A Short Missive on “Whom”

 

To Who It May Concern

I am not a violent man. But I have had it up to here!

I can’t stand it anymore. I want to invite every reader to join me in a conspiracy to commit murder.

It has insinuated itself into our lives. Eating away at our brains. Putting us on the defensive, chipping away at our self-esteem, confusing us into pointless pauses, enslaving us into just trying to get it right.

And to what purpose?

Admit it. You were looking at the salutation of this post and thinking about it, weren’t you?

I speak of whom.

Why, why, why, why, why, why?

Who grew up speaking it without special education? Who comes upon it naturally in daily speech? Who did this to us?

Let’s face it. The quadratic equation is rare but particularizes something useful. Hegemony is a rare word but distinguishes something useful. The Pythagorean Comma is rare but occasionally it’s useful, for a few specialists.

What use is whom? What real difference has it ever made? Yeah, yeah, it distinguishes the object from the subject in a sentence, but who friggin’ cares?

When has there been a real lack of clarity when it’s missing in common usage?

Sure, you can construct an example sentence to show a possible ambiguity, but who would say such a thing? By who would it be said?

Let’s murder it now, together, and bury it in the backyard, wrapped in lime and dissolved in acid. No more whom. No more pauses in deciding what the proper form of who is. No more pauses each time we come across it, trying to decide if it was used correctly. No more “Oh, by the way, that should be whom.”

Let’s be assassins. Let’s stake this grammatical vampire in its academic black heart.

Die, die, die, die, die, haunted thing that should have decayed centuries ago!

That Distinctive Voice

 

Most modern music is wasted on me. To my ear, too many singers are interchangeable and too often their talents are fine-tuned by computers. The best of the lot have always been those whose voices are so distinct that you recognize them instantly. These are the people who defined eras: Jolson, Crosby, Sinatra, Presley, and Cash. On the female side, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Dolly, and Reba.

When Columbia Pictures decided to make a biopic of Al Jolson in 1945, Jolson was too old (59) to play himself, but there was no doubt he had to sing for himself; the same for Sinatra. When his daughter Tina produced a two-part biopic of her father for CBS in 1992, the soundtrack was pure Frank with the exception of a few early tracks that were damaged from the 78rpm masters. (They were recreated by Canadian actor Tom Burlinson.)

This brings me to two recently released movies, I Am Woman and The United States vs Billie Holiday. Forget all the political aspects of these two projects and concentrate on the talents involved.

Helen Reddy was a real star in the 1970s. She placed eight singles in the number one slot on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, six of them consecutively. Her voice, though, is not heard in the Netflix production, nor is that of the actress that plays her. Instead, it belongs to another Australian, Chelsea Cullen.

Billie Holiday is an altogether different story. She has been portrayed on both film and stage by women with much more vocal talent than she had. Whether it’s Diana Ross, Audra McDonald or the star of the current flick, Andra Day, their voices are much more pleasant than “Lady Day’s.” Don’t get me wrong, Holiday’s voice was distinctive. But in the same way dragging an injured cat on a rope down a gravel road is distinctive. She remains, for me, an unacquired taste.

Still, there are quality recordings of both women so why not use them? If the talent is worth bringing their story to the screen, why not bring as much of the real thing with them?

Paying a Ransom?

 

When you take a census of the Israelite people according to their enrollment, each shall pay the LORD a ransom for himself on being enrolled, that no plague may come upon them through their being enrolled. (Ex. 30:12)

The questions spring out of the text: Why on earth is some kind of ransom needed because a census is being taken? What possible connection could there be between numbered in a census and being stricken with a plague?! The verse seems quite odd – though there is a rational and lovely explanation if we just read more carefully.

Let’s start by parsing the words a bit more carefully. For starters, the Hebrew for the word “ransom” is actually the very same word, “kopher,” that is used in the Torah to describe the protective layer or buffer between Noah’s Ark and the waters of the flood just on the other side – as well as the buffer we grow between ourselves and G-d on the eponymous Yom Kippur. In all cases, this buffer protects life against strong forces which otherwise would kill us merely because of proximity.

So, the Torah is describing some kind of protection racket! We have to protect our souls because we have been involved in the census?! Have we really gone any distance toward answering the question of why a ransom must be paid?

Actually, we have. And here is why: In Judaism, numbers of people do not matter. Each person has a soul on loan from G-d, so for a finite time only, we are capable of touching the infinite. Each and every one of us. And, for every person, there is a unique opportunity. No two people are supposed to lead the same lives. So being “one of two” is a way of diminishing our potential to touch the divine. It is a denial of what makes each person special: not our quantity, but our quality.

The Torah makes it clear that human life by itself has no ultimate value. What matters is not the fact that we are biologically alive; what matters are the choices we make. Or as Gandalf put it: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

So being involved in a census is dehumanizing, relegating a human soul to a mere equivalence. Considering any two people to be equivalent to each other is a threat to the unique quality of each person. Such an equivalence threatens our identities, our potential contributions to the world.

People are not numbers. We are all individual souls. So when we cease being individuals and we merely become numbers, then we endanger the purpose of our existence. Being part of a census denies our humanity. And all of that means that we have less of a reason to live: hence the plague. The plague is the means of culling out those who no longer have a purpose in life, who have been relegated to being nothing more than “one of many.”

So why does paying protection money save us from being deemed irrelevant and thus suitable for an early death? The answer is found in the purpose of those funds: they are used for the building of the tabernacle, G-d’s own home within the people. This was a unique and holy project, one that called for community-wide involvement and contribution. This means there is another lesson as well: we are allowed to put aside our unique qualities when doing so serves a much higher purpose, a holy and universal goal such as building G-d’s house.

This is also the lesson behind the uniforms worn by the priests: when serving they were to subsume their personalities and quirks, hide anything that made them stand out from other priests and then serve as functionaries. Priests were not free to improvise or add stylistic flair: when serving in the tabernacle, they had to do everything by the book.

But the rest of the time, individuality among priests was to be encouraged just as much as everyone else’s. Outside of very limited and special conditions, each person should offer a unique and valuable contribution. That is an integral part of the inherent value of each human soul.

We are not numbers. We are people.

[another @iwe and @susanquinn production]

Member Post

 

Well, he is according to the Arizona Department of Education: https://thepostmillennial.com/arizona-department-of-education-crafts-equity-toolkit-teaching-that-three-month-old-babies-are-racist Maybe I’ll buy him Klan robes for his first birthday.  After all, his diapers are white . . .

