Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Another Interesting Idea out of Russia

 

So why am I starting a post with God Save the Tsar, a song not seriously sung in over a century? Because the biggest new idea out of Russia seems to be a revival of the monarchy. Seriously.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Blue Lives Lost

 

This year, 137 American police officers lost their lives. A member of the emergency communications center in the Boone County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana suggested to the sheriff a special project to honor all of them. As a result, they set up a Christmas tree with 137 blue ornaments, each with the name, rank and end of watch date of one of the officers who died. Included in that group was Deputy Jacob Pickett from Boone County.

Officers from Boone County spent a weekend writing the names of those officers on the bulbs. Joni Scott, Chaplain of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, commented:

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

How to Build a Computer 22: Hard Disk Drives

 

We’re going to take a jaunt entirely out of sequence here, moving from circuits and silicon into larger scale components. Today we’re talking about hard disk drives. Why? Because it’s a fun and interesting technology, because I know a thing or two about it from first-hand experience, but mostly because I’ve got a book to return. And so we’ll take a quick dive into the world of hard disk drives to see what, as the bear over the mountain intended, we can see.

An example HDD. Entirely too dusty to be functional.

Note the term; usually, we refer to these things as ‘hard drives’ and don’t bother to distinguish what kind it is. In the olden days, you had a hard drive and you had a floppy drive. A hard disk drive (hereafter HDD) contains a spinning platter that has the information magnetically encoded on it. A floppy drive also had a spinning platter with information on it, but that spinning part was bendable. For all you youngsters out there your “Save” icon is supposed to look like a floppy disk. It dates back to the times when people actually saved files for storage on one of ’em. The structure of the disks was rigid, you didn’t see the floppy part until you took the thing apart.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Quote of the Day: “The Doors of Hell Are Locked on the Inside”

 

Eight days after I began work there, as the organization’s first staff member dedicated to supporting its personal computer users, the unionized employees at my local community hospital went on strike. It was February 1, 1990.

Early that morning, as instructed, I drove across a picket line for the first time in my life, showing up for work in blue jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers. I was handed a mop and bucket, and along with several dozen others, I suffered through a fifteen-minute in-service on the “right way” to clean a patient’s room. Then I was put in charge of a housekeeper’s cart and I spent the next 57 days scrubbing up the Labor and Delivery Unit. This was in the days before the hotel-like “birthing rooms,” where family members gather and watch Mom in extremis, surrounded by flowers, floofy bedding, snack trays, and piped-in music. This was in the days when Mom was wheeled off to the “delivery room” to have the baby, into a forbidding and sterile environment with four gurneys in each room (the hospital had two of these rooms), klieg lights overhead, lots of sharp-edged stainless steel, with no rounded corners on anything, and not a bit of floofery in sight. The floor of each of these delivery rooms was, I can testify, having mopped each of them twice a day (and more, in the case of messy emergencies) for almost two months, about the same square footage as that of an NFL football field.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

This Friendship Was a Special Blessing for One of Them

 

This story, which is making the rounds, reminds me that we all need friends. Famous people are famously lonely and famously unhealthy. They famously have a lack of people who they can trust to enjoy them for their human qualities as opposed to their fame, wealth or status.

I don’t take from this story that Lin Wang was lucky to know Charles Barkley. I take that Barkley was wise to cultivate a friendship with a guy who could be normal in Barkley’s presence.

More

Mike Murphy: Onward to 2020! (Conversations With Bill Kristol)

 


Veteran political strategist and commentator Mike Murphy assesses where the Republicans and the Democrats stand as we look toward 2020. What are President Trump’s prospects for reelection? Where are the divisions in the Democratic Party, and which Democratic candidates might prevail in the primaries? And could there be a successful primary challenge to Trump? Murphy shares his thoughts on these and other pressing questions with his usual blend of political insight and humor.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Veneration for the Ones Who Bring Life

 

My wife’s birthday is on December 16 and every year I ask her for a list of things she’d like or could use. She avoids the question a few times, but eventually gives me a few ideas. I get her what she needs, and try to surprise her with some things I think she’ll like. The latter end up as failures pretty often but I try. She’s always gracious about it but doesn’t usually like surprises. She’s a planner. She doesn’t like uncertainty.

