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A big tip of the hat to @AlFrench for bringing this story to my attention. For those of you that are not familiar with Lars Larson he is a local NW radio host, as well as a national radio host. He coined the phrase; “Havana on the Willamette”, referring to Portland, Oregon. By Lars Larson,NW and national […]

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Destroying Not Only Our History but Our Stories

 

The Left has been relentless in its efforts to distort, remove and delegitimize the history of our country. The damage to our children and to our nation is incalculable. But I realized that losing our history for future generations is much more than removing the tales of battles, founding documents, and the contributions of our Founders.

We are losing our stories and the significant role they can play in our personal lives.

When we study our history, we learn so much more than facts and figures. When we look at the Founders, we learn not only about George Washington’s bravery, but also his modesty, even his insecurity, about his lack of formal education. We come to understand the enormous barriers that Abraham Lincoln encountered that he was prepared to overcome through his commitment to his own education and accomplishments, his bouts with depression, and living with a troubled wife. Ulysses S. Grant was not only a great general, but he suffered greatly in his witnessing of those who died on both sides of the war, the Union and the South.

History is not just made of events: it is a reflection of the men and women who were exceptional and flawed human beings, people who became famous and sometimes infamous through the lives they lived. More than those truths, each of us has the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of these people, during the times when they lived, with all the limitations they had to suffer.

What was it like to be Abigail Adams who had to maintain the farm while John Adams was away serving this country? How well would we endure the choices men had to make to join the Union or Confederate Armies, tearing families apart?

People attack the history of the United States, insisting on focusing on our poor choices and refusing to appreciate the unique efforts to create a democratic republic, the only one on the face of the earth; this is a bigoted, deceitful, hateful, and destructive effort that hurts the very country that was established and that allows them to pursue their efforts. They don’t understand that valid history education doesn’t try to deify its Founders but demonstrate how they rose above their limitations. They don’t realize that the accomplishments of the leaders of the past were laudable because of all the barriers they encountered and overcame, personal and professional.

Each of us has a chance to identify with the efforts and attributes of these people. We can try to imagine riding for days through snowstorms on a horse to attend a meeting of Congress. We can imagine the work of Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery and became a symbol of black freedom. These people, flawed and ambitious, are role models to all of us and connect us to U.S. history in an intimate and intriguing way.

*     *     *     *

I was reminded recently of a very poignant and powerful exchange that mattered to me. George Washington had sent a letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode, Island. His letter included these touching words:

May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

I had somehow missed the fact that the congregation had sent a letter first to the President, with these words of gratitude and prayer:

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: — deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine: — This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.

For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men — beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life: — And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality.

As a Jew, an American citizen, and a lover of history, I identify with and appreciate this gracious exchange.

Finally, there is this observation by the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks:

G-d never commanded us: Thou shall win a Nobel Prize. What he wanted us to teach our children was a story. He wanted us to help our children understand who they are, where they came from, what happened to their ancestors to make them the distinctive people they became, and what moments in their history shaped their lives and dreams.

Although Rabbi Sacks was addressing the Jewish people, I believe his words apply to all humanity.

May we all live to see the restoration of our remarkable history and its leaders.

Hemingway: Liz Cheney Weaponizes Jan. 6 Committee Against Primary Opponent

 

I begin to think the Bush-Republicans are actually worse than their Rockefeller-Republican predecessors. The Rockies openly admitted their liberalism; the Bushies spout conservative rhetoric while doing everything they can to advance the Democrat agenda, and make money for themselves in the process. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney not only eagerly signed onto Nancy Pelosi’s January 6th Inquisition, but she is now apparently leveraging the Committee’s Subpoena Power to harass her primary opponent. (From: The Federalist)

On Tuesday, the committee on which Cheney serves as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked vice chair unveiled subpoenas for three advisers to the Trump family. Andrew Surabian and Arthur Schwartz, who’ve advised Donald Trump Jr., and Ross Worthington, who played a role in drafting President Donald Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, were each called to hand over documents and testify before the committee between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2.

Surabian, who is advising the Wyoming Values Political Action Committee (PAC) in support of Cheney’s primary challenger attorney Harriet Hageman, had no involvement with the White House protest that the probe has sought to conflate with the violence at the Capitol.

This seems like a dirty trick from a desperate politician, and it is, but to put it in perspective, the Bush-Republicans also used September 11th as an excuse to start a war with a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack, doubled the national debt while preaching “fiscal responsibility,” and sold out working-class American prosperity to China under the guise of “Free Trade.”  Using a taxpayer-funded Congressional Committee to harass a primary opponent for a Congressional seat is small potatoes.

If Wyoming voters decide to turn her out, she could always run for Congress from her home district in Northern Virginia.

Here’s a Fun Idea

 

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (not to be confused with the NYTimes columnist who wants to be Governor of Oregon because he thinks the current governor isn’t left-wing enough) thinks Biden should pick Liz Cheney as his running mate in 2024.

His rationale … I am not making this up… is because Israel is a parliamentary democracy and Orange Man Bad, and therefore, combining a president with a 28% approval rating with a vice president so consumed with hatred for the previous president that her own party has rejected her will unite the country and save democracy.

It might.

Over the Hill and Through the Woods to Mr. Churchill’s House We Go: A Disaster in 3 Parts

 

In our household, I’m known as the one with ‘bright ideas.’ 

Maybe I should clarify. ‘Bright ideas’ here is spoken in roughly the same tone which Bill Buckley reserved for his interactions with Gore Vidal. Somewhere between getting caught up in a riot in Paris and taking up kicking men twice my size in the head as a hobby, my parents lost some confidence in my critical thinking skills. Well, before that, maybe, but you get the picture. 

At the beginning of August, my time in London was rapidly coming to a close, and I had one last bright idea to cross off my list. I’d (very happily) spent May-August doing everything I pleased, mostly spending my days visiting all of the museums, art galleries, parks, record stores, historical monuments, libraries, nature reserves, etc. that I hadn’t had time for as a student, and my nights at jazz clubs or baroque ensemble concerts. The only thing left to do was Chartwell. 

Winston Churchill’s former country house, Chartwell is a redbrick mansion situated on 20 acres of gardens and a further 57 of parkland, located in Westerham, Kent. It’s only about 40 miles from King’s Cross, one of London’s biggest transport hubs and my home Tube station. This all sounds quite idealistic, of course, and very doable, easy even. 

Certainly, that was my thought going into it. I had initially planned to go on the 1st of the month, but was waylaid by other commitments, and decided to go on the 2nd instead. No big deal, I assured myself, knowing that I would be leaving the city for the final time on the 5th, and thinking that this would be a lovely last trip out of London. Just a little country jaunt. 

In retrospect, it would likely have been wise to give up when my phone decided, for reasons unknown, to quit sometime in the night, and I woke up hours later than the 8 a.m. I had planned. Having been out until 3 a.m. probably hadn’t helped. Undaunted, I dragged myself to the shower and through my morning routine, keeping an eye on train tables all the while. The easiest route, it seemed, was to catch the Thameslink from King’s Cross to East Croydon, and then take the Southern to Oxted. No challenge at all after having navigated the vagaries for the Tube for three years. 

The first leg of my journey was perfectly fine. I jumped off the train at East Croydon, replete in my jeans, slightly torn up backpack, Brodsky t-shirt, and worn-out sneakers, ready to get on my way. My way, as it turned out, had left two minutes earlier, and I would now have the pleasure of waiting an extra hour for the next train to Oxted to arrive. This was also when I discovered that, in conjunction with my phone struggling to hold a charge, my stored charger was likewise becoming very temperamental. No matter, I was only going to be gone for another two or three hours. 

I wish. 

Google Maps assured me that I would actually be even closer to Chartwell if, instead of decamping at Oxted, I got off four stations later, at Cowden. Easier bus access or something like that. In retrospect, considering Google Maps once made me run across five lanes of the M1 where there was no light after stranding me on a median, this was a moronic choice. (By the way, if you’re out there, tall Nordic man that made the same mistake as me and held my hand as we darted across that terrifying highway, hi! I hope all is well and that you’ve learned, unlike me, to make better life decisions). Cowden is, appropriately enough, the station for the village of Cowden, a little town of about 800 people. That should have clued me in to the frequency of bus service. 

When I finally disembarked from the train, I was a bit startled by just how small the station was. The fact that my debit card didn’t want to scan in their ancient machine, and that I ended up scampering off up the road, hoping the police wouldn’t chase me down, after 15 minutes spent trying to make it work and failing to find any employees, did nothing to endear me to the place. 

And that’s when I discovered that, contrary to what every online schedule had told me, the next bus service to Chartwell would not be in 20 minutes, but two hours. A train back in the direction I came wouldn’t be coming for another hour, and even the stations back towards London were a significant distance from the house. This, as one of my friends likes to point out, is where a sane person would have said ‘too bad,’ grabbed a bite in the village pub, and headed home. Google Maps, which up to then had done me so many favors, informed me that it would be a 2.5-hour, 7.5-mile walk to Chartwell. 

