Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Thirty Year Book


Some thirty years ago I joined the Conservative Book Club. As a premium, I received some books for a cut-rate (you remember: five books for a dollar, or a penny, or some such). Among them was Witness by Whittaker Chambers. I am proud to announce that on February 1, 2020, I finished reading Witness. The first half of the book took thirty years. The second half, two weeks.

The turning point (which, it turns out, is the name of the chapter in which it appears) for me was this:


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Things Get on My Nerves


I’ve finally put to rest the old DocJay phrase, “harshes my mellow.” It was cute for awhile, but it had run its course, as all things do in time. To make up for the missing excitement that DocJay’s phrase added to my post, I’ve started each item on my list with the letter B.

Blowers: I hate these darn things. Leaf blowers interrupt my naps, they blot out my conversation with Marie as we walk the neighborhood, and they scare Bob the dog.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Thinking Outside the Swamp


It should be no surprise if everyone on Team Swampy gets off without even facing charges voted out of a grand jury, even if FBI agents gave away secrets to a foreign spy. To restore justice, both real and perceived, it is time for Attorney General Barr to think outside the legal swamp. It is time to make a serious case, in public and all the way to the Supreme Court, for a change of venue to a pool of demonstrably fair-minded prospective jurors.

Without this credible threat, the chance of the outside review team, leaked to the New York Times to discredit any negative findings, actually unearthing the wrongdoing of Democrats in career prosecutor disguise will approach nil. The Flynn review will produce little in the way of real justice, that is in severe legal, financial, and career consequences to the team that perpetrated this fraudulent prosecution. The wider review of political prosecutions, together with the Durham legal campaign, will produce so little as to support the DNC, deep state, and TruCon lapdogs’ claim that it has always been noble public servants standing against Orange Man Bad and his Deplorables.


On this week’s edition of the United Kingdom’s Fastest Growing and Most Trusted Podcast®, James discusses with Toby his and his daughter’s adventures with the NHS in the A&E of his local hospital (that’s an ER for you Yanks), as well as the casualties of Boris’s recent Cabinet reshuffle.

Then it’s up to Cambridge where Extinction Rebellion is protesting the destruction of nature by, uh, destroying nature. Delingpole’s pro tip of the week: They are terrorists.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Jesus Preaches on Isaiah


In Luke chapter 4, Jesus/Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61 and makes a shocking claim about it:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Doing Sound for Films


For movies and television, the image is king and always will be. After all, they call them movies, not soundies. But since 1928 or thereabouts, most films have been made with live sound. Audiences usually want some degree of real-life to mingle with cinematic fantasy. Doing the show right from a technical standpoint is a key element in maintaining a viewer’s willing suspension of disbelief. Whatever you think of Hollywood, the polish and expertise of our technical crafts have led the world’s screens for more than a century, a good part of the gloss of an American success story.

Doing sound for the movies is a little different than doing camera. On a movie set, the camera is treated like a sacramental altar, with attendants performing guild rituals, a technical priesthood, and its own nearly incomprehensible jargon. Superficially, on the other hand, sound looks like an afterthought that seems easy to do — just stick a mike in someone’s face, wear earphones, and run a tape recorder. Simple, right? But it’s surprisingly hard to do it well, especially on the cramped confines of a noisy film set.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. ACF Asia #6: Kurosawa, ‘High and Low’


Time for more Kurosawa: I talk High and Low with Jody Bottum and John Wilson. This is a good pair for the big new Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite; it’s also a story about envy and class, about the rapid modernization of a country, in this case, Japan, in that, South Korea, and the crisis of justice. Kurosawa is quite Dostoevskian in his treatment of resentment and nihilism, a fitting way to end his series of modern movies.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Is How You Start a Presidential Race


President Trump brought The Beast and Air Force One to Daytona Motor Speedway Sunday. Notice that NASCAR knows its customers and is not going to alienate them. So, NASCAR invited the president to be their grand marshal for the opening race of the 2020 season, the Daytona 500.

