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Rebekah Jones: The Left in a Nutshell

 

This is part of Everyone Blog About Rebekah Jones Day.

So a few weeks back, I saw a link to a fascinating Human Events article by Christina Pushaw.  In it, she exposed the celebrity “whistleblower” in the Florida Department of Health.  According to the media narrative, Rebekah Jones was a Ph.D. COVID-19 data scientist who revealed that Florida’s success against COVID was all smoke and mirrors, a coverup of massive deaths.  The reality is less noble:

“NPR describes Jones as a “top scientist” leading Florida’s pandemic response. In fact, Jones has held three jobs in her field; all three have ended in her being terminated and criminally charged. She has a Master’s in geography from Louisiana State University, where she worked until she was fired. She was arrested in 2016 while, reportedly, trespassing on campus and attempting to steal computer equipment from her former workplace. She then lectured at Florida State University (FSU) and began researching tropical storms for a dissertation, but never earned a Ph.D. as she was suspended and fired in 2018 after her former student accused her of sexual cyberharassment. Before her termination from the DoH, she was a geographic information systems manager, overseeing the COVID-19 web portal.

It’s therefore misleading to imply Jones has specialized knowledge of infectious disease. Florida’s top Democratic official calls her “Dr. Rebekah Jones,” but Jones is no doctor. Nor is she an epidemiologist, virologist, statistician, or public health professional; the DoH has a highly qualified team of those. A technical manager, Jones didn’t have the authority or expertise to decide unilaterally how to visualize data. But when experts disagreed with her, she assumed they were wrong—or deliberately deceiving the public.”

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is the system that powers pretty much any online map, as well as any system that analyzes data based on geographic location.  I have a good friend who is extremely talented with GIS, with a degree in Urban Planning.  This can be useful for mapping epidemics, but it’s not epidemiology or even biostatistics, much less medicine.   To be blunt, I’ve taken more epidemiology and biostatistics coursework than Rebekah; I doubt she could even explain the difference between incidence and prevalence without using Google.   The comparison I’d offer is this is like the IT guy who made the electronic medical record system for a hospital offering medical opinions.

What’s even more striking is a pattern of entitlement and narcissism in all of her other positions.  At LSU, she was busted for trespassing and getting in a fight with a police officer.  At FSU, she went into full insane stalker mode toward her ex-boyfriend, an undergraduate at the time.  That’s a power imbalance, so a big problem for a workplace relationship, that got her fired.  She ended up with an injunction to stay away from the undergrad’s home or the campus, as well as to take her medications.   Naturally, she violated it and ended up in court.  She published a 342-page manifesto attacking the undergrad, surely a sign of her resounding mental stability.  She tried her hand at lawfare, including a paternity claim and a prose nuisance lawsuit.  Later, she published sexually explicit images of him on a website as a form of revenge, trashed his car, and generally acted like the ex from hell.

This got her in legal trouble.  She is currently facing charges for stalking.

That’s not her only legal problem.  After she was fired from the Florida DoH for insubordination and generally being difficult / entitled, she is believed to have hacked into government computers and hijacked an official notification service.  She used an emergency alert service to transmit propaganda.  She was charged with hacking, and her computer seized as evidence.  She claimed these were Gestapo tactics by DeSantis.  I can understand why she thinks that – many Democratic governors and prosecutors use just such an approach.  (see the Wisconsin raids on TEA party activists for an example)

In all of these cases, she portrays herself as the innocent victim.  Naturally, when she saw the article in Human Events, she decided to file for a peace order in Maryland, and try to shut it down.  This brought it on the radar of bloggers Hogewash! and Stacy McCain, who had previous dealt with a similar drama involving terrorist and Democrat political black ops guy Brett Kimberlin.  I have written in detail about Brett Kimberlin before here, if you want the full details.  Stacy McCain came up with the idea of Everyone Blog About Rebekah Jones Day in order to push back on the lawfare.  As I despise lawfare and appreciate good journalism, I am doing my part.

I ask you, could you find a more fitting specimen of the Left?

Trump’s Failures, According to Trump Supporters

 

This is a thread for those of us who generally support Donald Trump and his presidency to discuss his failings. I would ask that Trump opponents please do not post here, since we already know what you dislike about the man.

I think it is important to document what we see as his mistakes so we can avoid them in the future.

One of the bigger failures in his COVID campaign was not letting scientists/physicians discuss scientific findings for him, since they can be precise and technical, while he is relaxed and acting as the everyman leader. This could have prevented a number of scandals. Also, have Fauci and company explain themselves better. The mask-or-not-to-mask flip-flop, excessive social regulations, and the excusing of protests destroyed public trust in public health.

He also missed the chance to push for long-lasting reforms, like destroying “certificate of need” rules.

Trump also massively failed in underestimating just how deep the swamp went. He ended up cycling through a lot of people needlessly – get the mass firing out of the way on day one.

Operation Floral Chef: Pizza, Banana Bread, & a Side of Pollen

 

I had heard that Saturday was going to be the worst day for deliveries, and the weather certainly lived up to that. Blowing snow and biting cold is a pain to drive in, and harsh on flowers. We need to warm up the van and make sure all the flowers were well wrapped, or we would not live up to our reputation for quality. Everyone knows you can get poor quality flowers at Walmart for cheap – we can only compete via quality. You could say the invisible hand is holding the bouquet…

Previous installment here and here.

