The “Say Yes to Love” Garden Ornaments

 

After two synagogue shootings, a local Episcopalian priest joined forces with the Rabbi and other left-to-moderate clergy to encourage solidarity in spite of differences in beliefs. Soon campaign size white signs appeared upon the lawns of many in our little mountain community that say “Say No To Hate. Say Yes To Love. Love God. Love Your Neighbor.” After much thought and a couple of revisions, here are my thoughts that will likely be a letter to the editor:

The recent proliferation of the “Say Yes to Love Say No to Hate” signs are controversial because we are at a cultural moment where the various factions of our society no longer agree on what love and hate, or good and evil, consists of. A conspiratorial reading of the signs may be that love means “accept all narratives of LGBT advocacy groups without question” while hate means “voting for Donald Trump” or “robbing a woman of the same autonomy men have by advocating for the unborn.”

Such a reading might be excused due to the way political parties have historically used euphemistic phrases that obscure specifics for political gain – love wins, women’s health, build the wall. But, in fairness, the signs say nothing of the sort.

Herein lies the problem. The first two lines of the signs don’t really say much of anything at all – at least nothing anyone would disagree since the vast majority of people don’t consider themselves haters. If it is pointed towards mass shooters, it seems futile to see “yes to love, no to hate” Facebook memes as a meaningful strategy to recover isolated young men lost in their own heads of poisonous ideology or nihilism.

Further, the signs provide no specific message against what prompted the campaign in the first place: the antisemitic sympathies denying Jews’ rights to exist and worship that resulted in synagogue shootings. Rather we are left with words more akin to a pious garden ornament keeping company with “Blessed!” and “Believe!”

Nevertheless, there is weight behind the second half of the sign “Love God, Love Your Neighbor” only if one is willing to delve into the context.

Love in a Christian sense is less of an emotion or a political ideology but the “willing the good of the other” — even those who are violently on the other side. It is less focused on affirming the beliefs and virtues of one’s own tribe but actively seeking the good for those who withstand you – your enemy.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” says Jesus and, to our perplexion, teaches, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

If we truly understood the import of the Law quoted at the end of those little white signs, it would cut against our tribal boasting and demeaning of the other side, it would dissipate our Twitter outrage and humble us towards seeing others created in the image of God; it would pull the rug out of the need for our side to win and replace it with the willingness to serve; it would force us to pray with earnestness for grace to change our hearts and grant us the capacity to live rightly and unnaturally in this very odd and contrary Kingdom Jesus speaks about.

But if the sign is easy to pluck onto the lawn without much turmoil of heart and the troubling need to change oneself, we’ve spectacularly missed Jesus’ point. The signs then become nothing more than pious garden ornaments set out in Pharisaical hopes that the other tribe can learn to think more like us when they drive by.

Ricochet Solves Hong Kong

 

This is what Trump should do: Offer US citizenship to all Hong Kong and Chinese nationals who can ace English fluency and the US AP History test, and, as a condition of immigration, agree to no access to our welfare systems.

This would be a huge boost to our economy and nation, and a massive brain drain for China. Win-Win. (Bonus: the threat alone might check Chinese ambitions.)

You have a better idea? Post it here!

The Right Place at the Right Time

 

Saturday evening, my wife and I were in our usual position – rocking chairs on the porch overlooking our neighbor’s hayfield and watching the lengthening shadows. Although we are nominally reading, we mostly look out at the waves across the hay. I happened to look up and saw a large bird high up in the air. It wasn’t flying like a vulture (which is a pretty common occurrence here). Then, I saw the white head and tail feathers – it was a bald eagle. We stood up and watched as it soared higher and higher until it flew west over Short Hill Mountain. It was only visible for about 30 seconds and if I hadn’t seen it in the 15 seconds it was visible from our chairs on the porch, we would have missed it.

We were in the right place at the right time.

We have had other bald eagles fly by – maybe twice a year. One time a couple of years ago, as I was walking back to the house, one flew over so low that I could hear the “swish” of its wings. It was only visible for about 10 seconds. Once again, the right place at the right time.

This is often the case with wildlife sightings around here. Except for the deer and groundhogs, most animals pass through pretty quickly. From our kitchen table, we have seen wild turkeys, weasels, foxes, and many non-native birds go by. Again, we had to be in the right place at the right time to see them.

The sighting yesterday struck me because I had just been thinking about how my career had been a case of being “at the right place at the right time.” That morning, I had gone to a monthly Linux meeting where the topic was “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – AI/ML.” The presenter worked for Red Hat – a large software company which among other things has a lot of support for those who are migrating large projects to “The Cloud” (i.e., someone else’s big computer located somewhere else). She gave a good overview of the various types of AI/ML algorithms and what various Red Hat customers were doing with them, but it was clear that her feet had “never touched the ground.”

The final slide was all of the ways that Red Hat could support someone developing this type of application. The chart was like a multi-layer cake with maybe six levels of abstraction and each layer had maybe four or five sets of libraries. It was clear that with this sort of environment, it would be “Libraries all the way down.” No wonder she wasn’t real clear on the actual implementation details. After the presentation, someone asked if he could play with the techniques on his laptop or if he had to go onto “The Cloud.” The consensus was that the Cloud was necessary.

