Help Me Understand the Testing Percent Positive Benchmark….


I mostly lurk here, but I think this might be a good place to get help with a question. Here in Arizona, one of the three benchmarks for re-opening schools, businesses, gyms, etc. is the percent of positive tests. It is often reported that a high percentage (above 5% is the benchmark in AZ) shows that there isn’t enough testing available and that the virus is not under control. I could understand the purpose of this benchmark if the state were either a) testing everyone they could get their hands on and/or b) testing a random sample in a community, not just people who self-select to test.

In Arizona, there is surely not a lack of available testing. That may have been true six weeks ago, but not now. This is widely reported (not enough people showing up for tests), but I’ll share my own anecdote.

When Will Your Governor Declare the WuFlu Crisis Over?


What is the COVID response endgame in your state? Does anybody know? Ricochetti have discussed at length the issue of the moving goalposts since the implementation of a two-week curve-flattening. But where are we now?

The politics of the matter are increasingly detached from the relative effectiveness of past and present official actions and policies and especially detached from the actual state of the pandemic. So now, under what circumstances can officials foster an impression of success, take credit for it and stop saving us?

What Makes Me Unique


About twenty years ago my wife and I went on vacation in the Caribbean – St. Thomas, I think. We were traveling on a budget. Our ‘resort’ had a tennis court covered in a few inches of mud, a dining room which had been closed for years because the roof had fallen in, we had cockroaches in our room, and I had to repair our toilet myself. But the swim-up bar was functional, so we were happy. It was cheap, so at that point in our lives, everything was fine from our perspective.

One afternoon, we saw a paper stapled to the bulletin board advertising ‘Calypso Night,’ with steel drums and rum drinks, right on the beach. Sounded fun, we thought. After all, neither of us had ever experienced a Calypso night. The Caribbean was such fun! So we went to the beach that night, and there was this chubby older black guy with a steel drum and a small boom box. He would play a tape of Caribbean music on his boom box, and accompany it on his steel drum. It sounded really good. And the more rum I drank, the better it sounded.

He left the case to his drum open, and we tourists would tip him from time to time. The more we drank, the better he sounded, the more we tipped. I had been working too much and I really needed to get away from medicine for a while. And for a few hours, I really felt like I was somewhere other than a hospital or a doctor’s office. It was exotic, new, and exciting. I had a wonderful time.

Where is the Country Going?


I was thinking about where the country seems to be going on my morning run when I stopped and took a picture of a road sign at the end of a long bridge. The dew-bejeweled spider web that had been carefully crafted beneath the sign seemed apropos for a metaphor about American politics.

Public Schools Tightening Their Grip as They Sense Themselves Losing It


School districts across the country are facing an exodus of students to private schools opening for in-person learning and homeschooling. Corey DeAngelis, the Director of School Choice for the Reason Foundation, has been following the data and it doesn’t look good for public schools. Over the weekend he reported that homeschool filings are up 129% from last year in Loudoun County in Virginia and 128% in the state of Wisconsin. This exodus in students is also an exodus in dollars for a lot of school districts that have their funding directly tied to their enrollment numbers (which is why I suggested pulling out of public schools as a protest if you didn’t like their reopening plan for the Washington Examiner). A little too late in the game, public schools are realizing that their captive audience isn’t so captive when they don’t, you know, actually teach.

On the Shoulders of Giants


Sir Isaac Newton “stood on the shoulders of giants” so that he could see farther and increase his and mankind’s knowledge of the world. Today’s Left stands on the shoulders of giants so that they can sneer at them. But they can only sneer from the perch created by the giants – from the heights of the visions and ideals that evolved under the aegis of Western Civilization.

For what sins does the Left condemn Western Civilization?

Marxist Wokism: The Christian Heresy


In my pastor’s sermon today, he talked about America being a pagan and post-Christian society. I certainly agree that we are in a post-Christian one, but “pagan” is not the right term.

