Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Winter of Our Discontent: To Wolf or Not to Wolf, That is the Question

 

Wolves. Everyone has an opinion.

In my home state of Wyoming, wolves have been a controversy since my great-grandfather was a trapper there. Yellowstone Park was created in 1872. My great-grandpa earned his money by trapping beaver, mink, and wolves, and selling the pelts. He spent his winters in the area around Yellowstone. Then, in the 1880s, Mormon families officially settled in one of the valleys south of the Park, so he married and settled there, too. My dad told me that his grandpa tried farming, but ended up selling his land, moving the family to town, and went back out in the mountains to resume his trapper life.

When the farmers and ranchers established settlements in the area around Yellowstone, wolves became a problem for them. After all, what would be easier prey: elk with those big antlers, or chubby cattle, with no horns? So, the government put a bounty on wolves, and by the late 1920s, the wolf packs were gone. Individual animals were sighted for the next four decades, but the big packs were no longer a threat. But, it isn’t always possible to predict what else will be affected when one thing changes.

Once the wolf packs no longer threatened the elk herds there was a big increase in the elk population in Yellowstone and the surrounding wilderness areas. This resulted in a near-complete depletion of the willows and aspens that grew along the streams in the valleys, which also left the beaver population without dam building materials. The beaver population diminished, leaving the streams free to rush downstream with no ponds to adjust the flow. Fewer willows and aspens also contributed to the erosion and damaged the riparian/aquatic ecosystems.

So, pressure to reintroduce the wolves began to mount. Ultimately, the pro-wolf arguments won out, so in the 1990s, these animals were back in Yellowstone. There are now many wolf sightings, but also, there has been a noticeable reduction in the elk population. The elk moved away from the streams, back in the thick timber, as one way of avoiding the wolves. And they broke up into smaller groups as a way to lessen the attraction of the predators. However, as the wolves increase in number, the elk population is definitely decreasing.

In those areas where wolves were reintroduced, the elk count has dropped by a range of 30-80% (in Idaho and Wyoming). The wolf population is now dramatically over the percentage that was intended when the restoration was begun. Some areas allow wolf hunting. Idaho actually put out a limited hunting season with a bounty for wolves. Farmers and ranchers make their case against the higher wolf population. The preservation people push back against those who want to control the wolves’ growth.

If you really want to get an argument going, just pick a side, and start talking! There are heated opinions everywhere. I don’t live there anymore, so I don’t have a stake in the game. I’ve seen some photos on Facebook that give me pause.

This is an aerial shot of a wolf pack chasing down some elk–which is nature doing its thing, I know.

This is a Montana family’s quarter horse that wolves killed in its pasture on their ranch.

These are fifteen cow elk killed apparently for fun by a wolf pack in Wyoming.

They weren’t eaten, they were just killed in a big meadow. (Yes, humans lined them up for the photo.)

So, questions? Opinions? What do you think about the wolf/elk/rancher controversy? It is inevitable that when humans get involved, that nature is going to be affected. But, what solutions would you propose? Here are some websites of those with varying opinions that you could read. It won’t clear things up, I promise!

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Not just a matter of knowing the words,Nor stringing together in ways unheardThat makes a blast of vitriol seem new. Any man can make fires rhyme and smellOf brimstone, sulfur, and lye, all quite well,But is it art? Is it glory they spew? There is an art in juxtaposition,Contrasting impossible positionsThat is no mere string, […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I went to my fifth March for Life Friday. The process was pretty much like previous years. We start with early morning Mass, get on the bus and get to Washington D.C. in four plus hours, find our way to Constitution Avenue, roughly parallel with the Washington Monument. You make your way into the crowd, […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

It is impossible for me to take Social Justice Warriors seriously. They are not Bolsheviks or Nazis. They are not intellectual powerhouses or a physical force to be reckoned with. They are mere children, and ill-behaved brats at that. And yet: we must not give an inch. In stable times, we have normal rules. People, […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Fake Fear

 

I first saw this from Instapundit.

It really says it all, doesn’t it? The Second Amendment March in Virginia reminds me of the Tea Party, which the left blatantly lied about and demonized. At both events, you had people cleaning up after themselves, being incredibly diverse (all races and flavors of LGBT were represented), and generally engaging in peaceful protest. I (with an assist from Vectorman) wrote about how the Tea Party was trashed, and the second version was not as polite.

Let’s be honest, the 2nd Amendment is the antithesis of the Left. It’s about not being a victim. It is about taking responsibility for your own defense. I bring up how I want more law-abiding black men in Chicago carrying guns, and the lefties I talk to tend to give an error message and stop functioning. Of course, they need to trash the Virginia March. If that kind of organization spreads, they are toast.

