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If Saying ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’ Is Racist…


…Then what do you say about these diseases:

  1. California Serogroup Viruses / California Encephalitis
  2. Colorado Tick Fever
  3. Coxsackievirus (for the NY town)
  4. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
  5. Ebola virus (named for the Ebola River)
  6. Hantavirus (named for the Hantan River)
  7. Japanese Encephalitis
  8. Junin Virus (named for the Argentine city)
  9. Kyasanur Forest Virus
  10. Lassa Fever (named for a village in Nigeria)
  11. Lyme Disease (named for Lyme, CT)
  12. Machupo Virus (named for the Machupo River)
  13. Marburg Virus (named for a German town)
  14. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS – this is also a coronavirus)
  15. Murray Valley Encephalitis (area in Australia)
  16. Nipah Virus (area in Malaysia)
  17. Norwalk Virus, aka norovirus (named for Norwalk, OH)
  18. Omsk Hemorrhagic Fever (named for a Russian city)
  19. Powassan Encephalitis (named for an Ontario city)
  20. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  21. Ross River Virus (river in Australia)
  22. Semliki Forest Virus (in Uganda)
  23. St. Louis Encephalitis
  24. Tularemia (named for Tulare County, CA)
  25. Venezuela Equine Encephalitis
  26. West Nile Virus (de Nile is a river in Egypt)
  27. Zika virus (named for the Zika Forest)

This is just the pathogens off the Pathogen Safety Data Sheets. This is so intensely stupid it leaves me staring in disbelief. Is this OrangeManBad or Chinese cash at work, or are they all just huffing paint?

Welcome to the Wacky World of OSHA: Walking-Working Surfaces


The most commonly cited OSHA standard is 29 CFR 1910 Subpart D, Walking-Working Surfaces.  It’s not surprising: the biggest causes of death in construction are falls and being struck by an object, both of which the standard tries to prevent.

Like much of the OSHA regulations, it tends to spell out the common sense approach.  Railing, scaffolds, ladders, etc need to be well put together and guard against objects rolling off and smacking someone.  People high up need harnesses and safety lines so they are not one slip away from a splat, and the harnesses need to be inspected just like a parachute.  Lots of explicit listing of just how big a railing needs to be and what the spacing needs to be, etc.  Like nearly every standard, it begins with a set of definitions for all of the words / concepts specific to the standard.  For example:

Fall protection means any equipment, device, or system that prevents an employee from falling from an elevation or mitigates the effect of such a fall.

Self-evident, right?  Well, these are legal documents, enforceable with fines and evil government lawyers (TM)  Everything needs to be defined clearly.  Take this example:

Opening means a gap or open space in a wall, partition, vertical walking-working surface, or similar surface that is at least 30 inches (76 cm) high and at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide, through which an employee can fall to a lower level.

This means openings smaller than the definition do not qualify.  There are numerous cases in my job where the exact words of a regulation make all the difference.  A chemical hazardous waste cannot be treated or neutralized outside of a proper facility.  However, you can do all kinds of things with a chemical before it is declared a waste, including demonstrating a neutralization reaction.  The fact that the result is non-hazardous is no problem.  I did all kinds of demonstration reactions in my previous job, saving taxpayer money and my tiny budget.

Now, even with all this detail, sometimes things are not exactly clear, so the company writes OSHA and asks for an interpretation.  Standard interpretations are used by OSHA inspectors, but are not on the same legal standard.  I’ve run into quite a few standard interpretations that went a really annoying way.  For example, Bloodborne Pathogens training requires a person to be available to answer questions as the person takes the training.  Easy for in-person training, but for the online training offered to the midnight shift?  It turns out using a voicemail or email box for questions is not good enough.  Cue a few nights sleeping in my office.  We have a better system at my current employer, but it is still a bit annoying.

The remarkable things is that I have usually found OSHA’s helpline to be genuinely helpful, and relatively common-sense.  They run a safe harbor generally, so if you call and there is a problem, they are not going to pounce on you for it.  If you have any questions on OSHA standards, feel free to post in the comments with a harness and properly anchored safety line.

