Luis Elizondo, who worked on the UFO team at the Pentagon, doesn’t hold back with Sara in this episode about the U.S. government’s probe into UFOs. For decades, governments have known about unidentified aerial phenomena, but this is the first you’ll hear about what they know.

Quote of the Day: Toynbee on the Passion for Wealth


“We must expect for a long time yet to see capitalists still striving to obtain the highest possible profits. But observe, that the passion for wealth is certainly in some senses new. It grew up very rapidly at the beginning of the present century; it was not so strong in the last century, when men were much more content to lead a quiet easy life of leisure. The change has really influenced the relations between men; but in the future it is quite possible that the scramble for wealth may grow less intense, and a change in the opposite direction take place.” — Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883), Lectures on The Industrial Revolution in England (1884)

Toynbee is described as an Economic Historian. He was an Oxford graduate. And no, he is not his nephew, Arnold Joseph Toynbee, who was a historian. The century he is speaking of was his own, the Nineteenth Century.

So I Had This Cataract Taken Off….


So, I had this cataract in my left eye. It’s gone now. The vision is still a bit fuzzy, but the main impediment is gone. That’s good. Getting there…eh, let’s just say I’d rather not have to do it again. I’m sure I will; I have one in my right eye. But it’s not bad enough yet. With regard to what follows, I have no criticism of the doctor. He did a great job. Much of my discomfort was from my own imagination.

It seems that when you have a cataract removed the first step is to numb your eye. If you’ve been to the ophthalmologist before you know that before they stick that 500,000 candlepower light in your eye, they put numbing drops in. They do that for cataract surgery too, but that’s not the anesthesia. No, they start an IV and they give you Propofol. That’s right, the Michael Jackson Sleep Forever drug. One minute you’re regaling the doctor about the case you had with Propofol in it, and the next minute you’re wondering why your left eye doesn’t work anymore. That’s because they knock you completely out to put a needle the size of the Seattle Space Needle into your cheek, down about 14 inches, and inject you with the liquid napalm that ensures your eye won’t feel anything, or move. But you feel kind of goofy, so you’re cool when the doctor sits down and says “we’re going to fix the cataract now.”

This week James reports in from an undisclosed location (his evil genius lair, no doubt) and he and Toby review the week’s doings, from the latest on the Covid lockdowns to the foolishness of the multi-culti wokeness of the BBC and their plans for this year’s Proms.

We get their views on the Biden-Harris ticket (or is that Harris-Biden?) and the prospect of Donald Trump’s re-election, plus our cultural reviews, highlighted by the very disappointing Greyhound with Tom Hanks on AppleTV.

Q & A with Epstein and Yoo

Civil Conversation

It’s an August tradition in the faculty lounge of the Law Talk podcast: every year at this time I turn over the questioning of Professors Richard Epstein and John Yoo to you the listeners (a practice we originally instituted so I could spend the month undisturbed in The Maldives).

Natural Justice


Animals act in their own self-interest. Every tree and bush, every cat and bird and ant works to maximize itself, without any consideration for others. These creatures compete endlessly, sometimes by themselves, and sometimes in cooperation with others of their species or their parasites. The idea of an animal deliberately and consciously favoring a different animal would be nonsensical. Man is not necessarily any better, of course. As Hobbes put it, the natural state of mankind without society is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” In a state of nature, man is merely another animal.

Natural justice is thus very easy to define: might makes right. This is hardly new or surprising, but it bears mentioning because a good society requires people to not act that way. And so it is troubling to me when people talk of imitating nature. “Natural” becomes synonymous with “good.” In the ancient world, people were more direct: they worshipped nature outright.

Chattering Classes Show How Disconnected They Are From Reality and Nature


If you blinked, you may have missed this weekend’s outrage cycle. The White House redesigned the Rose Garden, and journalists constantly on the lookout for a new outrage against the Trump administration were aghast at the audacity.

