Getting Around in Thailand: The Night Bus


You haven’t lived until you’ve boarded a bus at sunset and trundled through the night to arrive at your destination just after sunrise. Those hot towels the attendant distributes with tongs at 6 a.m. make it worth the long hours, the bleariness, and the cheap comedies played on the television up front.

No, really. These were special trips.

Because there were two kinds of buses. You could take an orange bus—an “orange crush bus,” as one of the missionaries called it. Any time we did opt for this probably inexpensive option, it was by day, thankfully, and for shorter trips. These were not air-conditioned. They were crowded, and the seating was not unlike that of a school bus in the US. I remember my mom buying us snacks and drinks we didn’t usually have, my overindulgence making me sick on one of these trips. I’m sure I enhanced the travel experience for everyone around me.

Then there was the “night bus.” Everyone knew what the night bus was. Maybe you’ve never heard of it, but when the sentence “I’m taking the night bus to Bangkok” was uttered, I assumed the whole world would recognize the transportation mode referenced. The night bus was in the class of vehicle we called “tour buses,” distinguishing them from orange crush buses. These were impressive giants on wheels, at least to me, walled in on both sides with towering tinted windows and offering a long aisle with row after row of cushioned seats. And they were all air-conditioned. You could take the tour bus during the day, but we usually booked them for night journeys. Maybe travel was cheaper that way, or maybe we were always pressed for time and opted to sacrifice sleep for efficiency.

The prospect of going somewhere on a night bus was exciting. The destination itself was always packed with mystique and rich experiences. There was always the anticipation of seeing friends, going to department stores with rides, spending days by the beach, revisiting familiar guest houses with outstanding places to play—anything could happen. The night bus was no obstacle to these joys; it was part of them. We always got dressed up, and I packed the tiny green tote bag our friends had given me for my birthday. You never know what you might need on a trip like this. Then it was off to the part of town where these idling behemoths were parked along the street. We would wend our way through the people and pedicab drivers, go through the doorway, and climb the several steps (steps!—it was that high), until we were level with the driver and right under the TV that was invariably blaring a comedy show wherein there was always a big man dressed as a woman and characters getting hit on the head with a large metal pan.

Under the noisy dialogue and canned laughter, we’d go down the row and then settle in our soft seat, contemplating the trays in front—food would be coming. And although the TV wasn’t serving up anything riveting yet, they would play a movie later. This was rarely family fare, but one never knew—maybe for once a Disney movie would come from that intriguing screen. From the huge windows we saw, milling down below us, people who weren’t going anywhere special, and the sunset streaking the sky with color.

Then the bus would slowly pull away and lumber off. We would settle back, experiment with the levers that tilted our seats back a few inches, and pull our trays down. It wouldn’t be long before the attendant would come by with a whole meal. It came in a little white cardboard box, if I’m remembering right, thin enough that sometimes a little round spot of grease would stain the outside, a mute promise of the satisfying contents I would find when I opened the box. And sure enough, tucked neatly inside, there would be a chicken drumstick, a muffin, and whatever else was fitting for night bus fare.

After our meal, the lights would go out and we were cocooned in darkness with the TV flickering up ahead. The grown-ups would rest their heads on the seat back and try to rest, like responsible adults. I’m not sure what we did as kids. We fidgeted and tried to watch the television. I remember a long conversation with a friend when I was a little older. But I’m sure we didn’t have time for too much activity. I imagine it didn’t take long for the humming engine and rocking ride to soothe us, dwarfed in the soft seat, to some kind of sleep.

That last sentence would have been a perfect ending to this essay. The best writing advice says that less is more, end it quickly before the reader loses interest. But the reality of the night bus experience prevents me from heeding this wisdom. A master planner somewhere decreed that it did not do to not allow passengers to slumber through the night and awaken blissfully at the destination. No, the ideal ride meant that around 2 a.m., the bus would stop, and bleary passengers would disembark, stumble into a small restaurant, and be served a hot meal consisting of bland rice porridge. Then it was back on board for several more hours in the dark.