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Eeyore Learns from Tigger… Eventually

 

When I was younger, I was a very serious athlete. Meaning, I took athletics very seriously. And I was pretty good at it. I’m in my high school’s athletic hall of fame for football and track, I still hold some records in Ohio for track even 35 years later, and I was a collegiate athlete as well. I was a good natural athlete, but I also worked really, really hard at it. When people asked what motivated me to work so hard, I always said that I just wanted to win. But even then, as an idiot jock teenager, I knew that wasn’t quite true. I enjoyed winning of course, but not that much, honestly. I expected to win, so when I won, I wasn’t overjoyed. I was more relieved, actually.

But I absolutely hated losing. Losing was a devastating event to me. I worked hard to avoid losing, because I just couldn’t stand it. If I was losing motivation in one of my endless solo workouts, sometimes I would imagine somebody beating me, and I would literally get nauseated, and I would work out harder. I’m not suggesting this is healthy, and I don’t recommend this approach to anyone. But I didn’t choose this approach. That’s just how I’m wired. It can’t be turned off. I’ve tried – I really have.

Anyway, one of my coaches in high school (Chet Pifer) was pretty much the opposite. He probably understood me, but I didn’t understand him. He didn’t care about losing, but he loved, loved, loved winning. We’d win a meaningless scrimmage against a nobody school, and he’d just be over the moon with joy. If we lost, he’d be excited about all the things we could work on in our next practice. So after a loss, I’d be sitting on the bus wishing I was dead, and Coach Pifer would be chattering excitedly about how things were really looking up, and if we’d just work on footwork and pursuit angles, we’d win the next one. My worst death glare wouldn’t shut him up. He was irrepressible. As you might imagine, Coach Pifer drove me crazy sometimes. But when he died some years ago, it hurt, because I felt like part of me had died. Or at least, a part of my personality that I wish I had.

What’s beautiful about Coach Pifer’s approach, is that it always works. When I was great, he wanted me to be greater. When I sucked, he wanted me to suck less. Either one was fine. He was equally excited about either possibility.

I could always be better. So from my perspective, I was never good enough, no matter how hard I worked. So I was miserable.

I could always be better. So Coach Pifer was always excited, just thrilled by the seemingly limitless potential.

Both approaches led to success. But my approach made me miserable, and Coach Pifer’s approach made him happy.

He loved people and he loved kids. We had a dominant track team, and he would never stop recruiting from our student body. My high school had about 1,300 students, and we’d have over 200 kids on the track team. Talent and work habits didn’t matter. He saw potential. In everyone. I mean, freakin’ everyone.

Pifer: “Hey Bastiat, I got Johnny Smith to come out for the team! He’s gonna be great! Help him out, kind of take him under your wing, you know?”

Me: “No.”

Pifer: “Aw, c’mon! Why not? He’s gonna be great. I’m thinking 2:05 in the 800.”

Me: “He’s a worthless dopehead. Don’t waste my time. He’ll wash out in 3 days. I’ve got work to do.”

Pifer: “You never know.”

Me: “Yes, I do know. He’s a dopehead.”

Pifer: “No. You don’t know. You never know. He could be great!” * Enthusiastic manic smile *

Me: “Look, Coach, I … uhhh … ok fine. I’ll show him around. Whatever.”

Pifer: “Great! You’ll see!”

So I show him around. After a few days, Johnny doesn’t show up to practice. I of course go to Coach Pifer to point out that his boy quit. Before I can say anything, he’s got another loser for me to ‘take under my wing.’

Drove me nuts. He really did.

But we won. And we won a lot. So we got along. He made me better, and I knew it. Even though he drove me absolutely nuts sometimes.

To be fair, every once in a while, one of those losers would end up helping the team. Maybe pick up a sixth in the mile or something. Every point helps. Every once in a while. Every once in a great while. But whatever. He didn’t care. He never stopped recruiting kids. He never stopped believing in kids. Which drove me crazy, until I realized that he never stopped believing in me, either.

Which didn’t help at the time, because I didn’t figure that out until after he was dead. But it helps now. We became great friends later in life, which I’m eternally grateful for.

Despite our differences, I think Coach Pifer and I both went into athletics because we had no other choice. We both felt a visceral need to compete. At something. And we didn’t feel whole unless we were competing. It almost didn’t matter what it was. We’d both compete at anything. Whatever. But we needed it, like a drug.

But I’m fascinated by our different viewpoints. He loved winning. I hated losing.

I prefer his approach. I would choose it, given the choice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the choice. At least, I don’t think I was. But for what it’s worth, I’m a great admirer of Coach Pifer and his view of the world. Now I have extremely athletic kids, who are scholarship athletes at major Division I schools, and I’ve tried to teach them Coach Pifer’s way, and steer them away from mine. With mixed results. But I hope they learn his way, eventually.

I never got to tell him that. He died young. After helping countless kids in countless different ways, he died young. It’s not fair.

I learned a lot from him. Eventually. But I was a thick-skulled, arrogant teenager. Which made me a slow learner.

But I think we all have a lot to learn from Coach Pifer. Always try to get better. Enjoy the good times. Ignore the bad times. Believe in one another, even if there’s no reason to do so. Welcome anyone and everyone into your family, even if there’s no reason to do so. Find joy in the process. In every little step along the way. Ignore losses. Enjoy wins. Rejoice in the competition itself. And always try to get better. Always, always, always try to get better.

It’s beautiful, really.

My way was miserable. His way was beautiful. I chose my way.

Or, perhaps, I had no choice. That’s just how I’m wired, I guess. But I was blessed to learn from his way. Or, try to learn, at least. Eventually.

Thanks, Coach. Thanks for putting up with me, even when I was at my worst. And thanks for teaching me about joy. Even if I didn’t listen at the time. I was busy. I’m sorry for being such a twit at times. I’m sure I drove you nuts sometimes, too. But you believed in me. Just like you believed in everybody else. It’s beautiful, really.

I learned a lot from you. Eventually.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Member Post

 

To my maternal grandfather, the son of an English immigrant, the idea of wealth was the old-world desire for real property. His father, my great grandfather, came to America to pursue his dream of owning property, promptly enlisted in the US Army, fought in the Spanish war and then married the daughter of a small […]

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America, We Have to Talk About Death

 

America is generally a pretty optimistic country.  It makes sense.  We are a people that came from distant shores to join the people born here to create a wonderful mishmash that holds certain Truths to be Self-Evident.  People who did not believe in these common truths would not have survived here or stayed here.  This would not be the land they chose to raise children.  They would flee for easier paths.  I know, America, it’s been a rough 200 years or so.  We’ve been through a lot together.