This year her birthday is all about uncertainty. She’s fabulously pregnant, due any day now. She may end up sharing her birthday with our newest son. This will be her seventh pregnancy. She amazes me. The creation known as woman amazes me. God amazes me.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

5 Bulletproof Reasons ‘Die Hard’ Is No Christmas Movie

 

I’m saving the ultimate, unimpeachable reason for last, but let’s get right to it:

  1. It’s Not a Christmas Movie: Anyone claiming it is a Christmas movie is either having us on, or they’re as clueless as Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson. That’s enough to settle the matter, but I’ll go on.
  2. F Words and Nudity: If a certain word starting with “F” is in the movie, it’s not a Christmas movie. Also, if you are a free, American adult, you have a choice of watching Christmas movies or watching movies with topless girls. What you cannot do, by the immutable laws which govern the present universe, is have both in the same film. You know why. “But,” you might respond, “I saw an edited version once! So that version was definitely a Christmas movie!” Well, first of all, see #1, and secondly, how can it be a Christmas movie, if it can’t be shown on an airplane without edits? I’ll calculate the last digit of pi as you struggle to craft an answer.
  3. Year-round Viewing: Suppose, on a lazy evening in August, you call a friend of yours, and inquire what they’re up to. “Watching Die Hard,” they reply. What is your response? You’re not going to say “In August?” or “But it’s not Christmas!” No, you’re not going to say that. And you know you’re not. QED, not a Christmas movie. Die Hard, being an action flick rather than a Christmas flick, is something people are likely to watch any time they want some action-fueled escapism. If you come home, and your roommate is watching Die Hard, you don’t have to check the calendar. If your friend were watching It’s a Wonderful Life in April, you probably would remark on their viewing it “out of season,” even though it’s a fine film for all times of year, and only the finale is set during Christmas. But it’s so much closer to being a Christmas movie than Die Hard, that most people would remark on the perceived oddity of viewing IWL in summertime. Also, see #1.
  4. An Action Hero Does Not a Baby Jesus Make: I needn’t get so deep (because see #1), but I suppose someone will propose that Die Hard is a film in which all seems lost, until a hero arrives, to set all things right. Messiah McClane enters our darkness, punishes the wicked, and redeem the captives. Why, Nakatomi Plaza might as well be a stable and a lowly manger. Well, OK, but now you’ve made every action film a Christmas film.
  5. And now, the final point, and the one that will force the Die Hard diehards to their knees, and force them to confess the truth. Were this a Christmas movie, you know those Japanese guys would be eating some KFC. Are those Japanese guys eating KFC? No, they are not.

If that last point doesn’t clinch it for you, I don’t know what to tell you.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

AM to FM

 

It was in February 1965 that I became a devoted listener of AM radio. I’d seen The Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February and March of ’64 and occasionally listened to the radio in the car. But it wasn’t until being confined to bed for a week in early ’65 with a bad cold and a radio by my side that I began listening every day. From then until graduating from high school in 1969 I stayed tuned in.

What I tuned into changed over time. For the first 18 months it was two New York AM stations, WABC, and less frequently WMCA. ABC, the home of Cousin Brucie, emphasized the British Invasion bands, American groups like The Beach Boys and Four Seasons along with a lot of Motown, while MCA was more soul-oriented with lots of Stax and James Brown, and more welcoming to garage bands. The AM stations, particularly ABC, had very restricted playlists; the Top 20 (ABC played the #1 song once an hour), a handful of new and quickly rising singles and a smattering of oldies (in those days an oldie meant songs all the way back to 1955).

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Tear It Down and Salt The Earth

 

When I was a child I read about the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. I was very impressed with what I read about the end of Carthage:

Starting in the 19th century,[74] various texts claim that after defeating the city of Carthage in the Third Punic War (146 BC), the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus ordered the city be sacked, forced its surviving inhabitants into slavery, plowed it over and sowed it with salt.

