The late Sam Kinison, an incomparably loud and invariably offensive comedian, once delivered a comedy routine about famine. He remarked that whenever he sees heart-rending scenes of famine victims he wonders, “How come the film crew didn’t just give the kid a sandwich? How come you never see that? What are they afraid of”that it would spoil the shot?”
His famine routine was really very funny. In a twisted way it was also trenchant. The “Camera or Sandwich” problem is a good starting point for examining any human problem. Is it better to try to collect lots of insights about many issues than to get bogged down in particular problems involving particular people?
Earlier this year, the Arlington County School Board voted unanimously to rename Washington-Lee High School (mascot: The Generals). Now, I can drive on Lee Highway, through Arlington County (named for the home of Robert E. Lee), to the more virtuously styled Washington-Liberty High School. Surely Lee has enough monuments and memorials to him that we don’t need to worry that history will forget him entirely, but is this trend of erasing disfavored historical figures necessary or helpful?
Specific memorials can be attacked and defended on their individuals merits, but in general, they are an invitation to learn about history. I recently happened to visit the Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington, VA. It’s a modest building of brick and stone, with a small garden out back. While I knew who Stonewall Jackson was before I took the tour and browsed the museum’s small bookstore, I actually didn’t know much about the man, and I didn’t know what to make of the tour guide’s assertion that Jackson would have preferred a quiet life of obscurity in Lexington. I’ve since picked up a copy of the late James I. Robertson’s biography, Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. Reading the first-hand accounts of the man and the times leading up to the Civil War, it’s hard not to acknowledge the complexity of the choices that he made.More
SEBASTIAN (Claude Raines):
She awakens and looks at the clock on her night stand.
MME. SEBASTIAN (Leopoldine Konstantin)
Why are you up so early?
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” — President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 19, 1863
Since Lincoln’s delivery 156 years ago, the Gettysburg Address has been parsed and analyzed for its meaning and importance.* I don’t intend to offer my own analysis, but rather to commemorate Lincoln’s eloquence on that day. This post’s title is referring to recent Ricochet posts with the title “Fewer Words” because I think Lincoln’s speech is one of the best examples of how brevity can improve communication.More
Any discussion of service should eventually consider the subject of tipping. Is the act of leaving a tip for a service employee a form of tax or is it a moment of altruism? Do you as a buyer of services expect to find a linear relationship between the size of your tip and the amount of service delivered or do you just automatically do the math in your head and write it on the bill?
As a lifelong student at the School of Hard Knocks- College of Food Service I can tell you that it is a subject of much discussion, infinite aggravation and a huge component of overall income earned. Of course, tipping is utilized in many service industries besides food service. Taxicabs, hotels, hairdressers and tour guides come to mind. Since my experience is most with food service, I will confine this discussion to one topic: Why don’t we just eliminate tipping and add the full cost of running the business and paying a living wage to the menu prices?More
The Quote of the Day is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. You don’t have to be intelligent, pithy, or eloquent yourself. You can share a written passage that you find interesting, or even something from a favorite movie. You can present the naked quote, or add your thoughts on how it […]
“Indeed, an engineer designing a structure is not unlike an artist painting one. Both start with nothing but talent, experience, and inspiration. The fresh piece of paper on the drawing board is as blank as the newly stretched piece of canvas.” — Henry Petroski
Henry Petroski has written many books on Engineering, starting with To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design. His fourth book, The Evolution of Useful Things (1992), follows a similar formula to the brilliant James Burke’s 1978 BBC/PBS series “Connections.” Burke had the advantage of better financing and the ability to hold the fickle TV audience for 50 minutes with twists and turns of his (eccentric) British viewpoint, similar to Kenneth Clark’s 1969 “Civilisation” TV Series.More
My 2004 Subaru interior needed cleaning—badly. And since I was looking to start a new job where I would be driving my car, I needed to get it done soon. I did a quick Facebook search and found a local car detailing business. The reviews were glowing. But besides the votes of confidence, it was hard to get much in the way of crucial information from what the page offered. A bead on the location would have been helpful. I called the number and the proprietor said he charged $150. I would need to leave the car all of Monday. Later, when I had questions, a couple of my text queries went unanswered.
It was a pain dropping the vehicle off. Other detailing businesses I’d seen offered to come to you with their supplies. And it complicated things that the detailing business lacked clear signage. “Across the street from the Toyota dealership” wasn’t helping me. I pulled into a body shop that seemed close to the description of where I was to turn and asked the woman behind the desk whether anyone recognized the name of the business I was looking for. No, they’d never heard of it. Customers seated against the walls of the cramped pre-fab office regarded me with interest. I pulled back out onto the busy highway and finally found the establishment behind a car wash.More
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” —Abraham Lincoln
Next week will mark the 156th anniversary of the Gettysburg address. The speech was not about the fallen but about the moral obligation their sacrifice creates for the living. In the unique case of the United States of America, soldiers fight for an ideal and for a nation based on that ideal. Our nation is not a mere emergent property of race, ethnic faction, religion, and/or territorial accident. The existence of our nation is a continuous conscious choice that must be renewed. Lincoln tells us to be the nation that was worth dying for. We must live in justice and freedom with the courage of imagination and innovation that is our national character.More
Too often my posts have seemed to meander to my boyhood days here in the Appalachians. Before long, I’ll start to hear Earl Hamner’s voice in my head as I write up these recollections (“Good night, John Boy…”). Still, it’s difficult not to recall formative events or people primarily during the 1970s. Swinging away from the Viet Nam trauma and psychedelic counter-culture; a boy had to navigate the world with little information. Our only source of news was Walter Cronkite every night and a smattering of articles from the Bristol Herald Courier.