I am retired now, but most of my career has been in Embedded Systems. That is where there is a computer chip involved, but it doesn’t look like a computer. (did you know that there is a computer inside the removable LIon battery in your laptop? That was what I did in my last job).

When I started working, Embedded Systems didn’t exist as a “thing” and I was there at the start. I happened to start working at a smallish company which did mostly military signal processing and pattern recognition systems. Over the next 11 years, I worked on a large variety of projects from Radar signal processing ( to identify the type of plane targeted), sonar signal processing, translation of hand-sent Morse code – including the identity of the sender from his ‘Fist’ used in sending the code. We also developed one of the first speech recognition systems and I was responsible for developing an Operating System that allowed 4 simultaneous speakers to speak and be recognized,* potentially translated and output in a desired format which could be text or a speech synthesizer. There were several other classified projects, but I would have to kill you if I told you about them.

Now all of this was done on the minicomputers at the time with 32-64k bytes of memory, no real mass storage, and slow processors. That is, each was done on systems with much less capability than a modern laptop.

On each project, I had the overall responsibility for the data analysis, algorithm design, and coding/testing. If there was a problem, it was in something I had done and it was my responsibility to find it. I loved it.

The company was small enough that my contributions were recognized and I went through 11 title changes and promotions in 11 years. Again, the right place at the right time.

These days, programmers are doing much more with systems which are orders of magnitude more powerful than back then, but they seem to do them as parts of large teams – often distributed over several locations. And they are depending on libraries which have been developed by other large teams. In such large teams, it is very difficult for an individual contributor to get noticed.

I am not sure if I would thrive in the current environment and really do feel that I was in “The right place at the right time.”

I am not sure about other professions, but I have a feeling that medicine has hit the same sort of transition. We live near a small town where our Doctor had an office. It was basically him and a couple of nurses. When I went to see him, he spent a lot of time with me and was willing to answer all my questions. He retired not long after his practice was acquired by a large multi-office multi-state company. He started spending more time typing into a computer than actually examining me. Now when we call the ‘office’, the phone is answered at a switchboard in a city about 30 miles away and everything is even more computerized. I think the ‘sweet spot’ for medicine as a career – at least for a GP – is over.

What about you? Did you hit the “sweet spot” in your career? If not, what happened?

*Early speech systems like this required a limited vocabulary, trained to the speaker and with separation between words. Things have gotten much better in the last 50 years.

Quote of the Day: Young Wisdom

 

“When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.” — Taylia, age 11

A collection of “childhood wisdom” graced my Facebook feed this week; this was one of the standouts, though there were several in the same vein: common-sense lessons learned early in life through personal experience. Some were in the “Things I’ll-never-try-again” category (“Never hold a Dustbuster and a cat at the same time.” — Kyoyo, age 9), and others check the “fool-me-once” box (“Don’t pull Dad’s finger when he tells you to.” — Emily, age 10). There’s even a Joe-Biden-in-training in the mix (“Never squat with your spurs on.” — Neil Kinnock, 1987).

The list is generally funny because the advice is both spot-on, and blindingly obvious in hindsight (“Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat.” — Joel, 10). But when you’re young and learning by your own experience, this newfound wisdom may surprise you.

I asked my sister, who says she learned a lot from her kids when they were growing up, if she had any 20/20-hindsight wisdom. She said: “never assume it’s chocolate.” I’m afraid to ask for clarification.

How about you? What hard-won wisdom did you gain, either as a child or later in life? Anything you think could have made “kids say the darnedest things”? Anything your own kids or grand-kids have announced to the family with the voice of Moses on the Mount?

And remember: “Never trust a dog to watch your food.” –Patrick, age 10.

“Everybody Knew”/”Nobody Knew”

 

You’ve read the conventional wisdom, and it usually has some truth in it. “Until December 7, 1941, nobody knew that America would get dragged into World War II.” “The A-bombing of Nagasaki was cruel and unnecessary—everybody knew the Japanese were ready to surrender after Hiroshima.” “On October 4, 1957, the Soviets stunned the world. Nobody knew they were on the brink of launching the Earth’s first artificial moon.”

You’ve read the confident cynics, too. “Everybody knew John F. Kennedy was having extramarital affairs.” “Everyone knew the reason Nixon ‘killed’ Apollo was that he was jealous of JFK’s role in starting it.” And of course, “Everybody in Hollywood knew about Harvey Weinstein. They had to know.”

Let me address the most trivial one first because I saw the truth up close: Weinstein’s Miramax was a (very) small New York company that bought and distributed rock concert films. That’s how most people first met Harvey and his brother Bob, who named their company after their parents, Miriam and Max. In the Eighties it branched out, cheaply buying the US rights to foreign films that, then and now, had little chance of entering the US market. They shrewdly got maximum publicity at minimum expense, never taking a genuinely controversial stand, and parlayed that marketing ability into making lots of money and getting acquired by the Walt Disney Company. Those are the basic facts.

