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A friend of mine recently lent me a book called The Social Results of Early Christianity, by C. Schmidt, Professor of Theology in Strasburg. The impetus for the book, written in the 19th century, was an essay contest proposed by the French Academy “to trace the influence of Charity on the Roman World during the first centuries of the Christian era.” The first third of the book is devoted to describing various facets of Roman society and culture as they existed at the appearance of Christianity.
The parallels of pre-Christian Roman culture to the ethos of secular Western culture in our own age are numerous. Chapter 3, section 5 addresses the “Occupations of Slaves. Actors. Gladiators.” The Super Bowl, with its garish halftime show, represents a unique confluence of the actors and gladiators in American entertainment. Schmit’s description of the state of Roman entertainment I found especially pertinent:More
Consider this an exhortation. I hear things from Trump-ump David French (“calling balls and strikes,” but never tallying RBIs) and read articles from Christians anguished over the President’s ugly, New York Americanism, and I have trouble finding the Spirit in it. Rather than digging a channel to God’s ocean of mercy, it seems some Christians are trying to dispense it with a teaspoon. It’s all so pinched and joyless and, well, unfamiliar to me as “Christian.”
Donald Trump is a sinner. Christians should not be surprised by this. What is astonishing is the good he’s done and is continuing to do, which must, by necessity, originate with God, who is the source of all goodness. “Oh, but he’s not really Christian, he just mouths the right words about the preciousness of all human life as made in the image and likeness of God,” some say. The subtext of this criticism is he’s hopelessly irredeemable no matter what he says or does! Is that Christian love? Is it even recognizable as faith in God’s ability to work in and through Donald Trump’s life?More
I can’t explain why but topical humor has always appealed to me. Entering high school, when I was supposed to be studying algebra, I usually had my nose in the latest edition of Mad magazine (I still have issues dating back to 1962). When the other kids were watching cop shows and westerns, I was watching “That Was The Week That Was” (like a lot of other 16-year-old boys, many of my fantasies revolved around the “TW3 Girl,” Nancy Ames). While my classmates were watching American Bandstand, I was listening to the comedic routines of Bob Newhart and Mort Sahl.
A hitch in the Army and four years of college did nothing to change my proclivities, except that I graduated to sophomoric humor such as National Lampoon (the parody ad showing a floating Volkswagen Beetle and the caption of “If Teddy Kennedy Drove a Volkswagen, He’d be President Today” is a classic) and idiotic movies such as Porky’s and Naked Gun.More
To me, the key to understanding Trumpism is remembering why he was elected. What do I mean? Voters chose Donald Trump as an antidote to the growing inflammation caused by the (OK, deep breath…) prosperity-crushing, speech-inhibiting, nanny-state building, carbon-obsessing, patriarchy-bashing, implicit bias-accusing, tokey-wokey, globalist, swamp-creature governing class–all perfectly embodied by the Democrats’ 2016 nominee.
This was from the Op-Ed in the February 10th Wall Street Journal by their Inside View columnist, Andy Kessler. The rest of the column describes all the distractions used by President Trump to set up the press and the other party, to take their attention away from all the positive things getting done behind the scenes. It worked, too, didn’t it?More
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.More
Saturday’s Wall Street Journal has a long story on life for the passengers and crew aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess which is docked at Yokohama. Interesting story but this is definitely the best paragraph:
Ellis Vincent, a 76-year old retired airline executive from Sydney, Australia, said he has spent more time than customary conversing with his wife while cooped up inside. She has an excellent memory, he said: “She is able to bring up every transgression I’ve ever had. I believe she is not finished”.
Ahhh, “Meerkat Love.” Remember that hoary old song from the mid-1970s by that odd duo, Captain and Tennille? Yeah, I’m sorry to say that I remember it too. (A note to the unwary and to the Ricochet Editor-On-Duty: I know that’s not the actual title of the song, but close enough for gubmint work, and as a “hook” for the purpose of this post, I think.)
As for Captain and Tenille, I have no idea why Daryl Dragon was impersonating some sort of military officer (CPT? Capt? CAPT? Lord, please don’t let me get it wrong; I don’t want to get in trouble), when it appears that he came from a musical family, served no time in the armed services at all, and seems to have spent most of his life in one band after another, until landing Toni Tenille sometime in the early ’70s, and enjoying a pretty successful decade at the top of the pops. What? Oh. Nevermind. I am wrong. Apparently, “Captain” is an honorific, bestowed on him by Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, who called him “Captain Keyboard,” during his tenure with the group. Glad to have that sorted for myself, even at this late date. No stolen valor here. Not in a musical sense, anyway.More
In the first 15 minutes of the latest Ricochet podcast (Episode #483), Rob said a couple of things that caught my attention. At one point, when talking about our communication- and data-centric technical culture, he suggested that the answers to all our big problems were probably in the wealth of data we’ve collected.
