CNN Is Better than Reality

 

When an interesting event occurs, I usually try to find out what happened. Sometimes, I’ll also read The New York Times or CNN’s website, to find out what the Democratic Party wants me to think about it. The second part is usually more interesting because the events themselves tend to be predictable and repetitive. But the efforts of Democrats to conceal reality behind layers of laughable leftism can be entertaining at times. Since the actual events can be boring and horrifying simultaneously, reading leftist propaganda rather than news can be a pleasant diversion. I’m convinced that some people intentionally watch CNN to avoid facing reality. The CNN version is better — more comforting. I understand.

Take, for example, the Texas synagogue where a ‘gunman’ took hostages yesterday. Presuming that I already knew what happened and why before actually reading about it, I figured ‘what the heck‘ and went to CNN’s website. I can learn about the event later. CNN didn’t disappoint. Check out the first four paragraphs of the story (emphasis mine):

(CNN)  An elite FBI hostage rescue team breached a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, Saturday night, safely recovering three remaining captives after a nearly 11-hour hostage situation, federal and local officials said.

The lone suspect is dead, authorities added.

“Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted about 20 minutes after a large bang and gunfire were heard in the direction of the synagogue, just outside Fort Worth.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in an email to CNN on Sunday that the government was “aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities,” but stopped short of confirming that he was the same man as the hostage-taker.

Later in the story, CNN pointed out that authorities actually do know who did this:

The suspect has been identified, FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno told reporters in a news conference after the hostage rescue, but authorities are not revealing his identity as the investigation continues.

Ok, so while the spin is planned out the investigation continues, they are understandably not releasing the information they know, in fears that it might be misinterpreted. They want to be sure they have the facts in order before releasing any information, just like they did with George Floyd.

Ha!

Sorry.  I know this isn’t funny.  But it gets boring, watching different versions of the same thing happen over and over again. Horrifying.  But boring.

So anyway, based on the CNN story, what do we know about the hostage taker?

We know that he is British.  They have not yet released his name.  So for now, let’s call him ‘Nigel’.

We know that Nigel has regrettably passed away.  No cause of death has been released.  So for now, let’s presume COVID.

We know that he prefers the pronouns he/him.  I’m not sure how CNN ascertained that – perhaps the FBI discussed that with the suspect before his untimely death.  We’re not sure of his biological sex, of course, so we won’t presume.  We certainly don’t want to offend anyone.

But why did Nigel take these hostages?  Why did he choose a Jewish synagogue as a target?

Toward the end of the CNN story, we find these two remarkable paragraphs:

Two law enforcement officials told CNN earlier Saturday that investigators believe the hostage taker may have been motivated by a desire to release Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence at a facility in Texas. She was convicted in 2010 on seven charges, including attempted murder and armed assault on US officers in Afghanistan.

“We do believe from our engaging with this subject that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community, but we’ll continue to work to find motive,” DeSarno said.

So FBI agent in charge DeSarno is not sure exactly what the motivation was behind this attack.  Although he believes that the suspect’s motives were, “singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community“.  Right.

He would probably say the same thing if a MAGA hat wearing Texas redneck had taken hostages at a mosque, and demanded the release of the January 6 protestors.  That would not be hate crime against Muslims, of course.  That would be a “subject that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Muslim community“.  That’s exactly what the Democrat party FBI would say.  Right.

Barack Obama repeatedly said that antisemitism would not be tolerated.  Then a Muslim kills a bunch of Jews at a kosher deli in France, and President Obama said that the attack was carried out by, “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”  They weren’t victims of an antisemitic hate crime. No, it was just a random bunch of folks who were killed by a zealot.  Nothing to see here. Right.

Allow me to make three points, which are so obvious that I hesitate to waste your time with them.  But it’s easy to overlook the obvious sometimes, like a fish being unaware of water.  So for the sake of not missing the blindingly obvious:

1.  The left will defend anyone who attacks Jews.

2.  Jews have voted 70-80% Democrat for decades.

3.  The Texas synagogue news story is going to disappear faster than a Clinton informant.

This is why CNN is better than reality. Reality is horrifying.

Predictable. Boring. Obvious. Repetitive.

But horrifying.

Member Post

 

For me, family is what makes life interesting. And fun. I have really needed something during my lifetime for these things because I am the most conventional person in my life and that doesn’t generate much excitement. So, last night, I was informed of an event outcome that has prompted this post. My son-in-law got […]

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The Loss of Technocratic Mystique

 

Much of the time, the United States Supreme Court deals with exotic and arcane constitutional issues beyond the ken of the average person on the street. The justices are versed in matters of constitutional jurisprudence and much of the writing and dialog surrounding judicial rulings carries a hint of impenetrability for the uninitiated. The complexity of the jargon, and the endless minutia of constitutional law, hovers over the court and serves the interests of the justices because such things cast a patina of otherworldly competence on the court’s utterances and rulings.

Many on the right have understandably been laughing this week at the ill-informed comments made by Justice Sotomayor regarding Covid, because they revealed just how little she knows. The whole episode has a similar feel to that moment in the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal that the wizard is really just a con man and huckster. I find myself wondering if this event isn’t a much bigger deal than it seemed at first blush. Institutions that want to maintain their credibility must, at all costs, retain the perception of superior competence. Besides hilarity, what Justice Sotomayor revealed, for all the world to see, was the essential uninformed incompetence of those who would deign to tell the rest of us what to do.

By opening her mouth, Sotomayor has thrust one more dagger into the heart of elite mystique. Who can blame the many thoughtful observers for concluding that the overwhelming stench of self-superiority emanating from the government class is actually an artifact of the Dunning-Kruger effect?  Maybe it really is stupid people who think so highly of themselves that they are eager to boss other people around.

