Uber and Lyft Drivers to Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle: We Don’t Want Your Stinkin’ Wage Standard!


It seems that, in her efforts to improve the lives of poor, overworked, and underpaid ride-share drivers, Mayor Durkan has proposed “wage standards” that the companies will be required to pay all their gig-economy drivers. She reasons that those drivers are probably not earning enough, and are incurring many extra expenses brought on by (government-mandated) Coronavirus protective equipment and procedures, so their employers (See California AB5) must be mandated to pay them more.

Well, in response to that, a group of drivers called Drive Forward (called a rideshare coalition) had this to say:

Cars for Comrades


“Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile”, by Lewis Siegelbaum is one of the rare English language histories of that country’s motor industry, and it’s really more of a Soviet story than a car book.

The central paradox that gives the tale its drama is Communism’s ambiguous, and ultimately changing official attitude, towards the car. Evidently “auto” in early Russian parlance includes a range of rugged large vehicles that include all but the largest overland trucks. If there’s one country whose ex-urban areas justify the use of SUVs and similarly tall, hulking vehicles it surely is Russia.

Caracas On The Willamette


It is official: Portland, Oregon is a third world city. Portland has adopted the Maduro Colectivo model of governance. The media has glossed over the end of the Oregon State Police (OSP) involvement in defending the city. The OSP did have an agreement to spend two weeks in; “The City That Shirks,” a parody on the motto that is displayed on city vehicles; “The City That Works.”

The OSP left Portland because the George Soros prosecutor of Multnomah County stated that he/we will no longer prosecute certain types of crimes involved in the nightly block parties that have been held for 70 days or so.

The Facebook Dilemma


Last night the 2018 Frontline production The Facebook Dilemma was rebroadcast on our local PBS station. Why play a rerun? Why now?

The documentary outlines the history of Facebook and interviews several of the people associated with its early development and rise to global prominence. Like most Silicon Valley startups, its full of youth and energy, and a focus on popularizing the product. While getting a great buzz on the internet as more and more people signed on to use the product, real riches lay in taking the company public. And to do that you had to demonstrate how the platform could be monetized. That monetizing came in the form of collecting personal information, profiling, and aggregating potential target groups to whom to sell, and then coordinating with marketing companies to provide personalized advertising within Facebook.

Netflix Trafficking in Child Pornography


Our culture’s quick slide downhill has hit an oil slick on its downward trajectory, and man, is it speeding to the absolute bottom. The popular streaming service Netflix has announced a new movie called “Cuties,” coming out in early September featuring 11-year-old girls involved in a “twerking” competition.

Is “Good Luck” an Impediment to Growth?


I have regular conversations with people who wish me luck or good fortune, or tell me that their fingers are crossed for a positive result. I often reply something along the lines of, “My blessings come from G-d – luck is not part of my faith.” Which tends to set people back on their heels a bit. After all, “Good luck” is just a phrase, right? Right?

Or is it?

Frederick Douglass and the Answer to Cancel Culture


“Liberty is meaningless,” Frederick Douglass once said, “where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist.”

Born a slave in the Antebellum South, Douglass knew a thing or two about freedom and bondage. As a child, Douglass learned to read and write by challenging white schoolboys his age to spelling contests. He lost every time at first, but in time, Douglass leveraged his hard-earned mastery of the English language to not only secure his own freedom, but play a crucial role in the eventual liberation of millions of American slaves.

Fast-forward to 2020. Not only are monuments to Douglass’ likeness in jeopardy from the mob, but so are the characteristics that led to his freedom. Competition, hard work, and rugged individualism—qualities that Douglass personified and which led to his own liberation—are all derided as racially exclusive values of “whiteness.”

Warning: A Contract Tracer Wants You!


My husband received an email from Medicare today, warning, uh, alerting him to the fact that he might be contacted by a Contact Tracer. Seriously? I wrote a post at the end of May about my objections to contract tracing, and at this stage of the virus’s run, I am even more against it.

I suspect this is a political decision because money has been spent and will continue to be spent to make us feel as if this kind of program is/will be worthwhile: lives will be saved! People will be better protected! It’s your patriotic duty to comply!

Minneapolis Isn’t Lost – Yet


WalgreensIt’s an odd thing to see your city on the news night after night. I suppose those living in New York City, Washington DC, or Los Angeles hardly bat an eye at the attention, but for Minneapolis it’s been surreal. Those of us in the Twin Cities have a sort of little-brother complex – always chasing the coattails of other, bigger cities, like Chicago or New York, trying to elbow our way into relevancy. Now in the summer of 2020, we have our moment. And it’s not at all what it’s cracked up to be.

