Tag: 2020 February Group Writing

Two Simple 2020 Initiatives to Change the Political Landscape


They are simple but not easy. Then again, things worth doing are seldom easy, especially when entrenched interests are threatened. Nevertheless, sometimes there are simple solutions that can actually shift the political landscape. So, consider changing the dynamics of elections at the state and local level, while recasting the college scene without a dime of additional spending.

1. Change your state’s election rules to truly empower voters, increasing participation and ballot box integrity.

The left always raises the specter of voter suppression, crying “count every vote!” The right always raises the specter of ballot-box stuffing, of determining close races with extra ballot boxes full of ballots from fake voters or real voters whose votes were “harvested,” whose names were used by party operatives, and who actually fill out the ballots from the old-folks’ home. Yet neither side has campaigned for the obvious solution, perhaps because operatives, pundits, and politicians do not really want to really face all the voters.

My Advice: Pay the Band


The first time anyone paid me money for playing music was in high school. A little dixieland quintet of which I was the drummer played a gig for, of all things, a convention of parapsychologists. We played, maybe, half an hour. Then the band ate dinner with the host, who after dessert handed each of us twenty-five dollars. “What a world,” I thought. “Paid good money to do something I love.” And, considering that those twenty-five 1975 dollars would now be $123.75, some of the highest pay I’ve ever received.

In college I played for a polka band. Nearly every weekend we drove to what must have been every small town in eastern Nebraska, hauling amps and drums and the leader’s Hammond B-3 organ up (then down) narrow flights of stairs into dark halls, setting up on broken down stages or in barns and backyards, to play for wedding receptions, dances for Eagles, Elks, and Masons, and the occasional family reunion. And while the Beer Barrel Polka, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain and various schattisches are not great challenges for drummers, I didn’t mind the pay, which sometimes included a place at potlucks or cut-rate chicken dinners. Nor did I mind the fellowship of rejoicing families and friends, or of the semi-drunken lonely hearts we ran across in those upstairs clubs.

[Member Post]


We went to the park as a family last weekend. It was unseasonably warm and as I pushed my nine-year-old daughter on a swing (photo) it finally occurred to me what useful tidbit I might offer. Here it is: chase joy. Whatever it looks like to you, make a little more room for it. I […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

[Member Post]


An older friend once asked where I would most like to be and what I would most like to be doing with my life. Then he asked, “What can you do today to make that happen?”  It doesn’t need to be a major step, he explained. The point is that one should always be moving […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

February Group Writing: Advice from Popular Culture


From Hollywood to kids’ cartoons, to sappy inspirational Facebook posts, entertainment culture is full of advice on how to live our lives. Imagine the consequences of taking this wisdom seriously. Actually, you don’t need to imagine: our culture is littered with living examples of men and women who embraced the subtle and not-so-subtle popular messages. Still, it would be interesting to flip through a book called A Year of Living Hollywood. Here is some of the most common propaganda of social media, celebrities, and movies:

1. Follow your heart. This pretty saying comes first because it’s our culture’s favorite. I remember years ago asking a wise older friend for advice about getting married, and this is what she said to me, very tenderly though: Follow your heart. I was confused. My very problem was that I had followed my heart, and it wasn’t getting me anywhere. What I needed was some sensible input, help weighing up the pros and cons and identifying flags of all hues in this relationship.

Group Writing: The Art of Flirting


I used to watch Cambodian films from the 1950s to mid-1970s and it always tickled my fancy whenever characters break into songs (not unlike Bollywood but without the dancing). Sometimes, characters would belt out a cheery song in a cheerful scene and a sad song in a sad scene. But when it comes time for the male character to woo the female, he always, and I mean always, breaks into song. One can find the same thing repeated all over Khmer traditional literature such as plays, lyrics, and especially the verse-novels written between the 17th to early 20th centuries. If there is a flirting scene, then there is a song. It even appears in a few epic poems, though curiously enough, only the supporting characters sing.

The most famous scene in Khmer literature is a flirting scene from the verse-novel Tum Teav, where the main characters sing a lengthy duet in their first scene together. You can read the duet near the end of my post here. My all-time favorite comes from The Yaksha with the Magic Finger, a chapter from the epic Ramakerti II (2nd version of the Khmer Ramayana), where the male character upon seeing a woman so beautiful, he bursts into song. She, of course, replies. Here is how the duet goes:

Coronavirus Advice from the World of Laboratory Safety


My job is laboratory safety. I work with a wild range of various labs that have a cornucopia of crazy chemicals and a plethora of pathogens. I take part in over 100 laboratory inspections per year, along with responding to questions and acting as an in-house consultant for my institution. There is a surprising amount of you can use from the laboratory safety world in normal life where you make crispy garlic bread rather than CRISPR/Cas9 lentivirus vectors.

Wash Your Hands

There is a reason people mention handwashing as part of nCoV-2019 preparedness, and it is a recurring theme in all of our safety courses. Washing your hands thoroughly is a reliable way to remove pathogens and toxic chemicals. Disinfectant handwashes are not needed — a good scrubbing will physically remove far more contaminants than a disinfectant will kill. I actually prefer a good industrial hand cleaner (STOKO Solopol is a personal favorite) after cleaning or using the bathroom. Scrubbing your hands is actually less harmful to non-harmful bacteria on your skin, as they typically are adapted to stick tightly to your skin’s micro-scale environment. I’ve never heard from someone practically involved in safety you does not recommend handwashing.

