Bob Was There Too

 

I just finished reading Artemis, by Andy Weir. Yes, I know it’s been out for *checks title page* five years? Really? Man, I am slow at this kind of thing. The good part of not staying up-to-the-minute on these things is that I can get the book from the library because nobody else has it out. The bad thing is that nobody cares about what you have to say by then. But sometimes I’m early; sometimes I… hold on, I’m going to need to get a proper hipster beer to fortify me for this next part.

Now that I’m drinking a Triple India Pale Ale double dry hopped with Simcoe, Callista, and Kohatu,* I can tell you that I’ve been a fan of Andy Weir’s for longer than you have. I’ve read his first novel. No, not The Martian, this is the unpublished one called Theft of Pride. You’ve probably never heard of it. He had a download link on his website. No, not his current website; galactanet, the old one where he hosted his webcomic Casey & Andy. Hold on…

Okay, after a swig of Dr. Pepper I think I can break out of the whole hipster milieu and get on with the story. Casey & Andy was a webcomic about mad science. I mean, there was a bunch of other stuff in there, but all the best stuff was about mad science. Occasionally he’d break into a story with some actual continuity, but things like character development were never Andy Weir’s strong point. What he does really, really well is gadgets.

XKCD still has the best summary of this that I’ve ever heard.

I only ever knew about his attempt at a novel because I was reading his webcomic whenever it updated back in the heady days of 2004. Theft of Pride is the story of a sci-fi heist. The greatest jewel thief in the galaxy needs to steal the symbol of an alien race’s pride out from the midst of the most heavily guarded museum in known space. That sort of thing. The heist is pretty cool; there’s a lot of interesting world-building (I suspect that the whole thing started as a homebrew setting for a role-playing game) but all that is stuff that plays to Weir’s strengths. And the man’s writing has its weaknesses.

He borrowed his comic once to explicitly complain about a rejection; not a rejection from a publisher, but from a potential agent for his novel. I don’t know that that novel was exactly Theft of Pride, but the pattern fits. They thought he didn’t have enough characters in his story. “Feel free to edit and resubmit.” But it’s a heist. You can’t just add in characters to a heist; every additional person in a group noticeably weakens it, so your characters have to have good reasons to bring in these extra security risks. When you set out to write a novel that might be possible. When you’ve got it already finished, adding more into that matrix gets very, very difficult. How do you fix that? That’s Bob’s job. Bob was there, too.

[…] I jokingly came up with randomly adding “Bob was there, too” throughout the story.

This spawned a running joke within my group of friends and a fun activity. Take a book you like, open to a random page and read a paragraph. At the end, add “Bob was there, too.” This can be particularly entertaining if you end up reading a paragraph from a sex scene.

It works reasonably well. From that point on Bob showed up as a running gag in the strip. A whole slew of comics would go by with nothing and then, well

Back to Artemis. This is a post about Artemis, did you forget? It’s only been half the post since I’ve mentioned it. It’s an Andy Weir novel, in both the good and the bad sense. In the good sense, it’s got wonderful gadgets. His lunar society is well thought out, the devices that you need to keep society alive and functioning on the moon are logically engineered. The ways to defeat them are also well thought out. The ways to sabotage those devices don’t just seem logical, they seem inevitable. That’s the mark of good craftsmanship.

On the downside, well, Weir still hasn’t figured out how to do people. You can tell why The Martian was his breakout novel, the whole setup of a man lost on Mars forces it to be all gadgets and no person-to-person relationships. It’s not that his main character makes stupid decisions, or speaks crudely, or talks like a total jerk to one and all; those can all be done well. It’s that she jingles when she’s supposed to jangle, and jangles when she’s supposed to jingle. It’s as if Weir is singing slightly out of tune. You can’t blame him; he’s mimicking what he hears as well as he knows how, but it’s a little off-putting, and it makes you start looking for the props. You notice the piano wire holding up the spaceship, and the bit where someone spilled extra glue onto the model.

The opening scene of Artemis has our hero running desperately across the moonscape, her suit punctured and leaking air. It’s a race against time to get her into the airlock before the vacuum kills her. Bob was there, too. There’s a second character out with her, an EVA suit master who’s testing her for admission to that particular guild. His name is Bob. Now that I saw Bob I was watching for him. And Bob… Bob was there, too. He’s a minor character, he keeps showing up in the book, but the whole story could have been written without him. He makes contributions to the plot but those could have been handled with a little reshuffling of the other characters. I think Weir knew this, and I think he named that guy Bob as a hint to us long-term fans** to that effect.

That’s what I mean by the downside. I can see the piano wires. When Captain Kirk fought the Gorn we all saw the guy in a rubber suit, and perhaps even recognized the Vazquez rocks. That’s okay. I wasn’t there for the special effects, I was there for the story. And the story was a pretty neat one. Here I’m going in the opposite direction. Weir’s story can be predictable. His characters remind you that they’re figments on a page, not real people. His lamps have a tendency to burn through his lampshades.

You know what though? None of that matters. I still liked the book a great deal. It doesn’t qualify as one of the great works of the western canon, but it definitely scratches the gadget itch good and hard. I have suspicions about some of his science, but the fact that I do is only because I didn’t stop to repeat the MST3K mantra to myself. If he’s going to tell me that moon cities will have pure oxygen atmospheres at 21% of Earth’s normal pressure then I’m willing to believe him. He’s done his homework. I’m glad I’ve read this book, and I’m looking forward to reading his next book.

In a couple years.


*No, I’m not actually making any of that up. It’s called Code Name Dawson’s Creek, and it’s from the Young Blood Beer Co out of Madison, WI. The can confidently informs me “This tripe IPA is absolutely bursting with dank vibes.” I don’t know what that means either.

**Sorry; got to finish the beer now that I’ve opened it up.

Was Rittenhouse as Big as the OJ Trial?

 

There’s a grain of truth in this tweet from Dinesh D’Souza. In some ways, this was the O.J. trial for those of us who believe in the Second Amendment and the right of self-defense. We followed it with the same passion and the same interest, but our interest wasn’t due to the celebrity nature of the defendant.

Kyle Rittenhouse may have been the defendant, but what was really up for grabs inside that courtroom was our ability to protect what matters most to us. Kyle defended his life against three felons who used a variety of methods of lethal force. If Kyle were to be found guilty of murder in any of those incidents, it would have established a precedent that the politics surrounding a criminal case can override the merits of the case itself. That he was declared innocent of his crimes by a jury of his peers gives us hope that we might get through this craziness with our Constitution and our sanity intact.