The crew filed in slowly, Calluna was fish-tailing all the way here, Biker came in distraught, her neighbor was unresponsive, and had left in an ambulance in front of a panicking spouse right as she was leaving for work.  I missed some of the story, but seeing this tough wrench wench in tears said it all.  The roads were horrible – when Calluna went to get her medicine, she was rear-ended in the pharmacy lot. Fortunately, she was okay.

Meanwhile, the orders began to trickle out with Drama and Ginger. Ginger was rapidly proving herself highly dedicated – if only she was not temporary!  I was assigned the job of removing the pollen from our stock of lilies. As I was soon to learn, lily pollen packets will stain your hands and clothes orange. Since we did not want our customers to resemble a former president, the pollen needed to be removed.  Naturally, they selected the huge guy with size 10 hands to perform this delicate task. Fortunately, it was fairly easy despite being messy.

Drama reported that he had been in an accident, and the work came to a halt. He had slid out while backing up, and struck two mailboxes. He was okay, the van’s back door was dinged up, and the police were called. Both the county sheriff and town police got involved, and the insurance agents were informed. This pretty much guaranteed Drama was not going to return. A later investigation by Ginger revealed the van’s tires were balder than I am, so the accident may not have entirely been his fault.

Lunch rolled around, and Biker turned baker, with some delicious banana nut bread and cupcakes. Steel Rose ordered cheeseless pizza from Dominos, as milk protein is the Kryptonite of Steel Rose and Silence. For my part, I provided mini-oranges, since I had a surplus at my place. For a moment, the drama of the day vanished amidst the rapidly devoured surprise feast. I ate alongside the Engineer. While we agree on politics, it is much more interesting to hear about his electronics work or his grandkids or his strategic assault on the fish of a northern lake.

After lunch, I mostly sat around and watched. Eventually, I headed upstairs to finish writing the previous post in this series, and see if Ricochet had exploded today. According to what I found out later, it was actually the flower shop crew who exploded, with Drama openly defying the boss over a botched order, and getting into a profane shouting match with Calluna. Apparently, I had been an unknowing hall monitor. When I was called down for the last batch of orders, I headed out with Ginger to help. She definitely distinguished herself and had an open invitation to return. Strangely, this whole weekend felt less busy and more chaotic, with a lack of experienced crew. (When I am one of the most experienced flower handlers at the store, something is wrong)

Given the travails Steel Rose has with hiring, I wanted to ask the small business owners on Ricochet if they have had difficulty hiring quality service workers who are responsible. Is it a regional issue? A generation problem?

The Democrats Should Keep Impeaching Trump…

 

…and the Republicans should draw it out as long as possible. Let the Democrats impeach Trump even after he leaves office. Let them impeach him dozens of times. Impeach him for tweeting! Impeach him for getting an extra scoop of ice cream! Impeach him for his hair! Have them spend weeks just passing more and more impeachment resolutions.

You see, every second the Democrats try to impeach Trump is a second they are not working on their absolutely horrible legislative agenda. It’s the equivalent of people screaming at the sky, and will be obvious to normal folks. The more the Democrats resemble a toddler screaming in a tantrum with a loaded diaper, the less people will take them seriously. “Whaaah! Orange man is a poopy-head!” is not a winning slogan.

Cyber-Vigilantes take on Indian Scammers

 

No Tech Support ScamsEver gotten a strange pop-up claiming your computer has a virus? Gotten an email supposedly from Microsoft or Amazon that looks shady? Received a phone call where a person with an Indian accent claiming to have an American name tells you something is wrong with your computer, or that you have a refund from Amazon? Most likely, you are about to get scammed.

These scammers typically will request access to your computer via remote desktop software, and they will take advantage of people lacking detailed knowledge of their computers and the Internet. They particularly prey on the elderly and most of them lack any compassion whatsoever. They will take the last dollar from a disabled veteran and laugh at the “stupid rich American.” The Indian justice system is overwhelmed and has even more cases of buying their way out of jail than ours. Seemingly, there is no solution.

Enter a group of hackers and pranksters who fight back. This type of cyber-vigilante justice is known as scambaiting.

The most basic type of scambaiters are those that waste the scammer’s time. Kitboga is one of the best at this. Here he is taking apart a utility scammer – with the Cashapp team on chat with closing accounts as before they could be used.

Then you have the actual hackers. They will often steal and delete the scammer’s files, lock the scammer’s computer, or in some cases upload malware/viruses onto the scammer’s machine. It’s very satisfying to listen to scammers rage as their records go up in smoke, and their computer is rendered completely unable to boot up. These guys will often dox the scammer and use their records to warn people of the scam. Sometimes they are able to stop the scam in real-time – warning the victim just in time.

ScammerRevolts is a mix of hacker and prankster. He likes to destroy scammer computers then call them to mock the scammer. It’s juvenile, sure, but intensely satisfying. Most of his work is not CoC compliant in language – he learned enough Hindi to curse fluently. This is a compilation of some of his best work – definitely profane language there, so you have been warned.

Scambaiter is a Dutch hacker who has utterly wrecked scammer cell centers.  He’s dedicated and relentless, and works hard to defeat scammers as thoroughly as possible.  He’s saved several victims in the nick of time, and he’s one of the two people in the field I donate money toward. The following is one of his best videos. [Content Warning.]

