The Occidental Croquet and Touring Society


On March 19, 2020, I and three other members of the above somewhat imaginary but mostly actual society were scheduled to leave on our yearly 11-day sans-spouses trip to unusual destinations. We were to visit Zagreb, Croatia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Graz, Austria; and Vienna. It was a go, right up to the moment it wasn’t.

The Society was the product of a simpler time (2014) when I had the notion that we might be able to improve our situation through the application of civility.  To quote from the original brochure, “The Occidental Croquet and Touring Society will be involved in what is best described as splendid adventure travel, more Ernest Hemingway than Ernest Shackleton. Tours of museums and battlefields in the company of academic experts, docent-led distillery and winery outings, travel by train, ship, and air, and drinks at the dankest pubs and finest hotel bars. The one thing there will not be is beaches (Omaha, Juno and Sword excepted).”

Time, Money, and Priorities


It has been said that a young person invests time to gain money. But that same person, older and wealthier, will spend money to buy time.

I feel like that quite a lot these days; when I was younger I would go to extreme lengths to save a dollar. But now I am increasingly willing to spend money if it means I can spend my time doing the things for which I can be most productive.

Rubber in Liberia


In the first decades of the 20th century, rubber changed from a material that was a sometime useful curiosity into a vital strategic asset. This was especially true in the heavily-industrialized United States, with a massive demand for rubber in both transportation and industry.  The problem was the United States controlled no sources of rubber. Every pound came from foreign countries or colonies controlled by foreign countries.

“Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia,” by Greg Mitmann tells of one US attempt to circumvent that shortfall. It relates how Firestone, a US company, with the support of the US government established and ran rubber plantations in Liberia between the 1920s and the 1980s.

Liberia an independent nation on Africa’s Slave Coast was established in 1822 by the United States. One of three independent nations in Africa in 1920, it was not a colony. It was settled by free blacks from the United States, part of an effort to solve the US’s slave issue by returning blacks to Africa. Its historic ties with the United States made it an ideal choice for “American” rubber.

Film Review: Strange Circus


The Creepiest Show on Earth

“Everything looked like a guillotine,” narrates Mitsuko in the beginning of Strange Circus. She is recounting her childhood living under the torment of an emotionally sadistic father. Like any abused child she is in a constant state of anxiety, worried she may do something to draw her father’s ire. In that situation, even the walls must look dangerous, like armed guards blocking any chance of escape.

Mitsuko’s father, Ozawa, is also the principal of her school where his face is broadcast into the classrooms each morning on a TV screen like a low rent Big Brother. The school hallways are soaked in crimson. Crimson ceiling, crimson drapes, crimson walls, crimson carpet. The walls are textured like dripping blood frozen in place. It’s disquieting when two students slowly wheel a TV down the hall, Ozawa’s stern eyes staring daggers from the screen. These halls show up frequently, sometimes empty of people, other times looking like they’ll drown the pale little figure of Mitsuko.

How to Steal 40 Years of Elections


Over at the Federalist, Executive Editor Joy Pullman has a magnificent piece up detailing the things that made her gasp in Mollie Hemingway’s new book Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections.

The Pullman article is a rip-roaring read, and if you haven’t read Hemingway’s book by now, you will within 15 minutes of reading Pullman’s gazette of the work.  I’ll gazette Pullman here in turn, just to whet your appetite.  Following is a mighty condensation of what Pullman has said about Hemingway’s new book.  Just the first four points — Pullman herself has assembled seven points so far based on her reading to date: “… I’m not even done. I just started the Hunter Biden chapter…”

Halloween, Compton, Circa 1950


I always went as a hobo.  Since I was something of a rumpled kid anyway, my knees usually torn (I was an inveterate marble player), all that was left to do was to rub a bit of dirt on my face and then throw a stick over my shoulder at the end of which was a kerchief filled with crumpled newspaper.  Voila: eleven-year-old boy transformed into a miniature bindlestiff on the hunt for candy.