After dawn—and for some, surely the night was very long—it seems like there were a series of loud announcements made through the speaker system. Then, the hot washcloths. I wasn’t sure why they were necessary, but I gamely wiped my face with them, as others were doing. After that, children and items were gathered, and we’d make our way down the aisle and down the steps. After our long repose in the cool air, our senses weren’t prepared for the humid early morning already streaming with traffic. We didn’t mind, however, because then it was time to hail ourselves a tuk-tuk. But that’s another story.

Our family in 1976, feeling fresh after an all-night bus ride from Nakhon Phanom to Bangkok. I’m the one in front. We’re posing in front of the missionary guest house, where we found all sorts of interesting things to get into, once we’d had our naps. I’ll have you know that my mom has already taken plenty of Facebook flack for my parents’ outfits, a lot of it from my sister, who was an infant and obviously had no say in the matter.

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So I understand this Joe Walsh fellow is out of the race, no longer competing against President Trump for the Republican nomination. I’d never heard of Joe Walsh until he announced his exit this week; what I’ve heard from him since then makes me glad he’s gone. I know there’s a strong feeling among a […]

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Give Them Cake!


That expression has come to signify a person of privilege completely out of touch with common people. “Cake? Okay, queenie. How about we address the hunger first?” But we can do better. Why not cake?

Roger Scruton noted that the “form follows function” philosophy of architecture is mistaken when “function” neglects the constant human desire for beauty. In “Why Beauty Matters,” he referred to studies showing that the productivity of laborers is improved by working in beautiful settings. Modern architects were not wrong to emphasize utility. They were only misled to believe that beauty is a frivolous addition, rather than a practical aspect.

Similarly, Mother Theresa of Calcutta frequently reminded her admirers, both faithful and secular, that her service to the poor was not primarily material. Above all, she emphasized the need for people to feel loved and appreciated. It would not suffice to feed the hungry and mend the sick. They need smiles and laughter, touch and sincere conversation, so that charity can be accepted not as a burden or cold duty but as a gift of personal concern and communion.

For practical efficiency, we often structure our gift-giving by division into bare necessities. “I could give this cause $100. But I could give to 5 causes if I give $20 each.” We send rice and dry goods. We donate old clothes.

All gifts are helpful, of course. Sometimes the most basic are the most appreciated. Sometimes only certain things will survive the journey.

But people don’t live on spreadsheets. We internalize the differences between a wave and a hug, between a simple loaf of bread and a delicious cake. Sometimes, at least, give your best.

Removing Vindman


One of the benefits of being retired is that I have a lot of time to follow world events. One of the drawbacks of being retired is that I have a lot of time to follow world events. I honestly think I may have spent too much time in the last five months watching and reading about the whole Ukraine mess. I think I understand the chronology and have a pretty good understanding of the motivations of the actors involved.

Today, LTC Alexander Vindman got reassigned, his brother removed, and Amb. Sondland fired. Immediately and reflexively, LTC Vindman became a martyr to some on the left. But, as I like to do, I quote Uncle Joe Biden, “Come on, man.” Some call it a purge. But how on earth can President Trump ever rely on Vindman as a member of the National Security Council staff?

Beyond the evident truth that Vindman thinks he is a policymaker, rather than a policy advisor, how can his advice ever be devoid of suspect motives? Imagine some crisis or policy meeting in the situation room and the principals look across the table and see Vindman. Could they ever suspend their doubts about his contributions? I say this even acknowledging that whatever he says there may be appropriate and entirely correct. He went outside his chain of command to report a phone call in which his superiors saw no wrongdoing. He testified about his disagreement with the elected official’s policy. His history can’t be put aside, so he has to go.

I spent almost forty years working in the far less contentious world of television production. If I ever disagreed with a producer about a replay or a visual effect, when there was time the good producers would listen to my objection and take it into account. But the decision was theirs, not mine. If I continued to object or took it further, his job wasn’t in jeopardy, mine was. The thing about live sports production that’s exciting is that you have seconds to do it. The production crew has to mesh to get it right instantly. There’s no time for debate. There’s probably not an employee anywhere that hasn’t sometime felt he knew better than his boss. But a subordinate has to know his position in the chain of command.

I knew where I stood. Apologists for Vindman may not understand how he, rightly or wrongly, could never be trusted again.