We have done so much to foster life in this country.  We have developed spectacular, truly spectacular, medical advancements that have propelled us into the higher life expectancies.  We discovered hand washing (at least in the sense that it was totally necessary in medical care).  In 1879, we created the vaccine for cholera.  In 1902, an American (Karl Landsteiner) developed ABO blood typing.  Paul Zoll invented the first cardiac pacemaker in 1952.  These are such wonderful innovations!  We have sustained life in so many complex cases that used to be fatal.  There were no treatments for the disease, just the symptoms.  People used to suffer needlessly because we did not have the technology to help them.

But America, people now suffer needlessly because of the technology we have.

I know, we are generally a forward-looking people.  We are a people of hope and often, of faith (in something, anyway).  We see miracles every day.  We pray for miracles every day.  We face down fear and death and we keep on going.

Sometimes, though, it is time to sit down with Death and come to terms.

America, Death is also a part of life.  Death is the natural conclusion of certain processes.  We can push it further away and perhaps even delay it for a while, but death is inevitable.  Death happens for all of us.  Young, old, sick, and otherwise healthy.  Death does not discriminate.

We need to face Death, America.  We need to understand it and we need to stop fearing it to the point that we never let it enter our thoughts or our conversations.  We need to talk about Death.  We need to talk about dying.  We need to talk about the process of natural death; the slowing down and winding down of the processes of the body.  We also need to talk about preparing for death.  I know, I know.  This isn’t a fun conversation.  But it is necessary.  See, America, we have done everything to prevent death.  But death will still happen.  Death is not a matter of if, but when.  So when it comes, and it will, we need to be prepared.  We need to know what you want.  We need to know how you want to live, but more importantly perhaps, we need to know how you want to die.

Do you want your death to be according to age or according to function?  If you are 96 years old and are still completely intact, independently living but get hit by a car, do you want to be resuscitated because your heart has stopped?  Do you want to accept your natural death?  What if you are 22 years old and have multiple chronic health issues when that car hits you?  What about then?  What means more to you, time or quality?  Do you want to be put on life support for your family, so that they can come to terms with your impending death?

We say life support.  We say resuscitation.  These are clean words.  These are nice words.

Make no mistake: it is not clean.  It is not nice.  It is not gentle.

The reality, America, is much harder to face.  Do you want a team of six people compressing your ribs two inches in depth (probably breaking them in the process) in order to make your heart pump blood?  Do you want someone putting a tube into your windpipe so that you can get some oxygen into your lungs?  Some people say no, they want a DNR.  They want a limited DNR.

They do not want those violent compressions.  They do not want that intrusive intubation.

But please, please, give epinephrine!  Give drugs!  Save lives!

America, when the heart is not beating there is no circulation.  When there is no circulation, the drugs do not move anywhere.  If the drugs do not move anywhere, they are not pushed around the body.  Are you starting to understand, America?  You can say no compressions, but what you mean is that there will be no pumping.  If there is no pumping, then why medications?

We need to think about this now, America, before it is our own time to go (by whatever cause).  We need to think about the ways that we want to live (if I can’t breathe, do I want a tracheostomy?) and the ways we want to die (at home or in the hospital?).  Maybe even more importantly, we need to talk about this.  We need to talk about this with each other.  We need to talk about this with our families.  We need to talk about it early and we need to get it in writing.

America, this is not about giving up.  This is about keeping control.

Americans like their independence.  We like to choose how we are going to live our lives.

If we want to keep our independence and our dignity, we need to think further down the line.  Choose how you are going to live.  Tell others how you choose to die.

I’m glad we had this talk, America.  Same time again next year?  I suspect we might need a reminder by then.

Member Post

 

Just recently, there was a horrible accident near San Diego, CA, where an SUV crashed into a semi-truck carrying gravel.  That SUV was carrying 25 people.  Thirteen of them were killed.  The SUV was a Ford Expedition, which I believe should carry a maximum of 8-9 people.  The California Highway Patrol is being very cagey […]

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Member Post

 

If you google that phrase you get 580 MILLION hits. American Pie memorialized the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. Mostly Buddy Holly. The song evokes the end of an era including James Dean and other teenaged icons. The only recording artists whose loss I personally morn are Janis Joplin and […]

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How a 1920s Power Plant Survived Winter Storm Uri

 

The last five years I’ve managed a small power plant in Missouri for a local municipal utility. The original section of the plant was built in 1928 and has been added onto in two separate additions, most recently in 1976. The plant houses nine dual fuel (diesel and natural gas) generators, ranging from a 1946 model to 1976.

Our utility is part of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and purchases its energy from the SPP Integrated Market in addition to contracts with other power providers. Being older engines, our units are rarely economical “in the market”. We maintain the plant because, in order to participate in SPP, each utility must maintain a level of “firm capacity” to “back up” its energy needs; and these units are an affordable way of meeting our requirements. If a disaster struck, the plant could also provide some form of emergency power supply.

Outside a few maintenance runs here or there or the occasional high price market day, our generators sit idle. The newest, most efficient units may run 75 hours a year, the oldest 25. In September of 2020, we ran all nine units together for one full hour, the first time that had been done in anybody’s memory.

This brings us to Winter Storm Uri. It was probably the Thursday prior to Valentine’s Day that things started to heat up. The cold temperatures were already pushing down into the middle of the country and forecasts of increased demands in natural gas began pushing prices up. As the cold and ice swept across Oklahoma and Texas, pipelines, gas wells, and gas power plants not built for such weather failed. Within a couple of days, the gas price went from ~$3/MMBtu to $300/MMBtu (even more in some areas). This unbelievable increase led to a subsequent increase in market energy prices. To make matters worse, coal power plants also froze solid (including one of our contract units) and wind production tumbled.

We had been notified of the gas increases that Friday and was being urged by our marketers to be prepared to run our plant. Fortunately for us, we had been sitting on over half a million gallons of diesel which literally overnight became one of the most economical fuel sources on the market (on straight diesel our units are roughly $175/MWh, the SPP market averaged $17 all of 2020). I was hesitant if not terrified. We weren’t staffed nor ready to generate like they were insinuating we may have to. With temperatures forecasted as low as the negative teens, something was going to break; either the plant or our employees.

We started and ran a few units on Saturday to hedge some costs. After the market cleared on Saturday we couldn’t believe the prices for Sunday: over $3000/MWh around the clock! (As I write this, prices are in the $20s). We started units back up on Valentine’s Day morning and didn’t shut down until the following Friday once temperatures warmed back up and wind production rebounded. On two separate occasions, we ran all 9 units, one for 15 hours straight and the other for 21. Our oldest unit ran the longest continuous run at 77.6 hours. We burned just over 217,000 gallons of diesel that week, more than we had burned in any year since 2001 (which was an abnormally large year itself). More generation in that one week than every year since 2013. To top it off: no major breakdowns.