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In my dreams Counselor Cipollone rises to conclude the President’s defense as follows: “Chief Justice Roberts, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, distinguished Senators, I want to thank you for your patience in listening to our defense of President Trump. As our team has outlined, there is no basis in law or fact for a […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

The woman who would be matriarch of the new oligarchs was actually asked a real question by a CBS reporter. Let’s watch and listen together and then discuss. First, credit as always to C-SPAN for getting the underlying video. Second, credit to the CBS morning news team for asking a real question in a fair […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Elderly Scottish Woman Suffering from Dementia Climbs UK Music Charts (Video)

 

OK, well, this made me cry. An 83-year-old Scottish woman who suffers from dementia is climbing the UK music download charts, singing a duet with her caregiver of Frank Sinatra’s 1969 hit, “My Way.”

Margaret Mackie and Jamie Lee Morley first performed the song at her nursing home, during last year’s Christmas karaoke party, and subsequently recorded it at Studio Sound, an Ingleton-based music studio. All proceeds from song downloads go to Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK. (Video below.)

Six years ago, I wrote a post about my mother, who suffered from fronto-temporal dementia (not age-related or Alzheimer’s, but the same sort of dementia Monty Python troupe member and serious Chaucer scholar, Terry Jones, suffered from). I re-treaded it last Spring, here.

At the time I first wrote it, I’d just read a book by Sally Magnusson, whose own mother suffered from dementia, and about whom she wrote a touching memoir: Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything.

A part of the book I didn’t cover in my post speaks about the importance of music in the lives of people suffering with dementia, and the way in which songs and musical memories from their lives often stay with them until the end, when almost other lights have gone out, and how those memories can comfort them. She suggests, if you have an old iPod or player that you might think of donating it to a charity or a care home.

For Margaret Mackie. A true hero. (Jamie Lee Morley is up there in my estimation, too.)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Politics

 

“Politics is show business for ugly people.” – Sen. Fred Thompson

If anyone should know, it is the late Fred Thompson, who was both during his lifetime. And we saw it illustrated this week in Washington. The impeachment is less a trial than a bunch of Hollywood wannabes behaving as if they were in some movie about a trial. They are less concerned about the facts and the law than they are about putting on virtuoso performances. (It is easy to give a virtuoso performance if you are unmoored by the truth.) The acting has been over the top and, except for the credulous few, unconvincing.

And all the overacting seems to have achieved is to alienate Republican senators inclined to listen to the Democrats’ arguments. (When you lose Lisa Murkowski, you really demonstrate ineptness.) But the clown show will go on because no one on either side has enough nerve to put it to the merciful death it deserves.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Seattle War Zone: Dori Monson Nails It

 

In the past few days, there have been multiple shootings in downtown Seattle. Ordinary citizens are wondering if they should be going there at all, and are expressing their opinions publicly. Local businesses are appealing to city government to improve conditions in their neighborhoods, so they are not confronted with drug deals, gang shootings, and homeless people in their doorways on a daily basis.

Dori Monson, a host on KIRO Radio, has published an excellent article on the local site MyNorthwest.com. He attributes many of Seattle’s problems to the city’s elected officials, many of whom are politically-correct 1960s radicals who now hold the power. City police, distrusted by many, seem powerless to stop the rampant crime and drug dealing. Criminals with multiple felony convictions are released onto the streets to continue their mayhem. Respected local businesses, like Bartell Drugs and Barnes and Noble Booksellers are closing shop, leaving empty storefronts behind.

But the Citizens of Seattle elect their Government. Too bad they get what they elect.

Cross-posted at RushBabe49.com.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Corona-virus Libel: Unfair Vilification of Beer

 

Sure, my favorite beer has given me a hangover from time to time, but to assert that Corona harbors a deadly virus is over the top.

In their zeal to banish Corona, which I think evidences a racist, anti-Mexican bias, the CDC, UN, and mainstream media ignore the tremendous contributions beer has made to our culture and our lives, including:

  • Thousands of lives saved by the Heineken Maneuver
  • Industrial innovation inspired by Henry Ford’s favorite quaff, Modelo-T
  • Astronomical advances by researchers experiencing Blue Moon, and…
  • Great strides in STD research by the founder of Falstaff’s, Papa Joe Griesedieck.

I say it’s time to stop all the finger-pointing and give beer a chance.