The war is not over, but a major battle has been won. Onward to victory.

Oh Republicans, How Can You Screw Up the 2022 Elections? Let Us Count the Ways…

 

There’s no doubt that since the early morning hours of 3 November, the GOP has been on a bit of a sugar high.  After the victories of Glenn Youngkin and Winsome Sears in Virginia and the strong showing of Republicans in other states, Conservatives have been plucked from the depths of despair.  Suddenly, their future is no longer as bleak as they had feared.

It seems to me that every day brings fresh predictions of a GOP return to power.  Two nights ago, I heard Newt Gingrich confidently state that Republicans will be gaining anywhere from 40 to 78 seats in the house and four to six seats in the Senate.  Last night, I saw an interview in which Lauren Boebert (R-CO) revealed that she is working on congressional committee assignments (for the new Congress) which will serve as “payback” to those nasty Democrats.

Try as I may, I can’t get on the Republican Victory Train; at least, not yet.  I’ve seen the GOP snatch defeat from the jaws of victory before, using a variety of methods:

  1. Run candidates who quickly became unelectable for any number of reasons.  Does anyone remember the names of Christine (“I’m not a witch”) O’Donnell or Todd (“A woman’s body shuts down during a legitimate rape”) Akin?  These were two individuals who had real shots at victory until their stupidity took over and, instead, became national jokes.  Does the GOP have more candidates such as these waiting in the wings?
  2. Run candidates who persist in speaking with the wrong media outlets.  What Republican in their right mind would grant an interview to the professional haters at MSNBC or CNN?
  3. Run candidates that act like a deer caught in the headlights each time they’re called a racist.  Republicans need to face up to it; in the eyes of the MSM, they will always be White Supremacists.  Instead of meekly denying the accusations, they should snarl with all the force they can muster, “You’re full of [expletive]!” to their accusers.
  4. Run candidates who cannot speak to cultural issues and economic issues with equal passion.  Yes, abortion is an important issue but peoples’ ears pick up even more when it comes to bread and butter issues, especially in economically depressed areas.
  5. Run candidates who are too slow to go on the offense, tying their opponents to skyrocketing crime rates, illegal immigration, and our miserable education system.
  6. Run candidates who believe that their flippant remarks (and tweets) will endear them to the electorate.  Democrats can get away with that; Republicans can’t.
  7. Run candidates with, shall we say, conflicted personalities.  Thirteen Republicans voted for Biden’s infrastructure bill; need I say more?

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m getting the idea that Republicans believe that all they have to do to win back control of Congress is to run out and buy a wardrobe of fleece vests and practice up on their CRT platitudes.  This is dangerous thinking.

So far, the war between the “Moderates” and the Progressives of the Democratic Party has worked to the advantage of the Republicans.  So has the incredible incompetence of the Biden Administration.

However, simply standing back and waiting for the Democrats to self-destruct is not a strategy.  The Republican Party will have to step up and show the electorate that it is worthy to run the Nation.  By the same token, they will need to take each member of the Biden Cabinet and show how they are manifestly incompetent at their jobs.  In other words, they will need to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it.” (I don’t understand why the GOP cannot master this technique.  When Secretary of Commerce Raimondo asserted that “there’s no point in talking about decoupling” (our economy from Red China’s) the GOP should have been all over her.  Instead, the response was crickets.)

For my part, I don’t want “nice” GOP candidates.  I want steely-eyed men and women; White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and every other ethnic group who love this country more than they want a career in politics or a job as a highly paid lobbyist. I want GOP candidates who will smile coldly at their opponents and hand them their asses on the debate stage.  I want GOP candidates who will address their local and state Chamber of Commerce and bluntly ask them, “What do you love the most, this country or your bottom line?”

I do not have a great degree of confidence in GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.  I can’t explain it; I just don’t believe she’s up to the job.  What is she doing to prevent shenanigans (such as those that occurred in Atlanta in 2020) from recurring in 2022?  If she is doing anything, I haven’t heard anything about it.

“Irrational Exuberance” is a term usually found within the confines of Wall Street.  However, I am beginning to see instances of it within the GOP, when it comes to the 2022 elections.  Maybe I’m being overly cautious.  However, I’ll wait before I get on the bandwagon.

What do you think?

How (Not) to Respond to a Celebrated Trial Verdict

 

Call me an outlier, but I’m not one of those cheering or condemning the verdict from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

That’s because judicial trials, especially jury trials, are not political campaigns. Or, they shouldn’t be. We should only cheer for justice based on the preponderance of evidence courtesy of a jury of peers fairly selected and a trial well-administered by a seasoned judge.

We honor, trust, and respect, not celebrate or condemn, the verdict. Either way. That’s the way it is supposed to work. Whether we may agree or not.

But it doesn’t anymore, especially in the cesspool of social media and the swamps of mainstream media. Where all things are political. Today’s celebrated trials are no different from football games, where we show up in our jerseys, seating ourselves on the right side of the field, and cheering for our team to win while trashing the referees and challenging the outcomes. We are beginning to resemble the fall of the Roman Empire.

That’s not how the legal system is supposed to work – you know, “justice”. Yet how many of you – us – were cheering for a specific verdict based on the narratives we’d bought into? What happened with waiting for the system to actually, you know, work?

The Rittenhouse trial is tragic on so many levels. A young man – a teenager – without a father at home will never be allowed to have an everyday life. He will be forever known as, well, Kyle Rittenhouse of Kenosha fame, or infamy, depending on your predetermined political biases.

Two men, both without fathers and with criminal records – one a convicted pedophile – are dead. Another young man, also possibly sans a father and a lengthy rap sheet, was seriously wounded.

Spot a trend here? Maybe that’s where our focus should be.

A presidential candidate, Joe Biden, and scores of media personalities smeared and possibly defamed a teenager as a “white supremacist.” And worse, without a shred of evidence. But it was politically convenient. We do have anti-defamation laws, but they are hard if not impossible to prosecute, especially for a teenager against powerful, entrenched politicians. But Kyle does have precedent, courtesy of Nicholas Sandmann. Do I need to remind you of his story? The Washington Post and others settled a defamation suit out of court. Sandmann is financially set for life as a result.

And Kyle Rittenhouse, in fairness, probably has a stronger case against both media outlets (looking at you, Joy Reid) and even presidential candidate now sitting in the White House. Lawyer up, dudes, because he might have a case.