It was a simpler time. Here are some kids in their homemade costumes. In 1950, you could get by (see the second kid from the left) with a painted-on mustache and a towel over your head.  Sometimes a kerchief, simple mask, and a stuffed chest (like the kid on the far right) would do the trick. (I suspect there was a boy behind that mask. a boy who thought that his gigantic breasts were fricken hilarious.  Well, I would have, anyway.)

Karma Is Relentless


First, I know very little about professional sports. The only sports I ever paid attention to were the ones in which I had a child participating….Little League baseball, little kid soccer, etc. I only know all the rules for high school football because I attended every home game of my children’s schools because I was a Band Mom for 12 years. You know…marching band? Halftime shows? I’ve never watched sports on television because I’m just not interested in the pros.

However, tonight when I was driving home I heard on my truck radio that the Atlanta Braves had beaten the Houston Astros in game three of the World Series so the next game would be played in Atlanta on Saturday night.

Ashli Babbitt Shooting: Murder? Negligent Homicide? Perhaps Tucker’s Special Will Shed Some Light


Recently I opened a post, entitled “The Mindless, Heartless Execution of Ashli Babbitt”, with the following words:

I am haunted by the murder of Ashli Babbitt, an unarmed Air Force veteran who was almost certainly one of the very few citizens in America history to be executed for trespassing- even in the “hallowed” halls of our National Capitol, already soiled and profaned by the corruption which sluices through its spaces like the sewage it is.

The Dictator of Washington State Claims He Doesn’t Have ‘Authority’ to Delay Long-term Care Tax


…But he does seem to have the authority to initiate a Covid vaccine mandate statewide for indoor venues like restaurants, music venues, bars, and movie theaters.  The Dictator is “monitoring” King County’s mandate to see if it can be expanded statewide.

Here is a link to the article where Dictator Inslee states that he can’t delay the start of the LTC tax which all state workers will be required to pay into starting January 1. By the way, commercial LTC insurance, which workers are required to buy if they do not wish to pay the ever-increasing (the law establishing the tax says that the rate can be increased twice a year) LTC tax, is nearly impossible to get, since all the insurance companies which sell that type of insurance have a long, involved process for evaluating customers that will take longer than until January 1.

Financial Interactions: Arms-length, or Relationship-building?


If I do someone a favor, and they repay that favor, are we then equal? Take an extreme case: you save someone’s life, and then, somehow, they save yours. From a rational perspective, one might say that neither party owes the other anything. Each can go their own way, debt-free. But from a human perspective, everything has changed: you now share a common and strong bond.

Any transaction can be understood in this way. We can be cold and transact with others merely for the purpose of buying or selling something.  Or we can see every transaction as an opportunity to grow together. In a nutshell, this also describes a key ingredient in successful marriages: those who keep score in a marriage are missing the entire point.

Republicans: The Virtue of Realism


As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

If the Republican Party were a monarchy, it could announce its intentions and its loyal subjects would fall in line and march as ordered. As king, the Republican Party could use its fiat power to declare that the things it claims to support and believe in — American exceptionalism, limited government, free markets, a strong military, and the Constitution — were sacrosanct; the Party’s subjects would dutifully vote for the Party and elect its candidates.

One Person’s Crisis Is Another’s Opportunity – and I’m Cashing In!


I first heard of this lesson from, from of all places, reading Gone With the Wind as a young teen, where the novel describes Rhett Butler taking advantage of the Union’s blockades of southern ports and running them with the goods that the southerners want.  Of course, Captain Butler, having taken on the risk, sells his goods at a high price and seems to be the only man in Atlanta with money.  Obviously, this axiom applies in the real world as well.  Most recently, many have speculated that “Friends of W”, George W. Bush, made out like bandits in their associations with the military-industrial complex because of the 20-year GWOT.  (What is it with wars and crisis opportunities?)