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We have finally permitted the defense to respond to the specious allegations. And what a defense they have produced. Senator Joni Ernst: Trump Counsel Shredded Democrats’ Impeachment Case In 2 Hours FoxNews: Trump Legal Team Goes On Offense And I especially loved the observation of Senator John Barrasso: I saw the blood drain from Schiff’s […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. President Trump: Pro-Woman, Pro-Life

 

On January 24, 2020, President Trump proved once more that he is the most pro-woman and pro-life president in American history. Really, we should have expected this from a man who raised his eldest daughter to be a successful business leader, preparing her, along with his two adult sons, to eventually take over the family ventures. President Trump followed the example of President Reagan and the Presidents Bush in issuing a presidential proclamation declaring January 22 to be “National Sanctity of Life Day.” That was not surprising. What is big news is that this president is the first to address the March for Life in person, and that he spoke so strongly for two important ideas: women’s worth and the imago dei.

President Trump praised mothers as heroes, after a series of laudatory statements about women, starting with their status as voters, in the centennial of the 19th Amendment. He then invoked the inherent worth and dignity of every human being, because they are made in the image of God. We do not just have value based on our economic potential or because we might make some great discovery that will benefit other people. We all matter because we are image bearers, carrying in us the mark of our Creator.*

The whole transcript is available on the White House website. The relevant closing section is reproduced below.** President Trump’s words are backed by substantive actions, taken within the limits of Article II of the U.S. Constitution. He cited those actions earlier in his remarks and warned about the radical position of today’s Democratic Party. Starting at 12:28 and ending by 12:41 EST, the speech took only 13 minutes, a well-crafted text delivered with self-discipline and authenticity. It was not the text, nor the delivery, but the physical presence that was historic, a fact that is remarkable in itself.

In 27 years of Republican presidential administration since Roe v. Wade, 2020 is the first year any president has ever gone to the March for Life. There are all manner of groups with annual gatherings, from the American Legion to the NAACP, that regularly attract the presence of U.S. presidents. Some national groups attract more Republican or Democratic political leaders, while some get respect as non-partisan groups that matter. How is it, then, that the oldest, largest, organized gathering for a cause that is perennially paid formal respect in the Republican Party platform, would be held at arm’s length?

A WTOP story on the 2020 March for Life explains past presidents’ calculations:

Past presidents who opposed abortion, including Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, steered clear of personally attending the march to avoid being too closely associated with demonstrators eager to outlaw the procedure. They sent remarks for others to deliver, spoke via telephone hookup or invited organizers to the White House — but never appeared at the march.

At the Washington Post, Marc R. Thiessen made it even clearer [links added]:

The message to pro-life conservatives was clear: They were the black sheep of the Republican coalition. Their presence was tolerated because their votes were needed. But while Republican presidential candidates couldn’t win the nomination without declaring themselves pro-life, the GOP establishment not-so-secretly loathed pro-lifers. The prevailing attitude was: There they go again, making people uncomfortable by talking about abortion.

[…]

Given their lack of other options, pro-lifers accepted their second-class-citizen status in the GOP. Then along came Trump, a man who doesn’t care what the Republican establishment thinks. He has embraced the pro-life movement in a way no other president has. In 2018, he became the first sitting president to address the annual Campaign for Life gala of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, founded in 1992.[***] And now he will make history again at the March for Life.

[…]

Pro-life Americans sense that his pro-life record is one of the reasons Democrats have been searching for a pretext to impeach him. And they know a second Trump term would mean more conservatives justices on the Supreme Court, more conservatives on the federal appeals courts and more opportunities to rescue babies from the abortionist’s hand.

Millennials are increasingly against unrestricted abortion, leading the way in making the American public more pro-life. The issue is a political winner in most states. So, it is stunning that only two senators, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), showed up in an election year. Senator Martha McSally would have done herself more good showing up, demonstrating she could actually take a position on a real issue, than she did with her hallway shot at a CNN hack. Doing both would have helped build a better narrative in a tough race to prove she can actually win in Arizona.

Consider this CBS headline: “Trump focuses on women’s rights and mothers in March for Life speech.” Mom and apple pie! The event itself has a track record of being the best behaved large gathering you could imagine. Every Republican senator running for reelection, except Senator Collins, would have done themselves some good by showing up for the march, instead of some trivial briefing on the latest virus scare, before trooping back over to suffer though another eight hours of lies by House Democrats. That they avoided these voters, these motivated citizens, even as President Trump showed up to show respect, is a sign of old, timid conventional wisdom on the Hill.


