Should Biden Speak at the 9/11 Memorials?


In early August, before the chaos of President Biden’s “successful” airlift operation, it was reported by NBC News, that a group of victims’ families didn’t want Biden to attend the 20th-anniversary ceremonies at the three memorial sites – The Pentagon, Ground Zero in New York City, and Shanksville, PA.

Nearly 1,800 Americans directly affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are opposing President Joe Biden’s participation in any memorial events this year unless he upholds his pledge to declassify U.S. government evidence that they believe may show a link between Saudi Arabian leaders and the attacks.

Should we believe that many of the 9/11 victim families who had later this August watched the chaos and reckless way that Biden extracted some but not all Americans, extracted thousands of unvetted Afghans, and left thousands of NATO nationals behind in the country, now feel even better of Joe Biden and his pending arrival at the 9/11 memorial sites?

City Folk vs. Farmers


I could have titled this “Good Ol’ Boys vs. City Folk,” but I think “Good Ol’ Boy” has a bad connotation with some people. For me, it is a compliment. I won’t be able to do as good a job as Dr. Bastiat, but his post made me think of a different distinction between types of people.

We live in a very fortuitous location to study the differences. We moved to our current house 20 years ago, which makes us among the “new folks.” The nearest neighbor down the road has been there his entire life and his father grew up on our place. In the other direction are four new houses that were built when they subdivided 30 acres next to us. Past those new houses are almost all older houses with long-term residents.

An Early Embedded Image


Think of a seed.  A single seed can grow into a mighty tree, and so the seed, which may be invisible to the naked eye and appears entirely passive and uninteresting, holds enormous transformative energy. This image is poetic; the idea that each fruit contains the little seed, potential for new life, for reproduction and continuity.

The location of that seed is indicated by a single word in the Torah: “in it,” or bo. This word is also found in a verse having to do with the power of an idea in each person: “Their King’s teruos are bo.” This verse is found in a blessing by the prophet Bilaam, much later, describing the Jewish people.

A teruo is a horn blast, connected to national assembling, marching, war, and – in this case – coronation. Sunday night was the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, described in the Torah as primarily a day of teruos, a day of shofar blasts.

Quote of the Day: Chesterton’s Virtue Challenge


“Charity means pardoning the unpardonable, or it’s no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it’s no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it’s no virtue at all.” — G.K. Chesterton

When Catholics pray the Rosary, it’s common practice to begin by praying for an increase of the theological virtues — faith, hope, and charity — before entering into the mysteries of Christ’s life while praying the decades. Even though I follow this practice, I find Catholic-convert Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s challenge a hard saying, especially in our nation’s current moment.

I’ve never been a fan of either secondhand forgiveness or blanket condemnation. It’s why I don’t subscribe to forgiveness of cold-blooded murder. Crimes of fear or passion, maybe. But, not heinous murder. The only people with standing to forgive a heinous murderer are dead.

Origins of Covid


When you have to sue the government to get them to share legally available information, it almost always means they know more than they want you to know. Whatever the origins of Covid, policymakers have behaved from the outset of the pandemic in ways that can only be described as curious. Their frequently irrational behavior, and contradictory pronouncements, have spawned any number of theories as to why they have flailed the way they have.

One thought I have had is that the folks at the CDC have behaved in ways someone would if they were afraid that this virus might not act like a naturally occurring virus. It isn’t as if we haven’t had coronaviruses in the world before. And we generally know the course a viral outbreak takes through a population. Sure, maybe this one has a marginally higher mortality rate for certain segments of the population. But some of the behavior of policymakers has suggested their behavior is born out of a concern, not just for mortality, but for the possibility that the entire pandemic course with this one could somehow be…different.

Such puzzling behavior has prompted all manner of attempts to explain their inconsistent, and often ridiculous, policy prescriptions. Hanlon’s razor is always – always – the most likely explanation: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Or perhaps the popular explanation on the right, that the bureaucrats are power-mad, is correct. Perhaps some combination of stupidity and a lust for power offers the magic decoder ring.  Embrace the healing power of and.