The grandmaster of the field is Jim Browning. His name is feared in scammer circles, because he is scarily competent as a hacker. He was doing what the above hackers do today back in 2017. As for now, he gets detailed information on scammers, dissects the scam strategy, and reports it to the police. He always takes care to help the victims or to stop the scam however possible. [Content Warning.]

His crowning achievement involved managing to gain complete access to a scam call center, including surveillance cameras and all financial records. He got significant help from Indian colleagues, including drone footage and in-person visits. (Most of these videos have Indian people in the comments cheering on the scambaiters, because they hate the scammers.) He brought in the BBC Panorama news team, who went over to India to investigate. (Actual investigative journalism – will wonders never cease?) The resulting bad publicity got the people in charge of the call center arrested. [Content Warning.]

With all of the mayhem in the political world, I figure you might enjoy some stories of justice being done, and criminals getting payback. Also, if you can help share knowledge of the scams with friends and relatives, we can all help stop the scammers.

If I Were CDC Director…

 

I would start by taking the various department heads in a room to get my point across:  Professionalism and competence earn respect. At the beginning of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, 80% of people in the US trusted the CDC for information on the pandemic. It is now near 50% and falling. If the CDC is not trusted by the American people to provide advice on a pandemic, what is its purpose? (Aside from paying bureaucrats.)

The CDC must be a conservative organization. One of Conquest’s laws of politics is that any organization that is not explicitly conservative will become liberal over time, so the CDC must be conservative. What this means in practice is a presumption against restricting people’s freedom. People need to take risks and determine what is safe. We give them information so that they can make an informed decision. When we practice quarantine and lockdown measures, it should be treated like going to war or invoking martial law – never done lightly.

It also means following the constitution. We do not legislate, we advise the President and the American public. We are not a check on the President, we report to him. If you feel you are being pressured to do something wrong, come talk to me. If it is merited, I will take it up the chain of command to the President. If it truly a horrible scenario, I’ll resign and take it to the media. People put on a uniform and sacrifice their lives for our country. Sacrificing my salary is nothing compared to that.

The CDC also needs to focus on our mission. We exist to be our country’s experts on epidemiology and infectious disease control. That is the priority for funding and manpower. We should move NIOSH to the NIH, and avoid duplicating functions in other agencies. We should work with the State Department to arrange for foreign postings associated with embassies for health surveillance. Also, work with the Director of National Intelligence and National Security Council to establish a Pandemic Covert Surveillance group that has clearance to view intelligence data and provide expertise to the intelligence community. We should not rely on WHO or the health agencies of closed authoritarian societies to let us know what is actually happening. If we get bad data, we will give bad information to the President, and Americans might die needlessly.

The CDC needs to massively overhaul communications with the public. Always use understandable language, do not lie, and be willing to say if you are not sure. Only use technical terms if you define them. If we make a recommendation on limited data, make sure we qualify that. Also, make sure to speak to agencies that have an audience. If you can’t talk about a critical public health concern on Fox News or whatever program that is hostile to your beliefs, find another job – they pay your salary, not me. The point of agencies like us is to be trusted by people across the political spectrum, so we need to stick to the facts and remain professional.

We need to maintain scientific integrity to rebuild our reputation. If we change our recommendations, explain why. Be able to trace your findings to the scientific literature. Stay away from the various subjective social justice arguments. If we refuse to stick to biological facts and objective reality, people will stop caring what we say. For that reason, we will focus on physical sex as opposed to gender identification, since pathogens do not care about what we say or believe. Anyone who provides information to the public without a scientific basis will be disciplined – if it was to support your political biases, then put your resume in order. If gatherings are hazardous, then a peaceful march for your favorite cause is just as hazardous as a torch and pitchforks lynch mob. Pathogens do not care, so our recommendations should have no favoritism.

Reputations take ages to build, but can be lost in an instant. If we do our jobs right, people will benefit from our expertise, and live longer more productive lives. And that is what it is all about.

Now, go make this happen, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

QOTD: Your Wealth Does Not Create My Poverty

 

…most important was the insight, key insight that Adam Smith had – brilliant insight – that wealth is not zero-sum, that you can make more of practically everything that’s important.

He understood this even while he was still living in a largely agricultural economy. He realized that because somebody is rich, that’s not what makes other people poor. Wealth is not a pizza where, if I have too many slices, you have to eat the Dominos box. My wealth does not create your poverty. Your wealth does not create my poverty. They’re separate questions. And we can generate more wealth.

P. J. O’Rourke

For several years now, I have used a variant on this quote as a signature on a sci-fi forum.  “Your wealth does not cause my poverty.  Failure to understand this is the basis of most bad economic thinking.”   It’s a remarkable statement.  Wealth is not a limited resource, it is highly renewable, like hydroelectric energy.  The free market means that people can become rich without robbing anyone.  This is not a trivial insight – it goes against how we think about most possessions.

Part of this comes from growing up in a nearly communist community, your family.  Kids grow up in a group where people divide up resources according to the socialist mantra – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”  This makes perfect sense when you have people who cannot take of themselves.   (There’s not really a market for soiled diapers.)  Even when kids make money on the side (paper routes, farm / yard work, babysitting, etc) they are still reliant on Mom and Dad.  The authority figure has all the wealth, and they hand it out to their subordinates.  The free market is completely different.

