Against Returning to Normal?

 

Many Twitter “blue checks” are panicked over a “return to normal.” While the coronavirus pandemic was barely a month old, the Delaware County (PA) Council posted a Facebook video conference with repeated references to the well-meaning but nauseating platitudes of the day, including our “new normal” and “we’re all in this together.”

My eyes rolled so far back that I could almost see my sinuses. This was not my idea of “normal.” And if “we’re all in this together,” why were we more divided than ever?

Mixing Orwell and Huxley Is Bad Tactic for the Democrats

 

In “1984,” George Orwell feared that Big Brother would use fear and force to gain control of society. In “Brave New World,” Aldous Huxley feared that force would not be necessary, and that government could gain control of the population by doing everything for them. The people wouldn’t think that they were oppressed, because they had lost interest in thinking for themselves. As Neil Postman put it in his foreword to “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (emphasis mine):

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

For decades, the American left has been using Huxley’s “Brave New World” not as a form of literature, but rather as an instruction manual for gaining control of a previously free society. And it has been working just as well as Huxley feared. This is why every Democrat since FDR has fought against means-testing for Social Security – they want us all on the take. Just let government take care of everything. As George W. Bush said, “When someone is hurting, government has to act.” Once government takes responsibility for all our troubles, then we no longer need to take responsibility for ourselves. Which is nice. But Mr. Huxley knows where all this is going. And now that Democrats control the White House, Congress, and our elections, we’re starting to find out. Why are we just finding this out now? Because we didn’t listen to Mr. Huxley, who wrote “Brave New World” 90 years ago, in 1931.

Dr. Jay Goes Lib

 

Herewith, our own Dr. Jay Bhattacharya in a discussion with that uber liberal, Naomi Wolf. I note that, whereas during his most recent appearances with us here on Ricochet, Dr. Jay goes tieless–see, for example, this week’s Ricochet Podcast–here he wears both a tie and a jacket. But he’s so ineffably charming here that we’ll let that pass.

Baltimore: Should We Laugh or Cry?

 

Truth be told, I have had no connections to Baltimore, Maryland since my ancestors landed there in 1703. (Although the city wasn’t officially founded until 1729, the initial settlement was established in 1661.) Eventually, those ancestors chose to move westward; at least as far as Ohio.

As I was growing up, it seemed that many of my sports heroes were located in Baltimore (Johnny U. and Raymond Berry for the Colts; Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell for the Orioles). Still, I knew very little about the City. That being said, I don’t think I’m interested in learning much more.

Cruising the Ancient Mediterranean in a Modern Cruise Ship

 

Eric Flint’s Assiti Shards stories are alternate history series where people from the present are cast into the past by shards of time-shifting artwork striking the Earth. It started with “1632,” with a West Virginia small town transposed with space from Thirty Years War Germany. In 2017, a new branch of the series began. In “The Alexander Inheritance,” cruise ship Queen of the Sea gets sent back to the ancient Mediterranean, the year after Alexander the Great’s death.

“The Macedonian Hazard,” by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett continues Queen of the Sea’s ancient voyage. It follows the cruise ship’s adventures navigating the narrow waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the narrow minds of Seleucid leaders attempting to control pieces of Alexander the Great’s disintegrating empire.

The Queen of the Sea won uneasy neutrality in “The Alexander Inheritance,” becoming a floating embassy for the various civilizations ringing the Mediterranean. It hosts passengers from most, serving as a platform where they parley. It also crossed the Atlantic to establish a settlement on Trinidad, from which it extracts fuel to keep the ship going.

The Bad Side of History

 

I’ve never cared for the phrase the wrong side of history, perhaps because it is so often invoked by progressives to justify the grinding away of traditions and values of which I approve and that I think we will miss. When invoked as a defense of as-yet unrealized ambitions, it’s presumptuous: who really knows, after all, how history will judge the latest transformative social experiment?

Speculating about future history’s take on our times is always a high-risk endeavor. Just ask Martin Luther King Jr. or Theodor Geisel, if you doubt that. Or Andrew Cuomo, for that matter.

The Great Books

 

Remember those 71 volumes of the Harvard Classics that you felt bound to read but after many minor starts, you set aside a volume and got lost in that detective series? So many books; so little time.