* See “Quote of the Day: ‘What is Mankind?’ from Psalm 8” by Ricochet member @manny. See also Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 5:1-2, Genesis 9:6, James 3:9.

** Remarks by President Trump at the 47th Annual March for Life

LAW & JUSTICE
Issued on: January 24, 2020

The National Mall

Washington, D.C.

12:28 P.M. EST

[…]

This year, the March for Life is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which forever enshrined women’s rights to vote in the United States — (applause) — and given by the United States Constitution. Such a big event. (Applause.)

Today, millions of extraordinary women across America are using the power of their votes to fight for the right, and all of their rights, as given in the Declaration of Independence –- it’s the right to life. To all the women here today: Your devotion and your leadership uplifts our entire nation, and we thank you for that.

The tens of thousands of Americans gathered today not only stand for life — it’s really that they stand for it so proudly together, and I want to thank everybody for that.

You stand for life each and every day. You provide housing, education, jobs, and medical care to the women that you serve. You find loving families for children in need of a forever home. You host baby showers for expecting moms. You make –- you just make it your life’s mission to help spread God’s grace.

And to all of the moms here today: We celebrate you, and we declare that mothers are heroes. (Applause.) That’s true. Your strength, devotion, and drive is what powers our nation. And, because of you, our country has been blessed with amazing souls who have changed the course of human history.

We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve, the dreams they will imagine, the masterpieces they will create, the discoveries they will make. But we know this: Every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. (Applause.) And above all, we know that every human soul is divine, and every human life –- born and unborn –- is made in the holy image of Almighty God. (Applause.)

Together, we will defend this truth all across our magnificent land. We will set free the dreams of our people. And with determined hope, we look forward to all of the blessings that will come from the beauty, talent, purpose, nobility, and grace of every American child.

I want to thank you. This is a very special moment. It’s so great to represent you. I love you all and –- (applause) — and I say with true passion: Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.)

*** President Trump Delivers Remarks at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. On Compassion

 

My husband was watching some commentary on loan forgiveness. The talking heads kept reiterating that this wasn’t “compassionate” because it isn’t “fair” to the people who paid off their loans.

Regardless of your feelings regarding that particular policy, I want to dispel this ridiculous idea that Compassion = Fair.

Fairness doesn’t exist in this world. If everyone got what was fair, we would all be dead. (Because we are all sinners and the wages of sin is death). I get a lot of people around here aren’t Christians, so don’t care much for that phrasing, so let me put it another way. If the world were fair, Bernie would be living in Venezuela waiting in a bread line. If life were fair, 53 percent of the homicides in Chicago wouldn’t be unsolved. If life were fair, we wouldn’t have BOGO deals, freebies at job fairs, or any number of ridiculous and mundane bonuses in life.

And yet, we should show compassion to others. Please take note: a moral people is a compassionate people. If compassion equaled fairness and fairness doesn’t exist, then compassion wouldn’t exist, either. Therefore, compassion does not mean fairness.

Compassion is about grace. A silly little word that means getting what you do not deserve (in a positive way). So, if you want to be compassionate, you are absolutely talking about the exact opposite of fairness. And yes, if you are giving grace to someone, it might not be fair to someone who doesn’t need that grace – but life isn’t fair!

Again, this post isn’t about what brought this to my attention, it is about compassion, so don’t let what you think my position on loan forgiveness is colored by what follows. This isn’t about loan forgiveness. Here’s the question: should we be compassionate even when it means making things unfair? (If your answer is no, please see the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and refer yourself to the oldest son.)

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

One classic pro-abortion argument is “If life begins at conception why do we celebrate birthdays instead of conception days” after which the pro-abortion arguer will beam with pride as their unassailable reasoning reigns over you and instantly you find yourself converted to the pro-abortion forces of darkness. Ok maybe not, While this arrow might not […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I’ve Come to the Conclusion That We Have No Right to Own Guns

 

There. I’ve said it. Human beings have no right to own guns. You on the left can shut up now about how we want to own guns more than we want to keep kids safe. We don’t have the right to the consumerist pleasure of owning lots of fun machines.

But.

It is immoral to prevent an individual from acting to preserve their own life.

Nobody* thinks it’s unreasonable to fight back if someone is actually trying to kill you. People* don’t think it’s unreasonable for a woman to hit someone attempting to remove her autonomy.

People, it follows,* can not be morally prevented from defending themselves. People have a right to defend their lives. There is no court that can return you your life or property intact.**

Of course, now that we have established that, it’s plain to see that humans, as users of tools, should be able to use tools that can help them in their defense. Otherwise, you effectively ban defense of the self as clearly as if you yourself stabbed every victim. How can you morally prohibit a tired man, a paralyzed woman, the elderly, from protecting themselves? They may, of course, defend themselves with their fists but are less likely to be successful even against an unarmed man than if they just had a tool.