The free market does not need love or loyalty like a family.   If I want to make money, I need to make something customers will buy, even if I hate them.   People will be motivated to work to provide something if people are willing to pay for it.  This only works if people are able to turn a profit.  If you exchange money for something, it will remain largely renewable, while outright seizing property is a one and done deal.   Have fun looting the Walgreens, since that will be the last you see one nearby.  This is why the Goose Laying Golden Eggs is such an amazing fable – greed can break a system that would otherwise produce wealth beyond imagining.  (A lord of Adam Smith’s time would likely trade his lands and title for my spare bedroom and its contents.)

All this came to mind when I saw P. J. O’Rourke’s take on millennials and socialism.  Like always, his writing is incredible – it’s like the drunken stand-up comic version of Thomas Sowell.  The remarkable thing is that socialism and similar schemes are actually doomed to despair outside of utopian science fiction; you will eventually run out of wealth to spread around.  Far from a utopia, it encourages a dystopia; either you need to find someone else to loot, or reduce the number of mouths to feed.    Only the capitalist free market allows for a future of abundance and plenty.

So teach your children and young people who will listen to the basics of free-market economics.  That way, they will how to keep the goose making golden eggs in exchange for food.   Otherwise, our goose is cooked.

Quote of the Day: The Benefits of Being Soulless

 

“If you are offended yet, I would just like to remind everyone that I don’t care and I have no soul.” — Brandon “AK Guy” Herrera

Brandon Herrera, firearms manufacturer and devotee of the Kalashnikov family of firearms, said the above quote in his intensely amusing video (CoC Warning) on the Kyle Rittenhouse incident. While I support Kyle 100%, that’s not what this post is about.

Ever notice that there are benefits to being known as a jerk? Being seen as a soulless, heartless person actually makes a lot of attacks against you useless. The classic “Think of the Children!” does nothing to you. The whining of offended weenies becomes just so much noise. You can enjoy the suffering of people who would be happy to see you dead without a pang of guilt. It’s like armor for your mind. Keep the side of you that feels sympathy safe under lock and key.

In short, when you are interacting with people who don’t value compassion and decency, they become weaknesses. If you have a bleeding heart, you should probably see a doctor about that.

This came to mind when a liberal friend of mine, who likes dark humor and having a caustic personality, send me this. (CoC Warning) Much like me writing from academia, it is the perspective of someone surrounded by people of vastly different politics. I recommend reading it, but I will try to summarize. The argument is that the main reason for Trump support is hatred of liberals, and liberals are defined as weakness, as well as kindness, honesty, and compromise. It is an argument that Trump supporters are fundamentally irrational and driven by hatred – something I’ve heard from the Never Trump pundits as well.

I can’t say that matches my experience of Trump voters, even when I hated Trump enough to leave Ricochet. Go to the myriad of Trump stores that you will see out in rural areas and western states, and you will see extremely patriotic attire alongside the MAGA signs. Trump supporters tend to be most passionate about their patriotic love of America, not even the Donald himself. I would bet money that the same people he describes would give a respectful nod to someone helping an old person cross the street or handle packages, and would buy a Black or Hispanic veteran a beer. Talking about Trump voters without considering patriotism is like talking about Biden voters without considering anti-Trump rage.

However, I think the liberal behind that screed was not completely wrong. A good amount of why Trump is beloved by Trump supporters is his brutal rejection of bleeding-heart arguments. He offends people on a regular basis and does not care. That kind of uncaring, unapologetic personality is armor against standard liberal attacks. Being ruthless toward the offended weenies is probably what looks like hatred of weakness to that guy. After all, it must be frustrating when your most powerful attacks and emotional manipulation do nothing. Add in the metrosexual passive-aggressive style of the stereotypical woke leftist, and you can see how the disgust with liberals would be associated with disgust with weakness. When Kurt Schlichter likes to write about conservatives getting “woke,” I think this is part of what he means. #caring

So when encountering liberals trying to exploit your compassionate side, it might be worth putting your soul in safe-keeping while you refuse to kneel to their emotional blackmail and demands for apologies.

QOTD: Ride onward, hero, into legend

 

“If I should be killed, I want you to bury me on one of the hills east of the place where my grandparents and brothers and sisters and other relatives are buried.”

“If you have a memorial service, I want the soldiers to go ahead with the American Flag. I want cowboys to follow, all on horseback. I want one of the cowboys to lead one of the wildest of the T over X horses with saddle and bridle on.”

“I will be riding that horse.”  

– Private Clarence Spotted Wolf, US Army, 1914-1944

Such were the words of a full-blooded Gros Ventre Indian and American hero, who fell in Luxembourg during WWII.   I ran across his story in the Crazy Horse memorial gallery, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  His last request struck me for its blend of Western mythos and patriotism.

After the war, his remains were repatriated, and the funeral was held as he requested:

“On January 28, in Yellowwoods, North Dakota, the memorial service he had foreseen was held in his honor. It was an impressive ceremony. The Stars and Stripes presided over the winter bare hills where Clarence Spotted Wolf’s family and friends carried out his wishes. There were soldiers; there were cowboys; and his own saddle had been placed on the T over X horse, which was led in the procession….  As for the empty saddle — who knows?”