Well, the dreaded Amazon has published on Kindle all 71 volumes in one mostly well-linked file for a mere $1.99. Worth the price. Only 37,451 pages. I always have five or six books I’m reading, switching from one to the other, depending on my mood.

Happy Birthday, Dad: The ‘Gremlin in the Petrol Tank’ Edition

 

One of the enduring memes (if we had had such a word to describe them at the time) of my childhood would have been my Dad’s invocation of the “gremlin in the petrol tank.” He was prone to bring it up in any situation where something unexpected happened and a thing that was supposed to have taken a finite amount of time, or achieved a particular outcome, either disappointed in the first instance, or didn’t perform as advertised in the second. Over time, we kids began to take it for granted. “Oh, yeah. There’s must be a gremlin in the petrol tank. No wonder it took so long. No wonder it didn’t work.”

But, as we grew up, and as we demanded more in the way of Science! dare I say, we began to doubt. Was Dad simply saying this to cover up a defect in planning or execution? Or was there, as Paul Harvey might have said, a “rest of the story?” Dear readers, in Dad’s own words–on what would have been his 102nd birthday–here’s the “rest of the story,” told through the eyes of a young and vulnerable Dad.

The events recounted here took place in 1947 or so; he’d have been in his late twenties and hadn’t been in Nigeria very long. (For the record, I have no knowledge of the “girl in Lincolnshire,” who appears in this tale rather like Coleridge’s “person from Porlock” and as far as I know, she is never mentioned again anywhere in Dad’s writings. I’m just grateful she took herself off and left the field clear for my mother. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been a me, and I wouldn’t have had such a Dad. But here I am. And without further ado, here he is, too):

Democrats Gone Wild!

 

Under single-party rule, the internecine battles are generally more interesting than their debates with their opposition. Partially because corruption is so easy and rampant under single-party rule. But also because, with no meaningful opposition, the ruling party can do whatever it wants. So under these circumstances, you really find out who these people are and what motivates them.

This presents a problem for the modern Democratic Party since it has no obvious ideological underpinnings. It’s not based on Marxism, or Socialism, or Communism, or Libertarianism, or any other over-riding political philosophy. The only reason the Democratic Party has to exist is simply the acquisition of power. And the people who are attracted to that, the ones who end up in charge when Democrats gain power, struggle with their lack of ethical guidance and their tendency to abuse the power they just gained. Or worse, they don’t struggle with it – they revel in it, given the chance. Once they control the White House, Congress, and our electoral process, you get “Democrats gone wild.” There are no brakes.

Symptomatic of the left’s lack of intellectual framework is the nature of their public intellectuals and other thinkers and writers. The right has Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Bill Buckley, and so on and so forth. The left has Bill Maher, Charlamagne Tha God, Don Lemon, and so on and so forth. There was a fascinating exchange between two leftist thinkers yesterday. In a discussion about whether Andrew Cuomo needs to resign, Bill Maher stated that he did not need an investigation to prove Cuomo’s guilt of sexual harassment, and that “… it’s always on a case-by-case basis …” and that “… I believe these women completely …” Charlamagne Tha God, who apparently differs from Mr. Maher in that he is capable of independent thought, had a different take on the matter:

The Gaslighting Continues … Pay Attention to the Facts

 

Ever since the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, that fateful day in August 2017, not even eight months into Donald Trump’s presidency, when real white supremacists showed up for a “Unite the Right” rally, we have been warned repeatedly about the growing threat of “far right” groups.

No question that the Charlottesville rally organized by noted white supremacists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler – who had obtained a permit from the city – was evil in many ways. Racial supremacy is evil in all its forms. A protester drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman. Three tragically died, two from a state police helicopter crash.

The violence was largely preventable.

The Interesting Relation of Blood Type to Coronavirus Susceptibility

 

I read through this entire story on Fox News, which describes some research on blood type vs. Wuhan Coronavirus. They found that the virus bonds especially well to cells of Blood Type A, and less well to cells with Blood Type O. The researchers were surprised at what they initially saw, so they did some more experiments. The story is quite interesting, actually, and it was fascinating how the researchers studied what they had seen, and branched off into new studies based on their findings. Maybe the fact that my blood type is O may explain why I have not gotten the virus.

