Smartphones Destroy Empathy


When I’m at a social event, I never tell anyone I’m a doctor, because I don’t want to talk about medicine when I’m trying to relax.  But we went to a party last night in our neighborhood here in Hilton Head, and all our friends of course know what I do for a living.  So Mrs. Jones comes up to me and says she hurt her shoulder, and it’s not getting better, and what should she do about it?  I couldn’t just glare at her and leave, because I was in her house drinking her Scotch.  So I politely listened to her complaints.

But I didn’t answer.  I just pointed across the room:  “Why don’t you go ask Bob?  He’s an orthopedic surgeon.  Surely he’d know more about this than me.  I’m just a humble primary care doc.”  Her face lit up, she thanked me, and she hustled right over to Bob, who had been enjoying her Scotch until that moment.  She started talking to him, he smiled at her, and then he looked across the room at me and gave me the stink eye.  I smiled and raised my glass to him.  I’m a giver.

There are a few reasons I deferred.  First of all, I really try to avoid giving medical advice to people who aren’t my patients.  I don’t know the case, I don’t know the background – that’s an easy way to say something stupid.  Second, it’s true, Bob would know more about this than me.  As it happens, her condition is one with which I have a lot of experience, and I probably could have answered her question.  But Bob is obviously more qualified.  And the third reason is that I try to avoid looking like a fool.  What if I answer, then she asks Bob, he gives a different answer, and I look like a fool?  No.  I try to avoid looking like a fool.  But then Tom came over, struck up a conversation with me, and proved that not everyone tries to avoid looking like a fool.

An Excerpt from the Art Auction Catalog of George Berges Gallery (Artist Anonymous)


Catalog Item 3987: “Phone Call” (acrylic on paper; opening bid = $75,000)

This minimalist, neo-cubist painting was inspired by a phone conversation with a cabinet secretary (maximum duration = 15 minutes). The work is eminently accessible from both a conceptual and a budgetary perspective. Since this is part of an ongoing series of works by the artist, the collector may commission a version of the painting in specific colors to complement any room décor.

From The Police Blotter: DC Police Chief Tells The Truth


The justice system is broken. There are a lot of experts out there on policing, and some of them have no clue about policing. Police officers are opting for early retirement, and some are just resigning.

Regardless of what you might be hearing from the White House, mayors, and city council members crime rates are soaring. The failure to set bail, or to sentence violent offenders, the seeds of the whirlwind are being sown.

A Short Lesson in Reading the Defense


I’ll keep this brief: Today provided some convenient material for demonstrating just how to assess your play calling strategy from the line of scrimmage in today’s ultra politicized game world.

The first comes from the propaganda spread at the top of the morning Yahoo Finance page. Aside from the asinine, fill-in-the-blank statement on early market activity, the other headlines almost always contain a tell and/or planted language to guide the browsing idiots. (Hint: Don’t ever read the articles, the headlines are brain numbing enough.) Earlier this year there were several moronic stories about how there is no downside to student debt forgiveness. Today we were greeted with a sure sign that our non-beltway special teams are undoubtedly doing something right:

Quote of the Day: Leftists are Prisoners of Their Own Ideas


Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. –Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke foretold the disaster that would become the radical political Left in the United States. The Left is disdainful of the morality to which many of us subscribe. They are weak and greedy and are therefore doomed to failure, because they don’t value the most honorable aspects of human nature: generosity, trust, respect and many other attributes that those on the Right have come to appreciate and venerate.

First Flight with the Skipper


I joined my first A-7 squadron, the “Golden Warriors” of Attack Squadron VA-87, at the beginning of January 1981. They had deployed to the Indian Ocean aboard the USS Independence (CV-62 – a non-nuclear-powered – Forrestal Class carrier) the previous October. My trip from stateside had been long and interesting (see my post – “A Long Way to the Indian Ocean”). The carrier’s trip was more straightforward; departing Norfolk, VA, south around the southern tip of Africa and then north to the Indian Ocean.

There were no flight ops the day after I arrived. It was standard practice for the Air Wing to fly a few days and then take a couple of days off for maintenance of the catapults and arresting gear. I arrived during one of those non-flying days and the next opportunity to fly wouldn’t be for a couple more days. There were some administrative tasks to complete first so the delay wasn’t unexpected.