Call me old-fashioned and naive, but what happened to respect for our institutions and especially our system of justice? They’re not perfect, of course, but at least our third branch of government mostly still works. Under duress.

Those who smeared Rittenhouse as a “white supremacist” or a “vigilante” were clearly proven wrong if not malicious during the trial. Just as with George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin) and so many others who were falsely accused and even deemed guilty in social media when it was convenient for political purposes. And that was the point, wasn’t it? The narrative rules, no matter how wrong it obviously was.

The Rittenhouse trial and verdict prove that our system of justice still works, if tenuously. The prosecutors brought their case. The evidence was presented, if inartfully and incompetently. The judge presided cautiously and prudently, if not colorfully. And the carefully-sequestered jury decided after nearly three days of careful deliberation. Apparent efforts to intimidate the jury were not successful. Thank God.

The verdict was unanimous. We should respect and accept it, and move on. Forget “Build Back Better.” Give me, “Bring Back America.” And give Kyle and everyone else a chance to rebuild their shattered lives.

Professor or Comrade?

 

In his inimitable style, Senator John Kennedy quickly got to the point on Saule Omarova’s nomination to become Comptroller of the Currency, stating:

“I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”

Despite my great admiration for Senator Kennedy, I think he and other critics partially miss the point here. It was routine for university students to join Komsomol, the Communist Youth League. Studying scientific communism and writing a thesis titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital” is not surprising for a Soviet student. And once the Soviet Union collapsed, there was nowhere to send a resignation letter to. These were simply the actions of a young, aspiring student.

(Just a minor point on Omarova’s contention that “everyone” joined Komsomol. That is not true. Christian believers such as Baptists and Pentecostals and other dissidents did NOT join it and other Communist organizations and paid a heavy price.)

What should bother us about Omarova is what she has said and written afterward. Calling for the debanking of oil and gas production and the end of private bank accounts and mocking the industry that she would regulate as an “a******” industry should be disqualifying. Debanking a legal industry such as oil and gas is far beyond the powers allotted to the federal government under the commerce clause. Not to mention the damage it would do the economy. Ending private bank accounts and establishing them at the Federal Reserve would create a totalitarian state that would eclipse the Soviet Union.

If Omarova doesn’t believe these things, why doesn’t she denounce them wholeheartedly? The answer is she can’t because she still believes them – she published them in 2019 and 2020. Joining Komsomol as a university student in the 1980s is merely a relic of a dead empire. But today she believes in the Green New Deal and financial totalitarianism. She shouldn’t be disqualified because she was a young, naive comrade three or four decades ago. She should be disqualified because she is a typical lefty professor today.

FL Gov Signs Law Rejecting Vaccine Mandate – Jobs Saved

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law that Floridians cannot lose their jobs if they choose to reject the COVID-19 vaccine.  This is huge.  It was the main headline on this evening’s local news.

Since the national mandate, there were protests in front of Sacred Heart, our local (Catholic ) hospital, when staff and medical professionals were let go after refusing the vaccine.  They are now being called back to work.  This happened quickly.  Last week protests – this evening jobs restored. My sister-in-law, a home health care nurse, along with several of her staff, were also being forced to get the jab (after it being a choice up until now).  They had to fill out exception forms, which she did and it was accepted just this week.

She and her staff have been on the front lines of healthcare, traveling to the homes of sick seniors from county to county throughout COVID, including caring for COVID patients.  She is tested weekly and they have strict protocol in place. They found a way to get to patients even after Hurricane Michael, navigating flooded roads and devastating conditions. Health care workers never seem to rest; weather, disease, they are always there to care for the sick.  There is already a shortage of workers across the country, no doubt some of it attributed to the vaccine mandate.

So it was great news from DeSantis, and I’m sure influenced her company’s pardon.

https://www.local10.com/news/local/2021/11/18/gov-ron-desantis-expected-to-sign-vaccine-mandate-ban-into-law/

I watch our state’s COVID numbers weekly, and they are very low, in spite of the regular onslaught of vacationers and influx of hoards attending large annual events, such as Thunder Beach (thousands of bikers descend twice a year to the Panhandle), a huge custom vintage car show, several national jazz and country music events, triathlons, softball tournaments, Spring break, to name a few.

Yet, the governor says no lockdowns – no way, and the COVID numbers still keep going down. 

Being able to work, provide for your family, pay your bills and choose how to take care of your health should be the right of everyone.  DeSantis chose to sign the bill in Brandon, Florida.  I’ll leave that to your imagination…..

Rittenhouse Verdict Reactions

 

Democrats are predictably unhinged. “This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable. It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free.” I am mystified about how a trial of a white man for shooting three other white man is “white supremacy.”

Also, they’re blatantly lying about what happened.  The chairman of the DCCC stated that Jacob Blake was 1) unarmed and 2) killed, neither of which is true. (Democrats lie about everything, all the time, but apparently, we are supposed to take them at their word when they swear they counted the votes honestly.)

Professional race-baiters are of course outraged. “We just witnessed a system built on white supremacy validate the terroristic acts of a white supremacist.” – Colin Kaepernick, my prior comment still applies.

Here’s a good one: One sexual predator angry that another fellow sexual predator was taken out and the killer escaped.

The Anti-Trumps seem to have decided on a common talking point: “Yes, he should have been acquitted, but he never should have been there!” I don’t think this is a principled talking point, I think it’s merely expedient; a way of hair-splitting that will keep their new, left-wing audiences and paymasters satisfied. It’s absurd to assert that Rittenhouse “shouldn’t have been there,” but the various rioters, rapists, and criminals should have.

Some, like the “Expert” Tom Nichols, are latching onto the “It would have been a different outcome if a black man were tried under the same circumstances.”  Not only are hypotheticals unpersuasive, a black man was, in fact, tried under similar circumstances and found not guilty. So that entire contention is racialist garbage.

And of course, if you had a drinking contest to take a shot every time a leftist squealed “He crossed state lines,” you would have died of alcohol poisoning about 38 seconds after the verdict.

And those are just the tip of the iceberg. What crazy reactions have you seen?

A Few Questions About the Rittenhouse Case…

 

First, suppose one or more of the people that Rittenhouse shot in self-defense had been black – do you think that would that have affected the outcome of this trial?  I suspect that if one or more of the people who had attacked Rittenhouse had been black, he would have been found guilty.  I just can’t imagine a jury acquitting him in that case.  But perhaps not – what do you think?

