John Garand: The Forgotten History of the Man Who Invented the Iconic M1 Garand Rifle


“In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” —  General George S. Patton

Today is John Garand’s Birthday! Any gun nut – er, “firearms enthusiast” – worth their salt has heard of the M1 Garand (it rhymes with “errand,” by the way). This .30-06 semi-automatic rifle is one of the most iconic American firearms of all time, and was the standard-issue weapon for American infantry troops during World War II and the Korean War. Drill teams and honor guards continue to use this in the present day, such is its role as a symbol of the American military.

Fewer, however, know about the life story of the man behind the weapon – John Garand, a Canadian-American engineer and weapons designer. Born one of a whopping 12 children on a Quebec farm, Garand’s father relocated the entire family to Connecticut following the untimely death of the clan’s mother in 1899. All six boys in the family had the official first name St. Jean le Baptiste, however, John Garand was the only one of them who used “Jean” as his first name. The other five used their middle names.

Statists Protect Their Own


I finally got around to opening up my latest issue of “Claremont Review of Books” today. What a fantastic publication. If you don’t subscribe, you really should. Anyway, this issue features a long essay from Michael Anton titled “The Empire Strikes Back.” He provides an outstanding summary of the various impeachment attempts against Donald Trump, starting immediately after his election. He also shares several fascinating insights into the people and events involved, but it was this paragraph that really caught my eye (emphasis mine):

It is no accident or coincidence that the only three presidents who have fundamentally challenged the administrative state … have been dogged by “scandal” and threatened with impeachment: Richard Nixon by Watergate, Ronald Reagan by Iran Contra, and now Trump. (Whatever you think of Bill Clinton’s impeachment it was emphatically not driven or supported by the administrative state, which protected him at every turn.) Trump would likely take this as small consolation, but it’s a measure of how much he’s feared that his enemies are running this play against him now, rather than simply trying to defeat him next year. Which more than suggests they doubt they can.

President Obama repeatedly said how proud he was that his administration was free of scandal. After Fast and Furious, weaponizing the IRS against political opponents, Benghazi, illegal State Dept email servers, various VA cover-ups, weaponizing the FBI against political opponents, and so on and so forth, you might find that to be an extraordinary claim. But those issues never hurt him, since the press buried them as soon as they came out. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said that the Obama administration was “without any ethical shadiness.”

Predictions for 2020


I have drawn on my vast psychic powers to make bold predictions for the coming year. Check back next December to see how many I got right.

1. A Democrat will be caught in a corruption scandal but will escape prosecution or punishment.

Quote of the Day: Goldwater on Equality


“Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. … Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.” — Barry Goldwater

Just a little thought for a New Year’s morning.

Christmas Present for Hezbollah? [UPDATE: 1 January 2020]


Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper announced on December 29 that F-15E Strike Eagles bombed several Khomenist Iranian regime proxy force sites in Iraq and Syria. This apparently followed repeated provocations, attacks on Iraqi government forces where there were also U.S. forces in the vicinity. Such attacks would be intended to push U.S. forces into more and more protective isolation or withdrawal from the region, ceding regional influence to the Iranian ayatollahs.

The airstrikes back the increasing campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure, which is squeezing the thugocracy as the population increasingly shows unrest and discontent with the regime.

Memories of 2019


I’ve gone through a little exercise, the past several New Year’s Eves, to try to sum up the year that’s passing in twelve words, one for each month. Herewith, my roundup for 2019: Softness, Family, Broken, Celebration, Construction, Sickness, Renovation, Compromise, Stabilization, Justice, Insurance, Acceptance.

In no particular order: Item: Two dear friends with life-threatening illnesses, both diagnosed in the same month. Both my age. Scary. Item–A lovely new sunroom on the Southside of the house (some days, when it’s in the 20s outside, it’s in the 80s in the sunroom. There’s a stand of trees in front of it, and when they’re in full leaf, rather than bare as they are now, it’s shaded in the summer. Item: Some beautiful soft and fluffy snows in January, but other than that, not much of a winter. Item: A bit too much involvement with the criminal justice system, across a couple of months, but ultimately the best outcome we could have hoped for in the trial of my stepson’s murderers. Item: Family celebrations, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and love. Another year older, and signed up for Medicare. At least my monthly health insurance premium went down.

Item: A few relationship difficulties, and the eventual resolution and coming to terms with them. Item–A gradual settling and stabilizing of the house, following the undermining, and after a year, the feeling that it might be “safe” to start to remediate some of the problems. So far, so good, and I have an opening front door again! Item–A monumental, weeks-long, blow-up with Mr. She’s Medicare Advantage insurer, who canceled his coverage because they said we hadn’t paid the bill. (Big mistake. Huge.) The week after I got a letter from the office of the Highmark CEO, acknowledging their error, and making all sorts of prayerful amends, I switched Mr. She’s insurance over to UPMC and canceled Highmark. A petty, but sweet, revenge. Item: the completion of bits of drywalling and painting that I’ve been waiting for, for 34 years, upstairs; and the finishing of the stairwell, including the framing in and “prettifying” of the electrical panel. Unfortunately, at the same time, the guy who was putting a new deck on the back of the house (see “remediation of subsidence problems,” above) ruptured a tendon in his finger, so that project is on indefinite hiatus. Still, I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, and starting to conceive of the possibility that the house may be finished before I am carried out of it feet first. This is a new feeling, and I like it.

