James is back from the British Isles and has had a little bit of it shipped home directly to The Diner.

The Power of Light and Darkness


We are spoiled, living in an age and a place where artificial light is plentiful. We take it so much for granted that it is hard even to imagine what living before the modern age must have been like for almost everyone, almost all the time.

An “average” day has 12 hours of light, with dusk and dawn at each end. But the average person sleeps 6-8 hours a night, which means that most people, most of the time, really could not see for 3-5 hours “awake” hours. Candles and fires were expensive (in time and other resources), and people did not routinely waste resources.

Failed Coup?


Fun read at City Journal by a former diplomat comparing the current coup to dump Biden to political coups he witnessed serving as a US diplomat in Africa: What Do you Do with a Failed Coup? by Dave Seminara.  Concluding comment:

The media thought that they could take Biden down, but it’s becoming clear that he’s not stepping down just because armies of polyamorous, Brooklyn-dwelling sub-editors have soured on him. The question now is: In the wake of their failed coup attempt, how will the media go back to shilling for Biden? It seems like an impossible pivot, but somehow I’m confident that the same lying, dog-faced pony soldiers who told us the president was as sharp as a tack will return to business as usual. That is to say, after a brief hiatus, they will go back to promoting the perceived interests of the Democratic Party, hoping that voters forget all the mean things they said about Joe Biden during the brief, heady days when it looked like the coup was on.

Joe Biden is adamant about staying in the race. It’s a fitting move for the leader of a party that has lost its long-held advantage in voter identification. Beyond the Polls host Henry Olsen joins James, Rob and Steve Hayward to dive into the Democratic Party’s dilemma, the global political realignment, and the here-to-stay Populist Era.

– This week’s audio: A trio of Biden gems in a week full of them.

Thinking. A Lost Art?


I am sitting here in the early, peaceful, quiet, serene  hour listening to the thunderstorms over the Gulf of Mexico a short distance away in a much-appreciated spot of “cooler” air brought by the rain and  … thinking. A beautiful graceful Egret just flew by, heading East, and shortly after an Osprey flew by headed west, bringing “the catch of the day” to his little ones in their nest nearby. We are truly blessed to have such a nice setting for… just thinking. A myriad of different thoughts kept flying through my mind, some of which were those typically associated with persons of advanced age — memories (many and lovely), regrets (I have a few), those near and dear (and those far and dear), what we are leaving behind for our precious children and theirs (not a pretty sight), and just letting my mind roam at will among the mists of time. As these moments unfurl, one pervasive thought kept returning to me as I pondered my place in the universe and where I would wind up in it—how little we of this age of incessant noise and clatter and distractions spend…. thinking. Just thinking. Call it by whatever name you choose — Meditation? Contemplation? Wondering? — but the current, and louder and louder, and, in recent years, more violent and dangerous cacophony of our world leaves woefully little slivers of time for just… thinking.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Postman, Neil by Penguin Group

The Increase and Normalization of Jew Hatred


COS Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo and Brig. Gen. Yossi Bachar visiting sites where rockets hit in Southern Israel. Via Wikimedia Commons

For the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that the number of stories on Jew-hatred and actions against Israel seems to have increased. I decided to check out my perceptions of the current situation, and unfortunately my perceptions were confirmed.

Control & Mental Illness


In September 1984, a retired MD with a distinguished career including his role as an effective whistleblower at the FDA and a decorated WWII veteran made a strange public confession of a foul, disgusting personal habit in a letter to the editors of the Washington Post:

It’s been a week but we’re still in a Fourth of July mood. We welcome NewsMax anchor and former Navy Seal Carl Higbie to talk about his new book, Profiles in Freedom: Heroes Who Shaped America.

And speaking of the last week, it’s been quite the week for the Biden campaign as the President seems to make everything worse with every media appearance he makes.

All that and the Parting Shot. Why should you care?

What Would Make Biden Leave


Sen. Bennett (D) from Colorado is saying that Trump may beat Biden in a landslide. George Stephanopoulos is saying he doesn’t think Biden can make it another four years. Some are comparing Biden’s current situation with that of Nixon in the summer before his resignation.

None of this will make Biden leave. What made Nixon resign was that the Senate Republican leadership paid him a visit and told him they would not support him. They would vote to impeach.

Fargo Meetup Recap: Good Enough For Ricochet Work


They say it takes four people to make a meetup, and we managed to get that for the big meetup dinner.   However, this meetup was a wild ride from the start.   As I recovered from a 12-hour drive from Chicagoland to Fargo, I awoke at the Red Roof Inn (right next to the Fargo Moorhead visitor center, complete with woodchipper) on Independence Day, then met up with @katiekoppelman at Bonanzaville, a living history park.  It was next to the fairgrounds, and a good place to visit while waiting for the fair to open.

