Concentric Circles


My fingers are popping on the flat key board of a red laptop that my mom gave me as backup for when my work computer failed. I’m holding my wrists up to avoid the sensitive mouse pad. One brush on that surface could be fatal to my post.

The round pine table serving as my desk I purchased from our local online garage sale for $60. It is sturdy, with two little chairs whose microfiber padding needed a good scrubbing to get rid of the smoke smell. The address for the item turned out to be a trailer park, in a part of town with a dicey reputation, but I didn’t even inquire about smoke exposure when I pulled up. I needed a table right away, since my parents were going to be visiting. I put cushions on the chairs after they dried out, and I do not regret the purchase.

Quote of the Day: Laughter


“Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” — Mark Twain

Do we want to marginalize woke-scolds? Laugh at them. Make them figures of fun. Similarly for Progressives. (Indeed, Progressives realize this too. Alinsky’s fifth rule states “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”)

Service: A Character of the Finest Crystal


During a month devoted to Group Writing on service, it is fitting to speak of Witold Pilecki, of whom I briefly wrote once before on Ricochet, whose example of service to his country and to all humanity serves as an inspiration to all of us.

A life story so dramatic and improbable as to sound like fiction (perhaps lifted from an Alan Furst novel). A Pole who fought against Russians, Germans, Nazis and Communists, a man who volunteered for imprisonment in Auschwitz, organized resistance cells, who escaped from the camp to alert his fellow Poles and the Western Allies about the mass murder of the Jews and urge them (unsuccessfully) to destroy Auschwitz and liberate its captives. Murdered by communists, for 40 years his surviving family suffered, his deeds, and even existence, extinguished in his homeland and little known elsewhere.

Born in 1901 in the remote Karelian region of northern Russia where his family was relocated after participating in the unsuccessful Polish uprising of 1863-4 against Czarist Russia (his father spent seven years in Siberia for his role), Pilecki was raised as a Polish patriot. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, young Witold made his way to what was then German-occupied Poland. With the collapse of Germany and amid Russia’s turmoil at the end of the war, Poland regained the independence it lost in 1795. For the next two years, Poland and the new Soviet Union fought a war in which advantage swung wildly; at one point Polish forces entering Kiev, and later the Soviets on the verge of taking Warsaw. The Poles eventually prevailed, preserving their independence. Witold fought throughout, twice receiving the Cross of Valour for bravery.

Duderus, Brovaries, and the ERA


From Friday’s LifeNews, I learn that Democrats in the House of Representatives are taking steps to resurrect the Equal Rights Amendment, a move pushed by abortion activists on the grounds that the ERA would provide a sturdier constitutional peg upon which to hang the right to abortion. “According to an analysis from National Right to Life Committee, “Once a court adopts the understanding that a law limiting abortion is by definition a form of discrimination based on sex, and therefore impermissible under an ERA, the same doctrine would invalidate virtually any limitation on abortion,” including “restrictions on tax-funded abortions” and “any federal or state restrictions even on partial-birth abortions or third-trimester abortions.”

Here’s the thing though…according to no less an authority than Planned Parenthood,  “Some men have a uterus.” PP of Indiana and Kentucky sent out a message to that effect last year repeating, for reasons best known to themselves, this assertion 11 times in a single tweet.

Pause, Pray, Push: A Constructive Response to Chick-fil-A


Don't be Chikin Fill Red KettleThe Advent or Nativity Fast began Friday, Nov. 15, according to the Orthodox Christian calendar. Everyone, regardless of faith, can profit from considering the purpose behind this fast, which lasts until Christmas Day, the Nativity of Christ. In the spirit of goodwill, and the season, please consider these watchwords: pause, pray, push.

The fast is not a starvation fast, but rather a disciplined daily choice to not purchase or consume foods that at least once were more costly. By refraining from purchasing more expensive or luxury food items, you free up small but meaningful sums each day or week. These sums can then be giving to those in need or less well-off. The two acts, self-denial and giving to others, symbolize Christ’s self-denial and great gift to the world in setting aside glory and coming to dwell among us.

As a purely practical matter, exercising a little dietary self-denial this time of year might well also pay off if you step on the scales in the New Year! Forgo that weekly beer and burger night, or a daily calorie-loaded “coffee” drink, or that tasty chicken sandwich for lunch, or chicken minis for breakfast, plus the waffle fries, and you may find you do not need to let your belt out a notch after Christmas dinner! So, there are both material and spiritual benefits to a little self-denial this time of year.