Friday Night Lights: Celebration


Lights on HilltopsA visit to the White House homepage prompted two thoughts. First was renewed admiration for the nameless team working tirelessly to keep up with reporting on the good things happening in our country under the leadership of President Trump. Second was a bit of happiness, joy even, at living in this land, right now, even with all the sound and fury seeking to continuously stir up negative emotions. So, I offer a snapshot, really a screenshot, and a song to close out the week and start the weekend.

Just viewing that screen should make most people feel at least a bit of happiness. However your week has gone, this song should either resonant with your mood or list it. You are sure to tap your toes or even find yourself moving with the beat. You might even break out with the chorus.

Have a good to great weekend, and you are welcome for the earworm.

Quote of the Day: In the Image of God


On the day of the March for Life, Jan. 24, I posted a QOTD on Psalm 8 which I used as a springboard for a teaching moment on why abortion is wrong, all of which climaxed with this as the central thesis:

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

I posted that in the wee hours of the morning and then went down to participate in the march. I never got to see President Trump’s speech that day except on a video clip later that evening. Only recently did I read exactly what he said. Here’s a key paragraph:

“When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world… We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve. The dreams they will imagine. The masterpieces they will create. The discoveries they will make. But we know this: every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting. And above all, we know that every human soul is divine and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God.”

President Donald J. Trump

My goodness. We essentially said the same thing with the same rhetorical development. We both started with the majesty of God’s creation, developed it to His creation of mankind, asserted the dignity of mankind, and concluded that abortion is wrong because we, born and unborn, are made in the image of God.

No, we did not share notes! Thank you, Mr. President. Great minds think alike.

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Many years ago, I worked at a non-profit that was developing a website to help shut-ins find qualified caregivers near them. My boss, who had also conceived of the site, was true dyed-in-the-wool progressive, so much so that she drove a Prius un-ironically adorned with an NPR sticker. She wanted this website to succeed because […]

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Ricochet’s own Granny Dude offered the invocation at our annual Cumberland County (Maine) Lincoln Day Dinner this evening. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to grab a photo opp with Honest Abe himself. She done him (and the great State of Maine) proud! Ricochetti are representin’ for our 16th President, the Great Emancipator!

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PowerLine Quotes a Liberal Who Gets It


I am amazed at people on the right who want Trump to lose. He has been the most conservative president since Reagan. He is also the best GOP president at manipulating the message since we elected the former actor.

Read the whole thing, but the closing is great:

Viewers were left to wonder: Why wouldn’t Pelosi applaud money for historically black colleges and universities? What’s her beef with a serviceman who returns from deployment to hug his kids? Where’s her feeling for the brother of a man killed by an undocumented criminal? All of these visuals could be explained in policy terms, but as Ronald Reagan once confided to his diary, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.”

Sea Change: No One Blaming Iowa on Trump!


I’ve scoured all the usual suspects across the Internet, excluding social media, only because … raw sewage. But neither the alphabet media nor the NY or LA Times nor the Post nor Pravda has attempted to blame Iowa on Trump.

If anything, they seem to be hoping the whole kerfuffle is forgotten before someone ties their performance to a long string of epic political blunders. Like nominating Hillary so she would retire the DNC’s massive debt in 2016, or staging the most ham-handed coup attempt in the history of the republic in the name of protecting democracy. A move so reminiscent of mid-20th-century fascism that their preemptive accusation of fascism against the opposing side signaled their own transparent perfidy.

Having achieved a sort of political nadir, it appears that the identity-manglers need a fresh, creative boost to continue on their great decline to explore new depths of villainy. And I know just the creative stalwarts to show them the way!

The challenge: Blame Iowa on Trump in such convincing fashion that the usual suspects can resume their rocket-powered descent into unparalleled impotence. Remember, the House is still investigating and you may see your efforts inform the next articles of impeachment!

Ricochetti, to your keyboards.

The Best Advice from the Best Advisor


Our group-writing topic for this month is advice, and I thought it only right to begin with the very most important advice that I or anyone else could give. It was, of course, given by Jesus:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Those two commandments are completely the key to living a fulfilled and fulfilling life. The interesting and challenging part is that much of fulfilling the first – loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength- is wrapped up in fulfilling the second, as explicated in the Tanakh, the Sermon on the Mount, in the various Pauline, Petrine, Jacobine and Johannine epistles.