The initial riots and violence in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death engulfed the city like a blowtorch. But there is still a city here, with people struggling to survive, to pick up the pieces of their neighborhoods, to find hope in the ashes of their reality. There is a fight to save a city – once at the threshold of vibrancy and decency and opportunity – now at the edge of the morass.

Once the fires in the streets receded to smoldering embers, the national news outlets chased the rioters to the next blazing city. But when they left, other groups were quick to take advantage of our wounded city. Citizens were angry. Angry at leaders who utterly failed at everything except casting blame at each other, and of course, Trump. Angry at suffering economic ruin after months of state-mandated shutdowns, immediately followed by unopposed, violent rioters and looters. Angry at civic institutions that failed to protect lives and property. All the anger provided the perfect opportunity for groups marching under the flag of justice to step in and promised solutions – and radical change.

My Wife Is Trapped at the Nexus of Science and Policy


My wife is currently struggling with implementing the complex re-opening guidelines for the parochial school where she has worked for many years: class scheduling where half the students will be present every other day, geometric plans for use of outdoor play areas, logistical planning so that siblings and carpool parties are scheduled for the same alternating days, spreadsheets of schedules, novel tasks, duties, and spatial arrangements. She is also the sole computer tech support resource that got everybody up and running remotely when the Great Lockdown began months ago. And she teaches.

The worst part of her current situation is the near-certainty that some kids will test COVID-positive probably before the end of September and there will then be another shutdown and all of this extensive prep work will be for nothing. The first case will almost certainly generate panic at the grassroots and kneejerk action at the top layers of the system and in government.

Bryce Morrison joins the show. Bryce spent eleven years in the Navy as a Gas Turbine Electrician and saw the world in the process. From basic training in Orlando, to ports of call throughout Europe and the Middle East, and back to San Diego and eventually Florida, Bryce racked up quite a few frequent sailor miles. The travel bug stuck and in his post-Navy life, Bryce now runs his own travel agency and hosts his own show, Travel Tuesdays For Foodie Fans Podcast. You can learn more about Bryce and find his show here: https://www.foodandwinecruiseplanners.com/

I Read All 24 Jack Reacher Books This Year


In 2019 I read 40 books, pretty evenly split between biographies/history books and non-fiction. Largely because of our tinpot dictator governors shutting down so much other activity this year (sporting events, concerts, restaurants, dances, etc.), I’ve been reading a lot more, and have gone through 56 books in less than eight months, including all 24 of Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher series.

Several months ago, there was a Ricochet post about favorite books and someone mentioned the Jack Reacher series, none of which had I ever bothered to try. I downloaded one from our library (not the first of the series, it had a bunch of people waiting) and whipped through it in about a day and a half. After that I was hooked; most of them took me no more than two days. I wasn’t able to read them in any particular order because of library availability, but I just finished the last one, which ironically is the first in the series, Killing Floor. It has an interesting prologue from the author outlining how he became a writer and his basis for the character.

Jack Reacher is a retired Army military police major and son of a Marine sergeant, and his adventures often involve military or national security themes. He has no fixed address and roams the country by hitchhiking or riding buses while trying to get a feel for the country and its people that he didn’t get to experience as a kid in his Dad’s overseas Marine postings or his own MP activities. The usual theme is Jack minding his own business on a cross-country bus, eating in a diner, walking through New York City or some podunk town in Nebraska or Maine, and lo and behold, crime and adventure find him. It usually involves him going toe-to-toe with a crew of nasty, evil villains while helping out someone who needs to be rescued from the bad guys. Jack is pretty smart, is a numbers freak, and his background in MP investigations serves him well, but at 6-feet-5 and 250 pounds, when the rubber meets the road he has to use brute strength to get him through the tough spots.

Quote of the Day: Imagine That!


I lost this post in the ether for awhile. I’m hoping it goes back to the Main Feed where it was when it disappeared. But it’s probably going back to the Members’ Feed. If you’ve already seen it, just skip over it. Sorry.

Has there ever been a more perfect expression of hippy-dippy, utopian thinking than John Lennon’s Imagine?

I will be discussing only the lyrics, so if you want to hear the melody as well, the link following this paragraph will take you straight to YouTube. There you’ll find Lennon singing Imagine (and chewing gum while he sings), accompanied by his partner in countercultural amusements, Yoko Ono, who is beating on a drum.