Taliban Debutante Ball


Disturbing but not surprising news from Jack Posobiec on Twitter:

“BREAKING: The Taliban has invited 6 countries to take part in the formal announcement of their new government: Turkey, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and Qatar.
Are you paying attention yet?” –06 September 2021

Monsieur Vincent Reviewed in a Time of Covid


Monsieur Vincent and the girl

Monsieur Vincent and the girl

Monsieur Vincent is set in a time of spiritual blight and was produced in a time of spiritual blight. A French film from a “text” by Jean Anouilh, the playwright of Antigone, Becket ou l’Honneur de Dieu, and many, many more that are out of print. I found audiobooks of Antigone and Becket from LA Theater Works and snapped them up instantly, but it is bizarre that Anouilh has fallen out of print. There was a controversy at the time stemming from the production of Antigone under the Vichy government combined with the sympathetic treatment of Creon the pragmatic tyrant vis a vis Antigone the idealist that in the trauma and carnage of the just defeated Nazi occupation led no less a figure than President Charles de Gaulle to publicly express concern about Anouilh’s politics. But that is not why I asked you here. Leave it at, Anouilh was a much too fascinating to ignore like this and is expert in the juxtaposition of philosophies in conflict. Even as he tries to avoid the pointy end of the passions of the day.

Let me start over. Monsieur Vincent is set in a time of spiritual blight. He was ordained in 1600 and, according to the movie, at least, the Church was at a low ebb. It is 1617 and M. Vincent is bound for Chatillon, a town where no one is on the street, but there are rocks thrown at our hero from various doors and windows. He comes to a ruined church with squatters. It has been many years since a priest has held mass in the town. Vincent continues to the house of M. Benier, who is holding a grand orgy but will not grant Vincent entrance because “these idiots could let the plague into my house.” M. Benier has arranged for the Church to send a priest, Vincent as it happens to turn out, to improve the spiritual climate in Chatillon. Or something. The servants cover their faces and cower while allowing Vincent in at Benier’s command.  

Customer Surveys are Useless


I know we have the destruction of the Republic and basic liberty to fight against, but I want to divert briefly from such weighty topics with a rant about the uselessness of most customer surveys. I think we have discussed this topic before here on Ricochet. A note provided by a hotel on a recent trip reminded me of the uselessness of so many customer surveys. Maybe some Ricochetti are plugged into organizations in such a way that they can encourage those organizations to rethink how they score customer surveys.

What set me off was we recently drove across the western United States and stayed at several properties associated with one particular lower mid-priced hotel brand (the kind that provides a basic room and serves a basic buffet breakfast, not fancy). One such property supplied guests with a note that said,

I Wonder What He Thinks of Me?


Everybody needs an identity.  Something we can identify with, and be comfortable with.  In small towns, it’s often what town you live in, which family you belong to, which church you attend, what sport you play, what you do for a living, or things like that.  If you were to hang around the local Walmart or something, a lot of people would look the same to you – they dress similarly, and they don’t seem to feel the need to intentionally separate themselves from others with the way they dress or something.  Perhaps because they’re sufficiently comfortable with who they are that they make little effort to change it or hide it from others.

My daughter is a scholarship athlete at Georgetown, so I’m going to DC a lot to watch her play these days.  I thought it would be fun, to see the complex mix of cultures and backgrounds that make up the diverse population of such a cosmopolitan city.  And in a way, it is interesting, but not the way I expected.  You’ve got the rich white men in Priuses, and the rich white men on bicycles wearing silly outfits (Spandex should be illegal for anyone over 25 years old), and the rich white gay men wearing rainbow patches on their backpacks, and the rich white men driving Bentleys, and the rich white men wearing old brown T-shirts and worn-out cargo shorts, and the rich white men with laptop backpacks and electric scooters, and the rich white men with beards and flannel shirts, and the rich white men wearing Hawaiian shirts and pork pie hats, and so on and so forth.  The vast majority of these people would look incredibly out of place in nearly any small town in America.

