Member Post

 

The scene is one of the most iconic in film history. The Battle of Atlanta near the middle of Gone With The Wind depicts the carnage of war. As Scarlett O’Hara searches for Dr. Meade among several wounded and dying Confederate soldiers, the camera pulls back to reveal dozens more, then hundreds of bodies, 1,600 […]

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Member Post

 

  In 1939 Britain initiated war against a eugenics obsessed state in Europe with the purpose of stopping its disgusting rise and destroying it as a world and European power. Britain lost its Empire as a result, but it could rightly take pride in having stood alone against Nazi Germany for the Second World War […]

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A Letter to the Ravelry Community

 

Ravelry is an online knitting and crochet community, a tremendous resource of knowledge and expertise, and the go-to place for its millions of members all over the world for both selling and buying, online knitting, and crochet patterns. It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that politics, when they infect the site, list heavily to port.

But Ravelry has just put itself at the very top of my [expletive] list. I know several members here also belong to Ravelry, and I’d like your help in getting the word out (if you agree with me). Members can contact the site here. I’ve also sent an email to info – at – ravelry – dot – com, which is an address I’ve used in the past, although I can’t be sure it’s still live. Given my Ravelry user name (which has been the same for years), I’m not expecting a chummy response. Still, I have shelves full of knitting books, a huge stash of yarn, and lots of other things to do. I expect I’ll survive.

Dear Ravelry:

I have just read the following announcement on the home page of Ravelry:

“We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.
This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. If you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.”

We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”

This is disgraceful.

Ravelry is perfectly within its rights to require that its members remove overtly political messages from their patterns, comments and projects. To say that NO political messages of any kind, in support of any candidate (Trump, Biden, Weld, Obama, Sanders, Clinton . . . ) are permitted or supported on the site. You could go further, and say that no overt support of any social or political agenda of any kind is permitted. You could say that no patterns, comments or projects projecting any sort of racist or bigoted, or divisive points of view are allowed on the site. And if Ravelry would like to criticize Donald Trump, the politician, as someone it does not care to support, it may do that too. And whether or not I agreed with your stance, I’d respect it.

But Ravelry has crossed the line. To state unambiguously that Donald Trump’s supporters are all white supremacists is a disgusting and libelous falsehood. That is the statement that Ravelry has no business making. My personal political opinions don’t and shouldn’t, matter to you. I don’t put them on Ravelry, and no-one else should either. (I’m not even an American Citizen so I can’t even vote.) But if this policy isn’t reversed, I’ll be cancelling my Ravelry membership. I don’t go to Ravelry for the politics, and I won’t be staying around for the insults.

I’m not going to support or participate in an organization that disrespects and calumniates tens of millions of people, a few of whom are my friends, and who I know perfectly well are not white supremacists, or any sort of bigots, in this way.

Your entirely inappropriate, disgusting, libelous, false statement, needs to be expunged from Ravelry’s site. Immediately if not sooner.

I’m looking forward to your response, which I hope will be that you have re-written your policy in a fair and non-partisan way that doesn’t egregiously insult a considerable proportion of your membership, good people who have done nothing to deserve it, who are not in the least racist, who don’t have a white supremacist bone in their bodies, and who, along with you, condemn bigotry in all its forms, but who nevertheless happen to support a politician you don’t approve of, for reasons you can’t be bothered to understand. You are the bigots here. You are the ones maligning millions of innocents, for the despicable actions of a few. You are the ones who should be ashamed. And yes, I’ll say it, because as a foreigner, perhaps I expect more from the citizens of this great country than they sometimes expect of themselves: You are unAmerican.

Please correct this egregious overreach, and do it swiftly. The personal opinions of your members are none of your business, and you should respect that. I only wish I didn’t know your own opinions now, or the contempt that you have for a large proportion of your membership, and the lengths to which you’re willing to go to make that contempt known publicly.

I hope you can summon the common sense and intestinal fortitude to right this appalling wrong.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

RightWingKnitJob, TKGA member and Ravelry member (for now)

Buddhism, Secularism, and Socialism

 

Two weeks ago, I decided it was time to give away the meditation mats and cushions that I had originally purchased for the meditation group I led. (As many of you know, I practiced Buddhism for over 20 years, and broke with my teacher several years ago. I also re-discovered my love for Judaism, and that is where I find myself now.)

I remembered that there was a Zen center about an hour away from here, and wrote them an email, asking if they would like my cushions and mats. They were delighted. When the representative came to pick them up, he asked if I knew a fellow at their center. As it happens, this fellow, a very nice man, had practiced at the same center in San Diego where I had practiced. We’ve agreed to have a phone conversation.

In the meantime, that contact stirred up many painful memories about my former teacher and my relationship with her. The teacher/student relationship is an intimate one, and we had known each other for many years. Unfortunately, the deeper I explored my practice and pursued my path to becoming a teacher, the more toxic the relationship became. Ultimately her demands were more than I was willing to meet, and I ended it.

It occurred to me, as I was re-visiting my relationship with her, that Zen Buddhism has a built-in potential for violating boundaries. Students are encouraged to use good judgment when choosing teachers, and for a long time, I thought I had. A teacher is meant to assist a student in breaking through (not eliminating) the ego, so that the student may experience the oneness of the universe that is always present. The danger is that breaking through the ego does not mean destroying it. I was certain that my teacher was using her power to do just that. I left when I knew she had gone too far, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.