Quote Of The Day: In Mockery

 

“Of course leftists hate Christianity. Leftism was created in mockery of Christianity as Orcs were created in mockery of the Elves.” — Prof. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard Leftism compared to a religion. It’s a fairly common reference, and the evidence is common to see. Obviously, Leftist revolutions tended to create cults of personality, Stalin and Mao most notably. There’s also a long train of martyrs to the Left, from Revolutionary France until now. Surprisingly, many Christians don’t seem to have gotten the message — consider the Social Gospel and the Liberation Theology movement — but the hostility always resurfaces.

Why? Why would the existence of Christians be a problem for the Left? Perhaps Prof. Reynolds may shed light upon this.

The reference is to Tolkien, naturally. In the world of Middle-Earth, the fallen archangel/demigod Melkor was driven to create his own vision independent of the Creator, but he cannot. He cannot make truly new creations, just twist what was already created. If you look at the Elves in the Lord of the Rings movies, it is almost impossible to see them as the ancestor of the Orcs, but the very first orcs were made from tortured, mutated elves that Melkor (now known as Morgoth) had captured. It’s both lacking any originality and an abomination, as all creations out of line with the Creator must be. The Dwarves, it this mythos, are derived from an original creation in line with the Creator’s vision, and are granted life. All of Morgoth’s works end up being industrialized brutality applied to an existing creation, inherently flawed. Witness the mightiest dragons all having a weakness in their armor, orcs lacking much in the way of tactical cunning, and trolls turning to stone in daylight.

Western culture is immersed in Christian tradition, so it makes sense that people use Christian themes and elements. (Both Tron and The Matrix have pretty explicit messiah archetypes) The Left formed itself out of rebellion from the Christian tradition, just like Western atheism tends to be particularly against Christian faith, with arguments directed specifically at the Christian God. (Arguments from imperfection and theodicy, for example, only work against an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God.) For the Left, it takes the essential narrative of Christianity and perverts it.

Instead of all having sinned, only the bourgeois, whites, etc., have sinned. Ironically, it’s usually precisely the same class as Leftism appeals to — all of you people are sinful and need to get woke like me. Instead of grace freely given and sanctification, there is a grueling, ever-shifting road of continuous adherence to the current dogma, with an inquisition that would shame Torquemada. It’s a never-ending struggle session, without any fixed morality.

For example, mistreatment of women and gays is only bad in Western countries, their violence is speech while your speech is violence, police are oppressors but only police can have guns, etc. They make the Way of the Cross look positively easy. And their heaven seems so uninteresting — a society with more equality? Their utopia is soulless and dead, without actually fixing the problems of the human condition. I’m reminded of Richard Fulmer’s post on urban renewal — the slum may be bad, but the housing project is actually worse. People still have unfulfilled lives and die in Leftist Utopia. Who is actually most worried that other people have more money or power than they do?

Then we have sacraments. Abortion is among their holiest of holies. Abortion is allowed at all times, for any reason, at any age. It’s become a positive good, not a regretful decision. Transgression is another sacrament — any breach of the old rules is glorious. So much art and media is given value since it transgresses the old rules — any behavior that mocks the old standards is to be praised, even if it is boring, unoriginal trash. It’s even better if the original good can be twisted into something progressive. Leftist sacraments are more degrading and anti-Christian than an actual Satanist Black Mass.

Leftism truly represents a bastardized Christianity – an illegitimate successor, conceived in violence.

Running Towards the Fire

 

So a few hours ago, I was sitting with friends and finishing my drink in their backyard after a long evening of BBQ, and a girl rushes into the yard. “Sorry to bother you, but someone’s house is on fire!”

We quickly headed to the street, where across the street flames rumbled up from the attic. Two different people were calling 911, while the gal who informed us ran over and started banging on the door and windows. I ran to the side where there was a garden hose, but it’s not on. We circle round the back, a guy banging on the door while I look in vain for water. I hear that there’s an old man who lives alone here – renovating this house has been his dream. Other people go to the neighbors and tell them the house next door is on fire – an old lady in a nightgown emerges and looks on in concern. There are police sirens blaring.  I turn to meet them – I want to hand over information to them so they can take control of the scene.

A police car pulls up and two officers jump out. “I let them know that an old man lives there, but we don’t know if he is home, and they drop into a full run. They reach the door, yelling “OPEN UP, POLICE!” Hearing no response, they broke in. Another car pulls up and two more officers jump out and sprint toward the house. I am not clear if they joined the others at the back door or went around to the front. I back away to the street and to the other side as they continue their search. The officers were wearing COVID masks but no other protective gear against a fire, but they went in anyway.

As the firetrucks arrive, I tell the first fireman out of the truck the situation and mention the police had gone around back to go inside. The firemen quickly get to work – it takes some time, but they start hooking up hoses and donning their PPE.  The two gals that had first noticed the fire were talking, and my friend introduced us more formally. They were talking about how the police charged into the burning building, and I said “Remember this the next time you hear someone talking about the police.” One nodded her head, saying she agreed but didn’t want to bring that up. The other seemed conflicted, saying she disagreed but understood why I thought that.

As the situation calmed down, several officers were chatting off to the side. I walked over and thanked them, and told them that we appreciated them no matter what people say. What they did was probably against policy, but it was the right thing to do, and it could have saved lives if the old man had been home.