Next, Rittenhouse was criticized for driving in from out of town to participate in the riot.  Or to protect people from the rioters.  Or whatever.  I tend to agree – I think that showed poor judgement on his part, although once he was there, he showed remarkable restraint in shooting only to defend himself from immediate deadly force.  I’m not sure that I could have limited myself as he did – panic takes over, and I can see my self over-reacting in that situation.  Anyway, the three men that he shot – all of them had criminal records, as I understand it.  I wonder if they were from out of town, like Rittenhouse?  And if so, how many people at Black Lives Matter riots are shipped in from out of town?  And if so, why is this not being talked about?

Lastly, I’m not sure how Rittenhouse is supposed to go to college and get a job like anybody else.  Does he have a case to sue people for libel or something for lost earnings?  Who?  Could he sue news outlets?  What about President Biden?  What about actors and public figures who said horrible things about him before and during the trial?  Would he have a chance of winning these cases?  Could he come out with enough money to live on for a while?  I don’t know enough about law to speculate on such things.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Show Some Love for the Newest Republican

 

Texas State (not DC) Representative Ryan Guillen just jumped ship from the evil party to the stupid party — welcome, sir! He’s in the Texas State House, not national, but the reception he’s getting on the Fox News YouTube video is heartwarming, and we may assume that comes from a national audience.

Good on Fox for highlighting him (note obvious white supremacist reporter), and I commend TX State Rep Guillen for moving with not only his conscience but with the values of his constituents.

You all know that I’m black-pilled about elections (and about the national party as a body), but just as with volunteering a lot in Virginia, this is a game of inches, and the current environment of election fraud makes these seemingly minor gains more important, not less.

Known by the Enemies One Keeps

 

I’ve often said that my enthusiasm for Donald Trump owed a lot to those arrayed against him: anyone who invited such scorn and hatred from such miserable excuses of humanity as the hyper-vitriolic left must have something going for him.

I find myself feeling the same about young Mr. Rittenhouse. Just as I long ago stopped criticizing President Trump because the criticism heaped on him by others was so over-the-top, so too will I refrain from expressing anything other than wholehearted support for Mr. Rittenhouse.

Congratulations, Kyle, for prevailing in court. I hope public support for you from conservative America is overwhelming, and that it more than makes up for the ordeal through which you’ve been put. You have my best wishes for a prosperous and successful future.

Quote of the Day: For Us the Living…

 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Commemorating the 158th anniversary of one of the greatest speeches in human history, The Gettysburg Address, given at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg PA.

I titled this post as I did with our too-soon-departed friend, the late Boss Mongo in mind.  Many times did he rescue a post verging on the edge of maudlin, by wading in and reminding us that those who gave much–and sometimes all–in the fight to preserve our liberties and our way of life did so for us, the living.  And he urged us to honor those sacrifices by enjoying our lives, our  Memorial Day picnics, and all our annual celebrations with our families to the fullest.  He said that’s exactly what those valiant hearts would have wanted.  And that they would not have wanted to guilt us into wasting our lives in sadness and regret.

This year, I’m going to enjoy the holiday season to the fullest extent I can.  And, in a spirit of boundless gratitude, give thanks to those whose sacrifices have made such a thing possible.  It’s that gratitude which allows me to–in Lincoln’s words–“resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”  Unlike many (it seems to me) in this day and age, I don’t think I’m ‘owed’ the blessings in my life; I know that they come at a price, and I’m eternally grateful to those who have paid it on my behalf.  Thank you.

Happy Holidays, Ricochet!  God Bless.

Member Post

 

“Vaccinated English adults under 60 are dying at twice the rate of unvaccinated people the same age” –Alex Berenson here The author is unable to give any explanation for this but this: The vaccinations are causing the difference in death rate. If any of our intellectuals has one, please give it in the Comments?  I […]

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Member Post

 

D’Artagnan of The Three Musketeers fame won the golden laurels for LC in Chapter 7’s contest,[1] and she asks: Who is the best written villain in fiction? For some reason this week there are old-fashioned uniformed policemen peering out nervously from behind pillars and statues (♪ A po-lice-man’s lot is not an ’appy one – […]

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Member Post

 

Given that the purpose of the No Dumb Questions podcast was to have members be able to ask questions of people, who better to determine who to ask than the membership? Victor Davis Hanson – the man has a lot of fans on this site (myself included), and I think even people who disagree with […]

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We Must Remain a Nation of Laws

 

Kyle Rittenhouse was found “Not Guilty” on all counts. There has been a lot of background noise on the events that occurred in Kenosha on August 25, 2020, that resulted in the deaths of two men and the wounding of one.

My personal opinion is that laws are written to provide a consistent process to prosecute, and defend specific actions when someone is charged with a crime. Laws do not prevent someone from committing a crime as much as we would like that to be true. Most criminals commit crimes because they believe they will not be caught.

If Kyle Rittenhouse had asked for my advice about going to Kenosha on August 25, 2020, I would have advised against it. It’s the same advice I would have given to any of you about placing yourself in a situation that you cannot control. I’ve been in those situations as a former police officer. From domestic disputes, traffic stops, working demonstrations, and welfare checks, I was placed in the position of having to react and assess a situation in a matter of seconds in some of those incidents.

That being said the Rittenhouse trial involved a specific action(s) involving a specific statute, specific elements of the statute, and allowable defenses to the statute. Nothing else matters. The jurors reached their decision after examining the facts. This is how the law should work.

The background noise comes from individuals that don’t know the law and have no desire to understand the law. The mob has no conscience, they have desires. Conscience becomes desire, and whim, and whims are enforced by a fist. Mindless violence was tolerated for an entire summer. Kyle Rittenhouse was not responsible for this. Elected officials who abandoned their responsibility to uphold the law by ordering police officers to stand down as their cities were being destroyed are responsible for this.

I Want to Believe

 

RDS — in answer to a Democrat Media Operative journalist’s question – explains why he (unlike Glenn Youngkin) will not allow local bureaucrats to impose lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

This is the kind of talk that gives David Brooks the whim-whams. It is in stark contrast to the Authoritarian Bureaucratic Micromanagement that is central to the governing philosophy of the National Ruling Party. (“Keep Parents out of  schools!” “Render the Unvaccinated Unemployable!” “Prosecute the Enemies of the Party!”) I wish every Republican spoke like RDS. More importantly, I wish the talk were followed up with action. The remarks were in the context of RDS signing a bill banning vaccine mandates. It’s a stark contrast with the National Controlled Opposition Party’s record of failure theater, betrayal, and collaboration with the Ruling Party.