We were astonished and exhausted. We had borrowed two other ex-plant employees from other departments to help work overnight. Our Maintenance Foreman and I put in several 15+ hour days. We learned things we would have never been able to learn had it not been for that. I never want to do it again though.

Even with our generation, we weren’t able to avoid blackouts. Tuesday morning the 16th, SPP issued an EEA 3, their highest level of alarm. At an EEA 3, the generation in SPP is not enough to meet demand and load must be shed, the first time in their 80 year history. We were contacted by our area coordinator to shed load at approximately 7 AM and our rolling blackouts lasted for about two and a half hours. I had the unfortunate task of opening and closing the breakers, with nine generators roaring in the background, and a control room full of managers and operators frantically trying to come up with a blackout plan and communicate with priority customers ahead of the outages. It was one of the most hectic situations I’ve been a part of.

Now the nightmare is behind us but there is still a lot to figure out. Many communities and utilities across the central United States are hurting but mine is not one of them. I’ve seen stories of area utilities burning through an entire year’s budget that week in fuel purchases alone. Some have already declared bankruptcy. We still have to wait to see how the financials will pan out but we have good reason to believe we’ll come out feeling very good about ourselves and how we were able to serve our customers.

Below is a video we put together last year about the plant:

.

Member Post

 

Well, I got back about an hour ago from cataract surgery on my left eye.  It went well, and the actual procedure itself was shorter than the wait to get started (the laser light show was worth the wait).  I’ll be doing the right eye three weeks from now.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to […]

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Porsche Appliances

 

Porsche Taycan: the most up to date technology can now be yours! (actual photo of 1955 Desoto lever gear shift.)

I read this and was startled:

Net-zero emissions by the entire U.S. would reduce global temperatures by 0.1 degrees by 2100, using the Environmental Protection Agency climate model under assumptions consistent with the modern peer-reviewed literature on the temperature effects of reduced GHG emissions. (The entire Paris agreement: 0.17 degrees.)

This appeared in National Review and was written by Benjamin Zycher on the impact of Minnesota’s EV mandates. I can attest to the other salient point he makes in the article, electricity from wind and solar won’t work. You need to burn or react something and get dirty if you expect to have a grid to power all those EV’s. And just about anything you burn or react releases stuff. A little stuff, spread out, is OK. A lot of stuff, whether concentrated and belching from smokestacks or sealed in lead canisters, either needs to be scrubbed, accepted, or buried deep under former Senator Harry Reid’s house.

I recently went shopping for a new, spiffy, really (no, I mean really) fast sports car. Porsche’s Taycan Turbo S, was spec-d out at around $186,000 +, +, +. Tax credit or no, that is a lot of money to go 0-60 in 2.4 seconds. Am I right? Though Porsche claims their car has 750 horsepower, and we all know horses eat up a lot of hay — imagine how much 750 can eat.

And what’s with the Turbo? Turbo means there is a compressor forcing fuel and air into the combustion cylinders to improve the performance of the oil-fired motor. Excuse me, Mr. Porsche, are you pulling my leg to trick me into thinking there is still a beast of an engine in there? Ok, ok. I get it. That whole horsepower rating relates back to the time when car companies needed to trick the first auto buyers into purchasing a Hupmobile. So, pretending there are horses inside or a turbo still strapped onto an electric motor is old hat for car company advertising (deception?). But the Taycan has almost no internal force or stress since it relies upon two ‘extremely efficient’ electric motors similar to my Cuisinart or my Hamilton Beach blender. Just listen to the engine; you can’t hear it. And thus, one encounters the most serious problem for EV’s (not to mention the name “EV”) – more on that later.

Now let’s talk about that speed. You can go into hyper-speed in any electric car for a wee bit and then all that dead-weight battery either depletes or melts (not really, but the Taycan can’t go 0-60 at 2.4 seconds a hundred times, so that limits the number of 22 second round-trips to the grocery store). Further, it is either the third or fourth fastest street car – following the Porsche 918 ($845,000) and the Lamborghini Huracán ($281,000, excl. taxes, transportation, and psychiatrist fees), maybe a Bugatti, … and just about any Tesla if you drop the car from a C-130 cargo plane at 10,000 feet and the vehicle reaches terminal velocity before smacking into the ground. I don’t know about you, but ‘ol James Madison thinks that $186,000 is a ton of money for the third or fourth fastest street car. What will I do if’s my neighbor buys a gasoline-burning Huracán and shames me?

Batteries, even those made with slave-mined cobalt (Hey, don’t get so upset, cobalt is mined by children, not adult slaves. Just don’t tell Amal Clooney that George is supporting child slavery.) and the environment-raping lithium, are a dreamer’s world away in terms of replacing that old fossil of fuels, fossil fuel. There are laws of physics and chemistry, you know. And those laws say, you can’t take too many buzzing electrons away for very long. So the Taycan has around a 200-mile range, maybe more (or less on a cold day). Its range is not that great when exploring the great American plain or trying to make a hop from say, Albany to Florida, to avoid the snow (or the nosy press reporters seeking comment about your sexual harassment charges).

And I read in the WSJ about a man who traveled from Florida to Colorado in 58 hours in a Tesla versus 30 hours by his old gas banger because he had to recharge. Whoa! 28 hours downtime to recharge. That’s a lot of rest stops. Even James Madison who clocks in at nearly 270 years old and sometimes needs to stop (to see a man about a horse) does not have to make that many pit stops. Not to mention finding recharging stations in that Corn, Wheat, or Cattle Country, wherever the heck that is? That must explain why the Taycan brags it has the shortest recharge time, if you can find the right recharger and there is not a line. Dear Porsche, don’t make the recharge time shorter than the average bathroom break.

So vanity aside, and I am deeply vain, this whole electric thingy is not fully thought through. Not to mention, the Taycan gear shift lever … forward, reverse, and park … is located on the dashboard and looks like a flip switch … just like grandpa’s 1955 DeSoto. And nothing says whoop, whoop, like a DeSoto. But the real shocker is a Taycan only has two gears. My Black and Decker, kitchen Crush Master has 10 speeds! 10 speeds Porsche! That is eight speeds more, and for $185,975 less.

Which brings me back to the fatal flaw of electric vehicles: they are a kitchen appliance. Who sits around their house wearing a $1,200 Ferrari jacket, $18,000 Porsche Design watch, and $500 Lamborghini sunglasses and thinks, “Oh, I want a hand-stitched leather coat emblazoned with Mr. Coffee’s logo on it?”