Harvey, arrogant and defensive to begin with, became a detested tyrant early on. Everyone who worked with him admitted his skill and freely admitted they hated him. We encountered him dozens of times, at AFI screenings in LA., and at festivals like Cannes and Sundance. At the 2002 Oscars, Robin Williams joked, “I see we have a nominee this year called ‘Monsters, Inc’, a documentary about the Weinstein brothers,” and the audience roared. He was a bully, physically loathsome and hated throughout the industry. I knew dozens of Miramax people who were fired by him or quit. A number were in protracted lawsuits against him. And yet, none of them—not one, man or woman—told the stories we heard in 2017, even privately. Because we didn’t know.

When the stories came out, there was a horrifying glee all over town that somebody brought him down, but we were as shocked as anyone else how it happened. Why didn’t we know? Basically, because we weren’t actresses, especially European ones. Weinstein was right to make foreign film festivals his happy hunting ground. He got sloppy and disgusting—everything about him is—and he got caught.

Roll back the clock. In 1940 magazine articles and subsequent history books, it was clear that the European war wasn’t going to be as brief as initially hoped. But it was also clear that the US was staying neutral, not getting dragged in like we were in 1917. We learned our lesson with WWI. This time we were going to let the dictators fight this one out. In his re-election campaign, FDR swore up and down that we were staying out of it. The news writers were unanimous because it was obvious what Americans wanted.

Yet the same writers, ten years later, were just as firm in insisting that once FDR won an unprecedented third term, of course we knew we were in it up to our necks. The German Navy was already attacking US-UK shipping in 1941. Well before Pearl Harbor, the Atlantic pact and other ‘foreign entanglements’ made America’s neutrality in name only, and everyone knew it. Auto plants started converting for war. Few expected Japan to strike the first blow against us, but few expected us to skate through 1942 at peace. What happened to convert “everyone knows we’re staying out” to “everyone knows we’re getting in”? It’s reasonable to deduce that the pro-FDR press did its best to help him out, tacitly believing that the 1940 electorate needed to be lied to.

How about the best-kept secret of World War II, the atomic bomb? It was certainly a shock to the world in August 1945. But weirdly, it seems to fall somewhere in the “everyone knew/nobody knew” spectrum. When Alfred Hitchcock was planning the Ingrid Bergman-Cary Grant movie, Notorious, he made inquiries whether uranium could be used as a weapon. He was told no, told to take it out of the script, and there was a (probably exaggerated) plan to place Hitch under surveillance. My father-in-law, who had some scientific knowledge, used to recount a story about meeting a former classmate from City College during the war, who was working for an Eastman chemical plant in Tennessee. After hearing about what few fragments his friend knew, he said casually, “Sounds like you’re making an atomic bomb down there.” “The Nazi radio has been throwing out hints that Germany has ready an explosive more devastating than anything yet dreamed of (there was talk a while back about an “atom-smashing” element capable of destroying whole cities).—from Danton Walker‘s syndicated column carried in the Philadelphia Inquirer, September 11, 1944.

But the king of all Manhattan Project leaks happened on March 13, 1944, in the pages of the Cleveland Press. Weary homeward commuters read the headline, “Forbidden City—Uncle Sam’s Mystery Town Directed by ‘2nd Einstein’” In several jaw-dropping paragraphs, they learned about Los Alamos, a giant top secret Army installation doing secret work involving explosions and death rays, directed by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, already listed before the war in Who’s Who as one of America’s top nuclear scientists. It would not have taken a Nazi version of Sherlock Holmes to figure out what Oppenheimer and the Army were doing. There were details that were off, and conjecture that proved wrong, but by WWII standards, this was a breathtaking breach of security.

How did it happen? There was a fearsome mechanism to deal with the press and press censorship, which was mostly voluntary anyway. But the reporter, John Raper, didn’t apply for credentials, wasn’t doing an assigned story, and didn’t approach the front gate. He was on vacation in New Mexico and fell into talking with excessively loose-lipped plant workers having a drink after work. He wrote up his story in total ignorance of what it meant, and the Cleveland Press staff that vetted it for wartime censorship requirements were too ill-informed to realize that physicists had become a key national strategic asset. Los Alamos was stunned at the leak and managed to quash the routine circulation of the story on the Associated Press wire.

Even after the war ended, when Life Magazine did a now-it-can-be-told story about the Manhattan Project, one of the artist illustrations of the story shows a ball-like bomb on top of the Trinity tower. Accurate—far too accurate for General Groves, because all the stories approved for publication described the already obsolete Hiroshima bomb’s design, basically a gun that fired a U235 ‘bullet’ into a U235 target at the end of a gun barrel. But Trinity, the prototype of the Nagasaki bomb and nearly all the nuclear weapons to follow, was triggered by implosion, The simple fact that the bomb was spherical, trivial as it sounds now, was such an important clue to the way it worked that implosion would continue to be the bomb project’s biggest secret for another half-dozen years or so. Yet by August 1945, somehow someone knew the right shape, indicating that somebody talked, probably an eager GI workman who had no idea he was betraying a secret. The Army was never able to find out who. The Russians, like the Germans in the 1944 Cleveland case, didn’t even notice the article. Then again, the Russians already had a great deal of spy information; they didn’t need Life Magazine.