What came to my mind when he said that was the movie WarGames (1983), in which a wayward defense computer is discouraged from initiating Armageddon when it crunches the numbers and concludes that there’s no way to win a nuclear war. Setting aside the question of whether or not that’s a correct conclusion (and I recently re-re-re-watched Dr. Strangelove, in which Buck Turgidson makes a compelling contrary argument, so I’m really not so sure), what the computer in WarGames did was reach a kind of meta-conclusion. A thorough examination of the available information suggested that no good answers could be found.More
Battle Rap. Have you heard of it? It’s a fairly new thing that started in the 1980s, I am told. In fact, Wikipedia says:
Rap battle is generally believed to have started in the East Coast hip hop scene in the late 1980s. One of the earliest and most infamous battles occurred in December 1982 when Kool Moe Dee challenged Busy Bee Starski – Busy Bee Starski’s defeat by the more complex raps of Kool Moe Dee meant that “no longer was an MC just a crowd-pleasing comedian with a slick tongue; he was a commentator and a storyteller” thus, rendering Busy’s archaic format of rap obsolete, in favor of a newer style which KRS-One also credits as creating a shift in rapping in the documentary Beef.
We had to extricate a driver from a crash early this morning. Two people, both intoxicated (possibly also meth included) crashed into a tree on a rural road. The passenger was transported by ambulance but it took us over an hour to cut the driver out. As often happens, his feet were trapped under the dashboard. Typically, we can push the dashboard up with hydraulic tools but, in this case, he was pushed into a tree in exactly the wrong spot. We had to winch the car away from the tree and still cut it to bits to get him out. The driver had broken his right femur, tibia, and fibula, and had a concussion and serious chest injuries. The passenger was almost as bad.
Now, for the hidden costs: three fire departments took part with hydraulic tools (Jaws of Life). Two of the responders were from the county seat and are paid, but the other seven were volunteers. Two fully staffed ambulances were on scene from our county; I believe that only people who are not residents of the county get billed for services but ALS ambulance operations are not cheap. There were five LEOs helping (deputies and one trooper), and one medical helicopter. The helicopter is the only piece of the response which will probably be completely paid for. Keep in mind that all of the deputies tied up were unavailable for any other duties, just as was true for the four pieces of fire apparatus, all because someone wanted to drive home after imbibing. We talk about the cost of this stuff all the time but rarely consider the second-order costs.More
I included this chart in a Jan 3 post:
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:More
OK, if you’re a naïve rube like me you might ask yourself what is a “throuple?” It turns out it’s a relatively new word formed by the blending of “three” and “couple” and it means “a long-term sexual relationship between three people” per a new entry into the Macmillan Dictionary. They must be ahead of the cultural curve from Webster’s.
You would think that the culture couldn’t sink any lower. Every day this absurdity of changing one’s gender identity takes deeper root. Today we were informed that a biological male (is there really any other kind?) will be competing against women in the Olympic trials.More
I am sorely disappointed in Chris Wallace. He does not usually say dumb things. But when he commented about Trump “putting his finger on the scale of justice” in the Roger Stone case, what he said was really stupid.
President Trump is the chief elected administrator in this country with authority over the Justice Department. When he sees the Justice Department do something unfair he not only has the right but the duty to address it. Isn’t that what we want in a president?More
Burgess Owens, Super Bowl Champion, Author, Speaker and Candidate for Congress in Utah’s CD4 joins Dave for this long-form sit-down covering the increasing support for American socialism, talking to Congress on reparations, fellow Utahn Mitt Romney, and why he’s running in a very ‘flippable’ House seat in Utah. Find Burgess Owens at https://twitter.com/burgessowens/ and https://www.burgess4utah.com/ and his books on Amazon.More
Around 1948, Red and I, both around ten-years-old and, true to our Irish DNA, red-headed and as pale as the underside of a trout, wandered into a dicey area of Compton. We were out a bit late and feeling a little adventurous when a couple of tough-looking pachucos (Chicano gang members) spotted us about a half-block away. “Hey, white boys! Watcha doin’ out so late?” (I made up that quote to add some life to this account, but they probably said something like that. That’s the way tough guys talk, isn’t it?)
Red and I had apparently wandered into their ‘hood, which was a violation of some kind of territorial imperative that all urban gangs seem to have.More
Science has long been embroiled in food safety and labeling debates. Most recently, you’ve probably read or heard about the decades-long debate on whether to mandate labeling or disclosure that “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs) were used to grow or process certain food products.