Twin Sisters Give Advice


What were the odds that twin sisters, Jews raised in Sioux City, IA, would achieve international fame as givers of advice?

I can’t calculate those odds, but Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer came to be known as Ann Landers, and Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips followed quickly in her footsteps to become Abigail van Buren (Dear Abby). They were born on July 4, 1918 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Abraham and Rebecca Friedman:

They moved to Sioux City, Iowa, in 1910, giving birth to Helen and then Dorothy soon after. Like many Russian Jewish immigrants of that time, the family slowly earned enough money to leave the poorer sections of the city, first by peddling chickens from a pushcart and then, by 1911, by amassing enough earnings to buy into a grocery store. When Pauline was born, her parents owned a small house. Her father became part owner of a movie and vaudeville theater when she was in her early teens. Active in the Jewish community of Sioux City, Abraham Friedman’s civic stature grew as he acquired other theaters and diversified his business interests.

Quote of the Day: Progressives Deny Progress


Dennis Prager has been saying for as long as I’ve been listening: Movements don’t close shop when they’ve achieved their original aims; they radicalize.

It’s certainly true of feminism, which went from winning the vote for women, to burning bras in the streets, to bitter hatred of men, to the NFL Halftime Porn Show “empowering” women to . . . pole dance for a national audience including children? I think I’ll pass on the new empowerment if it requires pornographic sexual objectification or defines womanhood as being more like men. Like coaching an NFL team? Seriously 49ers? Turn in your man-cards.

[Member Post]


In 2016 my nephew asked me to officiate at his wedding. This caught me by surprise, not only because I am a technical writer, not a clergyman; but also because I didn’t think I had any sage advice for a young couple. “Are you sure?” I asked, and he assured me they were. Well, it […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

Group Writing: Do You Believe in ‘If’ Anymore?


One of the reasons I like the occasional music posts on Ricochet is that I’ve spent most of my life quite disconnected from whatever was going on in the contemporary entertainment world, and the posts give me a window into what I might have missed (and whether or not I’m glad I did). Although we moved to the United States only a couple of months before The Beatles took the “Ed Sullivan Show” by storm, I never owned a Beatles album. And while The Rolling Stones were hot during my years at British boarding school, we weren’t allowed to listen to them; Mick Jagger’s hips and lips being (in the opinion of the good ladies running The Abbey School) a bridge too far, even for the radio.

Prior to that, my experience ran to the blue wind-up gramophone in Nigeria and the 78, 45, and 33RPM records we’d either brought with us from England or borrowed from the Officers’ Club, and programs such as Desert Island Discs on the BBC World Service. After that, with a few notable exceptions when I would, in a transgressive mood, listen to Jeff Christie on KQV, the most youth-oriented local AM station (he later resumed his birth name and achieved some measure of fame as Rush Limbaugh), I left the music scene to others, and largely ignored it myself.

Thus, in the ’60s and ’70s, what did manage to seep into my musical gestalt was mostly the stuff my mother listened to or played on the gramophone–a world largely comprised of male crooners and peppy young women singing cheerful and upbeat songs. Almost all of them were British, and you’ve probably heard of them rarely, if at all. Men like Val Doonican. Matt Munro (best known for the title song of the movie Born Free), Des O’Connor, Frankie Vaughan. Women like Alma Cogan, Cilla Black Clodagh Rodgers, and Sandie Shaw. (Sometimes, when Mum was in a jazz sort of mood, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine.)

[Member Post]


“Let me tell you who we conservatives are: we love people. When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims.” – Rush Limbaugh Preview […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

Advice to Republicans on Winning over Non-Republicans


So you want to be elected? Do you really? How’s about acting like it? If you must, fake it ’til you make it. Here are a few suggestions, for free:

  • Show up.
  • Listen actively and respectfully.
  • Act on what you hear.

Free is much less than Karl “The Architect” Rove charged, but we all know how his advice worked out, leaving President George W. Bush in the hands of Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid. Take a look at the latest State of the Union address, consider the many actions, words, and images that formed the basis of a string of accomplishments, and you might find a path to maximizing your chances in future elections, near and far.

Karl Rove’s advice was grounded in the loser belief that Republicans could only delay the tide of history. Under this view, the best Republican strategy is to do detailed analysis of each district and demographic, carefully activating just enough registered Republicans to win just enough to take and hold power at the presidential level. Mitt Romney spoke out loud what the Republican establishment believed and still believe, that demographics and the irresistible trend of social welfare programs were naturally changing the electorate into one that would vote for the party of entitlements. None of them really subscribed even to Ronald Reagan’s views, views that had broken Democrats’ grip on demographic groups characterized for a time as “Reagan Democrats.”

Ask Arahant: Advice from a Kindly Curmudgeon, Volume III


@cliffordbrown went and made the theme for the month Advice, and what better time than now to revive Ask Arahant. Your kindly curmudgeon is ready once again to answer your questions, as was done here and here.

You all know about advice columns. This is how it works. You ask for advice. I’ll dispense advice. You ask a silly question, I’ll give a silly answer. You ask a serious question, I’ll give a serious answer. I’ll do the best I can, but you get what you pay for, and you aren’t paying for my opinion in anything but time and attention.

[Member Post]


So, I’ve been watching What’s My Line?, starting from the first episode and marching forward at 1.25 playback speed. There are all sorts of fascinating cultural and historical insights to be gained from this passtime. Which brings us to February. One of the low-frequency repeating “lines” or occupations is the “advice to the lovelorn” columnist. […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.