Years ago, my wife Dolly told me that women don’t want personal gifts from their husbands that come with an electric plug. And so I say, “Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, … electric is fun, but don’t quit your day job.” Those electric motors don’t roar. It’s like flying faster in space – you can’t hear, see, or feel it – unless you plan to take us to warp speed.

Students Proactively Canceling Cancel Culture

 

Stumbled upon this site yesterday. Please check out the only, to my knowledge, university student group with the backbone to fight the mob. Feel free to use the graphic on the left, one I created as a Facebook header. Here is their mission statement:

Some things are too sacred to surrender to the mob, and the free exchange of ideas is one of them. The Chicago Thinker challenges the mob’s crusade against free speech by publishing thoughtful conservative and libertarian commentary, in addition to fact-driven reporting.

Check out their ‘About Us‘ story.

Member Post

 

Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, says it was time for her political party to “make clear that we aren’t the party of white supremacy.” It’s equally important for Rs to make clear that they do not eat babies, nor smash the heads of puppies with their Bibles, nor remove the tags from their […]

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Blowin’ in the Wind: A Breezy Playlist

 

Umbrella Blowin' in the WindI will leave the debate over various renditions of Dylan’s 1962 song to others, assuming someone chooses to take it up or the days fill with other riffs on the theme. Kick back and enjoy a short playlist organized around the theme “blowin’ in the wind.”

The Association leads off with their 1967 joyous harmonizing in “Everyone Knows its Windy.”

I’ll take Gladys Knight & The Pips version of “Hero (Wind Beneath My Wings)” over Bette Midler’s:

In this difficult year, in the struggle for the survival of America as presently constituted, it is appropriate to reflect back to the fall of the Soviet empire. The German band Scorpions provide the soundtrack with some good harmonizing on “Wind of Change:”

If the wind is blowing, there might be some “Stormy Weather,” and Lena Horne has owned that song since she first sang it on screen in Stormy Weather, released by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1943. 

And, if the wind is blowing, the “Windmills of Your Mind” will be circling. This song, first recorded by Noel Harrison in 1968 as the theme song on the 1968 Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway film The Thomas Crown Affair. The song, played in the movie during a sequence of a bright yellow glider flying, won the 1969 Oscar for best original song in a film.

We will close out with Peter, Paul and Mary’s sweet harmonies in their 1963 recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind.” It was recorded at the height of the Civil Rights movement and before the Vietnam War became part of America’s political landscape.

Enjoy, and add your own favorites in the comment section.

How Do You Experience G-d?

 

Although we’ve had a number of discussions on Ricochet about the damage that the Left is inflicting on those who are religious, we’ve seen very little about how people begin and nurture a religious life when there is so much disparagement by those who are secular. I also have been thinking that there are many people who are either atheist, agnostic, or who have no particular interest in having a relationship with religion, and with G-d in particular. I assume that they may be respectful (or not) toward those who believe in G-d, but the idea of pursuing or deepening their understanding of religion seems alien and not a helpful way to spend their time.

I’m not looking to motivate people to become religious if they are not inclined that way. The people I’ve been thinking about are those who, at some level, would like to have a relationship with G-d, but have all kinds of preconceptions about what that means in their lives. I’d also like to propose that their assumptions might be incorrect and make it difficult for them to find a relationship with G-d.

So, I’d like to propose that people from as many religions as possible share what it means to them to experience G-d. “Experience” is a broad and inclusive term, so you aren’t limited in describing your experience. You might describe prayers, particular prayers, meditation, rituals, holidays, study, music, and any other practice that allows you to sense or know that G-d is in your life. No one should try to judge your experience, because it is yours alone. This is not a competition to determine whether one practice is better or wiser than another. I encourage people to share experiences, as opposed to actively proselytizing; that approach has the risk of pushing people away. That doesn’t mean that if you experience Jesus as part of all of your practice, that you shouldn’t share it; on the contrary, that centrality might be important and precious to you.

To give you an example of the ways you might describe how you experience G-d, I’ll speak about myself.

First, I have a general sense of Presence most of my waking hours. It is subtle, but always there. G-d’s Presence is amplified when I hear sacred music—particularly Jewish songs, but even gospel music. I experience G-d in Torah study; I assume He wants me to learn from Him. I experience Him when I pray, especially when I pray in Hebrew; when I meditate in silence; and sometimes when I am with a loved one: I sometimes feel that G-d has blessed both of us and our time together. I recently saw the new grandchild of a friend; even on Zoom, that was a sacred moment. Finally, I often sense G-d when I’m outside when I’m walking; I think the silence around me, even when I listen to a podcast, is palpable. There are other moments as well, but that gives you an idea of what I’d love for you to share in your experience of G-d.

I also believe that G-d may show up without your seeking him, but the odds are not high. Some people have a profound experience in the beginning, but many of us have started in baby steps and seen the relationship mature. It can take time and attention.

The whole idea is for people to realize that one’s experience of G-d can be subtle or profound; connected to formal prayer and study or everyday life; alone or in worship.

* * * * *

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention practicing a specific religion or denomination. I think for many, the idea of connecting to a religion and its teachings is a daunting task. Don’t misunderstand: I think pursuing a relationship with G-d through a religious framework is a key component of a deep practice. I also believe it’s essential for the moral tenets it provides and a supportive community. I think that many people have a difficult time creating a moral framework that isn’t about personal preferences; those are the people who call themselves “spiritual.” I think that pursuing a relationship with G-d first, followed by an exploration of religion, is achievable by most people.

* * * * *

For those of us who believe that G-d is beyond time and always present and available, we only need to reach out to find Him. Feel free to share a single practice or several of them that you find especially helpful.

Would you share your experiences of G-d?

Shakespeare and Plato: Seeming vs. Being

 

There is a natural tension between the poet and the dramatist. The dramatist plays with appearances, illusions, masks. The poet aims at essential truths.

The dramatist is about seeming. The poet is about being.

This is true for both Shakespeare and Plato.

First, Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s plays are a study in the exploration of appearances, in seeming in all of its manifestations. Characters often pretend to be people they are not, such as in As You Like It (where Rosalind and Celia pretend to be Ganymede and Aliena) and Twelfth Night (where Viola pretends to be Cesario).

In later plays, Shakespeare explores more serious levels of seeming. Hamlet seems mad. King Lear’s older daughters seem loving. Iago seems to be a good friend to Othello.

And out of seeming comes some of Shakespeare’s best Shakespearian Irony, where Shakespeare demonstrates how something appears to be one thing but is actually another, to the alert playgoer or reader. In Macbeth, we know that Macbeth will betray and murder the good King Duncan. Shakespeare dramatically provides the audience with an ironic preview of coming attractions. Duncan speaks of a traitor he just had executed:

DUNCAN: There’s no art
To find the mind’s construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.