(This is part of the group writing series on Work)

Quote of the Day: Credibility and the Wolf


“A lot of the fear comes directly from the loss of trust in institutions. The press, WHO, the official authorities are no longer implicitly believed by everyone. This is the cost of deceit. When you finally tell the truth your cred is gone.” – Richard Fernandez

When I studied public health communications, it was stressed to never lie or deceive. Stick to what you know. Do not split hairs or use technical terms when less technical terms will do. Be clear and stay on the facts and your message. Once you cry wolf enough, no one will believe you when the actual wolf arrives. So many people have burned up their credibility, and now their precious expert status is useless. (I turn to Tom Nichols, who wrote The Death of Expertise, and contributes to said death every time he sends a tweet.)

If you desire further examples, the horrible communications of two Obama officials during crises made things worse. The CDC director during the Ebola outbreak kept on stating that Ebola was not known to be transmitted via the airborne route. That is true, technically, but it is likely transmitted via droplets (like a cough or sneeze). Airborne transmission is a technical term for extremely contagious agents that do not need a cough or sneeze to be transmitted. That obscured the truth. Similarly, the NRC chairman during Fukushima fed paranoia and used the crisis as a case for anti-nuclear activism. He was making claims that were unsupported by science and trying to maximize the disaster.

I try to guard my credibility when talking with people about the coronavirus. I know quite a bit more than the average bear on viruses and biosafety – I literally do it for a living – but I know there are people who know a lot more than me. Even my boss recommends sticking to official advice and tested guidelines. I try to balance skepticism and openness to new approaches.

I just wish more people in power would recognize how much they have devastated their credibility, and think before they cause more panic and mayhem.

Quote of the Day: Forgetting Someone?


“Perhaps the most infamous example of Bernie Bro violence occurred in 2017 in what became known as the congressional baseball shooting, wherein Scalise and three other victims were shot during a practice for the congressional charity baseball game. James T. Hodgkinson, who federal authorities identified as the shooter and who died in a shootout with police, was a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter and fit the Bernie Bro descriptor, which has come to encapsulate the segment of Sanders’ insufferable and intolerant far-left supporters, who are mostly young, white males apparently motivated at least in part by racism and sexism.

“Hodgkinson’s ideology was clear from his Facebook account, where he had posted things such as “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co,” and “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.” — The Federalist

Pretty fast that an attempt at assassinating nearly the entire Congress got memory-holed. Hodgkinson was a left-wing political terrorist/assassin, and a Bernie Bro.

Coronavirus Advice from the World of Laboratory Safety


My job is laboratory safety. I work with a wild range of various labs that have a cornucopia of crazy chemicals and a plethora of pathogens. I take part in over 100 laboratory inspections per year, along with responding to questions and acting as an in-house consultant for my institution. There is a surprising amount of you can use from the laboratory safety world in normal life where you make crispy garlic bread rather than CRISPR/Cas9 lentivirus vectors.

Wash Your Hands

There is a reason people mention handwashing as part of nCoV-2019 preparedness, and it is a recurring theme in all of our safety courses. Washing your hands thoroughly is a reliable way to remove pathogens and toxic chemicals. Disinfectant handwashes are not needed — a good scrubbing will physically remove far more contaminants than a disinfectant will kill. I actually prefer a good industrial hand cleaner (STOKO Solopol is a personal favorite) after cleaning or using the bathroom. Scrubbing your hands is actually less harmful to non-harmful bacteria on your skin, as they typically are adapted to stick tightly to your skin’s micro-scale environment. I’ve never heard from someone practically involved in safety you does not recommend handwashing.

As a side note, if you do need to disinfect a surface, use bleach if possible. The stuff is cheap and extremely effective, especially if you clean the surface first to remove obvious dirt. The only things resistant to bleach are mad cow disease and certain microbial toxins — if you are worried about those agents, call the CDC and the FBI, not me..

Understand the Hazards Present

Regardless of where you work, you cannot protect yourself from hazards if you do not recognize that they are there. If you use a chemical, read the label to see what it contains and what safety precautions need to be observed. Modern chemical labels will tell you a lot of info on proper use — for pesticides and disinfectants, this is magnified. Pesticide labels actually state that it is a violation of federal law to use them out of accord with their labeling. If you have a bunch of cleaning chemicals, it’s probably a good idea to write up an inventory list of just what you have, so that you can keep some awareness of what is on site. This goes double if you have kids of the age when they like to sample everything. Lots of chemicals only mildly irritate the skin, but are very nasty internally. (fabric softener and disinfectants are very unpleasant to ingest) You can get a lot of chemical safety information from the manufacturer — all hazardous consumer products are required to have a phone number you can call for info.