People propose the need for a line. Obviously, we don’t want every Tom, Dick, and Harry owning and using nuclear weapons. Society and civilization couldn’t handle it. We Need a Line.

So here it is. Can I use it to preserve my own life from another individual trying to take it? While keeping my own life in the process?

If you can, then it’s immoral to prohibit an individual from using that tool to defend their life, as well as immoral to prohibit an individual from equipping themselves with that tool. Just in case they must defend their life.

We don’t have a right to own guns. We have a right to defend our lives from damage and our property from destruction. We have a right to equip ourselves with the tools and skills necessary to do so, if we choose so.

To do anything else is immoral.


*Except for Britons or other places where there is a doctrine of proportionate force. Or people who got the wrong lessons from the successes of peaceful protest.

** Attribution not remembered.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Steady Boys, Steady

 

Boris Johnson and EU Chiefs Sign UK Withdrawal Agreement Heralding Historic Brexit Moment

The President of the European Commission, the head of the European Council, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have signed the agreement governing the United Kingdom’s withdrawal of the European Union, one of the final steps towards Brexit at the end of January.

New Commission president Ursula von der Leyen shared photographs of herself and European Council president Charles Michel signing the document — in blue ballpoint pens, an informal touch defying the normal global convention of signing treaties with real ink pens — Friday morning, overlooked in their task by a stern Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

The leather-bound, 600-page document was then rushed to London by diplomatic courier where it was signed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street, his official residence. The Prime Minister was photographed signing the document with a fountain pen. Noting the importance of the occasion, Mr Johnson said: “This signature heralds a new chapter in our nation’s history.”

UK Officials Want Trump Trade Deal at Front of the Line After Brexit: Report

Senior officials in the British government are urging the prime minister to prioritise signing a U.S. trade deal after Brexit.

Sources told Business Insider that Department for International Trade officials would see the successful completion of a Trump trade deal before any others as a victory for Brexit Britain. DIT also reportedly wants to agree on deals with New Zealand and Australia in a similar timeframe.

The report comes during a week of similar reports that ministers are assessing the feasibility of prioritising a Trump trade deal over an EU deal, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson allegedly agreeing to a “hell for leather” approach to signing a free trade agreement with the United States.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I know some people like to unplug, every now and again. I know some people unplug from Ricochet, every now and again. Can’t feature it. Seems fictitious. Just came through a digital desert through which it took me a month to sojourn. Trying to catch up on all my alerts, see what was up on […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Tattered Black Shawl

 

As we go through life, there are some items that travel with us, and we can’t imagine living without them. Our history is molded into them. They’ve seen our struggles and our joys. In some cases, they’ve been stepped on, dumped on, misplaced, borrowed, or worn out. For me, my tattered black shawl is that precious item that I can’t imagine being without.

I first bought this shawl 20 years ago when I was in Pokhara, Nepal, a dusty town with barely paved streets and tiny shops. I’d made up my mind that I needed a black shawl, so I was on a quest to buy one. Most garments that I saw were colorful and bright. But I needed black. I finally found this shawl. It was surprisingly well-made; now that I think about it, I don’t know for sure if it was made in Nepal or China. But it was soft and warm and I packed it up with my other Pokhara purchases.

Why is this shawl so special to me? I bought it mainly to keep me warm at intensive retreats. It was especially cool at 4:30 a.m.; if it was cold enough, I put it over my head as I sat on the floor and created a warm tent of comfort. The shawl also was a light, warm blanket when I took naps during rest periods in between the meditation sessions that added up to nine hours per day. I’d stretch out on my sleeping bag, pull the shawl over the length of my body, head to toe, and curled up in a soft cloud of sleep.

So my shawl and I had challenging times together, particularly when I ended up in a power struggle with my Zen teacher. She was determined to break through my “arrogance,” and I was determined to maintain my inner strength. We finally reached a point where she decided that she would need to humiliate me in front of my friends in the Zen community to set me straight. Before she could, I ended the relationship and left.

I took my shawl with me.

I discovered that there were many more uses for my shawl, and it has maintained its simple beauty and integrity (if you don’t count the fringe, which is questionable). We hug each other on cold airplanes, in the draft of an air-conditioned restaurant, at friends’ homes who think that 68 degrees in the daytime is warm enough for civilized people. I wear it on walks, at the seder table, warm my feet with it. It rests on my shoulders when I sit in my favorite chair. It’s one of the few wool items I can wear anymore since I’ve become sensitive to wool. It even comes in handy when I’ve dressed warmly and someone else is cold: my hospice patient sometimes gets a chill and I put the shawl over her shoulders.