The Red River Valley Fair was quite an experience.  We were joined by a relative of Katie’s and @painterjean, and convened the Order of the Neon Yardstick.   They showed me plenty of hot chicks (and ducklings) in the exhibition buildings.   Like any good festival, you could get anything and everything deep-fried.   Deep-fried Oreos are something to experience… rarely.   The literal highlight of the evening was an absolutely epic fireworks display.   This was one of the greatest fireworks displays I have ever seen, probably surpassing the Chicago fireworks at Navy Pier.  There were numerous moments when we all thought it was the grand finale, only for it to continue.

The Villain of the Story


Today I got one of those auto-generated notifications from LinkedIn, suggesting someone I might want to connect with. “Do you know Edwin Smith?” (Not his real name.) Well, yes, I know him, I thought, and no, I am not remotely interested in connecting with him.

Edwin was my boss for about three years, twenty-two years ago. He was a nice enough guy, I suppose, but I found him to be a poor manager. Twice a year he would deliver my performance appraisal, and the results were always the same: he would tell me that I was doing fine, he would offer no suggestions for improvement, and then he would give me a middling numerical rating.

The certainty of leftists makes them dangerous


Anthony Fauci. From Tennessee Witney, via Shutterstock

When I’m giving a lecture to a group of physicians, I remind them that they are unlikely to make a really big mistake and kill somebody, unless they are absolutely sure that they’re right.  Certainty leads to tunnel vision and makes it difficult to consider possibilities beyond that which seems obvious to you.  I acknowledge that it’s difficult to practice medicine without a certain degree of arrogance, but I caution the doctors that they should fear certainty more than they fear ignorance.  They should work to remain perpetually cognizant of their own limitations, always looking for mistakes and considering other options, or else they’ll overlook something big and really hurt somebody.

Washington’s worst-kept secret is out: Joe Biden is not up to the job he’s campaigning for. Today’s guest is former White House Press Secretary and Fox News host Dana Perino. No stranger to balancing the priorities of the nation’s inquiring minds with those of the administration, she joins Henry to discuss a presidential fiasco like no other we’ve ever seen.

Plus, Henry digs into the debate that finally got Democrats talking about Biden’s decline; considers how down-ballot candidates will be affected; and speculates on how the party might clean up its mess. He also takes a look at Maggie Newlander’s impressive introductory ad.

This week on The Learning Curve co-hosts U-Arkansas Prof. Albert Cheng and DFER’s Alisha Searcy interview Dr. Marguerite Roza from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. Dr. Roza explores the complexities of education finance and its impact on American K-12 education. She outlines the three phases of school funding over the past 40 years and their effect on equity and student achievement. She highlights that only about half of the K-12 education dollars fund student instruction, with significant money absorbed by the ever-expanding education bureaucracy. Dr. Roza discusses massive federal expenditures, such as COVID relief funds, emphasizing the need for better accountability. She examines the challenges faced by urban school districts with high per-pupil spending but low graduation rates and proficiency levels. Additionally, she explores the rise of private school choice programs and their accountability measures.

Man Shouts at Clouds


From photosince, via Shutterstock

Here is today’s shout-worthy cloud. At the apex of the top layer of security for the nation sits the Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Jill Biden, I mean Hunter Biden…no, wait, pretty sure it’s Joe Biden. Hang on a second. Checking notes. Yes. Pretty sure this is correct. Joe Biden, the first black woman president.

Actors and Gun Safety


The Alec Baldwin trial is going to begin in New Mexico. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. I do not have all the evidence that the prosecutor has or will present to the jury, so I’ll comment as a former police officer who carried a pistol that was loaded with 18 rounds of live ammunition.

“Unloaded guns” or the “Gee, I didn’t know it was loaded!” plays a role in wounding and shooting deaths. Whether it’s a movie set, range, or handing someone a gun, the assumption should be the weapon is loaded. Before you hand someone a firearm you should make sure that it is unloaded. No round in the barrel as well as an empty magazine, or in the case of a revolver, no rounds in the cylinder. The person who receives the firearm should repeat that check as well. Actors should have some classroom time so they can check any firearm that an armorer gives them on the movie or television set.

