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Explosive Misery

 

It is only by the grace of God that we don’t have more kids in the news tripping offline and killing people. The insanity starts in middle school. Their physiology and psychology start changing, and the entire world turns upside down. Transitioning from childhood to adulthood isn’t for the faint of heart; but it is required of everyone, whatever their mettle or character. Last week we saw just how badly someone can fail at it and we witnessed the mayhem caused when such a time bomb is not diffused properly.

An article in Psychology Today titled The Negative Voices In Your Teenager’s Head states plainly some very important facts about this maturation process. It describes (softly, though accurately) the chaotic mess that is the adolescent mind. It’s been decades since I endured the trauma of being a teenager, but memories of the irrational rage, universally unchecked emotions, and feelings of abject powerlessness coupled with excruciating misery remain fresh even now. As my daughters have traversed this minefield there have been some near misses, but we’ve come out relatively whole. Many families aren’t so lucky, as we just saw in Florida.

I had made it through the crazy and was well into my Navy time when the Columbine massacre happened. I remember all the cries of shock and outrage, but mostly I remember my initial reaction. I understood. I had felt the anguish that drives one to violence. I’d felt the pain of always being excluded, picked on, put down. I’d felt the unrelenting hatred towards my personal tormentors (and everything else, really.) Although I had only suffered and never acted, I could conceive of how someone might be pushed that far.

Something made a difference for me and for every other kid who doesn’t finally turn the tables and shoot up his school. For me, it was a very few individual human beings. Mrs. Crockett let me have space. She assigned me alone in the library to do research papers for my American History class rather than confining me to the classroom. Miss Hughes (5 foot tall and nearly as wide) believed in me. Although I’d failed every term of her Algebra 1 class she begged me to just get a 90 on the final so I would pass for the year and could be in her Algebra 2 Honors class the next year. (I disappointed her, but she believed in me right to the end.) Mr. May, who directed the jazz band, shared with me his experience on the Vegas Strip and a love of big band music. These were the guard rails that kept me from plummeting into a chasm.

I had other advantages some kids don’t have today. I was dragged to the church early in life and had embedded in me a sense of right and wrong. Though I raged and seethed and felt a thousand impulses a second, I was always tethered to what C. S. Lewis calls the ‘Law of Human Nature.’ I knew there were “oughts” and “ought nots.” I pounded my fists against them, I screamed and shrieked at them, but they held. The basic concepts of right and wrong withstood my onslaught and I survived (somehow) the soul-consuming drive to break through them.

Not everyone has it as bad, and some have it worse, but the truth is that time in life is dicey. Perhaps it’s the 24-hour news cycle that makes it seem worse now, or maybe social media echoes and amplifies the worst of human nature, making it appear more horrific than ever before; but it doesn’t have to get worse.

The article gives some decent pointers on leading our children through that time. I’d add to them a few other things; moral training from institutions of authority (yes, I mean religion), routine and regimentation. Having set expectations can be landmarks to let one know he is not completely lost, even if it’s something as simple as dinner being served at 6 PM. I’d emphasize getting kids some place quiet (preferably with trees, mountains, or water) as a healing balm and refuge from the maddening world.

One thing I’m certain of in this — government can offer no solutions, save greater freedom to remove our children from the public school system. Although individual teachers can and do make an enormous difference in the lives of individual students, the system as a whole only antagonizes and worsens the craziness our kids experience. The real help comes on a smaller scale: it happens in Sunday School, it happens at the dinner table, it can be found in the park or on a hiking trail. We can’t prevent our kids from going through this chaotic time, but we can lead them through it successfully. We can help them endure the misery and hopefully prevent the avoidable explosions.

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Proposed Speech for the Next FBI Director

 

“OK, so here is my message to our entire FBI: Without exception, you are all on probation. That doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re professional or do a good job. It simply means that I cannot and will not assume it. The burden is on you to be professional, non-partisan, and do your job without fear or favor. If you have a political opinion or preference – great! Just don’t let me smell it on you. It is your private political preference, to be kept between God, yourself, and the voting booth – but never in your reports, your conclusions or your assumptions in carrying out your professional duties.

“We are all human and in need of forgiveness. But as professional law enforcement officers you know better than anyone that being in need of forgiveness does not entitle you to forgiveness. So don’t count on it. Do your job in a way that does not require forgiveness and it will be a non-issue. And, oh by the way, if none of this suits you – Human Resources is that-a-way and I encourage you to put in your papers.

“For those of you who are listening and thinking ‘Thank God!’ please stay and help me restore the reputation of this organization. For those of you who are worried about what I am saying but still think this may be an important place to work for the people of this country, I say ‘Give me the same chance I am giving you.’ I am on probation with you.

“The FBI is organizationally attached and under the authority of the Attorney General of the United States. But we work for the American people. We respect their rights, we protect their rights, and we deter and detain those that would harm law abiding Americans.

“We respect and follow the direction of the Attorney General and the President in all lawful directions. They are political, we are not. They set policies, we do not. But they and we take an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. If we want to the Attorney General and the President to assume we are living up to our oaths, we must likewise assume that they are living up to their oaths until and unless it is provably true that they are not.

“’Just following orders’ is not the standard for our compliance with our constitutional duties, but neither is personal political preference and ideology. We’ve got a big rulebook, and we have plenty of lawbreakers. If we focus on just going after clear violations of law we will have plenty to do.

“Does this mean we are unconcerned with political corruption? No, of course not. The American people are entitled to political leaders who comply with law. All I am saying is ‘no private agendas.’ If there is no probable cause we do not go about creating some. Even politicians and their political supporters have Fourth Amendment rights that we will fully uphold.

“The American people are not stupid. And they are not easily deceived. They sometimes make decisions that we personally might not think wise – but it is their decision to make. You can contribute to that decision-making in the voting booth – but not on the job.

“That is all. Let’s go out and get the bad guys.”

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Summer Memories

 

When I was a kid, the local pool had specific blocks of time in which it was open to the public. A single quarter would get you into one of the two-hour sessions. Despite my extremely sunburn-prone skin, my sister and I often got our mother to let us go for both sessions. There was a 20- to 30-minute break between the two sessions in which we had plenty of time to run two blocks over to the little grocery store and grab some snacks, charging them to Mom’s account. We usually got a Yoo-Hoo and a Moon Pie apiece, snarfed them down as quickly as possible, then ran back to the pool to camp out in the much cooler ladies’ locker room while waiting for the second session to start.

My sister and I lived in the pool as much as possible during the summer. We especially got excited for family reunion time every other June. We got to have three full days in the pool with our distant cousins while the adults visited. Occasionally, I’d be so sunburnt halfway through Day Two that my mother and grandmother would ban me from the pool, so I’d stay indoors with the adults and play cards.