I’ve done that on a run to Knightsbridge and back at 1 a.m., I said to myself. How hard could it be? If I’ve come all this way, I’m going to see Chartwell, hike be damned. 

The first, oh, mile or so of my Tolkein-worthy trek was on sidewalks, treading past a truck service station, a grocery store, and various and sundry other buildings. Then, abruptly, the road continued, but the sideway gave way to nothing. Where once there was a path of paving stones, only narrow grassy lanes, cut off from grazing fields by fences, remained. In between those and the road proper was a strip of pavement maybe a foot wide, which would have brought me within a hair’s breadth of passing traffic. 

It’ll only be for a bit, just keep going. 

In a way, I was right. The trimmed, neat grass lanes did last for only a bit. At which point they gave way to the humping edges of fields, forests, and people’s front gardens, large portions infested with brush, bushes filled with sharp spines, and poorly constructed stone walls. So I continued to trudge along, like a lone gymnast on a deranged balance beam, wincing every time (which was far too often) a car or truck sped by. 

Truthfully, I couldn’t tell you how many bends, twists, and turns the various roads I traveled on had, but there were far, far too many, and my beloved sidewalk was gone for good. At one point, picking my way through a bush and attempting not to fall from the strange miniature hill I was perched on, I turned to see a farmer and his herd of sheep staring at me from across the way. Terrified that he would call the police to report some sort of escaped mental patient roaming the non-pedestrian roads of Kent, I picked up my pace and skittered away as fast as I could, arms scratched and face sporting an impressive gash. It was hours later that I began pulling the leaves from my hair. 

The final big twist on the map brought me up a hill bracketed by forest, and, while I prayed that I hadn’t managed to catch Lyme disease yet, I turned onto the ‘road’ which would finally lead me to Chartwell to over a rough dirt path, so shaded by trees that it was near pitch black. 

At this point, if you die, it’ll have been worth it. Okay, maybe not worth it, but at least no one at home will be surprised that this is how it happened. Imagine the obituary: she died doing what she loved, making choices anyone with a basic grasp on sanity and normal interests never would have. 

As I switched on my phone’s flashlight, I found that I was on 10% battery, and my stored charger had exactly one charge left on it. No matter, I could get the bus back, I wouldn’t need all of those directions again. Making my brisk way down the thing which it’s almost too generous to call a path, my foot caught on an unseen tree root, and I covered a good quarter of it quite literally head over heels. When I came to the end, I spotted a paved way up ahead, and figured that I had finally reached my destination. 

Private Property: No Trespassing. 

This is a family website, so I won’t reproduce my exact reaction, but suffice to say it was spirited. With almost no cell phone service and GoogleMaps assuring me that there were no other possible routes, I strode past the sign, shimmied under a wooden gate, and kept marching along. Now, though, instead of cars and confused sheep, I was going past mansions, mansionettes, and immaculate gardens, hoping against hope no one in this strange gated community would spot me and start asking questions. ‘No, really, I’m not here to case houses, I just want to see Winston Churchill’s house’ read as an extraordinarily thin excuse, especially as an obvious foreigner. 

After two false starts, I got out of the gated community, and right onto another, even less pedestrian-friendly road. It took an accidental trip to the gardener’s cottage and nearly getting hit by an SUV to find the parking lot to Chartwell. I was happier to see it than Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd spotting a nubile young waitress at La Brasserie. 

Here, I might mention that, because of Covid, people weren’t allowed to make reservations for entry, and it was first come, first serve. But the house wasn’t meant to close until 4, and it was only about 3-3:15. 

“Hello.” 

“Hi. I’ve come for the house and the gardens. But I’ve got a National Trust membership.” 

“Oh, sorry, we actually just let the last batch of people into the house. But you’re welcome to walk around the property.” 

Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. I’d always dreamed of seeing the outside of Winston Churchill’s house, and swarms of screaming children pushing each other down the hill which led to the gardens. 

It wasn’t quite what I’d hoped (or fought through the better part of Westerham’s shrubbery for), but I still enjoyed my half-hour traipsing around the grounds, and, conqueror that I was, the prize that I procured for myself in the gift shop. Because there was no way in hell, after that experience, that I was leaving with nothing to show for it. 

Packing my purchases away, I went to check the bus timetable. Upon which I was told that the next bus to a train station would be coming in approximately two hours. For a moment, I considered asking the driver of the tour bus full of elderly people if I could hitch a ride with them, but I had no idea where they were going, and, considering the very violent argument he was having in French in between puffs on a cigarette in front of the monstrous silver contraption, I swallowed my despair, and checked to see the nearest station which would return me to London. Edenbridge Town, evidentially. Joy of all joys, another five-mile walk. 

Naively, I hoped that heading for a different station than the one I’d come from would put me on a sidewalk-ed route. No such luck. Instead, it put me on the grassy edge of the B2026, where I got to cling to trees and brush in a desperate attempt not to get hit by the lorries flying down the road. I enjoyed such scenic sites as a lorry driver throwing his butts out the window into a duck pond, a sign that said “Elderly People” with no further explanation, and four people dogging in a silver Hyundai wedged in the tiny dirt parking lot of a nature preserve. Naturally, good luck multiplying on itself, this is when my mother decided to FaceTime me. She has a special talent for calling me in the middle of doing the weirdest things, like heading to an African art film festival in Dalton, or getting chased by a legless, one-armed drunk clutching a beer in a motor scooter through Shoreditch at 2 a.m. 

“Hi!” 

“Hey mom.” 

“How-KW, where are you?” 

“Out.” 

“Out where? Is that a truck? Are you on a highway?!” 

“I can’t really say. Somewhere in Kent, I think. It might be.” 

“For what possible reason are you walking down a highway in Kent?” 

“I wanted to see Winston Churchill’s house, and there was no bus when I got here, so I walked.” 

“How far?” 

“Does it matter?” 

“KW!” 

“I don’t know, like 12 miles roundtrip.” 

“On a highway?” 

“I mean, there were fields and a forest too. I might have Lyme disease now.” 

“Only you. Only you would do this. Why aren’t you ever doing anything normal when I call you?” 

“You’re the one that raised me!”

Eventually, I convinced my mom that staying on the phone with me (as its battery rapidly ran down) wasn’t going to help anything, and civilization came back into view. 

Just another mile and a half, the bad part’s over. 

The bad part was over, too, until about three minutes later, when it began to downpour. 

Sodden, exhausted, and looking like I had gone on a holiday outing to a warzone, I boarded my Southern line train back to King’s Cross, pushed myself the 10 minutes from there back home, and promptly collapsed onto my bed. Seven hours after I left. 

But my one prize of the day has now, as a graduate student, become the bag I take everywhere with me, so maybe it was worth it in the end. 

Or so I will continue to tell my mother, until my dying day.

Vaccine Turnabout: Will There Be Rage and Who Will Feel It?

 

First: I took the two-shot Pfizer last spring. I didn’t really want to, but I have a special needs sister who had been in quarantine for months and the shots were required to restart family visits. I would have licked Tabasco off the rim of a garbage can on Bourbon Street if that was what was required to see my sister. Other than some aches and fever after the second shot, I have no identifiable vaccine issues.

Second: I had Covid during the holidays this year. Probably the “O” version, but they don’t really test for that specifically. Worse than a cold, but not as bad as the flu. I believe I am fully recovered.

Third: I have known several people that died with/from Covid — mostly older and with other health issues.

Fourth: I know one person that had a massive stroke within 36 hours of the Moderna vaccine and died. She was older, but generally in good health. Was it vaccine-related? Who knows, but her family certainly thinks so.

So the news now is that the vaccine doesn’t exactly work: if vaccinated, you can still pass on the virus, can get other variants (quibbles over if the vaccine “lessens” the severity of the illness). Further, the vaccine may cause heart issues; the vaccine may affect women’s cycles and of course, since the vaccine hasn’t been around long term, we will be finding out if it has adverse long-term consequences in real-time. What if it does? Excess cancer, heart problems, blood clots, infertility, strokes, etc?

Trump touted the vaccine as a scientific triumph. Big Pharma has pushed the vaccine as virtually risk-free (but with a liability shield carve out — just in case they are wrong). Big Government has fast-tracked approvals and agency recommendations. (Vaccinate your 5-year-olds!) The Democrats in power (state and federal) have pushed vaccines in every way imaginable.

I’m just running rabbit trails in my mind here. What if becomes more apparent that the negative health consequences from the vaccine exceed the (what appears to be diminishing) positives? Will the vaccinated population feel duped? Will they be angry? To whom will their anger be directed? Trump? Dems? Pharma? I am sure any specific constituent’s anger will be channeled thru their regular tribal preferences. Dems will blame Trump and Pharma, conservatives will blame Big Pharma and Big Government (and maybe Trump too).