Anywho, word has come down that, for once, my own situation is about to be bettered by, what appears to be most certainly a crisis in the U.S.  You all have heard that China is beating the U.S. like a rented mule in the new space race, and more particularly, advances in hypersonic flight.  As it turns out, my kid, who is a Materials Science and Engineering major, just got offered a full ride and a support stipend toward a 2-year research master’s degree in the field of hypersonic materials.  In this case, it seems that a number of defense industry companies need some immediate research and development in the particular area of hypersonic materials and are throwing some serious money around.  And apparently, only real U.S. citizens are allowed to work on these projects so, since I raised a genuine Texan and an Eagle Scout, he got the nod.   (I’m sure his selection might have a little to do with him already being a published researcher and invited presenter in materials science as an undergrad)  I am grateful for his tremendous opportunity, especially one that I personally won’t be paying for out of my own pocket.  <happy dance>

Does Any of This Make Any Sense to Anybody?


From Wikipedia:

Brittney Cooper is an American author, professor, activist, and cultural critic. Her areas of research and work include black women organizations, black women intellectuals, and hip-hop feminism. In 2013 and 2014, she was named to the’s “Root 100,” an annual list of top Black influencers.” Dr. Cooper got her BA in English & Political Science from Howard University, her Master’s in Liberal Arts from Emory, and a PhD in American Studies from Emory. She is now a tenured professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers. She has also written several books, including “Eloquent Rage:  A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.”

Dr. Cooper was recently asked in an interview what Black Americans can expect from White people.  She responded:

When the FBI Protects Moral Monsters


The members of the Fairfax County and Loudoun County School Boards here in Northern Virginia are little more than pipsqueaks and perverts (there is one good member of the Loudoun County School Board. There are none at Fairfax).

They are power-hungry, low-level bureaucratic hacks who don’t give two hoots for the children under their care except to inculcate these children into the mores of the radical Left, especially the sexual Left. They mandate all manner of sexual sickness and madness upon even the littlest ones. Their work is akin to grooming.

I hold these members in complete and utter contempt. I am aware they feel the same way about the parents of the children under their thumb. After all, they now make parents stand outside in the cold before they are allowed in, one at a time, and given 60 seconds to address their majesties.

There are no crystal balls on Ricochet, but we can’t keep our eyes off the future. What’s to become of the GOP? Hard to say; but our guest David Drucker has written a book and launched his very own podcast to ponder these very questions. Rob and James put him in the interviewee seat for a change get his take on how candidates will have to navigate a climate that’s been permanently altered by Donald Trump.

Photo: Twitter/@holmes_reports/NBC29

Poland Fighting For Its Freedom – Why Doesn’t America?


Poland is fighting against a powerful tide – more like a tidal wave. The leadership is fighting for its sovereignty, freedom, and the heart and soul of a country that has suffered so much. Does that sound familiar?  The European Union is not amused.  Maybe it is because Poland only threw off the stranglehold of communism in 1989, and they remember the oppression.  That’s only 32 years ago.  Can you imagine for a moment if the United States was only free for the last 32 years?

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in an October 18 letter to EU leaders:

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that Polish law takes precedence over European Union law. The landmark ruling, which seeks to reassert national sovereignty over certain judicial matters, has called into question the legitimacy of the EU’s supranational legal and political order.

My Family’s Ghost Story


What follows is not fiction. This is both an accounting of recent sad events and our family lore. You may chalk it up to superstition, imagination, or the random firings of neurons as the brain flickers out, but I am conveying it to you as it was told to me, and you can make of it what you will.

My brothers and I, and our sister, grew up in a farmhouse that was built over the foundation of the house that had stood previously, which in the 1800s had served as the county poor farm. You could still find chips of pottery and bits of old furniture by digging a few inches into our yard. Our mother kept several old glass bottles she had found intact while digging her garden.

Going to Court for the Gospel


I work for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, so I’ve been asked to be careful about what I post for confidentiality purposes. But I think I’m okay passing on this Daily Signal article. Our director, Scott Chin, does a good job of making our case. Here’s a bit from the article along with the link:

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission has been serving the homeless and needy of its community for nearly 90 years. But now, the Washington Supreme Court has given it the Hobson’s choice of changing its religious beliefs or closing its doors.