One of my favorite things about summer was going to my grandparent’s cabin over on Lake Norfork. My grandpa kept his boat out in the stall, just down the road from their cabin. The trip took about three hours one way from our house to the cabin, and we had certain landmarks that we’d look out for on the way:

  • the “secret” Hancock camping spot,
  • the confederate flag store in Imboden,
  • the Belgian waffle place in Hardy that we never passed at mealtime,
  • the town of Highland with the rebels that our band director eventually moved to,
  • the town of Salem where I used to think was the Salem where they burned witches,
  • the town of Ash Flat where the Walmart bathroom has a smell we named “crapples,”
  • the “A” fence,
  • the crappy laundromat,
  • the dog kennels, where I’m fairly certain they used in illegal dog fighting because they were incredibly aggressive,
  • the donkey house,
  • the giant A-frame cabin next to the little road we turned off on to get to the cabin

    Image result for corner booth hardy ar
    The Corner Booth restaurant in Hardy, AR that specializes in Belgian waffles. We kids eventually stopped there on our way back from the family reunion once. It’s filled with creepy dolls!

Finally, we rejoiced at the sight of the green fish sign that read “Young,” cheerfully greeting us at the end of our long journey.

I always claimed the bedroom on the front porch. Despite the heat outdoors, the bed side of the front porch had a shade tree just outside, so some open windows made it a perfect temperature at night. I also liked the fact that it was on the other side of the house from my parents, so I could sit up late, reading one of the many books my grandmother had stashed in the nightstand.

We went fishing a lot with my grandfather, though he didn’t take me for a long while after I lost several poles one summer. There were spots on the lake that you could see 20 feet down into the moss and habitats of the creatures living there. We would pack baloney sandwiches on white bread.

When we got older, my father would take us out on tubes. His greatest delight was trying to fling us off those things by crisscrossing through the waves he’d made.

Image result for if your dad didn't try to sling you off that tube into another dimension

My absolute favorite thing about the summer though: honeysuckle. You always know it’s the beginning of summer in Arkansas when you can smell the honeysuckle blooming as the sun sets.

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What Are the Odds?

 

A bookie from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, ends up in Heaven. It’s nice and all, he thinks, but the slots pay off on every single pull of the handle, and the Amboy Oddsmaker, as he was known down below, dreadfully misses real action. One day while idly looking down onto the Earth, where it’s 1957, he spots an 18-year-old boy shooting pool in a bowling alley in Compton, California. Then he sees a 13-year-old girl milking her cow on a small farm near Bellingham, Washington, up near the Canadian border. He suddenly gets an idea that may get him back in the game.

So he approaches God with a deal. “Uh, Supreme Being, creator of all that is and ever was, wanna make some easy money?”

God looks down at this lowly angel and replies, “Sure.” (God is a Catholic, of course, and gambling, especially Bingo, is one of His guilty pleasures.)

The oddsmaker angel says, “OK, God, I’ve got 1,000 shekels (the unit of currency in Heaven, of course) that says those two young people you see below, who are now almost three states apart, will never meet and marry. I’m giving a million-to-one odds against it happening.”

The Amboy Oddsmaker knows that fair odds should actually be ten million to one, but the Universal Watchmaker immediately replies, “You’re on.”

As they’re shaking hands to seal the deal, the Oddsmaker begins to worry: “Whoa! God jumped on that deal way too fast. Does He know something I don’t? Perhaps there was something to all that talk down below about God knowing the future. I may have cooked my own goose.“

“Nah!,” the oddsmaker concludes. “If God knows what’s going to happen, that would mean that things are predestined to happen. And if events are predestined, his coddled bipedal creatures would lack free will. I know for certain that God loves Him some Free Will. He has apparently baked it into the very nature of his creatures—or so C.S. Lewis told me the other day over a game of five-card stud. So God can’t know what these two youngsters will do. I’ve got a sure thing.”

One year later, the kid from Compton, we’ll call him Kent, is working for Ma Bell as a telephone installer. The cow-milking girl from Bellingham, we’ll call her Marie, has her life upended when Stokely’s, the company Marie’s father works for, closes up its plant in Bellingham and moves the company, along with Marie and her parents, to Albany, Oregon. That puts Marie 225 miles closer to Kent in Compton, and God’s chances improve slightly. The Amboy Oddsmaker is not worried.

Fast forward to 1961. Kent is still in Compton, but Marie has graduated from high school and moves from Albany down the freeway to the University of Oregon in Eugene. Marie is now a college student and fifty miles closer to Kent, and God’s chances improve slightly again. The Amboy Oddsmaker is getting a bit worried. “But really,” he thinks. “Marie is in Eugene, Oregon, and Kent is in Compton, California. What are the odds? Fugettiboutit!”

Kent is looking for a college to attend when one of his bowling buddies, Red, goes on a bowling/gambling trip up the Coast. On a whim, Red drops by the bowling alley in the basement of the Student Union of the University of Oregon. When Red gets back to Compton, he tells Kent that the UO has a bowling team.

“Hmm,” Kent thinks. “Sounds interesting.” So Kent writes the team’s coach, Lou Bellissimo, and promises that he will bowl on the UO bowling team if Bellissimo will guarantee him a job at the bowling alley. Kent is a hotshot bowler in LA, so Bellissimo says, “Sure. Come on up.”

Kent hops in his car and drives up the Coast to Eugene, where he rents an old lady’s unfinished basement for fifteen bucks a month. Kent and Marie are now within one mile of one another, and God’s chances, though still slim, have improved a great deal. “There are 8,000 students on campus,” the angel from Perth Amboy thinks. “What are the odds?”

On a whim, Kent attends the Hello dance at the student union building. He’s holding up the wall (only feet from where Belushi, 17 years later, got into a food fight in “Animal House”) when he looks across the room and spots a cluster of four girls, one of whom is Marie. Kent approaches the group. The Amboy Oddsmaker, looking down on the scene, is beginning to sweat. The odds are one in four that Kent will choose Marie to dance. Then who knows what will happen?

Kent stands awkwardly outside the group until finally one girl looks up. It’s Marie! The odds are still much against these two marrying, but the angel from Perth Amboy is definitely worried now.

Kent and Marie dance and talk that night and twelve months later, after a few hitches in their courtship (Kent is called back into the Army because of the Berlin Crisis), they are married in a small ceremony in Marie’s parents’ living room in Albany, Oregon.

“You’re one unbelievably lucky Divine Being,” the oddsmaker says as he dumps 20 wheelbarrows full of shekels in front of God, who plans to use the money to build off-leash playgrounds for the dogs that make it to Heaven—which is all of them, of course.

Endnote: You probably suspected that the human story I told above actually happened. Of course, you’re right. At one point, the odds were astronomical that Kent and Marie would meet and marry.

Thus, it’s not surprising that many lovers look back at the train of events that led to their meeting and conclude that the invisible hand of Fate led them to one another.

Similarly, Christians sometimes attribute a providential chain of events as evidence of God’s influence. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, so the aphorism goes.

I suspect the answer is something more mundane. Let’s take one fork in the road that led to Marie and Kent finding one another. Around 1940 or so (Kent was two, Marie wasn’t born yet), the oil fields in Oklahoma began to dry up. As a result, a roughneck, George Forrester, had to uproot his wife and kid (that was me) and move to Los Angeles, where the Signal Hill oil fields were booming. Thus, one fork in the path that led to the marriage of Kent and Marie depended upon the state of the oil deposits in Oklahoma. What a world.