Think of the “Arctic Apple” (which doesn’t brown when cut, thanks to a little genetic modification, or the “AquAdvantage Salmon,” which merges genes from two separate salmon varieties (Chinook & Atlantic) for a fish that grows faster and bigger (and they’re all female, supposedly). Neither of these products, despite being in development for the better part of two decades is just now, slowly, making their way into retail markets (but not Whole Foods, I assure you).More
Yeah, it another really busy week in the Ricochet Podcast Extended Universe (or as we like to call it, RIPEU, or repoo): we had a primary, some candidates drop out the race, we had a former Trump campaign advisor sentencing blow up into a fight between the President and his Attorney General. But we decided to ignore all of that (for at least about 70% of the show) and focus on other matters. First we have a discussion about why things are actually pretty great right now, premised on Ross Douthat’s upcoming book The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success (Ross will be on the show in March to defend himself).
Then, we continue ignoring current events as the great Yuval Levin stops by to discuss institutions and why we need them (you’ll want to buy his book, A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream). It’s a fascinating conversation, completely devoid of any controversy involving a Tweet. Ahhhh, take me away Calgon. But, all of that bliss comes to a crashing halt when Ricochet Podcast Senior Justice Department and Legal Pundit John Yoo calls in from the tub in his hotel room (not kidding!) to discuss the Barr/Trump/Stone controversy of the moment. Guess we had to do that? Also, Rob Long moonlights on yet another podcast to discuss his hobbies. We recommend it. Finally, mazel tov to @bucknelldad, he’s the winner of the highly coveted Lileks Post of The Week, for his French Court Scrambles the Debate Over What is “GMO” in Foods post. Magnifiqué, mon ami.More
I am fairly agnostic when it comes to gay marriage; perhaps libertarian is the better word. I don’t really care what other people do, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. Those on the opposition on the gay marriage issue always said “if gay marriage is legalized, there is absolutely no reason why polygamy shouldn’t be next.” We were, as usual, gaslit by the progressive Left and assured that any concerns were overwrought and exaggerated. And now, well, here we are:
HGTV Features Its First-Ever Throuple on House Hunters: 'Representation Matters' https://t.co/53VhaRVrXt
Since President Reagan’s passing on June 5, 2004, the Reagan Foundation has worked with United States Marine Corps Camp Pendleton to hold a birthday celebration on February 6th of each year to honor the life and legacy of our nation’s 40th president. In this week’s A Reagan Forum podcast, we listen in to the ceremony held on February 6, 2020 with keynote speaker Drew Dix. Drew is the current President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and a Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War. Let’s listen.More
We are at a critical juncture in the history of this country: survival of the Republic is at stake. We can’t afford to try to be comfortable with politics; all the evidence points to more disruption, anger, and chaos, as the Progressives realize they are, for one of the first times in their movement, in serious trouble. Now is not the time for conservatives and Republicans to quibble about differences. The moral high ground is not what you’ve always thought it was. And we need to deal with the shift through the power of our own unity.
Donald Trump has been the scapegoat of our rebellion against social and political change. But instead of throwing up our hands in resignation, or blaming everyone but ourselves for the mire we find ourselves in, we have to face the truth: the Constitution itself is at risk. We have violated it by allowing our children to be taught to disrespect it; we continually see the misuse of the court system; we’ve allowed politicians to distort the Constitution and the rule of law for their own purposes. It’s time to act.More
It has been clear to me for some time that the FBI is corrupt. How corrupt is still open for debate, but there has been no doubt in my mind about it, at the highest levels. This is, of course, nothing new. Under Hoover, it was as corrupt as such things can be. Still, we had hoped, in 2016 that was behind us. Not so.
This at Real Clear Investigations piece is scary. Any American should be horrified, but of course, the left will not be, and Never Trumpers won’t be, because let’s face it, there is nothing that will make either one of those groups change their mind. The Never Trumpers who can be won over have been (welcome all).More
So I chose Valentine’s Day for my quote of the day, thinking it would be easy to write something about love, since I find myself madly in love with a truly wonderful man who is everything I ever wanted and better than I could ever have hoped for. While searching for the perfect love quote, I came across this:
“Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.” Samuel JohnsonMore
A line taken from my favorite uneducated crafter of words goes: “it has taken me so long, but now I know I believe; all that I do or say is all I ever will be.” Words and Actions. I would like briefly to turn attention to four individuals who have not only authored magnificent words but backed them with lifetime action, examples to us all of human strength, reasoned insight and a keen understanding of the American vision. There are American to the core.
I find it more than timely that a man who is known for having few publicly spoken words but who has (in my limited opinion) written the very best, deepest and most poetic Supreme Court opinions of the last several decades has decided to offer up a straight-forward narration of his remarkable life’s journey in the recently released film CREATED EQUAL. Clarence Thomas has gifted us with his story before in his memoir My Grandfather’s Son. But this film not only adds the visual to that compelling story but also the direct and sincere voice of the man who lived it. There are individuals whose stories greatly help us to become not just better citizens and Americans but human beings also. Thomas’s story and character are both examples of this.More