Will we approach a critical mass of vaccine remorse? If it comes to that, how will the displeasure manifest? (You can’t vote everybody out). Will it matter? Will the people who point out the mounting negatives be labeled as crazies and sent to the proverbial gulags? Will it just be one big gaslighting by those in power? Demonstrations? Riots? Or will the populace just accept that we did what we could with the info we had at the time so oh well?

‘I Can’t Go into Sources and Methods….’

 

There is truly an extraordinary exchange between Ted Cruz and the FBI’s Jill Sanborn in a Senate hearing. Ted Cruz repeatedly asks Miss Sanborn about Ray Epps and other possible FBI agents’ involvement promoting the January 6 riot in the Capitol.

Video shows Ray Epps, among other things, encouraging unlawful entry into the Capitol building, yet he has never been prosecuted. Why?

Under Ted Cruz’s repeated questioning, Ms. Sanborn repeatedly states, “I can’t answer that.” I suppose she hopes you will think that she is saying that she does not know. However, she precedes the litany of “I can’t answer that” responses by saying that she is “can’t go into sources and methods….” What does that tell us? Her “I can’t answer that” is all about sources and methods, not any lack of knowledge.

As I hear her testimony, her “I can’t answer that” is because it would reveal “sources and methods.” Who sources and methods? The FBI’s, of course. In other words, I hear her answers as essentially admitting that the FBI was involved in encouraging the January 6 unlawful entry into the Capitol building.  Here is the video:

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Member Post

 

I saw this article this morning: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2022/01/11/vaccinated-can-volunteer-to-wear-coloured-identity-mark-to-prove-jab-status-in-german-city/ I thought to myself, “Don’t Germans remember what happened the last time they made certain people wear identification to indicate their status?”

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Dear People of Color

 

Dear People of Color,

We of the Democratic Party would like to thank you for your support these past several decades. Your continuing loyalty to us is extraordinarily generous and all the more so because, let’s face it, we’ve certainly never earned your trust, loyalty, or gratitude.

We’re the party that invented the Ku Klux Klan, after all. We led the opposition to the Civil Rights Act. We tried to keep segregation alive in the South well into the Apollo program. We fought hard — literally fought a war — to keep slavery alive in the United States, only to be defeated by the first Republican president. Given all that, it would have been understandable if you had turned your back on us and supported our opponents. We appreciate that you didn’t.

We’d like to say that we rewarded your loyalty by making your lives better, but that unfortunately isn’t the case. The cities we have run for decades as political monopolies are crime- and poverty-ridden traps that have locked generations of you in miserable schools and deteriorating public services. Under our stewardship, literacy and basic skills have declined, incarceration has soared, and your children are subjected to random acts of violence and brutality at the hands of street gangs.

Yes, things got better for people of color recently, with real incomes rising and unemployment falling. But those were the Trump years, and they’re thankfully behind us. We’re back to business as usual now.

But not for very much longer, and that’s why we’re reaching out to you now. We need your help just one more time. We need to make up a little story about you in order to flog our latest legislative scheme. We have to tell people that you’re too dumb to get a driver’s license, too incompetent to use a computer, too illiterate to understand the first thing about getting to a polling place and casting a legitimate ballot. We need to portray you as the hapless victim one more time, despite the clear evidence to the contrary. Yes, you need an ID to take a flight or buy a gun or open a bank account or buy Sudafed at the drugstore. But we have to pretend that you just can’t get it together and show an ID when you go to vote — and that any effort to require people to do that is just terribly unfair to people like you.

No, it isn’t very believable. It sure isn’t very respectful. Obviously, you aren’t less able to do these things than other people, and it’s kind of insulting of us to pretend you’re somehow too lame to pull it off. But we’re going to try it one more time. And here’s the thing: if it works, we won’t need to use you like this anymore. If it works, and if we federalize the voting process (despite the Constitution pretty clearly saying we can’t), then we won’t need you anymore. We won’t need your votes, because we’ll own the voting process.

Since we won’t need you anymore, we won’t have to pretend that we’re on your side, that the policies we implement that have hurt you so much are actually good for you. We can start treating you just like we treat everyone else, instead of casting you as eternal victims in need of our generous and high-minded assistance. Wouldn’t you like that, to be treated with a bit of respect, treated as real people, instead of something just a little bit less than that? Sure you would. And, who knows: When we don’t need you anymore, we might actually start treating you that way.

Or not. But anyway, go along with us one more time. Pretend you really think you’re prevented from voting by the same basic rules that you and everyone else have to follow every day, in practically every other aspect of life. Help us gut the electoral system. Then, just maybe, you’ll finally be free of us.

Or not.

Member Post

 

  Before IBM’s Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess championship, before Tesla’s self-driving car was a gleam in Elon Musk’s eye, there was HAL. Born in Urbana, Illinois on January 12, 1992, HAL was the very definition of computational perfection. Well, for the most part, anyway. Never trust any computer over […]

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Member Post

 

New York, Boston, Chicago and Washington have instituted or are about to institute vaccine mandates to eat in restaurants.  But we know that COVID is a disease of the obese with the CDC (cough) stating that the obese may have triple the risk of hospitalization from COVID. Therefore, I think that the solution is to […]

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Member Post

 

This is a gigantic story, which unfortunately true to form will never see the light of day in the Mainstream Media. These emails detail downright blatant lying  by Dr. Fauci to Congress and the American People showing that he had an intimate knowledge of what COVID-19 was and where it came from in January of 2020 […]

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Shopping for Humanity at Food Lion

 

A patient of mine worked very hard, took a lot of risks, and started a business early in life that did extremely well.  He still owns it but is much less involved in the day-to-day operations now.  He pretty much retired in his mid-50s, and he now owns a home in the Caribbean, a home on a lake in a gated community near the mid-size city where his business is, and a very nice home here in Hilton Head.  He splits his time between his three homes and travels around to play golf.  He’s now in his late 60s and is a very happy and pleasant guy.  I always enjoy seeing him.  On our last visit, he told me an interesting story.  He was at his home near his business, and went out for groceries:

I always go to the Whole Foods there.  I like the stuff they have, and there’s always nice people in there.  Anyway, they didn’t have something I wanted, so I went to the Food Lion across the street.  Now again, in the Whole Foods, there were a lot of nice people, nice clothes, nice cars in the parking lot.  Everybody’s wearing masks, social distancing – I felt really comfortable in there.  But then I cross the street and park at Food Lion next to a bunch of beat up pickup trucks, everybody in there is fat, dirty, no teeth, no masks, and no social distancing.  I was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t wait to get away from that store.

I got the couple things that I needed and hustled up to the line for the cash register.  There was this short fat lady in front of me, checking out.  Long stringy hair, no makeup, not a lot of teeth.  She gives the checkout girl (who was even heavier than the lady in line) a debit card, then gets two twenties back as change, or a cash withdrawal or whatever.  She gives one of the twenties back to the checkout girl, says something, and then leaves with all her stuff.  I thought that was a little odd, but whatever.  Get me out of here – I don’t care what’s going on in this place.  None of my business.

So I give my items to the checkout girl, she scans them, and gives me a receipt plus about ten dollars in change.  I told her, “I haven’t paid you yet.  Why are you giving me change?”

The heavy checkout girl says, “The lady in front of me gave me $20 to go toward your groceries.  You only got a couple things – this is your change.”

I said, “Oh wow.  Look.  I don’t need it.  I have money.  I’ll pay.  Really.”

She replied, “No need.  It’s covered.”

I said, “Why don’t you keep the $20?  Get something you need.  Again, I really don’t need it.”

The checkout girl smiled sheepishly and said, “Look, she said she worked a couple extra shifts and came out a bit ahead at the end of the month, so she wanted to help somebody out.  She asked me to give this to you.  So I am.”

“You should keep it.”

“I can’t. I told her I would give it to you.”

So my patient thanked her, took his small bag of groceries, and left the store, with tears in his eyes.

He and I just sat there in the exam room, for a minute.  I didn’t say anything.

He said, “It’s so easy to judge people, you know?  But there are some really good people out there.  Which is easy to forget sometimes.”

The overweight customer at Food Lion had worked a couple of extra shifts and felt more financially comfortable at the end of the month.  But she knew what it was like to be short on cash, so she was happy to help someone less fortunate than her.  Many of her neighbors are ‘less fortunate.’  She’s been ‘less fortunate.’  Recently.  She understands.

As we continue to distance ourselves physically and emotionally from our fellow Americans, and as our society becomes increasingly divided and tribal, it becomes more difficult to empathize with others who aren’t like us.  After all, everyone we know is exactly like us.

All the things that divide our society – from social classes, to cell phones, to COVID, to social media, to politics, to anything else that divides us – all those things make empathy harder.  It was hard already.  It’s much harder now.  And even though empathy is hard, that’s what makes us human.

We’re losing our humanity.  My patient just had that shoved in his face at a crummy grocery store.  Today, he felt the need to shove it in my face.  Which I really do appreciate.