A First Whack Against New York Lawfare


Although the news is dominated with stories of Biden and his betrayal of the American people, also known as lying about his mental acuity, there are other hopeful actions that suggest that lawfare will finally get its first major test. Attorney General of Missouri Andrew Bailey is fighting back for the people of Missouri, for other states and for Donald Trump:

Missouri filed a lawsuit against the state of New York on Wednesday seeking to lift the gag order imposed against former President Trump during his hush money trial and delay sentencing for his conviction in that case until after the November election.

Remember to Look Out and Up


If you take the Torah as a divinely-dictated document, then it is axiomatic that if a verse seems to be unimportant – or even irrelevant – it merely means we have failed to understand it. Every verse and word and letter counts. That belief is why Jews have preserved the text, letter-perfect, for thousands of years.

So I was intrigued when a friend posed an interesting question: when the people in the wilderness cry out for meat, the Torah tells us:

This Rose Stinks


My brother listened and paid attention and as a result, followed my father into the law. The Sunday after he passed the bar, a few of us were grilling and Dad called everybody together for a quick toast. He started out with a bit about how proud Mom would have been. I think that was his intent going in – maternal praise noted by its absence – but he was both the father and a respected member of my brother’s new field. He gave advice and perspective.

“You’re entering a profession,” he said. Or something like that. This was fifteen years ago so I’m paraphrasing as best I can. You can’t hear it but he speaks Mid-Atlantic raised in Maryland with forty-seven years of Alabama residency leaning in. “Your clients aren’t customers. You aren’t in business.” He went on in that vein about duties and backbone, disappointing with honesty when needed. It was a good toast. Not as good as the one at my cousin Andrew’s wedding, but that was the benchmark and it’s not fair to compare. It was obviously something he’d been hoping for the opportunity to say since my brother’s first year at law school and you could tell there was thought and maybe some shower rehearsal in it, but he blended intent and spontaneity.

Joe Selvaggi speaks with Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Eide about the Grants Pass v. Johnson Supreme Court decision and its impact on homeless encampments in Boston and across the country.

Silenced and Divided by Sensibilities


The Trump yard signs and banners I see only when I leave the metropolitan area where I live and work remind me that Americans were once expected to engage, debate, and persuade and that liberals were once openly in favor of certain values and goals.

Conservatives of all stripes are increasingly barred from speaking freely on campus, online, or at work. On the left, only extremists can be open about their beliefs.  Climate change zealots, sexual deviants, Hamas supporters, and high-tax Stalinists can be open about their beliefs but together they are a small minority of the Democratic (or just anti-conservative) vote. Most Democrats (like conservatives in blue states) are defined by what they believe but cannot say.

Peak Culture and Then Some



On rainy days in Junior High, I often hung out in my social studies classroom. There was a variety of board games, but my favorite was Masterpiece.  The box of the game was rather like the box of Clue with a collection of hoity-toity personalities, but here contemplating art rather than murder.

Upending the Sackler Bankruptcy?


In Harrington v. Purdue Pharma, the United States Supreme Court by a 5–4 vote rejected a final settlement in bankruptcy that sought to provide some $11 billion over ten years to provide immediate benefits to persons and institutions ravaged by the opioid crisis. The list of recipients to date includes about 1,200 cities, counties, and other local governments, as well as some 60,000 individuals who have been adversely affected by the opioid epidemic claiming damages from $3,500 to $48,000. The case concerned the debtor, Purdue Pharma LP, but the root of the protracted proceedings is the release of claims against the Sackler family, technically third parties to the proposed reorganization of Purdue.

During these agonized negotiations, no one doubted that the bankruptcy court was the appropriate forum in which to consolidate the multiple claims against Purdue and the Sacklers. But there was an ongoing donnybrook over how much money should come from the Sacklers, who owned Purdue, from which they had over the years taken approximately $11 billion, leaving the company in a compromised financial condition. To buy peace, the family was prepared to return some $6 billion into the bankruptcy settlement, with this catch: their contributions were all that could ever be demanded from the Sacklers for the payment of both present and future claims. Needless to say, with such diverse constituencies, there was a protracted struggle as to whether the proverbial bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. And as time wore on, more weary individuals and institutions were prepared to take the deal, even knowing that it let the Sacklers retain large sums of money in complex foreign trusts outside the reach of American creditors. The United States was adamant that the settlements were insufficient, which is why its trustee William K. Harrington sued to set them aside.

The fallout from the CNN Trump-Biden debate continues as the current POTUS attempts damage control with friendly interviews with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. But instead of cleaning things up, Biden comes across like an angry drunk reading from a script.

What are the Democrats going to do? Lloyd Doggett (D – TX37) has led the Congressional chorus asking Biden to step aside. But if Biden is the question, is Kamala the answer?