Scarlet Fever? Like What the Pilgrims Always Died From?


Just a few minutes after I posted Laura’s piece about Christmases past from Little House on the Main Feed yesterday, I got my own reminder about being thankful for modern life.

Two days ago I brought my youngest son, 2-year-old “Altima” (his online nickname is where he was born: in my husband’s Nissan) to the pediatrician. He had been running a 102-103 degree fever for several days and wouldn’t eat, despite us hearing his stomach rumbling from hunger. The doctor took a double swab: one for a rapid strep test and one for a throat culture. When the rapid test came back negative, we assumed it was a virus; my guess was coxsackie because he was also covered in a rash.

How Did You Find Ricochet?


We are having a nice discussion on the member page talking about ways to improve Ricochet and advertising is coming up.

It led to my remembering how I found Ricochet a few years ago. I was watching Uncommon Knowledge on YouTube and Peter Robinson was interviewing John Yoo; they talked about something called Ricochet and I wondered what it was. A few more videos and the constant mentioning of the site came up and I decided to come here. I started listening to podcasts and became hooked pretty soon after.

A Warrior’s Last Days


Kit Carson arrived in Pueblo, CO, riding in the back of Daniel Oakes’ wagon about the second day of April 1868. A runner was sent to the town’s doctor, Michael Beshoar, telling him that Carson was ill and needed to see him as soon as possible. Beshoar was working at his second job which was editor and publisher of a local newspaper. He hurried to his medical office only moments before Carson.

After the examination, Carson spent the night in Pueblo and met with the doctor the next morning for an opinion. He was told that he had an aneurysm of the carotid artery, a bulge in the weakened wall of the artery, and he should have bed rest for a few days before continuing to travel. The old scout refused the bed rest saying he belonged with his wife for the birth of their eighth child. He was given some wild cherry syrup laced with opium and tincture of veratrum to slow his heart. He paid the doctor three silver dollars and left to rejoin his wife.

Three days after Kit and the now 40-year-old Josefa Carson settled back into the borrowed three-room apartment belonging to Tom Boggs in eastern Colorado, their eighth child was born. It was a daughter and Kit insisted she be named Josefita after her mother. It was April 13.

Courage in the Empire and Lone Star States


As most of you probably know by now, there were two terrible attacks on peaceful Americans at prayer this weekend.

On Sunday morning, at the West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth, Texas, a gunman shot two church members during worship service.  Texas being Texas, the church had volunteer armed security and the head of security killed the attacker in seconds with a single shot.

Happy Old Year


It seems to have become fashionable — even de rigeur — to observe the end of every year with “Good riddance!” It’s a trend I’ve noticed for the last several years, but it has doubtless been going on longer than that. Every December 31, we’re all inundated with online commentary insisting that the year now ending has been a terrible one, and we’re glad to finally see the back of it. Often it’s just a throwaway comment in a story about something else, repeated as if it goes without saying (“It was an awful year, but there were some interesting phones released!”). It’s predictable, and it’s tiresome.

I’m not claiming that every year is a good one. But it’s no less reasonable to say that every year is a bad one, and that’s the impression one would get by surveying the online chatter from each December. My bet is that most of these comments come from people whose lives are actually going fine, but it’s a knee-jerk reflex to sound disgruntled all the time. I suppose the reasoning must be that contentment results only from ignorance, so griping and complaining are a badge of intelligence and awareness. But words have an effect, and I find it depressing to be surrounded by so many people who are so determined to be unhappy (or at least to portray themselves as unhappy).

Powell’s Books in Portland (short observations)


I went to a bookstore in Portland as part of a short vacation trip with my Dad. It was Powell’s Books which is truly a great bookstore. Three or four stories of anything you could want but Limbaughs’ latest book. The new-age shamanistic ritual section was especially fun and expansive.

By far my favorite was the Northwest section; they really did have lots of hard-to-find books about the local history, architecture, and sheer uniqueness of the Pacific Northwest. It was refreshing to find a selection of books that wouldn’t be readily available in any other part of the world. I hope a visitor to Chengdu Sichuan can visit a bookstore filled with odd books about Sichuanese stuff that she has never heard about before.

What I found peculiar was that every section of the bookstore had a section that highlighted books by LGBTQ and people of color. You would think that Portland was filled with nothing but black and brown same-sex couples hugging in a sentimental fashion. Also, I seem to recall that people of color didn’t include Asian people for some reason. This is odd because from what I saw, Asians were a significant minority of people in Portland. According to Google, 8.06% of Portland’s citizens are Asian and 5.51% are mixed race. (Asians have a high rate of intermarriage.)