In the early centuries A.D., more than a little conflict raged throughout the Roman world. A great deal of it was fomented by various emperors who, to greater or lesser degrees, mandated the persecution, first of Christians and later of pagans, as Christianity rose to prominence throughout the empire. In some ways, the upheaval was an artifact of the convulsive process of overthrowing centuries of pagan thought regarding the power and authority of idols in the lives of human beings.

Remains of the Serapeum, Alexandria.

A temple to the gods Isis and Serapis existed during this time. It was called the Serapeum and inside stood an idol so large that its arms extended on either side to touch the walls of the temple. People had been taught that should anyone harm the statue/god,  the result would be that the world would instantly disintegrate, returning to its original state of chaos.

At the height of the conflict leading up to the destruction of the temple, a particularly bold young man climbed up on a ladder and took a swipe at the idol’s face with an axe. Gibbon recounts this story in his massive Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

“It was believed that if any impious hand should dare to violate the majesty of the god, the heavens and the earth would instantly return to their original chaos.”

It was no small thing to strike such a blow since no one really quite knew what was going to happen afterward. Notwithstanding the concern of the crowd in the temple, the young man “aimed a vigorous stroke against the cheek of Serapis which fell to the ground; the thunder was still silent, and both the heavens and the earth continued to preserve the accustomed order and tranquility”.

And in an outcome that could NOT have been made any more appropriately symbolic had someone tried, no sooner was the idol destroyed than thousands of rats began pouring out from where they had gnawed away at the idol’s rotten interior. Tunnels and secret passageways were later discovered which the temple priests had used to maintain illusions regarding the power of the idol. And apparently, the rat infestation convinced even some of the most ardent pagans to officially change sides.

The loss of mystique has a rather transforming effect on one’s thinking. And in the case of all the people in the Serapeum that day, the loss of the idol’s mystique led them to bring down the status quo and to do so even in the absence of knowing what lay beyond.

That story has been lurking around the edges of my thoughts as I’ve read all the mockery of Sotomayor.

Right after Marco Rubio was elected to the U.S. Senate, he spoke of the awe he first felt as he experienced the grandeur and perks of being in that august body. But he also revealed that the people who look good as a scripted campaigner don’t necessarily impress when experienced in their natural state.  Rubio said that when he first got to Washington, he would go to the Senate dining room and the wonder of it all made him ask “How did I get here?” But after a few weeks on Capitol Hill and having had the opportunity to get to know some of the other Senators, he began asking himself “How did they get here?”

The drip, drip, drip of these revelations of incompetence are unlikely to end happily for the elite. I’m not complaining about that. Like many of those in the Serapeum that day, I harbor the suspicion that, though I’m not sure what will happen next, the core of our institutions is so rat infested that the unknown might be better than the way things presently are.

The vaccine mandate hearings turned out to be a significant blow to the mystique of the Supreme Court. Truth be told, most of us don’t hold up too well on close inspection. But that is not entirely unexpected. It also isn’t the end of our worlds, because we do not justify our existence on the basis of a cultivated myth suggesting our superior competence. Also importantly, we do not seek to tell our fellow citizens what to do. But scores of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges, many with underwhelming intellects (it turns out) and no real-life experience to speak of, have colluded with the media to sell the voters a fraudulent account of their own supposed exceptional abilities. They’re all hat and no cattle, as the Texas saying goes.

For a long time, the establishment was able to skate by in their mediocrity because the challenges faced by flyover country did not meet the level of alarm sufficient for those voters to pay very close attention to the establishment’s pose of superior competence.

There is a growing suspicion that the American scientific bureaucracy was up to its elbows funding and encouraging gain of function research in China. If so, the pandemic may have actually been unleashed on the world by the hubris and incompetence of the technocrats in government. If it becomes apparent that the American health bureaucracy was involved in causing the pandemic, even indirectly, the damage to the illusion of technocratic competence will be immense. It could easily amount to the final axe blow to the cheek of the American Serapis that brings the entire rotten, technocratic edifice crashing down.

And it will be interesting to see what comes after that.

Quote of the Day: Journalism

 

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” – Eric Blair (George Orwell)

The United States has a public relations problem. Our media, especially the tech barons have abandoned journalism in favor of public relations. So have our universities, colleges, and public schools. No one is supposed to feel bad, or hear things that trigger them, especially anything that challenges the delivered wisdom as defined by the mainstream media and the tech barons. Finley Peter Dunn, a humorist from the early twentieth century once pithily noted that a newspaper “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” Today, the MSM has become comfortable and chooses not to afflict itself.

We have entered an America where one has to read information coming from the media and academia in the same way Soviets in the 1960s read Pravda and Izvestia. Not by what is written, but by what is not written and what is being carefully avoided being written. We figure out what is actually happening because of what is left out.

People need to hear what others do not want printed. They need to be exposed to foreign ideas, things that make them uncomfortable. Ideas make you uncomfortable for one of two reasons: because they are wrong and you are reacting to that, or because they are right and you believe ideas or are behaving in ways that are contrary to the ideas that make you uncomfortable.

If you understand why ideas that make you uncomfortable are wrong, it provides further grounding to your beliefs. If you recognize why ideas that make you uncomfortable are right, it causes you to question the beliefs or behaviors those ideas challenge and may lead to alteration of those beliefs or behaviors. Either way, you win. You are affirmed or you are improved.

This explains why those on the right seem happier and more grounded than those on the left. They are today’s counterculture, and they are constantly exposed to ideas that make them uncomfortable. They have learned how to defend their beliefs and are secure in those they hold because they have been tested. Those on the left generally have a set of beliefs handed to them, platitudes that are rarely challenged but frequently change. They go along to get along. They never really understand their positions but are afraid to challenge them.