USS Lexington (CVT-16)

This week we’ve got old friends as guests: The Discovery Institute’s Dr. Stephen Meyer joins to remind us that the God hypothesis gets us a lot further than alien astronauts. (Check out his excellent New York Post piece.) And then our own Dr. George Savage follows to speak about the new ominous Delta variant, and to point out that industrial policy is better left to innovators rather than bureaucrats. Rob Long is off this week, but James and Peter delve into the January 6th Commission, and rich people in space!

Music from this week’s podcast: Dear God by XTC

Ben & Jerry’s Rocky Road in Israel


By now most ice cream lovers have heard the news: Ben & Jerry’s is pulling its scoops out of Israel as part of the global Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state. While participation in a movement rooted in deep anti-Semitism is itself despicable – so too the political stance that Jews have no right to live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, home to the Western Wall – the decision to inflict economic harm on an Israeli company for political ends also comes with extensive legal, financial and reputational hurdles.

Unilever, a publicly traded company (NYSE: UL) that owns the Ben & Jerry’s brand, faces a rocky road ahead and is already finding itself in deep fudge with states around the country.

As of today, 33 states in America have adopted some form of anti-boycott law that requires the state to blacklist any company that boycotts Israel. Twelve of those states require their pension funds to divest any direct holdings and warn fund managers against indirect holdings of the blacklisted company. Twenty-one other states also prohibit state contracting with the blacklisted firm. In the last 24 hours, Texas and Florida have begun the process of blacklisting Unilever.

The Kids Are Alright… Sorta.


A newly released poll, carefully constructed and conducted, has some surprisingly good news about American college students’ views. The results are consistent with a 2019 Pew poll of the general public. The vast majority of videos and stories on college culture and students suggest very different answers than those offered by real students. The left has not won. It ain’t over ’til it’s over. No fate.

College Pulse Poll, June 2021: College Pulse offers marketing and research products linking American college students with businesses and non-profit organizations. Their June 2021 poll asked twenty-two questions on policy issues. The sample was drawn from over 400,000 enrolled students and carefully adjusted to reflect the actual demographics of the student population. See a brief, clear explanation of the survey design here.

Quote of the Day: President Biden Clears Everything Up


And the question is whether or not we should be in a position where you are — why can’t the experts say we know that this virus is, in fact — is going to be — or, excuse me — we know why all the drugs approved are not temporarily approved, but permanently approved. That’s underway, too. I expect that to occur quickly–US President Joseph Biden, July 21, 2021

Last night, Joe Biden appeared at a “Town Hall” meeting in Cincinnati, OH.  The event appears to have been sponsored by CNN, as one of its luminaries (Don Lemming) was the host. What?  That’s not his name?  Oh, well, silly me.  (If the shoe fits, etc.)

The quote above, which reads like a parody of something a person suffering from verbal incontinence might say, can be verified here.

Roald Dahl’s Message to Anti-vaccination Groups


“Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

‘Are you feeling all right?’ I asked her.

Francis Collins Cavils


On CNN, during an interview with Jim Acosta, the NIH director stated regarding the clash between Rand Paul and Anthony Fauci “Well, it’s very unfortunate to have something that I think could be readily resolved in terms of understanding the meaning of the term ‘gain of function.’ But instead this has turned into political theatrics.  It’s really unfortunate.  We have so many more important things to spend our time on right now. But it’s a diagnosis of just how polarized everything has become. So, that even in the face of this terrible pandemic that has taken more than 600.000 lives in this country, this kind of time is being wasted on this kind of posturing.”

Collins of course never tries to clarify the term “gain of function.”  His answer impresses me as a variation on a theme of Bill Clinton’s, every time he was asked about Monica Lewinski. He would refuse to answer and say he had to get back to work for the American people. Same sort of caviling.

Should Giannis Be the New Face of the NBA?


Truth is, I did not watch a single minute of NBA basketball this season. Caught some highlights on the news, but didn’t watch any games. Last year was pretty much the same.

I know for many, the kneeling and protesting against America, while at the same time defending communist China, has turned people against the league. But what if the face of the league wasn’t LeBron James but Giannis Antetokounmpo? The so-called “Greek Freak” celebrated his 50-point performance in the NBA Finals by going to Chick-Fil-A and ordering a 50 piece box of chicken nuggets.

The Observations of a Lioness: A Review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Prey’


Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Prey is about Islamic immigration into Europe and how it affects women’s rights and safety in Europe. I recommend the book for those interested in the subject. It is a solid 11 hours on Audible and covers many countries and issues within a broad category.