But many of us just carry on day to day, interacting virtually only with our ever-shrinking tribes, and scorning everyone else.  Whatever.  Forget them.

But when we forget them, we forget ourselves.  We forget what makes us human to begin with.  We forget empathy.  After a while, we don’t really understand empathy.  It doesn’t even make sense to us anymore.  Everything is fine.

As we isolate ourselves from other people’s concerns, we also isolate ourselves from our own humanity.  And we don’t even notice.  It’s easier if we don’t, actually.  Instacart and DoorDash are so handy.  Plus, there’s a new series on Netflix!  Yay!

We’re losing our humanity.

Well, many of us are.  Not that certain overweight shopper that my patient met.  Not her.  Not only has she maintained her humanity, she even attempted to show his humanity to him.  And he did the same to me.  He’s probably shared with others as well.  I’d say she got her money’s worth – she improved a lot of lives, for only $20.  She would be pleased.

All of us humans should make it our mission in life to remind other humans that we are all human.

Empathy makes us human.  And our humanity is inside all of us.  Even if we ignore it from time to time.  It’s still there.

But I think that ignoring our humanity is unnatural, and it makes us feel sad and empty.  The isolation from social media, COVID, etc have caused epidemics of depression in our society.  But you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on psych drugs and therapy to find your humanity.

After all, my patient found his for only $20.

Kristallnacht in America? Unthinkable!

 

Think again.

Kristallnacht, a word even those of us who know no German recognize immediately as a harbinger of real, barbaric terror. The very sound of it is to so many whose forbears suffered horribly through those days, and also to those of us who only know of its murderous rampages by study and reading, terrifying.

Many of us, now removed both by 84 years of time and a rapidly fading memory of that epochal event, recall it by envisioning pictures of broken shop windows and Synagogues in flames. But, sadly, we have very little understanding of why it was such a world-changing couple of days in early November of 1938 and how it set in motion the greatest crime against humanity in the history of the world.

This essay will briefly examine that history and, against that background, ask these questions: (1) can it happen here, or, perhaps more accurately, (2) has it, or some iteration of it, already happened here?

Prompted to discuss this nightmare in history by a passage in remarkable novel we just read, Hour of the Cat, a work referred to by some reviewers as a work of “History Mystery” as it draws on actual events and features real figures from history in WWII as protagonists, such as Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donavan and Admiral Canaris, I decided it would be a good project to learn more about Kristallnacht in view of the eerie parallels between what I read there and events happening right here in America in recent times, beginning with the riots precipitated by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. As I read this passage, I was struck by powerful emotions- first, and obviously, pure revulsion that this kind of sick cruelty could be unleashed on one’s own fellow countrymen; second, questioning how this is any way different from what has been done to American citizens in cities across our own Nation; third, a renewed sense of bafflement and perplexity at how many of our “leaders” have either remained silent about this savagery or, as in the case of the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, actively encouraged it. Finally, I found myself wondering why there haven’t been any number of “thought pieces” raising what I hope to examine here: why are these two events, both repugnant to every tenet of Western Civilization, not being considered in tandem so as to illustrate the truly dangerous point we have reached in the America of Biden and the far-far-left ideologues he genuflects before?

Before considering the history of the events of 1938, here is a brief extract from the passage which got me to thinking about these matters:

BERLIN, Nov. 10- The havoc wreaked upon Germany’s Jewish population over the last two days represented a major escalation in the Nazi regime’s anti-Semitic campaign. Estimates of the number of Jews arrested are as high as 30,000. Most were immediately shipped to concentration camps. Though there are as yet no official figures, it’s thought at least 100 Jews lost their lives and thousands more were injured. While the police stood by, Germany’s towns and cities reverberated with the sounds of shattering glass as Jewish businesses were looted and vandalized, and homes and apartments raided and pillaged. In Berlin and Munich, the major synagogues were put to the torch. A similar fate befell other Jewish houses of worship throughout the country. (p. 373)

Kristallnacht: November 9 and 10, 1938, Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland.

Of the many sources of solid information describing Kristallnacht, its origins, and its aftermath, the most comprehensive I found was from, not surprisingly, the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial, and the document to which I refer below can be found here. For anyone seeking to expand their knowledge of this bleak history and its relevance to our current precarious situation in America, I cannot recommend it too highly.

Kristallnacht, literally, “Night of Crystal,” is often referred to as the “Night of Broken Glass.” The name refers to the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938. This wave of violence took place throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and in areas of the Sudetenland View This Term in the Glossary in Czechoslovakia recently occupied by German troops.

Kristallnacht owes its name to the shards of shattered glass that lined German streets in the wake of the pogrom—broken glass from the windows of synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses plundered and destroyed during the violence.

***

The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members of the SA (Sturmabteilung: commonly known as Storm Troopers) and Hitler Youth.

In its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination of Ernst vom Rath. Vom Rath was a German embassy official stationed in Paris. Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot the diplomat on November 7, 1938. A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents, residents in Germany since 1911, were among them.

Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were initially denied entry into their native Poland. They found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany. Already living illegally in Paris himself, a desperate Grynszpan apparently sought revenge for his family’s precarious circumstances by appearing at the German embassy and shooting the diplomatic official assigned to assist him.

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting. The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership, assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext to launch a night of antisemitic excesses. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms, suggested to the convened Nazi ‘Old Guard’ that ‘World Jewry’ had conspired to commit the assassination. He announced that “the Führer has decided that … demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.”

***

Goebbels’ words appear to have been taken as a command for unleashing the violence. After his speech, the assembled regional Party leaders issued instructions to their local offices. Violence began to erupt in various parts of the Reich throughout the late evening and early morning hours of November 9–10. At 1:20 a.m. on November 10, Reinhard Heydrich, in his capacity as head of the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) sent an urgent telegram to headquarters and stations of the State Police and to SA leaders in their various districts, which contained directives regarding the riots. SA and Hitler Youth units throughout Germany and its annexed territories engaged in the destruction of Jewish-owned homes and businesses. Members of many units wore civilian clothes to support the fiction that the disturbances were expressions of ‘outraged public reaction.’

As indescribably horrible as these two days were, the murders, looting, pillaging, seizure of property, etc., paled in comparison to what Kristallnacht set in motion- The Final Solution:

The events of Kristallnacht represented one of the most important turning points in National Socialist antisemitic policy. Historians have noted that after the pogrom,  anti-Jewish policy was concentrated more and more concretely into the hands of the SS. Moreover, the passivity with which most German civilians responded to the violence signaled to the Nazi regime that the German public was prepared for more radical measures.

The Nazi regime expanded and radicalized measures aimed at removing Jews entirely from German economic and social life in the forthcoming years. The regime moved eventually toward policies of forced emigration, and finally toward the realization of a Germany “free of Jews” (judenrein) by deportation of the Jewish population “to the East.”

Thus, Kristallnacht figures as an essential turning point in Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews, which culminated in the attempt to annihilate the European Jews.

A few scenes are presented here only for the purpose of reminding ourselves, as in “Never Again,” of the similarity of these scenes from 1938 to the ones 82 to 84 years later:

Kristallnacht-2020, 2021 (and beyond?): Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Los Angeles

Prefatory to this discussion, I hasten to note there are significant distinctions between 1938 and our present time, just as there are parallels which may or may not portend great danger looming over the charred, smoking ruins of parts of many of our cities—along with broken glass. The parallels, however, are frightening.

As was clear from the above materials, the German hierarchy turned the killing of a very minor embassy official in Paris – ironically, an anti-Nazi!- into “a conspiracy of the ‘International Jews’” to be met with “spontaneous” “protests.” One cannot read that and not be reminded of Rahm Emanuel’s famous exhortation in the Obama years: “Never let a crisis go to waste!”

We also learn that firemen and police officers stood by and watched the conflagration, doing nothing. Substitute the city names in the sub-title above with Berlin, Vienna, Munich, etc., and those accounts take on a decidedly more modern meaning, as recently as similar events in the past few weeks in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and the Magnificent Mile of Chicago.

A broken storefront window is seen after parts of the city had widespread looting and vandalism in Chicago

The looters and vandals rushed through the city’s Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown, where they were seen carrying bags full of stolen goods, the Tribune reported.

The parallels continue with lectures from “dignitaries” such as Pelosi and Harris and other luminaries about, in the case of the former, how she is surprised that “there weren’t more” acts of wanton destruction and, in the case of the latter, advocating for a fund to put up bail for thugs whose “spontaneous” “protests” included repeated efforts to burn down the Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon.

Several articles published in the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd incident sound similar themes. One of the most striking was by Rabbi Yakov Saacks entitled The Kristallnacht You Didn’t Hear About in which he recounts events in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles:

In addition to destruction and graffiti inflicted upon the synagogues, a number of kosher restaurants, bakeries and stores were ransacked by protesters, looting much of the merchandise and causing extensive property damage. Some of the stores impacted include Ariel Glatt Kosher Market, Mensch Bakery and Kitchen, and Syd’s Pharmacy and Kosher Vitamins, all located in this small area.