“He who loves me is he who keeps My commandments,” Jesus said, and I do love him, so I strive and struggle to keep those commandments. Afflicted as I am with tendencies toward the full complement of human vices, this means often that I come back in contrition and ask for the grace to live beyond the influence of lust, rage, greed, and self-centered thinking. It is easier in some areas than in others.

Loving my enemies has consistently been the hardest one. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus did not say “pretend they are not your enemies” or “the harm they intend you or inflict on you does not matter.” He only commands us to love them, which means seeking their moral good and their salvation. Not pretending the evil they do is good.

The evils we do aren’t good either, of course, but we are not meant to live in condemnation under their shadow forever, either. My final piece of advice: Always come back to the Lord, always count on his mercy, always trust in his wisdom. It is readily available to those who ask.

Media Musings: Is That Chicken a Bit Off? [Updated]


Don't be Chikin Fill Red KettleIf food has a sell-by date, perhaps news, as opposed to history, has a tell-by date. I am just getting around to this topic, reflecting on a story that was very much under the radar this past month, after initially being served up with lots of sizzle before Thanksgiving. Yes, this would be Chick-fil-A versus the Salvation Army.

You will recall that Chick-fil-A very prominently disassociated itself from the Salvation Army, smearing the Salvation Army as bigoted. This smear by a professedly Christian family-owned business was especially dangerous to the continued viability in the public square of any bible-believing Christian organization or individual. Such action demanded a response from organizations like the American Family Association, yet we heard nothing all through the Advent and Christmas season, the prime time for Salvation Army fundraising.

AFA, like Chick-fil-A, is a family-controlled entity in its second generation. Where Chick-fil-A was founded by S. Truett Cathy, AFA and American Family Radio were founded by Donald Wildmon. Today, the two founders’ sons lead their respective organizations: Dan T. Cathy at Chick-fil-A and Tim Wildmon at AFA.

So, we would rightly expect that Tim Wildmon would follow Christian doctrine and reach out personally to correct a brother in Christ, Dan T. Cathy. Apparently, he did so, and apparently the Chick-fil-A CEO responded almost immediately. What? Who knew?

On January 8, Todd Starnes wrote a piece on effectively breaking the news following a posting the day before on the AFA website. I read both posts with interest and then puzzlement at the underlying document. A key detail was entirely omitted from both the AFA and Townhall pieces.

Here is how the January 7 AFA piece, “Chick-fil-A responds to AFA Letter,” by their president, Tim Wildmon starts:

Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO, responded to my personal letter and the more than 116,000 people who signed AFA’s petition asking the company for clarification after Chick-fil-A stunned much of the evangelical community by changing its corporate giving.

In November, Chick-fil-A announced that it would not be donating money to the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Homosexual activist organizations had hammered away at the two Christian non-profit groups because their doctrinal statements supported a biblical view of human sexuality and marriage. In turn, Chick-fil-A was accused of supporting “hate” because of the corporate giving.

In my personal letter to Mr. Cathy, I asked him two questions: (1) Will Chick-fil-A publicly state that it does not believe the Salvation Army and FCA are hate groups because of the ministries’ beliefs about sexuality, marriage, and family? (2) Will you publicly state that Chick-fil-A will not hesitate to fund these two ministries again, should the opportunity arise in the future?

Mr. Cathy’s written response included this statement: “We inadvertently discredited several outstanding organizations that have effectively served communities for years.”

Here is Todd Starnes’ take: “Chick-fil-A has a change of heart.”

Late last year Chick-fil-A ruffled feathers across the fruited plain when they announced they would no longer provide charitable donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Salvation Army.

Both organizations had faced years of withering attacks from sex and gender revolutionaries who were angered because the two renowned Christian ministries affirmed the biblical definition of marriage.

So when Chick-fil-A made their decision public, many Christians accused the company of backing down to a bunch of militant LGBTQ bullies. And in response many of Chick-fil-A’s staunchest supporters flew the coop.

…And the other day — American Family Association president Tim Wildmon received a response — from Chick-fil-A chairman and CEO Dan Cathy.