* * *

The abuse of power by spiritual leaders and teachers is not unique to Buddhism. Every religion has stories of leaders manipulating their followers; the potential is built into the system. We try to train these leaders to behave appropriately. Sometimes, however, their desire for power and ego satisfaction override good judgment and compassion for the student. A noteworthy issue with Buddhism is that G-d is not included. As a Jew, I always believed in G-d, but He was not directly included with my Buddhist practice; a built-in issue was that if there is no superior power to guide and judge teachers, they become the ultimate power. These conditions make relationships ripe for violating interpersonal boundaries.

Before I found my way back to Judaism, I still identified with the Zen community. I began to realize, however, that the organization had publicly taken a far-Left political position on nearly every major issue. That clinched the deal: I broke with Zen completely. For the record, I believe that no religious community should take political positions

* * *

But religion is not the only practice where boundary violations can occur. The same problem exists in secularism. (Yes, Buddhism could be called a secular religion or philosophy.) Once again, when there are no overriding beliefs, rules, and commitment to a higher power, every secular human being has the potential to try to control others. Violating the boundaries of others becomes secondary to using power to accomplish what a secularist might believe is the “greater good.” Given these beliefs, secularists often see religion (and therefore G-d) as a threat. So secularists violating the boundaries of religious believers is not an issue for them; their use of power is of prime importance.

Finally, the term “socialism” is on the radar of America. No one can agree with what that term means, which is a problem in itself. The lack of an agreed-upon definition allows the promoters of socialism to call it whatever they wish. Generally, socialism requires (whether people admit it or not) government control of the means of production. That means that private ownership is in conflict with the goals of socialism. In addition, personal freedom, free speech, free thinking, congregating outside of government-mandated meetings is contrary to the goals of socialism. As a result, our personal boundaries will be threatening to socialism and will need to be eliminated.

* * *

I have brought up Zen Buddhism (as representative of my experience with a potential abuse of power and boundary violation), secularism (which denigrates any religious institution which elevates anyone or anything above the individual), and socialism (which paradoxically denigrates the rights of the individual and extols whatever serves the state), because they are all potential threats to our ability to manage our boundaries and therefore manage our lives. I have experienced the threat first-hand. I now know and believe there is only one way which I will allow my personal boundaries to be vulnerable.

And for me, He is always present.

Member Post

 

GrannyDude had an outstanding comment on another thread which read, “I should think that when the government is in charge of healthcare, there are strong incentives to discourage any “extra” medical attention, because it will raise expectations in the client class. The National Health in Britain didn’t want to pony up for little Alfie because […]

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Member Post

 

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we […]

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Middle East Players: Iran

 

The latest news about “Iran” comes across as more irritation from a region that seems to always be in conflict. Moreover, the news and commentary tend to be divorced from actual history, allowing vague hand-waving, finger-pointing, and shoulder-shrugging. What follows is an attempt at a bit more definite hand-waving over the map, placing Iran briefly in their own historic context, touching on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey as the other centers of power over the centuries.

It is not “those people.” It is not “that place.” It is not even “Islam.” Don’t take my word for it:

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:4-8, KJV)

By the time Christ spoke those words into history, the lands we now call Iran and Egypt had already waxed and waned as great powers, marching back and forth across the land of Israel and Judah. Indeed, one of these great clashes is captured in the accounts of the Jewish people being carried into captivity in the east by the late Babylonian empire, then sent back to reestablish their society after the first great Persian power crushed the Babylonians and swept west.

Persia arose as a regional power when it, in senior partnership with the Medes, swept away the Babylonian empire in 539 BC, wading into Babylon one night after diverting the Euphrates River (Herodotus 1.191). A map of the first Persian Empire gives one view of its phases of expansion. A ten-minute video “Empires of Ancient Persia explained in 10 minutes (History of Iran)” does an even better job, expanding the time horizon significantly. We can generally take the point that “Persia” is identified with a very long history of military might, extensive trade, and rich art—including poetry persisting to this day.

You will note, towards the end of the video above, a clash of two monotheistic empires. The Eastern Roman Empire and the Zoroastrian Sassanid Empire wore each other out, creating the opening for the Arabs to burst forth across the region. The Arabs were displaced by other armies and kingdoms, centered in Egypt and finally in what became Turkey. The final great empire centered in the region was the Ottoman (Turk) Empire, eventually picked apart by the great European powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Understandably, peoples in the region felt a loss in going from lords of the horizon to subject lands. One reaction was pan-Arab nationalism, with a hint of socialism and a lot of military government. Nassar’s Egypt was the high water mark for that idea, which ultimately lacked power over national and tribal identities. There would be not fusing of “the Arabs” into a nation as “the Germans” experienced in the early 20th century.

Another idea arose in Egypt in the mid-20th century: the loss of political power had been due to loss of faith, and the answer was not private piety but politically engaged Muslims. The Muslim Brotherhood arose carrying this idea. They failed to seize and keep the state, even in Egypt, but helped drive the ideas and seeding of organizations that trouble the world to this day.

While a secularized Turkey focused on linkage with NATO, securing its southern flank, Egypt became the mass cultural center in the region, producing movies and then television shows. Iran became a bulwark, and an American military equipment client, in the continuation of the Great Game, in which Russia has long sought access to warm water ports, trade routes, and natural resources to the south, but did not project power. Finally the Arabs, newly rich with oil sought to reassert power in the world, first by economic pressure and then through a new religious-cultural offensive.

The early 1970s saw the brief brandishing of oil supply as a weapon. Yet, OPEC was inherently fragile, and all the wealth being produced by oil sales needed to go somewhere. It made sense to buy off critics of opulence and decadence in the ruling elite by giving money to the firebrand clerics to establish indoctrination centers around the region and then the globe. Need a new mosque? You can have one at no cost. You just need to accept the new preacher who must come with the best doctrinal training, after all, just look at the wonderful new place of worship!