Since I first bought the tattered shawl, I’ve knitted a number of new ones. They are colorful, unique, soft, and attractive. But often I make an excuse to go into my closet and pull out my black tattered shawl.

You might wonder if the shawl holds memories of a difficult time in my life. In some ways it does, but I mainly choose to remember a time when I trusted my own wisdom, stood up for myself, and moved on to a better, more meaningful future.

The tattered shawl and I are still friends and I hope to have her around for a long time.

Do you have items that are just too precious to part with? Things for which you’ve bought or made replacements, but can’t quite give up the original?

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: ‘What is Mankind?’ from Psalm 8

 

“O Lord… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:4-5

This is one of my favorite passages in all the Psalms. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like one that would support a pro-life message, but there is God’s love for His creation throughout. Yes, He must love His heavens, the immense burning stars and spheres that circle them and the moons that circle the planets, the comets with their flaming tails that streak across the solar systems, the harmony of their motions, the galaxies that they compose. How beautiful He must think. And here we are on this little planet in the corner of this immense universe, tucked away and subject to all the powerful and destructive forces, to all the corrosive and poisonous chemicals.

And yet He has blessed us with safety, with warmth, with nutrients, just so we can flourish, prosper, and be satisfied. He is mindful of us. He allows us to gestate comfortably on this little world until we can be born into His greater world. He has made us lower than the angels, perhaps, but better than the angels. He has made us in His image.

And what does it mean to be made in His image? Is it like a father that looks at his newborn son and sees the physical resemblances? Is it like a father looking at his five-year-old son building with Legos and Lincoln Logs all sorts of creative structures and contraptions? Is it like a father looking at his ten-year-old boy chattering away about games or friends or adventures? It is all those things and more.

We are beloved in God’s heart, more so than just His inanimate creations, because we are made in His image. He knew of us before we are born. That child in the womb, invisible to us on the outside of that womb just as God is invisible to us on the outside of this cosmic womb we’re in, is made in God’s image. Both are invisible. Both share something very distinct. Is it the DNA sequencing? Is it the innate goodness? Is it the simplicity of being? It is all those things and more.

Abortion is wrong for many reasons: the destruction of innocent life, the negation of love, the violation of human dignity. But those reasons are just satellites around the very core reason, that abortion violates the very image of God.

Today, January 24, I’ll be marching in my fifth consecutive pro-life march on Washington. Those of us who hold the pro-life issue dear in our hearts don’t wish this to be a political issue. We don’t want to win elections on this. We want the nation and indeed the whole world to see that child in the womb to be the nearest thing in the image of God that our little minds can conceptualize. Pray for it to be so.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Remarkable Auto Repair

 

Victor Davis Hanson made an effort to explain working-class people to his colleagues who inhabit the institutions where he spends half of his life as a scholar in California’s institutions of higher learning by drawing on the experience of the other half of his life as a farmer. He recounted watching a man repair a hydraulic machine without having to look at a repair manual – the depth and detail of specific knowledge the man had at his disposal was impressive.

I used to work on cars back when they had carburetors and distributors, points to adjust and coils to replace. Cars still have coils, although I can’t recognize them anymore, but the points have joined the dinosaurs. In short, I found out that I don’t understand the cars they are making these days at all.

To figure out why headlights don’t work back in the day, for example, I’d check the headlights to see if they were burned out, check the fuse, and, if the fuse wasn’t blown, check the switch in the dashboard. Was the switch getting power? Was the switch good? Was there a short in the wire leading from the switch to the lights?

These days, if you look for a power wire going from the dashboard switch to the headlights you won’t find one. Instead, the switch is connected to a computer module that controls the functions of the dashboard. That module is connected to a computer network that may connect all the 40 or 60 other computer modules in the car together. The dash module sends a message through the network to the body module to power up the headlights when you turn the switch or if any number of other conditions arise. Fixing the headlights may become an exercise in computer network diagnostics.

And it’s the same with just about every other function in the car. Even the fuel tank has its own computer module that sends messages to the dashboard module and other modules about how much fuel is in the tank, but also handles such information as fuel tank pressure, tank venting (using another sophisticated system that didn’t use to exist), and perhaps fuel temperature.