So, both of these outfits are claiming that Chick-fil-A had only just responded very recently. They linked the letter sent by Dan T. Cathy to Tim Wildmon. So, they gave us the source document. Let’s all take a look, shall we? See the problem? Let me isolate the first part that should prompt questions:

December 5, 2019. Now, is that a phony date, slapped on a letter that was not actually delivered until the first week of January? If so, wouldn’t that make the rest of the letter subject to very close scrutiny? On the other hand, was the letter correctly dated and sent on or about that date to Tim Wildmon? I know it was the Christmas rush, but a first-class letter surely was not taking a month for domestic delivery. I doubt it took more than three days. One would think that Todd Starnes would be a little curious here. Nope. Not a word.

And the lack of curiosity does not end at the letter heading. Let’s look at the meat of the matter, the key paragraph that is supposedly responsive to the undisclosed AFA letter, on which we can take Tim Wildmon’s word, for purposes of our inquiry.

So, we get:

  1. We’re all good Christian folk here (so please keep coming to our restaurants for your church group outings and bible studies).
  2. We get that you are upset but it was all a big misunderstanding. We really have not changed.
  3. Nevertheless, we are not going to give to any organization that LGBT activists don’t like. We’ll abandon the most effective organizations, like Salvation Army, while claiming to want “a greater impact by addressing the challenges of hunger, homelessness and education.”

Notice, the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes are not mentioned. The Cathy family representative will not follow his father’s courage and integrity by naming the organizations his COO smeared, or allowed to be smeared, by name in the interview that started all the ruckus. But this does not bother AFA’s leader, who took what he got and declared victory.

There may be any number of reasons for this decision. Todd Starnes and Townhall, though, should surely be minimally curious and note the obvious. Yet neither the obvious date issue nor the obvious dodge by both organizations’ leaders drew a single line of reporting or analysis.

This stuff just isn’t that hard.

[Update — 7 February 2020]: My search of the AFA website did not turn up a post between the November and January posts. Searching the Internet turned up two relevant documents. First, there is an AFA posting dated December 10, 2019. This post includes a link to the letter sent by Tim Wildmon to Dan Cathy. The post’s title says it all: “CFA’s Dan Cathy gives AFA Silent Treatment.”

On Monday, December 2, I overnighted a letter to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy. In the letter, I asked him to clarify statements made by the leadership of Chick-fil-A and the Chick-fil-A Foundation. You can read the letter here.


Mr. Cathy has not responded to my letter. This is disappointing.

This makes things worse, not better. The Chick-fil-A letter is dated December 5, 2019, two days after the AFA letter would have been delivered. So, did it get lost in the mail? Was it held in the Chick-fil-A headquarters. Is the date false? Why did AFA not address this discrepancy, one that would seem to contradict Wildmon’s post on December 10?

Why is this not addressed in the professional reporting?

Oscar Goes to Church


(I write a blog featuring how churches and clergy are presented in movies called “Movie Churches.” The following is this week’s post. And it just so happens that the movie with the best church will probably get Best Picture on Sunday.)

The Academy Awards are this Sunday. I’ve seen all the nominees for the 2020 Best Picture Oscar and must say there is very little church or clergy in any of the films. This is quite thoughtless of the Academy to give so little thought to the needs of this site. If a film like Just Mercy or A Hidden Life had been nominated I’d have a little more to work with, but no…

A majority of the nine films nominated (five: Ford vs. Ferrari, Joker, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, Jojo Rabbit, and Marriage Story) have no direct reference to churches or clergy. But the remaining four have minor ecclesiastical references. 

Parasite (my favorite film from last year) had a passing church reference. The poor family in the film makes money folding boxes for a local pizza parlor. And that pizza parlor gets a major order from The Love of God Church. And that’s it. (For what its worth, I tend to be more favorable to churches that serve pizza.)

