TOTD 2018-06-15: The Road from Mandalay Bay

On October 11. 2017, there was an atrocity in Vegas.    After it was over, the FBI and local police rushed to declare that it was a lone nutcase, not at all terror related, despite ISIS claiming responsibility.  The media promptly dropped it into the memory hole next to the attempted massacre of Congress by a Bernie supporter.  But not everyone was following the script from the Party.

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TOTD 2018-06-08: An End to Downs Syndrome?

I understand the concern about the increase in abortion of Downs Syndrome fetuses. That clearly has all kinds of ethical problems, and opens a giant can of worms – what genetic abnormalities get the axe?  That’s not what I am talking about here.  This is about something different. Continue reading “TOTD 2018-06-08: An End to Downs Syndrome?”


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TOTD 2018-06-01: Is Finland the Texas of Europe?

I am sick as a dog, still having chills shaking me like a leaf.  But I made a promise, and I intend to keep it.  Sorry if this is silly.

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TOTD 2018-05-25 Neocon? or Not-a-con?

I had several ideas for what to write about today, then I read something that filled with me with cold fury.

“Nice job your husband has.  Shame if something were to happen to it.”

Or perhaps Mollie is expected to kiss Kristol’s ring?

I am ashamed that I ever respected the Weekly Standard / Commentary crowd.  J-Pod and Kristol follow one of my favorite religions, and still support Israel, unlike his fellow neocon Max Boot   Other than that, they have gone completely off the rails, especially on Twitter.   Did constant exposure to alt-right trolls offering them an express trip into an oven break their minds?  Do they just hate Donald Trump as much as HAMAS hates Jews, and his election drove them to madness?  More disturbingly, were they always this way, and twitter just revealed their true selves?

As a neocon myself, the descent 0f these second-generation neocons into standard democrat territory disgusts me.   (I was always more a follower of Victor Hanson and his view of history)   Moreover, I never root for the US to lose, especially on the battlefield.  No End But Victory!  Thus, I ended up supporting a war that seemed poorly timed and lacked proper planning.  I have not abandoned the label, but I am sick of listening to people who supported voting in Iraq infuriated at voters in the USA.

Last but not least, I think I (along with the Ricochet admin staff) owe Ball Diamond Ball an apology.  Jennifer Rubin and Bill Kristol really are deserving of being called Vichy-cons.

Bonus:

The Hemingways are treasures to the conservative movement.

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TOTD 2018-05-18 The Boundaries of Plausibility

What if I told you that I could travel faster than light?  Or that I am the reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt?  Or that socialism is the most ethical and rational economic system?  Or that being overweight is good for your health?  How would you respond? Continue reading “TOTD 2018-05-18 The Boundaries of Plausibility”


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TOTD 2018-5-12: To Know and Be Known

A recently released song by two dead men has been weighing on my mind since it came out. The song is entitled “You Never Knew My Mind” off the new anthology album Forever Words. The album consists of songs that were originally poems written by Johnny Cash and adapted into songs by various artists at the request of the Cash family. This particular song was done by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame.

The song describes two people in a relationship: one of whom thinks the relationship is healthy, the other who is less positive and more aloof despite admitting there were good moments. What is particularly poignant about the song are the circumstances around the timing of its composition and release.

This is the first song by Cornell released since his suicide one year ago next week. Cornell had a history of drug addiction (which he put behind him over a decade ago) and depression which he apparently never had been able to overcome. He’d spoken of his depression before, “I know what it feels like to be suicidal, and I know what it feels like to be hopeless,”and, “No one really knows what run-of-the-mill depression is. You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope. It’s hard to tell the difference.”

To all outside appearances, his second marriage and children had provided him with the emotional grounding he needed, and the charitable work he did had provided him with purpose beyond music. His suicide says otherwise. His wife still maintains that he took too much Ativan and had a bad reaction, but the coroner says the drugs in his system played no part in his death. Cornell’s brother also maintains that Chris had undiagnosed mental illness that the family was too embarrassed to admit which led to his suicide during another depressive episode. The fact his wife refuses to admit the possibility that he chose suicide suggests she may not have known his mind like she thought.

The film Solaris touched on this idea of not truly knowing someone that you think you know well. In this film, George Clooney’s character is visited by a manifestation of his dead wife generated from his memories of his wife. He rejects this manifestation despite it looking and sounding like her because he comes to realize that his memories of his wife are his superficial impressions of her and lack her real personality.

It is hard enough for us to truly know others when we struggle to know ourselves. Even in antiquity, we find, “Know thyself,” as a maxim inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and expounded upon by Greek philosophers. Man has an infinite capacity for self-deception. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was tortured for 14 years in a Romanian communist prison for running an underground church, described this even among people who sincerely thought they believed in something. “There are two kinds of Christians: those who sincerely believe in God and those who, just as sincerely, believe that they believe. You can tell them apart by their actions in decisive moments.” “A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” If we cannot know our own hearts without extreme testing, how can we know another’s?