And therein lies my dilemma. I like what RDS is saying, and the example he is setting. But after so many years of being kicked in the teeth (and lower places) by his party… over and over and over again… I’m not ready to trust him. And I certainly don’t trust the party, or Conservatism, Inc. We saw what they did to Trump. And we saw how many members of Conservatism, Inc., were just grifters who readily abandoned their “principles” when wealthy leftists waved checks in front of them.

It’s hopeful to think RDS is an antidote to the black pill, but important to remember for every DeSantis, there’s at least twenty Youngkins, Hogans, DeWines, Kinzingers, Cheneys, Romneys, and Bushes in the Republican Party. (“But we need a big tent.”) I don’t give a Bill Kristol about your big tent. Winning means nothing to me unless I have more Liberty after a Republican win than I did before.

A Feast of Books

 

When I was growing up, I read like I breathed. I remember reading an entire book (or close to it) during church one time (before my parents stopped letting me read during church, haha). I told one of my parents’ friends about it after the service and he did not believe me, but that’s who I was. I read all the time.

Then, college and the Internet hit, and I stopped having a lot of time to read. After that, I found my attention span had been greatly affected, and so I just chose not to read much.

However, a few years ago, I started really reading again, and I would say this year has been my greatest feast on books in a long time. Part of it is because I discovered audiobooks, but even so, I’ve actually read 24 physical books so far this year, and I’m almost done with another one with plans to read at least two more. My total right now is 40 books for the year, but it should at least get up to 45. My goal was 30 (20 physical books and 10 audiobooks). 

I think my favorite physical book I’ve read overall is probably Persuasion, by Jane Austen (a re-read), and my favorite audiobooks were the Harry Potter series (sorry to be a typical millennial). My favorite new book might be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was part of my quest to read classic literature that I missed growing up. I’ve made a list of 50 classic books that are almost all different authors, and I am working my way through them a little at a time. This year, from that list, I also read Brave New World (which was my overall least favorite book of the year – I would not have finished it if it hadn’t been the audio version), The Great Gatsby, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The book I’m reading now is Frankenstein, and that will be my last “new classic” for the year.

Next, I’m going to turn my focus to Christmas books. I started the Chronicles of Narnia audiobooks so that I can listen to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe during the Christmas season (I’ve read them before, so I thought I’d listen this time). I also read the first six Trixie Belden books, and the last one of those was a Christmas book. (I don’t know if anyone here read Trixie Belden, but my mom and sister love them, so I decided to finally give them a try – they are so fun!) I’ll finish out the year with Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Andrew Klavan’s new book, When Christmas Comes. 

Bon appetit! 

Member Post

 

If all of what we see here is true as represented, it sounds like Mitch McConnell wanted to congratulate the pieces of garbage who voted against the party for the Infrastructure bill, or something like it.  And MTG just might not be havin’ it. EDIT: Took down the original “tweet” for now(?) — veracity in […]

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Why Does Esau Get Rewarded?

 

In the story of the rival twins, Jacob and Esau, Jacob emerges as the winner, the inheritor of the mantle of his fathers, the blessings that his seed will inherit the land.

But Esau is not actually a loser in the text. On the contrary, the Torah goes to great lengths to tell us of Esau’s lineage, and the fact that the Jewish people have no claim whatsoever to the land of Esau, that we must respect Esau’s boundaries and sovereignty.

The obvious question of course, is: why? What does Esau do that merits this treatment?

And I think the answer, like all of these answers, is in the text. In summary:

Jacob deceives his father to steal his brother’s blessing. Esau is enraged and wants to kill Jacob. Jacob flees, and stays away for a few decades, making no contact at all with his parents or brother.

Then, Jacob comes back. When he does, he proactively sends messengers to his brother, bearing gifts of all kinds. When they meet in person, he bows down many times to Esau, calling him “my lord,”, and finally says “My blessing is yours.” In other words, Jacob clearly tries to undo what he had done.  Jacob is giving back what he had stolen.

At this point, Esau has a choice. He traveled to meet Jacob with four hundred men, so he was ready for anything. When Jacob placates him, Esau chooses to accept the gift – and in full. He even offers to escort Jacob to their parents, traveling at whatever speed suited Jacob’s family and herds. Jacob declines, and something is made clear: the future of the Jewish legacy belongs to Jacob, and Esau is not invited. The rejection is polite and it is gentle, but it is firm: Jacob seeks to have no more relationship with Esau, none at all.

And Esau is given another choice: how does he handle the rejection? The answer is that he acts like a perfect gentleman, a mensch. Whatever his feelings may have been, his words and actions are perfectly in concord with civil and cordial acceptance.

This is, as with all things in the Torah, a lesson to us. We are used to learning from Jacob, but the Torah is setting Esau up to be an example to follow as well: accept apologies. Respect the wishes of others if they have no intention of harming us. Be a mensch, even – and especially – when you are being rejected. And if you manage to do those things, then G-d will respect and reward you in turn.

[an @iwe and @susanquinn production]

Member Post

 

Republicans came out in force to flip Virginia in the face of cultural and social wars on traditional values. Let us be clear. People did not vote in Virginia for the typical GOP played out garbage that is 35 years past its prime. People did not come to the polls for corporate tax cuts. The […]

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The Difficulty of Loving My Neighbor

 

There remains faith, hope, and love. And the most difficult of these is love.

Loretta and I rented a teardrop trailer and set out to visit three KOA campgrounds on our way to Savannah and back. A week of shared cooking, setup, and keeping out of the rain together was the stuff of building intimacy.

One thing that surprised me in the recreational-vehicle world (our little canned ham bed on wheels is on the microbial end of the travel-trailer food chain) is how insular everyone is. People drive into camp with their mansions on wheels equipped with a sunken tub, a mini-bar, a stocked kitchen, and big screen TVs. The only reason we actually saw people is because recreation technology has not yet perfected the ability walk one’s dog inside, thus forcing them out into this brave new world of social interaction.

But even with our outdoor kitchen and canopy and my mixed success at building roaring campfires, the KOAs were a bit of a fantasy land. Living in a partitioned-off area of lakeside views, with neatly manicured lots, symmetrical fire pits, helpful yellow-shirted staff on golf carts, pristine restrooms with hot showers, and pizza and wood delivery service, gave us a restful time away while maintaining the illusion of roughing it. If Daniel Boone were to show up with a propane refill, he would have captured the ethos and fit right in.