Use and Maintain Engineered Controls

The best way to control a hazard is stop it at the source. It is better to quiet a machine down rather than hand out ear plugs to everyone. Mechanical engineering controls work as long as they get occasional maintenance — that’s why you can have a natural gas combustion chamber hooked to a pressure vessel, a contained high output klystron, and a contained diode laser array (a.k.a., a gas water heater, a microwave, and a CD/DVD/BluRay player) in your house. Generally, unless you know what you are doing, it’s a bad idea to crack open the case, especially when the panels and such are not designed to be easily removed.

Now, for your own engineering controls, the main ones are ventilation and shielding. Any area where you plan to paint, stain, or otherwise work with volatile liquids (ones that easily evaporate and you can smell easily) should have an exhaust fan or be outside for easy air movement. This will protect you from the chemical vapors building up to toxic or flammable levels. This goes triple for anything that burns fuel — give it a clear stack or exhaust, or you will get carbon monoxide poisoning. I know someone who died with her entire family from carbon monoxide poisoning. (If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, stop reading this article and buy one) Shielding is also vital — I had a chemistry demonstration go horribly wrong (my desk was on fire), but no one was injured because I was using a shield between the demonstration and the class. Anytime you are working with something that could fly apart or go out of control, have a nice plexiglass shield between you and the work.

Use and Understand Your Personal Protective Equipment

If you are working with strong disinfectants, bleach, oven cleaner, drain opener, toilet cleaner, rust remover, paint thinner/stripper, heavy-duty degreaser, etc (they will say “Danger! Corrosive!” on the container, most likely) you should use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) PPE is a layer of protection between you and the chemical. The most common PPE is hand and eye protection, although a good heavy rubber apron doesn’t hurt. For gloves, I recommend only nitrile or neoprene rubber gloves for household use. Latex is not as protective or durable, and butyl rubber is overkill. Nitrile is very resistant to abrasion, with neoprene is more flexible. (I like these thick grippy gloves, and use them at work) Make sure to practice removing gloves safely — if you want a fun challenge, rub shaving cream all over the outside of the glove and try to keep it off your hands! Getting heavier duty, reusable gloves are more complicated — let me know what you work with and I can make recommendations.

For eye protection, you need to think about the hazard. Safety glasses with shields can be inexpensive — I buy tinted safety glasses instead of sunglasses as they are cheaper- and they work great against flying debris like when using power tools. For solid protection against chemical splash, you need splash goggles. Here, you get what you pay for. A $20 pair of goggles will be much more comfortable and easy to use than the cheapest pair, generally. They make goggles that fit over glasses and full-face shields. If possible, see if you can try on the goggles before buying them.

You may note that I did not mention respiratory protection. That is deliberate. It is almost always better to change the environment or workplace rather than have people wear respirators. A good dust mask is easier to breathe through than a respirator, cheaper, and helps deal with more minor hazards. It also reduces the chance of carrying something nasty to your nose or mouth by accident.

Store Chemicals Safely

One of the most common findings in lab inspections is incompatible chemicals stored next to each other. Acids (like many rust removers, descalers, and toilet bowl cleaners) should not be stored next to bases/caustics (like many but not all drain openers, oven cleaners, degreasers, and dishwashing detergents. If you do need to store them close by, have them in separate tubs/bins. Bleach should really be kept by itself — its violent reactions with ammonia and acids are well known. (I once caused a bleach/ammonia reaction while cleaning an old bathroom. Urine breaks down to ammonia after exposure to the air and bacteria.)

The best place to store flammable chemicals is a specialized flammable storage cabinet. Unfortunately, those tend to be expensive. The second best location is a steel cabinet in a well-ventilated area well away from open flames or direct sunlight. Have the flammable liquids/paints/etc. in trays to keep spills under control.

As a side note, I think the gas can regulations are really stupid and dangerous. Pouring gasoline out of an unvented can will cause sloshing as air rushes into the can through the gasoline. This causes static electricity buildup and could cause a spark to jump to the can. A spark plus a well-mixed air-fuel mixture equals a fire. I would recommend a vented can with a self-closing lid, a check valve/flame arrestor screen on the vent, and metal components so that you can safety ground any static electricity in dry conditions. I used to pour and bulk highly flammable solvent waste using similar safety cans. The CARB regulations making filling more dangerous out of some misguided concern over gasoline vapors. Sadly, they cannot keep the unintended consequences from escaping their containers.