Of course, the most audacious thing President Trump has done is win, but I digress. First, there was the xenophobic attacks by a former NYT-reporter, Kurt Eichenwald. The New York Post reports,

Quote of the Day: George III on Rebellion


A Proclamation, by The King, for Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition
King George III
August 23, 1775

Whereas many of our subjects in divers parts of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill designing men, and forgetting the allegiance which they owe to the power that has protected and supported them; after various disorderly acts committed in disturbance of the publick peace, to the obstruction of lawful commerce, and to the oppression of our loyal subjects carrying on the same; have at length proceeded to open and avowed rebellion, by arraying themselves in a hostile manner, to withstand the execution of the law, and traitorously preparing, ordering and levying war against us: And whereas, there is reason to apprehend that such rebellion hath been much promoted and encouraged by the traitorous correspondence, counsels and comfort of divers wicked and desperate persons within this Realm: To the end therefore, that none of our subjects may neglect or violate their duty through ignorance thereof, or through any doubt of the protection which the law will afford to their loyalty and zeal, we have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to issue our Royal Proclamation, hereby declaring, that not only all our Officers, civil and military, are obliged to exert their utmost endeavours to suppress such rebellion, and to bring the traitors to justice, but that all our subjects of this Realm, and the dominions thereunto belonging, are bound by law to be aiding and assisting in the suppression of such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous conspiracies and attempts against us, our crown and dignity; and we do accordingly strictly charge and command all our Officers, as well civil as military, and all others our obedient and loyal subjects, to use their utmost endeavours to withstand and suppress such rebellion, and to disclose and make known all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which they shall know to be against us, our crown and dignity; and for that purpose, that they transmit to one of our principal Secretaries of State, or other proper officer, due and full information of all persons who shall be found carrying on correspondence with, or in any manner or degree aiding or abetting the persons now in open arms and rebellion against our Government, within any of our Colonies and Plantations in North America, in order to bring to condign punishment the authors, perpetrators, and abetters of such traitorous designs.

CBS to Reboot Cop Show


It has come to my attention CBS is going to reboot its TV cop show “S.W.A.T.” in support of the defund the police movement. Using my Hackmaster 3000 computer located deep in the bowels of the StadCave, I managed to snag the script of Episode 1, Bland Theft Auto:

[The show opens with a man holding a gun on another man who’s sitting in a car with the motor running. The man with the gun dials 911.]

Incendiary Post of the Day


My sister-in-law has a theory about cars: they are a reflection of the women of the country. Here goes…

Italian cars are stunning and exciting, but extremely temperamental.

Fishing and the Watts Riots


Los Angeles, 1943: My Uncle Berle and Aunt Flossie lived a few houses down the alley from us in a rundown 1930s stucco duplex. We were all rural Okies, newly arrived in California, and arrived with more money than the Joads, a lot less than the Beverly Hillbillies. (Uncle Berle is the star of this story, but I couldn’t come up with any photos of him, and since I play a small role, I’m throwing in a couple of photos of me to lend some flavor of the era to my story. Besides, every story, as Alice told her governess, needs a few pictures.)

In Oklahoma, Uncle Berle, A big and gangly kid, fished the ponds and lakes around Wanette, a small farming town an hour or so drive from Oklahoma City.

In California, Uncle Berle must have thought he had died and gone to heaven. It’s true that there wasn’t a pond or lake in sight in LA County and the only river was the tiny LA River that flowed its sluggish and polluted way, encased in concrete, toward the Pacific. But Uncle Berle now had an ocean to fish in. He could fish for sand bass by standing on the ocean shore, a long pole in his two hands and casting his line (with heavy sinkers) out past the waves; he could fish from a variety of piers and from the grassy shores of small Pacific Ocean inlets, and, best of all, he could fish in the deep sea from commercial boats out of Long Beach. The guy just loved to fish.

“Gee, I’m Really Sorry Your Mom Blew Up, Ricky”


Better Off Dead was released 35 years ago tomorrow, on August 23rd, 1985.