Roll a pebble down a mountainside. At the top, it’s virtually impossible to predict the path of the pebble. How it glances off each pebble on its way down is dependent on speed, humidity, temperature, wind velocity, and so on. And each ricochet influences how the pebble ricochets off the next pebble. And so on down the mountain. I read somewhere that a computer would have to be the size of the Earth to be able to predict the path of that pebble. Of course, it has to land somewhere. But where it lands, like the marriage of Marie and Kent, looks miraculous when you look back at the path it took. Kent and Marie, unlike the pebble, may have had free will, but they didn’t know what they were moving toward (a marriage in Marie’s living room), so each choice along the way was blind to the marriage that awaited them.

When I told my granddaughter that Marie and I wouldn’t have met if I had chosen a non-Marie from the four girls at the dance, she said, “That means I would go, poof! and disappear.”

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What Was Putin Up To in 2016?

 

My speculation is that he had a win-win strategy. Unless his folks were a lot better than most US pundits, I don’t think he was anticipating or planning for a Trump victory. Instead, his goal was to weaken the US as an adversary and whomever won I believe he thought he would come out stronger. [Note: I am not judging whether the strategy was effective in influencing the election outcome.]

The win-win in 2016

To start with, the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, which gets top billing in the Mueller indictment, has been a known entity to the US government for several years, which was aware of its ongoing attempts to sow confusion and conflict in America. In fact, the IRA was the subject of a very long article in the New York Times Magazine on June 2, 2015 which recounts its activities and the arguments within the Obama administration on how to respond. One possible reason for the President’s reluctance to respond more forcibly is not raised in the article, but has been speculated on elsewhere: his belief that he needed Russian cooperation on closing the deal with Iran and, secondarily, on Syria, and was thus reluctant to alienate Putin.

In any event, it is only against this overall strategy of weakening America, and the belief that Hillary would win, that Putin’s approach to 2016 can be understood. It was never specifically about Trump or Clinton and, as the Mueller indictment clearly lays out, it would not end no matter who was elected.

So from Putin’s perspective how did things look at the beginning of the primary campaign?

To my recollection, all of the leading Republican contenders, with the exception of Trump, were quite hostile to Putin. So the references in the Mueller indictment to Russian propaganda being directed to denigrate Cruz and Rubio makes sense. Further, with the exception of Trump, they were all more hostile to Russia than Hillary, the likely Democratic nominee.

While Hillary had been played by Putin for a dupe in her Russian “reset” policy, since his controversial reelection she had been much more rhetorically hostile to Putin’s regime than Obama or anyone else in his administration. And certainly, whatever Hillary’s views on Russia, Bernie Sanders was going to be more friendly and accommodating so supporting Bernie and denigrating Hillary during the primary made sense.

How did things look to Putin during the general election campaign?

Hillary must have appeared to be the logical winner to Putin, as she did to most everyone else. I think that while Putin was willing to expend some of his ammo on her during the campaign, but didn’t play all his cards because he needed them for after her expected election. And during the course of the campaign she fell into another trap he laid for her. In other words, denigrating Hillary during the campaign made sense in terms of making her weaker, but don’t use everything you have because you’ll need it later.

For instance, it is reasonable to assume that Putin knows a lot more about the tens of millions of dollars funneled into the Clinton Foundation from Russia and the former Soviet Republics than is currently publicly known. Holding that over President Clinton’s head could be very effective.

It is also reasonable to assume the Putin has all of Hillary’s emails, including the deleted ones, which he could deploy on his own timing. And I’ve always assumed Hillary knows it. How convenient.

Finally, he would be able to show that the Clinton campaign had worked, through its cut-outs, directly with the Kremlin, in assembling the Steele dossier, a fact that would prove embarrassing to a Clinton administration if and when Putin chose to release the details. And why, if Putin was really confident Trump could win, would he authorize the release of such information to Clinton? It was not for the purpose of beating Trump; it was for giving him future leverage over Clinton.

As to Trump, while Putin assumed he would not win, he wouldn’t be upset if that happened. Trump was the most Russia friendly of the Republican candidates. He was extremely unschooled in international politics and very susceptible to flattery. Putin played him well, flattering him and getting flattering comments in return (Trump was even willing to demean America in the course of doing so). In his campaign were people sympathetic (Manafort) or at least not hostile (Page, Papadopolous) to Russia. And, just as with Hillary, Putin had run his own entrapment, the Trump Tower meeting with Fredo Trump Jr and Jared Kushner (at least Clinton had the sense to use cut-outs – Perkins Coie, Fusion GPS, Steele). Fredo and Jared weren’t “unwitting“, they were “witless“.

The Mueller indictment also confirms it didn’t really matter to Putin who won because it asserts that after the election Russian efforts were devoted to instigating more pro and anti-Trump rallies and continuing to stir up the American populace on divisive issues.

UPDATE: I just read Andrew McCarthy in NRO who puts it very well, as usual:

In reality, what happened here could not be more patent: The Kremlin hoped to sow discord in our society and thus paralyze our government’s capacity to pursue American interests. The Russian strategy was to stir up the resentments of sizable losing factions. It is not that Putin wanted Trump to win; it is that Putin figured Trump was going to lose. That is why the Kremlin tried to galvanize Trump supporters against Clinton, just as it tried to galvanize Sanders supporters against Clinton, and Trump supporters against Cruz and Rubio, during the primaries. It is why the Russians suddenly choreographed anti-Trump rallies after Trump won. The palpable goal was to promote dysfunction: Cripple a likely President Clinton before she could even get started, wound President Trump from the get-go when he unexpectedly won, and otherwise set American against American whenever possible.

Background: From the 1940s to 2016

Much of the media acts shocked like this has never happened before. A reminder:

The January 2017 intelligence assessment from the CIA/FBI/NSA asserts that Russia, and the Soviet Union before, have had a long history of trying to influence US elections, though the effort in 2016 was quite significant. The assessment does not reference any specific examples (with the exception of the first below) but we know of many (both for elections and major policy issues), including:

The January 2017 assessment references two other recent Kremlin efforts, (1) support of the anti-fracking movement in the US, and (2) support for Occupy Wall Street (support shared with Obama, Pelosi, and David Duke).

In 2012 we had Russian influence “hidden in plain sight“. The Kremlin openly supported Obama (in fact, though little noted, they did the same in 2008 because they hated McCain). Obama, in turn, attacked and mocked Romney for being too hard on the Russians, and was caught on an open mic assuring Medvedev that he’d have more flexibility after the election. It would be fascinating to know if the intelligence community has any information regarding covert support from Moscow during that campaign.

The hysterical anti-cruise missile movement in the US and Europe in the early 1980s was also supported covertly by the Soviets, along with propaganda regarding Reagan’s supposed warmonger tendencies, manipulation that received wide acceptance in the West. It would also be interesting to know what the Soviets did in connection with the 1984 presidential campaign.

The idea that the assassination of President Kennedy was due to a right-wing conspiracy originated with the KGB in 1964, the first article proposing it was from a secretly communist funded publication in Italy; an article soon picked up by conspiracy theorists in the US who ran with it. The result contributed to widespread conspiracy mania, particularly in the late 60s through mid-70s, but which has had a long life. Instead of believing that a communist who fervently supported Fidel Castro and who had just a few months earlier tried to assassinate a right-wing figure (Edwin Walker), then went on to kill an anti-communist president who himself was trying to kill Castro, most Americans to this day still believe there was a conspiracy in which the right wing killed JFK. It’s become part of popular culture, beloved of those obsessed with conspiracies as with Oliver Stone’s JFK, the Bruce Willis wisecrack in Armageddon, and Donald Trump speculating that Ted Cruz’s dad, an anti-Castro Cuban, was involved in the murder.