You might think that such a lily-white, insanely wealthy place like Georgetown was disturbed by their lack of diversity, so they tried to invent their own, as best they could.  Safe diversity.  Without any, you know, actual diversity.  But I don’t think that’s it.  I think that many Americans have been taught to be ashamed of their true identity.  Ashamed of their skin color, their beliefs, and their country.  Leftists work hard at accomplishing this.  They suffer from it themselves (Barack Obama, Prince Harry, and my liberal nephew all called their grandmothers racist), but they also work at ensuring that everyone suffers from it as well.  So in Georgetown, Brett is not a wealthy lobbyist from a suburb of Boston – no, he’s a socially conscious Prius driver who drinks organic coffee.  He likes himself better that way…

American Greatness: Can We Redeem Ourselves?


“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

This quote grabbed my attention because I realized that I may no longer agree with any of it. I know that Tocqueville is admired and celebrated, but I wonder if he could have foreseen what would happen to this country so many years later.

I do think in some ways we are, or at least were, an enlightened country. To me, enlightenment is not a steady state, but a process, and compared to the rest of the world, we were head and shoulders above the rest. We were known for our honoring freedom and opportunity; many who dreamt of coming to this country believed our streets were paved with gold. No other country could offer a life where a person could succeed through hard work and persistence.

Biden’s So-Called Vacation


There are various reports that planes have been held on the ground in Afghanistan as long as six days, with the Taliban holding these Americans hostage while some talks or other proceed. Meanwhile, Biden has shuffled off to Delaware for a vacation. Cue outrage, right?

Nope. Beyond the normal outrage, this is an indicator of a different outrage. Delaware is where the real stuff happens in this administration. Unlike government buildings, the private property of the Biden crime family is run by its own rules. Not only is there no WH visitor log there (not like they’re using it anyway), but the Delaware compound is beyond the reach of dirty tricks like, oh I don’t know, somebody like LtCol Vindmann O HO SAY CAN YOU SEE and his deep state infiltration. Since this whole sham administration (right down to the election) is a deep-state-run bag op anyway, they know very well what traps to avoid.  They don’t want any mere staffers, no government lackeys, nor elected, appointed, nor even hired goons listening in.

The Leeches


Recently, Ricochet’s own EJ Hill (his name has been changed to protect the innocent), posted about intellectual exhaustion, something he himself is feeling, if I can adequately paraphrase the main point of his post.  At the end of the post, he includes a stinger of “Where do we go from here?”, in that no clear path forward seems visible.

Great post. But it made me think of leeches. What are some of the characteristics of leeches?

It is Not Beyond My Reach


Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’  No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (Deut. 30:11)  –Moses

Ever since @iwe pointed out this paragraph to me (which I had only glanced over in the past), I have been in love with it. It speaks so much to my own experience, my own realization about my faith, and the accessibility that I feel toward Judaism and G-d, that it resonates in my heart.

We start the week in County Durham where James travels to see Kynren, the outdoor show that’s “a romp through 2,000 years of English history from the masks of the Roman invaders to the masks of Arthurian legend to the masks of Queen Victoria. Did we say that they were all wearing masks?

Then it’s on to the more serious: the Government’s incomprehensible decision to press on with its vaccine passport plans and the horror of vaccinating healthy 12-15 year-olds in the teeth of their parents’ opposition.

Poverty of the Soul


It is well established that today, in America, we do not have real poverty. Outside of edge cases (like those who are very sick), nobody starves to death. We live in the wealthiest time in the history of the world.