We have long had a problem in discerning the real person when dealing with celebrities or public figures with whom we have no personal contact. What we see is an image, carefully crafted, sometimes by the person, sometimes by a PR team. We mistake that for the real person and then are shocked when we find out the real person isn’t like their persona at all. This problem has now extended into common life (if not entirely new, certainly to a greater extent than before) via social media. We now all construct online personae or ideal versions of ourselves to display to the world, often hiding the struggles and real person buried beneath. A recent article reported the following findings:

More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.”

As I listened to this song, it struck me that this would have to be just about the most devastating thing a loved one could tell me at the end of their life. I can’t imagine going through life thinking you know someone intimately only to find out at the end you never knew them at all. It is the essence of Christ’s warning in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’.”

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TOTD 2018-05-04: Why Gold?

I often hear of people talking about the joys of returning to a gold standard.  Why is gold the choice people fix on?

Now, currency is based on its ability to be exchanged for something.  Right now, the US dollar is valuable for being able to pay debts to the US Government.  Even if everyone else refused to accept US currency, you could still pay your taxes in US greenbacks.  This is what gives it value – ability to command labor.  (This is why I have been skeptical of BitCoin etc.  There is a significant chance that BitCoin could end up without any possibility of exchange.  There is nothing backing these cryptocurrencies.)

However, gold is not that useful compared to many other metals.   Why choose it, as opposed to numerous other metals and alloys?

For example, aluminum.  Aluminum’s value is directly related to the availability of electric energy to refine it from bauxite.  It is an enormously chemically useful element, and forms a passive aluminum oxide coating on its surface, protecting it from corrosion.  It is reflective, electrically and thermally conductive, and extremely light weight.  If there was an apocalyptic event,  refined aluminum would be worth more than gold.  (This is one of the most accurate elements of the Fallout series of  parody post-apocalyptic video games.)

Titanium is another extremely useful metal that has excellent strength to weight and corrosion resistance.   It has many of the positives of aluminum, only taken to a higher level.  It is very difficult to work or shape, which may reduce counterfeiting.

Now for a real oddball – Uranium.  Uranium of natural or low enrichment is directly useable for energy.  It is incredibly dense in energy.   A Uranium standard could be directly related to energy prices, and a Uranium Note could be exchanged directly for nuclear generated electricity, as well as uranium itself.   This has benefit of being great for the environment, but also ticking off the hippies by being nuclear.

So, anyone up for nuclear nickels? Fission dollars?


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TOTD 2018-04-20: How Does This End?

I happened on Erick Erickson’s twitter feed, and I was struck by how similar his attacks were to those I have grown accustomed to hearing from the Left.   His argument, in short, was that Christians should condemn Trump because he is not a good person.  It was much more smarmy than that.   It made me think about the feud in conservatism.  How will this end?   Many pundits have denounced their base in the vilest terms.  Where do they go from here?  Even if they drive Trump from office, people are not going to flock back to them.   Kurt Schlicter’s column is instructive.

I can offer some insight into the mindset, as I vitriolically hated Donald Trump in the primary.  I would have cheered his death – my Ricochet track record is pretty clear and cannot be hidden.  I actually left Ricochet after the Indiana Primary because I realized this was driving me crazy.   I thought he was a con man, or worse a Putin wannabe at the worst.  However, I never even considered voting for Hillary, as I thought she was worse in every possible way.

Then the election happened.  Then Trump starts bringing together a solid team, and delivering on his promises.  To say this was unexpected is a massive understatement.   Imagine mocking people for investing in a Nigerian Prince – then they got rich, and the prince moved to the US to open new businesses.  Said prince recruits an army to beat down Boko Haram, returning the girls safely, and cracks down on actual 419 scammers.  (Over a dozen off-shore pharmacies sunk!)

Facing this kind of scenario, you have two basic choices – admit you were wrong, or double down.  I recall asking TKC about how he saw all this coming, as I realized all of the pundits I read the most had blown this, and blown it big time.  Most pundits seemed to double down on despising Trump – to what end?  I have no idea where this is going to go, but this is not the kind of division you heal overnight.

I know I have stopped following most of the Never Trump types.  I followed Jonah Goldberg for a while, but as his column format became screwy, I lost interest in reading him.  Many of them actually seem deranged – Bill Kristol calling for anti-democratic oligarchy (from the man all about exporting democracy, no less) and Jennifer Rubin ranting about Trump doing things she asked for.  How do they expect to get an audience by alienating the half of the country that voted for the Orange Overlord?

Anyone have any ideas on this?

(Meanwhile our Jeffersonian and our Technolibertarian are in the corner stifling laughter.)

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TOTD 2018-04-14: Whence Ratburger?

This is a question of history.  I did some digging into the beginning of the site without particular success, other than revealing that Ratburger launched last December.   What prompted the rise of Ratburger?

Why the name in particular?  Please tell me there is a German co-worker named Herr or Frau Ratburger…

While I understand that this is John Walker’s server, is there any desire for additional support or assistance?  Is Chef someone from Ricochet?

Lastly, is this site open to people not ever associated with Ricochet?  How conservative do they need to be to ride the Ratburger?


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