The unilateral nuclear disarmament movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s in both Britain and America was directed by communist front groups under Moscow’s direction.

The Progressive Party presidential campaign of Henry Wallace in 1948 which was essentially run by the Communist Party and which, early in the campaign, was seen as having a serious chance to undermine President Truman’s reelection. Several years later Wallace admitted he’d been duped by advisors he didn’t know were commies. In addition, during the 1930s and ’40s, it was common practice for the Communist Party to run front groups not openly identified as communist in order to attract people who would unwittingly support the party line. As we know now, the American Communist Party was financially supported and ideologically directed by Moscow.

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My Father’s Passing

 

I wrote up his obit and should be in the Globe and Mail this Wednesday.

Just felt I needed to share with the Ricochet friends.

MARCH, Roman Robert
(BA United College, MA Carleton, PHD Indiana University, Pilot Officer RCAF)

Born October 6th, 1935 in Winnipeg Manitoba. Passed away at his home this February at the age of 83. Survived by his sister Joyce (Edmonton), his step-brother Eddie (USA), daughter Kathryn (Cambridge), sons Bruce (Toronto) and David (Hamilton) and many nephews, great-nephews and great-nieces. Predeceased by his mother Maria March, his step-father Eugene March and step-brother Carl March.

Born of Polish immigrant parents, Roman grew up in rural Winnipeg and was involved in sports like swimming and wrestling while being an active Air Cadet. A chance encounter at a job interview at the age of 18 led to him pursuing a BA at United College in Winnipeg and paying for his education by serving in the Reserves and working night shift at a factory. During that time, he spent his summers in CAF base Baden-Baden, Germany where during the Suez Crisis he and many others were threatened by nuclear annihilation by Khrushchev.

Unable to pursue a piloting career due to his eyesight, Roman left the Airforce and became a teacher at United College in Winnipeg. Here he became involved in the famous Crowe Case that led to the formation of CUTA. He would be one of the 13 staff who resigned from the College over the case and eventually received the 2009 CUTA Milner Reward for his actions.

Roman took a position teaching in Fort Williams Ontario but left to earn an MA in Public Administration at MA in Public Administration at Carleton University and a PhD at Indiana University. He was hired as the first Canadian born Political Science professor in the Political Science department in the Humanities faculty at McMaster University where he remained for 25 years as an associate professor before retiring in the golden handshake period of the 1990s.

His famous book, The Myth of Parliament was published in 1974 by University of Toronto Press. The book gained much notoriety because it drew attention to the lack of parliamentary attendance by federal Members of Parliament. This work formed the basis of parliamentary reform efforts led by the Mulroney government and he was invited to testify before the Parliamentary Reform Committee about the situation.

Roman was self-governing in his political activism and supported the NDP, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservative Parties depending upon their political platform. He worked with Sheila Copps on her Hamilton Campaigns but supported his former student Progressive Conservative Peter James Peterson when he ran for office in 1984. His retirement years involved an active lifestyle while serving on the McMaster Retirees association and attending numerous events with that group.

A unique and independent person, Roman March was a man not soon to be forgotten. He lived his life on his own terms and left a mark on the world through his teaching, his politics and his personal life.

Visitation will be held at Marlatt Funeral Home-Swackhamer Chapel in Dundas (195 King St W.) on Feb 23rd from 6 to 8 pm. Funeral Service to be held at the Church of the Ascension in Hamilton (64 Forest Ave @ John St. S) on February 24th at 11 am with a reception following afterwards.

In lieu of flowers the family is asking that donations be made to St. Mathews House a food bank (https://stmatthewshouse.ca/).

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Add Drugs and Keep Away from Sharp Objects: Institutionalizing Child Rearing

 

Parkland is just a few miles away from where I live. I have friends whose children went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shootings at this school, and for that matter every other school is tragic. Our instinct, of course, at such senseless violence against the most innocent of us brings up rage and a desire to make sense of it all. Some of us will point fingers at the tools of the massacre, and many of us will demonize those we already disagree with. This tragedy is big enough for us relive our worst nightmares. And the easy fix is to look to blame our favorite villains.

I recently spoke to a friend who is having trouble with her own son. Not Parkland-variety trouble, but trouble nevertheless. She is a single mother and a good person. She works hard to provide a loving environment to her only son, who is the center of her universe. For as long as I have known them, however, she has had challenges with her son. My own two kids, a few years older than hers, seem to never have the kinds of problems she has had. It would be easy to attribute this to one or two facts such as that mine grew-up in a two parent home and hers did not, but we all know that reality is not ever that simple.

Here are some of my observations of my friends “troubled” child.

From a very young age, he was diagnosed with ADHD and was put on a medication. Growing up in India, I never heard of ADHD. I would never consider medicating my children for a chronic, non-threatening condition at a young age without at least trying some alternatives. My kids were not without fault growing up, and it never occurred to me to “medicate” them to have peace of mind. If someone had suggested ADHD medication to me, I would certainly seek a second opinion. The number of children being raised with medication at young ages is alarming. The long-term effects of not teaching our children to cope with their emotions and just have them take pills for it is just bad and wrong. As I have seen my friends son grow older, his challenges have grown in size with him. Instead of working with her son, my friend has taken the easy, institutionalized way of just medicating him.

Also from a very young age, my friend’s son has been seeing a psychiatrist. Once again, I feel, perhaps wrongly, that this child is missing out on the one connection he needs — with the one parent he has. Once again I feel that my friend has found an institutional solution to an everyday problem. While I understand the need for psychiatry, this is not a child that has suffered any real trauma in life. He is an intelligent, middle-class kid having gone to private schools all his life, and having a pretty decent extended family and a stable household.

There are two modes of communication in my friend’s household. One is a totally loving, caring and vulnerable, and the other is speaking over each other, generally in higher decibels. There is not much adult conversation. There are threats and promises, no voluntary exchanges. On the few occasions when I’ve had the pleasure of taking care of this young man, I’ve noticed him “fake yelling” at me to get attention. When he discovered that all he needed to do was ask, the conversation became more normal, more civil.

Both his eating habits and his health are in the “needs improvement” column. He has always been overweight, and there is not a whole lot of nutrition in his daily intake.

This is a very sweet, intelligent, caring and capable young man, given to mood swings and some mildly violent behavior. He has trouble coping with things big and small. Coping, for right now, means taking a pill or paying someone to listen to your issues for him. I think much of his issues could very easily have been addressed by some real parenting, and instead what he has gotten is a lot of institutional help, and has been made to feel pretty “defective” by people with credentials and authority. This kid will never shoot up a school; however, it is going to take a long time for him to grow up and be stable emotionally.

The 19-year-old who shot up the school in Parkland also had coping issues. He did much worse, though. He killed 17 people in order to be heard. Sheriffs had been called to his home 39 times. While I don’t know enough about him to say that “all he needed was better parenting,” better parenting would have certainly prevented the killings. Institutional solutions are only so good. In each one of these cases, it seems to me, that there is a failure much sooner, much larger. While everyone “knew” he was trouble, all that was done was drugs, and the solution the morning after seems to be “keep him away from sharp object.”

