A Night at the Opry


It has been over two years since I moved to Tennessee, and I finally made my first visit to the Grand Ole Opry on Friday night.  My mother and my brother’s girlfriend came down for a one-week visit and while trying to put together a plan, I asked if they wanted to go to the Grand Ole Opry.  They never sounded terribly interested, but I kept an eye on the Opry schedule once the ladies finally chose the dates for their visit.  As luck would have it, one of the acts playing during the period of their visit was the Bellamy Brothers.  Jackpot!  Upon hearing that, my mom decided she must go!

Benefits of a Near Death Experience


Through most great tragedies there are sometimes speckles of good. I do believe President Trump has come out of this assassination attempt a better man. I heard someone call him Trump 3.0. I like that.

I have no doubt that during his preparation for the debate, he agreed that he needed to tone it down a bit. No nasty comments, no calling names. (Well, keep it to a minimum anyway.) An attack dog Trump is a bit much, but nobody wants a sleepy Trump either. That’s just the art of politics.

Keeping Rental Markets Safe


There is little dispute that the housing market for both rentals and sales is in distress. A recent Harvard study states: “Lack of affordability defines both the for-sale and the for-rent housing markets,” which has led to higher prices, sluggish sales, and higher rates of eviction from rental units. On the progressive left, the explanation is always the same: “The nation’s largest landlords have shown their burdensome rent hikes are based on greed, not need, after reporting billions of dollars in higher profits over the last year.” The consequence of this dire movement is, according to the White House, that “[s]ome corporate landlords have taken advantage of the shortage of available units by raising rents by more than increases in their own costs—resulting in huge profits at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to cover rent each month.”

Consequently, the Biden administration has proposed that the federal government inject itself into the corporate housing market. Its new proposal is that “corporate landlords, beginning this year and for the next two years, would only be able to take advantage of faster depreciation write-offs available to owners of rental housing if they keep annual rent increases to no more than 5 percent each year.” This would cover “landlords with over fifty units in their portfolio,” accounting for some twenty million units. New construction would be exempt from this anti-gouging policy that, thankfully, requires congressional action to implement.

Useless Pete Buttigieg


Can U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg do anything useful or helpful?

Once again there’s a big problem in the United States transportation system (Friday’s computer outages). And, once again, apparently all Pete Buttigieg can think to do is write a strongly worded, finger-wagging threat. I have yet to see him in any emergency (when he’s actually present and not on parental leave) make suggestions, offer assistance, talk about the valuable assistance the DOT experts are providing to transportation providers, or anything else that might be helpful. Isn’t the Department of Transportation supposed to be full of experts who are there to facilitate the transportation network that allows people, goods, and services to move into, out of, and around this country? Shouldn’t the Secretary of Transportation be offering up that expertise to speed recovery, and telling the public about the collaboration?

The President’s Current Condition – Still a Mystery


I’m somewhat confident that Joe Biden is still alive. That said, what physical or mental state he currently is in is anyone’s guess. The White House has communicated that Biden will be taking approximately 9 days off from the job of the presidency — not that he was performing many presidential duties before this break, except for staring agape at Independence Day fireworks or misidentifying Zelensky as Putin at the NATO summit.

It’s concerning that Biden still hasn’t been seen on camera since he returned from Las Vegas on a campaign trip that was cut short. Questions are now being raised as to whether POTUS had a medical emergency while in Las Vegas and was nearly hospitalized before expediting him back to the airport and Air Force One to make a hasty trip back to Delaware.

The Coming AI Crisis


There is an absolutely hilarious video of “Joe Biden” clarifying his withdrawal from the presidential race circulating on the internet. A sanitized version runs below:

Joe Selvaggi talks with the CATO Institute’s Dr. Norbert Michel about the shift in the Republican vision and policy goals from decades past, as reflected in the nominees and guest speakers at the 2024 GOP Convention.

Where Was the Flying Squad?


A Congressional hearing has begun on the attempted assassination of Donald Trump in Butler, Pennsylvania. Some Congressional hearings generate a lot of heat and very little light. They become a platform for members of Congress to show their constituents what a great job they’re doing, raising campaign money, and national exposure to expand their brand outside their fortress districts.

The history of the phrase “Flying Squad”:

Tales of Retail, Whoah, Whoah, Oh Whoah!