Pagan societies, at least the ones we know about, have a few shared characteristics. They were self-perpetuating as societies; that is, they created an ethos that promoted families (even the ones that practiced child sacrifice and exposing infants still made sure they had enough children for a stable population), protected private property (don’t buy the “Native Americans didn’t understand land ownership” fraud), and inculcated respect for order, authority, and defending the tribe/polis/empire. They had, in other words, the virtues necessary to survive.

The Best Job in the World


Most kids dream about jobs that might not be attainable: astronaut, movie star, NFL quarterback, President of the United States. In the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade, I got a glimpse of the true dream job, one I knew could happen. One that did happen. 

That summer, my sister worked at the snack bar at the Park Cinema (a two-plex). I thought it was pretty great because — as you’ve probably guessed — free movies. There were really only two movies at the Park Cinema that summer, Funny Girl and Oliver! I watched Funny Girl once — it was okay. But Oliver! I went to see three times, I think, sitting in the front row. I thought the Artful Dodger was hysterical, felt bad for Oliver, and fell in love with Nancy.

In addition to the main features, the theater also had Saturday afternoon matinees for kids with classics like The Attack of the Puppet People and Journey to the Center of the Earth. When I went to those shows, I noticed people with even better jobs than the people selling tickets and popcorn. Ushers were able to come into the theater and watch the movie. 

The Friend of the Fae


Morgana le Fae surprised him, in more ways than one. She was nice, and she was easy to talk to.

It was a little hard to keep up with the back and forth of those first few minutes, but he found himself babbling a little of how he’d gotten there. And as he did so, her eyebrows went up and up, and she smiled more and more broadly. She had a nice smile, and it showed all the way through to her eyes and in the depths beyond.

Actors Who Always Seem to Be Playing Actors. Specifically, Themselves.


Note: I’m going through old drafts, trying to clean them up. Here’s one. It doesn’t look worthless enough to pitch, nor bad enough to say, “I think I’ll save this one, and clean it up sometime in the future”. I’ll just mash the Publish button, and have one less box of stuff in my Ricochet basement.

To be honest, I’m afraid that I’ve actually published it at some point. I don’t care. It’s not staying in the basement.

E Pluribus Duo


This is a “hot take” from scanning my Facebook newsfeed: We are headed for serious meltdown nationally. I don’t know how this plays out but the nation is experiencing different realities. This isn’t the normal “everybody sees what they want to see” fracturing of reality. That is normal. It’s what fuels everyday life. What I am talking about is the aggregation of shared realities into roughly two different and conflicting camps. The type that sees one reality as “true” and the other as “false” with severe consequences for the triumph of one reality over the other.

For as long as polling has been around, it has been a technique for measuring how many contending realities there are and which realities were ascendant. “Push polling” was a technique developed to nudge realities in one direction or the other. Social media is a persistent and constant push poll for conflicting realities. Depending on which social media you choose and the “friends” you accept, that is the reality you will see and be “pushed” into. I happen to have a lot of “friends” on my Facebook account who are connected via a specific hobby. That hobby attracts people from across the political spectrum. So when they post or “share” political content rather than hobby content it reveals the chasm between the contending realities.

Dispatch from Seattle…Ruining Society Every Day


The so-called “Public Health” “Authorities” and the so-called “Press” (scare quotes fully intended) seem to be in collusion with the state government to ruin society. If Society means people interacting with each other for mutual benefit, Society is being ruined, decimated by the reactions of government to the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus. The lockdowns that started in March, and are continuing in various forms six months later, are having deleterious effects on every aspect of Society. Here are some stories from today’s KOMO Seattle website. [Please note that the actions of the Seattle City Council and mayor might have taken place anyway, but are amplified due to the abrupt halt in revenue from sales taxes curtailed by business shutdowns.]