I’ve mentioned other cases in the “Everybody knew”/”Nobody Knew” spectrum. Maybe we’ll do more. Maybe you have some, too.

The Barbarians Outside and Within the Gates

 

Portland is gearing up for a potential clash between Antifa and the Proud Boys on Saturday, August 17. Some merchants and civic groups have canceled events they had planned for downtown Portland. This includes Kells Irish Pub; they had planned to hold some amateur boxing matches on Saturday. Rather ironic that.

The mayor and a disparate group of civic leaders and community organizers held an outdoor gathering pleading for calm. One Rabbi stepped up to the microphone and defended Antifa; she might have a touch of the Jesuit within her, or at the very least Father Pfleger of Chicago. She was not the only one that believes that Antifa is a defender of Portland’s virtue.

The ACLU is warning the Portland Police Bureau, demanding they try to control themselves. The ACLU and the rest of the usual suspects will not be on the frontlines Saturday. No, they won’t be there, but it will be Portlanders that have to work on Saturday or travel through downtown on public transportation that will be left to fend for themselves.

The homeless that urinate, defecate, and shoot-up around the bridges along the riverfront will be left alone; even Antifa and the Proud Boys have some standards when it comes to selecting an audience.

QOTD: Don’t Smile

 

Oh, how I hated those words! Nothing so annoys a young kid in a fit of anger or sadness as being told “Don’t smile!” by one’s mom. It ranks right up there with “Now shake hands” or “Hug it out.”

Dag nabbit, no, I want to pout! I want to hold a grudge. I want to cry or complain. Maybe I could even get revenge! Maybe I could languish or indulge. Hey, I’m hurt, so the world owes me a bit of selfish time!

Of course, it doesn’t. The goading reverse psychology of “Don’t smile!” might seem just a cheap trick to coax a child out of a dark mood. But it is actually an important step in the process of civilization.

Like gratitude, deliberate cheerfulness and letting go of disturbances are habits which benefit not only oneself, but society. Choosing to prioritize joy and harmony helps us to endure disputes and overcome cultural differences. To “smile though your heart is aching” is an act of charity and humility. Returning focus to hope and humor, though with difficulty, returns us to productive action. Loving when one doesn’t want to love reveals love’s true nature and worth.

Plus, it’s fun poking irritable kids.

This is for the Quote Of the Day writing prompt for August 2019. There are still many slots available.

“But I Worked in News Media and Studied Politics!”

 

Just watched the new Crowder Change My Mind installment. I love these videos and I highly recommend watching all of them. They can be infuriating but they can also be instructive. But I’m not posting this to be an unpaid promoter. Watching the most recent video, Trump Is Not Racist: Change My Mind,

I was struck by something one of the conversants said. She was incredulous that Crowder didn’t believe her and was providing a different version or interpretation of what the facts were.

“I worked in news media. I studied politics.”

She used these phrases like a talisman to ward off the distasteful hateful conservative (or liberal, heh) and his lying hateful views. I’m sure most of us have intuited the importance that leftists put on these institutions of media and academia. Well, their importance now that they have been dominated by leftism, anyway. This was striking to me because it was so explicit. I worked in the media and so what I believe to be true actually is true. I studied politics from some school and so what I believe to be true actually is true. Conversely, whatever you believe must be untrue. You must be a liar or hater. 

This woman eventually came back around to some kind of reasonable discussion, but only to eventually totally write off Crowder’s view of free speech as inferior “liberalism”. She did so in a reasonable tone for the discussion, but I’m stunned that she actually dismissed the concept of free speech so blithely. She didn’t strike me as either dumb or evil – so what gives? Has she merely been effectively propagandized? Is she a useful idiot? Has she really not been exposed to real conservative (liberal, heh) ideas and arguments even after having studied politics and having worked in news media? At some point doesn’t history, especially her German history, shout out self-evident truths in opposition to her default leftism? Maybe more importantly – is it better to try to convert people like this, or are we better off exposing them?

Member Post

 

In 1964 the French artist Marcel Duchamp took a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, penciled in a mustache and goatee, signed the work, and sold it. Two years ago, it resold at Sotheby’s for $750,000. As amusing as the thought might be, no one would have been laughing had Duchamp taken a Sharpie to the […]

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New Coaching Job Opening in Atlanta…

 

Frank DeBoer, the future former coach of Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United team, recently expressed skepticism about the equal pay demands of the the US Women’s soccer team. He points out that if they bring in the same number of fans, and the same amount of advertising, of course they’ll be paid the same. But if their draw is different, their pay is likely to be different, and he doesn’t see the problem with that. He is Dutch, so forgive the odd English in his quotes:

“I think for me, it’s ridiculous. If there are watching, for the World Cup final, 500 million people or something like that, and 100 million for a women’s final, that’s a difference. So it’s not the same. And of course they have to be paid what they deserve to [earn] and not less, just what they really deserve. If it’s just as popular as the men, they will get it, because the income and the advertising will go into that. But it’s not like that, so why do they have to earn the same? I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t understand that.”