I think there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture; with this attitude, this way of thinking. Children are gifts and must be treated as such. Institutional answers will not work. Our worlds should not be an asylum, where inmates are drugged and kept away from sharp objects.

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Summer: The Worst Season

 

I haven’t liked summer for ages. Sorry, folks. I’m the guy who is stomping on everyone’s good time. I mean, let’s face it, ever since about high school I’ve hated it. Summer has always been hot and uncomfortable with the guarantee that there’s always a limit to how much of your clothes you can take off and be socially accepted. Not that I’ve tried. That anyone can prove. I’ve experienced dry heat and high humidity and just about all between and I can safely say it’s all bad. All of it.

I hated walking in Minnesota summers that felt like you were swimming in the air, hot and muggy and uncomfortable. I don’t like the high desert summers where the air sucks out every single ounce of moisture in you and brings the temperature in your car up to three digits. It makes people crazy, too. Just ask my totally existing detective friend who notes that all the crazy and stupid crimes go up in the summer. He’s an autumn/winter guy too.

I guess I did like summer when I was in school. In elementary school summer meant no schedules. We could ride our bikes to the city park pool – our parents bought us season passes which I am sure was both for us and for them. Sometimes we’d go to a park and play at war, running around without black plastic toy uzis and trying to off each other in a show of stealth and bravado. Other times we’d head to the arcades which were the new great thing, get five – five! whole tokens for a dollar instead of the usual four quarters to the dollar. We’d play Pac-Man, Centipede, and such. Sometimes in our small town, we went to the used book store where they had a rack of used comics. We’d trade in our old ones and get another in turn – three for one. Those were idyllic days.

Some time in high school that ended. In our family, we were required to find work. First, that was stressful enough for a shy, introvert boy who struggled to put himself forward. Once a job was found, I had to sacrifice halcyon days of summer for work. When the job involves counting the smelly beer bottles of my fellow Oregon citizens – well, the bloom is off that rose. Summer hasn’t been the same. It never will.

I’ve moved from that small town that’s changed and will never be the same. I don’t see those friends as much any longer. My siblings are in different states, and the days when kids could ride anywhere they wanted in town on a bike without a helmet and explore and do as they liked are long gone. And at times that loss can be acutely felt. I don’t like summer.

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Mueller Indictment of Russians for Illegal Political Activities

 

It appears the Ruskies began a general plan to sow discord long before Trump was a candidate. In the primaries, that meant going after the establishment candidates on both sides, in favor of Bernie and Trump. Consider Section 10 e:

By in or around May 2014, the ORGANIZATION’s strategy included interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

And Section 43 (preamble):

By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.

Then Section 43 a:

On or about February 10, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted to ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on “politics in the USA” and to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump- we support them).”

As for the actual collusion issue, there does not appear to be a smoking gun at least as far as the Introduction goes. Consider Section 6:

…Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities. Emphasis added.

@gumbymark flagged the post-election pro-Trump and anti-Trump rallies of Section 57:

After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, Defendants and their coconspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Interestingly, the copy released by the DoJ is an image PDF so you can’t text search it without OCR. Probably violates an accessibility law or two.

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“Your Longest, and Your Worst, Day”

 

“If you threaten us, it will be your longest, and your worst, day.” — Jim Mattis.

The Russians’ longest day occurred on February 7, when 500 (including Russian mercenaries) launched an attack on a base housing Syrian opposition forces along with US military advisers.

WASHINGTON — U.S. air strikes killed multiple Russia mercenary soldiers serving in Syria, according to news reports and open-source researchers, with some reports saying dozens may have died.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman denied knowledge of the February 7 incident in the Deir al-Zor region, whose mystery has deepened in recent days, as relatives and colleagues of Russians soldiers serving in Syria have begun speaking out.

The U.S. Defense Department said the air strikes, which included fighter and ground-attack aircraft, and Marine artillery, targeted Syrian government-backed troops after as many as 500 attackers launched a coordinated assault on a base housing Syrian opposition forces, along with U.S. military advisers in Deir al-Zor.

U.S. officials said around 100 soldiers were killed, but did not identify them.

“I will not speculate on the composition of this force or whose control they were under,” Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said on February 13. “We are focused on a singular enemy: ISIS. We’re not looking for a fight with anyone else, but as [U.S. Defense] Secretary [Jim] Mattis said last week: ‘If you threaten us, it will be your longest, and your worst, day.'”

Over the weekend, however, reports emerged on Russian blogs and elsewhere that an unknown number of Russian contract soldiers were killed.

US forces defended the base with B-52 bombers, F-22 fighters, AC-130 gunships, Apache helicopters, and Marine artillery. According to Reuters, the Russian attackers may have lost as many as 300 men.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stopped short of confirming on February 15 that Russian contract soldiers were among those killed during hours of U.S. bombardment on February 7 by B-52 strategic bombers, F-22 fighter jets, AC-130 gunships, and Apache attack helicopters.

The Russians have been using mercenaries in both Syria and Ukraine. This is the first direct confrontation between US forces and Russian forces. They are finding that it is much more difficult to engage US forces than it is to target Syrian civilians, including Syrian school children and Syrian hospitals.

Russian forces on the Russian side of the Ukrainian border have targeted Ukrainian military and civilian targets with artillery and missile strikes. Families of so-called Russian contractors do not receive the same death benefits that the families of regular soldiers receive. The bodies are returning home, and questions are being asked, and ignored.

Another woman in the Sverdlovsk region, whose husband is also thought to have died in Deir al-Zor, was more scathing in her criticism of authorities and a perceived lack of government support. She told Current Time TV that he and his fellow fighters were “thrown into battle like pigs.”

Click on the two links in the essay for the complete articles from Radio Free Europe.

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Mueller Cracks the Case!

 

That stellar investigator, friend o’ Comey, the honorable, the impeccable Bob Mueller, has, after months of investigation, and through brilliant deduction, figured out exactly who was colluding with the Russians!

Ready?

It was–

the Russians!

Yes, the supersleuth indicted 13 Russians Friday for acting on behalf of the Russian government.

It will take time for a grateful nation to digest this, of course. I mean, who would ever, in a million years, have suspected Russians of working for Putin?

And for so long! Going back to 2014, well before Trump’s candidacy! Oh, no, it boggles the mind. A shocker! Move over, Hercule Poirot!

So, um, FBI? We know you’ve been busy with this Russia thing, but — if you’re freed up now, there’s a backlog of calls on the citizen action line, y’know, “see something say something?” And one is a second call with complete information about an imminent school shooting … oh, never mind.

Too late. 

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David Laufman: Another One Bites the Dust

 

Did anyone else hear about David Laufman quitting a week ago? I heard about him from a Hugh Hewitt podcast from Hewitt’s Friday show with a representative of Hillsdale College.