President Trump did a fly-by with Air Force One as the crowd waited for the beginning of the big race on Sunday, then rolled into the race track with his motorcade, stepping out of The Beast to greet the crowd and start the race, He and First Lady Melania Trump led the first warm-up lap in the presidential vehicle. The race was soon shut down, as a rainstorm came in, and will end up being run on Monday, Presidents Day.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. China: The Prosperous Face of Socialism


The Chinese government demands socialism be taught by priests. Many churches have been demolished. Christian funerals have been banned. A steadfast bishop lives on the street because the government threatens anyone who would house him.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. QotD: Government Policy


A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. – George Bernard Shaw

If any statement explains how blue states work, it is this one. The number of makers is always fewer than the number of takers. So design policies to bribe the takers to vote for you.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Getting Fit in Retirement

I have a new exercise regimen that consists of getting 10,000 steps by walking around the neighborhood while picking up trash – adding in some bending and stretching. 
In the process, I’ve become something of an authority on litter. For example, nearly half the trash is booze containers: beer bottles and cans, wine bottles and boxes, and liquor bottles

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Super Bowl: A Data Point on the Re-emergence of Roman Decadence


A friend of mine recently lent me a book called The Social Results of Early Christianity, by C. Schmidt, Professor of Theology in Strasburg. The impetus for the book, written in the 19th century, was an essay contest proposed by the French Academy “to trace the influence of Charity on the Roman World during the first centuries of the Christian era.” The first third of the book is devoted to describing various facets of Roman society and culture as they existed at the appearance of Christianity.

The parallels of pre-Christian Roman culture to the ethos of secular Western culture in our own age are numerous. Chapter 3, section 5 addresses the “Occupations of Slaves. Actors. Gladiators.” The Super Bowl, with its garish halftime show, represents a unique confluence of the actors and gladiators in American entertainment. Schmit’s description of the state of Roman entertainment I found especially pertinent:


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Reluctant Trump Christians, Where Is Your Confounding Love?


Consider this an exhortation. I hear things from Trump-ump David French (“calling balls and strikes,” but never tallying RBIs) and read articles from Christians anguished over the President’s ugly, New York Americanism, and I have trouble finding the Spirit in it. Rather than digging a channel to God’s ocean of mercy, it seems some Christians are trying to dispense it with a teaspoon. It’s all so pinched and joyless and, well, unfamiliar to me as “Christian.”

Donald Trump is a sinner. Christians should not be surprised by this. What is astonishing is the good he’s done and is continuing to do, which must, by necessity, originate with God, who is the source of all goodness. “Oh, but he’s not really Christian, he just mouths the right words about the preciousness of all human life as made in the image and likeness of God,” some say. The subtext of this criticism is he’s hopelessly irredeemable no matter what he says or does! Is that Christian love? Is it even recognizable as faith in God’s ability to work in and through Donald Trump’s life?


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Would Lenny Bruce Be a Trump Voter Today?


I can’t explain why but topical humor has always appealed to me. Entering high school, when I was supposed to be studying algebra, I usually had my nose in the latest edition of Mad magazine (I still have issues dating back to 1962). When the other kids were watching cop shows and westerns, I was watching “That Was The Week That Was” (like a lot of other 16-year-old boys, many of my fantasies revolved around the “TW3 Girl,” Nancy Ames). While my classmates were watching American Bandstand, I was listening to the comedic routines of Bob Newhart and Mort Sahl.

A hitch in the Army and four years of college did nothing to change my proclivities, except that I graduated to sophomoric humor such as National Lampoon (the parody ad showing a floating Volkswagen Beetle and the caption of “If Teddy Kennedy Drove a Volkswagen, He’d be President Today” is a classic) and idiotic movies such as Porky’s and Naked Gun.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: President Donald J. MacGuffin


To me, the key to understanding Trumpism is remembering why he was elected. What do I mean? Voters chose Donald Trump as an antidote to the growing inflammation caused by the (OK, deep breath…) prosperity-crushing, speech-inhibiting, nanny-state building, carbon-obsessing, patriarchy-bashing, implicit bias-accusing, tokey-wokey, globalist, swamp-creature governing class–all perfectly embodied by the Democrats’ 2016 nominee.

