On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: This Never Happened to the Other Fellow


This post will eventually contain a key plot spoiler, some distance down the page from here, so if you want to see this 1969 film with virgin eyes, stop reading. But do come back after you’ve seen it. The second “spoiler” is no spoiler at all, no surprise to anyone: Sean Connery is not James Bond in it, and the Bond of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, George Lazenby, is most famous for never having played the role again. That set of facts and how they came about is the main subject of this post, although we will also cover the merits and flaws of the film itself, which some Bond snobs consider one of the best, if not the best, of the entire series. But I can’t tell you why yet, not here at the top of the post, because it will involve the spoiler. You have been warned.

By the time Thunderball (1965) wrapped, Sean Connery was tired of being Bond. Actually, that’s English-style polite understatement that the blunt, Scottish-born Connery would have impatiently penciled out in favor of “thoroughly sick of it”. He felt his character was becoming overshadowed by ingenious gadgets, Ken Adam’s enormous sets, one-liner quips and a growing fantasy element. Connery started the series in 1962 as a relatively unknown actor, quickly became a leading international star, and made an astonishing amount of money. Being a practical Scot, adding to that pile was the only reason he reluctantly stayed aboard for You Only Live Twice (1967). Then he was gone, he swore, for good. So EON Productions, producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, conducted an ostentatiously well publicized search for the next Bond. Each new actor in the role of James Bond is a multi, multi-million-dollar box office gamble, and from that standpoint this very first replacement would be by far the most ill-fated.

When the River Reverses Its Course: The Ultimate Thanksgiving Observance


Every year in the fall when the Tonlé Sap (the Sap River) reverses its flow, Cambodia erupts into the biggest celebration. For three days in November, the country descends on Phnom Penh for the annual Cambodia’s “thanksgiving festival.” The Tonlé Sap is part of Boeung Tonlé Sap, the lake and river system that stretches across the heart of the country. The French refer to Boeung Tonlé Sap as the Great Lake. The Tonlé Sap links the Mekong to the Great Lake in Phnom Penh, a drain between the two. From May to October when the southwest monsoon brings the rainy season to Cambodia, the Mekong swells. The Mekong rises so fast that not all its water can flow south into the sea. Instead, some of the water forces the Tonlé Sap to reverse its direction, flow north into the Great Lake, and flood its surrounding forest and land. But when the dry season arrives and the Mekong’s level drops, the lake empties its water via the Tonlé Sap back into the Mekong and flows south to the sea. As a result, the Tonlé Sap flows half the time from southeast to northeast and the other half in the opposite direction.

As the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, the Great Lake is a fishery hotspot and one of the largest catches in the world. Its biodiversity is second only to the Amazon. The lake has been sustaining the Khmer race since the beginning. More than 70% of the country’s protein intake comes from the lake. It also feeds our neighbors, who import thousands of tons each year as well. And it’s not just fish, the flooded land surrounding the lake becomes a fertile ground for the country’s rice production. The Great Lake is the rice bowl of the country. The Great Lake plays a vital role in Khmer culture, which is reflected in our belief, cuisine (we eat 140 pounds of fish per capita annually), livelihood and tradition. Its importance can be found on the bas-reliefs of our medieval temples. It is believed that the Khmer Empire would not have grown as prosperous as it did if not for the Great Lake. Angkor, the old capital, sits on the lake’s northwestern shore.

General David Petraeus, former Commander of US forces in Iraq and former Director of the CIA, and Vance Serchuk, Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, join Reaganism to discuss President Reagan’s “Boys of Point du Hoc” speech and its lessons for restoring Americans’ faith in our country today.

Essay available at: https://www.reaganfoundation.org/reagan-institute/scholarship/essay-series-on-presidential-principles-and-beliefs/

The Soul of Governance: Trump in Context


I joined Ricochet many years ago with the intent to post on a series of my favorite paragraphs/passages from my, unfortunately, delayed thirst for reading. (The site seemed much more intellectually curious back them. Alas, yesterday shows just how untrue that is today. But I digress.) While I did get distracted along the way, here is an opportunity to present another one.

