress them with our prowess, do!
Oh, fellas, do not let the crimson down,
Be of stout heart and true.

Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard’s glorious name!
Won’t it be peachy if we win the game? (Oh, goody!)
Let’s try not to injure them,
But fight, fight, fight!
Let’s not be rough, though!
Fight, fight, fight!
And do fight fiercely!
Fight, fight, fight!

Your Maximum Leader tried to find an mp3/4 of the song, but a quick search didn’t turn one up… Sorry…

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t mind plain speaking politicians. He doesn’t mind when people are blunt and/or direct.

But he doesn’t like rude.

He really doesn’t like rude.

So, imagine your Maximum Leader’s dismay when he reads that Jim Webb was intentionally avoiding President Bush at a Luncheon. Then when the President and Senator-Elect Webb finally do meet, Mr. Webb chooses to respond to a polite question from the President with a sharp political retort. When the polite question was followed-up with a restatement of the polite question, Mr. Webb basically told the President that the answer was none of his (the President’s) business.

First piece of advice from your Maximum Leader to Mr. Webb. If you don’t want to be seen with the President, or have to speak to the President; then politely decline the President’s invitation to the White House.

Of course, your Maximum Leader will defer to George Will on chastizing Mr. Webb. From Will’s column yesterday in the Washington Post:

That was certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.

Wednesday’s Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb “tried to avoid President Bush,” refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, “How’s your boy?” Webb replied, “I’d like to get them [sic] out of Iraq.” When the president again asked “How’s your boy?” Webb replied, “That’s between me and my boy.” Webb told The Post:

“I’m not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I’m certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration. [But] leaders do some symbolic things to try to convey who they are and what the message is.”

Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb’s more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being — one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another. When — if ever — Webb grows weary of admiring his new grandeur as a “leader” who carefully calibrates the “symbolic things” he does to convey messages, he might consider this: In a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves.

Well put, Mr. Will. It costs one nothing to be polite. And civility, if not a cornerstone of civilization itself, certainly is the lubricant that makes civilization works.

Carry on.

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