Yes, violence ensued, but the real battle was for influence over minds, converting populations under their rulers’ noses. At the same time, the Saudis were spreading their influence with a well-funded missionary program, Iran was about to be seized by one man’s vision of greatness through a cleric-dominated state. This vision was alien to the experience of his coreligionists and set him in rivalry with the traditional senior religious leaders, located in the Shia spiritual heartland, in Iraq. Never before in history had ayatollahs, not “mullahs,” ruled secular society. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini changed that in 1979.

When you hear or read “Iran,” think either “Khomeinists” or “Persia.” The source of conflict with the region and the world is not Persia. It is the unelected and unaccountable Khomeinists, the clerics and their Praetorian Guard, or Red Guard if you prefer—a military elite apart in command and control from the larger regular military. This force is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and it is now branded a terrorist group by the United States.

Recall that the Iranian people rose up, unarmed, against the Khomeinists and their security forces only a few years ago. President Obama turned his face away from them as eggs that would have to be broken to make a new Middle East omelet, in which the Jewish state would finally be put in check, brought to heel by the red-green alliance.

To feed expansionist ambitions, the current regime encouraged population growth. In the wake of the stalemated Iran-Iraq War, a young generation has arisen that is disillusioned by the government, limited economic opportunity, and apparent hypocrisy. The government is seen as corrupt, yet repressive of individual expression as immoral. As Christopher de Bellaigue recounts In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs, the revolutionary generation also became worn and disillusioned.

Iranians around the world drove Farsi into the top ten blogging languages, before the Khomeinist regime started imprisoning bloggers. They also were early adopters of podcasting. An educated, younger population has been held down by a theocracy with the beard of an elected parliamentary government. Such governments do not last forever. Meanwhile, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in Iraq is criticizing the religious leaders in Iran of tainting pure religion with their involvement in politics.

The Persian-born ayatollah represents the conservative and mainstream of Iraqi Shias – rejecting the model of Iranian-style theocracy in favour of a separation between religion and politics.

So, “Iran,” “mad mullahs,” “war,” and “nation-building” are all stick figures or straw men in our domestic discourse. With Iranian people used to voting, and with the structure of a parliamentary democracy already in place, we could see a short transition to actual democracy. Perhaps the unelected regime can be thrown off or curtailed into a ceremonial role, no stronger than, say, the British monarchy and House of Lords. Most likely, the IRGC would have to be defeated first, preferably by the regular Iranian military in the lead, possibly acting in the name of the people’s elected government.

There is a real opportunity to end the regional and global threat from the Khomeinist regime and enable an educated and civically engaged people to reestablish their nation as a center of stability in the region. Doing so would deprive Hezbollah and Hamas of major material and organizational support, multiplying the positive effects in the region. This outcome, desired by the Iranian people, will not come from large military strikes against “Iran,” especially against its infrastructure. Rather, relentless pressure across diplomatic, informational, economic, financial, intelligence and law enforcement elements of national power, backed by the check of vastly superior military power, will create the conditions for regime collapse, whether bloody or peaceful.

Hat Talk: The Rest of the Story

 

While my night on the town began, as related here, at Starbucks, it didn’t end there — nor did it continue in precisely the same vein of tolerance and understanding.

A few hours after I left the iconic cafe with my bag of free coffee and attended a family dinner, I ended up in a local bar doing what I do in bars: acting as designated driver and herder of tipsy friends. I am widely valued for my public temperance, my modestly imposing physical presence, and my capacious vehicle. (I drink, but only moderately and always at home. )

As I sat at a table watching my friends and the other patrons and nursing my third Diet Coke, a youngish woman appeared at my elbow and began talking. She informed me that she was a nurse, that she saw a lot of early-onset dementia, and that she thought people didn’t appreciate how big a problem it is.

(No, I didn’t take it personally: whatever doubts I may occasionally have about my own grip on reality, I do a pretty good job of keeping my peccadilloes under wraps. She was obviously just making conversation with this rakishly good-looking fellow trying — unsuccessfully, apparently — to keep counsel with his own thoughts amidst the noise of a crowded bar.)

I didn’t say much in response, beyond periodic sympathetic noises and an occasional attempt to soften her more hard-edged observations. She thought people live too long and didn’t approve of that; I suggested that we die too long, but that it seemed understandable that we might cling tenaciously to life for ourselves and encourage our loved ones to do the same. But I agreed that senility and dementia were sad and difficult challenges, whether occurring in the geriatric crowd or among my own relatively youthful cohort.

Despite her incipient intoxication, she noticed that I seemed to have a hard time hearing her, and she commented on the volume in the bar. I told her that I have a slight hearing deficiency (true), the product, I believe, of too many years riding motorcycles, scuba-diving, and shooting guns (also true).

“Do you like guns?” she asked me.

“I love them.”

“Do you have a MAGA hat?” From her tone, I took the question to be intended humorously.

“I do. It’s in the car,” I answered. As, in fact, it was.

That’s when the ugliness of the passionately uninformed revealed itself.

“I wouldn’t have guessed,” she said, sounding sincerely perplexed. “You listened so politely while I was talking.”

What went through my head at that moment was almost precisely this:

“You little idiot. Sixty million people voted for Donald Trump. Do you think they’re all such mean-spirited intolerant wretches that they can’t listen to someone talk about the challenges of managing dementia in the hospitalized elderly without feeling compelled to give vent to their inherent misogyny and/or fascist tendencies? What kind of bubble do you live in?”

That’s what I thought. What I said was that I didn’t understand why that would surprise her.

