Good Morning from South Korea!

 

A quick good morning from South Korea to my friends and readers at Ricochet! I wanted to file a quick post to say hello from the future — it’s Monday morning here — and I’m up at 4:30 AM thanks to jetlag and mom worrying. (Last night, I saw my middle son puking on my unfortunate friend who agreed to watch my kids this week before I went to sleep).

For those who haven’t heard on LadyBrains or That Sethany Show, I’m here in South Korea for the week with my friends from Liberty in North Korea, an organization that helps North Korea refugees who have escaped over the border into China get to freedom in the West. Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) operates an underground railroad, shepherding refugees over the 3,000-mile journey from the China-North Korea border into South Korea. Almost all of the refugees remain in South Korea, where they enjoy citizenship. If they remain in China, they risk repatriation (usually to a gulag) in North Korea or sex trafficking in China.

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The Red Hen Is a Canary in the Coal Mine

 

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen Restaurant in Virginia along with her seven guests. They already ordered, but a snowflake waiter decided he didn’t like her because she worked for President Donald Trump.

The manager came in and asked the employees what “they wanted her to do.” They said expel her, so she was asked to leave, and she did. Why did this remind me of the 1960s lunch counters where blacks were refused service based on skin color?

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The New Normal? It’s Rude and I Don’t Like It!

 

This week in my Twitter feed, I saw Stormy Daniels and comedienne Kathy Griffin posing and “flipping the bird”; their caption using an obscene hashtag directed towards Donald Trump. Now, both women have been in some hot water for past vulgar criticisms of the sitting President, but this particular act went without reprimand and even received praise.

Earlier in the week, I opened my Twitter app and immediately had a picture of a man with a bearded face staring back at me with an intense glare, raising his middle finger. That man was Pennsylvania House Representative, Brian Sims, and his gesture was not towards me personally, but to Vice President, Mike Pence.

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My 100th post

 

I’ve been on Ricochet for five years, so apparently I don’t post much — about a couple of times a month, I guess. I’m not sure how many of my posts have been promoted to the main feed (I’ve noticed that those numbers on my notifications page go up and down significantly even when I don’t post anything for a while) but I think about half of my posts get voted up to the Main Feed by the members, and about a third are promoted by editors. (Or so.) Apparently my fellow Ricochet members like my writing more than the editors. Which I will take as a compliment — I’ve come to admire many of these Ricochet members a great deal.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the lively, enlightening, and civil conversation that I’ve enjoyed here over the past five years. It’s great to have a safe, pleasant environment in which we can learn from one another. I’m thankful for the contributions of everyone here toward that environment, and I apologize for those times when I have not been helpful toward that end (I really try to avoid being a twit here — I often succeed.).

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Quote of the Day: Alan Turing on Theological Arguments

 

I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, “And the sun stood still… and hasted not to go down about a whole day” (Joshua 10:13) and “He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time” (Psalm 104:5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory.” — Alan Turing

As a recovering math major, I must admit that I also have some difficulty with most theological arguments. Metaphysical interpretation makes a lot more sense and is applicable in everyday life. I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I do care to be able to identify when I am taking a bite of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And on a political site like Ricochet, folks are handing me those fruits to taste every day. Usually, I pass and stay in the Edenic state of consciousness. But I doubt Turing ever met that sort of metaphysics.

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ACF#37 My Darling Clementine

 

Ready for another Western? Here’s Hank Fonda as Wyatt Earp in My Darling Clementine, John Ford’s most elegant Western. It combines a simplicity of storytelling with a remarkably clear structure about the emergence of civilization, announced in four skeptical exclamations: Marshaling in Tombstone? Shakespeare in Tombstone? Church bells in Tombstone? Schooling in Tombstone? It’s also the Ford Western that explores friendship and its potentially tragic consequences with the greatest feeling, and the most erudite Western, where characterization and themes are established by quoting Hamlet and Addison’s poem on the Duke of Marlborough. It’s a beautiful movie, free of the sordid, and its dignity is a show of Ford’s understanding of the American past.