Some of the synagogues damaged as a result of vandalism, graffiti and looting by protesters include Congregation Kehilas Yaakov, Tiferes Tzvi and Congregation Beth Israel, one of the oldest synagogues in Los Angeles and the spiritual home to many Holocaust survivors over the years. At the latest count, at least five synagogues in the area were vandalized, as were three Jewish schools.

So, after the end of Shavuos, the holiday in which Jewish people joyfully commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, the Jewish community of Los Angeles concluded it with a new ritual of going to clean off the hateful graffiti from their houses of worship, while picking up the broken glass. One small business owner described a “late Saturday night with people driving down the Fairfax district streets screaming, ‘effing Jews.’”

Kristallnacht?

I am not trying to be cute by calling this Kristallnacht, which means night of broken glass, I mean it literally.

In the interest of keeping my account balanced, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that some of the comments to this article pointed out that these types of incidents took place all over the city, not only in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Fairfax. However, to me, the screams “ effing Jews” is more than a little persuasive toward the veracity of his account. Here is a scene from that rampage- look familiar?

Another author likened our modern-day Kristallnacht to Lord of the Flies and its line “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away.” Under the title The Week America Lost Its Way he considered the phenomenon we are addressing here:

That’s what happened in America last week when mob violence replaced police as the standard of authority. When you saw white people taking a knee to prostrate themselves before looters and to renounce their “white privilege,” you also saw parallels to Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Hitler’s Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.

***

Kristallnacht is the name given to a pogrom carried out against Jewish shops, homes, cemeteries and synagogues in November 1938 by Nazi paramilitaries known as Brownshirts. They were an exact parallel of the black-garbed stormtroopers that ravaged neighborhoods in dozens of U.S. cities the last 10 days or so. Don’t let the name Antifa fool you. These “anti-fascists” have adopted the tactics of the fascists as their own (and even the uniform of the Italian Blackshirts). Just as Kristallnacht was intended to send a message to Jews, so too were the riots last week intended to send a signal to law-abiding whites. The words that journalist Hugh Greene wrote about Kristallnacht in 1938 could just as easily have been written today about the riots that followed the murder of George Floyd:

“Mob law ruled … throughout this afternoon and evening, and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. … Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people.”

You could make the case that the riots last week represented only a fraction of Americans, whether black or white, and that we should not ascribe too much importance to them. But that was true also in Nazi Germany and Mao’s China. The actual revolutionaries and radicals carrying out the acts of domestic terrorism are always few, but if they are not condemned forcefully and convincingly, then they are emboldened to strike again and again. So-called “good” Germans celebrated the lawless attacks on Jewish citizens in 1938, giving tacit permission for the death camps that would kill millions. Many in the power structure of the United States are likewise giving a green light to current and future violence by sanctioning riots as “protests” and by excusing looting and murder as a reasonable response to Floyd’s death.

Perhaps the most haunting article I found about these parallels was by an author who describes himself as a patriotic American and an American Jew and who notes that writing about this subject was a very sad undertaking. Under the title Is America Starting Down the Path of Nazi Germany?, he makes these highly relevant observations about the dangers inherent in our current dilemma:

The name Kristallnacht refers to the litter of broken glass … exactly the same as what we saw take place in major American cities over the past few weeks. How did they compare? See the blocks of boarded-up businesses all over Manhattan. See 700 buildings damaged, burned and destroyed in Minneapolis. See downtown Seattle run by a “warlord” and armed domestic terrorists with AR-15s.

In Paris this week, protesters chanted, “Dirty Jews!” The Marxist mayor of New York City has joined tens of thousands at a “Black Trans Lives Matter” event in Brooklyn while ordering parks and playgrounds for Orthodox Jewish children welded shut.

Today’s version of book burning is HBO Max banning “Gone With the Wind,” a photo of Winston Churchill “disappearing” from Google, Hollywood canceling “Cops” and “Live PD.”

Yes, all that happened in just the last few weeks. You may not have heard about it because it was scarcely reported by the mainstream propaganda media.

Never forget the famous Holocaust lesson: After they have come for me, they will come for you, and there will be no one left to stop them.

Trust me, they’re coming for all of us.

They won’t stop. This will only get worse and out of control, unless we draw a line in the sand, stand up to the bullies, fight them tooth and nail, and stop them now.

Strong language? A bit over the top, you say? Watch some of the oral history videos provided by the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial of the survivors of Kristallnacht and ask yourself whether they might have just a slightly different take on what could well happen to us if our “leaders” do not start taking seriously their Oath- a solemn, sworn commitment which was once universally seen as the sacred matter of honor it should still represent now – to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States—and us.

Where to from here? January 6, The Anointed Elite and OUR Priorities Instead of Theirs.

An article appeared a few days ago in Newsweek.com, amazingly enough presenting a realistic view of the cockamamie and skewed priorities of our “Ruling Elite” when it comes to reversing the scary trends discussed here. It is entitled Liberal Elites Want Us to Care About Jan. 6. But They Don’t Care When Our Cities Burn and, as the author – our colleague, @JennaStocker, to whom I express my sincere appreciation for such a fine piece of writing – is a resident of Minneapolis, the birthplace of the George Floyd mayhem, is quite graphic concerning the impact of that wanton destruction:

I remember the call from my husband on May 31. It was our anniversary, and he was out running errands before he came home—not because we had plans, but because there was a curfew in place in Minneapolis. He called to tell me he had to drive to a nearby suburb to pick up a medical prescription. “Our Walgreens on Hennepin Avenue isn’t there anymore,” he said. “It was burned to the ground.”

Over the spring and summer of 2020, thousands of businesses were looted, damaged, or totally destroyed during the George Floyd protests—especially here, where Floyd was killed. Every day we read heartbreaking stories of business owners begging and pleading with rioters to spare their livelihoods, many of them uninsured, pleas that went unheeded. There was over $2 billion in property damage.

She then illustrates just how far off the rails our “leaders” have gone in commemorating Jan. 6 as the worst day in the history of the known universe, or, as the Vice President of the United States stated at the recent grotesque anniversary Group Hug, worse than Pearl Harbor or September 11:

And yet, to follow the mainstream news, you’d be forgiven for thinking the destruction of cities across the country—the decimation of small businesses, many of them owned by lower income people of color—wasn’t the biggest story of violence in recent history. That honor, to hear the media tell it, is reserved for an hours-long mobbing of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Capitol riot on January 6, 2021 has been the lead story in the liberal mainstream media all week long.

One line in that column jumped off the page as it so perfectly described the scene repeated over and over again in November 1938 across Germany: “business owners begging and pleading with rioters to spare their livelihoods.” An image I cannot clear from my mind since I saw the video recently as it replicated almost exactly the scenes from the old movies from 1938: the scene of a pack of young thugs (exactly like the Brown Shirts of 1938) pulling a bus driver from his vehicle and forcing him to kneel while they almost beat him to death.

Another passage highlighted what many of us believe—I am definitely in that number— that there will be no return to anything resembling “normalcy” until the media returns to its traditional role of “watchdog”:

But the narrative from most of the journalists who flew in from New York was of a city and by extension a country facing the racial reckoning it deserved. There were no rioters, to hear the media tell it; the mobs throwing Molotov cocktails shattering windows were demonstrators and “mostly peaceful” protesters. The violence was framed as a necessary airing of grievances. The collateral damage to businesses and lives were cast as a pittance compared to the national discussion on race relations and policing in America.

Here I should note my full agreement with Dr. Scott Atlas’ description of the media in his recent book A Plague Upon Our House: “[They were] the most despicable group of unprincipled liars one could ever imagine.”

While I urge a full reading of this most important article as it reveals, at times in painful detail, the very similarities I have been talking about. She concludes:

The real threat to democracy is an elite class who has shown us they value their pain, their inconvenience, and their lives more than ours. How can they ask us to care about one riotous day last January when every day in cities across America, the lives of the most vulnerable are in danger, their livelihoods threatened?

A powerful overclass apathetic to the concerns of the people they are supposed to represent, and for whom they work, is the real miscarriage of justice they claim as their own.

These trends show no signs of abating any time soon and certainly will not be constrained as long as there is a corrupt, doddering, dementia-stricken old fool in the Oval Office along with the most incompetent, cackling idiot ever to occupy the office of Vice-President. There will be no change until there is a basic cultural shift back to the traditions and values upon which our Nation — the greatest ever devised by the mind of Man— was founded.

These are my views. I welcome yours. For instance,

  1. Is it an exaggeration to see such clear parallels between 1938 Germany and our present situation?
  2. Is it overstating the matter to see our present condition as downright dangerous?
  3. Are the distinctions between the Nazi Germany of 1938 and America of 2022 so stark as to render it impossible for another Kristallnacht to occur?
  4. What, in your opinion, are the most durable and strongest such distinctions?
  5. Do you believe, as I do, that having Biden in the Oval Office represents a clear and present danger to the Republic?