This state of affairs allows the car to do all sorts of things that cars didn’t use to do. Using information on the car’s network, the body module will lock the doors when the car’s speed exceeds 15 miles per hour. The headlights turn on when the door is unlocked if it’s dark. The door unlocks at a touch, and so on. There are obviously a lot of advantages to this, but also disadvantages. With everything in the car connected to everything else, a bad sensor in a door handle can cause the whole car to stop working. One bad module and the car may be bricked.

There is still a role for feeler gauges, wrenches, and screwdrivers in fixing cars. A brake job is still done pretty much the same way (if you ignore the computer sensors attached to the wheel bearings). But repair work also requires the use of special-purpose diagnostic computers called scan tools and other sophisticated electronics. The first step in many car repair jobs is to use a scan tool to check the state of the car’s computer modules and see if the modules are reporting any problems. And it is not then just a matter of looking at codes and repairing what the computer says is bad. Interpreting the codes can be a challenge.

I recommend a YouTube channel called “South Main Auto” if you’d like to go deep into the weeds of auto repair as it’s done now. I’ve viewed several videos, and I’ve already lost track of the number of different electronic devices, computers, laptops, scopes, and other “tools” Mr. O, the repair guy, uses. ( How much do all these tools cost?) Mr. O at one point said that 75 percent of his time was spent in researching technical auto issues on line. And this is a one-man repair shop in a small town in upper New York State.

So, today’s car repair people have to have detailed knowledge and, as you can see from Mr. O’s demonstrations, have to be able to think systematically and logically. Just one of the guys we consider to be “uneducated” working class.

Victor Davis Hanson calls such people more like artisans than working class. I suppose so, if the artisan uses a computer-controlled pottery wheel or lathe, undergoes months of technical training, and passes an exam to become certified as a potter or furniture maker, and so on.

And it’s not just auto repair. Whether you talk about HVAC or operating earth-moving equipment the detailed and specific technical knowledge required has exploded. The gap between the people who do these jobs and the unemployed is getting to be very large. The intelligence required to become proficient in these occupations has become high.

If Democrats had deliberately sought to cut the unemployed off from any chance at on-the-job training or apprenticeship, they could not have done better than to propose a high minimum wage. The amount of time a person needs to be trained in one of these jobs is getting larger and affordable alternatives for training are few.

Perhaps just as significant, the gap between the working class and intellectual elites is shrinking intelligence-wise. Pols and pundits who huff and puff about populism might bear this in mind — they are not nearly as much smarter than working-class people as they think they are.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: 19th-Century Discontent

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.jpgDISCONTENT
Light human nature is too lightly tost
And ruffled without cause, complaining on–
Restless with rest, until, being overthrown,
It learneth to lie quiet. Let a frost
Or a small wasp have crept to the inner-most
Of our ripe peach, or let the wilful sun
Shine westward of our window,–straight we run
A furlong’s sigh as if the world were lost.
But what time through the heart and through the brain
God hath transfixed us,–we, so moved before,
Attain to a calm. Ay, shouldering weights of pain,
We anchor in deep waters, safe from shore,
And hear submissive o’er the stormy main
God’s chartered judgments walk for evermore.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

On first glance, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1805-1855) would seem to have lived a life of privilege and fortune, with little room for discontent or unhappiness anywhere. Her family, which resided in the north of England, was extremely wealthy on both sides, the result of both inheritances and ownership of Jamaican sugar plantations. As the oldest of twelve children, she had a very comfortable upbringing, well-educated, and encouraged in her love of poetry-writing by her mother, who kept every one of her daughter’s notebooks, giving us a fascinating glimpse into Elizabeth’s stylistic and philosophical development as she aged.

By her mid-teens though, she’d become an invalid, suffering with disabling headaches and a loss of mobility. Subsequently, she developed chest and lung pain (probably some form of tuberculosis, combined with a neurological disorder causing frequent and temporary paralysis), and she became dependent on laudanum to ease her pain. As with most drug dependencies, a vicious cycle ensued; and the drugs that eased her suffering on the one hand, made her more frail on the other, and as did many people unfortunate enough to be plagued with complaints of the lungs, her family began a search for more agreeable climes. They moved around the country looking for sun and warmth (rather futilely, if one knows anything about British weather). After the drowning death of her brother in a yachting accident in Devon, she and her family moved to Wimpole Street in London, where the almost-bedridden Elizabeth became an advocate for women’s rights and child labor reforms, and found solace in religion, in which she and her family dissented from the established church.