Enter MACBETH

The irony lies in the fact that Duncan will put absolute trust in Macbeth. He relies on Macbeth’s seeming and fails to see his being. Shakespeare signals the irony in a simple stage direction.

There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.

Enter Macbeth.

Knowing the difference between seeming and being can determine one’s survival, as people devoted to the political arts well know.

As a playwright, Shakespeare tells overt stage lies. As a poet, he tells hidden truths. As a dramatist, Shakespeare can show the audience the popular lie. As a poet, Shakespeare can tell the alert reader the unpopular, hidden truth.

The Merchant of Venice continues to be the finest example of how, even today, playgoers and critics buy into Shakespeare’s seeming (the play is about Shylock and is anti-Semitic). It is interesting how rare people recognize what Shakespeare is doing as a poet, and what the hidden truth of this play is.

First the title. Who is The Merchant of Venice? It’s certainly not Shylock, who is a moneylender. The merchant is Antonio. So this play is actually about Antonio, and by extension, his friends.

Next, notice the melancholy in what Antonio and his friends say when they are first introduced:

ANTONIO: In sooth, I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado to know myself.

***

BASSANIO: Good signiors both, when shall we laugh? say, when?
You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?

***

PORTIA: By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of
this great world.

There appears to be a dark stain in their souls. What could be the source of that darkness?

When Bassanio approaches Shylock for a loan to help out Antonio, here is part of the beginning of the exchange:

SHYLOCK: Antonio is a good man.

BASSANIO: Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?

SHYLOCK: Oh, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a
good man is to have you understand me that he is
sufficient.

Shakespeare plays on the double-meaning of the word “good” to signal that we should wonder if Antonio is in fact the good man that he appears to be. In fact, we learn later that Antonio insults Shylock in public, spits on him, and kicks him like an animal.

Furthermore, the Christians—Antonio, Bassanio, and Portia—all condemn Shylock the Jew without any reason other than that he is a Jew who lends money with interest. Yet Antonio freely enters into a contract with Shylock, when it suits him.

And notice that it is not Shylock, but Antonio who sets the terms of the agreement, as Harold C. Goddard points out in The Meaning of Shakespeare:

“You spat upon me, kicked me, called be a dog,” is the gist of what [Shylock] says, “and for these courtesies you now expect me to lend you money?”

“No!” cries Antonio, stung by the justice of Shylock’s irony, “I want no courtesy or kindness. Friends take no interest from friends. Let this transaction be one between enemies, so that, if I forfeit, you can exact the penalty with a better conscience, and so that I … may retain my right to spit on you.”

But you might say, “Shylock knew that he would be able to get his pound of flesh!” Yet read closely and you will see that Shylock has no reason to believe Antonio’s ships won’t come in. Shylock’s view is that this is a contract that reveals Antonio for what he is, not that Antonio and his Christian friends take notice.

As the play advances, the hypocrisy of the Christians becomes more and more evident, and this hypocrisy becomes the dark stain on their souls. Events drive Shylock to distraction.

At trial, Portia seems to be a lawyer. She asks Shylock, who has lost his daughter and is miserable and now revels in Antonio’s misery, to extend Christian mercy. And he rightfully asks, Why?

Portia then plays a judicial trick on Shylock and then finds herself in a position to extend that same Christian mercy to Shylock.

And what does she do?

She mercilessly destroys Shylock to the very core, robbing him of his ethnic and religious identity by forcing him to become a Christian.

Finally, it’s worth paying attention to the story of the three caskets: Gold, Silver, and Lead. All I’ll say here is, following Goddard, Portia is the Gold casket “All that glisters is not gold…Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire”), Antonio is the Silver casket (“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves”), and Shylock is the Lead casket (“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath”).

Now on to Plato.

Plato is a dramatist (the Dialogues are plays), but he is also a poet (despite the fact that he faults the poets, especially Homer and those who write plays for the Athenian public).

Plato, like Shakespeare, concerns himself with seeming and being. His dialogues are dramatic examples of a process, dialectic, by which people can engage in a one-on-one conversation to discover the truth, or at least to disclose their own ignorance and be free of false opinions.

Dialectic aims for what is, for being.

Why one-on-one? Because the alternative is rhetoric, one-to-many, where false opinions are made to appear true.

Rhetoric aims for what appears to be, for seeming.

Plato lived in a world that was changing, and not for the better. The Athenian democracy collapsed under the sway of Sophists who charged money to teach exploitative rhetoric to politicians, like Alcibiades, who persuaded the public to adopt destructive courses of action.

Socrates aimed at demonstrating the nature of rhetoric, its focus on seeming, and how dialectic brought about a higher understanding of knowledge, of truth. He charged nothing. And in the process, people became more humble, because they became aware that the domain of their ignorance was larger than they realized.

Socratic irony is different from Shakespearean irony.

Socrates will pretend to be doing one thing when in fact he is ironically doing something else. A fine example of this is in the Gorgias where Socrates faces the best and brightest example of Sophists, Gorgias.

Gorgias is much like Socrates in his brilliance and full awareness of what he is doing, but he has taken the exact opposite route. He is a full and conscious Nihilist. He cares as much as Socrates about Truth, but his conclusion is that at the end of the day, nothing matters. Here is an example of what Gorgias would argue:

I. Nothing exists
II. Even if existence exists, it cannot be known
III. Even if it could be known, it cannot be communicated.

Socrates and Gorgias are both noble souls, Socrates on the side of Good, and Gorgias on the side of Bad, going for full skeptical relativism. He is the one Sophist willing to go all the way to the dark side and be the “anti-Socrates.” And he completely believes in what he does. (I believe that both Socrates and Gorgias recognize each other, that they both carry a kind of melancholy that signals their kindred spirits.)

To Gorgias, there is no such thing as the one Truth. (Gorgias was the teacher of Meno, who became even dumber after being trained, and Agathon, the tragedian who in the Symposium wins the prize as a poet, but reveals that he cannot talk or think).

Gorgias deforms men’s minds by teaching them how to use rhetoric for power. Gorgias believes that he is improving his students, helping them acquire political and material power. Socrates is out to demonstrate otherwise, to show Gorgias how wrong he is.

Both Socrates and Gorgias bring their students to this dialogue. Socrates brings Chaerephon, and Gorgias brings Polus and Callicles.

The dialogue begins with Gorgias agreeing to participate in Socrates’ style of questioning. (The art of Socrates is the art of asking the right questions.) But before the main event, we get a preliminary bout.