Who is David Laufman? He’s the Dept. of Justice, National Security Division, Deputy Asst. General in charge of counterintelligence, cyber security, counterespionage and export controls. And why does that matter? As The Conservative Treehouse explained, Laufman was involved with most aspects of the current controversy surrounding Robert Mueller’s investigation:

In his former position, Laufman would have been involved and hold knowledge of the FISA “Title-1” surveillance program initiated on target Carter Page and the “incidental” Trump campaign officials. Laufman would also have close contact with former Asst. Deputy Attorney Bruce Ohr; husband of Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr.

David Laufman also participated in the July 2nd 2016 interview of Hillary Clinton . . .

Additionally, as a result of his specific responsibilities David Laufman would also have been involved in any FARA investigations of General Mike Flynn (Turkish lobbying), and/or Paul Manafort (Ukraine lobbying); and had access to FISA-702(16)(17) database use for incidental surveillance and subsequent unmasking etc.

Now I realize that most of this information does not confirm Laufman’s direct involvement in most of these situations. But it would be difficult to assume that he didn’t at least know what was going on.

You might also wonder why he’s just now quitting. It turns out that when the Office of Inspectors General wanted access to the NSD part of the DOJ, Sally Yates, the then-Deputy Attorney General, denied access—to the NSD. In January Michael Horowitz, the current Inspector General for the DOJ, began an investigation of the NSD.

Something must have changed to allow him access. And David Laufman is gone.

It just keeps getting uglier and uglier. I can’t wait to see that IG report.

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Behold the Gold

 

I was in such a bad mood today.

We attended a very lovely Valentine evening yesterday, in the city. A bit of glamour! A chance to dress up! I’ve lived here in the mountains (again) for so long now that I marveled especially at the gents, with their low, polished, slip-on shoes, the delicate sheen of the fabric of their suits. (We favor thick-soled boots and canvas up here in these parts.)

I had a wonderful time last night, but as we drove back this morning, and the car thermometer read, like, 57 even as we climbed, my mood began to go sour. I hate unseasonable warmth. When will we get more beautiful snow so I can cross-country ski again? Grumpily I changed back into my jeans ‘n’ duck shoes and started on my walk.

Our unpaved lane is the consistency of fudge.

Oh, but we still do have ice, too! So walking is either slippery or sticky, often from one step to the next.

Good-for-nuthin’ weather, worst of all possible worlds, I grumbled to myself, plodding along with my eyes on the treacherous ground. I hung my jacket on a tree; I was warm even without it. In February! Disgusting!

But then I entered the woods that I think of as emblematic of our area. A few small birches, tamaracks, beech sappers, along with the now bare cherry trees, maples, and full-grown beech.

And the sun shone golden

…on the pale coppery leaves of the beech sappers, which stay on the limbs all winter until the new green pushes them off. On the grass, flattened by the dear departed snow, but gold, a shiny straw-gold. On the water reeds, dry and sussurating gently, wheat colored.

I’m not ready for spring, I don’t want it yet. Come again, my Lord Frost!

But, the gold!

It’s waiting for us, it will return and have its season before the fulminating green encroaches upon it like in Barack Obama’s portrait.

And who can look on gold unmoved?

Not me! I shed a few tears of joy, murmured my gratitude aloud, straightened my shoulders, raised my face to the sun, and went on my way singing.

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Summer on the Farm

 

This “summer” story starts in the winter. In order for one to truly appreciate summer, a wintry time must come first.

Each January afternoon the school bus dropped us off at home, and with great determination, my sister and I would resolve to get right out to the milking barn. The sooner we got to it, the sooner we could be finished. But it was so hard to leave the house…. Our mom always had something baking, like cookies or cinnamon rolls. We’d bring in our chilly chore clothes from the porch off the kitchen, and warm them up by the coal stove.

Then, I pulled on layer after layer–thermals, denim, knits–topping it with the one piece coverall. I was just trying to ward off the outdoor chill visible in the ice crystals creeping up the inside of the kitchen window. Two or three socks were on each foot I shoved into the knee-high rubber boots, and I tied a dishtowel around my hair. I stepped out the door with the house-milk bucket swinging from my arm, while my hands hid in my pockets.

The first breath of that tingling air shocked my lungs, and my nose and cheeks stung from the biting cold. The sun was hovering over the west hills, but its pale light was useless as a source of warmth. The atmosphere was thin and brittle, and the snow squeaked dryly with each step. I walked quickly to the barn, leaving the bucket in the milk house, and opened the gate that led to the cowshed.

Even the cows were reluctant to come out on a night like this. I had to prod, coax, and even threaten them with the dog to roust them from their cozy quarters where their collective warmth and moist breath gave a foggy boost to the temperature by many degrees over that outside.

The first dozen cows trudged into the milking barn, leaving the other twenty huddled together in the front waiting their turns. If the vacuum lines weren’t blocked by ice, the milking went smoothly. During the few minutes it took each cow’s milk to be extracted into the machine’s bucket, I slid my freezing hands in the warm place between her leg and udder until my fingers tingled, signifying the return of blood flow. The outside temperature registered negative 25 degrees, and I appreciated the living hand-warmers.

At last, the two hours of work came to an end. I turned the last cow out to return to her warm bed, washed out the milkers, hefted the cans filled with warm milk into the cooling trough of water so the cream could rise for morning’s collection. I turned out the lights, crossing the barnyard by the glow of the millions of stars shining over the brittle landscape. Just seeing the glow from the house lights began to warm me, knowing that I’d be inside in a minute, comfortable for another ten hours, at least.

So, how did I stand this torture twice a day for the whole winter? Because I knew that spring would come, and so would June. June in my beautiful mountain valley was worth the entire seven months of winter. By June it was summer!

At evening milking time in June, I was almost grateful for the excuse to be outside. In June, our house–a refuge in the winter–was a barrier to the sensory pleasures of the outdoors. Dressed only in cut-off jeans, a light cotton blouse, and barefoot in my rubber boots, I cheerfully whistled up the dog to accompany me up the field to call in the herd of cows.

I broke off a sprig of lilacs as I went through the yard gate, burying my face in the sweet, purple trumpets clustered along the twig. I could see the cows had wandered halfway to mountains. They were scattered across the deep green landscape, grazing in clover up to their ankles. Meadowlarks, perched on the fence posts, whistled their distinctive melody, as a mother killdeer ran along in front of us, doing the broken wing diversion, to keep us from her babies nesting in the tall grass by the irrigation ditch.

The sun was low enough in the sky to be comfortable, but the evening chill had not begun. The heat of the day shimmered up from the grass, and combined with the slight dust from the herd’s hooves, as they trailed leisurely down the dirt road to the barnyard, sending a soft cloud shimmering aloft. Through this cloud a flock of tiny white and yellow butterflies swirled, disturbed from their resting place as the cows walked past.

In the barn, with the top half of the divided door open, the sunbeams stretched through the hay dust from the loft, and striped the cows as they stood, sleek and clean from living outdoors, away from the close quarters of the sheds. Their sun-warmed hides felt soft against my bare arms as I crouched down to attach the milkers. Waiting for the milk to pump out, I gazed out the open door, watching lambs caper in the adjoining pasture. The cats, bulging from the day’s mouse hunt, twined around my ankles purring for warm milk in their dish.

Since no one but cows could hear, I usually sang Rogers and Hammerstein songs. Sometimes, I brought out my mother’s radio and tuned into rock and roll before the sun went down, and the station went off the air.