QotD: How the years ran away…the best is yet to come


Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away

Charles Aznavour (1966)

The Best is yet to come and babe, won’t that be fine?
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine

It’s New Year’s Eve and this is our last podcast for 2019. So we think the best way to close out the year and open 2020 is to listen to speeches rarely heard, yet truly fascinating. Let’s Listen.

It’s Not a Mask


I’m tired but can’t sleep; an experience everyone has at some point. But not everyone fears to close one’s eyes for what thoughts and dreams will rush into the void of sensation. Not everyone screams and mutters without making a sound in a familiar internal battle to “just shut up and go to sleep.”

Mental illnesses are as varied as personalities. We speak of symptoms and causes generally, as with diseases and purely physical ailments, because there is a utility in generalizations and playing the odds. But depression, crippling anxiety, compulsions, hallucinations, and other psychological oddities are not like a rash that looks the same on anyone.

Prospective Fact Check on Monsey Machete Attack


There has already been plenty of finger pointing over the attempted massacre of a group of Orthodox Jewish men in Monsey, New York. The FBI is now on the case. Whatever explanations are offered up, by whatever source, check them against the map and what we have been told about the location of the attack and the attacker’s life.

Reason and Authority


I have a new book on Reason, Authority, and the Healing of Desire in the Writings of Augustine. What exactly are reason and authority? Let’s talk about that. Ok, not really. Let’s just overview what Augustine thinks.

We might define reason as rational belief and trust in authority as irrational belief—perhaps as having nothing to do with rationality, or maybe as in tension or conflict with it. But this is way off. Augustine explains that it’s rational to trust the testimony of authority. It is necessary for life, and even those who most protest against trust-based systems of belief readily trust their parents’ claim to being their parents, the claims of geographers about distant cities, and the claims of historians about ancient people.

We might even go so far as to suggest that reason is merely the operating of our minds in a rational manner in order to know the truth; we could further define trust in authority as one of reason’s necessary operations. This is closer to Augustine, but still not quite right. He emphasizes the distinction between reason and authority, not their sameness.

RIP, Vaughn Oliver


With @jameslileksremembrance of Syd Mead and Neil Innes, I must note the passing of one of my favorites, Vaughn Oliver. As I worked my way through college, I started a graphic design studio, creating posters for local bands, logos for start-ups, and newsletters for churches and other non-profits. All the while, I was listening to bands on the British record label 4AD and gawking at their genius covers. Nearly all were designed by Oliver.

If Picasso was right when he said, “good artists borrow, great ones steal,” I was one of the greatest, thanks to Mr. Oliver and his studios, Envelope 23 and v23. His combination of photography, typography, and images drawn from the lyrics enhanced 4AD’s moody, ethereal offerings. I got into a few of my favorite bands of the ’80s and ’90s thanks to his incredible covers. More than once I pored through the CD racks, saw his design, and thought, oh, this has to be good.

A sampling of the work that defined my college days and beyond:

In his third year in office, President Donald Trump continued to deliver an extraordinary list of both domestic and foreign policy accomplishments. He delivered for the forgotten Americans, got NATO allies to cough up more money, stood with the people of Hong Kong, and ordered the operation that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

With 2019 wrapping up, Dany and Marc teamed up to review and debate the ten best things that the president did this year. But does the good outweigh the bad? On the next episode, they’ll discuss the ten worst things that Trump did in 2019.

Campus Culture Complexities


I’m no longer a community college student; as of the fall semester, I am now a student at a state university. I’m loving the coursework; I am doing undergrad classes to try to get into Speech-Language Pathology grad school.

How do I feel about the culture at the school? Well, it’s complicated.

My 300th post about, um, I’m not sure what…


I joined Ricochet six years ago, but didn’t start posting until three years ago. What started as an occasional amusement has gradually turned into, um, something else. It’s fun to discuss things with people smarter than me, and I enjoy learning what my Ricochet colleagues think about things. But honestly, I think I write to figure out what I think about things. Even just taking 45 minutes to put together a quick essay about a topic forces me to organize my thoughts (…or at least try to organize my thoughts…), and then to address what I anticipate to be the most likely arguments from people smarter than me. This process often leads me to conclusions that I previously hadn’t considered, so I’m learning even before you people start to teach me. And then I learn much, much more. It’s a healthy, although often humbling, process.

I had hoped that my scattered essays would build into a more cohesive body of work. Perhaps I could learn what my overall personal philosophy looks like. Gain an understanding of my own worldview. That would be great. But I don’t think that’s happened. That’s a little disappointing, but it may be a good thing, as I’ll try to explain later. I sat down today to search for that elusive common thread in my old posts. Just skimming around, looking for something. It’s hard to find something, if you don’t know what it is.

Again, I came up empty, but I found a few posts that may suggest a pattern. Sort of. If you squint, a bit. Some of these were well liked by my Ricochet colleagues, and some were not. Just for fun, I’ll list a few below. If you have some time to kill, read through them and see if you can find anything more cohesive than I could. If you have better things to do with your time, I encourage you to scroll on to the next post on the feed, which is likely to be more interesting that self-indulgent navel-gazing. Although, in my defense, I also intend to share this post with my kids and others with whom I would like to share my thoughts.