Journalism as defined by Orwell is a blessing. Public relations is a curse.

Supreme Imbecility on CMS Vax Mandate

 

Government statistics show that 90.5% of US citizens from age 65 to 74 have been fully vaccinated, and 100% have received at least one shot. For citizens 74 and above, 99.05% have had at least one shot and 84% are fully vaccinated. So, if those who have had one shot get the second shot within the month, then by mid-February close to 100% of Medicare beneficiaries will have been fully vaccinated. Yet the Supreme Court agrees that CMS should mandate vaccines for employees of institutions that receive Medicare funds,  at the penalty of losing their jobs, in order to protect the Medicare beneficiaries admitted to those facilities. If all of the Medicare beneficiaries are vaccinated, how is this not a complete admission that the vaccines don’t work?

Clearly, the vaccines do not prevent infection with or transmission of COVID. So, vaccinating employees of these institutions will not protect the Medicare beneficiaries admitted to those facilities. Some evidence (like the huge spike in COVID infections on Gibralter as soon as the population had been fully vaccinated, whereas before vaccination, COVID cases were very few on the island) suggests that vaccination enhances the risk of infection and transmission.

So the Supreme Court has given its imprimatur to a (unconstitutional) mandate that does not and cannot work to achieve the stated goal of the mandate (stop the spread of COVID and protect those covered by CMS). Indeed that mandate may not be just neutral, but actively harmful and induce the very problem the mandate is meant to prevent.

This of course overturns Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which required that the mandated vaccines actually work to prevent contracting and spreading the contagion. So, one can conclude that such a requirement for efficacy of a mandated measure for public health purposes no longer holds. Any old thing can be mandated, whether effective or not, whether related to the problem to be addressed or not, whether there is a problem or not (not to mention that Jacobson v. Massachusetts concerned state, not federal, authority).

I conclude (I suspect Ricochetti, and everyone else, will disagree) that there no longer exists in federal law any constraint whatsoever on federal mandates for public health and safety purposes when the federal government provides money to those mandated. In upholding the CMS mandate (or at least ending the stays on that policy … indicating that the Court thinks there is a good likelihood that CMS will prevail. as they say, ‘on the merits’) the Supreme Court has left the realm of reality. We are now in unchartered waters.

Will CMS mandate that facilities that receive CMS funds give the flu shot to all of their employees, with a penalty of loss of job for noncompliance? Will they mandate pneumonia vaccines, shingles vaccines, meningitis vaccines? Hospitals already require annual TB testing for employees, and Hep B vaccination. And Universal Precautions. What else might they mandate for these facilities?  Continuous glucose monitoring for employees with diabetes, to assure that personnel do not compromise patient safety by suffering hypoglycemic episodes? Annual cardiac caths, or imaging stress tests, to assure that employees do not have a risk for acute myocardial infarction that might compromise patient safety? Periodic carotid ultrasounds? Or daily home sleep monitoring for all employees to assure that they get seven to nine hours of sleep so they are not sleep-deprived and at risk for making medication errors on the wards or procedural errors in the operating room? Breathalyzer tests for all employees several times a day to assure no alcohol consumption before or during work hours that might compromise performance? Maybe no tryptophan in any foods in the cafeteria to assure no excess drowsiness after lunch?

The benefit, if any, of the vaccines is to provide a measure of personal protection from severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID. So if CMS were actually concerned about the health and safety of their beneficiaries, they would mandate the vaccine FOR THE BENEFICIARIES, not the hospital employees who take of them (who may be younger and at very low risk for severe disease or death, pregnancy, already immune from prior infection). But that horse is out of the barn, given that an extremely high percentage of beneficiaries have been vaccinated.

If Medicare beneficiaries were vaccine-hesitant (and they don’t seem to be at all), one might envision being treated to a reprise of Dan Rostenkowski being chased down the street and beaten by little old ladies with their umbrellas for messing with their Medicare benefits. Third-rail issues, as they say. But does firing those health care workers who refuse vaccination, worsening the existing shortage of such workers, and likely thereby worsening the care Medicare beneficiaries receive, or even limiting their access to care, solve the problem of safety and health that CMS thinks that it is addressing? Of course not. Yet, this is what the Supreme Court is allowing.

When Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, opined that “…three generations of imbeciles are enough” he unfortunately was not referring to Supreme Court Justices. We will have those with us forever.

A Boy, a Dog, a Loving Companion, and a Sauna

 

Lately on Ricochet, we’ve had a few posts and comments about gratitude.  I came across this photo of my son Alan, my dog Bob, and Marie my loving companion, and that photo reminded me of what I should be grateful for.

I have a sore on my foot, and Marie orders me to the couch each morning and tells me to put my foot in her lap.  From there she kills the germs in an open crack with hydrogen peroxide, then seals the crack with New-Skin, and finally softens it all up with foot cream.  She finishes up by massaging my feet and lower legs.

Now that is what I call a loving wife.  We’ve been married for 59 years, and I thank the gods, whoever they might be, for sending Marie my way.

I’m also thankful for my son Alan, a sweet boy with a mellow personality.  I’m afraid I had very little to do with the formation of those traits. While I was away teaching and drinking coffee and reading in my office, Marie was doing the harder job at home raising our two children, Alan and Annie.  We’re very proud of both of them and grateful that they turned out so well. Annie became a funeral director, and Alan became the manager of a private plasma company.

And of course, I’m thankful for Bob the Dog. In my dotage, I talk to myself a lot.  Sometimes Marie comes into the room when I’m talking to myself.  I tell her that I’m talking to Bob (which I actually do a lot).  Bob and I are best buds.   I laugh at him at least twenty times a day, and he probably laughs at me.