Proposal: Home Ec and Shop Class Groups

 

I’ve thinking about ways to make Ricochet more useful for members, particularly as a break from pure politics. We’re conservatives, not totalitarian Leftists. We have families, hobbies, and careers that are separate from politics. Besides, we have most of the political stuff already covered.

When I joined The Firing Line, I was impressed by how helpful people were and the tips they shared. We have actual firearms instructors and veterans, along with beginners like me and everyone in between. It’s generally focused on firearms, not even on the politics of firearms. It is highly recommended if you have an interest in firearms. That got me thinking – always a dangerous idea.

Ricochet is a conservative site, and we are not afraid to talk stuff women are good and stuff men are good at. There are differences between men and women, especially in their interests. However, sometimes you need to benefit from the expertise of the other sex. Perhaps you live alone, or perhaps you want to surprise your significant other? Perhaps you never learned how to do something around the house?

Thus, my proposal for Shop Class and Home Ec groups – places to ask questions of the handyman or homemaker varieties. (I’m open to suggestions on the names.) I still use skills I learned in shop class and home ec during high school, and I think a place to share advice would be very useful. People with lots of experience get an audience for their lessons, while newbies get advice. We have really talented people here, after all.

Do people think this would be a good idea? Would you join one of these groups?

Quote of the Day: Just a Tool

 

“Masks are a tool, useful in the right application. They’ve become a political fetish object for reasons that have nothing to do with their utility.” Prof. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds

I never expected to hear this much debate over masks outside of a superhero comic convention. Posts here bounce back and forth between people who wear masks and those who oppose them. Then you have people who are constantly watching for someone to not wear their mask. It’s no longer just a layer of absorbent material worn over the nose and mouth, it is a symbol of fighting against the pandemic — a literal virtue signal.

I think the word “fetish” is well-chosen. While commonly associated with people’s kinks – people deriving sexual interest from non-sexual objects like leather clothing, feet, diapers, uniforms, etc., the older meaning of fetish is related to magical talismans. In essence, medieval peasants looking to touch a saint’s toe, tribal people wearing bone charms, and the modern new-age person into crystals and dreamcatchers are all seeking objects of magical power. It’s not based on a testable proposition (experimental science like biochemistry) or inference to the best explanation (historical science like geology), it is based on belief and magical principles.

A mask is a tool. When used properly, it will reduce the number of viral particles crossing the mask filter material. Even the most virulent anti-mask person would expect their surgeon to wear a surgical mask. Thicker, more tightly woven fabric or fiber is better at stopping infectious material, but is harder to breathe through. An N95 respirator is even more effective when fit to the face. The gold standard for stopping particles is a P100 cartridge respirator, which is used for mold, lead, and asbestos remediation. Those are pricey and need to be fit to the face like a gas mask, while being rough to breathe through. I wear various masks in various circumstances and sometimes I do not wear a mask at all. When I wear the mask, I am not trying to express my devotion to the pandemic response or expecting it to be a Mask of Warding Coronavirus +3. When I don’t wear a mask, I am not trying to repel the Karen legions of Darth Gretchen or blaspheme against the false god of Progressivism. It is just a tool, useful when used properly in some circumstances and not in others.

This is something more general. Hydroxychloroquine has moved from a drug to some kind of totem of your view of Trump. Imagine if aspirin or penicillin was treated the same way, where taking a medication was not just to make you feel better, but a political statement. Guns are tools. It is just as silly to not carry a gun to show your moral superiority as it is to carry a gun to prove you are a real man or as a magical talisman to ward off criminals. When I decided to obtain a gun, I looked into what gun to carry and went with an experienced friend to practice. A gun has no morality. It is not magical. It is only a tool. The same applies to driving a Prius (nicknamed the Pious). The most conservative man I knew in grad school drove a Prius because he liked the gas mileage. It’s a tool to get around, not a sanctuary of worship for mother Earth.

Some things are meant to be symbols — like a cross or a flag. Their whole purpose is to convey a deeper meaning. For other items, we need to remind people that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Music That Makes Me Answer the Phone

 

Once cell phones began to move beyond merely being able to place calls and became able to store more and more data, we began to see the rise of ringtones.  Beyond the novelty ringers, now everyone could have a ringtone for different callers.

My first phone allowed custom rings, but you had to program in each note.  This was difficult for someone who is close to tone-deaf.  I eventually got a better flip phone that had a decent system for downloading low-quality ringtones, but the selection was very limited.   Once I got my first smartphone (a Palm Pre +) I could really innovate.  All of my most common callers would get their own ringtone.  It took some work because, by default, my phone was unable to play them at sufficient volume.  I had to boost the volume with audio editing software, which hurt the dynamic range and sound quality, but they were loud enough to get my attention.  Some uploading later, I had an ample array of ringtones.

Dad got a song from Christian Rock band the 77s:

Mom got the William Tell Overture (she was often telling me to hurry up)

One of my roommates (we’ll call him Silence) got what I consider to be the perfect theme for him “A Fistful of Nickels”- a spaghetti western style remix of a theme from the video game Final Fantasy VI.

Another roommate (call him RWS), the IT guru and wacky economist, got a section of the excellent Techno/Trance track “Keep it in the Family”  by Hybrid.  This is notable as one of the few themes that I listen to enough on its own that I don’t immediately go for the phone when I hear it.

