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Quote of the Day: Masterful Character Sketching

 

“She sprang it on me before breakfast. There in seven words you have a complete character sketch of my Aunt Agatha.” — The opening lines of Educating Young Gussie by P.G. Wodehouse

Wodehouse is doubtless familiar to many Ricochetti, but perhaps there are some among us who have not yet encountered the magic of the master. With these opening words, Bertie Wooster’s Aunt Agatha is perfectly captured. Even readers who have just met her for the first time understand completely the kind of woman she is. Energetic. Firm. Early rising. Filled with plans for improvement that require instant and utter submission. In short, a horror.

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“Be Evil”

 

About two years ago, I posted a comment suggesting Google and its Obama-supporting workforce and management might have the power to redirect searches and control information in a way that favored one political point of view. My point was it does not take very much to influence an election outcome. The tools and temptation are there.

As many are aware, Google’s management and staff helped put together the indomitable Obama big data, drill down, finite, targeted social media, voter mobilization effort in 2012. I proffered that Facebook might do the same. My thoughts were dismissed very quickly by some knowledgeable people on Ricochet as impossible given that Google so carefully controls its search algorithm and no such hanky-panky would be tolerated. Who believes this is not possible today?

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Omarosa and the N-Word

 

View original artwork here.

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Preparing for a Job Interview

 

Back in the early 1990s, during one of my job-hunting periods, I sat down and wrote a brief article summarizing some of the advice I’d learned about interviewing. I think these ideas are as valid now as they were then.

It’s always a good idea to research your prospective employer before interviewing for a job. You might be surprised how much of a difference it can make to go into an interview knowing, for example, the company’s name, or perhaps what it is they do.

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Exploratory Bite

 

This week, a man in Cape Cod was bitten by a shark and is in critical condition. The untrained, like myself, might be tempted to use the phrase “shark attack,” but the experts tell us it is not an attack. In fact, “It’s nothing to get alarmed about.” This was not an attack but an “exploratory bite.”

OK, I get it … sort of. If the shark had wanted to eat the man he easily could have. Here on the Cape, we’re seeing more and more what Great White Sharks are doing to seals right off the shore.

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Bask in the Crazy: The Mystery of Male Armies

 

Whatever one thinks of Jordan Peterson, the man raises a point that should be headed by all free peoples: Once you stop fighting with words, the only thing left to do is fight with weapons. Upon personal reflection, I decided that my personal style of writing was not conducive to productive dialogue with the left. As a result, I have largely withdrawn from writing altogether. Like The Incredible Hulk, I must contain my rage for the safety of the world.

It turns out, however, that if we do start fighting with weapons, the only reason men will be the ones who do almost all of it is because of their fear of being cheated on while they are at war. Oh no … not now … must maintain self-control … Frank smash!

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Does More Security Make Them Safer?

 

Helicopters buzzed overhead, camera crews rushed to take pictures, and students headed to their classes:

It was the first day back at school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday — one day after the six-month anniversary of the massacre that left 17 dead. With driver’s license-size IDs on red lanyards hanging from their necks, students trickled into the sprawling campus in Parkland, Fla., which had school resource officers staffed at every entrance.

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I’ll Have What He’s Having

 

Remember the last time you looked forward to a cocktail party? Neither do I. But, if you were a seminarian in Newark, NJ under Theodore “Uncle Teddy” McCarrick you certainly didn’t go back for seconds unless you like drinking drinks with an umbrella in them. New allegations today at Catholic World Report:

Three Newark priests independently gave CNA nearly identical accounts of being invited to these parties when they were newly ordained.

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Moral Obligations of Personhood

 

Elizabeth Warren has a big idea. She wants to nationalize a large swath of the economy. No, really. She has introduced the “Accountable Capitalism Act” [pdf] a bill that will surely go nowhere, but — were it to become law — would require companies with more than $1B in revenue to obtain charters as United States corporations. The charters would create all sorts of batty legal obligations for big corporations. I recommend at least reading the one-page summary linked. This thing is a doozy.