I listened to her prattle on for another little bit. She wanted to educate me on the “truth” about abortion law, but I told her I was pretty knowledgeable about it already, and that she and I probably wouldn’t agree. Then she told me about her “ex-boyfriend” who was recently arrested for sexual misconduct, though she thinks he’s been falsely accused. Seriously. She couldn’t have teed it up better if she’d tried, but I let it go: don’t argue with foolish people, and particularly with drunk foolish people. (Friends who know of the incident later assured me that she’s mistaken, and that the fellow in question is pretty awful.)

I don’t know how many on the left share this silly woman’s bigoted assumptions about the half of America that voted for the Republican. I do know that, when I wear the hat, I make a special effort to be pleasant. I’d like to think that, by being unexpectedly nice, I’m responsible for a little painful cognitive dissonance, a little uncomfortable opening of smug little minds. Certainly, that’s my hope.

Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review Buettner skillfully mixes actual history to create a plausible, terrifying story […]

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Trumpism: No Zip Code Left Behind

 

Did you see the funny video that Trump Tweeted out making fun of the Time magazine article on Trumpism? In the Tweet, the Trump 20xx signs go on to “Trump 4eva” (forever). A nice troll job. But I want to discuss the magazine article and the idea of “Trumpism.”

The Time article goes along with a Vanity Fair article, which was preceded by an epic rant by Tucker Carlson that all describe an emerging school of governance that seeks to spread prosperity throughout America. The effort to move conservatism in this direction started a few years ago with the “Reformicons.” Later, in 2015-ish, Steve Bannon tried to expand the idea of a more populist conservatism, which he referred to as “Alt-Right.” That label got co-opted by White Identity Leftists, so Bannon had to drop that term, but the ideas formed the basis of the Trump 2016 campaign. The movement is now growing under the name of “Trumpism,” but that term has baggage and the promoters will surely choose another term after Trump leaves office.

What is this Trumpism? It is the idea that the previous economic philosophy (economic/domestic/international) was failing for too many Americans. The new thinking would look to the “forgotten man,” who has lost prosperity and the hope of improved conditions. To turn a phrase, it is a “no zip code left behind” mindset. This is contrasted with the Bush/Obama idea of prosperity anywhere was good enough and that it was OK for the government to shut down old industries and build up new ones, eg., trading coal jobs for solar jobs, without regard to the impact on the people. The new thinking wants less destruction in capitalism’s creative destruction.

The renewed idea of a government “for the people” includes the idea of being pro-family. While previous presidents pushed the idea of individualism, the new thinking (which is really an old thinking) considers the family unit of two parents and children to be the basic building block of a civil society. This was effectuated in the tax cuts of 2017, which included a big increase in the child tax credit (thanks to Marco Rubio). That tax reform package also includes provisions for special economic zones, which target zip codes with less prosperity.

On the international front, Trumpism uses economic penalties against countries that abuse trade (China, EU, India) and seeks to cushion the destructive impact of trade. Human and cultural capital are recognized as our greatest assets. These are things that must be protected. This also means reducing the adventurism of Bush/Obama. War is very expensive. Not just in dollars, but in the lives of poor young men that do the fighting and dying for Americas largest corporations. The list of casualties in the Middle East wars of the 21st century includes zero corporations. This is more a return to the vision of The Founders than radical new thinking.

I don’t know where this goes from here, but the movement is growing. It has young, talented and enthusiastic people. It has people of all races and geographic regions and it is a force for change of both the GOP and the DNC as well as for America.

Member Post

 

I think I first heard this from Mark Steyn in reference to one of his freedom of speech lawsuits in Canada, but I am not sure it is original to him. This phrase keeps going through my mind. Last week, the Supreme Court sent back to the lower court the case against the Portland bakery […]

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Bullitt: The Car Chase

 

What was the greatest car chase scene of all time? I don’t really know; but, if I had to pick one – I’d pick the chase scene from the 1968 movie Bullitt. There were car chase scenes in the movies long before Bullitt (lots of ’em), and there have been even more car chase scenes in the movies since Bullitt. But, Bullitt is a dividing line — car chase scenes after were and still are measured against the Bullitt chase scene. That full scene (a little over ten minutes in length) is below. I should note that when I started to put this post together it took a while to find the complete scene (at least in a form that could be pasted here on Ricochet), which was a little surprising.

It never gets old watching that 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 and 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 race pell-mell through the streets of San Francisco. If you want to know more about where exactly the Mustang and Charger were racing in San Francisco this web page provides details and photos (from 1968 and more recently) of the physically impossible route traversed during the chase. And if you want to learn more details about the making of the chase scene I’ve posted a nine-minute video below which discusses the making of the movie with an emphasis on the car chase. The driver of the Charger is Bill Hickman, maybe the most famous stunt driver of all time, he also played important roles in the chase scenes in The French Connection and The Seven-Ups, among many others. As for the Mustang, Steve McQueen did some of the driving but the more dangerous scenes were performed by stunt drivers Carey Loftin and Loren Janes while Bud Ekins laid down the motorcycle.

Earlier in the post, I mentioned that there were many car chase scenes in the movies pre-Bullitt. I thought I’d post one. I was looking to post the scene from the end of High Sierra, but I couldn’t find it, so this scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 movie Foreign Correspondent will have to do (it’s about four minutes long).

Foreign Correspondent is a great movie and Hitchcock was a great director. The chase scene was probably better than most at the time but it’s just not that realistic when compared to Bullitt. Of course, this isn’t a fair comparison – the technology had vastly improved a quarter century later and audiences also expected more realism.