Working at #151 Borders Books, Music & Cafe in Oklahoma City meant helping customers in different areas of the store. Right next to the music department, where I usually worked, was the computer books section. I knew little about computers in that run up to Y2K, and I haven’t picked up much knowledge about them since, but occasionally I had to venture over to that area to find a book. (A sidebar: on Y2K-eve, one of our managers, a big, Viking-looking apocalyptic Christian dude, told me he had brought a loaded gun in his car, in case there was “trouble” on the way home.)

In the music department, we received a box of promotional items for a Tom Jones “Best of” CD compilation. It wasn’t unusual. We got posters and CDs often, and sometimes stickers, things like that with regularity. In the Jones box, there were some big 3-D pins of the album cover, with a picture of the hunky man himself and his name in bold letters. They were kind of fun and cheesy, so I decided to wear that pin at work every day. I would become the ambassador for Tom Jones Nation.

Small Town Life


The Orleans County Fair opens today. A week of 4-H kids showing their animals, exhibits from local businesses, a midway with a Ferris wheel, fireworks, and all the features of a back-country punkin doin’s. I just love living here.

Alpacas are a big deal locally. You can buy their fleece and spin your own yarn, or get spun yarn from the alpaca farms.

My dad raised Whiteface Herefords, but other breeds are populating our small farms, like the Belted Galloway this young fellow is showing.

Joe Biden calling it quits would normally lead the way but that’s only one of Ann’s five things for the week.

  • USSS Director Kimberley Cheatle takes a bipartisan grilling in front of a House committee
  • Joe Biden bows out of the Presidential race
  • The Gerontocracy or The Last of the Normal Democrats
  • The Democratic Party is Imagining What Can Be Unburdened by What Has Been
  • Trumpism Without Trump – JD Vance and the future of a populist GOP

The States, 1978: A Preschooler’s Travel Review (Side A)


Back when my parents were serving in Thailand as missionaries, the expectation was that every four or five years, the family took a year-long furlough in their passport country. The time away from what had become the homeland was spent connecting with supporting churches, speaking and giving updates, visiting family, and hopefully getting rest and enjoying what the country we called “The States” had to offer.

Our first furlough was in 1978. I was four years old and retain a whirl of impressions that, although vague, are real and are anchored in time and place by subsequent conversations with my mom.

The divisions between the parties, their voters, and their candidates, are enormous


January, 19 2020 Democratic candidates for president march at King Day. From Perry McLeod, via Shutterstock.

The Democrats find themselves in an interesting position.  Interesting in many ways.  They have complete control over the news media, the administrative state, Hollywood, social media, corporate America, and so on and so forth.  And yet the two leaders of their party are Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, both of whom struggle to form a coherent sentence, much less inspire confidence in their followers.

In what is our longest podcast ever, we discuss: How sick is Joe Biden and will the potential cover-up of his condition become an issue for his apparent successor, Kamala Harris; how can Democrats complain about the threat to our democracy when they just engineered an outcome voted on by 17 million people in primaries; will Kamala Harris answer questions about policy or will she hide; and how will Donald Trump handle his new rival? Give a listen.

This week on The Learning Curve, co-hosts U-Arkansas Prof. Albert Cheng and DFER’s Alisha Searcy interview Pulitzer Winner Kai Bird. Mr. Bird focuses on the life and legacy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “father of the atomic bomb.” He discusses Oppenheimer’s impact on history, his early life and education, and his academic achievements in quantum physics. Bird covers Oppenheimer’s political views, relationships, as well as his leadership in the Manhattan Project and his role in the Trinity test. He reflects on Oppenheimer’s ethical concerns about the atomic bomb’s devastation of WWII Japan and its impact on the Cold War’s arms race. He examines Oppenheimer’s post-WWII career, including his involvement with the Atomic Energy Commission and the security clearance hearings that marked his decline. Mr. Bird continues with a discussion of Oppenheimer’s legacy and the lessons from his life about the interplay between science, technology, and politics. He shares the experience of his book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, being turned into an Oscar-winning film Oppenheimer directed by Christopher Nolan. Mr. Bird closes by reading a passage from his Oppenheimer biography.

QoTD: What’s “Good” Good For?


Edit – This was written and posted before Biden dropped from the race. But it might still serve as an epitaph.

