Trivia Question for the Football Fans Out There…

 

Who was the last Ohio college to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes? Ohio State has won an impressive 43 straight in-state games since that loss, but they have lost to Ohio opponents before. Do you know who beat them?

In 1921, immediately after winning the Rose Bowl, Ohio State lost to Oberlin, by a score of 7-6. Ohio State’s only touchdown was on a blocked punt, and they missed the extra point. The game was in Columbus, in front of 10,000 fans.

This year, the Buckeyes are 10-1, and Oberlin is 1-9 (beating only Hiram College 31-28). So if a rematch was held today, it might go differently. But you never know. And apparently, Ohio State doesn’t want to find out – they didn’t schedule Oberlin this year.

What a 2,000-Year-Old Story Can Teach America

 

Every month I’ve been leading a group on Zoom to discuss some aspect of Judaism that we all may not know much about. Although some of my research describes familiar practices and beliefs, almost everyone learns something new. This month we discussed Chanukah, which begins very early on the secular calendar on November 28. We reviewed not only the familiar stories, but I realized that everyone, American Jews and non-Jews alike, have opportunities to reframe the way we see our lives during a season that is holy for many. These are the insights that emerged for me.

The Lighting of the Chanukah candles—

Most people probably know that Jews light eight candles, plus the shamash, which is the lead candle. The candles are lit to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah: when the Maccabees liberated the Temple from the Seleucids and restored and cleaned it, they found only one pure cruse of oil remaining. It was enough to burn for one day, but it burned for eight days, until additional oil arrived. To Jews, the miracle was a reminder that G-d was once again with us. The shamash, which is used to light the other candles, serves as the leader in this process. It “lights the way” to remind us of the miracle of the holiday.

Why Are Jews Businessmen?

 

Lots of things in life rely on instability to thrive.  Think of “Necessity is the mother of invention,” or even, “No pain, no gain.” But mankind (and womankind, especially) also have a deep and visceral fear of insecurity and risk.  Stability is planning for the long haul, while instability means being able to improvise and function “in the moment.” No person can live a good and full life at either extreme – those who live to avoid all risks are not living, and those who embrace all risks will not live for long.

But for some reason, Jews are more risk-tolerant than the average person. Why?

Burned Out on Reality or Who Cares How Kamala Harris Spends $500?

 

A restlessness is pervading my soul. I’m tired of the horrid news, the insolubility of the issues, the repetitiveness of the ideas and my own inability to do something productive, when hopelessness seems impossible to shake off.

And this morning, I heard all the outrage about Kamala’s disgusting behavior in France when she bought a bowl and a pot at the insane price of $500—how dare she? When our own televisions and refrigerators are stalled indefinitely in storage containers in the ports of our great country.

CovidLand

 

I’ve been leaving CovidLand every weekend now for about eight weeks. It started with my vacation in western New York, then continued as I started the “restoration” of the dining room (i.e., removing the old wallpaper and painting) in the family’s western Pennsylvania home. Mom has set the deadline as Thanksgiving, when we expect about a dozen or more family to come to dinner. A far cry from the 30 or more that was a regular feature of my childhood, but a vast improvement over last year’s six.

Funny thing about that. We never asked if we should limit it to six last year. It was before any vaccine, and the family is aging to the point it just seemed prudent not to expose a lot of the older members of the extended family to the risk. Another funny thing. This year mom was shooting for 20, and we didn’t ask anyone about that either. You see, we don’t live in CovidLand.

Behind the Scenes Fun of the Day: Complex Rivers of Cash

 

I often throw around the “completely corrupt” theme somewhat flippantly when talking about our beltway betters and the charade they perform for us while enriching themselves. Unfortunately, as definitive as that simple phrase may be, it really does understate just how much the operations of this Potemkin constitutional republic have been distorted and bastardized into one hell of a joke on us, We the People.

Before I dive in, it is worth noting up front (via my quick, morning internet search) that the current annual salary for both a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Congressman is $174,000. It is also worth noting that all of the quotes to come are from a 2013 book called Extortion – How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Your Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets by Peter Schweizer so it may be somewhat dated. If there has been a major government reform movement since then that I have missed, please accept my apologies and disregard this entire post.

When Will a Revolution Begin?