One night, we needed to buy some food, so we left our gated community and entered the city around us. The area felt depressed, with make-do housing and few services. Neighborhoods of houses with dead grass were bookmarked by iron-barred convenience stores and a venturous Chinese to-go restaurant. We drove past the adult supercenter where desperate men go at night and pulled into the Food Lion.

We were from out of town. That much was obvious. Yet the humanity was not that different. Tired moms trying to keep within budget pushed carts carrying children donning intricate African braids. Obese people and two or three with oxygen tanks shuffled through the meat section, wheezing the evidence of a hard lifetime of cheap foods and little time for exercise.

“Hey dawg!” cried a man in a vernacular I would never dare attempt. He hugged affectionately a cheerful, plump woman who retorted “whattsup,” expressing the affection of friends. At the register, I playfully toyed with a little hair-braided girl with a Hello Kitty T-shirt, nervously hoping I wasn’t somehow violating some unwritten rules of race relations. The mother seemed pleased, so I assumed I was safe.

These were a people with lives. People with hopes and dreams and struggles and attachments and addictions and triumphs and disappointments and commitments to God and losing loved ones and faith and doubts. I wouldn’t begin to know how to love these people — to truly will the best for them — because I was outside their neighborhood. I was from an entirely different context, my nose pressed against a window looking in, without the time or ability to know them truly or understand fully what would truly benefit them. We were only passing through for cream and a few vegetables.

Jesus ministered effectively because he was an insider. The incarnation is not only the mystery that God became man but the fact that he lived, experienced, and studied from the inside. He walked among his people for 30 years as a skilled laborer before he opened his mouth to even suggest someone follow him.

Contemporary thinkers of social ministries warn, often in vain, that the church must somehow cure itself of its “soup kitchen” mentality where we swoop in with our cheap food, report excitedly amongst ourselves how this homeless, slightly inebriated man named Indian Moose who prayed tearfully with us (not realizing, of course, that Indian Moose prays tearfully with every group that comes through), and then swoop back to our normal lives and families and co-workers and friends without asking the most basic of questions: “What would really (I mean really) help to get one or two of these people out of the state they are in? How do we truly love them? How do we truly will the good for them? But we can’t really answer these questions because their world remains a foreign land, and we really don’t know them because our team is merely passing through.

Yet there are places where we are incarnated. We live in neighborhoods and endure jobs for years. We live in extended families and connect with friends. We may find ourselves to our own surprise among those in addiction recovery rooms or cancer treatment centers. We lead sports teams, join hiking clubs, or find ourselves getting to know other foster parents or writers or political warriors or pickle ball players or public school parents or people learning to grieve loss.

We resist the notion that this may indeed be our mission field, our corner of the garden we are called to cultivate, the people we are called to relate to and to love. Instead, we valorize those with the newsletters exploding with striking reports of amazing encounters and one-off, epic events before they are swept off by the spirit to their next adventure.

But incarnation implies staying, being one of them, being part of their community, understanding who they are as we understand ourselves, working through annoyances and conflicts, and often remaining for a very, very long time — and sometimes wondering if you and I are doing any good at all. But we stay and we pray and we try because God doesn’t command us to love the world (those faceless abstractions out there somewhere). He commands us “to love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

After checkout, Loretta and I left the Food Lion and drove back through the darkened streets and through the gates into our manicured KOA camp. The sun settled behind the lake, and we drenched our campfire made of pre-cut wood. We climbed into our teardrop trailer, locked the door to the outside world, and went to sleep.

Wait, What?

 

I know we are all really getting tired of the whole COVID thing, but little items like these keep popping up. From “Meaning in History,” today I learn that the Food and Drug Administration has asked a federal judge to grant it until the year 2076 to fully release Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine data. That’s right sports fans, the FDA wants 55 years to fully release the vaccine data. How did the FDA come up with this number, you ask? Well, according to the Freedom of Information Act request, Page 3, “FDA has assessed that there are more than 329,000 pages potentially responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request. (This page count is under-inclusive of the material responsive to the request, as it does not include certain types of records that cannot be meaningfully paginated, such as data captured in spreadsheets that contain thousands of rows of data.)” The problem is with the scheduling of the release of this information, as outlined on Page 4 of said FOIA request. What the FDA wants is “to process and produce the non-exempt portions of responsive records at a rate of 500 pages per month.” Let’s stop here for a moment and do some simple math. The FDA has 329,000 pages of data to process. It wants to process these pages at a rate of 500 pages a month. So, 329,000 pages divided by 500 pages released per month equals 658 months to process all the documents. And 658 months divided by 12 months in one year equals 54.83 years.

The plaintiff in this FOIA (Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency) has requested this data to be provided to it within a four-month period, but the FDA says, “Plaintiff’s request (as set forth below) that FDA process and produce the non-exempt portions of more than 329,000 pages in four months would force FDA to process more than 80,000 pages per month. Undersigned counsel is not aware of any court ever granting such a request. The Court should decline to enter Plaintiff’s schedule for numerous reasons.” The “reasons” are covered in Pages 4-14 of the FOIA request. Bottom line: We know we are going to have to tell you plebs something, and we are going to do it in our own good time (insert middle finger here).

Member Post

 

“Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” Seems I suddenly have a new son. Well, almost. He’s my youngest son’s best friend. He’s a good kid but he has […]

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The Long Way Home

 

Generally, he just wanted it to end.

Mostly, he remembered it hurting a lot. Being captured by lizard men had not been on his to-do list for the day or even the century. Being interrogated by the same, even less so. But the man who remained known as “Beau” was determined not to tell ’em so. It’d only please them. Besides, he had a strong suspicion that the moment he told them what they wanted to know, the sooner he’d be let out the airlock without a spacesuit ­– space-lizards were renowned for having an “odd” sense of humour.

‘Beauregard Brummel – you persist in maintaining that is your real name? Do you think I was spawned yesterday?’

And that was another problem. The interrogator. Straight-up lizard men were one thing. This one looked as if she had a distant cousin of human some way back in her family tree. And that was part of the trouble – her eyes – they still looked human, vaguely.

‘Where do you come from?’

“Beau” kept his mouth shut.

‘You need something to loosen your tongue? I have a wide selection of “persuaders” in my holding luggage. Though it will take several days for it to arrive – I go where the work is, you know.’ She around and sat back down behind the control panel. ‘So when they told me that there’s a human been captured who won’t talk, it got my interest.’

