Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. If I Were Your Writing Coach, I Would Start You at the Beginning


Your first line is the most important of your written work. It is like the door to your house or business. You want it to be inviting so the reader will feel welcome and come for a visit in the world you have created. If the door to your house is chipped and scuffed and needs painting or refinishing and maybe the screen on the storm door is hanging loose, people might be a little hesitant to come visit. If you want to be a professional writer, your first line is the door to your business. If the opening of your written work is sloppy or uninteresting, why would the reader want to move on to the next line? If the first paragraph is dull or passive or even seemingly evasive through being non-specific, why would a reader want to bother reading the second paragraph? You don’t want your reader to feel like they have entered a rough part of town where few of the houses are maintained.

As mentioned in the previous entry of this series, I critique a fair number of works of art before they are seen by the public. While I have critiqued works of visual and industrial art, my forte is in the written word. I have helped other authors develop poems, short stories, novellas, novels, and even non-fiction works. I often come across the same issues in the works of many authors, especially those who are amateurs or just trying to break into the profession. This conversation will highlight one of these common issues and errors: the weak opening.

Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died at 87


BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died from complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the Supreme Court said.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The COVID-19 Pacification Project Continues Apace


I know, I promised that COVID-19: Case Closed would be my last COVID-19 post. But I am well and truly fed up and must express it somehow. Today’s trigger is actually from two sources: (1) PowerLine blog’s CORONAVIRUS IN ONE STATE (101) post where Scott Johnson’s formulation of “Governor Walz’s continuing pacification program” was pitch perfect, and (2) a report about the “gold standard” PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 delivering false positive results for reasons that are both simple to understand and maddeningly simple to resolve if someone could be bothered to do so.

That COVID-19 is now a “pacification project” and not a health emergency is beyond question. We will always have disease — it is why we have invested so heavily in medical research, training, and care. Mother Nature is a bitch who keeps trying to “cull the herd” with a focus on promoting reproduction and little else. Mankind has used its intelligence to make ourselves more at risk from each other than from Mother Nature. Nevertheless Mother Nature keeps coming at us and always will.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Refugees from Woke America


Woke “culture” has created hostile environments in universities, blue cities, and corporations across the nation. Some people will meekly submit to constant “all white people are racist” verbal abuse, but some will vote with their feet.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Happened on Fox When Gingrich Mentioned Soros?


Something odd happened on Fox when former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a guest on the show Outnumbered, mentioned George Soros as one of the people funding the radical segments of our society, including BLM, the riots, etc. He was cut off by two of the panel, and an awkward pause ensued. Then they cut him off and proceeded to talk about another story.

Soros has been accused of buying the media and fueling government disruptions across the globe for decades. A critical election is seven weeks out and much of the media is biased toward the liberal agenda and beyond. Fox remains one of the few forums that offer alternative thought, including news stories that many will not touch. So what happened when Newt used the “S” word on their show? You be the judge:

This week on America’s Most Benevolent Podcast®, another super-sized episode. First up, the Middle East is breaking out in…peace. That’s good, right? Well, depends who you ask. We discuss. Then, our good pal Dr. Jay Bhattacharya joins to bring us up to speed on the coming vaccine, the (very treacherous) intersection of politics and medicine, whether or not the lockdown was a mistake, and more. The Lileks Post of The Week makes its triumphant return with a terrific post by @kirkianwanderer, Say Goodnight, Blue Eyes”: George Burns on Best Friends. Finally, are you as confused about the social media app Tik-Tok as Peter Robinson? If so, Rob Long is here to explain it to you. Maybe he should make a short video about it?

Music from this week’s episode: What Time Is It by Marshall Crenshaw

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Problem with America’s Public Schools


The experts mean well, but a centralized system cannot possibly have that degree of personal concern for each individual child that we have as parents. The centralization produces deadening uniformity, it destroys the experimentation that is the fundamental source of progress. What we need to do is to enable parents, by vouchers or other means, to have more say about the school which their child goes to, a public school or a private school, whichever meets the need of the child best.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Stanley Crouch, RIP


Due to an unlikely circumstance (I was editor of Forbes ASAP, which had just published it annual Big Issue and I wanted to celebrate with some of its contributors), I traveled East from Silicon Valley and hosted a dinner one night at Elaine’s, the legendary New York City watering hole for writers.