Family fortunes had taken a downturn with the abolition of the slave trade in 1833 and its impact on the Jamaican plantations, so life in Wimpole Street was less luxurious than the family was accustomed to. Elizabeth’s financial contribution (she was now writing full-time) was welcomed, although her stiff-necked father, who never acknowledged that the family had fallen upon penurious times was too stubborn to admit it.

In 1844, publication of her book, Poems, came to the attention of Robert Browning, a poet with an up-again, down-again reputation at the time. (The obscure and complicated Sordello, published in 1840, had almost “dun him in” for good, with Thomas Carlyle famously remarking, “My wife has read through ‘Sordello’ without being able to make out whether ‘Sordello’ was a man, or a city, or a book.” And Tennyson consigned it to the ash-heap of poetic history when he said: “There were only two lines in it that I understood, the first and the last, and they were both lies: ‘Who will may hear Sordello’s story told’ and ‘Who would has heard Sordello’s story told.’”)

Browning began with a series of letters to Elizabeth, she responded, and the two met in Wimpole Street for the first time in 1845. After that, a courtship began in earnest, carried out secretly, but under the nose of, her father who would strongly have disapproved. In 1846, they married, honeymooned in Paris, and then moved to Italy for Elizabeth’s health. “Papa” disinherited her and made sure she was completely cut off from the rest of her birth family, and that was that.

Nevertheless, Elizabeth and Robert remained very much in love, and lived happily, touring throughout Italy for nine years, as her health gradually declined and she became morphine-dependent; until, at the age of 55, she died in his arms.

I’d never read the little sonnet at the top of this post, until I ran across it in the course of wracking my brains for something to write about today. It seems to fit the bill, and it matches my mood and my thoughts at the moment. For which of us has never had those moments when a small, unwelcome, wasp comes buzzing into the personal space at the core of our innermost peach, or when the sun is glaring in our eyes, and reflecting/refracting off the windshield, and we can’t see a thing while driving home in the evening? Those moments when a yappy little dog won’t stop nipping at our heels or when the cat has left his hard little plastic toy on the floor right where we get out of bed (a present! how sweet!) and we step on it, in our bare feet, in the middle of the night?

Those moments when we start to hyperventilate and jabber, and fulminate and fume, and “we run/A furlong’s sigh as if the world were lost.”

But it isn’t:

. . . through the heart and through the brain
God hath transfixed us,–we, so moved before,
Attain to a calm. Ay, shouldering weights of pain,
We anchor in deep waters, safe from shore,
And hear submissive o’er the stormy main
God’s chartered judgments walk for evermore.

Relax. These minor annoyances shall pass. They always do.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. In a Century

 

An old country girl now in her 80s reflected the other day on how much life has changed since she was a kid. It wasn’t the usual story of colorless television and walking to school with a lunch pail. There was no TV in her small town.

Baths were on Saturdays. They filled “the number 3 bathtub” with water heated on a fire stove. They stitched their own clothes together from feed sacks. “Burlap?” I asked. No, the sacks were softer cotton then. So many Americans made their own clothes from feed sacks that feed makers produced the sacks in a variety of colors and patterns. Attractive patterns improved sales.

Her family had two horses and two mules. When they visited the nearest significant market 18 miles away, her dad hauled the kids in a wagon behind the horses. The mules he used to plow.

They had no electricity and no running water. The latter was drawn from a well. Of course, air conditioning was non-existent.

Today, average American children bathe every day in endlessly flowing water heated or cooled to need. They relax and frolic within five degrees of a controlled temperature. They play on handheld supercomputers with other kids literally on the other side of the world. Their parents drive them 18 miles on a whim to retail playgrounds, like Chuck E. Cheese. A small pizza stain might prompt a mother to fetch one of a little girl’s dozen other soft outfits.

We live in an advanced stage of history. Like a living cell divides into two, then four, then eight, then 16 — until the body contains billions of cells, so technologies and discoveries exponentially offshoot from each other until the rate of change rockets to a thrilling, alarming pace.

We do not live in the end stage, God willing. The scale of difference my octogenarian neighbor recalls is likely to be repeated in the next century.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

  Our Nation Is Paying for Trump’s Refusal to Be Presidential The president’s inability to act like a president has further exacerbated our political dysfunction. I’ve long argued that Donald Trump’s presidency will end poorly because he’s a person of bad character. I still think that’s true, though I very much doubt the impeachment trial […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Trump 1st President to Speak Live to ‘March for Life’

 

Well, Trump did it. Good for him. I think, Trump supporters and Trump critics on the right, can all agree this is a great thing to happen today.

God Bless the people in this fight for life, God Bless Trump for attending, and God Bless America.