Quote of the Day: Response Outside of Expected Range


How do I analyze :heart: ?

ERROR: Response :heart: is not in expected range. (source)

I am a geek. I have had crushes in the past, but nothing came of them. I fully expected to spend the rest of my life alone as I am not particularly attractive, so I did my best to make do. I have friends and co-workers and keep in touch with family.

Then someone on Ricochet introduced me to a nice gal who is as cute as a crate of plushies, and fun to talk with. I figured the only girls like that were in anime, not real life. I responded accordingly. Soon, I began to receive texts filled with :heart: emojis and generally becoming the recipient of emotions I had never dealt with before. It has taken some getting used to, and I can’t quite keep up some of the time. It almost feels like I must have hacked into someone else’s text message stream. Why would anyone act that excited about me?

So as I approach this Valentine’s Day, I still feel a bit awkward, but I am glad to do so.

Quote of the Day: Accidents


There’s an old saying: “If you think safety is expensive, try an accident.”

The first choice after an accident is to say “How can we improve the design so this can’t happen? How can we remove the opportunity for errors?”

In a well-designed plant, a simple error like closing the wrong valve shouldn’t result in an accident.

For a long time, most people were saying that most accidents were due to human error. This is true in a sense, but it is not very helpful. It’s like saying falls are due to gravity.

— Trevor Kletz (1922-2013)

Trevor Kletz was the founder of process safety management/engineering. Process Safety deals with major accidents and defects in the process, as opposed to accidents on a personal scale. The ideal process is designed to be resilient and capable of dealing with human error.

When you change a process, you need to carefully consider how the change affects the other processes at the plant. If you don’t, a seemingly minor change could have terrible results. Replace that damaged reactor with stretch of pipe with expansion bellows, it will let you keep the system running; the result was Flixborough. Deactivate the flare stack and scrubber while the plant is shut down – it should not be a problem. Don’t tell workers about the potential for catastrophic events if the chemicals react with water. The result was Bhopal.

I highly recommend his book What Went Wrong? Case Studies of Process Plant Disasters to anyone who works in manufacturing, processing, etc. Rent it from your local library, as the Amazon price is insane. It’s written for the operator and foreman, with clear descriptions of how things can go off the rails. At the end of the book, he discusses is how analysis of change is applicable outside of the chemical industry. ICI corporation engaged in massive acquisitions without considering the effects on their viability. The result was bankruptcy and the company getting carved up.

You could say that the field of process safety is inherently conservative, in the broad sense. The famous Chestertonian Fence is basically a management of change review. Conservatism is the reminder that new does necessarily mean improved. That new program might just make things worse or waste money to no effect. Why, yes, despite our health care system having problems, we could get worse. Much worse. It is no accident that liberal plans tend to fail – they do not stop to consider the unintended consequences. That also could describe a good portion of the disasters in What Went Wrong?

The Constitution is designed deliberately to be resilient against minor errors, and remain enduring. Conservative policy should be designed similarly — carefully crafted to be resistant to mistakes, corruption, and leftists.

Quote of the Day: Fake Fear


I first saw this from Instapundit.

It really says it all, doesn’t it? The Second Amendment March in Virginia reminds me of the Tea Party, which the left blatantly lied about and demonized. At both events, you had people cleaning up after themselves, being incredibly diverse (all races and flavors of LGBT were represented), and generally engaging in peaceful protest. I (with an assist from Vectorman) wrote about how the Tea Party was trashed, and the second version was not as polite.

Let’s be honest, the 2nd Amendment is the antithesis of the Left. It’s about not being a victim. It is about taking responsibility for your own defense. I bring up how I want more law-abiding black men in Chicago carrying guns, and the lefties I talk to tend to give an error message and stop functioning. Of course, they need to trash the Virginia March. If that kind of organization spreads, they are toast.

On Being the Helmsman (Ricochet Sponsor Product Review)


So I decided to listen to the Conservatarians and @exjon mentioned that it was sponsored by Helmsman shave cream. Being a fan of old-school safety razor shaving, I picked up a couple tubes with the discount code (CONSERVE), and figured I’d support the site a bit.