Why I Don’t Watch TV


I don’t watch TV. My wife enjoys it, so I try, sometimes. I’ll sit with her on the couch to watch a program, but I rarely make it halfway through. Fifteen minutes in, I’m up wandering around, or reading something. I just can’t do it. But sometimes I try, and I’m quickly reminded why I can’t.

Last night, she was watching a program called “The Resident.” It’s an “ER” type of show, about young, beautiful, impulsive, passionate, beautiful doctors in training. I watched for at least five minutes. Maybe ten. But then there was an absolutely remarkable scene which reminded me that I had something important that I had to do somewhere. Forgive me if I get some of the back story wrong, but here is how I understand it:

Dr. AJ Austin is a black surgeon who discovers that he was adopted, and arranges to meet his birth parents. His mother, as it turns out, was also a physician. He meets his birth parents in a restaurant. The hipster Dr. Austin, of course, wears his hipster hat indoors, at the table, to demonstrate that he is a caring compassionate urban hipster, or possibly to point out to his mother that he has such horrific table manners that she probably should have raised him herself.

Group Writing: Dining Service


My husband and I decided when we first married that we weren’t interested in fancy dinnerware, plates, dishes or a tea service. It just wasn’t our style. We love the china sets that many of our friends have, but we were never tempted to indulge ourselves.

Eventually we decided that there were some basics that we would acquire—wine glasses and specially made pottery items. We didn’t inherit sets from our families, although Jerry’s aunt rescued some items from his mother’s garage sale. (Mom Rosella assumed that when we said we wanted the glassware, we were just humoring her!) So Aunt Esther rescued a few things and we’re so grateful, since they were part of the family history.

Life Imitates Art: Dog Drives Car


Looking for a bit of relief from the Congressional circus? Everyone loves a good dog story, take it as you will. In a break from Florida man stories, we have a Florida dog story:

Some Port St. Lucie neighbors watched a dog get the ride of a lifetime. It was stuck inside a car spinning in reverse for nearly an hour.

…Police say the dog’s owner had briefly stepped out of the car when the dog somehow knocked the car into reverse.

Comedian, author, and commentator Stephen Kruiser joins Jon to discuss impeachment, cybertrucks, and the state of comedy. Check out his new Kruiser Kabana podcast and get his latest book, Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage.

The intro/outro is “Alone Again Or” by Calexico. Stephen’s song of the week is “Play Me a Hank Song” by Tyler Childers; Jon’s is “Season of Mist” by Dead Horse One. To listen to all the music featured on The Conservatarians, subscribe to our Spotify playlist!

What Have I Got in My Pocket?


This isn’t the actual question I’m looking for an answer to today, but it is where it starts. Friday morning, I found something on Twitter that had me thinking all day and has generated more than its fair share of discussion, so I’ve decided it needs a post of its own. The line was “I don’t always carry all the groceries on one arm, but when I do, my keys are in the wrong pocket.”

Now, this was quite frankly shocking to me. I mean, who changes up the location of where their keys are? The items I carry every day go into the same locations every day. Apparently this is not universal behavior, so one does when faced with such a problem, I decided to take it to Ricochet.

Sen. Graham Launches His Own Investigation


House Democrats had limited the Republicans ability to call witnesses and ask questions. They seem to have the mistaken belief that they can set the ground rules for impeachment at the beginning and that those rules will apply to the entire process.

As chair of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Graham sent a letter to the State Department beginning an investigation into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.

What We Don’t Know We Don’t Know


As the son of a gun enthusiast, I learned how to shoot early in life, and part of that process was to have the rules of gun safety drilled into me. Later on, I learned to reload my own ammunition, which gives big savings in the cost of ammo for a moderate investment of time. I got the rules of safety in that drilled into me too. One of the rules is never using a powder load that doesn’t almost fill up the case with powder. In other words, use a combination of powder type and bullet mass that will almost fill up the case with powder when correctly measured. That way there’s no way to mistakenly double the powder load or to fill the case so much that the round will turn your rifle into a pipe bomb.

Black powder burns at about the same rate regardless of how much you put in a gun. You can fill the barrel all the way to the muzzle with black powder and it won’t cause the gun to burst. You just get more smoke. You get into trouble if you use the wrong black powder particle size since the smaller the powder is ground the faster it burns, but using too much powder is mostly just a waste of powder, not something that will kill you, the shooter. Nitro powder, modern smokeless powder, is completely different. The chamber pressure produced by nitro powder increases exponentially with the amount of powder in the case. Doubling the load might cause the chamber pressure to increase tenfold, enough to burst the gun barrel. Even as little as 10 percent too much powder can be dangerous, so the powder going in each cartridge is weighed with a fine balance.