Matt Yglesias at Vox is obviously excited over the idea because this monstrosity would “redistribute trillions of dollars from rich executives and shareholders to the middle class.” Kevin Williamson is less sanguine about the proposal because “it would constitute the largest seizure of private property in human history.” I see it as neither the great hope of humanity nor the end of America as we know it because there is no way something like this could happen in one bill. I’m curious, however, about this statement from the explainer:

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Submit Your Law Talk Questions

 

It’s an August tradition in the faculty lounge: no, not our annual production of To Wong Foo. In the dog days of summer, we open things up for listeners to submit their questions to Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo. A select group of the best ones will get answered on the next installment of the Law Talk podcast.

Have a burning question about constitutional law? The Mueller investigation? The vagaries of Roman water law (please, as an act of mercy, do not submit this — it’s a 60-minute show)? Leave your questions in the comments below.

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Never Going Back

 

Juan was late to work on that Monday, a very rare occurrence. He had been working for me for over a year, doing the hard, hot, messy work of making low pressure injection molded poly-urethane branches for cell phone towers (in order to dress them up to look like trees). It was early 2012, and telecom was one of the few, still booming industries (as opposed to my native construction, which was still trying to get back up from a beat down by the Great Recession).

I had hired Juan on a hope and a prayer. His past was no secret; most of it was scrawled or stamped across his body in tattoo form. He had Oakland Raiders logos, scantily clad ladies, Spanish quotations, and a few other pictures and landscapes coating his hands and arms. A cryptic code was stamped across his knuckles, the tail of some kind of lizard or snake curled up from his shirt collar and wrapped around his left ear, and two double digit numbers marked his face, just outside of both eyes. He was about 5’6” with a muscular build, dark skinned, kept his black hair buzzed short, and when he was concentrating, his face rested to an intimidating scowl.

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“Blurred Lines”: Scandals in Bohemia and Ecclesia

 

“And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl / I know you want it… / I hate these blurred lines / I know you want it… / But you’re a good girl…” Unlike in Thicke’s hit, the “it” youth seeking mentorship want is hopefully not sex. Nonetheless, decent people have long suspected that among more bohemian sorts — actors, musicians, academics, etc — the blurring of lines between mentorship and sexual grooming, coupled with the impulse to save face, risks fostering a climate of sexual abuse. I’ve even heard decent people argue that those who go into bohemian fields ought to know what they’re getting into, and if they’re abused, it’s really their fault.

Decent people don’t want bohemian clergy. Nonetheless, religious callings have more in common with the bohemian than decent people might like to think. It’s appropriate for spiritual mentorship to be intense (possibly even more intense than intellectual or artistic mentorship). It’s normal for charismatic spiritual leaders to attract groupies (also known as disciples). Great good can come from both these dynamics. But also great evil. Decent people are properly sensitive to the great harm false accusations can do, and it feels awful to suspect those called to holiness of perverting these dynamics. Nonetheless, perversion has obviously happened — especially, it seems, in Catholic seminaries.

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Predator Cover Up

 

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Group Writing: Shaping the Political Will: Abortion

 
23 Jan 1995, Washington, DC, USA — Young Pro-Life Supporters at March for Life Rally — Image by © Mark Peterson/CORBIS

I stumbled across the home of the Teen Wire Drama Club but sheer providence. The Teen Wire Drama Clubs are sponsored by Planned Parenthood to put on skits and shows about the joys of abortion, the glories of protected pre-marital sex and to promote all the good that Planned Parenthood does in the world.

