Prostitution or Marriage?


A few weeks ago, I was at a lunch with a number of very wealthy men. And, as seems to happen in non-religious circles, the wealthy men brought their trophies with them. These particular trophies were lovely and intelligent – for actresses and supermodels. Which made me realize that, in the minds of these men, the young ladies were, in fact, not different from wives. The arrangements seemed to be mutually satisfying: each party was trading one thing for another.

From an economic or contractual basis, there is really no difference between prostitution and marriage. Once you strip out the time horizon – the length – of the relationship, then the arrangement seems to essentially have the same core elements, whether it lasts for a night or for decades.  I am quite sure this is how those men (and probably those women) see it.  It seems likely to me that they have seen no convincing counterargument.

In a Theater Near You: Unsung Hero


Your enjoyment of this film will likely depend on whether you were listening to Christian pop music three decades ago. I was a youth pastor at the time, so, sure, I took students to see Michael W. Smith in concert introducing DC Talk as his opening act. Unsung Hero features actors playing performers central to the world of Christian music in the 1990s. Rachel Hendrix plays a kind and gracious Amy Grant. Jonathan Jackson plays Eddie Degarmo (of Degarmo and Key), a benefactor of the film’s family. Joe Chambrello plays Carmen who isn’t very helpful. There’s serious nostalgia cred as the film opens, with Christian hair band Stryper playing at the Sydney Opera House.

That’s when we meet the central figure in the film: Christian music promoter David Smallbone (played by David’s son, Joel Smallbone). His promotion of Stryper’s Australia tour led him to believe he was set on a path to fame and fortune, so he invested everything the family had in his next venture: Amy Grant’s Australian, Lead Me On, tour. His wife is unsure about this venture; he ultimately loses their savings and their house. He pins his career hopes on a deal with Christian mega-star Carmen in America. At his wife’s insistence, they pack up their six (with one on the way) children and move to Nashville, Tennessee.

With his family in an unfurnished rental house, no car, and little cash, David’s deal with Carmen falls through. He falls into a deep depression.

From Dynamite to the Surveillance State


Did the work of Alfred Nobel lead to the surveillance state? A new book finds a connection.

The Infernal Machine: A True Story of Dynamite, Terror, and the Rise of the Modern Detective by Steven Johnson shows how dynamite, anarchists and forensic science are linked to the creation of the modern state.

Nitroglycerine, discovered in the early 19th century, offered great promise in construction, but it proved too volatile to use safely. Johnson shows how Alfred Nobel found a way to stabilize nitroglycerine; packing it in diatomaceous earth in a new product he named dynamite.

Qualia–The Hard Problem?


David Chalmers, a leading philosopher of mind and consciousness, tells us that the “hard” problem is qualia, that is, explaining the subjective experience of experience.  Explaining the sensation of seeing the color red, for example. How do we explain the subjective internal experience of seeing the color red?

The philosophers always seem to choose the color red, for unclear reasons. First of all, I object, because I am partially red/green color blind. I can’t see any numbers in those Ishihara plates with all the colored dots. So my experience of red is not exactly the same as that of other people. In medical school, when we had to identify gram-negative organisms under the microscopic, I saw grey. My classmates saw vivid bright red. I aced the exams because the gram-positive organisms that we had to distinguish from the gram-negative organisms was easy: distinguish grey from blue. No problem.

IPL 2024 Comes to a Close


We are coming to the end of this year’s Indian Premier League, the major T-20 cricket league in India which is finishing up its 17th season over the next week.  To put the scale of this league in perspective, at the last renewal of broadcast and streaming rights, it commanded the highest per-game license fee of any sport in the world.

The final two regular-season matches are tomorrow morning US time (tomorrow afternoon and evening India time).  Here is the current points table:

Quote of the Day – Democracy’s Gyroscope


There’s something amazing about America’s democracy, it’s got a gyroscope and just when you think it’s going to go off the cliff, it rights itself.  – Albert Einstein

Einstein made this observation in a private letter to his son in the 1950s. He was being urged to leave the United States because the son feared the US was about to turn into a fascist state in reaction to the Cold War. Einstein did not think that would happen.

Practical Science Education


My wife likes Chick-fil-A  chicken.  Just bought some for tonight.  I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up the potato salad she likes behind the deli counter.  Asked for a pint instead of pointing to a container size, which they usually have on display.  The high schooler, or perhaps community college student, said she didn’t know what that meant.