Chaerephon, at Socrates’ urging, asks Gorgias, “Who are you?” (Compare the beginning of Hamlet.) Instead of Gorgias answering, his student Polus steps in, and rather than answering the question, he makes a speech in praise of Gorgias.

As a student of Gorgias, he has been well-taught. Chaerephon attempts to engage Polus in dialectic, but Polus insists on rhetoric.

Then the main bout: Socrates asks what Gorgias teaches and what is it good for. During the conversation (which on Gorgias’s side often diverts into rhetoric, because Gorgias cannot help but attempt to persuade rather than engage), Gorgias makes clear that he teaches rhetoric (not virtue—a man who believes nothing exists will not pretend to teach virtue). Gorgias admits that he is a teacher of men to win arguments, whether political or legal. His students may use it for good or bad, but he as the teacher is not responsible for what his students do with it.

Gorgias believes he is not a bad man. Socrates proceeds to show him that he is not what he believes himself to be. Socrates moves past Gorgias’s seeming and shows him his being.

Socrates finally gets Gorgias to answer questions, and in the process, Gorgias finally goes silent, because the dialectic gets him to admit that the Sophist, the rhetorician, is an ignorant man who persuades other ignorant men to do what the truly wise man knows they should do. In other words, the rhetorician is at best merely an ignorant assistant to wise men. In this case, the wise man is a physician, a body doctor, but the same could also apply to the soul doctor, the philosopher, or the political doctor, the true statesman.

The dialectic also gets him to say that he is only interested in teaching his students to do good with their rhetorical training. He normally would not admit something like this, but it appears that Socrates shames him, and so he does say he teaches virtue, justice, and something good, but can’t be held responsible if his students misuse it. Socrates demonstrates how Gorgias is contradicting himself.

And Gorgias goes silent because he’s smart and knows he is losing the argument. Polus speaks up to rescue his teacher, and Socrates turns to Polus.

But the Socratic irony is this: Although Socrates appears to be talking to Polus, he is actually talking to Gorgias, and this is very funny. Polus is arrogant, crude, and not very bright.

During this conversation, Socrates demonstrates that Gorgias’s good student is in fact a bad one, and that Gorgias has been a bad teacher. You can imagine Socrates looking over Polus’s shoulder at Gorgias, and Gorgias picks up on Socrates’ thoughts: “We talked about you as a teacher, Gorgias, so let’s look at this, your student Polus. Is this really an example of what you want people to know that you do?”

Later, Callicles tries to take up the mantle. I won’t explore that in detail other than to say, look at Callicles as representing the people of Athens, the people who later declare Socrates a Sophist and then have him executed. (Since the dialectic breaks down, Socrates ends with a speech, one that speaks of death and what the true philosopher prepares for.) Here, Socrates continues his conversation with Gorgias through a second proxy, and Plato glances at the Apology and Phaedo.

Plato’s art continually exposes the being behind the seeming to alert readers, readers who do not take everything at face value, who realize that Plato is a true artist, a true poet, who, like Shakespeare, artistically arranges his plays to reveal larger truths that may not always be apparent.

When one looks at Shakespeare’s works as an artistic whole, the mind and character of the poet-dramatist emerges. Plato’s dialogues are also an artistic whole, worthy of your time to see that artistic whole, and the mind and character of the poet-dramatist who crafted them.

_________

@colleenb @KentForrester @TheScarecrow @JamieWilson

What Do You Pray For, Big Picture?

 

For the devout: What do you see as the “end game” of the world? This seems like a simple question, but I think it may not be.

Among Christians, is there a shared belief in a Second Coming, and is it what every Christian prays for? Do Christians even pray for it, if grace is supposed to come regardless of merit? You can see I am genuinely lost here.

For Jews, you might think it is simpler: Jews generally pray for the coming of the Messiah. Except when they don’t. There is a mixture of differing goals: the coming of Messiah is not clearly distinct from the Third Temple or even the resurrection of the dead. Speaking for myself, I focus on the Torah, which has no Messiah at all: my desired end state is a world in which Jews both perform all the commandments, and seek to understand the meaning behind all of them. I have no expectation of an “end” state to the world since it is not in the text. Instead, I see a continual process, but few specific products.

And for Muslims, I understand there are some visions of a global caliphate, a single politico-religious entity. Is such a caliphate run by a prophet? A philosopher-king? And am I entirely off-base on this?

If you believe in an end-of-time or some kind of “Finish Line” for the world, what do you think are its main features?

Member Post

 

I somehow remain surprised that Vitamin C is or ever was A Thing. Like back when A Thing was not A Locution. Although I lived through the substance’s heyday, I cannot recall what propelled or sustained its popularity. If J-school students are writing masters’ theses – and I sincerely hope they are – I hope […]

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The Equality Act Will Guarantee Inequality for Almost Everyone

 

‘Every American deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. With today’s vote, the House has again affirmed that LGBTQ people should enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as all other Americans,’ said Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who led the push for the bill.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? The truth is that every American does not deserve to be treated with respect and dignity; rapists, murderers, illegal immigrants, and many Leftists have not earned respectful treatment, for starters. And the Equality Act H.R.5, which was passed by the House 224 to 206 votes on February 25, is not only deceptive but opens the door to abuses of the rights of most Americans.

The Equality Act, no matter what it says, is not intended to make sure that everyone has equal rights. Specifically, it would very likely show favoritism toward LBGT groups, and discrimination against religious groups, girls and women, businesses, medical professionals, and others. The Heritage Foundation describes the bill in this way:

The proposed Equality Act (H.R. 5) turns sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) into protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The bill creates obvious liberty, equality, privacy, and safety concerns. H.R. 5 would empower the federal government to impose civil and criminal punishments on citizens who dissent from SOGI ideology, including medical professionals, parents, women and girls, businesses, and charities. The bill would violate their rights to freedom of conscience, religion, and speech. The bill would also take away basic authorities of local communities to determine who is allowed in single-sex facilities and whether biological men and boys are allowed to join women’s and girls’ sports teams.

A major issue with the bill is that it expands the meaning of “public accommodations,” which is another way of saying they have muddied the waters in defining those locations. It does include exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings or displays, as well as goods, services, programs, and transportation. It does not say that the Act is limited to those venues or specifically which facilities would be included.