More

Quote of the Day: Farewell, TWS

 

In honor of the departed Weekly Standard, I wanted to share a favorite quote from one of their finest writers, Matt Labash. He wrote this during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary.

“As one who was never terribly enamored of Hillary Clinton’s personality to start with, I grudgingly admit to enjoying her recent near-tears transformation. Plenty of critics concede her rarely seen emotion was heartfelt, but also that it was due to the 20-hour-day rigors of the campaign trail, making her perhaps the only candidate ever to win the New Hampshire primary because she needed a nap. Still, it was refreshing to watch her punch through the icy crust of her own phoniness, so that the molten core of artificiality could gush forth.”

More

The Weekly Standard, R.I.P.

 

Today, Philip Anschutz shut down The Weekly Standard. I, for one, wish that he had refrained from doing so. I do not mean to say that I agree with the stance Bill Kristol has taken with regard to Trump. I have known Bill for decades, and I have a great deal of respect for him. But I think him in error. Trump’s flaws are obvious, but the available alternatives are worse — and the man has not only done a number of good things. He has also forced a rethinking of post-Cold war policies with regard to the economy and our posture in the larger world that have pretty obviously failed.

But whether or not I think Bill right or in error on this point does not matter much. He founded and for quite a number of years edited a magazine that was nearly always thoughtful and a pleasure to read. Steve Hayes, who took it over when Trump became President, has done a terrific job, and there is nothing out there that will replace it.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Who Was Renia Spiegel?

 

“Hear, O Israel, Save Us” “Oh God Almighty! Help us! Take care of us, give us your blessing.” 

Last week I was given a copy of the November issue of Smithsonian magazine, featuring a story on a young Jewish girl in Poland named Renia Spiegel. She created a diary right before she unknowingly entered Hell, as the horrors of the Holocaust infiltrated her innocent world. It’s a miracle that this diary survived at all if you read how it came to be found, and how it traveled over 70 years to become a powerfully troubled voice once again in 2018. The Smithsonian translated it in its entirety.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

“Sad Radicals”: A Very Insightful Read

 

I am increasingly fond of Quillette as a source of articles with a unique perspective. The recent piece Sad Radicals is remarkably insightful. A self-described former radical discusses the inherently destructive and self-destructive mindset that consumes the true believer:

The paradigm of suspicion leaves the radical exhausted and misanthropic, because any action or statement can be shown with sufficient effort to hide privilege, a microaggression, or unconscious bias. Quoted in JM, the anarchist professor Richard Day proposes “infinite responsibility”: “we can never allow ourselves to think that we are ‘done,’ that we have identified all of the sites, structures, and processes of oppression ‘out there’ or ‘in here,’ inside our own individual and group identities.” Infinite responsibility means infinite guilt, a kind of Christianity without salvation: to see power in every interaction is to see sin in every interaction. All that the activist can offer to absolve herself is Sisyphean effort until burnout. Eady’s summarization is simpler: “Everything is problematic.”

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

How Gods Are Made

 

The late, great Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. In his fantasy universe known as the Discworld (so named because the world is a disc resting on the backs of four giant elephants standing on a turtle swimming through space) he explored nearly every facet of humanity: war, peace, family, crime, politics, time travel, magic, and even religion. A concept running through a number of his books is the notion that believing in something causes it to exist and grow strong.

In Small Gods, a satire on the Reformation, he describes the origin of the gods thus: just as the physical universe was formed of the collation of dust from the origin of the universe, there was a great cloud of gods spread evenly over the universe. As humans believed in a god, it became stronger and better able to answer prayers. Moreover, the gods took on the characteristics of the humans who believed in it — a god of shepherds had a different personality than a god of goatherds, as their followers had different views of how one controls livestock — and the god took its physical characteristics from the sculptures and icons of the followers. e.g. Patina, the goddess of wisdom, was supposed to be associated with an owl; because her most famous sculptor was terrible at sculpting birds, she now has a penguin.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Ireland Has Become a Sick, Sick Place

 

Image may contain: outdoorMany people ask me how has Ireland fallen so badly. Whilst there are many reasons, this picture summarizes at least an example of it.