The next customer in line, a generation younger than me, looked quizzically.  After asking her to show me the small container, and after not understanding why, she acquiesced.  She pulled out the small container and said, “This is a one pound container”.  The “next in line” woman said that was a pint container. I added that their large container is a quart.  While filling my container “next in line” said to me, “I guess they don’t teach things like that anymore.”  I got my potato salad and left.

An episode that asks the eternal questions:

Is this good? Better? Worse? Better here? Or better here? What’s the lowest line you can read?

“No Class”


From “The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” by George Washington to Kamala Harris – How the mighty have fallen.

It is said that John F. Kennedy, upon learning that Richard Nixon refused to give his concession speech in person on Election Night, mused that “he’s leaving like he came in — no class.”

No two words better describe the person next in line to the Presidency of the United States, Kamala Harris, who spoke these most dignified and exemplary words in public recently:

Well, That Changes Everything!


A bit of fun for Friday night and the weekend. Have you ever run across a bit of information that changed your whole perspective on something? Now, it might have been something large or small, but it turned your view, maybe giving you a new insight?

I listened to a lot of country music growing up, and lately I have gone back and found some of what I grew up with on the youtube machine. For instance, there is this song:

In 2020 ordinary parents learned an important lesson: the so-called public school system felt perfectly free to ignore the public’s wishes. This set in motion a backlash that’s breathed new life into the school choice cause. Corey DeAngelis has paid close attention, and he joins Rob, Peter and James to explain the political whirlwind as laid out in his new book, The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids from the Radicals Ruining Our Schools.

The fellas also cover the peculiar controversy surrounding a Catholic commencement speech delivered at a Catholic university; along with the latest instances of an inept Democratic Party which seems determined to help its top opponent.

– Opening sound this week: Kansas City Chiefs PK Harrison Butker delivers the commencement address at Benedictine College

“Transgender” Logic? Scam?


I continue not to see the logic of the claim that “transgenderism” is real or that I should take it seriously.

I know, you may point out that logic might be too much to expect from the advocates of “transgenderism.” Maybe I’ve missed some logic that would make sense of the concept of “transgenderism.” If I don’t see the logic, I’m not likely to buy the principle, and I will continue to mock “transgenderism” as a phony idea. So, anyone who expects me to take “transgenderism” seriously had better come up with some real logic.

AI’s Recursive Problem?


AI searches the published world to source anything it says.

But if you Google something right now, some AI engine will write an answer. That answer will read like a boring article. And it may or may not be right. But here’s the kicker: the AI that looks for answers cannot tell the difference between a real source, or an AI-generated one. Which means that, like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, anything resembling the original information source is so far diluted and lost, that it is indistinguishable from dreck.

The kitty roars and short-sellers start panicking. One tweet Sunday night sent Game Stop stock soaring and it’s 2021 all over again. Plus Dennis has a beef with his congressman over the current Trump trial in NY.

Then we talk to Rick McCawley, a Photographer, Design Thinker and Professor of Graphic Design at Broward College, about how you can best ride the A.I. wave.

Saying What Our Bishops Are Afraid To Say


Harrison Butker is the place kicker for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. He is also a Catholic and a husband, two things that the woke mob detests. He also just delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College, a small Catholic school in Atchison, Kansas that has really riled the woke mob. Why? Because he spoke the truths that our faith teaches. Here are a few of the (apparently) offensive things he said in that speech:

  • “Abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder.”
  • “Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally.”
  • “To the gentleman here today, part of what plagues our society is this lie that has been told to you that men are not necessary in the home or in our communities. As men, we set the tone of the culture. And when that is absent disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in this absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation.”

But what probably was most offensive to the woke feminists was this:

Henry’s back after a brief hiatus as election season heats up! He’s joined by National Review’s Jim Geraghty to parse out the parties’ business-as-usual dysfunction from the special brand of it we’ve gotten used to recently. They consider whether the Republican Party even knows what it wants; what they’ll do if they pull off the trifecta in November; and what we should make of tight polls considering the Biden/Harris ticket’s historic unpopularity.

Plus, Henry delivers his first ever Bad Ad of the Week, in response to Don Blankenship’s clunker spot; and he makes a quick stop in Maryland to explain why Angela Alsobrooks’ personal touch won out over David Trone’s big money.