Even when the clean-up was finished, and the milk-house floor was swept dry, I lingered outdoors. I’d go for a ride on my horse, or play softball with my sister, or hang around on the lawn watching my mother work in her flower beds. The sun slipped down behind the mountains, but twilight lasted for another hour. It was the best time of day to swing or pull tiny carrots from the garden for a snack. As it got darker, we’d scare ourselves with a game of “No Bears Are Out Tonight.” Only the total darkness finally forced us inside.

June is a month to spend outside in western Wyoming. January is a month live in Southern California.

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These Wonderful Scourges of Modern Life

 

I like contrails. Taking walks on clear summer days, when the heavens are deep blue, I love to tip my head back and watch aircraft passing overhead, leaving their long, white traces against the blue expanse. Someone, a pilot, explained to me that it was exhaust, up there so high that it freezes. The exhaust looks like clean, billowing cotton collecting behind the plane. I wonder how many miles of trail I’m seeing, wondering whether my distance from the plane is deceiving my eyes, that a space I could frame with my fingers is actually far longer than it looks from the ground.

I love planes. I like how sometimes you hear their hum before you see them. Their sound is not logical. Then you crane your neck and finally, you spot the tiny machine far off in the sky. It may be toward evening, the sun glinting off the metal. I think about how that craft is full of orderly rows of people, way up there, seats bolted to the floor, who are at this instant talking, reading, watching movies. The plane’s metal belly separates their feet from great heights beneath them and the wooded landscape below where a pair of eyes might be watching their progress.

I think too how they are probably closing their blinds against the evening sun at that moment. And how when they land, they will stroll into our airport having been in Salt Lake City just a couple hours before. Are they amazed at that miracle? Do they remember how other generations left their families behind when they moved, and how after their plodding months-long journeys, only slow letters would bring them news of home?

I love to watch airplanes take off and land, imagining what it would be like to have Jefferson or Franklin standing with me, glimpsing the future. You thought hot air balloons were something? (The Apostle Paul used to be my traveling companion, but once he got over his initial amazement, he would be right back on message. There were more important things on his mind than the advancement of civilization.)

I like to be in a landing plane, when I’m not too nervous, watching the buildings and streets come closer, the cars looking exactly like toy vehicles parked neatly in rows or trundling down little streets, turning near tiny buildings. Below me is not Salt Lake or Denver, but a miniature of a real town, where people play at going to work and doing errands at their sweet little to-scale destinations. How neatly the roads are laid out from here, in straight grids or occasional graceful curves. There are pale painted complexes, green tennis courts, blue swimming pools, cul-de-sacs. Then quickly objects grow larger as the plane descends, and the cars moving parallel to us on the freeways are almost big as life, boxy building tops coming up to meet us. The pilot, up there in front of us surrounded by controls, impresses me with his precision, maneuvering the giant bird safely to the ground. Then we bump down and race along the runway.

Speaking of cul-de-sacs, I love planned neighborhoods. I like how clean they are, with tidy green lawns and sometimes a small shade tree in the yard. I like how the houses are uniformly pleasant, the same and yet not all exactly the same. I like how these neighborhoods can be silent on summer evenings, how you can take a walk for several blocks on the neat sidewalks and see only the occasional neighbor out watering the plants, or children circling their driveways on training wheels. I love garage sales in these housing complexes–they always have books, educational playthings, and valuable household items. They are uniformly friendly and interesting so that chatting with them is half the fun of a garage sale outing.

I love city development. Modern skyscrapers are beautiful. I love improved areas of the city, with shops, theaters, and pleasant patio restaurants, new and hopeful. I like proud, ornamental arches over freeways, proclaiming the names of the cities. I love glassed-in walkways over streets connecting buildings. Long, graceful escalators are impressive. I love parks and waterfronts and planned adventures. I love careful landscaping. I like big shopping malls with gleaming floors, full of shoes, clothes, and interesting what-nots that I can afford. I love big chain bookstores with a generous bargain books section.

I love modern roads everywhere, even through the wilderness. To think of the churned-up muck and horse poop people used to travel through, and how limited the roads were, how hard it was to get around. And now this, smooth tracks crisscrossing the country, taking astonishing time and labor, materials and machines to build. I love pulling out from a side road to a wide open one, how the tires crunch at the turn and then the car switches to a fresh speed, gears changing and wheels whirring. Only yesterday I climbed into a cushioned car seat and traveled over a hundred miles to visit a family member. It was lousy weather, but we were warm and dry, drinking coffees, chatting, and listening to music. It took us two and half hours to show up at my brother’s apartment fresh for the day ahead together.

I love the good food the roads bring. Grocery stores are a miracle, with their mounds of colorful produce attractively arrayed, taking up a quarter of the store. Way up north here, in the middle of winter, there are apples, bananas, cilantro, onions, lime, tomatoes, and papayas. We can cook whatever we like, even ethnic meals. And there are cheeses, meats, breads, spices, nuts–anything you can imagine–stocked in just one grocery store of six in our isolated little town. It’s not perfect food, it’s not pure, most of it churned out in large scale and the growing process tinkered with. But I have little to complain about, simply heaping my cart with good things, paying for what I want, loading and unloading it a couple of times before going on with my day focusing on satisfying life endeavors far beyond mere survival.

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Winning the Argument, Losing Our Way

 

Here we are again. Having the same argument we’ve had too many times before. And we most likely will have it again, won’t we? In today’s society, we are more mentally segregated than ever and increasingly stuck in echo chambers. The preachers on the left and the right preach the same old lines and everyone yells “amen” at the appropriate places in the sermon. It has become more important to convince ourselves that we are correct in our thinking than to provide solutions to our problems (or, in lieu of that, accepting that there are certain things we simply cannot change.)

The gun control/rights debate that will unfold over the next days and weeks will highlight the cognitive dissonance across the political spectrum.

If you argue with someone who is for a more liberal immigration policy, they will gladly point you to statistics that show that your chances of being caught up in the terroristic activities of an immigrant or first-generation American are infinitesimal. If you show that statistics also say the same thing about being caught up in a mass murder event such as what happened yesterday in Florida or Las Vegas, you’re obviously a paid tool of the NRA. Is it “risk assessment” or is it “if it saves just one life?”

An abortion rights advocate will argue against parental notification requirements under the assumption that such reporting will make it unlikely that young women caught in abusive home environments will get the help they need. But many of these same people have no problem with mandating that mental health professionals report their patients to the FBI or ATF for gun purchase checks. How many will seek help for depression or other mental health problems if they know it will end up in some government database? Is reporting a “suppression of rights” or “common sense?”

Humans are competitive animals. We all want to “win” the argument du jour. Even if we have to tie ourselves in logic pretzels to get there.

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Why Processed Foods?

 

A major study has been published linking processed foods of all kinds to cancer. This being the case, why would anyone ever eat processed foods?

It has been a long time, almost 100 years, since people had to worry all the time about the food they ate being spoiled or contaminated. In those times this problem was just a given. Babies dying from being fed raw cow’s milk, people dying of food poisoning, spoiled meat, or any number of other things, was just a feature of life. At one point, it is estimated, 30 percent of the people in London were suffering from one form of gastrointestinal disease or another and almost all of this from bad food. People died from this all the time.