A former roommate, a big James Bond fan, got Exercise at Gibraltar from the Living Daylights, which was one of his favorite Bond movie soundtracks.  This is the very beginning, with the gunbarrel and such.

My good friend and somewhat adopted little sister, who is still a tomboy at heart got a plucky and optimistic theme.

My old high school friend, a lover of classic fantasy turned biologist, turned ordained minister, turned safety professional got a classic theme from a game we played in high school.

There were others I considered, but it was not worth the drama of my old boss finding out that I was using the Imperial March as his ringtone was not worth the amusement.   Now, my father rapidly got in on this ringtone game, since his music library is gargantuan.  Everybody got their own theme.   So when I call my dad, he hears this on his cell phone:

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I Wear a Mask

 

Obviously not while inside by myself, but I wear a mask whenever I expect to walk by people or I am getting a delivery. It’s partly because it is required by our crazy governor (statewide lockdowns are stupid), and partly because I want to protect other people. There’s also the fact that we will enforce masking at work, and I’ll be damned if I enforce a rule I won’t practice myself. (I became a stringent recycler in my private life when I was asked to implement a recycling program at my last job)  It also is not really harming me, and I try to wear only quality American-made masks and bandanas.

I even stopped a pair of police officers and asked if the CPD didn’t give them masks. I said I’d give them bandanas suitable for masks if the department had left them out. Turns out they had just taken them off to talk outside their car. We chatted a bit before I finished heading home with dinner. It’s not like you could actually social distance from your partner in a squad car…

I practice social distancing, but the two-meter rule was not based on hard science, so I treat it as the rough guideline it is.

So when you see a guy with a mask on, he’s not necessarily a disciple of Darth Gretchen ready to destroy the American way of life or a shrinking violet who lives in terror.  Masking is some kind of virtue signaling totem for the left, I don’t want the reverse to be true on the right.

The Dead Man in the Background

 

I was reading Medal of Honor citations and something really stuck with me. The recipient’s heroism is often shadowed by dead men. For example, one soldier’s unit came under fire, and the lieutenant led a counter-charge before swiftly getting cut down. The recipient took over the charge, storming the position and killing several of the enemy. We know little of this dead officer, the dead man fading into the background. Could he have fought side by side with the honored recipient all the way through the end? Would he have risen to the occasion later, saving other soldiers with his service? Could he have been a successful man civilian life — a father, a gentleman, a businessman, a scholar, or even a hero in his civilian life? We don’t know, and can’t know, and he falls into a sea of stories that few remember.

This is not out of neglect or malice. There are literally so many stories of soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen lost in battle that no one can remember them all. That’s why we have Memorial Day — a day for the dead men in the background of our country, the people who died so we remain free, since each of their lives matters. This is not a movie with stars and extras, this is a story of people much like us who gave up their lives.

So spare a thought and a prayer for the men in the background. For the futures sacrificed for our nation, for the families left shattered, for people who should never be allowed to fade from memory.

COVID Congratulations!

 

Congratulations should be in order. The public health leadership asked us to give them time, to change our lifestyles to slow the progression of the disease.  At great personal and social cost, we successfully flattened the curve. We bought time for the medical and research professionals to catch up. Outside of the New York City DeBlasio Debacle, we did what everyone was asking of us, and the results are showing it. This should be a time to start relaxing the lockdown, as it has succeeded outside of NYC. Tim Carney speaks for me here.

What’s utterly infuriated to me is that a lot of people are trying to claim this is a failure.

Do they want to ensure that no public health official is ever taken seriously again? This is a disgrace to my profession (yeah, I have a Master’s in Public Health and took courses in epidemiology).  If you place political correctness or political ambitions over your mission, you need to be fired. If you put your desire to get some over your mission, like the British epidemiologist who developed the transmission model before getting caught breaking the lockdown with his pants down, well, I hope he got a sexually transmitted disease in the process.

Outside of the professional realm, the media and politicians have continued to exceed my worst expectations. They seem unable to use any type of persuasion outside of hectoring people, and insulting them when they don’t immediately comply. This lockdown cannot last forever — we need a point where we can declare victory and scale down. Friday is V-E Day. While we still have troops in Germany today, they are not on a war footing, actively in combat. It’s time to have V-WC Day.

QOTD: Their Dream, Our Nightmare

 

My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) … The most improper job of any man … is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.

J. R. R. Tolkien, in a letter to his son Christopher Tolkien (29 November 1943)

 

While looking for a quote to describe the spiraling madness of the recent lockdowns, I noticed something interesting. The classical view of tyranny was the ruler unbound by laws and higher authority. (“Between a tyrant and a prince there is this single or chief difference, that the latter obeys the law and rules the people by its dictates, accounting himself as but their servant.” John of Salisbury in the 12th century) The noble king, worthy of obedience, serves God and obeys the law. The tyrant acknowledges no power above himself. We sometimes see this in the current crisis – witness Chicago’s mayor getting a haircut during the lockdown, or Gov. Beshear persecuting the Church and violating the constitution – but the problem here is something different.

While taking the train to visit family, I noticed the well-labeled, clearly-marked emergency brake handles. Next to each of them were signs indicating the legal liability for using them improperly. It is just as vital that the capability is there as it is vital that it should never be used lightly, for fear of the consequences. There are plenty of similar cases, including ejection seat handles, fire alarms, and the nuclear football. Similarly, we have some powers in our society that are labeled “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS”, and it is important to have them. If America was faced with an invasion, an ongoing actual natural catastrophe, or something else horrifying, we can temporarily engage the emergency measures, even though we know it will have its own risk and costs. That is how most people understand these powers, but not everyone.