So there you are.  Bob the faithful companion, Alan the mellow son, and Marie the loving wife.  What more can a man ask for?  To answer that, I need to move to an inanimate thing.  Yesterday, Marie and I put together and installed a sauna (see below) in our main bathroom. I already know that I love saunas.  When the gym was still open, I would bask in their sauna after every workout.  Now I can just take a few steps from the bedroom and step into my own sauna.

By the way, most saunas today heat the body with “far-infrared rays.”  These far-infrared rays penetrate the skin much deeper than normal heat, and numerous studies have shown that far-infrared relieves aches and pains (including arthritis pain), improves circulation, helps heal wounds, and so on. I’m thankful for our sauna.

You’re probably ready — perhaps eager — to say that Kent is one smug son of a beech.  I suppose I am, but I also know that it didn’t have to turn out this well. In fact, I just got word this morning that another of my colleagues from the old days at a Kentucky university where we all taught has died (we’re dropping fast) and two are in bad shape.

The gods have smiled on me. They could have looked the other way.

Maybe It Is Not About Charity?

 

There are many commandments in the Torah that seem to fall under the “that sounds like a good idea” category, especially the ones dealing with forms of charity. But if we look at them carefully, we’ll see that they may really be about something else entirely! Here’s one:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather (leket) the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather (leket) the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God.

The thing is, there are other words in biblical Hebrew that mean “to gather,” so why, in a language with so few unique words, is the word leket used? The answer helps explain what the commandment is really about!

The first time the word leket is used, Jacob is building a mound to divide the world between himself and his father-in-law, Lavan.

And Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather (leket) stones.” So they took stones and made a mound. (Gen. 31:46) … And Laban said to Jacob, … “this mound shall be witness … that I am not to cross to you past this mound, and that you are not to cross to me past this mound. (31:51-52)

The word is used to describe a division between people, a red line to keep people apart.

The next time the word is used:

Joseph gathered (leket) all the money that was to be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, as payment for the rations that were being procured.

This event is the swing between the years of plenty and the years of famine. Leket is the dividing verb, marking the spot between the good years for Egypt and the bad years, years when the Egyptian people were progressively enslaved to Pharaoh because of Joseph’s policies.

Similarly, the text uses the word leket for the manna as well, to describe the difference between the six days, and the seventh day, the sabbath day:

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread for you from the sky, and the people shall go out and gather (leket) each day that day’s portion… But on the sixth day, when they apportion what they have brought in, it shall prove to be double the amount they gather (leket) each day. … On the sixth day they gathered (leket) double the amount of food, two omers for each; and when all the chieftains of the community came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a day of rest, a holy sabbath of the LORD. .. Then Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath of the LORD; you will not find it today on the plain. Six days you shall gather (leket) it; on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.”

The word leket is clearly used here to illustrate another division: the days of the week, and the holy Shabbos day of rest.

And now we can better understand the commandment of leket, of specifically not gathering grain or grapes that have fallen in the field. Certainly, the commandment helps the poor, who are free to come and help themselves to that which has fallen (note that there is no obligation to simply give them grain).  But you have to read all the way to the punchline:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather (leket) the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather (leket) the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the LORD am your God.

The Torah forbids us to gather, to leket, telling us that we are forbidden to create a division between landowners and the poor and the stranger! Why? Because we are all under G-d, equally endowed in His eyes, whether we are rich or poor.  “I the Lord am your G-d” is in the plural: the G-d of ALL the people.

The use of the word leket thus always marks a division, either between people or between the time of significant events. And thus the commandment to not engage in leket with our fields and vineyards is a reminder that we are all one people, and we must always seek to minimize division between us.

Rest in Peace, Alice von Hildebrand

 

I don’t know how many people here know of Alice von Hildebrand. She’s probably better known as the wife of the more famous 20th-century philosopher, Dietrich von Hildebrand, but she was a philosopher in her own right. She taught at Hunter College in New York City where, in an age of relativism and deconstructionism, insisted on the philosophic principle that objective truth existed. She passed away Friday. This is a fine article from Aleteia, Alice von Hildebrand, Catholic philosopher and critic of moral relativism, dies at 98.” Here is how they describe her relationship within the left-wing academy:

She found it difficult to get a teaching position, even at Catholic colleges, which told her at the time that they did not hire women to teach philosophy. Finally hired at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, she became the first woman to teach philosophy there. She also found herself in a secular world for the first time. Her dedication to objective truth raised the hackles of professors who were materialistic, liberal and communist, she said.

I went to a couple of City University of NY colleges and I know from personal experience they were filled with left-wing radicals. Here from the article is what I would say is at the heart of her philosophy:

“The crucial question in teaching philosophy is whether there is an objective truth and whether man’s mind can find it,” she said in a 1996 interview with Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. “Relativism and subjectivism inevitably block the way to God, who is truth itself. … The moment you recognize that there is an objective truth, independent of man’s mind, you look for it, and, if you’re honest, you find God.”

Here she describes the seed that perhaps shaped her heart for life. Jourdain was her maiden name:

Growing up in Belgium, French was Alice Jourdain’s mother tongue. She wrote that at the age of 11, she discovered Blaise Pascal while taking a course on 17th-century French literature. His Pensées overwhelmed her, especially “with the beauty of his style. [He] awakened in me a profound philosophical interest. I started memorizing many of his most beautiful thoughts, and I recall reciting them over and over again as I walked along the Belgian seashore where my parents had a summer home.”

I assume she considered herself a conservative. When I searched online for some of her notable quotes, they all have a conservative bent. Here are a few.

A woman by her very nature is maternal — for every woman, whether … married or unmarried, is called upon to be a biological, psychological or spiritual mother — she knows intuitively that to give, to nurture, to care for others, to suffer with and for them — for maternity implies suffering — is infinitely more valuable in God’s sight than to conquer nations and fly to the moon.