I felt like I found buried treasure. I had been a Christian for a little over a year and became very active in my local pro-life movement. I became Republican when I was eight but I had only become pro-life when I was 15. I went to school and in the government class, and two female teachers had given us the abortion argument with both barrels. Their main line of argument was that it was a woman’s body and a woman need to control her own body and it was not the government’s business to tell a woman what to do with it. Their argument was a libertarian argument: that government was bad, and I thought the government was bad. I was sure I needed to be pro-choice. My pro-choice phase lasted about five hours. Once both my parents were home they began talking about the news and I volunteered that I was pro-choice now. My Dad put down his paper in shock. My mother’s jaw dropped and she asked me in a pained, anxious voice, “Brian come here for a little while we need to talk with you.”

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Wisdom from America’s #1 Upper-Class Twit

 

Now we know the economic value of every abortion, thanks to the highly credentialed, brilliant Chelsea Clinton:

It is not a disconnected fact — to address this t-shirt of 1973 — that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy. Right?

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Friday Roundup

 

Every Friday, I’m going to (try to) round up some interesting pieces or stories you may have missed. I’ll try to stick mostly to news, but there’s a few opinion stories that jump out every now and then. Please share with me in the comments some stories you think are deserving of more attention.

 

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Multiculturalism Is Naive, Cowardly, and Continues to Kill

 

It’s been a busy and challenging week for the adherents of multiculturalism. A few days ago, one Salih Khater, originally from Sudan, ran over pedestrians with his car near the Houses of Parliament in London. Not the first such terrorist incident in the UK, where to speak openly about the murderous mandates in the Quran is considered bigoted and rude and is likely to get one labeled as a racist or member of the far-right by politicians, pundits, and news anchors. Then there’s this headline from The Daily Wire: “American Couple Believing ‘Evil Is A Make-Believe Concept’ Bike Through Territory Near Afghan Border. ISIS Stabs Them To Death.”

A young American couple who took a year-long bike trip around the world, believing that evil was a make-believe concept, took a fatal route through ISIS territory in Tajikistan, where alleged ISIS terrorists stabbed them to death.

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Will Smith and the Will to Succeed

 

As the summer reaches peak heat and humidity, my overheated brain turned to the interaction of Will and will. Will Smith’s greatest artistic work was about the will to succeed. It blew apart the dominant cultural narratives, of black men as economic losers, and of American capitalism as a rigged system. At the same time, Will did not sugarcoat reality, faithfully conveying Chris Gardner’s autobiographical story about the pursuit of happiness.

Will Smith leveraged a middle-class safe-rapper persona into the starring role in a situation comedy, from which he launched into Hollywood stardom. In the late 1980s, he performed as The Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff, achieving enough success to attract the attention of television studios. “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” was a play on the old Beverly Hillbillies, updated with a streetwise kid from Philadelphia being sent to live with relatives in Bel Air.

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By Request: This Time, We’ll Win, Honest, We Will!

 

A rather enthralling bit of reading suggested by my muse, facilitated by another friend, (who graciously lent the print book, and shared this invaluable timeline of events) and augmented by several conversations here, here, and here led me to these ruminations. Peter Hopkirk’s masterful survey of “the struggle for Central Asia” The Great Game, takes us from inter-tribal raids [ca. 711] to a conference table in St. Petersburg [in August, 1907] where representatives of a nearly-toppled Czarist regime and a cash-strapped England sign the “Anglo-Russian Convention” to bring this phase of “the Great Game” to a close.

The book’s cast of larger-than-life rulers, adventurers, diplomats, and military men (sometimes rolled into one) has a sweep from perpendicular sand dunes to uncharted (until then) mountain passes blanketed in snow, to lavish palaces paid for by raids – and tribute exacted from conquered peoples. It has a cinematic feel. David Lean and Maurice Jarre might well have done it justice. To put the scope in perspective, when the contest began in earnest – early in the 19th century – the frontiers of the two imperial powers lay two thousand miles apart. They wound their way across vast deserts and almost-impenetrable mountain ranges. As the Game anticlimactically ended – early in the 20th century – a mere 20 miles separated the two rivals. As I read, Hopkirk’s vivid word-crafting brought me along. Sometimes in ways that made reading at bedtime inadvisable.

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