The incredible uniqueness of our situation in history is rarely appreciated. Once upon a biblical time, a gift of a few changes of clothing was a present given by a king. But now everyone can get a coat in the winter, or find shelter in the summer. Modern amenities like running water (hot AND cold!), sewers, electricity, comfortable transportation, air conditioning and heating were uncommon two generations ago, and unheard of not long before that.

Between Two Seasons


When I was a kid the summer ended when Jerry Lewis sat on a stool and smoked and cried.  I got to stay up late to watch the Telethon, and was always amazed when it was still going on after I woke up. I always felt as if I’d missed something, as if they got loose and carefree and messy at 3 AM. 

I thought of Jerry Lewis primarily as a telethon host, just as I thought George Gobel had no existence prior to Hollywood Squares, or didn’t know the entire cast of “The Jungle Book” had careers before they voiced their characters. We all come in at the end of something, but we never know it until we look back later.

The Vitality of Rootlessness


Ancient Egypt was obsessed with immortality – after death. The Book of the Dead, countless pyramids and tombs and crypts… they wanted to “live” forever, and they meant to do it using materials and structures designed to withstand whatever time could throw at them.

The Torah never stops contrasting the Jewish people to Egypt, because the differences help define who we are: we look up to heaven and not down to the Nile for our blessings; we are called to be spiritually-minded instead of merely materialistically satisfied; Egyptians harmonized with nature, creating bread and beer, while we seek instead to improve nature (going so far as to specifically reject natural aids when we avoid chometz and eat matzo); we Jews are here for the living, while the Egyptians lived for the dead. Egypt saw the world’s as inherently repetitive and cyclical, while the Torah gives us a linear sense of mission, of a pathway to a destination.

Radon Gas


The leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers happens to be due to a naturally occurring radioactive gas called radon.  Uranium which is found in rock all over the earth’s crust in small amounts decays over time into radium which then releases the gas.  The higher the concentration of uranium the greater likelihood of having an issue.  Radon gas is very heavy so it escapes from the ground and will be most concentrated below your knees.  Outdoors the gas freely dissipates into the atmosphere and is unable to collect in dangerous concentrations.  Inside, however, radon gas can enter a building through the crawlspace or foundation and accumulate to unsafe levels.  Because of this historically radon exposure was related to mostly cold environments where the population would spend a great deal of their time indoors.  In our modern age, however hot environments such as the South also force much of the population to seek refuge indoors with air conditioning.  It has been estimated that the average North American spends 86% of their lives indoors, and that was before lockdowns.  This combined with new construction trends like greater square footage, greater ceiling height, reduced window openings, and ever improving R-values all increase radon risk.  A study published in Nature has shown an increase in radon exposure to the population over time due to all these trends.

Radon gas combined with cigarette smoking is about as good a recipe for lung cancer as humanity has ever come across.  Ionizing radiation from the decaying radon particles damages our DNA and create genomic instability which leads to cancer.  Approximately 3% of the population also has a genetic mutation which causes increased radiation sensitivity making them further susceptible to this runaway cascade.

A New Old Thing – Sturgill Simpson’s “The Ballad of Dood and Juanita”


A few months ago I wrote a post venting my spleen about the artistic wasteland that is Today’s Hot New Country Music.

In that post, I mentioned a musician who, I believe, is helping to save good country music: Sturgill Simpson.  I write here to offer further evidence of that, and to let any fans of traditional country music know about Sturgill’s latest strange and wonderful record, a concept album called “The Ballad of Dood and Juanita.”

We hold this absurdity to be self-evident…


The first sentence of The Declaration of Independence begins, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”  Many people stop right there and think, “huh?”  I mean, I can’t play basketball as well as Michael Jordan.  I can’t run like Usain Bolt.  I can’t sing like Luciano Pavarotti.  I’m too big to be a jockey and too small to be an offensive lineman.  You get my point.  People are different.  Obviously.  Perhaps Jefferson misspoke.  Perhaps he intended to say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created unequal…”  Stupid auto-correct.  But regardless of why, that’s exactly what he said.