Fracking, Vaping, and the New Puritans


Around the turn of the millennium, it was conventional wisdom that nicotine was the worst possible thing for you, and that the world economy was on the brink of Peak Oil, which would soon send energy prices on a permanent upward spiral and slowly grind the economy to a halt.  Since then, two innovations have challenged these beliefs: vaping and fracking, both of which have attracted controversy.

Vaping provides nicotine, the chemical that gets you hooked on tobacco, without the tar.  Fracking revived the American natural gas industry, causing a major move away from coal and toward natural gas, and made the United States self-sufficient in oil, in the process turning North Dakota into Saudi Arabia with lutefisk.

The Woke Come Face-to-Face with Genocide


The new generation has been liberating people by imposing pronouns and forced mixed-gender bathrooms. They call anyone who doesn’t hold their perverse views “fascists.” Of course, the new generation doesn’t have a clue what actual fascism is about. One day the totalitarian government without warning rounds people up of a particular ethnic group. They are told they are being sent to work camps or reeducation facilities. In reality, they are going to a prison camp from which there is a good chance they will not come out alive.

Blaming everyone for imaginary racism, sexism, homophobia, and Islamophobia in the freest society on earth has been a great joke that the magic woke generation has been playing on everyone in the USA. Now they are going to realize that the human rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution are the only protection in the world from tyrannical regimes bent on murder.

Two Questions about Anthony Hopkins


On this Saturday morning, a couple of questions of the kind that come to mind after you’ve spent a little too much time on Netflix on Friday night. Are you listening, @garymcvey or @titustechera?

Q: Can we agree that Anthony Hopkins is the finest actor ever to appear in so many rubbish movies? Last night I watched the first half of “The Dresser,” in which Hopkins is marvelous. But I also used the search function to look at a list of his other movies. Aside from a single-digit number of remarkable pictures–“Silence of the Lambs,” “Remains of the Day”–the list was pretty dreary. Why? Did Hopkins make a decision at some point to give up stage work and vacuum up as much cash in Hollywood as he could? Does anyone know much about his career?
Q: On a plane recently, I watched one of those rubbish movies, “The Edge.” Preposterous premise. Wooden script. Such lousy acting from Elle Macpherson that even her looks fail to compensate for it. Alec Baldwin? Is he demonstrating his contempt for the project? The man overacts in every scene, mugging so badly you’d almost have thought he was in a high school production. But Hopkins–oh, Hopkins.  Cool, understated, economic in every word and gesture. And he utterly dominates every scene. So good that his performance alone almost–almost–redeems the picture.
How does he do it?

That is the title of Becky Powell’s new book. She got the title from a country song, written by Darryl Worley and Harley Allen, and recorded by the former. Becky is a friend of Jay’s. Her book is a memoir. One day, she learned that her husband – and the father of their three children – had killed himself. Then she learned that he was $21 million in debt. He had borrowed the money from 90 people. Becky did not have to pay it back. She was not responsible for the debt. But she felt she had to, for her own dignity, and to set an example for the children. How did she get through it all? That is the topic of her book, and you will enjoy hearing her talk with Jay.

Veni, Vidi, Deus Vicit: “I Came, I Saw, God Conquered”


After the Turkish siege of Vienna was broken in 1683 King Jan Sobieski III of Poland paraphrased the famous quote from Julius Caesar. Jan Sobieski led the largest cavalry charge in history, 18,000 horsemen attacked and routed the Ottoman forces outside Vienna. There have been 13 attempts to build a monument to Jan Sobieski and the Polish Winged Hussars in Vienna. It now looks like this last attempt will fail.

The story from The First News:

We’re down a homme this week (details about that in the show), but we’re still full to the brim on compelling and clever conversation with our guest National Review editor Rich Lowry, who stops by to talk about his new book, The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free. Is America an idea or a nation? Or both? It’s a wide ranging and detailed conversation (as planned, which is why we only have one guest this week) and raises a lot of interesting points about the pluses and minuses of the movement at the forefront of the political debate not only in America, but in many other countries as well. Also, hats off to @drbastiat for winning this week’s much coveted Lileks Post of The Week award for his The Paradoxical Popularity of Progressive Professionals post. Finally, because we have to, we check in on impeachment and wind up the show revealing our favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Mmmmm, sweet potato with marshmallows.

We’re off next week. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our listeners, especially the ones who are members, and we’ll see you in December!