I got the package quickly, and opened it to a handwritten letter and the tubes of shave cream. I was behind on shaving, so I cracked open a tube (after getting rid of the foil seal)  and squeezed out a good amount onto a brush, and readied my old Superspeed razor. My impressions:

  • The stuff has a very mild scent and no menthol. It reminds me of soap or lotion. This is a matter of preference, obviously.
  • The cream lathers well even with cold water and no fancy techniques.
  • The lather provides excellent lubrication for the razor gliding over your skin.
  • Shave went smoothly, with no nicks or abrasions.

This is definitely an excellent choice for shaving. It reminds me of Cremo shave cream, but it works well with a brush and seems to be a step above in quality. If you are in a rough financial situation and you are trying to save cash wherever possible, there are creams and soaps that are sufficient for shaving. I was there a few years, and something like Helmsman is not meant for that market. It’s a step up in price, but you do get what you pay for.

(Full Disclosure: I received an extra tube of shave cream with my order and a nice note from the owner. I made no agreement to write this, and I do not have any relationship with the owner. I did not discuss this with anyone before posting it. Beards in mirror may be closer than they appear. Epstein did not kill himself.)

Quote of the Day: Richard Jewell


“I still think your client is as guilty as hell.” — FBI Agent Shaw, Richard Jewell

On the recommendation of @cliffordbrown and others, I went to see Richard Jewell. It is a profoundly disturbing movie.

The protagonist is the kind of person who steps up in a crisis to do the right thing. He’s not perfect; his love affair with law enforcement seems to get him to go into beyond his job duties, and he is trying to help even when the FBI is targeting him – but we would hope that a security officer took his job seriously. Remember “If you see something, say something!”  Richard saved lives and really tried his best to do a good job.

For this, the FBI profiled him as a terrorist. All of his idiosyncrasies were turned into signs of guilt, and he was fed into the media wood chipper. For all the complaining about the heartless journalist and portrayal of the media, the journalist actually reconsiders. The FBI agent does not. Even as the situation changes, they stretch the theory of the case. And at no time is there any direct evidence – the FBI decided he was guilty, and that was that. The quote above is as the agent’s hands over a letter clearing Richard’s name.

It is a nightmare. The full weight of the government brought against a law-abiding citizen for doing the right thing. It makes me think of George Zimmerman, who stopped to try to help the police deal with a crime rather than walk on by. He was then put under the microscope for his actions, declared to be white, and prosecuted on shoddy evidence that was revealed to be fraudulent. Incentives work – if you punish good behavior, expect less of it.

This movie is also one of the best portrayals of an annoying defense lawyer as a heroic figure. He’s a jerk, but that’s because he is adversarial. It’s a paean to the adversarial justice system. You need a lawyer because the FBI might just decide to exploit any law-abiding traits to screw you over. I  think lawyers would benefit from having defendants watch it, particularly regular citizens.

Quote of the Day: Motive Mystery


“We may never know his motive.” “Authorities remain uncertain as to the killer’s motive.” Et cetera.

How many times do we read this, and see a very clear, very obvious motive? Seriously, if someone kills a person (particularly soldier or religious leader) while screaming Allah Akbar, you can safely say the scumbag is an Islamic Supremacist getting his jihad on. If someone is a member of an antisemitic group and kills a bunch of Jews after going to a place known to have Jews, they probably are a member of the Hitler fan club.

Now, if a white supremacist kills black people, that is a national conversation. If it is some person from a designated victim group killing people, then we get the line above, or no coverage at all. Why?

I think there are two reasons. For the Left, there is no benefit to the Narrative if victim groups are exposed as dangerous. That’s why they target guns. You can’t blame minority gangsters for Chicago crime. Supposedly, Chicago’s gun crime problem would be solved if only Indiana had strict gun laws. However, strictly enforcing gun laws is attacked as racist. This whole argument is actually more racist than Jim Crow, as even under Jim Crow blacks were viewed as having agency and responsibility. The modern Left takes the victim groups and designates them as animals that kill whenever a gun is present.

There is another reason, though: fear.