Feel free to put your two cents in on either your favorite car chase scene(s) or what you consider the best car chase scene from the movies.

“For Your Own Good”

 

Forced abortion in England. 

The beloved NHS strikes again. I wonder what the Brits will make of this. A disabled mother. A baby on the way. A competent caregiver (grandma) ready to help care for it. A case worker who sides with the mother. A judge with a different world view. A “medical” system that knows better than the patient. 

As Ronald Reagan said, “The most chilling words in the English language are, ‘We’re from the government and we’re here to help.'”

Welcome to the therapeutic state.

 

 

 

The End of the End

 

“It’s the beginning of the end,” Steve said;
I knew it wasn’t. I had known for weeks
The end was on its way. We all are dead
Awaiting our moment as the days leak
Away from us. For some the time is close.
Our modern world knows the signs: hospital,
Home, hospital, home again. Higher dose
Of medication does nothing at all.
If Dad hangs on until Tuesday, I’m free
To travel for a funeral, but will he?
My plans will change, not unexpectedly.
It’s a long, hard drive to South Missouri.
The chapter ends after a good, long age.
We’re left behind to fill another page.

Member Post

 

Where do I begin? Well, here’s a thought: Ricochet member @kentforrester’s recent post, “My Ten Favorite Poems,” easily won promotion to the Main Feed, broke the 100-comment mark, and is still going strong. Proof positive (as Kent himself intimated) that title, title, title on a blog or social media site doesn’t presume to fill the […]

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Member Post

 

We have abandoned Choice, leaving it on the field of battle, to be kidnapped and abused by the Left in pursuit of sexual libertinism. I say it is time to rejoin the battle and retrieve this precious hostage. I choose to never be a victim, in body or in mind. I choose to always frame […]

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Quote of the Day: Science

 

“All science is either physics or stamp collecting.” – Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford was a physicist. (You could tell, couldn’t you?) Yet he hits on one essential truth with this quote: the more rigorous and replicable experiments in a field of science are, the more reliable the results. With physics, mathematics provides the rigor, and if an experiment is not replicable, there better be a really good reason — some reason that when factored in makes the result replicable. Stamp collecting is Rutherfords’s shorthand for ordering and collecting, which is about all you can do absent mathematics and rigorous analysis.

Rocket science is hard, but it is not hard because it is complex. It is hard because it is exact. On the other hand, soft sciences tend towards hand-waving. Results depend on the meaning of “is.” We see this most frequently in climate science where elaborate mathematical models are built to predict future results and prove about as reliable as a stopped digital clock. One which does not display time at all. When sciences get sufficiently obscure, things are fuzzy enough that you can justify a number of conclusions, sometimes contradictory. Then the results represent reality a lot less than they represent the desires of the paymasters sponsoring the research. It is truly stamp collecting.

Taking Things for Granted

 

Today I was reminded of how lazy I am about paying attention to life. The ordinary falls into a morass of the mundane, and I take many things for granted, even though at some level I know what a gift life is. Still, it’s so easy to trudge through a day, not noticing or enjoying those events and relationships that bless our lives. When I gave my life a bit more thought, I found I could divide my existence into two categories: the everyday and the sacred.

What everyday conditions do I take for granted?

–That my friends will stand by me; yet I don’t remind them very often about how much they mean to me. I take my good health for granted; I exercise regularly, but when my biological system went askew recently, I nearly panicked: I never get sick! (The malady has since disappeared.) And then there are the countless little things that my husband does; I often say thank-you, but if I don’t pay attention, it can be a perfunctory comment.

How do I take the Sacred for Granted?

–By not always saying prayers from my heart. By not expressing gratitude often enough for the blessings in my life. By assuming, at times without humility, that G-d will always love me, no matter how careless and thoughtless I am.

But then there is an error in my definition of taking things for granted: the everyday and the sacred really aren’t separate. I have the choice of bringing the sacred into my relationships; I can express my gratitude with the sanctity it deserves.

Tonight, when I light the Sabbath candles, I will make my best effort to be present, to bring light into my relationships, into my life, into the world.

I want to bring light to my renewed understanding that lighting those candles is not only a ritual in time, but a timeless offering to the world.

I won’t take that moment for granted.

I’m not saying it’s the hat, but…

 

I ran out of coffee at home yesterday, so last night while I was in town I stopped at the local Starbucks to pick up a bag of dark roast. As I pulled into my parking spot, I noticed an Obama-Biden sticker on the car next to me. I figured that meant overt displays of political affiliation were allowed, so I grabbed my Make America Great Again cap from the dash where it lives, popped it on my head, and went inside.

My favorite gay bartender/barista was on duty, so after nodding a quick hello to him, I grabbed a bag of Verona and walked up to the counter, where a young fellow I didn’t recognize, a bearded college-age kid, was waiting to take my order.

I handed him the bag of beans, asked him to grind it for flat-bottom drip, and fished out a Starbucks gift card that, I figured, had enough left on it to complete the transaction. The young fellow rang up my order and turned away to grind my coffee. When he came back and I held out my card, he waved it away and said: “we got it, you’re all set.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I have a ton of coffee credits. Employees get them. I put it on mine,” he told me.

I asked if he was serious, and if he really wanted to do that. He said he was, and wished me a nice day. So I thanked him, picked up my bag of ground coffee, and walked out.


I have yet to experience any negative feedback while wearing the Make America Great Again hat. I’ve had a few positive comments, a couple of unexpected but pleasant conversations with strangers during which politics was never mentioned — and, yes, maybe an odd look or two. But free coffee? That’s a first.