The impacts could be widespread and discriminatory:

  • Medical professionals could be forced into providing hormonal treatment or surgery for people who have gender dysphoria. They will be prohibited by law to insist that patients seek out psychiatric attention before surgery, or refusing treatment.
  • Any person must be allowed access to facilities, such as restrooms, locker rooms, or dressing rooms based on his or her gender identification.
  • Parents could be charged with child abuse for refusing to let their child receive hormone treatments or surgical treatments for gender dysphoria.
  • Schools could be forced to teach sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as part of their curricula.
  • Men and boys who identify as women will be permitted to compete against women and girls.
  • Insurance companies could be forced to comply with the transgender mandates.
  • Faith-based adoption organizations will no longer be able to place children with only heterosexual couples.

There are several other requirements that abuse the values, beliefs, privacy, and safety of other groups, too. Many of these practices have already been mandated at a state or local level. Now they would be federal law. The bill will also need to pass the Senate, which some say is unlikely—at this time. But the Left has been relentless in pushing its agendas, and it may only be a matter of time before the Senate gives in to their demands.

* * * * *

Another solution that’s been offered is called “Fairness for All”:

The Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance outlines a ‘Fairness for All’ approach that would make ‘changes to federal civil rights laws to ensure that LGBT people can enjoy the same basic rights as other Americans,’ but ‘be carefully designed so as simultaneously to protect the legitimate rights of people and organizations that hold to a traditional sexual morality.’ The organization says alternative draft legislation to this effect is forthcoming, and assuming the proposal holds to these principles, it’s something that conservatives should support.

Our laws can mandate that secular employers and public venues treat LGBT people fairly, yet also maintain exceptions for bona fide religious claims.

In the past, this kind of approach might have worked. But in these times, the Left is in no mood to be fair, reasonable, or to compromise. It has already made several inroads into violating religious, traditional, and mainstream beliefs.

Why would they try to compromise now?

We can only hope that the Senate rejects this law for the sake of all Americans.

Noem’s Presidential Class Act Speech at CPAC 2021

 

Governor Kristi Noem is known for her unique and successful way of leading South Dakota in facing Coronavirus. Two days into CPAC 2021, Kristi Noem’s powerful speech was by far the best. She spoke about Covid, Fauci, Cuomo, the media, the role of American government, the election loss, American ideals, her father, and what conservatives must do going forward. It will make you tear up. One classy lady and one classy speech.

.

Overthinking It

 

Scene, on a hill in a field we see a car. A GUY and a GIRL laying on the hood, stargazing. After a moment passes, the GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE steps out from behind the car, paces a bit, rolling his shoulder.

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Man oh man, if she keeps lying there like that my shoulder is going to fall asleep. I should say something. There’s no way I’m going to say something; if I do she might move. If you lose circulation doesn’t the limb die eventually? If I don’t move I’m probably going to get shoulder gangrene or something. I can leave it a little longer though. Probably.

GIRL: “It’s so peaceful out here.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Yeah, peaceful. Look at this field though; perfect place for a tank battle. Let’s say I’m coming in from over there, which would mean the German lines are that way. Now, the Nazi, if he’s a wily Nazi, he’s going to have emplaced anti-tank guns…. there. My best bet would be to take ’em out with air strikes or artillery before I even get here, but let’s assume that’s not an option. Then how would I dig him out… tricky. But not tricky enough! What that kraut doesn’t realize is that I’ve snuck men around behind him!

GUY: *Chuckles*

GIRL: “What?”

GUY: “Uh, nothing.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE (emerging from behind the car): “Is he laughing at me? He’d better not be laughing at me. He doesn’t know who he’s messing with. I don’t need him; I could have gone out with any guy on the team. Suzie told me so. Of course, you can’t trust Suzie; she’s always scheming. The little minx. What if she manipulated me into this date? What if she’s setting me up for failure? What if she’s trying to get me out of the way so she can make a play for Kurt?”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “I’ll need some infantry to assault that bunker. Of course, it’s going to be tricky getting them through the minefield. I hope casualties are light…”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “I bet that’s it. I bet she set this up. I bet she arranged things with this guy just to humiliate me! Ooh, she makes me so mad.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “And then we unleash the atom bombs! Wait, she’s tensing up. What’s going on here?”

GUY: “Uh, you okay?”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “I mustn’t let him know that I’ve figured it out!”

GIRL: “Yeah, I’m fine. Just need to adjust a little.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “She shifting! Gotta move that shoulder quick before shoulder gangrene sets in.”

GIRL: “There.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “She’s settled down again. I don’t think that was enough, I’m probably still doomed. Alas, poor shoulder, I knew thee.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Success! He suspects nothing. Maybe it wasn’t Suzie setting me up, maybe Jenna is behind this. It would be just like her. Why, she said to me just the other day ‘I love you in that top!’ What a fake.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Something’s not going right here. I thought chicks dug this stargazing stuff. Is she bored? Maybe that’s because she doesn’t know enough about this stuff. I can fix that.”

GUY: “That constellation right there? That’s Scorpio.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Is he lecturing now? What makes him think that’s a good idea?”

GUY: “And over here we have Draco.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Maybe I can put him off of it.”

GIRL “It looks like roadkill.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “It’s working! This girl is funny.”

GUY: “And that star’s Betelgeuse. That’s the star the aliens came from in the movie…”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “That was such a stupid movie. I can’t understand why anyone would watch it.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “That was such a great movie. Hey, it generated this primo meme; I bet she’d love to hear about it. Just how do I verbalize a gif?”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Wait, did you just pronounce it ‘jif?'”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Yeah; that’s how it’s pronounced.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “It’s a graphical interchange format, not a giraffical interchange format.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Don’t be a gackass.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Look, the guy who invented the thing says…”

GIRL snuggles closer and emits a happy sigh.

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Hah! See that! The astronomy description was what she needed. Man oh man am I smooth.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Seriously?! You think it’s the star chart that’s working here? You really are a moron.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Oh, like you’re helping things along.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “You were about to describe a gif!”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Hey, at least I pronounce it right.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “You pronounce it like peanut butter.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Okay, dropping the subject. It’s not important.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “And what were you thinking with that tank battle? Seriously?”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “At least I wasn’t the one bringing Girl Drama into this.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Those girls are important!”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: *falsetto* “Oooh that Suzie she just makes me soo mad!”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Suzie is a good friend! She’s a better person than you’ll ever be.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Look, it’s obvious this isn’t going to work out. Let’s just go our separate ways and forget this ever happened. Deal?”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Deal.”

GUY kisses GIRL.

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!!”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “You are such a dork.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “You can’t argue with results.”

GIRL’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Whatever. I’m done here.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “Hey, dude, what are the chances that we’re gonna, you know, get some?”

GUY: “Shut up.”

GIRL: “What?”

GUY: “Not you.”

GUY’S INNER MONOLOGUE: “I’m going to have to write off this shoulder. Worth it.”