This was from the Op-Ed in the February 10th Wall Street Journal by their Inside View columnist, Andy Kessler. The rest of the column describes all the distractions used by President Trump to set up the press and the other party, to take their attention away from all the positive things getting done behind the scenes. It worked, too, didn’t it?


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. February Group Writing: Advice from Popular Culture


From Hollywood to kids’ cartoons, to sappy inspirational Facebook posts, entertainment culture is full of advice on how to live our lives. Imagine the consequences of taking this wisdom seriously. Actually, you don’t need to imagine: our culture is littered with living examples of men and women who embraced the subtle and not-so-subtle popular messages. Still, it would be interesting to flip through a book called A Year of Living Hollywood. Here is some of the most common propaganda of social media, celebrities, and movies:

1. Follow your heart. This pretty saying comes first because it’s our culture’s favorite. I remember years ago asking a wise older friend for advice about getting married, and this is what she said to me, very tenderly though: Follow your heart. I was confused. My very problem was that I had followed my heart, and it wasn’t getting me anywhere. What I needed was some sensible input, help weighing up the pros and cons and identifying flags of all hues in this relationship.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Memories Are Made of This


Saturday’s Wall Street Journal has a long story on life for the passengers and crew aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess which is docked at Yokohama. Interesting story but this is definitely the best paragraph:

Ellis Vincent, a 76-year old retired airline executive from Sydney, Australia, said he has spent more time than customary conversing with his wife while cooped up inside. She has an excellent memory, he said: “She is able to bring up every transgression I’ve ever had. I believe she is not finished”.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Friday Food and Drink Post: ‘Meerkat Love’ Edition ❤️


Ahhh, “Meerkat Love.” Remember that hoary old song from the mid-1970s by that odd duo, Captain and Tennille? Yeah, I’m sorry to say that I remember it too. (A note to the unwary and to the Ricochet Editor-On-Duty: I know that’s not the actual title of the song, but close enough for gubmint work, and as a “hook” for the purpose of this post, I think.)

As for Captain and Tenille, I have no idea why Daryl Dragon was impersonating some sort of military officer (CPT? Capt? CAPT? Lord, please don’t let me get it wrong; I don’t want to get in trouble), when it appears that he came from a musical family, served no time in the armed services at all, and seems to have spent most of his life in one band after another, until landing Toni Tenille sometime in the early ’70s, and enjoying a pretty successful decade at the top of the pops. What? Oh. Nevermind. I am wrong. Apparently, “Captain” is an honorific, bestowed on him by Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, who called him “Captain Keyboard,” during his tenure with the group. Glad to have that sorted for myself, even at this late date. No stolen valor here. Not in a musical sense, anyway.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Rob Long’s Data-Driven Utopian Dream


In the first 15 minutes of the latest Ricochet podcast (Episode #483), Rob said a couple of things that caught my attention. At one point, when talking about our communication- and data-centric technical culture, he suggested that the answers to all our big problems were probably in the wealth of data we’ve collected.