Nearly 600 Layoffs as Boeing Supplier to Close Plant in Kent

Ricochet Movie Fight Club: Question 20


Two-time champion, Brian Watt, learned exactly how hard it is to win three in a row. Teaching that lesson (with a little help from a blind Audrey Hepburn) was J D Fitzpatrick, who earned the right to ask: What movie has the best duel? All movies should be pre-CGI. For this question, a duel is defined as a single moment of combat between two characters, with a clear resolution. Duels can be short or long, but they should display unity of time, place, and action, meaning that the contest is restricted to a particular moment in the film, not drawn out over its course.
The Rules:

  • Post your answer as a comment. Make it clear that this is your official answer, one per member.
  • Defend your answer in the comments and fight it out with other Ricochet member answers for the rest of the week.
  • Whoever gets the most likes on their official answer comment (and only that comment) by Friday night wins the fight.
  • The winner gets the honor of posting the next question on Saturday.
  • In the case of a tie, the member who posted the question will decide the winner.


  • Only movies will qualify (no TV shows) however films that air on television (BBC films, a stand-alone mini-series) will qualify.
  • Your answer can be as off-the-wall or controversial as you’d like. It will be up to you to defend it and win people to your side.
  • Fight it out.

Movie Fight Club Questions by Week:

American Fragility


Nasiim Taleb’s book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, defines the following words:

  • Fragile: A thing or system that breaks under stress.
  • Robust: A thing or system that bears stress but does not break.
  • Antifragile: A thing or system that not only survives stress but is strengthened by it.

We’re all familiar with objects that are fragile and robust, but “antifragile” is a new word that Taleb coined. Perhaps the best example of an antifragile system is the human body. Stress its muscles and they get stronger. “Feed” its immune system with small doses of bacteria and allergens and it also grows stronger. Put the human brain under stress, and the person to which it’s attached becomes more resilient.

A Story from the Armenian Massacre


The Homilary of Moush is an illuminated manuscript dating from the early twelfth century. It is the largest surviving Armenian religious manuscript. A massive work, it weighs over 60 pounds (28 kg). It survived destruction during the Armenian genocide.

“Silent Angel,” by Antonia Arslan is a fictionalized account of its preservation, recounting how it was found after the destruction of its long-time home in the Sourp Arakelots Vank (Holy Apostles Monastery) in Moush and spirited to safety

The novella opens in 1915. The Turkish army, retreating before the Russians, is passing through the Valley of Moush in eastern Anatolia. It is largely inhabited by Christian Armenians, anathema to the Muslim Turks.

Swimming the Bosporus 8: The Rock and the Raft


Everyone knows what “time” is but it’s a slippery concept to nail down. Religion, philosophy, art, and science all have theorized about the meaning, but I’ll stick with the old line, “time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”

In most variants of the three major religions (and some philosophies) God resides outside of time. He is immortal and never-changing; existing before the ages began, while they continue, and after they’re gone. He created space and time as an envelope for humans to reside within. Spending too long thinking about it can make your brain hurt (just analyze any time-travel movie) but it has major implications for one’s faith.

You can find all the Swimming the Bosporus posts here.

As noted in a previous post, church history isn’t stressed in Protestantism. At the close of the Book of Acts, the timeline is fast-forwarded 1,500 years until Martin Luther is nailing his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg door. That millennium-and-a-half is treated as either a slow drift or a rapid descent into error until the Reformation set Christendom back on track.

American Colleges Are a Valuable Resource. But Not for America.


Conservatives love higher education. The whole point of conservatism is to attempt to give all American citizens equal opportunities. So affordable higher education is important. And Republicans like the economy to grow. And if you understand the value of engineers, doctors, computer programmers, and so on, a good way to get more of those is to subsidize their education. So subsidizing higher education makes sense, from a conservative point of view. It grows the economy while helping young people of modest backgrounds improve their lives. For a conservative, that’s a win-win.