By the way, Alice did not have any children herself. But I wonder if this next quote is an amplification of the above:

Do you think that the Lord gave them to me for a decoration?

LOL, I’m guessing at what she’s referring to. But I love this quote:

The diabolical work that has taken place since the legalization of abortion is that it has destroyed, in those tragic women who have allowed their child to be murdered, their sense for the sacredness of maternity. Abortion not only murders the innocent; it spiritually murders women… the wound created in their souls is so great that only God’s grace can heal it. The very soul of a woman is meant to be maternal.

She held such a high value to femininity that it led to this quote:

By living up to their calling, women will succeed in guaranteeing a proper recognition of the unique value of femininity and its crucial mission in the world.

And she had a fighting spirit in defending that femininity, as in this challenge to feminists:

Unwittingly, the feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men.

And finally one more on her faith and her perspective of the transitory nature of this life:

One thing is certain: When the time has come, nothing which is man-made will subsist. One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes. But every single child to whom a has given birth will live forever, for he has been given an immortal soul made to God’s image and likeness.

May her immortal soul be now with God and her beloved husband. Eternal rest grant unto this good woman, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

Wagner’s Parsifal: A Book Report

 

I’ve just finished reading Roger Scruton’s Wagner’s Parsifal. It was Scruton’s last book, about Wagner’s last work, and though I struggled to get through his Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, I thought I’d try Parsifal anyway.

To be clear: I’m ignorant of opera. I once saw Carmen in Warsaw, but that and What’s Opera, Doc? are my forays into that intimidating, expensive art form.

It turns out Wagner’s Parsifal is a wonderful book. It is accessible and clear. Scruton’s sympathy for Wagner’s work is palpable, even honorable. Though the book has been criticized for not exploiting the link between Schopenhauer and Wagner, the truth is that there’s not even a lot of Nietzsche in the book. Scruton concentrates on the meaning of Parsifal.

Now, the plot of Parsifal is complicated. It is the story of an innocent fool, Parsifal, who, through compassion and mercy, saves king Amfortas and the castle of Monsalvat, home of the Holy Grail. That salvation involves the recovery of the Holy Spear (used to pierce Jesus’ side when He hung upon the cross) from the wicked Klingsor. So you can see that Parsifal is part of the great stream of Grail mythology. But the plot is complicated, so much so that I recommend you read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia if you want the whole story (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsifal).

For Scruton, Parsifal is the story of a non-Christian redemption. The “original sin” that brings about the ruin of Monsalvat is not a fall from God, but a fall from being what humans are meant to be, involving the priest/king Amfortas, whose dalliance with the sorceress Kundry has brought desuetude and collapse to Monsalvat. Only the compassion of the innocent fool Parsifal can redeem the king, his castle, and his kingdom. Parsifal accomplishes this redemption by entering into the interior lives of others, and “rescuing” them by resisting temptation and destroying Klingsor by seizing the Spear and making the sign of the cross with it. The kingdom of Monsalvat is restored as Parsifal brings healing to Amfortas. Though it is filled with religious rites and imagery, the religion of Parsifal is entirely this-worldly. Sin and redemption are viewed only through the lens of human yearning, betrayal, and restoration.

Scruton spends about two-thirds of the book explaining Wagner’s treatment of the Parsifal story, and another third explaining how the music explicates and enlarges the meaning of the story.

I’ll have this book in hand when I listen to Parsifal when I listen to it, probably here:

But you don’t have to read music or listen to the opera to understand Wagner’s Parsifal. It will enrich your life to read it.

Is Talk Cheap?

 

As we look out over the wreckage to our citizen-based, federal governance system; as we contemplate the deep stain of corruption that is flowing through our executive branch and allies in Congress, the media, and academia; as we see small business and individual initiative crushed under the heel of crony capitalism allied with woke ideology; as we despair over the relative weakness of our churches to combat cultural drift; as we eat our disappointment at our courts to steadfastly uphold our individual liberties; we ask ourselves if “talk is cheap”? Is ranting at all effective in combatting evil?

We are being subjected to arguably the broadest intimidation campaign in the history of our nation. Our posts and associations are under scrutiny and there is no effort to hide it. In fact, the woke mob is seeking fresh meat and the Biden Administration is more than willing to pluck a hapless citizen for corporal punishment to expand its power and silence any opposition. The government wants you to “watch what you say”.

In this environment, talk is not cheap. It can cost you everything. But it is a price we must pay if we are patriotic Americans. They are stealing our country. They are stealing our souls.

Government-enforced lockdowns have been very effective in keeping opponents to authoritarian rule isolated. Coupled with Big Tech’s control over social media, the remaining outlet for physically isolated individuals has been restrained. So now is the time to come out of our houses, fill our churches, synagogues, mosques and assemblies, our local government meetings, our restaurants and gatherings. Now is the time that we need to express publicly our support of freedom, our complaints about authoritarian control. We need to hear our fellow citizens voicing their complaints, and they ours. We need to replace silence with the sound of voices, individually small and maybe tremulous, but in total loud and authoritative.

They want you to be intimidated. And if we remain silent, the punishment of the few who do speak will be meted out. To protect them and yourselves, start talking. It doesn’t matter where, it only matters that you do. And let someone else take their cue from you to start talking as well. Only then will talk become cheap again.

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I want to lay down a marker on my assumption that the current theme of Election Reform laws being pushed by the democrats is an acknowledgment that the number of votes recorded in the 2020 national election will likely not be equalled in the next decade of elections. There has to be a reason why […]

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One more time, the Radical Moderate Zubin Damiana, MD has spoken about the Covid years.  With his reasonable tone, it will (hopefully) bring people toward the center. We did everything.  We vaccinated.  We boosted.  We did virtual everything.  So…are we done?  