As one deeply troubled by what I see in our present predicament, as informed by the clear and alarming lessons of 1938, I would welcome any thoughts you may wish to offer.

And, in closing, most important of all:

God Bless America!

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Winters in central Montana are often cold; quite cold.  Though, somewhere between 20 above and 20 below, you can really only tell the difference in the particulars.  Fingers left uncovered start to sting, if you’re paying attention to them.  When you inhale, the moisture from your breath freezes in your nose or on your face, and when […]

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Remember that starting Saturday you will need these three things before heading out: 1. Proof of Vaccination (12 years +)2. Proof of Vaccination and Photo ID (18 years +)3. Mask For more information visit https://t.co/1guYaUWd08. pic.twitter.com/0s6Aspnu2x — Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) January 11, 2022 Remember, when talking about Voter ID we are told that checking […]

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Is Food Waste Really Your Problem?

 

If you’re of a certain age, especially growing up in Heartland, USA, you heard these words from a parent at the dinner table while growing up: “Clean your plate. There are starving kids in China.”

That wasn’t wrong. Millions died from starvation during Chairman Mao’s Communist cultural revolution in China during the 1960s and early ’70s. It’s a sordid tale. The “Great Leap Forward,” Mao called it. To the grave, perhaps.

A Chinese Communist “Great Leap Forward” propaganda poster bore no resemblance to reality. Like most of what we see and hear from China.

But my mom was more focused on eliminating food waste in our home. After all, we were often on a tight budget in rural Oklahoma, and food was money. We didn’t have a lot to waste. And my mom and dad could get very creative with the food we had. Ever enjoyed chicken-fried steak? As products of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, they understood it better than I did.

Chicken fried steak smothered with white gravy, an Oklahoma staple

Food waste is still money. Just ask any food manufacturer. They have been working overtime for years to eliminate waste from their production. I would know, having spent more than two decades in the food industry and toured dozens of plants, from bakeries to fruit and vegetable processors.

My first memory of the food industry was touring a long-gone Wilson meat slaughterhouse and processing plant in Oklahoma City as a young high school junior. The visuals remain fresh in my mind 50 years later. Not everyone finished the tour. Very little from any cow or pig went to waste. The last thing made on the production line, I remember, was lard. I learned a lot on that visit, not knowing that I would eventually go on to a 22-year career in the food industry.

Food waste is throwing money away, and food makers don’t enjoy large profit margins for their products. Neither do grocery stores. If you can legally and safely “rework” discarded products, you find a way.

But when it comes to food waste, food makers are not the problem. Neither are grocery stores, farms, or even most restaurants. Other food service operations and home consumption seem to be where most of the waste occurs.

How much? Estimates vary, but somewhere between 80 billion and 100 billion pounds annually. Waste hauler RTS translates it for you here.

Just how much food do Americans waste? Here’s some “food” for thought: While the world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply, and equates to 219 pounds of waste per person. That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average-sized apples right into the garbage — or rather right into landfills, as most discarded food ends up there. In fact, food is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills, making up 22 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW).

We indeed waste a lot of food. But we still have lots of it. We use as much as we can, but much still is tossed. And as for “food insecure” people, what does my food waste have to do with them?

There are a couple of easy answers, but not many. Organizations like Feeding America work on “food rescue” to help feed “food insecure” families through food banks and other distribution programs. That’s great. And there are plenty of families in need out there. After all, about one in seven (over 40 million Americans) are on food stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, now called SNAP). Most of us want to help people in need.

But it’s a matter of simple economics. If we waste less, we spend less (except for Biden-caused inflation with an assist from often-government-inspired supply chain issues). We increase the food supply, which can help keep prices in check. How well stocked are your grocers these days? Last Thursday, my local Harris Teeter was pretty bare of chicken and lots of other products.

Not my local store, but it could have been

And there is one straightforward way we can manage food waste, by doing a better job with food labels.

A story. When I resided in Philly, a favorite radio show was Rich Zeoli’s on 50,000-watt 1210 AM WPHT. He features a terrific cohost and former television news anchor, Dawn Stensland Mendt. I remember hearing her say that she throws away food if it comes within a week of the expiration date.

You’re throwing away a lot of perfectly good food and lots of money, I thought. I did a segment or two on Rich’s show regarding food labels, working to dissuade Dawn and her disciples from the misconception. I have no idea if I was successful, but it underscores that food date labeling continues to be a problem. And it is not necessarily her fault.

This is a poor date label. Canned foods are almost always good well past their “expiration” dates. Canned foods retain quality for about two years and are safe well beyond that.

I’m persuaded one of the significant reasons we toss perfectly good foods from our pantry and refrigerators is our poor understanding – and many food companies’ pathetic job – of “food date labeling.” Allow me to share a few good and not-so-good examples.

First, the food industry has worked tirelessly to help consumers—governments, less so. Food product manufacturers and retailers developed a voluntary system quickly embraced by 80 percent of the packaged food industry. It separates food date labeling between “safety” and “quality” concerns.

Second, one of America’s more significant food wasters is the federal government. For example, if you’re running a production line of pasta sauce with meat, a USDA regulated facility, and the inspector doesn’t show up to “inspect” the production, you may be required to toss hundreds of cases of perfectly good product into a landfill. Same with foods that are safe but have the wrong label affixed. USDA features a largely out-of-date “continuous inspection” regime, even for processed foods that are heat-treated to kill any pathogens.

Most food recalls are based on mislabeling (failure to disclose allergens, for example) than over safety issues because production lines put the wrong label on certain products.

During the pandemic, government-forced lockdowns resulted in millions of food being destroyed. We have a potato shortage today because of it.

And don’t get me started on how much waste occurred from some of Michelle Obama’s ill-advised food nutrition mandates that, fortunately, have been eased over the past few years.

And because dairy waste is universal, this British food retailer is scraping use-by dates on milk entirely.

Understanding food date labeling

If your product doesn’t have a long shelf life and might post a safety issue, it has a “use by” or “expires” date. If it is more of a quality issue – the product is safe to use past a specific date but might experience some reduction in “quality” – then you will see the words “best by” or “best if used by” on the package. The fresh egg industry provides a great example.

My eggs here are perfectly good through and beyond January 25, probably a week or two. No need to toss them out after the date. The production codes you often see next to dates help with tracing and recalls if needed. Most products are suitable for at least a week after those best-by dates.

Sadly, not all such labels are so instructive, or easy to read. Take this private label salad dressing from retailer Harris Teeter, which clearly is consumer-unfriendly.

I get that it has a quality date of maybe July 2022, but how many consumers will get that? At least it’s on the top of the lid, easy to see.

And there are certain imported foods, like a personal favorite, Prosciutto from Italy. No quality or expiration date, but a “purchase by” date. That’s helpful, but how long is it suitable after I purchase it? This company needs to do better. But perhaps most Prosciutto eaters like me consume this well before the sell-by date. Let’s hope so.

Some other examples. Here’s some Pace salsa. Please use either “best if used by” or “use by” before the date listed here. Really, Campbell Soup (owner of Pace)? I thought you agreed to the industry standard for date labeling a couple of years ago?

And here’s some private label shredded cheese from my local grocery store. Good job!

And my grocery store fresh salsa does a better job labeling than Pace.

I hope this is helpful. I’m just trying to help you reduce your food waste. Some waste is inevitable, as circumstances and excess purchases sometimes get in the way. And don’t let anyone shame you, or so-called consumer advocates blame food companies for making “too much food.” It’s what helps keep prices affordable and food plenty for all of us. I still have some food rationing coupons used by my grandparents during World War II. No, thank you.

The good news is that if you find yourself with slightly expired shelf-stable foods, your local food bank is happy to take them. Or, you can still use them.

We all can do our share and help cut our own food costs if we pay attention to and learn to use food date labels.

It can be your own “Great Leap Forward.”

The Haters Will Come for Sidney Poitier

 

I have been a fan of Sidney Poitier for most of my life, so I found his passing this week, at 94 years old, a poignant event. I liked him even more after watching this moving clip of an interview he gave to Lesley Stahl. Knowing that he once worked as a dishwasher deepened my appreciation of him. I’m attracted to people who haven’t always lived a pampered existence. Poitier had it rough for a while. Here he tells a beautiful story about how a waiter, who worked in the restaurant where he was washing dishes, took Poitier under his wing and taught him to read.

Reflecting on the movies of his that I found so compelling, it occurs to me that, while much of Poitier’s art was transgressive at the time it was made, in some ways it is even more transgressive now.

In To Sir, With Love, one of the primary themes revolved around the importance of decorum and manners as signifying self-respect and respect for others. That there might be universal standards with which barbarians could be identified and judged is something our culture largely rejects. The present cultural obsession with the moral autonomy of the individual, and the perceived essential moral virtue of any and all self-expression, represents a point of view that is completely at odds with the themes found in To Sir, With Love.