Allow me to go way out on a limb, and predict what is likely to happen, and when:

  1. In 2-3 days, he releases a Tweet stating his regret for offending anyone.
  2. In 4-5 days, he appears in public and offers a tearful apology for his obvious hatred of women.
  3. In 1 week, his employer announces an internal review of Mr. DeBoer’s conduct.
  4. In 2 weeks, his employer accepts his resignation.
  5. In 3 weeks, he and his family are chased out of an Appleby’s by an angry mob of woke millenials.
  6. In a month, he moves back to the Netherlands, hoping that they’re not insane there, too.

What do you think? Am I close?

Many of those in athletics are so ingrained in the culture of performance, and earning what you get, that complaints about fairness really don’t make sense to them. He probably really doesn’t understand why this is such a big deal.

He’s about to find out, I suspect.

Good luck, buddy…

A Memory

 

You didn’t meet many girls with glowing eyes. Not “eyes that sparkled” or “eyes that shone”, but eyes that literally glowed. Of course, not many girls also magically transformed so that their legs were replaced with a snake’s tail, so maybe it balanced out. ‘What’ss the matter?’ she said, with a slight trailing, lisping hiss, advancing towards him in the torchlight. He found himself backing nervously against the stone wall, trying to cover his own eyes with his hand. ‘Cassandra, it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just …’ There was something … hypnotic about that green glow … the way the patterns swirled round and around …

‘That’s better, little hero …’ said the lamia softly, her eyelights drawing him in, so that he barely noticed the fangs or the forked tongue past over-madeup lips. ‘Just look into my eyes … Don’t worry about anything else …’ It seemed to him there was something he was forgetting. Something important. A face kept rising to the front of his mind, and a feeling in his chest. A friendly face … with eyes that actually did shine and sparkle. Eyes he’d seen tears in, a face he’d seen smiling and never seen anything so beautiful … Suddenly, the swirling spirals seemed to fade, and there was just a very puzzled and slightly-hurt-looking girl, tapping the floor with a disconcerting scaly sound.

‘Sorry,’ he said, as gently as possible, as he slid with his back against the wall towards the door. ‘It’s just I’ve got to go rescue my best friend … and tell her that I love her …’

The snake-woman stood staring open-mouthed as footsteps receded down the passageway.

After a few moments, there were soft sobbing sounds coming from the chamber and, a moment later, a statuette smashing against the wall.

Then, she heard something. She looked up. There were footsteps coming back again. A head appeared round the doorway. ‘But, Cassandra?’ he said, softly. ‘Remember who you are. A guy could very easily fall in love with the girl you really are underneath all that …’

She just looked at him.

He turned to go.

‘Wait,’ she said, her voice rough. ‘I have to know. Who are you?’

‘Call me Archie,’ he said, with a smile. ‘And, Cassandra … ? Good luck.’

‘… Cass,’ she said softly. ‘My friendss call me Cass.’

‘All right then … Cass.’

She moved before he could do anything, faster than you’d think a snake’s tail could carry a girl — for a moment, he saw visions of snake-like fangs hissing towards his throat — and he found himself enfolded in a rib-creaking hug. He was no lightweight, but (albeit, enchanted) snake-women were strong. Then she let him go. ‘I hope she knowss how lucky she iss …’

As his footsteps faded into the distance again, she drew a pocket handkerchief from somewhere and sniffed, dabbing at her eyes. ‘First time anyone believed in me enough to say anything like that …’ She gazed off into the distance a moment, as if seeing something long gone. Then she reached back behind her neck and drew back her arm, and there was the sound that an evil snake-spell amulet makes from being hurled with force against a stone wall. It shattered with a wisp of lurid light and smoke vanishing into the air.

And, there in the shadows cast by the flickering torchlight, there was the silhouette of a snake’s tail receding and a girl re-emerging … ‘Thank you …’ she whispered.

To Herb Meyer’s Memory

 

Over the years, Ricochet has inspired lasting friendships, not least of which is many members’ friendship with @tommeyer, who’s not only a great guy, but someone who rendered Ricochet great service before he moved on to other things. When Herb Meyer, Tom’s father, died, the outpouring of thanksgiving for Herb’s life was tremendous. At the time, I dedicated a motet I was working on to Herb’s memory, but life having gotten in the way, I haven’t had a chance to share it with the Ricoverse until now:

I composed the rough draft of this motet a few years ago. Psalm 42 (41 in the Vulgate) is one of my favorite psalms. A penitential psalm, it describes not only thirsting for God — feeling the lack of God’s “waters” — but also of the deep sound of God’s waters, and what it’s like to be overwhelmed by them.

Get close to a waterfall of any great size, and you hear it not only with your ears, but through your feet, your breath, your spine. Like music itself, it’s something to hear with your whole self.