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Because they’re impersonating me in their satire. U.S.—After several successful rounds of trials and a quick overnight approval from the FDA, Pfizer proudly announced they will be releasing a brand new, never-before-seen COVID drug “Pfivermectin.” “It’s important to understand that this drug is nothing like Ivermectin, even though Pfivermectin rhymes with Ivermectin and it pretty […]

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There has been some pushback, of late, against the notion that California has become a one-party dystopia of decadence and dysfunction where dropping a BM in the street is legal but plastic straws are not. Maybe it ain’t so bad, because there are still some nice restaurants that you can eat it, provided your papers […]

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An Omicron Hypothesis

 

Omicron doesn’t kill people nearly as much as earlier variants of Covid. But does it kill people much at all? Not long ago, you could look at global data or country-specific data for places that have a lot of cases of Omicron at Worldometer and see something interesting: Despite epic spikes in the case numbers, deaths were fewer than for any previous spike.

That seems like it would be a big deal: The rates skyrocketing in these Omicron waves with the death numbers falling in absolute terms and the death rates plummeting dramatically.

But deaths are a lagging indicator, and we needed a few more weeks to confirm that Omicron is killing fewer people overall despite its massive transmissibility.  And we still need a few weeks.

It sure looks good in the UK: The Omicron wave seems to be receding, and the death numbers are nowhere near the numbers for the last wave.  Likewise South Africa, ahead of the UK.  And in some other places that appear to be a bit earlier in the Omicron wave, it sure looks promising.  TurkeyItalyBrazil.

Enter the USA: If I’m reading this chart right, death rates look like they’re just about to pass the Delta wave death rates.

Dang.

So maybe Omicron is still killing people, and killing them in numbers enough that its dominance is not a good thing in absolute terms: massive transmission rates, massive case numbers, much lower death rate, and still more deaths overall.

Or . . . maybe not that exactly.

Suppose for a moment that the way things look just now is the way they are: In the UK and South Africa, Omicron killed fewer people than any previous version of the virus, even while spreading to more people and, conveniently, giving them the best immunity so far; but in the USA it actually killed more people!

Why would that be?

Is it because the USA has a lower vaccination rate?  Not likely.  Check the NY Times vaccination tracker: In the second-dose and third-dose numbers, the UK is significantly leading the US, but it only leads 78 percent to 75 percent in first-dose numbers.  More importantly, South Africa’s rates are much lower than the USA.

But here’s something that fits that data, something that the USA has more of than either the UK or South Africa:

America is a very fat country.

So here is an Omicron hypothesis for your consideration: Maybe Omicron has massive transmission rates and case numbers, a much lower death rate, and lower deaths overall–except for where obesity rates are high.

If that’s the truth, things are still worse than I’d hoped.  But still a lot better than they were.

But I don’t know what’s true.  We could look at the numbers over the next few weeks and compare them to this Wikipedia chart of countries by obesity rates: Find countries with obesity rates comparable to the USA, wait until their Omicron waves come and go, and then look over the death rates.  And watch various countries now having Omicron spikes, see if they follow the pattern of the UK and South Africa, and then check to see if they are significantly less obese than the USA.

In the meantime, and speaking of not knowing things, I don’t know how the CIA figures out obesity rates; but that’s where the Wikipedia chart comes from–the CIA World Factbook.  And I don’t know if the USA is overreporting in some way that makes its data largely useless–deaths with Covid reported as deaths from Covid, that sort of thing.

And I didn’t know, in a previous post drawing in part from Worldometer numbers, how much the case rates were going to go up and down again and again and again.  (An updated post, including a partial retraction of the earlier one, is in the works.)

Hello, my name is Socrates, and I don’t know anything.  But here is a plausible hypothesis about Omicron.  What do you think?

Do I Thank G-d Too Often?

 

Gratitude plays a big part in my life. I thank my husband when he makes dinner, or washes the dishes, or turns on the coffeemaker. I thank a friend for picking us up for our workout. I thank another friend for being my friend. And I thank another friend for allowing me to help her with her cancer questions. So I’m not stingy with my expressions of gratitude.

But the other day I began to wonder if I was getting into a careless habit: I find myself thanking G-d even for little, seemingly insignificant things. Certainly, I thank Him for the more important things: for the expressions of gratitude that I receive when I manage to inspire others; for my thoughtful husband who not only does many house chores but makes me laugh when I need it. For dear, loving friends in my life.

But other times I find myself expressing thanks to G-d for small things, saying, Baruch HaShem. Thanks for reminding me to wear my knitted hat during my walk. Thanks for the many topics that show up that just need to be written. Thanks for the ache that has finally left my leg. Thanks for reminding me to pick up dates at the grocery store. Thanks for keeping me calm when I try to find my way around the detours in my subdivision. Thanks for keeping my mouth shut when I want to offer unsolicited advice. The list is literally endless.

The reason I question myself is that I wonder if I express my gratitude to Him so often because I question my own ability to remember things, calm myself, write well, or get positive feedback on a post. Am I feeding my own insecurity by giving G-d the credit when I am often capable? Are my expressions of gratitude a bribe that I hope will motivate him to intervene often? Does G-d “shake His head” at my insecurity about my own competence when I brush off my own abilities and give Him the credit? Or is He pleased to hear from me?

My expressions of gratitude to Him are usually spontaneous, in the moment, and I would actually have a difficult time picking and choosing which ones to offer.

So, I just hope He knows that I’m sincere.