Notably for an Audible book, she handled statistics in an audiobook form. She included a PDF file with statistics and graphs, something other Audible books desperately need. Additionally, Ayaan Hirsi Ali doesn’t get bogged down. The audiobook format doesn’t really work well for memorizing numbers. In addition to her PDF, she goes through the important statistics slowly and deliberately. 

To summarize the numbers, things look bad for integrating Muslims in Europe. In terms of both opinions and behaviors, Islamic immigration seems to pose serious difficulties to both the immigrants and European societies. With regard to free speech or women working outside the home, or in terms of behaviors like rates of crime and polygamy, Muslims do worse than Vietnamese. Sadly, even after a generation or two of living in Europe, Muslim populations on average aren’t doing as well. 

This Ain’t the ’90s, or the ’70s, or Even the ’60s


I was reminded of what to some was a kinder, gentler time a few days ago when some dozen reliable Republicans were paraded out for a photo op to tout a “deal” that had been struck on where to throw the next trillion or so of new dollars in a demonstration of bipartisan expansion of government, Democrat agenda items and debt. For a few moments, at least the dog-and-pony Republicans were back in the limelight. Of course, the deal was soon blown up, revived again, blown up again, so on and so on. But we need not worry Mitt Romney has already been on CNN, where he is always welcome, to assure us that Joe Biden can be trusted. Some things are just too predictable.

I am required by conscience to pause here to give credit to @rodin for at least part of the title. I had most of the thoughts floating in my head, if not completely gathered yet. As you are about to see, they are still only loosely penned. But the phrase “’90s Republicanism” in one of his posts struck a chord. But I did feel that the concept easily applied to a few other decades as well, the ’90s edition was just the natural growth from the same old stump.  With that said, I just hope I am remembering right and it really was him! If not, “thank you” mystery contributor!

We are standing on a genuine deciding point in the history of our republic. It has been a fairly steady march to this cliff for about 100 years. There have been a few chances to not just slow the pace but alter the course. But for the most part, they became just very brief pauses. They became brief pauses because the Republican Party has had a reality problem.

Abolitionist Teaching Network: Coming to a School Near You


Have you heard about the latest partnership between the federal government and the Abolitionist Teaching Network? If not, I’m not surprised; you weren’t supposed to hear about it, since the Biden administration has been contracting with the ATN with      no announcement or fanfare. The reason? They don’t want you to know that they’ve created this alliance to intensify and increase the indoctrination of Critical Race Theory, not only for children, but for the teachers, too.

What does this alliance look like? The funding has already been allocated:

The Czech Republic Gets Its Very Own 2nd Amendment


From N-TV (all translations are mine):

The Czech Republic is adding the right to keep and bear arms to its constitution. After the Chamber of Representatives approved the amendment, the Senate, the Second Chamber of the Parliament, approved it with a considerable majority. The Constitution of the EU-Member State will contain the following sentence in the future:  “The right to defend one’s own life or the lives of others with a weapon is guaranteed under legal circumstances.”

Quote of the Day: Abundance


“America’s abundance was created not by public sacrifices to ‘the common good,’ but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America’s industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance—and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.” – Ayn Rand

Reactions to the Billionaires’ Space Race underscore this quote’s relevance today. Bezos and Branson using their bucks to travel into space has triggered a lot of jealousy and envy. Their flights have been decried as a stunt. There are calls to tax or ban this type of space travel.

Book Recommendation: The Mysterious Benedict Society


The Mysterious Benedict Society is now a miniseries on Disney Plus. Nobody will be surprised to learn the book is better.

The title is actually the title of the entire series, too, which now includes five books–the original, three sequels, and a prequel. Of the five, the original is clearly the best, a modern classic. The others books are just “fun reads”, written for pre-teens. I may be biased, but I think the original book is worth reading as an adult.

The Possibilities and Restraints of Our Collective Nostalgia


The Stahl House

There is much waxing nostalgic about the heights of American ideals in the recent past that clouds our judgment and decisions applied to the present and the future. Humans have a natural tendency to look to back on preceding eras as the hallmark of an idyllic time with an aim of its return. Drifting through the ether of the here-and-now with its ever-present doomsayers, political weaponizing, and unrealized dreams and ambitions of succeeding generations, idolizing the past has come to be a coping mechanism for present failures. It is time to stop the cycle. The America of the present is not an irredeemable sinner that must be destroyed because of its transgressions. Nor is it a martyr for a higher cause whose valor can only be proven by falling on its own honorable sword – a suicide for a cause that never was.