And I just got my vaccination appointment, finally! Our state is expanding eligibility to teachers now, and I think it was lucky to get an appointment before the lines are deluged with the cowardly teachers who refuse to teach.

How to Fix Our Elections the Right Way

 

The Democrats’ “For The People Act” ain’t it. Increasing numbers of people are waking up to realize that HR 1, passed narrowly by the US House of Representatives late Wednesday, may qualify as the worst legislation ever adopted by one of our congressional chambers. That’s no exaggeration. Having said that, House Democrats passed a similar bill in the past (2019), but with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate, it didn’t matter.

It does now. If Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kristin Sinema (D-AZ), both Democrats who claim to oppose ending the filibuster cave on the matter, with this bill as its vehicle, it could become law. Fingers crossed. It may be a close call. Pressure will no doubt be applied.

I won’t go into the bill’s voluminous flaws here. That’s been done extensively and in great detail by several excellent organizations and journalists, including the Public Interest Legal Foundation, the Institute for Free Speech, the Heritage Foundation, and others. A quick, top-line summary can be found here, courtesy of the Washington Examiner.

Arizonans Are Revolting

 

Filling the restaurants and small venues in the beautiful outdoor weather. While Lord Governor Ducey talked out both sides of his mouth*, desperately trying to split the difference between Abbott/Desantis and Cuomo/Newsom, the bikers rolled back into downtown Mesa for bike night without permission or Mesa city hall control. Live music from an earlier rebellious era filled Main Street, punctuated by the sound of more Harleys rolling in. It was the sound of freedom.

Beyond the biker crowd, people jammed into every surviving eatery and watering hole, including new ones optimistically opened by small, true entrepreneurs. For the first time in nearly a year, you had to search for parking on a Friday night.

Betting on the Neanderthals

 

Place your bets: Will newly maskless (i.e. “Neanderthal”) states like Texas and Mississippi experience a surge in COVID-19 cases? Or will cases continue to decline into summer just like the rest of the country and the world? The real problem is that Texas, Mississippi, and Florida jeopardize the establishment plan (a) to take credit for ending the pandemic when it recedes largely on its own, chased by the vaccinations while (b) simultaneously asserting eternal authority such that “normal” activity can only be done from now on subject to revocable permission depending on the discovery/invention of new dangers. If cases in Texas and Mississippi don’t surge, it could threaten the plan.

We can’t drop the fear narrative too early. Saint Anthony Fauci increases the threshold for herd immunity every week–a clear indication that he is not ready to relinquish his role or inadvertently help Neanderthals roll back any newly invented governmental powers. He has gone from 60-70% to 80-90% as the threshold. If you graph it, and project forward, at this rate he will define herd immunity as a minimum of 106.5% sometime in May.

Father Emil Kapuan, Medal of Honor

 

I first wrote this essay several years ago, at that time Father Kapuan’s remains were considered lost, that has changed. His remains have now been identified. I would like to thank @scottwilmot for bringing this update to the story of Father Kapuan to my attention.

The remains of Father Emil Kapaun, a Kansas native and Catholic priest who died while a prisoner of war, have been identified by military officials.

Sen. Jerry Moran announced Thursday that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency of the Department of Defense has identified Kapaun’s remains. As of Thursday evening, Kapaun was not listed by the agency among the names of people who have recently been accounted for.

Midnight in the Republic, Volume 10

 

This series keeps coming back to the same themes. This one falls under this:

“[A] significant and growing portion of the American population is losing the virtues required to be functioning members of a free society.” – Charles Murray in Coming Apart (Page 289), 2012

Gratitude from a Soul Saved

 

I’m starting with an apology. Ninety-nine percent of the time I sit down to write something, the end turns out quite differently than my original intent. So if I stray a bit by the end, I blame it on too much Hugo-esque romanticist tangent. What I mean to express is my heartfelt gratitude for being part of the Ricochet community. It truly is a special group that is defined not by some platitude-riddled mission statement, an out-of-touch, heavy-handed cabal, nor an elitist clique demanding oaths of servitude. It is shaped and conditioned by its members. And the founders, editors, contributors, and moderators keep us ever striving for the best we can offer each other, and I am in awe at how the bar keeps rising.