Abyssus (ad) abyssum invocat in voce cataractarum tuarum; omnia excelsa tua et fluctus tui super me transierunt.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

My setting opens with each voice outlining an octave in turn, which is both a fairly literal-minded way of showing one depth calling to another, and a means of giving the voices somewhere to descend from, as waterfalls do. Rising vocal lines describe the waves’ crests, falling lines the waves breaking, the water falling: This short piece is an exercise in tone-painting the obvious way. Even the decision to cadence in the relative major on “cataractarum tuarum” is fairly straightforward: it expresses the joyful sorrow of repentance or mourning. Repentance is hard, but ultimately joyful: it is moral healing. Mourning loved ones is painful, but also thankful: we miss their presence blessing our lives because it was a blessing.

The day Herb died, I was editing this motet. In his honor, I added a few bars, to better express the grief of his loss. Church-choir members (and I know I’m not the only choir nerd here) are often called to make music for dead they’ve never met, an admittedly strange way to affirm someone’s life, but important nonetheless. I never got the chance to meet Herb in life, but I did get the chance to honor his life in its loss, a loss so keenly felt because the one lost was so beloved.

Member Post

 

Someone needs to get Professor Reynolds a flashing red light like Drudge has: So here is what the documentary evidence now shows, something Horowitz has known for around 2 years now, but only is declassified and released today just as Dan Coats steps down as DNI: 1) Hillary Clinton set up an unsecure email server […]

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Paradise Lost

 

Back in the early ‘90s, a client of mine bought an old lodge up on Crane Lake in Minnesota and spent a small fortune fixing it up. It became a go-to destination for my dad, my brothers, and me to spend a week together doing things we never did when we were growing up. Dad lived for those trips, and I’m convinced that they kept him alive for years.

When dad passed in 1997, I told my brothers that we should still go up North, but so long as I could portage a canoe, I wanted to go into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, which is a national wilderness area of several million acres of lakes, islands, and forests where motorized craft are prohibited, and all you get in the way of campsite amenities is a fire grate and a box latrine. Whatever you pack in, you have to pack out.

For over 20 years (with periodic interruptions) we would take a shuttle boat across Lac LaCroix and be dropped off on a rock just over the Canadian border and paddle our way into some of the most spectacular scenery in the country and which is listed on National Geographic’s 50 Places of a Lifetime “Paradise Found” list.

The trips always lived up to the promise (mosquitoes notwithstanding). A week of incredible quiet, where right at dusk the lake would turn to glass and you could hear loons calling to one another across miles of water. Nighttime shot full of stars, the Milky Way so bright it would cast your shadow, meteors streaking across the sky and the occasional thrill of the Northern Lights. One year we caught sight of the International Space Station hurtling across the heavens.

We were never great fishermen, but we always caught enough for supper (even if it was the occasional Northern Pike with its troublesome “Y” bones). I had a black lab that I’d take with me, and Jake would swim from island to island to keep track of us as we paddled around the lake. He was a great dog.

I just returned from the BWCA, and I learned that though the wilderness is constant and unchanging, I’m not. It’d been some time since I’d been up there, and that constant and unchanging wilderness showed me how much I’d changed since I was last there. The years are taking their toll, and I found myself struggling to do the simple things like climbing out of my tent. What was once easy had become an ordeal.

There were also a few cracks in the plaster of Paradise, as well. On three consecutive days, a guided fishing boat came through and parked itself in front of our campsite in complete violation of the prohibition against such vessels in the Wilderness area. I filed a complaint with the Forest Service with the hope that they’ll come down hard on these people. The ticket for each violation can run as high as $5,000, and we know who the culprit was.

One of the beauties of the BWCA is the total lack of cell service. You’re completely cut off from modern communications, or so I thought. I didn’t go up with my brothers this year, that’s a story for another day, but went with an acquaintance from Springfield. On the day we were to break camp, my traveling companion turned on his cell phone to take a few final pictures and 62 text messages showed up on the screen. It seems that even out there, we can’t escape the reach of technology if we choose to let it in.

I guess it’s time to move on.

Paradise Lost.

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Second Amendment enthusiasts have been warning red flag laws hand the power to government to disarm the Left’s political opponents, similar to how Big Tech is undermining the First Amendment rights of right wingers. Kamala Harris’s proposed “domestic terrorism prevention order” is targeted at disarming “white nationalists.” And we conservatives are all white nationalists, doncha […]

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A Tale of Two Statues (The Struggle for Liberty in the Long Term)

 

Thomas Sowell has often stated that it would be nicer and easier if the left-wing/unconstrained vision of the world were true. Social welfare programs could make poor people not poor, peace would be easy to make through treaties and government wouldn’t be corrupt if only the right people ran it. Overall, I think that’s true. I’d like it if mankind were less corrupt and more competent, which is the basis of the unconstrained vision. But Dr. Sowell has said time and again that no matter how much we wish something to be true does not make it true.

In a similar fashion, with an unhappy view of the fallenness of this world, I believe that now is the time for the Hong Kong people to nonviolent protest in Hong Kong even though those protests will fail in the short-term. Some will have their careers deeply curtailed and some will possibly join the long and evergrowing list of Chinese who have died for Chinese liberty.