 

As crackdowns proceed on the unvaccinated in some countries and all people in other places, the pressure on the population increases. I wonder where the breaking point will be reached and there will be uprisings against governments. We may be getting close in some countries to a revolt by the police and military.

Do people think this will happen in the near future (say in the next six months)? If so, where will it happen? Possibilities are Australia, Austria, and Italy. A revolt in one country could quickly lead to strife elsewhere. Governments are playing with fire. People are seeing how ineffective crackdowns are in fighting COVID. Ignoring natural immunity is making people question the wisdom of public health authorities. The vaccines are less effective than promised and are less safe than they would have us believe. They are being pushed on the young, who are not at risk. It’s almost as if we are being lied to on a massive scale.

Humor Writing 101

 

Atlantic.com, Molly Jong-Fast:

I’m here to tell you Thanksgiving is terrible, and if you at least spend the time trying to deprogram your niece, you won’t be bored or depressed (though you might be enraged that Fox News or Infowars has convinced her Trump can ‘save America’ from Joe Biden’s radical agenda of giving people hearing aids and free pre-K). Maybe it won’t work. Maybe you’ll leave Thanksgiving dinner as divided as you were when you sat down at the table five hours and 4,000 calories ago. Or maybe you’ll plant the seed, sow just a little doubt about whatever Tucker Carlson is saying now. Maybe you’ll even change a heart or a mind. Maybe you’ll bring the temperature down just a tiny bit. Or maybe you’ll need to report a relative to the FBI! Either way, it’s something to do besides just eat.

It Is Truly Right and Just to Give Thanks

 

Today is the great American holiday of Thanksgiving. It’s not a religious holiday, and yet it is religious. It is a day to thank God for all the blessings he has given us. Since all religions, I think, thank God in some way and since we have many religions in the United States living side by side, this is a perfect American holiday. One that we can all share.

But we Catholics know gratitude to the Lord in a special way. Every Mass as part of the Eucharistic Prayer (part of the consecration of the bread and wine) we offer God our thanks. This exchange which leads to the Eucharistic Prayer should be familiar to Catholics.

Lighter Feasting for the Holidays

 

CornbreadI clipped two dessert recipes from the November 1982 issue of Chicago Magazine, “Best of Dines, Worst of Dines.” Four decades later, they are still in my recipe file. One is complex and very rich, while the other is true simplicity and light in both preparation time and calories. I further simplified the simple recipe to universal acclaim this past week. For Thanksgiving, I will prepare a cranberry relish, made from scratch, that is both flavorful and ridiculously healthy. I suspect I will also make cornbread muffins, relatively healthier than general-purpose flour breads. What tasty, tempting recipes have you enjoyed with Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts and parties?

When I first carried the two restaurant dessert recipes away from school in Chicago, I took the first occasion to wow home audiences. The first was a flourless chocolate cake, that requires a springform pan. This was gluten-free before gluten-free was a thing. The volume of the cake is created by six egg whites beaten stiff. The substance comes from finely chopped nuts. The chocolate is semisweet. For garnish, either dust with powdered sugar (perhaps with a pattern/stencil) or follow the original recipe for another level of chocolate ganache. If you like chocolate, if you really like chocolate, you will love this.

The other recipe, even in its original form, is far simpler, far quicker, and far lighter. Pears, poached, with fresh berries, reduced to a sauce over low heat, that is all. Now the details.

The Value of Appreciation

 

Gratitude is an admission of weakness, of need. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why children have such a hard time saying, “thank you.” “Thank you” is proof of the existence of what a woke person would call a power imbalance.

But “thank you” is also so important because it is part of what makes a good society. In a primitive or nature-worshipping society, might makes right. Nobody powerful needs to be nice because they can simply take what they want.

Norm Macdonald’s Thanksgiving Speech

 

Norm Macdonald was a regular guest on Dennis Miller’s radio show back in 2010 or so. My Thanksgiving tradition is to listen to Macdonald’s speech about the many things he’s thankful for. Here’s my transcription; audio included below.

Firstly, I’m thankful for the fine ladies who live across this country and leave pies on their windowsills, so an old chunk of coal like me might have a meal from time to time.

I’m thankful for all of my five children, especially the one that I like.

FEC: Foreign Nationals Can Contribute to American Ballot Initiatives

 

The Federal Election Commission attracts little public attention. Oh, sure, there are advocacy groups like Common Cause who often attempt to influence FEC deliberations. People like me who (used to) run political action committees (PACs) or work with federal election campaigns pay careful attention.