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A Richmond beer league hockey player is reported to have died after suffering a heart problem on the ice. The man – understood to be a 25-year-old goaltender – was playing at the city-run Richmond Ice Centre, on Triangle Road, on Friday night. According to people who were playing in the game, the goalie had […]

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Other than the obvious inconveniences, there are ramifications of being assassinated.  The first ramification is a positive one.  You become frozen in time as people remember you for your best attributes and speeches.  No one knows, for example, if Martin Luther King Jr. would have stayed faithful to his oft-quoted statements or if he would […]

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“Did you date my sister?” That was the question that my mother-in-law had asked me that came to mind as the neurologist manipulated the bran scan image showing the now dead parts of her brain. Alzheimer’s mixed with vascular dementia was the diagnosis.  My mother-in-law had asked the question while she, my wife and I […]

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Progressives Miscalculate the Personal Impact of the Great Reset

 

Recently I read a fascinating and disturbing issue of Imprimis, the free publication from Hillsdale College. This issue, based on a speech by Michael Rectenwald, focused on the Great Reset, and although I have read other articles on this ugly program of transformation, I learned two important facts that I didn’t realize: (1) the process has already made remarkable headway in its implementation, and (2) in the opinion of the author, it can still be stopped.

More than these points, however, I suddenly realized that the majority of the Progressive community which is working hand-in-glove with this movement has no clue of the devastation that will be wrought on their own lives. Having lived in the land of milk and honey, with prosperity, freedom, and opportunity, they will be expected to give all of that up just like the rest of us peons and drones. They may think they will be part of the elite, but the upper echelon of the movement will be the primary beneficiaries, with everyone else far below.

And it will not be pretty.

Let me tell you some of the facts that surprised me (although some of you may already be aware of these). The Great Reset began long before the COVID pandemic:

It can be traced at least as far back as the inception of the WEF, originally founded as the European Management Forum, in 1971. In that same year, [Klaus] Schwab, an engineer and economist by training, published his first book, Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering. It was in this book that Schwab first introduced the concept he would later call ‘stakeholder capitalism,’ arguing ‘that the management of a modern enterprise must serve not only shareholders but all stakeholders to achieve long-term growth and prosperity.’

I was especially surprised to learn that two events inspired the Great Reset. The first:

In May 2018, the WEF collaborated with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security to conduct ‘CLADE X,’ a simulation of a national pandemic response. Specifically, the exercise simulated the outbreak of a novel strain of a human parainfluenza virus, with genetic elements of the Nipah virus, called CLADE X. The simulation ended with a news report stating that in the face of CLADE X, without effective vaccines, ‘experts tell us that we could eventually see 30 to 40 million deaths in the U.S. and more than 900 million around the world—twelve percent of the global population.” Clearly, preparation for a global pandemic was in order.

The second event was a simulated response to the outbreak:

The CLADE X and Event 201 simulations anticipated almost every eventuality of the actual COVID crisis, most notably the responses by governments, health agencies, the media, tech companies, and elements of the public. The responses and their effects included worldwide lockdowns, the collapse of businesses and industries, the adoption of biometric surveillance technologies, an emphasis on social media censorship to combat ‘misinformation,’ the flooding of social and legacy media with ‘authoritative sources,’ widespread riots, and mass unemployment.

Essentially, corporations and the government will be partners in this new endeavor. Business monopolies will thrive; government will reflect the authoritarian actions of the Chinese, “making a two-tiered system”: government and corporations will be on top; the rest of us will be trapped in socialism. And crises present additional opportunities for the Great Reset to move forward:

The draconian lockdown measures employed by Western governments managed to accomplish goals of which corporate socialists in the WEF could only dream—above all, the destruction of small businesses, eliminating competitors for corporate monopolists favored by the state. In the U.S. alone, according to the Foundation for Economic Education, millions of small businesses closed their doors due to the lockdowns. Yelp data indicates that 60 percent of those closures are now permanent.

And how have ordinary Progressives miscalculated the effect the Great Reset will have on them?

Such policies reflect the ‘fairness’ aspect of the Great Reset—fairness requires lowering the economic status of people in wealthier nations like the U.S. relative to that of people in poorer regions of the world. One of the functions of woke ideology is to make the majority in developed countries feel guilty about their wealth, which the elites aim to reset downwards—except, one notices, for the elites themselves, who need to be rich in order to fly in their private jets to Davos each year.

For anyone who doubts these outcomes, you only need to look at all the Americans who feel guilty for their supposed “systemic racism” and how easily they were persuaded that they suffered from a racism that was impossible to overcome. Feeling guilty about their wealth is only the next step.

The cost of calling one’s self a racist is relatively small; in fact, some people think their groveling has raised their esteem among their cohorts. But when people find that they have to give up their earned prosperity; when they realize that they won’t be permitted to do many things without the government’s permission; when they realize what it really means to live with less, with no opportunity to progress—yes, really progress to more affluent lifestyles—new cars, new clothes, new homes, new investments—they will realize, too late, that they have relinquished their lives to the real oppressors: the government and corporations.

The author of this Imprimis issue ended with this profound and insightful comment:

But let me end on a note of hope. Because the goals of the Great Reset depend on the obliteration not only of free markets, but of individual liberty and free will, it is, perhaps ironically, unsustainable. Like earlier attempts at totalitarianism, the Great Reset is doomed to ultimate failure. That doesn’t mean, however, that it won’t, again like those earlier attempts, leave a lot of destruction in its wake­—which is all the more reason to oppose it now and with all our might.

The ongoing question is: how do we educate Progressives of the darkness ahead, as they continue to enable these forces?

Of Coordinated Narratives and Cultivated Mass Delusional Hysteria: Seeing the Game and Knowing the Coming End Game

 

It is well past time to bring this one out again:

As liberty of thought is absolute, so is liberty of speech, which is “inseparable” from liberty of thought. Liberty of speech, moreover, is essential not only for its own sake but for the sake of truth, which requires absolute liberty for the utterance of unpopular and even demonstrably false opinions. Indeed, false or unpopular opinions are so important to truth that they should be encouraged and disseminated by “devil’s advocates” if necessary, for only by the “collision of adverse opinions” can the most certain of truths survive as live truth rather than “dead dogma.”Page 78

Of course, the camel’s nose is far into the tent by now and progressive “dead dogma” must play second fiddle to real totalitarian advances – both directly (overtly and via bad faith “governance”) and by proxy. Unfortunately, most are either numb to it already but some continue to rationalize each cut to already wounded liberties as necessary and/or acceptable. Few see the game … but once it is seen, it is seen everywhere. This may have been discussed elsewhere on R> this week but, for the benefit of my little agenda, I will direct you to this wonderful nine minutes of insight and wisdom:

Sussing Strange, Sudden, Suspicious, Sinister Synchronization

https://youtu.be/GpqC1cb-RmU

The direct message in there about the (no longer hidden) coordinated and choreographed messaging by those who rule us is important but, if you have stayed current on my recent posts and my agenda, you will probably guess that it is the theme about “patterns all around you” and once you’ve seen it, it is “impossible to unsee it” that I think is most critical. (NOTE TO SELF: Find time this weekend to transcribe that video.) Unfortunately, it becomes a rather tortured existence to “see the games” so clearly while others don’t … or just refuse to. To wit…

The chill in the air has become noticeably more distinct since the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election. From the most closeted (or, at least, the least self-aware) elitist authoritarians in obscure comment sections on sort-of-center-right-ish online communities to prominent American corporate entities, the ease with which the “liberty of speech” and thus, all liberty, is brushed aside these days should be of maximum embarrassment from sea to shining sea. Regarding the latter, the most recent example to cross my laptop screen is this:

Cancel Culture Comes to Banking

This past November, Missouri’s conservative Defense of Liberty PAC scheduled a high-profile event featuring a speech by Donald Trump, Jr. On November 9, however, WePay—a JPMorgan Chase subsidiary that provided the payment services for the event—announced the termination of those services. WePay accused the organization of violating its policy against promotion of “hate, violence, racial intolerance, terrorism, the financial exploitation of a crime, or items or activities that encourage, promote facilitate or instruct others regarding the same.” Although WePay eventually reversed its decision, the organization had to cancel the speech. …

Today’s “cancel culture” in banking doubles down on the Obama administration’s infamous Operation Choke Point initiative. Pointing to the “reputational risk” of certain industries such as payday lenders, firearms dealers and purveyors of “racist materials,” regulators leaned on banks to “choke off” the financial air those industries breathed. Not coincidentally, controversial industries and organizations favored by the Left, such as abortion clinics or sellers of communist propaganda, were not included on the administration’s target list. …

It is naïve to expect these bans will not expand beyond the most egregious groups to many others.

But this is nothing new, remember just over a year ago?

DISPATCHES FROM FORBES’ ‘CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER AND EDITOR’: Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.

Has Forbes felt the need to put out any statements with respect to the glaring (and near-daily) intellectual dishonesty vomited from the current administration? An answer in the negative only bolsters my case that they are little more than happy fluffers for the current anti-liberty crusaders. (I might have an ounce of respect for them and many other make-no-waves corporations today if they waited to cave in until the iron heel was at least on their throat. But alas…)

Add to the mix the career threats to lawyers (and their firms) for even thinking of taking a Trump case, the overt silencing by Big Tech when they took advantage of Jan. 6 to kick their agenda into high gear, and so much more that has just silently flowed under the bridge since then … to the numbed silence of We the People … and it becomes very hard to get too exercised by a partial victory with SCOTUS this week on specific mandates. This court insisted on demonstrating to us the very same day that five-ninths of its members are complete morons. Or worse.

It is worth paraphrasing from above: It is naïve to expect [such curtailments to liberties] will not expand beyond [those you seem willing to sacrifice] to many others.

And, remember, [crap] flows downhill.

Into the abyss…

A Republican Paradox

 

Mike Rounds, a US Senator from one of the big rectangular states in what the coastal elites call “flyover country,” went on former Bill Clinton advisor George Stephanoupoulos’s Sunday show and declared unequivocally, “The (2020) election was fair, as fair as we have seen.” Rounds claimed he had “looked at” claims of widespread irregularities in the 2020 election and didn’t find them credible. (By “looked into” I just assume he means he watched CNN dismiss all the many irregularities in the 2020 election as conspiracy theories.)  Rounds was later backed up by fellow Senate Republicans, including Senator “Pierre Delecto” of Utah. “Mike Rounds speaks truth knowing that our Republic depends upon it.”

All right, then, let’s take the Bush Republicans at their word that the 2020 elections were completely fine. That it didn’t matter that states run by Democrats changed election laws unilaterally and in many cases without going through the legislature. That these blue-state governors sent out millions of ballots (like junk mail) to every name on voter registration lists that had not been updated for 30 years or more; that Democratic Party activists were allowed to harvest these ballots and drop them by the thousands into unsecured drop boxes without any chain-of-custody documentation or even the most rudimentary verification. If they really think that’s the right way to run an election, then why do these same Republicans not support the Democrat “voting rights” bill that would codify these practices as the national election standard?

Maybe there are some other things in the bill they object to. For example, while it doesn’t explicitly outlaw Voter ID, it does mandate that a note from a friend must qualify as a valid voter ID.  (I’m not making that up. It’s in Section 1801 of the Bill.) Maybe there’s some other stuff in there they don’t like, but it’s kind of disingenuous on the one hand for Senate Republicans to declare that the 2020 Election was  “as fair as any we have seen,” and on the other oppose making that election the model for future elections.