I ended up having Tom Wolfe sitting on one side of me and Stanley Crouch on the other (and George Plimpton stopped by the say hello). Sounds like one of those mythical Gotham literary scene stories, doesn’t it? Well, not quite. Wolfe nudged me and said, “I’ve always hated this place. And the food is horrible.” He stuck around for about an hour, then politely excused himself.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. “Goodness” on the Biden Campaign Trail


The Biden campaign has decided to ignore policy and ideology. Biden is presented to us as if he just arrived on the scene in his white hat on his white mount: a man of integrity, empathy, and, as uttered by that most eminent of Hollywood caricatures, Judge Elihu Smails, “goodness.” He scolds, he criticizes, he assumes this ludicrous mantle of goodness, and from his high horse, attempts to draw a contrast between himself and the obviously oafish, uncouth, unworthy, orange, Trump.

This is a pretty good pitch, designed to appeal to the white, female, suburban voter. You know the type: she believes herself to be more nuanced than mere partisanship. Left or right, she refuses to see the world in such terms. She may object to abortion, for example, or she may actually believe in limited governance, but she is really frightened of guns and likes her nice neighborhood with its nice schools for her children. She might believe that she is “independent” but she is really just unengaged. If she took the time to study the issues (which she will not; independents like to say they are informed, but what they really are is intellectually lazy) she would likely align far more with Trump than Biden. But she will not. She will vote with her gut. She is malleable, hence the campaign strategy. Biden good. Trump bad.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hoist Them On Their Own Petard, Betsy!


I’m a bit giddy with schadenfreude. It’s probably because I’m a nerd of a lawyer.

Betsy DeVos has been a terrific Secretary of Education. Yesterday, her department sent a letter to the President of Princeton about Princeton’s admission of racism. Here are some excerpts (citations omitted)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What a Lazy Morning


I got up this morning at 0758, which is later than usual. The reason was the pouring rain and darkness outside (thank you, Sally). The sound of rain hitting the roof and lack of light contributed to my laziness. When I finally made it downstairs, @neutralobserver was in the recliner reading instead of her usual spot at the computer. Then I looked out one of the front windows:

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Mystery of the Minneapolis Crime Spike


Two months ago, the Minneapolis City Council voted to eliminate the police department, and over 100 officers have since quit the force. Yesterday, according to Fox News, the Council grilled Police Chief Medaria Arrandondo demanding to know why there’s been a spike in crimes such as “carjackings, robberies, assaults, shootings and street racing”:

“Residents are asking, ‘Where are the police?’” said Council Member Jamal Osman, noting that constituents’ calls to the Minneapolis Police Department have gone unanswered. “That is the only public safety option they have at the moment. MPD. They rely on MPD. And they are saying they are nowhere to be seen.”

Sara gets personal as she explains how President Trump is ushering in the beginning of the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, she saw nothing but hostility towards Israel, so the Abraham Accords are a huge step in the right direction. Sara and Trump campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley discuss the mood at the White House as the peace deal was signed on Tuesday

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Factional Conservatives


My impression of the Conservative movement over the course of the last 80 years is that we have lost our grip on some things and doubled 0ur grip on others. I was once asked to write what I think conservativism is. That was so long ago. The asker is no longer here, but finally I think I can give an answer.

I wrote in a comment recently that I think the modern conservative movement has had inconsistent results because there is an internal argument on what conservatism should look like. I think a lot of that came to a head with the Ahmari vs. French debate, and while I think Ahmari is smarter than French and I agree with him more than I agree with French, both have good points… I think.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Which Story Will Last?


“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write. There is a certain embarrassment about being a storyteller in these times when stories are considered not quite as satisfying as statements and statements not quite as satisfying as statistics; but in the long run, a people is known, not by its statements or its statistics, but by the stories it tells.”* — Flannery O’Connor, 1957

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, I’m quoting Flannery O’Connor this month because an effort has begun to “cancel” her, which is not surprising as she was a Catholic in good standing who supported what is good in Western Culture and the Christian faith. (Along with being one of the great writers of the 20th century.)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Quote from Rush, and a Never-Trumper Considers Voting for Trump


This is a scary quote from Rush’s show yesterday:

I think if the Democrats win, then it’s hello one-party rule, and it is one-party rule of a bunch of Marxists and Leninists and uber-left wing radicals who are not interested in a two-party system. They don’t believe in opposition. There is no legitimate opposition. Black Lives Matter operates that away. Antifa operates that way. The Democrat Party operates that way. There’s no reason to have debate. There’s no legitimate opposition.