Summers were filled with mowing lawns and baling hay. At least the hay came later when I was old enough and big enough to wrangle a bale. I imagine that old farmers whined about boys having it easy with square bales vs. loose hay as they do now about round bales vs. square. Technology has made life easier for boys at a time when they really don’t need it easier.More
“The immigrant who comes here in good faith, becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn’t doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality… We have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.”
— Theodore Roosevelt, address to the Knights of Columbus at Carnegie Hall in New York (12 October 1915)
We’ve heard conflicting arguments over what America is and who should be welcomed. I think Teddy Roosevelt’s statement makes a compelling case. America is a land of awesome wonders that millions have died for. It is not founded on a single ethnic or religious group, but a founding set of documents. If you swear to be an American, and to uphold the constitution, you are welcome here, no matter where you are from.More
I’ve been to many funerals in my life. Some were a celebration held after a long life. Some were a remembrance of a loved one gone too soon, but thankfully relieved from a vicious period of suffering. Some were really painful because the loved one was taken in a sudden tragic way. But, the highlight of every one of these services was the music. Music at a funeral is critical because one’s soul is touched by music in an incomparable way.
Mr. CowGirl and I have (jokingly) (…well, maybe not “jokingly”) told our children that the only thing that matters at our funerals IS the music. We keep compiling lists of songs that our talented children will be required to perform. There won’t necessarily be time left for eulogies or sermons because, the older we get, the more music we keep finding that defines our lives.More
“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. ” — Proverbs 18:17, English Standard Version
“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” — not Mark Twain
One of the downsides of living without a car is that you rely on delivery services or ride sharing to obtain groceries.
I decided to make use of the Walmart delivery service, which uses Doordash. When my order arrived, it was entirely wrong. All of the diet soda was regular soda, not even one of the frozen items was the correct variety. I did not want to sign for the delivery, since it was not what I requested. The driver was apologetic (he had not picked the order) and he contacted Doordash customer service.More
We had a full harvest of October Quote of the Day posts, with many making the Main Feed. The leaves are down and you might need to rake them, but you can still share your favorite quote on the November Signup Sheet. Even if it’s getting mighty cold, we make it easy to “Start a […]
It isn’t what it is. It’s never what it is. It’s what it can be made to look like. — movie Edge of Darkness starring Mel Gibson, 2010 ********************I was watching the above-named movie (which wasn’t about politics) when this line struck me as relevant to all that has been and is being revealed recently. […]
This month, we are reflecting on service of all sorts. This weekend marks the auspicious dates of Veterans/Remembrance Day, Global Victims of Communism Day, the fall of the Berlin Wall (effectively ending the Cold War), and the Marine Corps birthday. Let us turn, then to reflect on largely forgotten service, by Buffalo Soldiers, the frozen chosen, Polar Bears, and “the man who would be khan.” Each of us can look around our own communities and circles to refresh memories of those who served with honor.
“But it is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in, and settleth in it, that doth the hurt” — Francis Bacon, “Of Truth”
Which are the lies that pass through the mind and which are those that sink in? In the latter category, I’d put:More
As a child, I was always intrigued by the fact that while Christ was dying on the cross, he managed to have conversations with the two thieves who were being crucified along with Him. Despite his massive suffering, he reassured Dismas, the good thief to let him know that He would help him achieve a […]
There are some things that, when they erupt in my life, catapult me instantly back in time, or elsewhere in place or company. Certain smells, and I’m in Granny’s kitchen five or six decades ago. Or, it’s the early 1970s, and I’m cleaning fish on Court Brothers’ wharf in Rustico Harbour, PEI. Or perhaps I’m wandering around Kano Market in 1960, eyes and nose running at the variety of pungent spices and out-of-this-world hot peppers for sale, or just for breathing-in. (I’m thankful it’s only on rare occasions these days, that a redolent something wafts by and reminds me of the camels.) Particular colors, and my sister appears before me, as I think about how well a pair of earrings would suit her, or what use she could make of a gorgeous skein of yarn.
Flowers and landscapes–reminders of childhood, of places I’ve visited, of places I love–reminders of beloved friends, some still here, some, seemingly lost to me forever. All, at one time or another, a part of my life. All, when they happen now, becoming themselves a part of my life today.More