What some people see here is not a disaster, but an opportunity. They sprinted to hit the big red button as soon as they had the opportunity. For these evil, horrible people, this epidemic nightmare is their dream come true.

It’s understandable, really. Everyone desires power of some sort. However, those who are not humble enough to know their own limitations are usually constrained by the knowledge that no one will tolerate this for long. Eventually, people will turn against their fantasy of absolute power brought to life. But these lockdown addicts apparently believe they can get away with it, or are having too fun getting their oppression on. They need to be reminded – if this use of power is not justified and directly related to the crisis, as our editor says, it undermines the very foundation of government.

Remember this on Election Day, if not sooner, and begin preparing tar, feathers, and a rail.

Quote of the Day: Crisis, Real and Imagined

 

“In just ten days, we discovered that neither the tampon issue, nor the participation of transsexuals in the Olympic Games, nor the climate emergency were real problems, nor emergencies, nor anything of the sort. They were just fictitious problems, the pastimes of a generation that hadn’t known tragedy.” – Itxu Diaz, National Review

How many times are we supposed to have died? Net Neutrality, Budget cuts, Donald Trump’s very existence were supposed to have killed us all already. How many failed predictions of global warming / climate change / ManBearPig destroying us in 10 years have we seen blow by us without incident? If there was an actual environmental catastrophe incoming, no one would actually believe it.

Aside from that, we have the whole woke subculture. (Have I ever mentioned that I utterly despise the term woke? It’s cheap knock-off black culture) Microaggressions? Safe Spaces? What, are you that fragile that you cower in fear of my words? I guess Evil White Males like me must be some kind of sorcerer. Trans-activism is just like the rest of their celebration of mental illness. I have never heard an actual argument about cultural appropriation, especially since the same people used to moan about inclusion. It is a giant screaming mess like an out of control daycare without the cute part.

Now we have a situation where lots of people are dying, a war against an invisible enemy, and suddenly all the fake problems are not so important. The tough balancing act between keeping the nation running and keeping the infection rate under control is a real problem that needs to be dealt with, not virtue-signaled away. We need people to step up, deliver supplies, take action, make a real difference. There is no room for the fake crises of the Left.

This crisis will be resolved by truckers running the long haul on deserted highways, doctors and nurse working double shifts in scavenged PPE, grocery store and gas station employees keeping services and food available, utility and telecom workers keeping a strained system functioning, grad students and other researchers poring over data and running countless tests in hopes of giving us an advantage, and ordinary people trying to follow often-contradictory guidance and do the right thing while facing a locked-down economy. At the top, we have leaders whose every move is scrutinized and fraught with potential peril – there might not be any good choices, just bad and not so bad.

There is no room for our useless media and most of the commentariat. Activists can either pitch in or get lost. We no longer have time for indulging the delusion that they matter.

Surgical Masks: A Tale of Two Paradigms

 

We are hearing more discussion about encouraging mask-wearing in the US. What is changing? According to this article and what I’m hearing from my hospital, it’s actually a shift in paradigm.

A face mask will not protect you from being exposed to COVID-19. It will generally cover your nose/mouth and prevent accidentally touching them, but it is not protective from the virus itself. That requires a particulate respirator, like an N95.* However, particulate respirators can be dangerous for people with poor breathing conditions. We saw how our garbage media have run with the fish tank anti-parasite chemical story. All it would take is one lady stuffing an N95 on her asthmatic husband, and media would be portraying Trump as personally choking the guy to death like Darth Vader.  Also, people need to shave to use a normal respirator. The media would tun that into Trump wanting to kill orthodox rabbis and Muslim men.

Realistically, we apply PPE as the last resort in controlling a hazard, and only have people who need the PPE wear it. Right now, people are working out how to reuse disposable N95 masks, in addition to using one mask for the whole shift. The people with the highest risk in hospitals and clinics need the N95s desperately. In a war, it is challenging enough to get ammo for all of the soldiers on the front line, without getting everyone at home a full stock of ammo as well. That’s why you have not heard about masks  – the ones available in mass quantities or craftable at home are do not protect the individual, while the N95s need to be kept for front-line people.

So why are they reconsidering masks for everyone? Because the masks protect other people from you. In essence, this approach looks at all people as potential carriers of the virus. A mask thick enough to stop droplets can be made at home without too much trouble, and there is no problem with reusing the mask as the only germs it has on it are ones you already have. This community-focused paradigm is more common in Asia, and I expect it to be a harder sell over here. Think of it as a portable quarantine.

The reason I call this a paradigm shift is that the facts I mentioned above have not changed. The change was in how we view and interpret them. When I saw the announcement from Infection Control that mentioned replacing self-quarantine with masks for people without symptoms, you could imagine a light-bulb popping up over my head.

So, Wear a Mask, Protect America … from yourself.


*  Respirator classification notes: The letter determines how the respirator handles oil. No oil, oil-Resistant, or oil-Proof. The number refers to the mask’s efficiency at capturing particles. 95%, 99%, or 99.97%. P100 is normally sold as cartridges for a reusable respirator, like for asbestos/lead paint removal.

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