Perhaps he was trying to express the Christian belief that we are all equal before God.  That would make sense.  But that’s not what he said.  The rest of the document is very clear in its meaning.  It seems unlikely that Jefferson just goofed up.  Well, no biggie, right?  It’s just a nice platitude to get the Declaration rolling – like singing The National Anthem before a baseball game, right?  Whatever.

Right.  Well, maybe not.  I think this has created a real problem in our society.  Since we’re all created equal, then any difference in outcome must be the result of some form of unfairness.  The playing field must not be level, otherwise, a bunch of equal people would be equally successful, right?  It must be racism, or sexism, or some other form of discrimination.  That’s the only thing that makes sense, obviously.

The Summer Vacation Where Things Changed


I just got back from a lovely vacation to the beautiful, free state of South Dakota. Pictures at the end of the post as well, but the biggest thing that happened was the subtle shift from doing things with Dad to doing things for Dad. From both of us going out carefree to me being the one keeping an eye on him, watching for his stumbles, checking to make sure he’s not laboring too hard on the trails. Of being the one who planned the whole trip, paid for everything and said “It’s OK, not a big deal” when things I wanted to do needed to drop off the day’s events.

It’s normal and sad. But it also made me appreciate what I have. Not just my health and relative youth, that’s obvious, but that my job is full of adults going through many of the same things. Where I spent the bulk of my career, I was surrounded by young parents who never skipped a beat to say “you don’t have kids” as a blanket derision of anything I achieved. As if the only way to not be self-centered was to have kids. It was constant, it stung and I’m better that they were not in my life as I helped my Dad and my Mom as she was diagnosed with and ultimately died as a result of Alzheimer’s. They didn’t help us clean her bedsores.

The Best of Living in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland


Back in 2015, my family followed a call of God to ministry in Germany. You can read details about this whole process at our blog: martinfamilyinbavaria. In the six years since we’ve been here, we’ve gathered somee extensive experience with German life in and out of the Catholo-Pentecostal-Bubble, some gleanings of which I will now share in the form of the “best of living in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland”. 

  1. We’re on a mission from God. 

Really, we are. That’s why we’re in Bavaria. Augsburg is here, and the Gebetshaus Augsburg- Augsburg House of Prayer- is a key place we were called to.

Pussycats Galore: A Group Writing Post


Until we adopted Bob the dog a few years back, Marie and I were cat people. We had cat after cat for 55 years, including Ginger (pictured), Jody, Paddy, Scamper, Minnie, Bounce, Tabby, Fluffy, Frisky, and Ebony.  We’ve had cats going all the way back to our days in student housing at the University of Oregon.  

My favorite was Scamper, a fluffy calico with white paws and a sweet disposition.  At the time, I was working on my Ph.D. at the University of Utah.  When I would arrive home tired, Scamper was always there to greet me, curling around my legs, purring up a storm.  (Not quite as good as a dog’s greeting, but at the time it sufficed.) Sometimes I would pick her up and carry her to our easy chair, where she would sit on my lap until dinner duties called me away.

Was the Doolittle Raid a Mistake?


Recent events have me thinking about military strategy, and the importance of morale. I found myself mulling over the famous Doolittle raid during World War II.

For those who might not recall the details, this was an air raid on Tokyo in April 1942 by a handful of American bombers, B-25 Mitchells, which were land-based bombers but were, in this instance, launched off the carrier Hornet. The damage to Tokyo was minimal, but the propaganda victory was significant, after a series of catastrophic American and allied losses in the first months of the war.

So Far, So Good


I don’t write in a journal.  If I did, this morning’s entry would be something like this.  

I joined this thing called Ricochet yesterday.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  Ordinarily wouldn’t pay for such, but had the thought that if there were indeed things worth reading, they could be worth paying to read.  After all, I pay to read books.  And as a general rule, you get what you pay for.