Lefties and the more elite Republicans fear that normal people in flyover country will hear the news, and immediately try to slaughter Muslims wholesale.  While I know there are people who support Muslim elimination, they have not assailed Muslims as of yet, and another attack is not going to make them start. More to the point, most people in flyover country are smart enough to be able to tell the difference between Islamic Supremacist killers and their cardiologist or the proprietor of the local 7-11. There will be some nutballs, but the myth of a horde of bigots out for blood is just a sign of people living in an elite bubble. It’s the fans of identity politics who see Muslims as a homogeneous block.

I’d also imagine some of theses elites are even more afraid of being attacked themselves.  Either they could be smeared as racist, or targeted by terrorists.  This is a form of preemptive surrender, and it shows who elites actually fear.  South Park makes fun of everyone – except Muslims.  You don’t see attempts to get a cake for a gay wedding from a Muslim owned bakery.  If the MAGA hat brigades were as bad as people say, then the media and elites would be cowering under their desks, talking about how wonderful the Donald is and ohgodpleasedon’tkillme!

Enough. It’s time to grow up and deal with the threat of Islamic Supremacism honestly. At least 10% of Muslims worldwide think the only thing wrong with the Pensacola shooter is that he did not kill enough of us. If you can’t handle telling the truth about the fact that Islamic terrorists are Islamic, find a new job and let us respond rationally. Hiding the truth just makes the problem worse.

QOTD: Camera vs. Sandwich


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?

– George Tobin, First Things December 1992

One of the earliest things I learned on my path to becoming a conservative is that some ideas remain valid despite the passage of time.  As an annoying kid, I wanted something with a bit more depth than the regular soap opera at school.  My father passed me one of his old copies of First Things, and I dug in.  Richard John Neuhaus made me laugh, and most of the other articles made me think.  My father and I would often talk about the ideas involved – this was before I had easy access to the internet.  I loved the fact that they were written for a higher level than any of the stuff I had to deal with in English class, and I can say that I owe a lot of my development as a reader and writer to these magazines.

I had reason to dig back into First Things recently, and I ended up getting a link to the piece by George Tobin.  Written in 1992, the same dynamic applies today.  I live in Chicago, and people love to talk about our horrible crime problem.  I’ve yet to see much in the way of a solution or any kind, possibly because it is difficult to imagine how one person could directly reduce crime.  After 9-11, I remember people looking in vain for some way to get involved short of mass enlistment.  (The Marines need a few good men, not a few OmegaPaladins)   The camera option keeps on coming up in one policy debate after another

In fact, much of Ricochet is the Camera option writ large.  Many issues seem to just be an excuse to wind people up without some kind of productive outlet.  Raging at the heavens or denouncing the Left with righteous indignation is fun and all, but how much does it actually change anything?   Are there ways to pick the sandwich option in politics, even if you live in the People’s Democratic Republic of Obamastan?

You Need to Be Purged


Yes, you!  You are corrupting and destroying conservatism, and need to go!

It seems the one thing conservatives can agree on is that we need purge the conservative movement of the other side.  Trump supporters and opponents want to eliminate the opposing side for betraying conservative principles.  Social Cons don’t trust the libertarians / squishy urban fiscal cons, while they see the social cons as backward theocrats. Race issues have one side calling the other either neo-Confederate racists or delusional egalitarians living in denial of reality. There are also conservatives who believe all Muslims are evil – these conservatives believe their opponents are dhimmis taken in by deception and, in turn, people condemn them as bigots willing to toss every Muslim in the same box as ISIS. Pro-police or anti-police? Immigration skeptic or proponent? Neocon or paleocon?

Even worse, you can be a moderate on an issue. Then both sides want to purge you – you must choose a side! Almost as bad as being a moderator, and thus be only worthy of being stuffed into a nuclear reactor.

So, obviously, this means someone wants you to be purged for the good of the conservative movement. And the only way for everyone to get their way is for everyone to be purged. No one is spared. If we eliminate the conservative movement, then we can be sure that all of those useless disgraces to the conservative movement are gone. And isn’t that the important thing?

If we don’t want to eliminate the conservative movement, the only way to survive is to resist the purging impulse. Obviously, there have to be rules (there is no conservative case for a Communist dictatorship or an Islamic theocracy, I don’t care how many think-pieces you write) but we have to keep somewhat of a broad tent in order to get our ideas turned into policy. Parties can be stricter — if you vote straight-ticket Democrat, you are not a Republican — but the movement as a whole is not an exclusive club, and it is not as valuable to try to set the boundaries.