Two Weird Days in a Row in My Front Yard

 

I got a knock on the door yesterday around 5:00 pm. Upon answering I found a guy with long hair pulled back in a ponytail, a beard, hiking boots, and a dress with a Greenpeace T-Shirt over it.

He introduced himself as Katrina.

He was asking for donations to “save the world” as “we are running out of time.” I asked what the plans were for the money; he said to sue corporations who are destroying our planet.

I explained that the fastest way to save the planet was to lift everyone out of poverty (while noting that capitalism was making amazing progress in that regard) because no one was going to care about the planet while they were feeding their kids dirt soup. And that we needed corporations for that.

Quickly noting I was a lost cause, he said he “had limited time to save the planet” (which I thought was kind of clever), and excused himself.

My only regret is that I didn’t tell him to call his mother.

This morning my daughter went out the front to get her girls in their car seats. She and I and my son-in-law were standing on the porch talking … when in our avocado tree we discovered a huge bear. Running into the house would have left the little girls alone (but safe) out front in the car. Not knowing what to do, we pulled out our phones and took pictures.

Here’s the only good one I got once he (she? it? they?) climbed down.

Related to this experience, last week in our neighboring town of Sierra Madre a man was mauled by a bear after its cub attacked his dog. I followed the story on FB, where everyone unanimously took the side of the bear and cub. We have encroached on their habitat, they mean us no harm, we can live side by side, mamma bear was protecting her cub, blah blah blah

The bears got the sleepy shots, and DNA tests were done to ensure they had the right bears. They were relocated to the high desert and released into the wild. The next day they were busted rummaging in a dipsy dumpster in Lancaster, got the shots again and were relocated again to an undisclosed location.

I’ve been predicting for a while that the bear problem around here was getting out of control and someone was going to get hurt. There have been several people I know who have had real property damage from a bear breaking into their garage and rummaging through their refrigerator. One got in our across-the-street neighbor’s kitchen a few years ago. And while Monrovia is “the gem of the foothills,” I am many blocks south of any undeveloped land and only two blocks north of Foothill Blvd (the old Route 66)

After meeting Katrina yesterday, my first words to my husband were, “we gotta get out of here.” After the bear encounter this a.m., I’ll be repeating them to him …

Member Post

 

In a rapidly declining Western civilization gone mad with progressive ideology, one of the few pleasures available for people with traditional values is watching one fringe element of the left trash another fringe element of the left. It doesn’t necessarily do much to slow down the civilizational destruction, but it provides sporadic moments of intense […]

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Peg … Don’t Worry … Be Jolly!

 

Friday at the WSJ, Peggy Noonan’s weekly article is titled, “My Sister, My Uncle and Trump.”

It is notable in much of what Ms. Noonan reveals in the article about her sense of things, her outlook, her instincts … behind the scenes. She has not revealed any of this previously in her own WSJ writings (to my knowledge) as her bias heretofore has decidedly been very never-Trumpish. She is a very talented writer with terrific observation skills. It is my belief that she has allowed her fear to override her natural instincts. But my sense is, she’s moving toward the President.

Throughout the article, relating discussions with her sister and uncle, she makes the case for President Trump. She understands the reasoning, the rationale, the feeling of freedom … and yes, joy … that is unleashed with pushing back on the entrenched elitists attempting to control our lives. An example from the article:

But they were looking at their country and seeing bad trend lines. In choosing Mr. Trump they were throwing a Hail Mary pass, but they didn’t sound desperate. They always sounded jolly. And I realized they hadn’t sounded jolly about politics in a while.

Below the jolliness I sense the spirit of the jailbreak. They were finally allowed to be renegades. They were playing the part of the rebel in a country that had long cast them as the boring Americans—stodgy, dronelike, nothing to say. The lumpen working and middle class, dependable heartland-type boobs. Everyone else got to act up and complain. They were just there to pay the taxes, love the country, send the boys to war.

Now they were pushing back, and hell it was fun. It was like joining a big, beautiful anti-BS movement. It was like they were telling the entire political class, “I’m gonna show a little juice, baby, brace yourself.”

[Um … Peggy … it’s President Trump. Respect the Office and all.]

But at the end, she ultimately retreats and lets the fear (of what, Peg? Donald Trump? C’mon, woMan!) take control of her again and she aches to try to articulate her pearl-clutching feelings … but, but, but … “unreadiness.” Oh, for Pete’s sake. You want to talk about “unreadiness” Peg? At the same WSJ today, your colleague Michael Blechman writes “Liberalism Isn’t What It Used to Be.” These Socialist Democrats ain’t your grandfather’s Democrats. These folks hate America. Even Creepy Uncle Joe Biden is going to be chewed up and spit out before this primary is over … by his supposed friends. This is what “the unreadiness of the White House” looks like. If you love your country, you will board any train that beats this beast back.

So … let it go, Peg. Fear is crippling. It robs you of your good natural instincts. Jump on the train. Keep America Great. Heck, you could offer your services to the President Trump re-election campaign and let Kim Strassel take your place at the WSJ. Think how proud of you that your sister and uncle will be. Think how much America will benefit. Imagine … what President Ronald Reagan would think about you doing this, throwing caution to the wind (based upon your gut instinct) and being jolly, a “renegade,” and playing the part of a “rebel in the Country” that needs exactly that right now! And you can once again help to add articulate words of hope and joy for the President of the United States to speak.

So take a running jump into the pool! The water’s fine. And the setting reminds us of President Reagan, the last GOP renegade. You’ll feel right at home with the rest of us sisters, brothers, and uncles.

Transgressive Jokes and Western Civilization

 

The day that the Challenger blew up, I was sitting in a lounge area adjacent to the cafeteria with some friends when another friend came up.