This is the Twitter account of 32-year-old Simon Harris, a vain, egotistical, power-hungry mediocrity who somehow managed to become Health Minister before he reached the decade of puberty. Take a long look at this photo.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

First GPS III Satellite Scheduled to be Launched by SpaceX on Tuesday

 
GPS III SV01 is now encapsulated and will be placed on the SpaceX rocket for Dec. 18 launch. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The first GPS III satellite is scheduled to be launched next Tuesday. It will be more difficult to jam or spoof. In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, the GPS signal is spoofed and the British frigate HMS Devonshire is sent off-course into Chinese-held waters in the South China Sea (see below). One knew that GPS had become established when it was used in a Bond plot.

This trick will be more difficult once a large number of GPS III satellites are launched (always keep inertial navigation systems as a backup for your warship). When my book was published in 2013, it was projected that the first III would be launched in 2015. The delays have resulted from problems with the new ground control system.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

The Venerable Israeli Soldier and the Holiest Place on Earth

 

Catholics may have Lourdes and Moslems may have Mecca, but for me, the holiest place on earth is the central bus station in Jerusalem.

Because of the soldiers, in transit, who are everywhere. And in their faces, I see G-d.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

TV History: Christmastime and Color Television

 

When I was a kid, children’s books had holiday stories about getting in the family car and driving to Grandma’s farm. (Schoolbooks back then were usually old and worn, and the cars in the pictures had that lumpy round prewar look, so strange to “modern” kids of the Fifties). Amid the ducks and the horses and the sheep, they’d chop down a tree at dawn on Christmas morning and decorate it with candles and strings of popcorn. Then, after a big country breakfast, they’d go to church. More strange stuff: they had “ministers”, not priests, and they were addressed as “Doctor” or “Reverend”, not as “Father”. Weird place, the American countryside. We used to wonder if it really existed. Christmas was nothing like that where we lived.

This was the New York City of The Honeymooners era, of West Side Story. You see a bit of it in The Godfather. For the price of a subway token, you could visit Macy’s, Gimbels, the F.A.O. Schwartz toy store, the gigantic Lionel train layout at Madison Hardware on 23rd Street, and the big tree at Rockefeller Center, a convenient stroll from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. (Protestants had their own cathedral farther uptown, St. John the Divine.) New York was always a city of tiny apartments. Back then it was also a time of big families; I was the oldest of six boys. Everyone had lots of relatives nearby. Grandparents almost invariably had European accents of one kind or another (In my family, a thick Scottish burr; in my wife’s family, Yiddish). The city’s churches and synagogues were packed year round, but Easter/Passover and Christmas/Hanukkah took it to the highest level.

More
Ricochet Member Recommended FeedRecommended by R> Members

Originalism in Theology and Law: Venerating Authoritative Texts

 

Ever since Marvin Olasky quoted SCOTX Justice Nathan Hecht on Harriet Miers’ originalism, I’ve been aware that there are connections between originalism in law and religion. I’ve done a bit of writing on the subject, including a failed unpublished essay and a draft of a chapter in a book that isn’t published either. Unlike the essay, the book is not a failed project; it’s just new and unfinished.

Mark Eckel, and I have agreed to be co-editors. Inshallah, we’ll put together our own chapters, the introduction chapter, and a proposal and get things underway sometime next year with a call for proposals from other possible authors. My finished chapter uncovers an important insight: Originalism in biblical theology is a bit more of an intentionalism, and originalism in American Constitutional law is a textualism, and there’s a reason for that difference.

More

Bankruptcy and the Boy Scouts

 

This morning, I caught a squib in The Wall Street Journal reporting that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is contemplating filing for bankruptcy as a consequence of “dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse.”

I was aware of the decline in participation and I had a pretty good understanding of some of the causes. But I had somehow missed the fact that there was a sex abuse scandal — perhaps because 27 years have passed since it was exposed in The Washington Times and 24 since Patrick Boyle published his book on the subject: Scout’s Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution.

More