Little Women has a prominent clergy character, but they try to keep that on the down-low. The film is based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel (released in two parts in 1868 and 1869.) The story tells of a mother and her daughters, the Marches, struggling to get by while Father March serves in the Civil War. In the book, it states quite plainly that the father serves as a chaplain with the Union Army. In Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the novel, the word “chaplain” is never used. One of the daughters, Jo (Saoirse Ronan) talks about her father (Bob Odenkirk) going off to serve the Union Army and wishing she could join him, certainly giving the impression that he is serving as a soldier. The only clues we have of Father March’s profession is when he officiates over the wedding of one daughter and the funeral of another. We really get no indication of the quality of Father March’s ministry. There also is a church in the family’s town that is featured prominently in a number of shots, but we never see the Marches (or anyone else) step inside it.

The Irishman is the only of this year’s Best Picture nominees that makes prominent references to the church and clergy. This isn’t too surprising considering it was directed by Martin Scorsese who often works with religious themes (The Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun) and more specifically, Catholicism (The Silence). This is the story of mobsters, particularly Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) and Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and their involvement in the killing of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. These vicious, cold-blooded men are active in the Catholic Church. In the film, we see several baptisms and a wedding in Catholic Churches (Christian statuary and iconography are featured throughout the film).

The film follows these mobsters as they age, and near the end of Russell’s life, he begins to attend church regularly. Frank teases him for this, but Russell says, “Don’t laugh, you’ll see.” And Frank does eventually find himself in a Catholic nursing home being visited by priests. Frank doesn’t seem to feel much guilt for his past, even for the people he killed. But a priest encourages him, “I think we can be sorry even when we don’t feel sorry, it’s a decision of the will.”

1917 doesn’t have a formal church or clergyperson. But it does have the most moving worship service I saw in a film from last year. The film tells the story of two soldiers given the assignment of taking a message to the front lines. One soldier reaches a troop about to go to battle. It is quite evident that the men are scared. One of the men stands before them and sings a folk/gospel song, “The Wayfaring Stranger.” The song tells of a journey of God’s redeemed across the Jordan to see their loved ones, “I’m only going over home.” We do see war-torn churches and hear church bells in the film, but this moment of worship is true church. If I was giving steeple this week, that service would get four steeples out of four.

About a Dog


There is a story about a dog in the Everett, WA, animal shelter. It describes the dog as a “gentle giant.” It is a Mastiff/Akita mix, weighing 150 pounds. Giant, indeed. This is the description of this dog from the KOMO Web site:

This Mastiff and Akita mix is a very happy 6-year-old gentle giant in need of an owner who has experience with large, strong breeds. He is smart, knows a few basic commands and is always willing to offer a paw. The home must be cat and dog free, the shelter advises. Bo also requires a securely fenced yard and is not suited for apartment living. Children in the home should be dog savvy and at least 12 years old.

Does this sound like the description of a “gentle giant?” Follow the link for a video and the complete story.

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Former congressman Joe Walsh (no connection with the Eagles’ former guitarist) has dropped out of the race to replace Donald Trump on the ballot as the Republican nominee. Story here. What is best in life? To crush the Demoncrats, see their acolytes driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their media.  

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Counting the Cards in Nevada


President Trump is putting Nevada in play for the 2020 election. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project has always been a political hot potato and a hole in the ground into which Congress pours money. Senator Dean Heller, like Senator Reid before him, is opposed to the Yucca Mountain project, and there are likely not the votes to force the issue. Now the story in important Las Vegas news outlets is President Trump is on Nevada’s side.

This is very savvy. Presidents, Congress, and bureaucrats have been talking but never actually acting to use Yucca Mountain. Over decades, surely smarter answers have emerged than transporting and concentrating high-level nuclear waste in one location.

Now we have a president throwing the bovine scat flag on the old game, enabling real solutions to surface for serious consideration. Yet another win for America on many levels.

  • Nevada wins, gets what people demand.
  • Nuclear power wins if real waste management emerges, removing waste as obstacle to construction.
  • Environment wins with waste management and more non-greenhouse gas energy.
  • Homes, businesses get more megawatts of reliable and truly “green” power at affordable prices.
  • More nuclear power means more ability to power more electric motors, fill more batteries.

Child Abuse?


Is it possible that the most common form of child abuse in America today consists of parents sending their children to school?

Not all schools, just 98% of them.