School is back in session, but let’s face it, education is probably not going to be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic—and that’s a good thing.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. If I Had Been a Jew in Eishyshok. . .


It’s not often I claim I’ve read a book that has changed my life. But this one did. And I thank @ontheleftcoast for telling me about it. Although I have studied the Holocaust over the years, I had never read a story about life in the shtetl, a small town with primarily Jewish residents in Eastern Europe.

This book, There Once was a World, was written by Yaffa Eliach, whose parents were Moshe and Zipporah Sonenson. This family, prosperous in Eishyshok terms, was also a pillar of the community, generous, compassionate, learned, and devoted to Judaism. The book also provided stories of individuals and families, and descriptions of Jewish life, from Torah study to the requirements of the faith.

The Federal Trade Commission is a century-old agency facing some of the most cutting-edge technologies and issues of our time. How should an agency apply old laws to new technologies?

To conclude the Gray Center’s series of podcast conversations on innovation and regulation, Commissioner Noah Phillips joins Adam White to discuss issues ranging from the nondelegation doctrine, to agency structure and process, to issues like market competition and personal privacy. This live webinar was recorded on September 2, 2020.

The King of Stuff welcomes Erielle Davidson, a senior policy analyst at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) following the historic peace deals between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. She is an alumna of both the Hoover Institution and Claremont Institute, and has written for The Federalist, Washington Examiner, and The National Interest.

Jon and Erielle discuss the success of the Abraham Accords, the failures of the Iran Deal, and the absence of press coverage on both.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Strong, Intelligent Woman


Ben Shapiro commented on a Twitter post from a woman who decided that hysterically screaming obscenities was a good thing to share with everyone. Someone purporting to be a doctor apparently thinks that hysterically screaming obscenities is the definition of strength and intelligence:

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Some Biden Questions


Some questions for Joe Biden and also, perhaps, for his supporters.

  1.  Why do we never see a wide camera shot of the audience at a Biden campaign event? I suspect it would be an embarrassment to the campaign in that it would confirm the lack of people or the lack of enthusiasm for the candidate. The fact that Joe can read a speech off the prompter and you never hear a reaction might be a giveaway that there may not be an audience.
  2.  Will any reporter ever call his refusal to answer questions what it is, cowardice or fear to expose himself and his departing faculties?
  3.  Will he ever give an unbiased reporter a sit-down interview? By that, I mean someone other than Stephanopolous, Todd, or Tapper (all former Dem operatives) or sometime commentators like Cardi B.
  4. Has anyone ever said that the Democratic Party needs to lose big in order to reinvent the party of Truman, Scoop Jackson, Sam Nunn, Moynihan, or any patriotic blue dog? Isn’t it true that should Biden win (God forbid), we will be told it was due to the progressive support? If he loses, won’t we be told that the party needs to become even more progressive?
  5. Biden told a bizarre story to his veterans’ meeting Tuesday. He said a Marine vet suffering from a brain injury got into his Dodge Ram truck, ran down a woman and her dog, killed her, loaded the woman into the truck, drove her to a sand pile, and then molested her. Beside the impression that we should fear vets (by the way, I am a vet, though not a wartime vet), has anyone ever heard this story before? I haven’t and I tried to find it on the internet but couldn’t. I won’t say it is just Joe being Joe, but I remain skeptical. Does anyone know if this happened? Anyone?
    If any Ricochetti has any answers, I await them.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. America’s Pre-Pandemic Economy Demonstrated the Power of Productivity-Driven Market Capitalism


For believers in “late capitalism” — the idea that we’ve reached the terminal phase of the planet’s dominant socio-economic system — the new Census Bureau numbers should have been unsettling. Data for 2019 show median US income rose nearly 7 percent to $68,703. “Rising employment and broad-based wage increases in 2019 helped drive that uptick” is how officials explain the increase, according to The Washington Post.

Of course, maybe the gloomers and doomers can take some bizarre comfort in the possibility that the numbers were distorted to some degree by data collection issues related to the pandemic. Even setting aside these Census numbers, there is plenty of reason that “late” makes for a poor choice of adjective when talking about American market capitalism. For starters, the story of wage growth in 2018 and 2019 is that wages were rising at a decent clip given so-so productivity growth. And that’s for workers in the top, middle, and bottom third. And that’s accounting for inflation. And that’s even separating out the minimum wage. You can mostly thank a long economic expansion.