I don’t relish the various degradations of violence that the Red Chinese employ against peaceful demonstrators, but the Hong Kong Chinese have a better opportunity for nonviolent protest than any Chinese in the mainland. Most importantly, the Hong Kong people still have a free press, and they can report on the protests. If someone gets run over by a tank, their name will be heard around the world. Hopefully, President Trump and the Pope mention their name. Additionally, enough protests will put the lie to the people of Hong Kong that the Chinese Communist Party is based on the consent of the governed. When state schools start teaching how great the CCP is, the students will remember the protests. The teachers forced to propagandize this historical refuse will remember the protests too.

The Red Chinese will simply be unable to cover it up. That can’t be said of the systematic oppression and exploitation of the Uighur minority and Christians of all racial backgrounds. The Hong Kong Chinese and their media outlets have not been beaten down for decades by Communism.

In some ways my advocacy for these protests reminds me of the Easter Rebellion in 1916. The Irish republicans knew that they couldn’t win, but they decided to fight anyway in order to make a statement against imperial tyranny in order to give courage to the next generation of Irishmen. This resulted in 485 people dying in the combat and the leaders being executed by court martial. The Easter Rebellion was based on liberal principals that advocated for the equal treatment of Protestant and Catholic as well as representative government, but war is a horrible enough thing to start especially when you know you can’t win. Moral complications aside, it seemed like it worked, and the Rebellion did move the Irish mind against a foreign illiberal imperialism.

A striking physical manifestation of this is a bronze statue of the legendary hero CuChulain in the General Post Office of Dublin.

It’s a very pretty Georgian building.

The General Post Office of Dublin was the Headquarters of the Easter Uprising and CuCuthlain was a mythical Irish hero who died fighting a losing battle in Ulster. He tied himself to a stone (some stories say he tied himself up with his own entrails) in order to die standing on his feet. His enemies dared not approach him until a Crow landed on his shoulder.

I saw the statue when I visited Ireland and for whatever it’s worth, I was quite impressed by it. The depiction of him still holding onto his shield and sword despite his obvious exhaustion had something of the legends of the Spartan three hundred about it. While I am no expert on Ireland or on sculpture, I must observe that people tend not to make sculptors that don’t mean something to them.

It fact it reminds of another popular statue that we will probably see more of in recent times.

The goddess of democracy was hastily constructed to protest the restrictions of liberty by the Chinese government during the Tiananmen Square protests. She prominently holds the torch of reason which is an enlightenment symbol of reason defeating darkness.

Moses had to wander in the desert for forty years and he could not see the promised land. Booker T. Washington had to see segregation blight the American South after reconstruction, and it took centuries for the Irish to gain a liberal and representative government. In the short-term, protesting, even dying, in Hong Kong won’t matter much. In the long term it might free China. We don’t know and we can’t know. But it’s worthwhile to say what is right and wrong because without Truthful speech we are all lost.

The Hello to Chinese Censors

 

Back in college, I worked as a theater usher and I think it was then that I began the practice of reading the credits. I would wait in the back of the theater for people to leave so I could sweep up popcorn and hope for dropped change. You have to wait for the end of the credits for two of my favorite trivia bits, the information about the music and locations. But sometimes you see something else interesting or odd. Now many wait through credits in Marvel and Pixar films for those extras, but I seat through all credits of all films I see in the theater.

The Farewell is a very good film in theaters now (rocking 99% at Rotten Tomatoes) about a family divided. A woman’s children have left China and migrated (one assumes legally) out of the country, one son to Japan and the other to America, New York City. 

The opening credits read “Based on an actual lie.” When the mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she is not told, as we learn is commonplace in many Chinese families. Doctors go along keeping this news from the dying woman. Everyone else in the family knows, but not her. But to give the family a chance to say goodbye to their mother/grandmother, a sham wedding is planned.

It is a warm, sad, and funny film about families, and certainly is worth seeking out. (There is even a story about a church in the film that allowed me to write about it in my blog about films and clergy.)

But there is an extremely odd credit to be found if you’re looking for it. A credit for “Chinese Censorship Advisor”. The movie was filmed in New York and China, so it makes sense that this was a needed role. Sadly, it seems that many Hollywood films employ such a person, though they are usually not listed in the credits. Hollywood films don’t mind mocking conservatives or Christians, but it is important to be careful about offending the National People’s Congress.

Have you noticed special consideration given to the Communist Chinese in films? It is there. (And are there any other credit readers out there?)

 

A Ball Of Collusion

 

A new book is out by Andrew C. McCarthy … Ball of Collusion: The Plot To Rig An Election And Destroy A Presidency.

Andrew McCarthy, contributor at National Review, also served as as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of NY, notably leading the 1995 terrorism prosecution against the “Blind Sheikh” and the first attack on the World Trade Center. He has authored many books and has been outspoken about the threat of Islamic terrorism. More recently he has focused on the terrorism within the democrat party and the corruption within his former Department of Justice (sic) and the larger intelligence (sic) community of the United States of America.