South of the Border


This came up Sunday night at a cocktail party of my pickleball friends: A wealthy divorcee who has recently traveled around the globe on vacations was asked to describe one of the resorts she had visited and she said it was like South of the Border outside Dillon SC. As the host of this festivity, I was greatly offended. “South of the Border! That is where I went on my honeymoon and you come here into my house and mock me by denigrating South of the Border. Shame on you! Pedro will always be welcome here!”

Actually, my wife and I honeymooned in St. Augustine FL 55 years ago because we couldn’t afford Pedro’s resort.

Activist Judges Endanger Our Children re Transgenderism


Just when I’d begun to believe that ordinary people in this country were realizing what a travesty and deception transgender treatment is, an appellate court proves how inept and uneducated the courts can be. Rather than making sure they had the latest research on this controversial treatment, the court followed the leftist narrative and have reverted to transgender treatment that is not only useless, but can be harmful to our children.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that state health care plans in North Carolina and West Virginia must cover gender-affirming surgeries:

Coronal Mass Ejections: Living in the Dark


This a follow-on to my post Coronal Mass Ejections: Are You Paying Attention?. In that post I discussed the ongoing space “storm” and the threat such geomagnetic phenomena have on a civilization that is, and seems to be becoming evermore, dependent on electronic systems and devices. As I write, a 7th CME is making its way to earth in this current storm cluster. It is not expected to be civilization-ending, but what has been surprising about the latest storm is how much of a punch it has given as it is much smaller than some past storms that did not have that effect. The conclusion is that the Earth’s magnetosphere is weakening. Which, if so, means that CMEs of smaller intensity will have greater and greater impact going forward. Within this context one has to contemplate how one will live in the event your location is de-electrified by a geomagnetic phenomena. What strategies can you, should you, employ?

In our lifetimes we have seen natural disasters — earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires — occurring over and over again. The impact of such events, devastating as they may have been, is generally relatively short-lived at a societal level. Survivors recover. Aid of various sorts is provided by governmental and international bodies. Buildings are rebuilt and life returns to some sort of pre-disaster “normal”. The length of time over which this occurs is variable and certainly affected by politics, finance, and media attention. (Just ask the people of Maui why their homes haven’t been restored, while California homes were?) But the fundamental capacity to restore was always present.

Trump v Biden Debates


Election Day is a relic of the past. Acknowledging that millions of votes have already been cast before the traditional October debates, the Biden and Trump campaigns have accelerated the process significantly by announcing the presumptive nominees will debate June 27th in Atlanta without an audience on CNN.

The second debate will be just after the conventions September 10th on ABC. Details have not been released.

This week on The Learning Curve co-hosts U-Arkansas Prof. Albert Cheng and Dr. Jocelyn Chadwick interview Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education. She explores her family’s pivotal role in the Brown case, detailing her father’s part within the NAACP’s wider legal strategy. Cheryl discusses the influence of religious faith on the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the impact of segregation on her family, and their courageous decision to confront the legal barriers to racial equality in K-12 education. She emphasizes the ongoing need for comprehensive school reform leadership that will address the racial disparities still found across American public education.

Confessions of a Climate Curmudgeon


I have always been skeptical of the catastrophic claims of climate hysterics. There are several reasons for this. I myself have substantial experience observing, measuring, and analyzing complex systems and I just don’t accept that our ability to measure the entire planetary climate is as comprehensive as the hysterics would have us all believe. Adequately measuring and predicting the behavior of even man-made complex systems is not a comprehensively solvable problem. But we are nevertheless expected to believe that we have solved the problem of reliable sensor data for an entire planet.

I also harbor skepticism toward models or, at least, toward anyone who argues for making societal-scale changes merely based upon models. It is easily possible that our climate models are about as accurate as the Covid models were. So imposing societal hardship simply on the basis of models is a hubristic approach only an ideologue could love. Perhaps one of the upsides of the self-inflicted injury associated with Covid policy will be that the public will become far more skeptical of models in general, and of model purveyors in particular.

Cookeville Meetup – 2024


Thanks for the custom graphic, EJ!

Last year I hosted a Ricochet Meetup in my new hometown of Cookeville, TN.  I was only planning for a one-night stand, but several people said they were coming from several hundred miles away, so we made it a whole-weekend affair.  I’m not expecting people coming from that far this time, so I am just planning a Friday night meetup on June 14th, which is National Bourbon Day.  If this doesn’t bring @drbastiat back to Tennessee, I don’t know what will.