  • The curriculum of most schools is lousy.
  • The pedagogy at most schools is junk.
  • The institutional culture of most schools is unfortunate.  Administration is top-heavy, impersonal, and bureaucratic.
  • The social culture of most schools is lousy. Pop Cult, badly dressed, foul-mouthed.
  • The political culture of most schools is hard-core left-wing.
  • Families and their children attending government schools in particular will find themselves subject to much greater government tracking and regulation than non-affiliated families with children. Your child is much more likely to be arrested if he attends a government school and you are much more likely to have a child protective services case opened against you than if your child doesn’t attend government schools.

My Mother Is the Silent Majority


The silent majority is pretty quiet. Go figure. The masses beaten about the brow, continuously, that they are racist, misogynist, not compassionate, bigots, xxx-phobes… The silent majority is told they are simply wrong, actually simple, ignorant, and unenlightened. We are deplorable, bible thumping, gun toting rubes. That is how the world perceives and loudly proclaims us. Of course we prefer to be silent. My Mom, G-d Bless her. She is 91 years old living in Buffalo, Holy Cow, it gets a lot of snow, NY. She is one of the silent ones for sure, but doesn’t feel like the majority people. She is not normally, nor historically, a fearful women.

She has traveled the world, taught English in Japan, was robbed while a bank teller, and testified against him despite threats that she would be killed, worked as an RN in a psych ward. She was an international tour guide and travel agent. and that is only 20% of her amazing journey. Yet she is scared to admit she supports Donald Trump. Her lifelong friends Hate (with a capital “H”) the president. In their perception he is an XXXist. and if you support him you also must be an XXXist. (there are to many xxxists to list, but be sure, that if you support Donald Trump, you are many of them! )

Her advice: She never brings up or discusses anything political even though her friends often do, and she opts to remain silent about her beliefs, passions and moral limits. She remains silent because of her fear of the vitriol and venom that would be heaped upon her by the friends and neighbors if they knew… Dad has been dead now for 11 years. She needs her friends support and friendship more than she needs political acquiescence. She continues to live in the 1 acre lot ranch home, which I and elder sibs were born in . She relies on these church and neighbor friends since we kids are gone geographically. They are good people, they help shovel the driveway, bring her mail in from the cold. But she fears she would likely be shunned by these lifelong friends, if she were to reveal her passion for DJT.  Her simple advice, don’t tell them.

I can’t live the same way. It is important – nay, it is critical to my health and mental status to know that there are others, who share and support some of my views. So thank you Ricochetti, for letting me know I do not stand alone, That not only do many people share my thoughts, but there is a number of you well scarred from the battles from voicing your beliefs. Thank you for the testament to your church and country, and for being a sanity check while I wade through my daily battles.



no tags required, except maybe #heartfelt

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Maybe they are feeling their oats following Mitt Romney’s discussion that his religious beliefs informed his decision to vote to impeach Trump. The three newest stores over there all take shots at Christians who support Trump. It would appear that some people have not read their copies of “How to win friends […]

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Coronavirus 2019n-CoV: Are You Paying Attention?


I have been watching the chart below:

The Coronavirus has been raging in China since sometime in December 2019. We’re now over 30,000 cases and over 500 deaths. What seems to be established at this point is that persons without symptoms can be a source of contagion and the exposure to symptoms period is about 13 days. They are still trying to calculate the N factor, which is how many people will get sick in the future for each person who gets sick now. Estimates are a factor between 2 and 4; so basically, they don’t know.

I feel for the Chinese people, but what I have my eye on is where else it is going. Look at the next two screengrabs:

Did you see it? Japan has the most cases outside of mainland China. In the first chart, it shows 46, in the second grabbed a couple of hours later it shows 86! Earlier it was reported that 10 of the “Japanese” cases are actually amongst 3,700 cruise ship passengers quarantined and anchored off Yokahama on the Japanese coast. Oh, joy for those cruisers who will now be onboard and going nowhere for two weeks. Has there been a jump in the number of passengers testing positive for Coronavirus? Similarly, a cruise ship is also quarantined in Civitavecchia on the Italian coast with an ill Chinese couple amongst the 6,000 passengers.

On the first chart, the scale makes the yellow line (outside of mainland China) almost flat. But when will that line start to emulate the rate of growth of the mainland China line? The US has taken action to limit this by quarantining persons coming from China and denying entry to passengers from China who are not US citizens or permanent residents. But we are two or more weeks behind asymptomatic contagion before these restrictions were put in place. So this is something to keep your eye on as February goes on.