The Left uses this against us — when people tried to kick out the alt-right, lefties and some purge-happy folks started calling everyone they did not like alt-right. We have actually benefited by the Left purging the insufficiently woke. There are numerous people driven out of the Left that have moved rightward, including much of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web. Playing the Left’s game here only helps their cause.

So, the next time you consider making those other supposed conservatives walk the plank, keep in mind that you might have to follow them, and you are feeding them to the Left, not sharks.

Quote of the Day: One Nation, One Flag, No Hyphens


“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.

But you must be an American. The only way a nation like ours can survive is if we all acknowledge the same American flag and founding. To divide the country into blocs is to risk civil war.  Identity politics for one group leads to identity politics for all groups. States will turn on each other, cities would strive against rural areas, etc. There should be no competition with America in the social-political level of loyalty. TR gave this speech at the Knights of Columbus, I’d imagine he’s not telling them to renounce God for America. God is above all countries – we swear the pledge of allegiance to one nation, under God.

In essence, immigrants are welcome to join the United States of America. They just need to leave their hyphens at home.

A Contrast In Customer Service


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.

That was a mistake. The representative was less interactive than a phone tree, and simply repeated the policy over and over again. I was to work out the matter with the store. I was given no guarantee that I would get any redelivery or refund, so I refused to sign for the items. The woman continued repeating the policy, seemingly unaware that she could not force me to sign for the items that I had not requested.

I went off to talk with Walmart delivery services, expecting more of the same. What I got was a surprise – the lady was a native English speaker, polite/professional, and was actually outraged at the massive screwup by the store staff. She said that the company would eat the cost, and either give a re-delivery or refund. I told her she had saved Walmart delivery a lost customer, and gave her a rave review afterward.

Back to the Doordash people: I let them know that Walmart settled things, and I offer the driver the soda for making him wait. It looks like a happy ending, but instead, we get a call from the Doordash robot chick, who states that now she has decided to process a refused delivery, something she never mentioned before, and the driver needs to remove all of the groceries. I ended up giving the driver $5 cash for taking up so much of his time. (Doordash drivers are like Uber drivers – paid by the gig)

The contrast between the two was stunning. It reminded me of another situation I ran into while attempting to reserve a room for the Milwaukee meetup. I found a pricey room with a company similar to AirBnB, as everything else was sold out. I reserved the room and went to pay but my card was declined. I tried my Discover card, and I still had no success. I contacted Discover customer service, and I reached a pleasant and professional lady with clear English who told me my account was fine, and they troubleshoot the situation thoroughly; it was on the vendor.

I called the vendor, and I get someone with English as a fifth language. It was painful to explain the situation – what I got was that their credit card approval system was down, for an undetermined length of time. I was already suspicious of the company, and that was that for my plans of staying the night.

Customer service matters. It is the difference between loyal customers and people leaving in rage. I wonder if some of Chick-fil-A’s ability to overcome the protests was based on their reliably awesome customer service?

What are some of your stories major contrasts in customer service?

A Chicago Trick or a Autumn Treat


How do I spend my Halloween? With Autumn (name changed to protect the guilty), my good friend and all-but-adopted little sister. She is married and an RN, but she likes to joke about being “perpetually 11.” Autumn is what happens when a tomboy stays a tomboy without crazy parents or society interfering. She likes fireworks, amateur bartending (I always get a gin and tonic when there), heavy metal, and talking about politics. Lest you think anything untoward is going on, she is a conservative Catholic married to a conservative Catholic convert with an ample firearms collection. (We were in College Republicans together.) Autumn is affectionate with all her friends, which is awesome, and also loves to dress up for Halloween.

Visiting Autumn’s old place for Halloween is an experience in and of itself. Her parents have a house that is already partway to haunted, and the decorations make the ancient bungalow look positively spooky. Her Mom is a blast and an awesome host, and Autumn is an incredible extrovert and organizer, so the party is always fun, with all kinds of guests. Autumn’s Dad, well, he makes Archie Bunker look like a woke hipster. Getting into politics with him can be either amusing or result in a barrage of invective. The guests are from all over the social/political spectrum – Autumn has maxed-out charisma – so the party would be fun regardless of what we did.