Leading up to the following events, Secretary of War Stanton had leaked information from a secret cabinet meeting to the press to distance himself (and the cabinet) from the mighty General. He also “quoted selectively from Halleck’s letter to him and added some words in Sherman’s orders to his cavalry, leaving the impression that Sherman might have been bribed with Confederate gold to sign an easy peace and let Jefferson Davis escape the country.” (Pages 344-345, emphasis added) Then the review of troops in Washington, DC:

The Soup Commie


James Lileks’ piece, This Soup for You, in the November 25 issue of NR-on-Dead-Tree, riffs on a young American who was horrified at a photo taken in front of a wall of identical cans of soup in an “upscale” supermarket in Havana. She wasn’t horrified that Cuban soup lacked variety, but rather that the photographer had used the fact to diss the island utopia. She went on to extol the “beautiful and strangely calming” nature of the uniformly stocked Cuban shelves in contrast to the “excessive choice” offered in American stores.

I’m old enough to remember when communists and fellow travelers claimed that centralized, Soviet-style economies would produce such an explosion of material goods that laborers would have to work only a few hours a week. Now that such claims ring comically false to even the truest of believers, socialist poverty is touted as a feature rather than a bug.

Once Upon a Spinning-Wheel (Part 4): A Date with Death


Life is full of surprises. Here today, gone tomorrow – one moment you’re stepping in front of a magic trident meant for someone else, the next you’re lying passed out waiting for the tide to wash you away … At least, that’s how I found myself when I woke up, darkness drawing in and the sea lapping at my toes – and only then did I realise: someone had stolen my shoes. D’y’ever have one of those days? At least I had my positive attitude, there was that. And pins and needles – aaagh!

Manfully, I staggered on up the beach by the light of the setting sun, looking disconsolately down at my bare footprints in the sand and shivering to blazes with the cold sea winds chafing at my still-damp clothes. Everything hurt, my head, my heart – here I was with nothing – no life, anything, feeling like it was never going to work out for me. I was concussed, half-drowned, half-dead, bone-weary, ensorcelled, and up the creek without a paddle. But I still had my positive attitude! I had a curse to beat (my hand was still throbbing from that spindle cut), a band of vengeful sirens to avoid, a snake-tongued sorceress not to be killed by, and a growing list of to-dos that made it look like each passing moment I kept walking around was a minor miracle. (“Ya see, son, that’s that positive attitude right there! You’re not listenin’, son, I say, you’re not listenin’. Nice kid, but a little stuck in his ways, you know what I’m sayin’?”)

Fill ‘er Up with Outrage


Do you want selective outrage, or would you like premium outrage? Watching college football Saturday, I was bemused by the delay of the Harvard-Yale game by the perpetually aggrieved climate change activists. They took to the field at halftime and delayed the second half of the game. A futile and stupid gesture because, other than Harvard and Yale alums named Muffy or Bink, no one cares about Ivy League football. That’s not entirely true, of course. Players and their parents care about the game so perhaps acting out at halftime is better than disrupting a graduation ceremony.

Tailgating around the rest of the country means charcoal grills, BBQ ribs, brats, and adult beverages, not to mention large recreational vehicles and gas generators to provide power for the aforementioned motorhomes. No tea and watercress sandwiches for the deplorable football fans.

Trump-splaining Ukraine


President Trump and Ukraine and the Bidens seem to be in all the news stories these days.  But, if you don’t know how Trump thinks, then you won’t understand what you are hearing and reading.  This short write-up is a primer on the mind of Trump.

For Trump, Ukraine didn’t matter until 2016, when two very important events occurred.  The first was in August after Paul Manafort had recently been named chair of candidate Trump’s campaign committee.  Someone in Ukraine (Serhiy Leshchenko) published in Ukraine papers and the New York Times that Paul Manafort had taken $12.7M in secret payments.  These were in a “Black Ledger”, which was suspiciously found years after the previous Ukrainian leader was ousted.  The controversy led to Manafort resigning and Donald Trump had his first taste of a foreign country attempting to sabotage his campaign.  From Politico:

Tyranny of Language


The efforts to slur, silence and punish people who refuse to kowtow to the Leftist agenda are increasing. With the talk of socialism, the Left continues to try to control our thinking, stop our discussions and attack any ideas that differ from their own. Recently I noticed a use of language that surprised and alarmed me. I’d like to briefly summarize their actions to date, and then share the most recent attacks on what we say and do.

One of the earliest efforts to control the language, and in particular to castigate people who disagreed with them, appeared as political correctness:

Professor Frank Ellis at the University of Sheffield noted the term ‘political correctness’ was first used in the late 19th to the early 20th century when Vladimir Lenin began his rise to power. Ellis said that Marxist-Leninists and Maoists placed a heavy preeminence on being ideologically correct, both politically and theoretically. Essentially, a ‘forum for discussion,’ as Ellis described it, would impede the revolutionary spirit needed to upend the social order.

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.