He said in an obviously joking tone, “Hey, do you know what NASA stands for?”

I bit, “No, what does it stand for?”

“Need Another Seven Astronauts?”

Talk about going from disaster to humor in nothing flat, he had it down to a few hours. These days, I’m sure he would have followed up with, “Too soon?” Of course, that joke had probably been a variant of one from Apollo 1, where it might have been, “Need Another Set of Astronauts,” so the speed came through recycling.

When the subject of the Challenger explosion came up recently, I thought about that moment. If someone today, especially a university student, cracked a tasteless joke like that on the day of a disaster, the authorities would lock him up, clear the building, and provide psychological counseling for all who had been triggered by his obtuseness towards the feelings of the snowflakes around him.

Back at that time, I had a job at the university, and my boss’ boss was a black man with an Irish last name. One day, he announced he had gotten an invitation to attend the World (his surname) Gathering in Ireland.

“Can you see me strutting in there?” he asked while acting out the strut. He imagined he would say, “‘Hi! I’m just here to add a little color to the gathering!’”

Then he looked over at me, “Hey, Charley! You know why white men dress as they do on the golf course?”

“No, Doc, why do they?”

He waved at his outfit, which included bright colors and plaid pants, “So they can dress as cool as black men do every day.”

Can you imagine anyone doing that today? Yes, the target of the humor might be construed as white men, or the target might be seen as black fashion choices.

I grew up with all sorts of transgressive jokes. We learned to laugh. We learned to have humor in horrible situations.

Q. What is Al Qaeda’s favorite football team?

A. The New York Jets.

We were not brittle. Like iron, we were worked hard with a bit of carbon (or manure) thrown our way to make us tough and flexible steel.

Some of that manure thrown our way was in the form of ethnic jokes:

Q. How does a Polack tie his shoe?

A. *The guy puts one foot up on a chair and bends down to tie the shoe on the other foot, which is on the ground.*

Q: How can you tell if a WASP is sexually excited?

A: The stiff upper lip.

Q. How can you tell when a Scotsman is dead?

A. He lets go of his wallet.

We learned to tell dirty jokes without being offended or offensive:

Q. What’s black and white, black and white, black and white, black and white, and green?

A. Four nuns fighting over a pickle.

In many ways, these jokes which would be considered offensive today were the glue that held us together. They were the hammers we were forged with. They were the naughty coals that warmed our hearts. These jokes were the building bricks of a cohesive civilization.

Sure, they could be sick and cruel or even gross:

Q. What’s red and white and hangs from the ceiling?

A. A baby on a meat hook.

Q. What’s green and hangs from the ceiling?

A. Same baby three weeks later.

Or they might make fun of people with disabilities:

Q. What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs when he’s on your porch?

A. Matt.

Q. What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs when he’s in the ocean?

A. Bob.

Hey, did you hear about the hockey game at the leper colony? There was a face off in the corner.

And they certainly made fun of professions:

Q. What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 100?

A. Your Honor.

Q. What do you call a lawyer with an IQ of 50

A. Senator.

Q. What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer?

A. Accountants know they’re boring.

Q. How do you know you’re talking to an extroverted actuary?

A. He looks at your shoes when he talks.

The only way for us to preserve Western Civilization is to get back to joking without worrying about who might be offended. So, give us your best. Disaster jokes? Go for it! Nun jokes? Dead baby jokes? Mommy, mommy jokes? Leper jokes? Quadruple-amputee jokes? Rude limericks? Bring ’em on.

Just remember that we still have a CoC on Ricochet, so clean up your language, you etaoin shrdlus.

Aging Flower-Child Wannabes Follow Bernie to Russia. But They Come Back.

 

I practice concierge medicine in Hilton Head. As you might imagine in an upscale retirement community like this, my patients tend to be older (average age is around 75) and fairly affluent. I’m starting to notice an existential crisis that many of my patients share. I doubt that many of these people were actually hippies in the ’60s, but with peer pressure and societal trends, they’ve grown to admire and adopt the “flower child” persona of the ’60s. But every movement needs a bad guy, and for the flower children, the bad guys were old people and rich people. “Never trust anyone over 30,” and “eat the rich” are really cool ideologies to poor college kids, but it grows harder to keep the faith when you’ve become both old and rich. And white, heaven forfend… So my 75-year-old flower-child wannabes with Obama stickers on their Beamers face an existential crisis, which can lead to odd behavior.

Bernie Sanders has started a trend among aging baby boomers who feel the need to polish their left-wing hippie bona fides. I have had several of my leftist sympathizing patients in their 70’s vacation in Russia recently. Don’t get me wrong – other people vacation in Russia too – I’d like to go. But the flower child wannabes are flocking to Russia (…and Cuba, although strangely, not Venezuela…), and professing to have life-affirming experiences, rather than just fun vacations. Strangely, despite their incredible, beautiful experiences, learning what an incredible, beautiful place Russia is, they always come back. And they come back eager to talk about it. Our conversations are often a bit strange, as they try to make the following points, either indirectly, or more commonly, explicitly:

  1. There’s nothing odd about vacationing in Russia. Those evil, stupid Republicans were attacking Bernie Sanders for simply going on his honeymoon! What’s the big deal?
  2. We are just as hip, radical, and cool as Bernie. You gonna attack us? Huh?
  3. Evil, stupid Republicans say that socialism is so bad, but Russia looked like a nice place to us!
  4. The Russian people are very nice. We don’t hate them. It’s evil and stupid that the evil, stupid Republicans hate them.
  5. World peace is attainable if nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people reach out to traditional enemies. Nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan people like us, for example.
  6. This trip was not simply old, rich, white people spending an embarrassing amount of money to amuse themselves and drink wine on a cruise ship. No, this was idealistic flower children sacrificing their money and time to save the world.