The real fun is in the game of scaring the children. Kids of a certain age enjoy a good scare and show, so we do a few haunted house tricks, have a guy in a mask pretending to be part of the scenery, etc. It’s all in good fun, and every year we have a different theme. I have been a yeti for several years, and a mad scientist for more. (They say to write what you know – it also goes for costumes.) It’s a recurring tradition, and kids come back year after year. Usually, after the kids stop coming, Autumn goes trick or treating herself.

Please remember, this is in a middle-class bungalow region in Chicago, not far from some housing projects. There’s still enough community spirit and trust for kids to go trick or treat, and we don’t have creepy weirdos show up. It’s still a treat, and not a trick.

Quote of the Day: Always Have Plan 2A

“(I) don’t get mad at ’em, don’t hate on ’em. Man, it’s not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the First one doesn’t work out.” Dave Chappelle

I don’t think I have heard a more pithy description the first two amendments to the Constitution than this. Freedom of speech, religion, and association needs a backstop, which the right of self-defense with arms covers. Witness the brave people of Hong Kong, facing a police state with umbrellas. It is harder to enslave a nation willing to defend itself.

It reminds me of another quote on the interplay of the Bill of Rights:

“A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” – Frederick Douglass

Use the former, so that you don’t have to use the latter.

Quote of the Day: Stand Together Against the Enemy


 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us.

Mark 9:38-40, NASB

I was thinking of this quote as I read over the latest scandal in the Catholic Church, with what looks like a pagan idol being trotted around the Vatican, and the Amazon Synod turning into a clown show.  It’s embarrassing to watch a place of such serious devotion plastered with propaganda worthy of a college campus, while the various bishops sounded like they were auditioning for a Jack Chick tract.  Ricochet’s Catholics debated over the culpability of the Pope in this, invoked the Saints to pray for them, and cheered on as the faithful tossed the idols into the Tiber.

Then, like many of these discussions, it shifted to yet another iteration of the Catholic-Protestant debate.  I understand – I am Protestant, and I actually carefully considered Catholicism before rejecting it.  I did not reject it out of ignorance, and I am not shy about explaining it.  However, my encounter with a devout Newman Center at my alma mater gave me a deep appreciation of just how much we have in common.  Jesus Christ is the center of the Mass, as it is center in a Lutheran service or a Foursquare service, and He is acknowledged as Lord and Savior.  More to the point, we all still desire to bring souls to salvation – that was what led me to the Newman Center, since I thought they had signed a document renouncing evangelism – it was not the case. When we read this verse, we can sense the understanding from both the Catholic (unity) and Protestant (toleration of variation) viewpoints.

However, there is a deeper layer that dawned on me as I was writing this.  What were these maverick disciples doing?  They were casting out demons.  Catholics and Protestants share not only a common Lord, but a common enemy.  The Devil, and his various minions, are active and threatening to all of us, and the diabolical ideology that says we need to kneel before a pagan deity is a plague on us both.  Pachamama is bad, but how is this different from the Re-imagining debacle?  The Lord is warning us not to spurn allies in our spiritual warfare.

So, I suggest next time the question “Is the Pope Catholic?” seems less rhetorical, hold off on pounding another 99 theses into your brothers and sisters in Christ.  There will be other times for that discussion.  Pray and encourage them, so that our allies can resume laying siege to the gates of Hell.  He who is not against us is for us.

Quote of the Day: The Infallible Left


“A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened. Then, again, every major change in policy demands a corresponding change of doctrine and a revaluation of prominent historical figures.” — George Orwell, “The Prevention of Literature”, Polemic (January 1946)

Have you ever noticed the continuous tendency to remove “inconvenient” episodes from history? Consider that 1970s environmentalists believed in a new Ice Age and that Bill Clinton promoted the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s. Obama was opposed to gay marriage then he was in favor immediately after the Supreme Court decision. There are lots of problematic lines from prominent Democrats and leftists across history but the Democrats are always portrayed as right and on the side of all that is good. If people are perfectible, obviously their side is perfect and always was perfect. Any problems are someone else’s fault.

Conservatives do not have this problem – or at least, have it to a much lesser degree. Of course, people in the past are fallible and imperfect. George Washington was a great man and a heroic leader but he was imperfect. This should be blatantly obvious, but it needs to be pointed out. This is also why there is no conservative case for Cancel Culture or tearing down statues; we see people as fallible, so wicked behavior is expected. It’s the good, the noble, and the heroic that people do that is exceptional.


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