Presidential Pardon for Susan B. Anthony on 19th Amendment Centennial


President Trump took the occasion of the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment, extending the franchise to American women, to pardon one of the heroes of the long fight for the vote. This is not the first time he used the presidential pardon power to correct a very old wrong. President Trump pardoned Jack Johnson, one of the greatest boxers of all time, and a black man convicted of transporting a white woman (his girlfriend of the moment) across state lines. Now, President Trump pardons Susan B. Anthony, convicted of voting in a federal election when women were ineligible to do so, on the same day he signs a proclamation celebrating women’s participation in American public life.

The women’s suffrage movement took the long hard path of convincing a strong majority of men across the states to support an amendment that would mean men would no longer control our politics exclusively. Ratification of the 19th Amendment was the fruit of women working from 1848 to 1920 to gain the vote in federal elections.

Organized work for women suffrage began in the United States with the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848, which was called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, early leaders of Massachusetts and New York, in response to the indignation aroused by the refusal to permit women to take part in the anti-slavery convention of 1840. From the date of that convention the suffrage movement in the United States began the fight that lasted seventy years and ended with victory. Another convention followed in 1852 at Syracuse, N.Y., at which delegates from Canada were present and it was there that Susan B. Anthony assumed leadership of the cause to which she devoted her life.

Joe Can’t Do That


President TrumpOn Tuesday, President Trump flew from the White House, where he celebrated women’s right to vote and their participation in our nation’s politics. He flew to Yuma, Arizona to celebrate the men and women securing our border. He was drawing eyes to the border to show he was using every bit of presidential authority to fulfill his campaign promises, despite the worst efforts of the Congressional Democrats and Republican’ts. He flew into 120-degree heat and spoke outdoors, pointing out that Joe Biden was likely incapable of doing so.

Remarks by President Trump During Border Wall Construction and Operational Update | Yuma, AZ
IMMIGRATION Issued on: August 18, 2020
Yuma, Arizona

1:34 P.M. MST

The Post Office Can’t Handle an Election


The post office is at the forefront of a health pandemic, in an overly-paranoid, politically charged presidential election year. So what’s the issue? Well, for starters, the United States Postal Service states on their website, in big, red letters the following statement:


The King of Stuff welcomes Spencer Klavan, host of the Young Heretics podcast and Assistant Editor for The Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind. Jon and Spencer discuss why everyone should read the classics, why Western Civilization is worth saving, and the future of the academy.

Subscribe to the King of Stuff Spotify playlist featuring picks from Jon and his guest. Spencer’s songs of the week are “exile” by Taylor Swift and Bon Iver, and “Grow As We Go” by Ben Pratt. Jon’s are “Speigel im spiegel” by Arvo Pärt and “Watch You, Watch Me” by Suuns.

Maybe People Are OK, After All…


Our fellow American citizens have not been on their best behavior recently. Those who look for the positive side of human nature have certainly been struggling this year. People seem mean. The rioters in cities across the country seem intent on destroying just for the sake of destruction. I get dirty looks in the grocery store if my obediently worn mask does not adequately cover my nose. Those who disagree on anything are often unwilling even to speak to one another, viewing everyone else as evil rather than simply holding a different perspective. If I were to attempt to convince you of the beauty of human nature right now, I would surely fail. But let me try.

In my line of work, I often work with patients who are dying. When I tell someone that I have found a disease that I can’t fix, and that their time here on earth is limited, you would think that they would immediately regress into bitter selfishness: “All those people get to go out partying tonight, without a care in the world. While I have chemo in the morning, and I will feel horrible, until I die. This is not fair.

I don’t think that any of us would begrudge a terminally ill person a few thoughts like this, from time to time. That would make sense. And I do see that response in some unfortunate individuals. Sometimes. But not usually. Usually, I see something different. Something unexpected.

Now the US Is Suffering from “Structural Islamophobia”


You may recall that, back on May 30, lawyers Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis were arrested for allegedly tossing a Molotov cocktail into a police car during a “peaceful” protest in New York City. According to police, the two were picked up as they drove away from the scene. Evidence of the crime includes a photo of Rahman with cocktail in hand and face partially covered with a Palestinian keffiyeh.

According to a report from IPT (the Investigative Project on Terrorism), “Islamist, Arab American and Palestinian organizations” along with civil rights groups are defending the pair with claims that the charges against them are “motivated by racism and ‘structural Islamophobia.’”

The two lawyers’ defenders include: The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Justice for Muslims Collective, Linda Sarsour’s MPower Change (MPC), the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), Islamic Circle of North America Council for Social Justice (ICNA-CSJ), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), and lawyers calling themselves the “Fordham Law Community,” and the “NYU Law Community.”

The Real Baltimore


Kim Klacik is a Republican running for Congress in Baltimore, and she has a few things to say. Warning: pearl clutchers should have pearls handy before watching this campaign ad: