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.

So, I Have an Interview That Might End at Vaccination…

 

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR., PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ET AL., APPLICANTS
v.
MISSOURI, ET AL.
XAVIER BECERRA, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL., APPLICANTS
v.
LOUISIANA, ET AL.
ON APPLICATIONS FOR STAYS

Yes, that decision. That decision retained a measure of freedom from vaccine mandates in the domain of business operations. That decision, however, also recognized mandates for healthcare workers employed in organizations that accept federal dollars from Medicare and Medicaid.

I am a mental health professional. That SCOTUS decision Thursday was perfect timing for me. Today, Friday, I have an interview for work that could triple my income, but I had to go check to see if they take Medicare or Medicaid monies. They do. It is now 30 minutes before my interview, and I am banging out a post on Ricochet. I suppose I am using you all as a stress ball.

One of my questions in the interview now, obviously, will be about their implementation procedures and policies. Will they accept certain types of exemptions?

In my last several interviews for work over the last few years, I got an offer letter every time. I don’t always take it. But I interview well. I am confident, and I only apply for positions I am sure I can match qualifications. Even if I feel like I’m reaching up a bit, I interview well and can answer difficult questions and I do my homework for the position. So, another element causing me clinically significant distress (sorry, counselor jargon) is if I do not get this work for no other reason than vaccination reasons.

I’m a philosopher at heart. I strive, strive, strive for balance. One hand clapping for a position is a bad sign; you need two hands clapping for applause. Where is the debate? I have begun studying the vaccinations and considering it seriously for employment.

Wherever you stand, please don’t judge. I could stand to make more money in 2022 since being laid off in 2020 and struggling to land a solid gold prospect ever since. I have a family of five and financial pressures only grow over time.

All I really want to do is teach philosophy and languages in a big old stone building with small classes and vines growing up the side of the stone, visible from my office window with a big oak desk and whiskey.

But why the mandates?! The majority of people, as far as I can tell, are getting vaccinated, anyway. Besides, the remaining others (yours truly) would probably get the shot if it seemed more trusty rather than sketchy. If folks want to convince me immediately of the safety and efficacy of this medical intervention (how do you yell logic over text?) then stop censoring legit doctors and scientists from discussing legit issues. Censorship does not breed trust.

I am chock full of every other vaccination ever produced. My parents were conventional, so I got all the school shots. I was in two branches of the military and served overseas, so I got all kinds of other shots. When I had kids, we looked into appropriate protocols for vaccinations and operated thereby. I’m OK with this stuff.

I just get an allergic reaction to reductionist, simplistic, and censored deba … well, it isn’t a debate. One-sided theater, let’s say.

Anyway, I have twenty minutes left until my interview. Thank you for listening. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Big Joy in Small Things

 

I have talked about practicing gratitude before, now I want to discuss a way of doing that. Too often, we wait for the big events to feel joy: Graduations, weddings, promotions, the long-awaited vacation. All of these are great things to enjoy. They are also things that don’t happen every day. In the grind of everyday life, we fail to notice the small things that bring us joy. I have found if I am mindful of the small joys in life, my overall sense of gratitude is much higher.

You may think that you don’t have any small things to bring you joy in a normal day, but I would argue that is because you are not really searching for them. It is easy to become overwhelmed in the day-to-day activities and miss the moments you could have. I want to use an example from my own life this Christmas Eve.

My children are avid computer gamers. We are blessed that they both have their computers set up to play. This year, my daughter wanted a new chair and my son a new desk. Despite the current delivery log jam, both items arrived before Christmas. They arrived in two large boxes and there was no hiding what they were. It’s a family joke to call any such present “a tie”. My son’s solution? Open “the ties” on Christmas Eve because “we don’t want to spend all Christmas putting together ties”. We agreed.

Now, any parent who has put something together on Christmas Eve (or anyone who has assembled any furniture), knows that this can be, and often is, a frustrating process. It never seems to go right. Well, December 24, 2021, in the Stephens household was no exception. However, there was little frustration to be seen. Even as things did not go as planned, the whole family felt a strong connection as we did these tasks together. My daughter and I took the chair, as my son and wife are the more mechanically inclined. We had our own difficulties but enjoyed our father and daughter time. In the other room, despite some deconstruction, mother and son were also enjoying themselves. It took a couple of hours, but both items were completed with enough time for mom and dad to watch Trading Places, our Christmas Eve tradition. Everyone in the family commented on how nice this experience was.

Yes, it could have gone the other way. Instead of enjoying each other’s company and holding on to the feeling of fellowship, any of us could have focused on the petty frustrations of the mechanics of the process. But, instead, we were blessed to share these moments. It was a small thing that turned out to be one of the best Christmas gifts imaginable.

It’s a funny thing about joy: even when it is small, it is huge.

Bryan is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC). He has been licensed since June 2000. He is also involved in training new therapists as a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS) since 2011. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1992 from Florida Tech, and his Master of Arts in Psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology in 1996. Bryan started as a case manager before becoming a therapist, working in community behavioral health, where he practiced as part of a multidisciplinary team consisting of other therapists, case managers, nurses, and doctors. It was in this environment where he learned to treat the large variety of issues brought to the clinic by a diverse population. Bryan currently has a private practice in Marietta Georgia, seeing adults.

Originally Posted at TalkForward

Member Post

 

This third week of my personal COVID recovery journey was the first where thoughts of the prospect of death could be immediately rejected as unreasonable against what had become a deep, dark pit of all-consuming malaise and fatigue in the previous two weeks. Day in, day out treatments, based on integrative, holistic medical protocols found […]

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Life During Woke Time

 

I came across this thread this morning, supposedly an insider account of life in Big Tech from an engineer enduring work life under the plague that has taken lives, disrupted workplaces, turned schools into rigid, authoritarian child prisons, and spread suffering to countless families across the country. And also, COVID, which has somehow made the woke plague even worse. Keep in mind that not only can anyone make up anything on social media, but making up fake stuff is social media’s raison d’être. (Raison d’être being a French word meaning, I believe, “shoehorn.”) Also, the usual caveat of being skeptical to any anecdote that validates a prejudice applies. All that said, it’s an interesting read.

I work in Big Tech. A name you would know and have probably used before. Wanted to give a rundown of what it’s like from the inside right now. Obviously insanely radically leftwing. BLM/LGBTQ. Trans flags hanging in office. Pronouns stated before meetings. Special affiliation groups for everyone but white men. All what you’d expect.

True. Silicon Valley may be patient zero in the woke plague, but the contagion has spread across corporate America.

There’s constant talk, even now, about how hard things are for everyone. Often meetings start with going around the room to ask “How is everyone feeling?”

Literally everyone else went on sad rants about their lives. “I’m so MAD a white supremacist shot 3 black men in Kenosha!” It’s toxic. When it got to me, I said “Good.” and then a lady engineer proposed that we should not be allowed to answer the question positively. I think it hurt her that I wasn’t as miserable as her.

This is a great truth: Miserable people do not want to be happy; they want everyone else to be miserable. This is absolutely essential to understand the left.

The author goes onto explain that between COVID, working from home, and a company coasting on past successes, the business isn’t developing product anymore, it’s simply providing paychecks for miserable leftists.

Things my coworkers spend an enormous amount of their day on: – Coming up with a “clever” new Zoom background each day (something Harry Potter or Star Wars like children) – Clever Slack emojis – Reddit style responses in threads (“First!) and other low brow irony for the lulz.

You have a certain fire in your 20’s. Ready to reform and change everything. You get noticed when you perform. Promoted, bonuses, etc. But eventually you keep hitting the same problems or gatekeepers over and over. I recall asking an older coworker (mid-thirties at the time)… …what drove him, and he said he just does it for the paycheck now. I’m at that point. Lost the fire for career and collecting my paycheck for other purposes in life where the fire has been rekindled.

I am left wondering, if it’s this bad when the company is flush with profits, what happens when the inevitable crash happens? If you ever read a book like “Rivethead” or “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors,” you would realize that, minus the woke politics, this attitude of employees and managers not caring about their jobs and thinking they could get away with anything was pervasive in the American auto industry in the 1970s. And those of us who studied some history know how that worked out.

Terry Teachout: The Most Generous Person I Never Met

 

Terry Teachout, longtime theater critic for The Wall Street Journal and all-around culture expert for Commentary magazine, has died. Already, those who knew him are celebrating his life and many accomplishments. I never met him. Nor did I have one of the stimulating conversations about all things arts and culture he seemed to have had with so many, judging by the tributes. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have a profound, deep, and wonderful impact on my life.

When I was serving in Afghanistan in the winter of 2009-2010, I worked the overnight shift in the tactical operations center for my medevac unit. As anyone who knows anything about the war in Afghanistan knows, not a lot happens during the winter there. So I filled up my 12-hour shifts with books and movies and anything else. With my time, I decided to pick up Terry’s (I feel like I was on a first name basis with him, you’ll understand why in a second) biography of Louis Armstrong, “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.”

At that point, I had been reading Terry’s writings for a decade or so. Ever since I first picked up a copy of Commentary in the college library, when I was a freshman. I devoured “Pops.” Armstrong’s abiding good humor, warm personality, and, not to be too pretentious, joie de vivre leaped off the page from Terry’s biography. In the long cold nights in Afghanistan, it was sheer pleasure to read about Satchmo.

So I did what anyone would do, I used my military email address to write Terry a fan letter. I knew that when you tell someone you’ve enjoyed their work while you’re deployed, they’ll be grateful, and maybe it will make their day. I figured I might get a sincere “Thank you for your service” email back. What I got was so much more. Literally.

First, he wrote on his blog, About Last Night, a post about how my email was the nicest he’d ever received from a reader. (I sincerely hope someone in later years, especially after the death of his beloved wife, Hilary, has taken that distinction away from me.) Then he wrote back, saying he wanted to send me some Armstrong CDs. Now I had mentioned that his book made me kick myself that I hadn’t loaded up my iPod with Armstrong’s music before I left for deployment, but I had only done so to make kind of a light-hearted almost joke, along the lines of “Argh! deployment is terrible, I don’t even get to listen to jazz all day!”

So I reluctantly gave him my APO address and maybe expected a greatest hits CD, or something like that. Terry sent four CD box sets! The four box sets that any Satchmo fan salivates over! He basically sent me everything there was to listen to by Louis Armstrong.

Terry’s gifts to me

Over the years, these have remained prized possessions of mine. Not just for the wonderful music, but for the profound generosity Terry showed by sending them to me. I always dreamed that he’d come through my town on a book tour, maybe for a new biography he’d written about another great American artist, and I would take my now old copy of “Pops” and see if he would sign it. Then I’d ask him if he remembered the Joe in Afghanistan whom he sent all that wonderful music to.

Terry was a true critic, teaching me so many things I would never have otherwise known or not fully appreciated without him. In this regard: Whit Stillman movies and Stephen Sondheim musicals are up there, and of course the greatest gift he gave me was a deep appreciation of Armstrong’s music. When my wonderful wife and I were deciding what song we wanted our first dance to be at our wedding, I convinced her to do Armstrong’s “La Vie en Rose.” I don’t think that would have been chosen had it not been for Terry.

So although I never got to meet him and thank him in person for his wonderful generosity to me, a more or less total stranger, I will miss him terribly.

Member Post

 

A couple months ago, @frontseatcat put up a post asking about DNA tests for ancestry. Since I had taken a test through Ancestry.com several years ago, I decided to take a look at my account before commenting. When I checked on Ancestry, I could see a few updates were made. First, it now shows me […]

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Republicans Opting Out of Debates?

 

Headline: R.N.C. Signals a Pullout From Presidential Debates. Is the RNC really about to do something that isn’t stupid? All I know is my gut says, “Maybe.”

The Republican National Committee is preparing to change its rules to require presidential candidates seeking the party’s nomination to sign a pledge to not participate in any debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The nonprofit commission, founded by the two parties in 1987 to codify the debates as a permanent part of presidential elections, describes itself as nonpartisan. But Republicans have complained for nearly a decade that its processes favor the Democrats, mirroring increasing rancor from conservatives toward Washington-based institutions.

They aren’t even debates. They’re just Media Operatives asking banal questions followed by the politicians giving canned answers their handlers wrote for them. The only politician to respond spontaneously in any of them was Trump. They are never informative, since the candidates are only repeating the talking points from their stump speeches. The media is just looking for its “Gotcha” moment, like Gerald Ford denying the existence of Soviet troops in Eastern Europe, or Mitt Romney talking about the binders full of women he had strapped to the top of his car or something.

And these things are almost always moderated by Democratic Party Activists with bylines … Candy Crowley, John Harwood, Chris Wallace, Lester Holt, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper. That the Republicans on the supposedly bipartisan CPD agreed to this shows their utter incompetence and uselessness.

Now, if we can just get rid of those scripted “Townhall Meetings,” where Democrat activists pose as “Undecided Voters” to ask Republican candidate questions like, “As an independent voter, my biggest issue is Climate Change. If elected, will you pledge to shut down all coal mining and oil production in the world, and if not, why do you hate the children, who are our future, so much?”  It would actually be fantastic to see real voters ask real questions of the candidates; rather than media operatives repeating questions fed to them by their colleagues in the Washington DC Bubble.

While the eventual nominee could decide to debate, there’s far more energy in the G.O.P. base behind abandoning institutions than there used to be.

It never occurs to them to blame failing institutions (journalism, media, government) for this.

Microsoft Users: ‘Nothing Could Be Worse Than Clippy.’ Microsoft: ‘Challenge Accepted.’

 

Microsoft has integrated a feature into its (pretty much) mandatory software that highlights “problematic” language and suggests woke politically correct alternatives.

In its latest version of Office 365, a purple line appears under written copy that the software deems might “imply bias”, with alternatives offered.

Among the things the feature looks for are age bias, cultural bias, gender specific language, sexual orientation bias and socioeconomic status.

Even though the source describes this as a “new feature,” a quick DuckDuckGo search finds that our Corporate Masters at Microsoft have been pushing out this feature since at least 2019.

Remember way back in the 1990s. when people thought bundling Internet Explorer with Windows was Big Tech Going Too Far?

And I guess the Bush-Republican response is, “Hey, corporations should be allowed to do whatever they want. If you don’t like it, start your own multinational office technology monopoly.”

The Importance of Supervision

 

Your most valuable assets are your time and attention. No matter how clever you are, no matter how well educated, there is no way to add hours to the day. Most of us understand this, and I talk about it in The Power of Scheduling What is Important. The tricky part is figuring out just what is important. To your direct reports, your time and attention are a valuable resource. If you are a good leader, these are gold to them. Their success can depend on you.

I have always made a practice of scheduled supervision with all my direct reports for an hour every week. These sessions are our formal times. As things come up during the week, we can easily have calls or take a moment to talk. However, knowing we have a scheduled time, I find both sides save things for that conversation.

While I am very much an “open door” leader, in a supervision session, the door is shut. That is my direct reports’ time, and only a true emergency is a reason to disrupt it. It is a blessing to have a good Executive Assistant to screen out anything but a true emergency. Most of the time, however, we must teach our direct reports when it is okay to interrupt or not.

The advantage of a regular schedule is that you are both committed to keep that appointment. If it is all “ad hoc” then it is easy to suddenly go a month without meeting. “We will discuss that in supervision” becomes something positive. I found the need for direct reports to interrupt my day decreased. They would hold anything but the urgent items for our scheduled time. Conversely, if they did need to bring me something immediately, I was all ears, because I would know that this was a situation that could not wait.

There are months when this supervision may not happen, due to other things in either person’s schedule taking priority. In those cases, you may or may not reschedule, based on each other’s needs. “

I have coached several leaders in this format over the years and when they have implemented it, they have seen its power. That does not mean it has not been met with resistance. The number one response is “I don’t have time”. My advice has always been the same, “Make time. Your job is to be a leader. This is the core of your job”.

If you do not provide the attention to your direct reports that they need to be successful, you may find it will take more time and attention down the road to correct a problem you could have avoided.

Spend your most valuable resources wisely and you will see the benefits.

Bryan G. Stephens is a former executive on a mission to transform the workplace. He is the founder and CEO of TalkForward, a consulting and training company, utilizing Bryan’s clinical and management expertise to develop managers and teams in a corporate environment. As a licensed therapist with a strong understanding of developing human potential, he is dedicated to the development of Human Capital to meet the needs of leaders, managers, and employees in the 21st Century workplace.  Bryan has an Executive MBA from Kennesaw State University, Coles School of Business, and both a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Originally posted at TalkForward.

A Reintroduction

 

Hi everyone, it’s been quite a while since I last posted on Ricochet (2018) so I thought it would be a good time to reintroduce myself.

I am a West Australian who originally joined Ricochet back in 2016. For those of you who were here at that time, you will remember there was a lot of very spirited debate during the primary and then the presidential election of that year with some well-reasoned arguments on both sides.

In 2017, I was made redundant from my accounting job after almost seven years and what followed was the three toughest years of my life. I was able to gain some occasional temporary work mostly in politics due to my involvement with the National Party here in Western Australia. But for much of this time, I was unemployed and I began to develop a growing sense of victimhood about my situation thinking that nothing about my situation was my fault and expecting things to miraculously turn around and get better without doing anything about it.

In 2020 with the Covid pandemic in full swing, I began to finally realise that the situation I was in could only be improved by my own actions. After three years, I finally sought out government benefits and government assistance. I then considered the possibility of further study after a discussion with an employment agency. After doing this I called my local National Party branch president who also happens to work at our local university center. I committed for the first time in years to doing something in my life to make my life better.

I am currently in my third term of a Masters of Teaching (Secondary) and in less than a month I am going on my third Prac with only one more term to go after this one. In addition to study, I am also working three days a week in an accounting firm earning money and I am no longer on any form of government benefits.

While things have improved for me in recent times I cannot say the same for my country. The Covid pandemic has shown that the Australian people are not the strong, independent people they once were. My own state is ruled by a dictator that has complete control over the government, the parliament, and much of the media. Those who fawn over the premier of Western Australia call him the state daddy as if he is some sort of general secretary of a communist party. And it is common to hear even those who normally speak sense say that he has kept us safe.

This idea that the people of Australia seem to have become infected with that it is the role of government to keep the people safe is far more dangerous and infectious than any Covid pandemic. As you all know, any people that would prefer safety over liberty will receive in return neither safety or liberty.

I am glad to be back on Ricochet and I look forward to once again taking part in reasoned and rational debate away from the cesspool that comprises much of this world wide web.

I am also looking forward to contributing my own posts as well as reading the high-quality posts of others and contributing to our conversation. I have spent much of today while at work listening to some of the great podcasts on here and I realised listening to them why I liked this website so much before. It’s great to be back.

Member Post

 

Both Pfizer (PFE on NYSE) and Moderna (MRNA on Nasdaq) were down big on Thursday.  (Trending down again today.) Something is putting pressure on these two stocks (which both doubled in 2021).   I’m thinking, the gig is up, which means the Pandemic panic is about over.   How many Congress members do you think are shorting […]

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Remembering Ronnie Spector

 

Singer Veronica Greenfield, better known by her stage name Ronnie Spector, has died. I won’t pretend to be an expert on her life or career, but I can tell you this: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica has not been bested by any pop music since. I don’t think it can be. Songs like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain” are a perfection of the form, though it would be wrong to talk about the music of The Ronettes only in terms of pop. It’s some of the greatest American music, period.

The Ronettes, as well as most of the notable girl groups of the ’60s, owe much of their success to producer Phil Spector who Ronnie married in 1968. All the producing genius in the world would’ve meant zilch had Phil not been working with singers of such immense talent as Ronnie, her sister Estelle, and their cousin Nedra Talley. As lead singer, Ronnie is the star of those records. Her voice was as powerful as it was beautiful, the envy of angels. She would shine no matter who was in the studio with her. Phil was lucky to have her. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly in light of his later conviction for murder, Phil was an abusive scumbag. They divorced in 1974. She kept the surname for business purposes.

Her post-Ronettes career didn’t bring the same financial success, but artistically she was as vibrant as ever. Of particular note to me was She Talks to Rainbows released in 1999. The EP was produced by Joey Ramone. Girl groups were a major influence on the Ramones whose divisive End of the Century was produced by Phil Spector and featured a cover of The Ronettes “Baby, I Love You” (read the Wikipedia article for more anecdotes about Phil’s overbearing, horrific behavior). She Talks to Rainbows sees Ronnie return the favor, covering two Ramones tracks, as well as tracks by Johnny Thunders and The Beach Boys. In the coming days, you’re going to see a lot of people posting “Be My Baby”, but for me, Ronnie’s crowning jewel is this eponymous song, a cover that turns a forgettable song into a masterpiece:

Later in life, Ronnie yet again paid respect to an artist who she paved the way for. Here she is covering Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”:

We’ll miss you, Veronica. You were one of a kind.

The Craziness of School Quarantine

 

School here in LA County has reopened after the holiday break, and all talk is testing and quarantines.  The local Facebook parents group is full of parents expressing angst about the threat of their kids getting exposed to a sick kid and having to deal with the consequences and trying to find testing sites and in-home tests.

Interestingly, very little of the concern seems to be over the risk of the illness to their kids, but the risk and consequences of exposure. Parents are upset that their kids are telling them of classmates who are coming to school sick or said they tested positive but came to school anyway.  (My son’s principal says that’s just random anecdotal stuff, and not to give it too much credit.) They’re upset that their healthy kids have been exposed and now need to find a way to get tested to remain in school. Where are test sites with the shortest lines? Where can home tests be found?

They’re upset that their kids are no longer sick, but keep testing positive and can’t return to school. They’re upset that kids who have to go to independent study because they’re in quarantine are just getting homework assignments, and no lessons (these are high school kids who are concerned about grades). I talked to one parent today who was happy her kids got COVID over the holiday, because now they get a 90-day pass to any sort of quarantine or testing if they’re exposed and do not get sick!

I received notification last night that my son was identified as a close contact to someone who tested positive at school, and therefore had to quarantine because it’s been more than six months since his last vaccine. There’s a modified quarantine option that allows him to remain in school if he tests negative on Day 1 and Day 5 after exposure.  Well, he was notified on Day 3, so to follow the letter of the law, he needed to get tested today (Day 4) and tomorrow (Day 5) to remain in school. Because of the testing schedules on campus, he was allowed to go to school in the morning, and get tested after lunch, so technically, he spent Day 4 on campus without a negative test. He dutifully hustled in line immediately after his last class, waited 45 minutes, and got his test (negative, fortunately).

Unfortunately, not all the students who need to get tested will be so fortunate. Tests are limited and demand is high, so those who arrive later in the day may find themselves shut out and having to wait till tomorrow to get tested. Technically, my son needs to get tested again tomorrow to end his “modified quarantine,”  so he would be competing with those same students again to get an elusive test. That’s two tests, two days in a row, to follow a modified quarantine order.

Maybe the biggest risk of omicron is not the illness but the preventions – maybe we shouldn’t be forcing healthy kids to quarantine, or to get tested to prove they’re not sick if they sit next to someone for 15 minutes one day in class, both while wearing masks. Maybe we shouldn’t treat someone who completed their initial vaccinations more than six months ago the same as someone who has not been vaccinated at all. Heck, if vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, why does vaccination status even matter when it comes to quarantine rules, especially for school-aged children whose risk of serious illness is quite low?

Be Careful What You Wish For

 

My #2 son and I discovered something just now that changed our entire understanding of the Flood in Genesis. And it all has to do with how a human desire to change the world was fulfilled by G-d in a most unexpected way.

Here are the pieces: G-d curses the earth that man should suffer to extract food from it:

Cursed be the ground because of you;
By suffering shall you eat of it
All the days of your life: (Gen. 3:17)

Generations later, one of Adam’s descendants decides that he wants to change the status quo:

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he begot a son. And he named him Noach, saying, “This one will provide us nachum from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the LORD placed under a curse.” (Gen. 5:29-30)

This word, Nachum/Noach is usually translated as “comfort”. But that is not what it means in the text. A more accurate translation can be found by the way it is next used in the text:

And the LORD nachumed that He had made man on earth, and His heart suffered.

Nachum refers to a change in direction, a deviation from an earlier plan.

And what does He do after changing?

The LORD said, “I will blot out from the earth the men whom I created—men together with beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I nachum that I made them.”

Nachum is clearly a word that refers to changing one’s mind, to finding a resolution, a way forward. It may be good or bad – but it certainly is a big shift in approach.

Why does G-d need to change, to blot out the world? Certainly, one answer is that mankind was insufferably evil. But another answer is that mankind asked for this change, even named a person after the very concept of change.  And Lamech did it to relieve or change the original curse, and to eliminate the suffering that came from it.

Here’s the kicker: Noach succeeded in fulfilling the expectations his father laid on him! Not because he removed the curse on the land, but because he removed the need for mankind to eat from the earth in the first place!

Why? Because G-d brings the Flood, Noach saves the animals, and as a result of saving the animals, mankind (who were previously commanded to only eat vegetation) gets to eat animals. As I wrote here,

Noach’s salvation of the animals changed the relationship between man and the animal kingdom. Originally, before the Flood, G-d tells both man and animals to eat plants:

God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so. (Gen 1:29-30)

Before the Flood, man was essentially in parallel with animals: we could shear sheep and milk goats, but we could not eat them. Not until Noach saved their lives.

When Noach saved the animals, he created a debt from animals to mankind, which resulted in a rearrangement of the food chain. Mankind saved animals, and so they owe their very lives to mankind. As a result, after the Flood, we are allowed to eat animals.

Which means that we no longer had to eat vegetation, and that we no longer needed to suffer to do so! There was another, better, food option. It is no accident that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the tribes and Moses were all shepherds!

Indeed, the concept of suffering also seems to go away. At first, there is a parallelism: man suffers, and G-d later also suffers (as bolded in the earlier extracts):

By suffering shall you eat of it; and

And the LORD nachum that He had made man on earth, and His heart suffered.

But this same word is used two more times (to refer to interpersonal anguish, not agriculture) then vanishes from the text entirely. It is not found in any of the other books of the Torah.

Which means that Lamech’s blessing of his son Noach actually came true. Noach (who was named for “change”) relieved human suffering from the curse of the earth caused by Adam’s eating of the fruit. But he did it in an extremely roundabout way: after all, the Flood extinguished almost all life on earth.

Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

[An @iwe, @blessedblacksmith, and @susanquinn production]

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Well, I’m sitting at the dining room table of a four-bedroom condo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Tomorrow, four of my oldest friends will show up for a weekend of drunken revelry and gluttony watching the NFL wild card games on Saturday and Sunday.  We’ve been doing this every year for quite a while now, […]

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Tired of not finding convenient data on Vaccine Efficacy I decided to take the bull by the horns and just do it myself.   I’m interested in the efficacy of vaccines.    So I looked at the 10 most vaccinated (by % of population with 2 or more shots) vs the 10 least vaccinated States. […]

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A little over a month ago, I wrote about how I had quit drinking caffeinated coffee to see if maybe the caffeine was the cause of the heart palpitations I’d been experiencing. Long story short, my doctor has found nothing wrong, and the palpitations have subsided. So I just finished my first cup of real […]

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Did God Really Say That?

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

Now the earth was formless and empty, 

darkness was over the surface of the deep, 

and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  

And God said, … (Genesis 1)

“And God said.” If you’re like me, you probably never thought twice about these three little words in Genesis, Chapter 1. We read right past them to see what God said. But then I learned better. Now, I can’t stress enough how these three little words are the basis for everything that follows. With these words, everything changed. 

Nikola Tesla once said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration. Sounds or words are simply energy, frequency and vibrations.”

Did you know that everything vibrates? You don’t see it, but all of the molecules that make up a dog or a tree or a person or water, they are always in constant motion. When you speak, vibrations go forth from your mouth and impact everything they come in contact with. 

For those of us who were not that “into” our ninth grade physics class, I’ll remind you that this idea about frequencies and vibrations is actually a basic physics concept. Think in terms of a wave — like when you skip a rock on a lake. The rock causes a wave or frequency to emanate from the place where it hits the water, and that wave or frequency impacts everything in its path; thus, a small duck floating in the water may feel a gentle movement under him as a wave passes by. Literally, the energy from the wave rearranges everything in its path. As the wave hits the duck in the water, the duck, who is also vibrating at a certain frequency, is impacted and, in turn, the duck’s waves and frequencies bounce back and spread out, impacting everything they come into contact with. There is always a constant interaction of energy and frequencies. There is constant motion and constant change. 

Our words do the same thing. They go forth as waves and frequencies and vibrations, and they impact everything around us. As strange as it may seem to some, there have been scientific studies that show that speaking kindly to plants actually encourages them to grow. 

In an article from The Guardian in January 2021, Dominique Hes, Ph.D., biophilia expert and lead researcher at Horticulture Innovation Australia’s Plant Life Balance, explained this phenomenon: “Smithsonian and Nasa studies show that mild vibrations increase growth in plants while harsher, stronger vibrations have a negative effect. The vibrations improve communication and photosynthesis, which improves growth and the ability to fight infection. You could say the plants are happy!”

If our words are impacting plants, just imagine what is happening with the people we talk to. 

Proverbs 15:4 says, “Gentle words bring life and health; … ”

 Proverbs 11:9 says, “Evil words destroy one’s friends; … ”

We have always been trained to think of these verses in abstract or metaphysical terms, but couldn’t we better understand the power of our words if we think of these verses in terms of basic physics? 

The Hebrew word for “word” is “debar.” Interestingly, debar can also mean “deed” or an action. In Hebrew, words are not just what someone says but what someone does. Words do something. They bring into being. They make something happen. They build up and they tear down. 

Is this why our Bibles say that death and life are in the power of the tongue? Just like with plants, our words literally promote life or death.

Because of this basic reality of our universe, the Bible admonishes us to choose our words carefully.

In fact, Proverbs 17:27 says, “Intelligent people choose their words carefully.”

There is also another interesting way to look at “And God said … ”

Hebrew only has two verb tenses: One is for actions that have been completed, and one is for actions that are ongoing.

The word “said” in “and God said … ” is ongoing. It is not something that God did in the past, and it’s done. His word literally continues to reverberate throughout the universe — its energy, frequencies, and vibrations are still impacting our world. In fact, some believe that it is his word that literally sustains our world, and without it, everything collapses.

The book of Hebrews, Chapter 1, seems to hint at this very idea of God sustaining the world through his word. 

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

“And God said”— such power, in just three little words.

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https://twitter.com/ellymelly/status/1481035540963426306?s=20 The premier of Western Australia our dear Emperor our lord and Savior our most sacred state daddy Mark McGowan has decided to help Aboriginal Australians by releasing a video so patronizing that they will surely overcome their distrust of the white fella and will stick an experimental drug into their arm.  The selflessness of […]

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Veronica Yvette Bennett was born on August 10, 1943 in Spanish Harlem, NYC of African-American-Irish parentage. As memorialized below by another Ricochetti, Ronnie Spector passed away today after a career spanning over 60 years that led to her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Along with her sister and a cousin, Ronnie formed […]

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In the end, the truth will always be revealed, and the truth about the coronavirus policy is beginning to be revealed. When the destructive concepts collapse one by one, there is nothing left but to tell the experts who led the management of the pandemic – we told you so. Two years late, you finally […]

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