I love this movie so much! It has everything — John Cusack before he became annoying, Diane Franklin at peak cuteness, a psychotic paper boy, Curtis “Booger” Armstrong, an antagonist named Stalin, Asian drag-racing brothers who talk like Howard Cosell, a claymation hamburger performing Van Halen, an appearance by Barney Rubble, homages to Rocky, Harold & Maude, The Graduate, and several other films that I’ve probably missed.

Quote of the Day: Admiral Hyman G. Rickover


“One can delegate authority; one cannot delegate responsibility.” Pithy, succinct; that’s the man who’s long been called “the father of the nuclear Navy.” The Rickover quote is from a taciturn genius with a brutally effective management style and a cold, nasty streak. You could compare him with Steve Jobs; he didn’t invent the technology that he’d forever be associated with, but his incredibly strict standards made a successful final product possible. Creating an atomic submarine wasn’t a simple process.

Using the waste heat of atomic decay to power submarines was a known possibility even 15 years earlier. In fact, it was the only one of the US’s WWII atomic research programs that the Nazis found out about. There was no possibility of putting a seagoing reactor to work during that war, and the immediate political climate in the first couple of years after the war didn’t encourage expensive experiments. But by 1950, the quest for a suitable power reactor was in full swing.

America had every reason to be proud of its engineers. And of Walt Disney, who followed the real Nautilus closely with the fictional Jules Verne version on screen, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Limits on Listening to “Scientists”


Ricochet’s St. Augustine has asked the interesting question as to whether there is a limit to listening to scientists as the Democrats urge us to do. The problem with the question is that Democrats have an entirely different definition of “scientist.” Their science is a special office within the Narrative with the job of (a) protecting the fiction that progressivism is an outgrowth of pure reason and not merely a tired and rather conspicuously deficient ideology and (B) hijacking the prestige that has traditionally attached to academic credentials.

“Scientists” tell us, for example, that there is no male or female or that any and all politically wrong economic activity is killing the planet. One can no longer have a job as a scientist if one does not agree that polar bears are nearing extinction, the Great Barrier Reef is dying, that sex is just a cultural artifact, or that adaptation should be considered in lieu of mitigation of climate change.

Every System Has Its Parasites


In his book, Up Front, WWII Stars and Stripes cartoonist Bill Mauldin recounted an incident that describes today’s United States all too well. The army had shipped just enough new combat boots and jackets to Italy for the frontline troops. Unfortunately, soldiers in the rear echelon pilfered many of the clothes before they could reach the men in the foxholes.

“I suppose,” said Mauldin, “these fellows in the rear just looked at the mountainous heap of warm combat jackets piled in a supply dump and didn’t see anything wrong with swiping a couple for themselves. After several hundred thousand men had grabbed at the heap there weren’t many new boots and jackets left.”

A New Addition to the “Black Tide Rising” Canon


John Ringo’s “Black Tide Rising” series posits a zombie apocalypse caused by a highly-contagious, genetically-engineered viral plague that destroys the upper brain functions and turns its victims into mindless cannibals. Ringo has since invited other authors to come and play in the highly-popular “Black Tide Rising” sandbox.

“At the End of the World,” by Charles E. Gannon is the latest entry in the “Black Tide Rising” series. It follows nine teens on a summer senior year learning cruise when the plague breaks out. Told through the journal of Alvaro Casillas, one of the teens on the cruise, it follows their course through a nightmare world aboard Crosscurrent Voyager.

Crosscurrent Voyager is on a trip from the Galapagos to South Georgia Island in the Atlantic Ocean near Antarctica. Its captain, Alan Haskins, is a silent, gaunt Englishman. All the others on Crosscurrent Voyager are similarly outcasts. They have discipline problems, or are overlooked, bullied, and ignored by their peers. They are aboard because Crosscurrent Voyager was the sole remaining adventure cruise available.

Sigh. I should have known….