The July/August issue of Vanity Fair contains a profile of the quintessential Mid-Century Modern home – The Stahl House – the family that continues to occupy it, and its inextricable link to that post-war time. It is an essay supplemented with rich photographs of seemingly model figures in a model home. The picturesqueness implores the reader to place himself in that time and place – one free from the urgent madness and chaos of the present time. It is the same as our wonted habit of using nostalgia as the miracle salve for the complex world we occupy today. But it’s a mistake to conflate sentimental longings with concrete solutions for present problems. For conservatives, we often revert to the William F. Buckley, Jr. battle cry against the tyranny of progressivism to “Stand athwart history, yelling STOP”. Or waxing nostalgic for stern, Reaganesque rhetoric of the type that bound a nation together in a successful effort to defeat Communism. Just as we can’t place ourselves in the idealized pictures of the Stahl House, we cannot place ourselves in a foregone time to overcome our current crises.

Pulchritude Privilege


Have you ever noticed that when you’re making your way down the aisle on your way to your seat in coach, the passengers in first class seem to be more attractive than you are?  (On a recent trip to Paris, I took the photo below of the guy sitting next to me, fairly typical of the people in coach.)

What’s the deal?  What are all of these attractive people doing in first class?  Perhaps it’s a vanity thing.  Maybe attractive people like to watch, and be envied by, the plebes who wrestle with their bags on their way to the back of the plane.

The King of Stuff talks with Alberto de la Cruz, a Cuban American living in Miami and Managing Editor of the invaluable Babalú Blog. Alberto and his writers have tirelessly documented the uprising in Cuba that began Sunday, July 11, and continues throughout the island nation. He talks about how it began, what’s happening now, and what it will take for the decrepit Castro regime to finally fall.

Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from the show. Today’s pick is the song that helped spark the uprising, “Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”) by Cuban musicians on the island (Maykel Osorbo and El Funky) and in exile (Yotuel, Gente De Zona, and Descemer Bueno).

48 Canadian Churches Vandalized or Burned Down in Past 2 Months


Though barely mentioned in US media, 48 Christian churches in Canada have been vandalized or burned down in the past two months. The latest occurred Monday, when the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Colombia, was destroyed by fire.

Since mid-June, five B.C. churches were set alight, apparently connected to unmarked graves discovered at former residential school sites. The schools were instituted in 1874 as an effort to assimilate native tribes in language, religion, and culture. First Nations children were removed from their families and often moved great distances into the boarding schools. The program officially ended in 1969.

No evidence has shown if the deaths came from natural causes or intentional abuse but most of the Canadian press has presumed the latter. Since the Catholic Church ran 70 percent of these schools, it has borne most of the current backlash. But it didn’t take long for arsonists and vandals to attack churches far from First Nations reserves and unrelated to Catholicism.

Quote of the Day: Momentum


“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.”
— Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

“Same-sex marriage…was the trigger for not only woke capitalism, but the radicalism of today’s left. It was the success that they had in achieving gay marriage that gave them momentum, made them think that nothing would ever arise within American society to stop them, and has led to a kind of acceleration of all these cultural issues. It wasn’t a week after Obergefell was decided that the cake baking episode happened, and then transgenderism became an issue, where all these same groups began accelerating their attacks on the traditional ideas that there are men and women. So I think same-sex marriage was a real accelerant in the decline of marriage from all of the perspectives, but also an accelerant in the collapse of America’s regime.”
— Dr. Scott Yenor, The American Mind podcast, July 19, 2021

The general public may be finally noticing the leftward lurch happening in universities and in K-12, public and private, but the culture has been shifting for decades. It started in the 1960s with a variety of changes in social norms, like the elimination of strict dress codes and curfews for women at the large public university my mother attended. Her first year, in 1962, the female students had a 10 p.m. curfew. The next year, those rules were scrapped. By the time I got to college, we no longer had female-only dorms. The closest to that you could come was an all-female floor. I have yet to embark on college tours for my own daughter, but what I have read suggests that it will be difficult to find such a sex-segregated living situation. Even in the 1990s, some colleges had embraced co-ed dorms to the extent that even the bathrooms were co-ed. A friend who attended one of these institutions told me about the discomfort of that living situation and the efforts she would make to find a single stall bathroom in another building when she really needed privacy.