In Lilies of the Field, for which Poitier received an Academy Award, a primary sub-plot involved the resistance to employing Poitier’s character by the owner of a construction company due to Poitier’s race. The resistance is eventually overcome by Poitier’s obvious competence and skill at doing the work needed by the construction company owner. By the end of the movie the owner is offering Poitier’s character a permanent job as foreman. It wasn’t political agitation or virtue signaling that was the catalyst for change in the racist owner, but the obvious humanity, skill, and competence exhibited by Poitier. Poitier’s character didn’t win the company over because of his race, but because of his character. This messaging is unlikely to be countenanced for long.

But it is perhaps Poitier’s role and dialog in the 1967 movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with which he most egregiously runs afoul of the modern woke thought police. Poitier starred alongside Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in what was, at the time, a provocative movie regarding interracial marriage. Poitier played the role of a young black doctor who falls in love with the young white daughter of a San Francisco newspaper publisher. The entire story takes place during a single day in which the parents of the young daughter are being asked to give their blessing to the impending marriage, the parents having just that day found out about it.  The script is a fascinating study in personal relationships and attitudes toward race.

Where it runs afoul of modern pieties is in its rejection of trendy racialist assumptions about identity, and in its conception of what constitutes a marriage. There are two pivotal scenes that address each of these questions.

In the first scene, we discover that, in a delicious plot twist, the black parents of the young doctor are just as opposed to the impending marriage as the white parents. There ensues a loud and painful confrontation between father and son over the question of a black man marrying a white woman. In the clip below, we pick up just at the moment the tension begins to subside and Poitier’s character sums up the differing perspectives about racial identity between he and his father.  (Poitier’s father is played by the fantastic character actor Roy Glenn.)

The perspective expressed by Poitier’s character, which reflected the inevitable conclusions pointed to by the arguments being made by Martin Luther King Jr. and others, would probably cause the Ibram X. Kendi’s and Robin DiAngelo’s of the world to swallow their tongues if they were ever exposed to such heresy. Even erstwhile conservative evangelical churches are now preaching that a person’s skin color represents the inescapable lens through which everyone must view their lives. Surely we can’t allow movies like this, presenting ideas as virtuous which are so at odds with critical race theory, to continue to be shown unmolested.

And if the notion that race is irrelevant is not sufficient poking of the woke bear, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner also offers a transgressive take on the purpose of marriage – one that is at odds all the assumptions of the gay marriage crowd.

Within popular culture, there’s a great deal of discussion about what we can or can’t do, but precious little discussion regarding what we’re for. In this scene, Poitier’s character makes an assertion regarding what marriage is for. It’s straight out of the Judeo-Christian point of view originating from first few chapters of the Bible’s book of Genesis. And if it’s true, it closely couples biology, anatomy, morality, and commandment into a cohesive package that illuminates the purpose, or as the Greeks would say – the telos,  of marriage. But, of course, this is viciously at odds with the current zeitgeist regarding the purpose of marriage. The predominating idea, that marriage is primarily a vehicle for self-expression and physical intimacy but without an end beyond self-fulfillment, is completely at odds with the view offered in this clip. If the producing of children is, in any way at all, definitional of marriage, then such a thing holds profound implications for the biology of the participants and the definition and permanence of a family.

Brendan Eich was run out of town for thinking such thoughts.

Perhaps Poitier “grew” in the years after making these films and managed to conform himself more to the groupthink required to maintain membership among the popular kids. I have no idea. But to my knowledge, he didn’t disavow his own movies. And so it seems very unlikely that Sidney Poitier will remain unscathed by the current frenzied enthusiasm for tearing down, Taliban-like, everything that doesn’t measure up to the modern progressive’s sense of their own moral superiority.

When Life Changed: Cancer and Agency

 

Many of you have heard my saga about my bout with cancer and chemotherapy; that is only marginally what this post is about. As a result of my experience, I realized that I had made a major change in my perspective about my own agency in a way I’d never known. It was partly inspired by my husband, who is a skeptic about many things but is big on taking responsibility. But I also began to realize that beyond his support, I had to, wanted to, take charge of my own medical decisions, which meant that I was taking charge of my life in a whole new way.

All along the way, there were decisions that I had to make, some easier than others. Almost immediately, I realized that because I had two tumors on my right breast, with some distance in between, it made sense to both the doctor and me to remove the whole breast. Although we agreed, it was reassuring to me that I was using my common sense to make that decision, rather than relying only on his medical training.

The next decision was whether I was going to have reconstructive surgery. I didn’t want it, and Jerry saw no reason to do it either. The surgeon tried to persuade me that I should at least schedule an appointment with the plastic surgeon. Yet I knew I didn’t want the complication of another surgery, one that could be difficult. Since the plastic surgeon was on the same floor as my breast surgeon, I walked over reluctantly to arrange a consultation with him. As I spoke to the scheduler, I said I didn’t see the point in talking to him since I didn’t want the surgery. The scheduler, a wise woman, said another woman had just come in and said the same thing and left without scheduling a consultation, and then she looked at me knowingly. We turned around and walked out. I never regretted the decision.

There were other minor decisions along the way, but one major one came up when the oncologist told us that the current regimen for my type of breast cancer involved six chemotherapy treatments; he mentioned that some people ended up doing fewer because they were struggling with the treatments, but he thought we should anticipate six. So we did.

Along the way, though, the regimen was wearing and debilitating: I received a treatment every three weeks, followed three days later with a hydration treatment. Then there was the regimen of taking pills every day to reduce side effects. Life revolved around cancer, and although I continued with much of my regular routine, it wasn’t easy.

After I completed my third chemo treatment, the chemo nurse casually mentioned that the next one would be my last. I was surprised; I told her that they had told me there would be six treatments. I realized then that at one point only four treatments were likely included in the regimen, and at some point (without any data offered to explain the change), someone decided (for good measure?) to recommend six treatments.

So I made an appointment with my oncologist to discuss next steps: why was I told that six treatments were required when I’d only been scheduled for four? He very much wanted me to go all the way through the process, but avoided giving me details. Meanwhile, I was also concerned about the possibility of peripheral neuropathy, which can cause symptoms ranging from numbing in the toes and fingers to severe pain. What about that possibility? Finally, we made a deal (!) If I went through the fourth chemo treatment without symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, I’d consider the fifth. Well, guess what? Following the fourth treatment, I had numbing in my fingers and toes. At this date, most of it has disappeared, but not completely. Still, I am very glad that I did the fourth treatment; I felt that the decision was worth the outcome of completing the minimal regimen with minimal side effects.

One of my last decisions was scheduling another follow-up appointment with the oncologist; it appeared that those were normally scheduled with the nurse practitioner; however, when I talked to the scheduler, she asked whom I wanted to see. I was unhappy with a number of communication mishaps with the N.P, so when the scheduler gave me a choice between the N.P. and the doctor, I immediately requested the doctor. He will be the person I will see over time.

Finally, throughout this process there had been several communication problems with the oncologist’s office—nothing major, but when you are going through cancer treatment, everything can feel like a crisis. The last mishap was when I called the office to schedule a time with the doctor to ask a question, or even receive just a message through his staff, about whether it would be wise to go back to visiting hospice patients. (I had already tried to send him a message through the patient portal.) When I called, I was transferred to voice mail and I left a message. No one ever called me back. After two weeks I decided to make bereavement calls for hospice rather than visit patients, and I wrote a detailed letter to the oncologist listing all the communication mishaps. I’m not prepared to find a new doctor, because I am convinced of his expertise and I always felt I was treated kindly and respectfully until then, but I thought he needed to know how sloppy his staff was. Although he didn’t respond to my letter, it will be part of our discussion at my next follow-up visit in March.

*     *     *     *

The most valuable change for me over the last several months was in my expanded confidence in myself; that ultimately, I knew what was best for me: I knew my mental strength, my physical condition, and my temperament. I was prepared to practice a more assertive agency in my life. Some decisions are just not that important; I don’t need to take up arms or risk dying on every battlefield. But I now trust myself in a deeply confident, spiritual, and powerful manner, when I am willing to make the final decisions and accept the responsibilities that go with them.

It has been an amazing and gratifying realization.

Member Post

 

The internet is both a wonderful and an awful thing. It can be wonderfully awful, too. There are rabbit holes out there just waiting to suck you in. Lately I’ve tumbled down a time waste called World Radio History and it features vast runs of broadcasting industry periodicals including Broadcasting, Billboard, Radio Daily and others […]

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Tell Me the FBI Was Involved in the Events of January 6…

 

… without telling me the FBI Was Involved in the Events of January 6. From Tuesday’s hearing in the U.S. Senate:

  • Senator Ted Cruz: “Did any FBI agents or confidential informants actively participate in the events of January 6th? Yes or no?”
  • FBI’s Jill Sanborn: “I can’t answer that.”