If the Rate of Scientific Progress Is Slowing, America Must Step Up Its Game


The linkage between science and technological progress may seem obvious. When humanity didn’t have much of the latter, it also didn’t know much of the former. Economic historian Joel Mokyr describes the time before the Industrial Revolution as “a world of engineering without mechanics, iron-making without metallurgy, farming without soil science, mining without geology, water-power without hydraulics, dye-making without organic chemistry, and medical practice without microbiology and immunology.”

And even during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, great advances were made in some sectors with little scientific understanding. As the IR rolled on, however, Mokyr describes an emergent division of labor where “British practical people discovered things that worked, and French theoreticians and German chemists uncovered the underlying science.” Today, there’s no doubt that continuing technological breakthroughs, invention, and innovation — and thus long-term economic growth — depend on scientific insights. Keep ‘em coming, ASAP. It would sure be worrisome if the rate of discovery slowed.

But maybe the pace of discovery has diminished, and that helps explain the long-run downshift in advanced economy productivity growth. In the new paper “Is the rate of scientific progress slowing down?” by Tyler Cowen and Ben Southwood, the two researchers conclude that “there is good and also wide-ranging evidence that the rate of scientific progress has indeed slowed down. In the disparate and partially independent areas of productivity growth, total factor productivity, GDP growth, patent measures, researcher productivity, crop yields, life expectancy, and Moore’s Law we have found support for this claim. … One implication here is we should not be especially optimistic about the productivity slowdown, as that notion is commonly understood, ending any time soon.”

Conservatism in the Trump Era


It use to take a lot of thought and study to be a true conservative. There is a long tradition of high-level debates on the right about the nature of conservatism, about trying to reconcile conflicting ideological components drawn from libertarianism versus cultural conservatism. How much can/should we borrow insights from Schumpeter, Smith, Hayek, Friedman etc?  Must we be purists on free trade or can/should there be tariffs to punish cheating?  Is there any role for government in health care or welfare?  To what extent must we compromise with political, electoral realities to get as much of our shared agenda implemented as possible? Like the rest of the conservative intellectual heritage, ideological divides such as the old anti-communism versus isolationists required some serious historical, economic, philosophical and geopolitical study and thought. 

Fortunately, we no longer have to do any of that intellectual heavy lifting.  Conservatism is now solely about how we react to President Trump’s tweets and then react to each other’s reactions to those tweets.

QotD: What Is and Is Not a Conspiracy Theory


To count as a conspiracy, a plan involving two or more parties must be covert. Not even Alex Jones would talk of a Democratic Party conspiracy to field a candidate who can beat Trump. The term “conspiracy theory” is to be used and understood accordingly. Had Lee Harvey Oswald spoken just before his death of a second gunman on the grassy knoll, one would not be a conspiracy theorist for taking him seriously. The information could still be wrong, but someone disagreeing with it would have to engage in actual refutation. The same goes for all who seek to dismiss talk of the ROK government’s confederation drive as a conspiracy theory.—Brian Reynolds Myers

B. R. Myers was speaking of conspiracy theories in responding to another writer and in relation to perceptions of the South Korean President. Yet his point is more widely applicable. It’s not a conspiracy theory if the people involved are coming right out and saying, “Yes, we did this, and here is why.” As a perfect example of this, we have several people testifying before Congress while admitting to crimes because Orange Man Bad. Those crimes need to be prosecuted.

Victimisation vs. Victimhood


We are all likely to be victimised in some way in the course of our lives. At some point we will suffer some kind of affliction or calamity or abuse, caused by circumstances or people or institutions over which we have little or no control. This is life. And this is victimisation. It comes from the outside. 

In contrast, victimhood comes from the inside. No one can make you a victim but you. We become victims not because of what happens to us but when we choose to hold on to our victimisation. We develop a victim’s mind – a way of thinking and being that is rigid, blaming, pessimistic, stuck in the past, unforgiving, punitive, and without healthy limits or boundaries.

Lee Smith on The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in US History.

Lee Smith is a veteran journalist whose work appears in Real Clear Investigations (which named the Whistleblower), the Federalist, and Tablet. Smith reported from the Middle East for a decade after the 9/11 attacks and wrote the critically acclaimed The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations. A Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Smith is a frequent guest on television and radio, national and international, including Fox News, CNN, and France 24.

Anyone can Google turkey tips and pie crust hacks. Kelly Maher and Emily Zanotti lay out the tips you actually need to survive everyone’s favorite food-coma holiday… with some side-splitting stories.