We conservatives are fortunate that virtue signaling is less important to our sense of self-worth. But it was depressing to me, listening to my third or fourth such conversation, wondering where I would go if I wanted to signal my belief in limited government, personal liberty, and a nation of laws rather than of men. Where would I go? England? Of course not. Singapore? Heck no. Canada? Mark Steyn would say no.

It’s sad that socialists and communists have more options than I do.

Anyway, I was having one of these conversations with a patient of mine who had just gotten back from a river cruise in Russia. He was making the above points explicitly enough that he was starting to annoy me. He really believed that he had not been on holiday, but rather on a vital mission to achieve world peace despite the best efforts of Donald Trump and his evil, stupid supporters.

Construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal (Belomorkanal). The canal was constructed between 1931 and 1933 by forced labor of Gulag inmates. According to official records and accounts in the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, between 12,000 and 240,000 laborers died during the construction of the canal, Russia, 1933. (Photo by Laski Diffusion/Getty Images)

I rarely respond to this stuff. But then he said, “I don’t think that anyone should be allowed to vote Republican until they visit Russia and see what a nice place it is.”

So I responded, “I don’t think that anyone should be allowed to vote Democrat until they read Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn.”

I immediately regretted it. I always presume that if someone is a leftist, they just can’t be very well-read, or very well-educated. There are exceptions, though, and I immediately wondered if he was one of them. He is a retired CEO of a major retail chain. Perhaps he’s a cut above.

Thankfully, he was not. He looked confused for the slightest instant, and then brightly replied, “So true – Russians have such a rich artistic heritage!” I took this to mean that he wasn’t sure if Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn were poets, or novelists, or philosophers, or whatever. And he apparently had not read them, so he couldn’t debate my point.

So Mr. Smooth CEO moved the conversation along quickly. Which both of us were thankful for. He wanted to talk about what a nice, enlightened, cosmopolitan person he was. I wanted to talk about heart disease. Neither one of us wanted to talk about the brutal, soul-crushing disease of socialism. Plus, I had more patients to see, and he had a tee time at Harbor Town right after our appointment.

Us human beings are strange creatures. Mr. Smooth and I are both pretty smart guys. We both look at Russia, and we both believe that Russia has a lot to teach us. But we see completely different lessons to be learned in Russian history. That really is remarkable, if you think about it.

No wonder we can’t agree on light bulbs, or Social Security, or vegetarian versus balanced diets, or much of anything else.

What I find most concerning about all this, is that I find this Conflict of Visions to be a perfect argument for federalism, while my patient views this as a perfect argument against it.

Now that is terrifying.

 

Joe Biden’s Poodle Has Bit Him in the Backside

 

Thirty-six years in the television business has taught me many things about my media brethren. Among the ones that stand out are two biggies: 1) No one has a harder time communicating clearly with one another than a bunch of people in the communications business and 2) No one is less aware of how their actions are perceived by the general public than an industry driven by ratings.

This orgy of stories about Joe Biden is a classic case study.

Biden has spent 47 of his 76 years squarely in the spotlight of the national media. Everything that is being written about him now, everything that is being said about him with their put-on “serious journalist” voices, all of it that is being treated as new and damaging revelations has been known for decades.

It was all known in 1988 when Biden first ran for the White House. It was known in 1991 when he led the Clarence Thomas hearings. It was certainly known in August of 2008 when Barack Obama chose him to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. And more damning, it was certainly known how his son, Hunter, was using the old man’s position in the White House as a way to strike it rich with the Ukranians and the Communist Chinese.

Every step of the way these “journalists” were happy to ignore all of the things they now find so objectionable about “Uncle Joe” because they were there to do what they do best – cheerlead for whatever was passing as the burning progressive “most-important-issue-of-our-lifetimes” at that moment. Now that the current sin has been identified as being male and white – and Biden is so white he’s almost translucent – they have turned on him with a vengeance.

Mr. Connie Schultz, aka, Sen. Sherrod Brown campaigns with Joe Biden in 2018. (Source: Sherrod Brown Twitter Feed)

On Thursday, Kasie Hunt of NBC tweeted out a piece by former Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, and now syndicated columnist, Connie Schultz condemning Biden and his working relationship with segregationist Democrats that populated the Senate when he first got there. “My message,” Schultz wrote, “on Twitter and on my public Facebook wall: If Joe Biden wants to boast about his relationship with a racist, he is not who we need to succeed the racist in the White House.”

Connie Schultz had no problem with Joe when the former Vice-President was stumping for her husband’s re-election less than a year ago. In fact, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called it “a great honor” to have Biden at his side. Of course, it could be that the rumors that have circulated in Northeast Ohio are true that the Browns were ready to make their own run for the White House and felt that Biden’s entry into the race knee-capped him.

All of this serves to just further denigrate, if possible, the standing of these media shills in the eyes of the public. All of them adored Biden as Obama’s Number Two. They cheered him during the VP debates in ’08 and ’12. And they knew him and they knew his history and they could not have cared less about it. But now they are oh, so woke as to his terrible, terrible past.

Which makes one wonder how they believe this plays with the general public. Maybe they think their audiences have the memory of a goldfish. Maybe they think their audiences are gullible or stupid enough to believe these truly are newly unearthed facts. Maybe they are so far from any pretense of “journalism” they don’t care. Or maybe, just maybe, they believe we have always been at war with Eastasia.