But with many years of progress in public health and food hygiene all that has receded into the past, so much so that people have forgotten about it and take food that won’t kill you, not from a small risk of cancer, but from the high risk of an immediate, painful, and dangerous poisoning or infection, for granted.

How was this forgotten revolution achieved? Mainly through improvements in food preparation and packaging. In other words, in superior food processing.

I recall one scene from the movie Apocalypse Now in which a sailor recalls coming into the Navy wanting to be trained as a cook. There he was introduced to Navy cooking — all the meat, “all this beautiful, marbled meat,” as he put it, was boiled. He couldn’t believe it. The outrage! And so he left cook school and ended up in a patrol boat in Vietnam.

Why on earth did the Navy boil the meat? In short, it was one proven and economic way that they could be sure the meat wouldn’t kill the men. Military logistics can be difficult. Keeping the meat from spoiling at the end of a long supply chain is hard. Who knows how long it was left on the wharf in the sun in Da Nang? It’s best to prepare the meat so that it can be eaten safely, and that means boiling it. During the Civil War, they’d habitually boil meat for hours trying to avoid food poisoning. The taste was pretty horrible, but that way the meat wouldn’t kill people.

As it turns out it was simple things like that, thorough cooking and sterile packaging in cans or jars, that kept the food safe to eat. Food additives were found that kept bacteria from growing and poisons from forming, and this not only kept the food safe but extended its shelf life and made it possible to send food long distances without refrigeration, providing canned salmon to the people of the interior or cheese to soldiers fighting in the Pacific in WWII. But there are drawbacks, of course. Canned salmon can’t compare to fresh, and the cheese, well, we call it “American Cheese” now.

But people have forgotten all that if they ever knew. So they don’t see the need or the true purpose of all this food processing. They don’t think it’s necessary. And so they get rid of it or avoid it thinking that it means that they will have healthier food. And, sure enough, food has started killing people again.

Several small children were killed by their fruit juice when the processor decided that pasteurization or other simple measures to keep bacteria out of the juice changed the flavor of the juice. Following these deaths, the company agreed to pasteurize the juice, which means they heat-treat it now. (In my opinion, they should have hanged the CEO, who should have known better.)

And there have been other cases of this sort of thing, all of them completely unnecessary.

Foods grown or prepared “organically” often don’t have the protections to avoid food poisoning that other modern processed foods do. Vendors of organic foods will usually try to compensate by liberal use of refrigeration of things like fish and meat, but continuous refrigeration from factory to the home isn’t always carried out successfully even today. Even the brief period of time that food is left in the car on the trip from the store to home can be deadly. Some of this is just ignorance — people just don’t realize how critically important it is to be careful about these things if you are going to go au naturale with the food, but they are not used to looking upon every meal as potentially being their last.

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DACA Going Caca

 

There won’t be an immigration agreement. The President’s signature issue is going to be handled to his satisfaction or it will be vetoed.

The bipartisan bill in the Senate, which is mostly Democrat but with a few squish boys like Flake, makes minimal and irrelevant changes to chain migration and visas but grants amnesty to DACA folks. The bill states it will fund a wall over a decade which is, of course, a complete lie.

The President compromised already and greatly upset a big part of his immigration-hawk base. Sen. Grassley has a plan that the President will sign. Schumer has a plan the left’s psycho-base can live with, essentially making his bill something the president will never sign.

March 5 is the theoretical deadline although there are some rogue activist judges who feel otherwise, at least until the SCOTUS slaps them down based on that crazy non-malleable document all the old white men left us handcuffed with.

There will be no acceptable compromise I expect. Your guess?

I hope the dreamers are all deported, aggressively, if the dems fail to give the president his wall, NOW, and legitimate immigration reform, NOW. The future of the nation is at stake here and the president knows it. Giving in to democrat demands is suicide for Trump and our country. Time for hardball.

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More Shootings, More Divorces, More Single Parent Homes

 

What if we are looking at this incorrectly? What if the number of shootings per year in the last 70 years is X and that corresponds to an average population of 250 million people. Now, we have 350 million people and so we should expect that X to be correspondingly larger in raw numbers — everything else being the same.

Now, here’s my question: what if the actual phenomenon correlates better with, rather than the total population, the population of single-parent homes or homes with children of divorced parents?

Here’s the data over 62 years:

Image result for percentage of single parent households over time

This graph is just to give you an idea of what I’m trying to say here. The number of single-parent homes has gone up considerably. I just bet that these numbers are better ones to look at in order to predict these school shootings. If the likelihood of this kind of dysfunction increases with the number of single-parent families then we need to consider that issue more than gun control.

What do you think? Is there data already compiled to look at this? I mean: rather than worry about what the MSM thinks because they aren’t looking for a solution — they are looking for a narrative scapegoat — what are the real drivers for this? Should we be surprised by these shootings?

The second thing to look at is the schools themselves — are they places that we should send our kids? The schools are run by leftists these days — what can we expect from this? One issue is the anti-male behavior that creates unsafe spaces for our boys. That should be counted, shouldn’t it?

I really can’t read any of the headlines by either side after one of these things happens. I have no interest in re-hashing the same old, tired arguments.

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Disturbed Student Does Not Open Fire at Washington High School, No Deaths Reported [Updated]

 

In sharp contrast to terrible news from Florida, KING 5 in Seattle reported on Valentine’s Day that a grandmother stopped her grandson from acting on a plan to commit mass murder at his school. The grandson lived with his grandparents and had problems leading to his enrollment in a diversion program high school. His alert and engaged grandparents became concerned. The grandmother went into his room, read his journal, discovered his plan, and called in the police. The boy is in custody.

From King5.com

An 18-year-old student was arrested after a journal was found detailing plans to shoot his classmates at ACES High School in Everett.

According to the Everett Police Department, the 18-year-old’s grandmother called 911 Tuesday morning after finding the journal and believed the threats to shoot students at the school were credible.

Police came, read the journal and found weapons in the room.

Court documents state the young man wrote, “I can’t wait to walk into class and blow all those (expletives) away,” and “I need to make this shooting/bombing infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possible can.”

Prosecutors allege the suspect had inert grenades in his bedroom that he planned to fill with black powder along with the AK-47 hidden in a guitar case.

This story stands in stark contrast to other stories of mass shootings. An engaged adult did the hard but right thing and the police listened and responded to forestall the attack. The end result is that everyone, including the would-be shooter, lived. Instead of prayers for comfort and healing, prayers of thanksgiving are in order.



A KING5.com update on the foiled Everett school shooter reinforced the seriousness of the threat the grandmother exposed.

The student had friends at the school who thought all was well.

ACES student Olivia Fox said she was stunned at the accusations leveled against her close friend.

“There was lot of shock around the school when they released a picture of who it was,” she said. “Me and a couple of his other good friends are shaken up, because we know how good of a kid he is.”

But his journal and his rifle told a different story (emphasis added).

His defense attorney said he has no prior criminal history whatsoever. However, police believe the teen used the same AK-47 to rob a convenience store on February 12. Court documents state he wrote in his journal about how powerful he felt because of how scared the female clerk was.

It appears that we were spared another mass murder by a grandmother’s tough love.