Today the news media environment is unimaginative and condescending. The condensed national network news shows spend 30 seconds on a few breaking stories (a full minute if it’s on Republican voters and QAnon). They’re the Thin Oreos of news: Sure it’s called an Oreo, but without the good stuff in the middle, is it even worth it? They might as well run a ticker across the screen and save the money they pay their teleprompter readers who are so serious, so articulate, so unrelatable. Cable news is just as bad but in a whole different way. Most of it is the same stories from a decade ago, just with more gray hair. The hosts use their platforms to throw grenades at other news shows, pundits, or politicians. The ‘debates’ are either struggle sessions or yelling matches that leave viewers feeling like a kid watching his divorced parents fight.

But Ricochet is different. Posts come from people across the country and throughout the world. People with different perspectives and backgrounds that foster rich, smart, informed debates that might not come to any solid conclusion, but leave one feeling the investment was worth the time. They inform, they entertain, they inspire. On any given day, no matter what has happened in the world, I am always surprised by the treasures I find from fellow members, both in the posts, and the comments that follow. Rarely is there the brief flash of rudeness, usually a byproduct of the passionate voices represented here. Ricochet is the model for intelligent, thoughtful, civil discourse that seems to be badly lacking in today’s attention-deficit, hyperactive, politicized society.

School Diary: How to Anger a Budding SJW

 
A small eruption of social justice warfare erupted today at the start of class. Thoughts, critiques, suggestions, etc…all warmly welcomed.My class was waiting to begin when a chatty Hispanic student- call her K- said: “well, I read this article in the Washington Post…but I shouldn’t talk about it now…”

K has been my student for a year and a half so I should have known better than to take the bait. Most of her tuition is paid by a fund that sends “promising” students from public schools to independent/private schools in the state. We know this because she speaks about it constantly, to everyone. She’s generally cheerful, inarticulate, and uninformed (“Ok, so this Helen Keller person… I don’t really know who she was, but anyhoo, so… my sister said that she was blind and deaf. And she couldn’t talk either? But how… like I don’t wanna be mean or, like….well mean I guess but I mean how is that possible? Like at the same time?”)

Best Commentary I’ve Heard on Virus Management

 

I don’t have medical credentials, but some of what ZDoggMD says about mandates being “paternalistic” and about how our messaging could have been more along the lines of “here’s how you protect yourself” in a context of freedom aligns with what I have been thinking.

He says that instead of elected officials making rules about staying inside, people should have been encouraged to go to the beach, go hiking, do healthy things where there’s plenty of air circulation. We didn’t have to be in the mess we’re in now.

Mystery and Not-Knowing

 

Recently I had pretty much put aside concerns of not-knowing the outcome of one last test regarding my breast cancer. When the surgeon called a couple of days ago, I was stunned to learn at least part of the results. As I struggled to calm myself (since I was certain the test results would set me free from the possibility of chemotherapy), I realized that I didn’t know a whole lot more than I knew before he called. The results still left me in a state of not-knowing, and I didn’t like it one single bit.

Most people go through life in a continuous state of “not knowing” and don’t even realize it. We don’t know if we will encounter heavy traffic when we go out; we don’t know if it will rain in the afternoon in spite of a sunny forecast; we don’t know if we will catch a cold or get a hangnail. But because these are minor and transient conditions, we don’t worry about them; not knowing is not something we fear because we don’t give it much thought.

March Group Writing: Blowin’ Our Heritage

 

Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind (1962) captures a lot of what’s wrong with an entire generation (mine, mea culpa) and our dysfunctional ideological legacy. Bob Dylan had a gift for faux profundity. His work has been repeatedly explored by academics and even got him a Nobel Prize. Not being profound myself, I have found a lot of his oeuvre to be contrived, banal and preachy.

Here is the artist in his own words at age 56:

Otto

 

We are losing the little guy. I feel trapped. I know a broken heart is waiting for me but I chose it a long time ago. There is no wishing it away.

He is just old, not as old as me but way older in the number of days God decided to give dogs. He is running out of days. I wish it weren’t so but it is. There’s a Hank Williams song “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” That’s true for me and you and for my little goofball puppy.