Surprises, Start to Finish


Country Western Music Clipart ImageIt may come as a surprise to some of you (but perhaps not to others), that I — a high-toned Brit raised in West Africa — have a serious weakness for American music of the sort that used to be known as country and western. (My affection doesn’t extend much beyond that, and certainly not to the over-amped, multitrack, increasingly woke pap and purveyors of such that have infected the modern oeuvre.)

No: I’ll take Patsy. The Carters. Hank. Loretta. Johnny. Tammy. Willie. Kitty. Dolly. Randy. June. Tom T. Cal. And so on. I suggest you don’t test me. I can prose on for hours. I also realize that some of my heroes cross musical boundaries. And that’s fine. I’m not a purist, other than in my search for some sort of authenticity in the sound and the sentiment.

By extension, I ♥ Bluegrass. The rawer, the better. One of my favorite tapes (and it is a tape; I should probably digitize it in case it breaks one day) is one that a friend of Mr. She gave us many years ago, a montage of his favorite performances from some local bluegrass festivals he and his wife had attended over the years. I have no idea who many of these lads and lasses (some in their dotage, and many of them, I’m sure, dead by now) are, but they’re awesome!

Two girls were raped in high schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, by the same teenaged boy. But since the (now convicted in one of the cases) rapist is “a boy wearing a skirt,” the Leftist school board was more interested in covering it up than protecting those girls.

Meanwhile, conservative commentators are using Leftist terminology by describing the teenaged rapist as a “biological boy,” as if there are non-biological boys.  Also in Virginia,  Obama says parents’ outrage at school board meetings is fake.

Your podcast player has been Martini Shot-less for a while now, and Rob has a good reason for it. No, not a Hollywood writer’s excuse why the draft is two months late — he really does have a legitimate excuse for why you haven’t heard from him in a (pardon the expression) long time. Listen and find out. And yes, we’ll be back with another “Shot” next week. We promise.

Cop Out, or, How I Would Run a Climate Conference week, world leaders and dignitaries will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, to indulge in an orgy of environmental self-adulation known as COP26. These moneyed elites and scientific grifters will pontificate on the urgency of tackling Climate Change through the adoption of wholesale societal changes that sort of resemble communism. Private jets will converge near the posh Scottish Event Center for days of fine conversation, fine wine, and fine dining on the premise of saving the world from their lessers.

Poverty eradication in Mozambique: Progress and challenges ...Now, if I was running a climate conference it would be different. The event would be held in August, the hottest month, in some poor African country like Liberia. Instead of limos and helicopters, the participants would take a donkey from the airport to a small village. The elites would stay in non-air-conditioned cinder-block hovels. Their food (bread) would be cooked in the corner of that shack over dung. Their fine wine would actually be water they have to pump from a well a block away. It would probably be potable, but maybe not. The housing units would share a ditch to use as a latrine. There would be no electricity and no internet and the conversations would take place in a clearing with makeshift seating. Hopefully, after a week of living like the energy have-nots, they would appreciate the fact that 4 million Africans die each year because they lack cheap electricity.

Meanwhile, any world leaders that will admit that CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) is a hoax will meet up at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for a week of appreciating the prosperity brought by the miracle of cheap electricity. The world spends about 10% of all its income on energy, so having people pay 2, 4, or 10 times the minimal cost is a huge deal. The elites want you to be cold, in the dark dark, and hungry, while they live in luxury paid for through your labor.

Dare We Hope Youngkin Might Actually Win?


Watching Virginia election results is depressing for conservatives. The more rural parts of the states roll in first, showing a close race in any presidential or statewide contest. Then, in come the results from northern VA and the Democrat wins in a blowout.

So I’ve tried to temper my enthusiasm for Glenn Youngkin. Yes, he’s run an exceptionally good campaign while his sleazy opponent, Terry McAuliffe, has been abysmal. But still…

Polls released Thursday afternoon indicate a tipping point for the Old Dominion.