What came to my mind when he said that was the movie WarGames (1983), in which a wayward defense computer is discouraged from initiating Armageddon when it crunches the numbers and concludes that there’s no way to win a nuclear war. Setting aside the question of whether or not that’s a correct conclusion (and I recently re-re-re-watched Dr. Strangelove, in which Buck Turgidson makes a compelling contrary argument, so I’m really not so sure), what the computer in WarGames did was reach a kind of meta-conclusion. A thorough examination of the available information suggested that no good answers could be found.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Flyting: More than 1,500 Years of Rap Battles


Battle Rap. Have you heard of it? It’s a fairly new thing that started in the 1980s, I am told. In fact, Wikipedia says:

Rap battle is generally believed to have started in the East Coast hip hop scene in the late 1980s. One of the earliest and most infamous battles occurred in December 1982 when Kool Moe Dee challenged Busy Bee Starski – Busy Bee Starski’s defeat by the more complex raps of Kool Moe Dee meant that “no longer was an MC just a crowd-pleasing comedian with a slick tongue; he was a commentator and a storyteller” thus, rendering Busy’s archaic format of rap obsolete, in favor of a newer style which KRS-One also credits as creating a shift in rapping in the documentary Beef.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hidden Costs


We had to extricate a driver from a crash early this morning. Two people, both intoxicated (possibly also meth included) crashed into a tree on a rural road. The passenger was transported by ambulance but it took us over an hour to cut the driver out. As often happens, his feet were trapped under the dashboard. Typically, we can push the dashboard up with hydraulic tools but, in this case, he was pushed into a tree in exactly the wrong spot. We had to winch the car away from the tree and still cut it to bits to get him out. The driver had broken his right femur, tibia, and fibula, and had a concussion and serious chest injuries. The passenger was almost as bad.

Now, for the hidden costs: three fire departments took part with hydraulic tools (Jaws of Life). Two of the responders were from the county seat and are paid, but the other seven were volunteers. Two fully staffed ambulances were on scene from our county; I believe that only people who are not residents of the county get billed for services but ALS ambulance operations are not cheap. There were five LEOs helping (deputies and one trooper), and one medical helicopter. The helicopter is the only piece of the response which will probably be completely paid for. Keep in mind that all of the deputies tied up were unavailable for any other duties, just as was true for the four pieces of fire apparatus, all because someone wanted to drive home after imbibing. We talk about the cost of this stuff all the time but rarely consider the second-order costs.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: The Art of Flirting


I used to watch Cambodian films from the 1950s to mid-1970s and it always tickled my fancy whenever characters break into songs (not unlike Bollywood but without the dancing). Sometimes, characters would belt out a cheery song in a cheerful scene and a sad song in a sad scene. But when it comes time for the male character to woo the female, he always, and I mean always, breaks into song. One can find the same thing repeated all over Khmer traditional literature such as plays, lyrics, and especially the verse-novels written between the 17th to early 20th centuries. If there is a flirting scene, then there is a song. It even appears in a few epic poems, though curiously enough, only the supporting characters sing.

The most famous scene in Khmer literature is a flirting scene from the verse-novel Tum Teav, where the main characters sing a lengthy duet in their first scene together. You can read the duet near the end of my post here. My all-time favorite comes from The Yaksha with the Magic Finger, a chapter from the epic Ramakerti II (2nd version of the Khmer Ramayana), where the male character upon seeing a woman so beautiful, he bursts into song. She, of course, replies. Here is how the duet goes:


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Next Cultural Innovation: Throuples


OK, if you’re a naïve rube like me you might ask yourself what is a “throuple?” It turns out it’s a relatively new word formed by the blending of “three” and “couple” and it means “a long-term sexual relationship between three people” per a new entry into the Macmillan Dictionary. They must be ahead of the cultural curve from Webster’s.

You would think that the culture couldn’t sink any lower. Every day this absurdity of changing one’s gender identity takes deeper root. Today we were informed that a biological male (is there really any other kind?) will be competing against women in the Olympic trials.


Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. ‘His Thumb on the Scales of Justice’: Chris Wallace


I am sorely disappointed in Chris Wallace. He does not usually say dumb things. But when he commented about Trump “putting his finger on the scale of justice” in the Roger Stone case, what he said was really stupid.

President Trump is the chief elected administrator in this country with authority over the Justice Department. When he sees the Justice Department do something unfair he not only has the right but the duty to address it. Isn’t that what we want in a president?