Until you stop choosing the smartest and hardest working college applicants, and start selecting students based on other criteria, like skin color or 40-yard dash time. And then, of course, most of the students who aren’t capable of majoring in chemical engineering start majoring in Psychology or something. And things continue to deteriorate over the years, so now they have to invent new areas of study for this ever-growing influx of “students” who wouldn’t even have been in college a few decades ago. So pretty soon half the college is majoring in Petty Jealousy Studies (PJS).

And then the chemical engineering majors start to wonder why they’re studying 80 hours a week to try (and often fail) to keep a “B” average, while they lose out on all the academic awards to PJS majors with 4-points. So more and more STEM majors switch to various grievance studies departments, and understandably so. So now, a large majority of the college is engaged in activity which is far, far removed from the original goals of the university.

Kamala Harris Will Say Anything to Get Power


Biden had Senator Dodd screening potential VP candidates. I recently heard on a podcast that he asked Senator Harris about her attacks on Biden. She replied that it was only politics. He was taken aback at the nakedness of her cynicism. I don’t like Colbert, but this short clip shows her inner emptiness. How any person who claims to be a Republican can support this team escapes me.

Quote of the Day: Love and Hate


“I know there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that.” – Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer spoke these words ironically, as a joke. Yet it has become a progressive mantra in the last few years. Some businesses post signs saying words to the effect that they love everyone – haters stay out. Progressives post signs on their lawns proclaiming “Love Trumps Hate,” while hating Trump and anyone who does not actively hate Trump. They claim saying “all lives matter” is racist, without attempting to explain logically how that can be true. They say “love is the answer” while slamming the door in the face of anyone who might point out that is not necessarily always true.

Reeling in the Summer: Do Some Work, Get Some Food


My dad loved to go fishing. We’d get home from church on Sunday, have dinner (farm dinner—midday), followed by a little nap for him and mother. Then, it was time to fish. We lived in the Rocky Mountains where there were several abundant trout streams within a short drive, and he’d take his hip-boots (which were used for irrigating the other six days of the week) and his pole and reel, and his flies, and sometimes worms, and go off to find his bliss. We ate rainbow trout for breakfast every Monday morning in the summers.

He loved fishing. Once, when he was out in the alfalfa fields, changing out the canvas dams that spread the irrigation water from the ditch across the fields, a trout flopped out onto the hayfield, so he scooped it up and stuck it in his pocket, and later brought it into the kitchen for my mom to cook! He thought it was pretty hilarious that, even when he was working, he could manage to catch a fish!

War on the Suburbs: How HUD’s Housing Policies Became a Weapon for Social Change


There are few things more synonymous with the American way of life than the suburbs. While certainly not without problems, the suburbs have been home to middle-class Americans since the end of World War 2, and even before. But the suburbs are under attack from certain elements of the left as a source of social inequality and (what else?) “white privilege” and “white supremacy.”

If you are alarmed by this article, that’s a good thing. Because these elements of the American left seek nothing more than the total destruction of your way of life, from the people who live in your communities to the types of houses that you live in to the places where you will be allowed to shop and how you get from one place to another.

The policy is called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), but beyond this specific HUD policy, there’s a philosophical and political attack on suburbs that goes well in excess of any single policy. There is, without mincing words, a War on the Suburbs in America. It is a war not against a geographical location or a type of housing or community, but an attack on a way of life.

Rescind the 2017 Pulitzer Given to the NYT and WaPo


If the Senate GOP’s belated investigations into the Russiagate abuse of power are to be useful, they might want to shift gears and instead focus on who revealed what to which reporters. Reporters should not be expected to reveal sources but there is no bar against compelling a source to reveal to whom and what he or she divulged to reporters.

The staffs of the Washington Post and New York Times shared the 2017 Pulitzer of National reporting for their coverage of the bogus Russian interference/conspiracy charges leveled against Trump. They produced multiple stories that collectively contained not the slightest indication that this attack was done entirely in bad faith by the very people they likely relied upon as their principal sources.