The word ‘good’ has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.” G. K. Chesterton

Man, that Chesterton was good. In so many definitions of the word.

Hypersensitive Karens and Feminized Men Won’t Get Us to Mars


I’ll never forget the first moon landing in 1969.  I was fourteen and my mother and I were vacationing in Pensacola, Florida, and we watched the landing on a small TV set in our motel room.  My mother said something like, “I can’t believe it! They really landed on the moon!”  It seemed so surreal and incredible at the time.

That greatest scientific achievement in human history occurred even as the social revolutions of the ‘60s rocked our country and much of the world.  But despite all that nihilistic sound and fury, the grownups were still in charge and fully capable of achieving greatness.  And they could work furiously without having to worry about hurting anybody’s feelings.  (The significance of that will become apparent momentarily.)  And in that moment, it seemed the sky was the limit, literally.  Mars would be much more difficult, of course, but in a couple of decades, say, we would certainly achieve that, right?

The Weapon That Could Have Won The War, But Didn’t


In 1940, Polaroid and Edwin Land were best known for polarized film, used most famously in sunglasses. When World War II started, Land thought up another use for polarized light, one he hoped would yield a war-winning bombsight.

Rings of Fire: How an Unlikely Team of Scientists, Ex-Cons, Women, and Native Americans Helped Win World War II, by Larry J. Hughes, tells the story of the Optical Ring Sight, a weapon with the potential to win the war — that did not.

Land’s bombsight used the unique light-polarizing properties of calcite. It created concentric brightly-colored circles. The military realized it was a better gunsight than bombsight. Centering targets within the rings aimed the gun perfectly. It did not require crosshairs or for the observer to be optically aligned to the sight. Simple to use, guns equipped with ORS sights yielded double the hits of identical guns with iron sights.

Poverty is Caused by the Dad Gap


Well after 50 years from the end of the Civil War, black Americans in much of the country were not allowed to enter the homes of whites by the front door. Black men could be lynched for looking a white woman in the face. Schools, restaurants, even drinking fountains, were all segregated.

Today, no such legal discrepancies exist. Yes, fringe actors still show that vestiges of racism remain and maybe always will. Yet even though Americans of all races mingle peaceably, the income gap between white and black Americans stubbornly persists. Racism itself can no longer provide a satisfactory answer.

One Small Step, 55 Years Ago


Dateline July 20, 1969: My immediate family was ensconced in the UK, visiting our grandparents, aunts, uncles and sundry other long-lived relatives and friends before they kicked off, and happy to belong to the tribe that Mr. She would–decades later–come to refer to as the Dúnedain, because of our long-livedness and generally extraordinary compos-mentisness. (A few failures along the way.  You can’t win ’em all.)

At the same time, the United States was, in an effort to fulfill JFK’s promise, about to put a man on the moon.  My Dad, who was–just like the late Mr. She–a gadget freak extraordinaire, was fascinated and we rented a television for the summer for the singular purpose of watching the moon landing. (Just to clarify, Mum and Dad kept the house they bought in the Worcestershire countryside shortly after their 1950 marriage for £1,800 until their deaths. So we always had a place to land when we went “home.”)

Was Trump Changed—Or Not?


I wanted to truly believe that Donald Trump was transformed by his horrible experience at the hands of a sick would-be assassin. I believe we all have the potential to change, especially if we have been touched by the hand of G-d. But in some ways, the depth of our transformation depends a great deal on us. I can’t help wondering if Trump’s conversion is incomplete, or has not had time to fully mature.

Don’t misunderstand: there are all kinds of explanations for our response to life’s traumatic moments. Some of us are so deeply moved that our transformation seems complete and infuses everything we do and say. Some of us try to act like nothing has happened and retreat into our psyches, trying to pretend that nothing has changed. And then there is this huge middle ocean, where most of us find ourselves, trying to figure out what our experiences mean in the greater scheme of things.

Quote of the Day – Money and Happiness


While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery. ― Groucho Marx

It really is true that money cannot buy happiness.  Someone determined to be miserable will be miserable no matter how much money they have. Someone happy by nature will find a way to be happy even if they are penniless.  I have seen it in myself and those I know.

Events of the day leads to thoughts of events of the past – with a little Lidocaine thrown in for good measure.