But on November 2, election day in Virginia, New Jersey, and other states, the FEC reported on the results of a recent vote to dismiss a “matter under review” (MUR, in the language of Washington acronyms).

What caught my attention – and that of Axios, a center-left online media outlet – was a rare 4-2 bipartisan vote. The Democratic chair, Shana Broussard, joined the three Republicans to dismiss a challenge made by a pro-environmental coalition group in Montana pushing for clean water standards for hard-rock mining operations.

A Night Out at the Mall

 

I get the daily email from Morning Brew. It is a left-of-center recap of business news. While I generally ignore the jabs at the Republicans and Trump (still!!), this was such a hoot that I had to share.

The article was regarding the recent damages to businesses in California from organized looting and “smash and grab,” which suggested various causes.

The Lunacy of Government Programs

 

We’ve all seen them, the Medicare TV ads exhorting seniors to apply for enhanced benefits. Government appears to be coaxing often reluctant retirees into greater dependence.

But this is a colossally bad idea, even for those of us who support helping citizens in their sunset years. It stimulates greed (it’s freeeee!) and entitlement in the demographic which government programs have already made into the most wealthy. It expands the reach of government into our lives.

Honoring Norman Rockwell: America’s Painter

 

“Four Freedoms,” 1943

Norman Rockwell was not a realist. You aren’t supposed to interpret his paintings as depictions of everyday America as it actually was. No one who lived during his lifetime considered America a hunky-dory paradise populated only by upstanding and friendly citizens. The America he painted was one we wanted, the one we strove for, America as promised by our founding ideals. He focused on the best parts of our country. His artwork is aspirational, not delusional; optimistic, not whitewashed.

Thanksgiving Lesson From Linus

 

Did you catch “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” on PBS this week? The most memorable line was from Linus’ moment at the table, thanking God and the settlers for the first Thanksgiving. The Peanuts gang included a colorful mixed bag of guests, including a special dog, a bird, and that famous piano music. No social justice message or censorship of history, just a simple prayer.

I vaguely remember as we approached Thanksgiving in grade school one year, we were asked to dress up as either a pilgrim or an Indian. I dug out shiny buckle-looking earrings from my aunt’s jewelry box and clipped them to my loafers. We drew pictures of turkeys with crayons by outlining our hands and got bags of candy corn. We learned about that famous first dinner and the sharing of food between two cultures. In spite of all that is going on in the world, we are the only country with this one very special holiday. Millions will take a journey just to share a drumstick with those they love.

The Great Ricochet Holiday Cooking Show and Tell, 2021 Edition

 

Ladies and Gentlemen (and the rest of you too, of course), start your engines!

I’ve handicapped myself (because whatever privilege the English enjoy, cooking isn’t it, as many of you have kindly reminded me over the years), and I’ve given myself a head start. Because I need one. So far, I’m three Christmas puddings (should do this Christmas and the next two) and a fruitcake in.

The pudds are this recipe. It’s not one I’ve tried before, but I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Tony Chung and QAnon Shaman

 

Is the simulation playing with us? Scott Adams (although not exclusively) speculates that we live in a simulation in which we are all characters operating under the direction of a program. As a character within the simulation, we cannot comprehend our existence as program objects but for our ability to notice some events occurring that seem inexplicable other than as humor on the part of the system operating the simulation. (A humorist such as Adams would find this theory quite appealing.)

There are two events occurring in a suitably compressed time period to make one wonder whether this is the simulation winking at us yet again:

This Thanksgiving, Choose Gratitude over Grievance

 

Political commentators spend most of their days following the awful things happening in the world. Bad news, after all, is what dominates the news cycle.

War, death, poverty, and injustice (and the occasional cat video) fill our laptop screens from the moment we wake until we go to bed. By the fourth day of the workweek, it’s easy to cycle between outrage and despair.

People on all sides succumb to this emotional low road, which is why there’s so much anger about failed politicians, terrible policies, and broken promises. Our grandparents would yell at the newspaper, our parents at the TV, but now everyone can hear our complaints. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube spread everyone’s misery worldwide.

‘Stuck in the Middle With You’

 

Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you – Stealers Wheel

I’ve seen some comments about police officers refusing to do their jobs so I’ll offer you a basic primer on policing and authority.