Later

Senator Cruz: (Going Over The Footage Of Ray Epps On January 5th and 6th): “Ms. Sanborn, was Ray Epps a Fed?”

Jill Sanborn: “Sir, I cannot answer that question.”

Late-Night Traffic Stop

 

One late night, I pulled a young feller over for rolling though a stop sign. After checking his license, I told him:

Since no one else was around and you haven’t been drinking, I’m giving you a verbal warning. Just be careful, OK?

Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

Has your dad retired yet?

What? Uh, yeah, last year.

He make his bird?

No, just a light colonel.

How are your siblings doing?

Fine? They’re still in high school.

Your folks didn’t move back here, did they?

No, they’re still in Abilene.

Yeah, I wouldn’t think so. So I’d guess you’re staying with family while you’re going to UNM?

Yeah, my uncle and aunt. Do you know my parents?

Nope; I’ve never met them, as far as I know.

Wha … ? What’s going on?

Relax, kiddo. I knew a lot of that stuff before you said a word. When you started talking to me and I ran your license, that filled in the rest.

How? I’ve never even gotten a ticket.

True, but your social security number showed you were born in New Mexico.  

Yeah, I was born here, but …

You moved to Texas when you were a kid?

Yeah. How’d you know I was gonna say that?

You’re driving a car with Texas plates, you have a Texas driver’s license, and, most importantly, you’ve got an obvious Texan accent. You don’t pick that up unless you’ve been living there for years.

OK, yeah, that’s right.

Now, what do Albuquerque and Abilene have in common?

They both begin with the letter “A”?

True, but, more importantly, they both have U.S. Air Force bases. Of course, the Dyess AFB sticker is a big clue. All of that told me your dad was military. Since senior NCOs seldom drive Toyota 4Runners and pass them on to their kids, he must be an officer. And if his kid who was born while he was in the service here is old enough to go to college, he’s pretty close to his 20.

OK, but how did you know about my brother and sister and aunt and uncle?

You’re going to school here. Even out-of-state tuition in New Mexico is cheaper than in-state in Texas. That tells me your folks have other college costs they’re concerned about. They sent you here so your brother and sister can go to college too. It’s especially cheap if you have someplace you can stay and not have to pay rent. The UNM off-campus parking sticker is another clue.

Wow, you know all about me.

Nah, this is just a parlor trick. I really don’t know anything. I don’t even know your major.

Engineering.

Really? Good for you. Both of my brothers are engineers. I was the dumb one in the family and decided to do police work. Well, work hard, keep your nose clean, and stop at all those stop signs.

Yes, sir.

Biden Administration Ruthlessly Taking Advantage of the Chinese Military’s Most Obvious Weakness

 

In a BBC article, “Why China Could Win the Next Arms Race,” David Brown writes, “China is building up its armed forces at a rapid pace. Its advances in missile technology, nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence have triggered serious concern among many Western observers, who believe a profound shift in the global balance of military power is under way … In November, the US Department of Defense predicted China was set to quadruple its nuclear stockpile by the end of the current decade. China, it said, ‘likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030.'”

Thankfully, the American military understands what it’s up against and is taking appropriate steps to prepare. For example, Nellis Air Force Base recently held a drag queen show. When it was criticized (by simpletons who lacked sufficient experience in military preparedness to understand such tactical decision making), the base released a statement saying that the drag queen show contributed to the “morale, cohesion, and readiness of the military,” and it’s committed to providing and championing an environment that is characterized by equal opportunity, diversity, and inclusion.

In times of crisis, when we are faced with an enemy as dangerous as China, we should be thankful for such visionary leadership. But one can’t help but wonder — is the Chinese military as powerful as it appears? After all, do you really believe that the Chinese military is sufficiently diverse to win a war with America? I think not. But while the Chinese continue to waste their time developing improved missile technology and building more nuclear weapons, we are preparing for war, building a stronger military through diversity. I just can’t believe the Chinese are so foolish and short-sighted that they continue to ignore their most obvious weakness.

Which brings me to a question that has bothered me for some time.

I wonder about those who seek to increase the diversity of our culture and military. Do they seek to make America stronger? Or do they seek to destroy us? I think the first possibility is absurd. So the second possibility seems likely.

Tolerance of those who are different from you has been an American ideal, which we have mostly lived up to, for decades. Which is swell, but what does it have to do with fighting a war? Do the leaders of Nellis Air Force base honestly believe that the drag queen show contributed to the “morale, cohesion, and readiness of the military”? Surely, they don’t honestly believe that. Surely there is another reason to have a drag queen show on a military base. And I suspect that they know that many Americans won’t like that reason, so they say they’re just preparing for war. They simply seek to make the American military stronger. Right. OK. I’m sorry — I just don’t believe that.

When the next major conflict occurs somewhere, and those around the world look to America for strength and safety, somebody is going to have a lot of explaining to do. Namely, us — we voted for all this. Happy diversity! Yay! Um, sorry that China just took over your country. But we had a really cool drag show at our military base! It was fabulous!

Rome crashed partially because it wasn’t serious anymore. It became introspective, seeking to find itself, and lost interest in the world around it. And the world ate Rome up.

We’re not serious anymore. We’re coasting on our past accomplishments for the time being. But we’re not serious anymore. Which is fine in Madison, Wisconsin, and Austin, Texas. And, apparently, Nellis Air Force Base. But the world is a serious place. Whether we’re serious or not, the world is a serious place.

And some very serious men are looking outward rather than inward, as they always have. We did too, until recently. We may now be more interested in our feelings than we are in the world. But it doesn’t matter. We may have lost interest in the world. But the world is interested in us. The world is watching us.

It must be amazed by what it sees …

Four Years Later

 

Four years ago today, I wrote this. My life changed forever that day.

I still have a Janet-shaped hole in my heart. I always will. I still notice her absence with every day that passes.

The worst time remains at night. I always went to bed earlier than her. For 40 years, I would wake up in the middle of the night and roll over, and she would be there. No matter how bad the day had been, I knew I could wake her and talk about it. Most nights, no matter how bad the day had been, I would roll over and go back to sleep because I knew she was there, and I could talk to her about it.

Now? I wake up. I roll over. She is not there. Sometimes after bad days, I can get back to sleep. Most times? Not really. Often if I cannot get back to sleep, I will get up and spend time writing. I spent a lot of nights writing in 2018 and 2019. Still do today, although not as many as before.

This is not to say the past four years have been bad ones. Rather the contrary. I have paid off all my debts. I have been successful professionally as a technical writer and most recently as an engineer. (I am back working at JSC, and except for the COVID nonsense that seems to accompany a position working for the federal government, it has been fun.) I am making money faster than I can spend it, and by my standards, I consider myself a wealthy man. I could quit working tomorrow and never notice a financial hit.

Even there, I wonder how much of that good fortune is due to Jan’s absence. There were jobs I could not take while she was alive, because I had to be at home, with her. (Ironically, before remote work became de rigueur for the laptop class.) Her care was a money sink. A lot of my remaining financial burden eased once I hit 65 and no longer had to pay health insurance as a self-employed individual. Since she was four years younger than me, I would still have to keep health insurance for both of us (since she was covered as a spouse), which would cost in excess of $20,000 annually. Plus, the past two years, with COVID, would have been a nightmare had she been alive as a cancer survivor.

Despite that, I would trade all my financial fortune since her death for her presence. Kipling may be right. “He travels the fastest who travels alone.” I’d still rather wait for the laggard behind. Because ultimately it is who you travel with, not how fast you get there. Especially when your path changes, and you do not know whether it leads to Gehenna or the throne of God. Either way, company would be appreciated.

Personally, I consider myself blessed. My three sons have developed into successful men. The oldest two are married, and I have had two grandchildren arrive since Janet died, with a third due this month. A nephew seeking a job in Houston moved in with me six months after Janet died, and I have not been living alone since then. His career has taken off, and he plans to get married in September. He will move out before then, but that won’t bother me. It will be like when my sons left, not when my wife left. Everyone is healthy, including me.

I am seeing a woman. She goes to the same church I attend. Her husband died of cancer the year before Janet did. She understands my pain, I understand hers. Neither of us is jealous of the other’s dead spouse. Rather the contrary. But neither is yet willing to commit to the other. It is a lot easier to pledge to share each other’s lives and fortunes when you are starting out in life with a lot of life ahead and you have so little fortune that it does not matter. Age makes one cautious.

As does the knowledge of loss. Could either of us go through the second loss of a spouse? I could not imagine losing a spouse through death when Janet and I married. We were going to live forever. Now? I not only know of the certainty that one spouse will die before the other, I know what it means. Could I go through that again? Could I put someone else through that? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I will feel differently in a few more years.

I will close repeating what I said four years ago. If you are married, do me a favor. Today, give your spouse a hug and a kiss, and tell them you love them. For no particular reason — just because. You will never regret having done that. After you no longer can, you will regret every opportunity you passed up doing so. That hour might arrive sooner than you think.