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Newton Minow once described TV as “a vast wasteland.” The new Fall lineup (discovered while I hacked into Sandra Bullock’s personal files the networks’ web sites) proves Mr. Minow’s point. Take a look! New Sitcoms The Big Bang A financially-strapped, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist falls back on the oldest profession to make ends meet. Hilarity ensues when […]

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Pelosi’s Behavior Already Paying Dividends


The tears-heard-round-the-world (it also works as “tears-heard-round-the-world” … pesky homonyms!) Where was I? In Republican circles, Nancy Pelosi is already Public Enemy #1; she’s always been chum for Republican-waters (I meant “chum” as in “shark-bait” not “chum” as in “pals”… pesky homonyms!) Her antics will be the gift that keeps on giving. Pelosi’s behavior at the SOTU will be seen in a great many ads from the GOP. (Pesky acronyms!)

Speaking of commercials, check out this gem from conservative talk-radio host Kevin Jackson: Click here to view.

Vice President Pence Is Right


Reviewing Vice President Pence’s brief remarks at the 2020 National Prayer Breakfast, I was caught up short by the phrase he always uses. It was a phrase I heard him use in a large non-denominational church in Mesa, AZ, when he was the VP candidate in 2016. It was fitting then but, oh, how much more fitting today.

Here it is in the context of remarks by Vice President Pence at the 68th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, emphasis added:

You know, when Karen and I travel across this country, and when the President and I travel, we — the sweetest words we ever hear are when people will reach out, grab a hand, and say, “I’m praying for you.” And you know when people mean it, and it’s always a blessing.

And so, I want to encourage you to continue to avail yourself of the opportunity to pray. Pray for all of those in positions of authority. And at this National Prayer Breakfast, I’d encourage you to, in these divided times, pray for America, for all of the American people.

For I truly believe that those ancient words that Americans have clung to in much more challenging times than we could ever imagine in our day are still true today, that if His people, who are called by His name will humble themselves and pray, He’ll do like He’s always done through the long and storied history of this nation: He’ll hear from Heaven, and He’ll heal this land, this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So thank you for joining us for this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. God bless you all. And God bless America. (Applause.)

VP Pence is not claiming that America is the chosen nation. He is reminding us that believers have an obligation to turn from self-regard, self-reliance, and self-importance, turning their attention upward and praying in that spirit. Of course, there is a bit more to the verse, a bit that does not go down so easily (see that humbling selves part):

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

—2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

The cultural restoration we need is not so much in the Federalist Papers as in the Psalms, if you will. The verse invoked by VP Pence is in the context of a series of conditional promises from the Lord to King Solomon as he completed the dedication of the Temple.* I found Vice President Pence’s reminder quite timely, and believe his claim to be true.

It will take more than elections, more than a great man, more than some campaign to take back civic culture and education.** The good news is that we do not need to wait for an election, or a leader, or a campaign to pray.

* 2 Chronicles 7, King James Version (KJV)

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.

2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.

3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.

5 And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.

6 And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.

7 Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.

8 Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.

9 And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.

10 And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.

11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the Lord, and in his own house, he prosperously effected.

12 And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.

13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

15 Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

16 For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

17 And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments;

18 Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.

19 But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;

20 Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.

21 And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and unto this house?

22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.
King James Version (KJV)

** In rummaging through news websites, I ran across an excellent piece by a professor from BYU. He is speaking from a different church tradition than mine, but Prof. Hal Boyd‘s words complement the thrust of this post:

Disciples aren’t ultimately bestowed that lofty title because they succeed in inserting their favorite scripture into a primetime television spot or find a way to lobby dogmas into an omnibus appropriations bill.

As important as evangelism or legislation aimed at the good continues to be, genuine discipleship comes as human actions conform to high ideals — as we allow, in the wisdom of Hamlet, a divinity to shape our ends.


It may be, in the end, that heaven is less concerned with how each senator votes on impeachment and far more concerned with how we all — as political actors and as citizens — comport ourselves in relation to one another and to what extent we choose to act “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.”