From my online course, in the first “Discussion forum” section. Slightly edited to protect the privacy of the teacher. (I deleted her sample answers)

This will be the only discussion in which you will not be graded on how well you back up your opinions with information from our readings. Therefore, there are no right answers here. What you will be graded on is how thoroughly you try to engage, and how respectfully you respond to others. Importantly, this introduction post is optional for 1% extra credit. This will be the only extra credit opportunity offered throughout the semester and I do not bump up grades that are close to the cut off because I offer this opportunity. I would strongly advise taking advantage of this early extra credit opportunity in case you need it later to move from a 79% to a 80%, for example.

How Do You Criticize Joe Biden?


When Joe Biden reads the lie in his speech off the teleprompter, is he lying? Or is it his speechwriters? Does Biden know what he is saying with his obviously diminished capacity? Does he remember enough even to know the truth?

Take the “fine people” lie. Did Biden ever listen to those words in context when Trump made it clear that he was not calling the white supremacists “fine people?”

Only Republicans Practice Distancing


No, not physical distancing. The kind of weak-kneed, egg-shell trodding “denunciation” of non-entities like QAnon Kevin McCarthy did on Fox News. Will Republicans ever learn not to answer the “when did you stop beating your wife” question? To make a joke of it instead, as President Trump did — paraphrased: “is it a bad thing if we’re saving the world from Satanist pedophiles?”

I’m not following the QAnon controversy, just like I didn’t follow the alt-Right kerfuffle. Who the hell cares!! My God, we’re facing potential economic collapse with COVID lock-downs and the possible election of a Marxist-backed, senile, career (by which I mean corrupt) political figurehead. And, closer to home, my state is on fire and I can’t see the 14,000-foot mountain across the valley for the all the smoke, and we have multiple family hardships we’re undergoing with Elder probably being delayed a year in graduating from Hillsdale due to the limitations of remote learning, and Little Miss Anthrope starting a new chemo drug soon. QAnon? Seriously?? Next thing you know, they’ll be making up a scandal about the US Postal Service! It’s just maddening.

It’s Just Biden Being Biden


If you had your money on “A Former Canadian Politician” in the “Who Is Biden Going to Plagiarize In His Acceptance Speech?” office pool, cash in your chit and collect your winnings.

At a speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Biden’s final address included the lines, “For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. And light is more powerful than dark.”

Mueller Proves Russian Collusion


I never quite understood the basic idea of the Russian collusion investigation. So Robert Mueller believed that Vladimir Putin would prefer to have a tough-guy firebrand like Donald Trump in the Oval Office, rather than an incompetent leftist like Hillary Clinton of “reset button” fame. If Putin preferred Trump over Clinton, then Putin is a fool. And Vladimir Putin is a lot of things, but he is no fool. But regardless, Robert Mueller & Co. spent years searching for absolute proof of the extremely improbable.

I would suggest that Mr. Trump should point out the Robert Mueller did indeed discover proof of Russian collusion between an American presidential campaign and Russian interests. When the Hillary Clinton campaign paid a former British spy for the Steele Dossier, which used a Russian national as its primary source, that smells like Russian interference in an American election. Paid for by one of the candidates. If Hillary Clinton was a Republican, she might already be in prison for that. So yes, Mr. Mueller did uncover proof of Russian collusion, but not the type that he was paid to find. So he ignored it.

It wouldn’t shock me if Mr. Trump pointed out these findings of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, with his usual refined, subtle style. And that style, in this particular circumstance, would be entirely appropriate. Running for president while your opponent buys Russian intelligence against you is an outrage. And Mr. Trump should feel free to express his outrage, as only he can.

The California Homeless Urban Brushfire Fire Season Begins

Vacant lot on residential street near Downtown Los Angeles set ablaze after homeless encampment catches fire on the night of August 19, 2020.

As the only member of my family living in California – specifically, Los Angeles – I have to deal with the common misconceptions of the state: No, one does not go up to celebrities and start talking to them, even just to say how much one likes their work. No, locals generally don’t go to Hollywood; it’s an overpriced, touristy hellscape of traffic with no parking. And no, even if one does go to the beach (many don’t – that hellscape of traffic with no parking thing again), people only swim on the hottest days because the ocean here is icy cold.