The lizard-woman (lizard lady?) pushed a button and a mirrored screen descended from the ceiling. ‘My … colleagues are not very good at this sort of thing. You have been twice beaten within an inch of your existence, and yet still you refuse to talk. This intrigues me. “What sort of man is this?” I ask myself. “What does he know, that he does not talk?” ’

He could see his bruised reflection looking back at him from the mirrored screen. Self, it seemed to be saying to him, why do you do this to yourself? And another thing: How do you get yourself into these scrapes?

‘Come now,’ she said softly, ‘a mind is a terrible thing to lose.’

He looked up sharply at this. He couldn’t help it. She was smiling at him oddly.

‘You see, my colleagues – they don’t really understand humans. They don’t have the imagination. I do. Perhaps there is someone you’re protecting. Perhaps there are people you’d rather we didn’t know about back home – wherever home is.’ She paused to let this sink in. ‘Why not tell me the least of your worries, the military details only, and we can have a pleasant chat and they’ll give you a last smoke and a relatively painless farewell out the airlock. Or you can be shot, if you prefer.’

‘Shot’s good. I hadn’t got anything else planned. Do I get a blindfold?’

The lizard lady bared her teeth at him. ‘You will not get out of here so easily! I want to know who you’re working for! You fly in here on an unmarked fighter. Clearly, you are a spy or a clandestine agent of some kind. Clearly, you stand up to pain of a certain sort more than would be expected by my less subtle colleagues. And just as clearly, you know something. And I want to know what it is. And I promise you, I will make sure that you are kept alive to tell it to me. There’s no getting out of this one.’

‘Can I ask you a question?’ he said.

The lizard lady’s nostrils had puffed out on her curiously flattened nose. As she got her breathing under control, she looked at him with narrowed eyes. ‘If you wish.’

‘Just between us,’ he said carefully. ‘No microphones. Nothing recorded.

‘If it will get you to talk.’ She leaned in towards a microphone on the console, muttered a few words, and pushed a button. The background humming that had been ringing in his ears stopped.

He shifted slightly, and out of the corner of his vision, he could see that the tape deck where his interrogation had been being recorded had stopped.

‘See, the thing is, you say a lot. But I don’t think I believe you. So I want to ask: Who was it to you?’

She frowned at him. ‘Who was what?’

‘The human in your family.’

There was a low hiss. ‘What did you say?’

‘The—’

‘How dare you! You filthy, insulting little worm.’

He was still looking at the stilled tape deck. When he looked back, the lizard lady wasn’t in her seat. She was right in front of him, glaring into his eyes. ‘Say that again. If you dare. I may just forget that you’re supposed to live. After all, the guards could have broken a bone somewhere crucial in the previous interrogations. You humans are so fragile that way. Go ahead,’ she said, as if daring him to go on, ‘make my day.’

‘You don’t have to remain here you know.’

A hand gave his jaw a ringing slap.

‘There are places that would take you in.’

This time the slap fell on the other side of his face. He felt like a bell that was about to crack right down the middle.

‘There are places that can help you become fully human.’

He closed his eyes on instinct, waiting for what would probably be the end. Especially if she had a pistol on her.

The seconds stretched out. They seemed to go on and on forever, ticking away into the blackness.

He risked opening his eyes.

Oh, great. He’d made a grown lizard cry. The still all-too-human eyes were filling up with tears. Lips that weren’t quite fully lizard were shaking. Her hands were clenched into fists, as if she might either attack him, or attack herself.

He realised he was probably cutting his own throat with every word, but something moved him to try. And he wasn’t quite sure what: ‘They understand morphic fields better these days. There’s hope.’

‘Hope for someone like me?’ She gave him a bitterly amused smile. ‘Turn me human so they can hang me, is that it?’

‘I somehow doubt you’ve done half of what you try to make people believe you have.’

A deceptively strong, scaly hand gripped his neck. ‘Who told you that?’

‘You did,’ he said. Well, more sort of croaked. It was getting a bit hard to breathe.

‘I told you nothing.’

‘Your eyes …’ he murmured as his vision started to swim. ‘Your eyes told—’

He passed out. The last thing he remembered thinking was, guess I pushed it too far. Oh, well, at least he wouldn’t betray anyone.

*

He woke up feeling cold. There were no lights around. Just the stars ahead. Oh, well, time for the Long Journey Home. Always wondered what lay on the other side.

Guess he’d been wrong about her. Guess she was too far gone. The lizard had taken over, and he’d provoked her to the point where the lizard brain, the lizard mind, took over. Taken over so much that in cold rage she’d – well, he thought, at least dying hadn’t been so bad. Should he still hurt so much, though? He thought that death put a stop to all that …

Something sharp poked the back of his neck. It proved to be a glinting claw-like lizard fingernail. ‘Well,’ said a voice behind him, ‘I still don’t know how you knew, but if you meant it, I’d make with those controls if I were you. I drugged every dish in the canteen and committed quite a few acts of sabotage to get you here, so when they come around again they aren’t exactly going to be pleased to see either of us.’

He tried to turn around, but a hand gripped his shoulder and clawed fingers dug in hard. ‘Don’t. I don’t want anyone to remember what I looked like. And of course, if you don’t trust me, you’re quite free to use that ejector button once we’re out in space.’

She paused, letting that sink in.

‘I wouldn’t mind. It’d almost be a relief, really. It’d sort of be worth it just not to be like this anymore – I used to dream when I was … a little girl that when you died you got to be the person you always thought you should be inside … But if you were just stringing me along about the human thing, I’d prefer to end it that way, if you don’t mind.’

Now it was his turn to feel like crying. ‘I wasn’t,’ he croaked roughly. He’d be willing to bet there were claw-shaped bruise marks on his neck.

‘Then set the engines to silent glide and get us the frozen stars away out of here … By the way, what do I really call you – don’t tell me your name really is Beauregard?’

As he got the fighter to lift off shakily – he was a bit, aha, beaten up after ten days in lizard custody –they glided out the docking hatch into the cold starry night.

‘You don’t have to tell me,’ she said. ‘That is, if you don’t know if you can trust me. I’d understand.’

The catch in her voice was what decided it. Anyone could fake such a thing. But there are intonations and harmonics in … in a human voice that tell you certain things. And those aren’t easy to fake. At all.

He told her.

For a moment tension hung in the air. She could shoot him through his pilot’s chair, if she got the power setting right – or drug him – and fly the space-plane back into the hangar, and use what she’d learned for leverage. Maybe she could even find a way to break him and find out what the lizards would dearly like to know.