This book ties it all together and clearly makes the definitive case for proving this coup attempt. Much of this information has been out in the public sphere for quite some time. Notably, “Sundance” at the Conservative Treehouse was able to disseminate quite a bit of this information that was clearly coming from imbedded sources in real-time. This is no conspiracy theory. The “insurance policy” was being actively implemented by senior officials at the Department of “Justice” (sic) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. McCarthy lays it all out as a good prosecutor would.

And we already knew this! Since at least January 2018 when inside sources revealed the text messages between two senior executives at the FBI (This is What Treason Looks Like). And yet … and yet(!) … both of these individuals were on the original Weissman* Special Counsel team assembled by the very same co-conspirators to take down a President!

We had a former United States Secret Service Agent during the 0bama administration also connect all of these dots and make public presentations in November 2018 of the Biggest Scam In American History … to the sound of crickets.

I wish I could say that I was confident that with this book and the ongoing investigations by US Attorney John Durham launched by AG Barr will end with justice. But I’m not … yet. Hopeful, though. Truth and justice demand it.

Good on Andy McCarthy for writing this book and assisting the cause.

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From: Checking Off My Summer List, Part One

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Member Post

 

I have just read an excellent analysis of this entire strange scenario by Daniel Greenfield and wanted to bring it to your attention, as it is among the best I have read in its very sober treatment of the list of “impossible” circumstances which had to occur for his death to have actually been a […]

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We just finished our two-hour daily news and commentary show at AmericasVoice.Live and did 2 segments on the Project Veritas piece that Google is blacklisting and blocking conservative websites including Ricochet.com. Google whistleblower Zachary Vorhies is interviewed by PV in segment 1 and I interview MRCTV’s Dan Gainor in segment 2. Seg. 1 (GO TO […]

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Playing Chinese Checkers

 

Two conservative voices on Hong Kong yesterday, starting with Friend of Ricochet, Annika Rothstein:

Then Josh Hammer, Editor-at-Large at The Daily Wire:

No one (to my knowledge) is suggesting boots on the ground in Hong Kong, but it really shouldn’t be too much to ask POTUS to provide meaningful rhetorical and moral support to democratic protesters (literally) standing athwart Chinese Communist Party tyranny. There are likely other substantive measures we can take, too, that are short of boots on the ground. I hope to elaborate later this week.
This leads to the inevitable question? What is “meaningful rhetoric” without the will to back it up? I believe that’s called “drawing a red line” like Mr. Obama did in Syria. We know how that turned out.
So, what are the “substantive measures?” Is the crowd that has invested almost four years into the arguments that tariffs and Orange Man bad ignorant of basic economics now going to suggest that we slap economic sanctions against China? American jobs and American prosperity is not worth economic gamesmanship but Hong Kong is? And possibly American military lives?

Quote of the Day: Fighting Back

 

“Christine Blasey may have been sexually assaulted, he said, but not by him, adding that he intended no ill will to her or her family. ‘The other night Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers, and little Liza—all of ten years old—said to Ashley, ‘We should pray for the woman.’ That’s a lot of wisdom from a ten-year-old. We mean no ill will,’ he said, choking up. The hearing room was full of people crying. Kavanaugh’s parents were there to support him and could barely maintain their composure. Watching their anguish over their only son’s ordeal was brutal for the other members of Kavanaugh’s team.” — Justice Brett Kavanaugh, from Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino

The last thing that most of us would wish for is to re-experience that moment when we watched the devastation that the Democrats tried to inflict on the life of Brett Kavanaugh. When he choked up, I felt tears in my eyes. My heart ached for him, for his family and friends and even for the country. How had we come to this moment?

I’m posting this quotation because I think many of us could be reaching a saturation point: how can the ugliness, lies, and irresponsibility of the Left and the Democrats possibly get worse? It’s so tempting to just shut it all out, to inure ourselves to the nightmares that are called “politics” in the 21st century. But we simply can’t.

The next year will be a spiritual and ethical test for those of us who believe in this country and its values. We can either cave in, walk away or throw up our hands—who could blame us?

Instead, we have to stay united against hatred, evil and lies. We have to speak to truth and justice. If we hang together, we will remain strong. Do it for Brett Kavanaugh and his family. Do it for your family. Do it for the country. Do it for the next Supreme Court justice nominee.

Don’t give up.

Member Post

 

One night a call came over the air asking for a cover car. A shooting, and one person was down. My partner and I were not close but when a police department is understaffed you can make up for distance and lack of personnel by running with lights and siren. We went when the request […]

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Quote of the Day: Christina of Milan (Denmark) on Henry the 8th

 
  1. Henry was halfway through his six wives. As the saying goes:
  • Divorced
  • Executed
  • Died
  • Divorced
  • Executed
  • Survived

After wife number three died, Hans Holbein arrived to paint Christina of Milan’s portrait. Already a widow at age 16, she had no desire to become Henry’s new wife. When the English emissary praised Henry as the kindest, gentlest prince, she laughed at him. She is reported to have said:

“If I had two heads, one should be at the King of England’s disposal.”