The silence hung in the air for a long moment.

Eventually, she said, ‘I don’t really have a name of my own. The name I bore back there doesn’t really count. I don’t want it. I never want to hear it again. No one who loved me ever chose that name. Oblivion can have it.’ She paused again, and he could feel it in the air, the tear-filled heaviness. ‘So, I am … nameless.’

He was accelerating fast now, bringing the plane up to speeds that would be considered crazy if you didn’t know what you were doing and weren’t anxious to get away from a lizard battle station with really, really heavy big guns potentially aiming after you.

He kept flying like that for quite a while, longer than he’d ever dared attempt before. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Maybe there was a tracking device on board. Maybe she’d disabled or destroyed it if there was. Maybe, maybe, maybe …

Eventually, what seemed like hours and hours later, passed in the silence of the black night of space drifting by (even if there was a tracker on board, he was pretty sure the way he was flying would have scrambled or fried it, so in a manner of speaking, the yolk would be on them), eventually, he said: ‘Would you like a name?’

He felt as much as heard the intake of breath, and for a moment wanted to kick himself – which wasn’t really practical in a pilot’s chair – part human still or not, the lizard must still have a certain strength in her, and that could be unpredictable. A cold-blooded rage could see them both spiralling off into burning star easily enough.

‘Who are you to ask me such a thing?’

He thought about it for a long moment, then took the plunge. ‘Just someone who cares what happens to you.’

The silence went on for a very long time this time. Time became impossible to judge. He half wondered whether they’d entered some sort of warp space while he was distracted by talking to her.

In the distance ahead there was the orange-gold glow of sunrise that made the planet ahead look red and white and swirly.

‘You truly mean that, don’t you?’ her voice managed disbelievingly. ‘How can you care for such a one as me? You don’t know anything about me.’

‘I know you probably haven’t ever really hurt anyone. I’ll bet it’s kept you awake nights before now, worrying how to cover it up that you haven’t.’

‘Who tells you these things? How can you know?!’

‘I told you. Your eyes told me.’

‘But I am a lizard. A reptile. A … a snake, as you would say.’

‘Maybe outside. But inside, you’re as transparent as the sky ahead: You’re still mostly human. Human enough. There have been monsters who’ve been human on the outside, but cold-blooded monsters right the way down. You shouldn’t have looked in my eyes like that if you didn’t want anyone to see it. Somewhere in there, there’s a soul yearning to breathe free, and a warm heart that doesn’t want to bleed cold. I … know a place that can help.’

He concentrated on steering, but he could feel her gaze about where his neck would be.

‘Are you going to get into trouble for this?’

‘It doesn’t matter …’ he tried to mumble.

Yes, it does,’ she said, decidedly firmly. ‘Are you going to get in trouble?’

‘Some.’

‘How much is “some”?’

‘It’s not important.’

‘If you want to help me, you will tell me – or so help me you’ll push that ejector button.’

He sighed. ‘Lose my commission, probably. Court-martial. Might serve a little time in the brig once all the dust settles.’

Her voice was a lot thicker when she spoke again. ‘Why are you doing all this?’

The plane started to warm a little as they got nearer to a friendly sun. ‘How honest do you want me to be?’

‘How honest can you be?’ she shot back.

‘… If you want the truth – I’d sooner be tortured to death than leave someone like you where you were. That’s the only way I can manage to say it. Whatever happens to me.’

They entered the planet’s atmosphere. Soon clouds, white and fluffy, drifted by. They were nearly home.

‘Yes,’ she said very quietly.

‘Sorry?’

‘Yes, I would like you to give me a name. A human name. Please.’

‘You’d trust me to do that? Just pick a name for you? Just like that?’

There was the feeling of an amused smile floating through the air of the space-plane’s cockpit. ‘I didn’t say I wouldn’t exercise a veto. But yes, as you put it, just like that …

This really wasn’t the time to have to think about something like this. He could fly in his sleep, but he wasn’t exactly in good shape, and he might as well be in his sleep if he wasn’t careful.

‘Are you ready?’ he said, as the land appeared beneath them through the clouds.

‘As I’ll ever be: do your worst,’ she challenged him.

‘In that case, I’ll call you Mercy, because that’s what you showed me.’

‘I—’

‘Let me finish: I’ll call you Grace, because all is not lost.’

‘But—’

He held up a finger. She let him speak.

‘And I’ll call you Hope,’ he said. ‘Because you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.’

‘… Mercy Grace Hope? That’s three names. I’ll get confused.’

‘Hey, you try living up to “Beauregard” sometime …’

A hand clutched his shoulder again, causing him to swerve out of the way of a high-flying bird. After he steadied himself again, she said, ‘Thank you for the names, Beau. I’ll try to live up to them.’ Her voice, if possible, sounded so heavy that it practically gurgled.

‘And if I have anything to say about it –’ she continued, ‘once I’m human – I won’t let them court-martial you. I don’t know if they still do that sort of thing, but I remember when I was small finding a … human storybook. It had pictures in it, and such beautiful stories. They took it away from me when they found it … at the orphanage … and they thought they were being … kind by not telling anyone about it. But I remember … I remember hoping that a knight would come rescue me someday. That there was a hero out there for me … and a friend …’

“Beau” decided then and there that he’d never admit he heard the sobbing sounds behind him The hand clutching his shoulder was threatening to leave bruises there too, even through his flying jacket.

Eventually, breathing heavily and liquidly, Mercy Grace Hope said near his ear: ‘Thank you for making that dream come true …’

Beau never did know how he landed the plane afterward, because although he was pretty sure she never told anyone either, he would have bet he was crying all the way home.

You know what they say: No one is ever truly lost who has the heart to find a way home.

As the plane touched down on solid ground he felt the sigh of relief through the hand still gripping his shoulder – and after they’d coasted to a stop and he’d helped her out of the plane, she threw her arms around him and gave him a hug that threatened at one and the same time to break his ribs and for entirely different reasons to take his breath away.

And that was how Captain “Beau” arrived home with his life, his plane, an unexpected world-guest, and the most tear-soaked flight scarf in all creation. Which was exactly how they found them, half an hour later, still standing there just like that. The pilot and the girl who would be human.

He was released from the service after that, although without a blemish on his record, for all that.

And Mercy found that miracles are possible, and that dreams really can come true.

And they both lived happily ever after.

It had been a long way home, but it had been worth it, in …

… THE END.