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Donald J. Trump and Eliot Ness: The Chicago Way

 

When the brilliant screenwriter David Mamet described “the Chicago way” in The Untouchables (1987) in a meeting between Chicago beat cop Jim Malone (Sean Connery) and Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), the audience instinctively knew Malone was right. Taking liberties with that superb dialogue, here is how Jim Malone would tell Big D how to handle the media and The Swamp:

Malone: (talking privately in a church) You said you wanted to get The Swamp and the mainstream media. Do you really want to get them? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?

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Yidl-Label-Ing!

 

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Of course not! Why do people prefer to buy a lovely Red Snapper instead of the same Rockfish or Tilapia? Standards of even human beauty change, and people follow the labels. The same person might readily be called a genius or an eccentric or an idiot – and others react to those titles as if they had some truth of their own.

Labels are powerful things. We – certainly I – scoff at the idea of microagressions, but I don’t doubt for an instant that a teacher can build up or devastate a student using nothing more than words of praise or criticism. By their very nature, labels are dangerous things: they lock both the accuser and the accused into the past, instead of looking toward the future. Destructive comments are particularly harmful because we should want people to have every opportunity to improve and grow and change. And yet.

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Here Come the Young Americans

 

In a world where Baby Boomers stubbornly cling to cultural power, where Gen X-ers won’t admit that they’re old now, and where most Millennials are too busy Netflix-and-chilling and too poor from excessive avocado toast to leave their parents’ basements and get married (to say nothing of whatever the heck the next generation is called), who will deliver the hot takes the Internet already has too many of, but in verbal form?

Leave it to the Young Americans. Led by host Jack Butler (me), an otherwise ever-shifting cast of right-leaning young people will discuss the news and culture of the day while trying to prove that some youths actually do know what they’re talking about. We’ll also attempt to offer some valuable insights about things people our age are actually experiencing.

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Quote of the Day: We Know a Hawk From a Handsaw. (And a Cat From Guacamole.)

 

“One shortcoming of current machine-learning programs is that they fail in surprising and decidedly non-human ways. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students recently demonstrated, for instance, how one of Google’s advanced image classifiers could be easily duped into mistaking an obvious image of a turtle for a rifle, and a cat for some guacamole.” — Jerry Kaplan, The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2018

We have recently been bombarded with stories about AI (Artificial Intelligence, for those of you who live in farm country and think it means something else), and about how our meager human brains will soon not be able to keep up with those super-smart machines. Self-driving cars. Computers that accurately diagnose, and even treat, medical conditions. Robots that perform surgery and manage eldercare. Autonomous military drones. Siri. Predictive applications to “enhance” your Internet experience (Amazon, Pandora, etc.). Chatbots. Legal assistants. And, of course, the omnipresent Google.

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A Giant of a Man

 

Naturally, I never knew the man. Only as much as you can know someone from watching him on television. However, in watching and listening to the many tributes to him (from the people on Fox News and the various podcasts I listen to), I know this was a man great wit, intellect, and stamina.

I’ve never been to Irish Wake. But it seems like a good tradition: When a loved one passes on, we mourn of course. But we also should celebrate the life of that person. He or she probably changed our own life by passing through it.

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Elizabeth Holmes and the Power of Imagination

 

Theranos founder, chairwoman, and C.E.O. Elizabeth Holmes, in Palo Alto, California, September 2014.A 19-year-old college student had a revolutionary idea that she imagined would make her rich and famous. She quit college and founded a start-up, attracting incredible attention, investors like Lawrence Ellison of Oracle, and a board of directors that included Henry Kissinger and George Schultz. She dressed just like Steve Jobs, in black turtlenecks. She had huge, mesmerizing blue eyes and a very deep voice for a woman. She was sought after for interviews, TED talks, and hailed as a pioneer in medical advances. She claimed that the cost savings using her technology would be in the billions.

Her technology concept was cheap, reliable blood testing done with only a fingerprick, using a device that could test for up to 240 different things. She claimed that she was driven by integrity and the desire to help others.

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Dispatches From Arizona: Living In Another World

 

I live in a rural area of Arizona. We have three traffic lights on the State Highway that runs through a small town. We do have three Mexican restaurants, one Italian restaurant, one Greek restaurant, and a BBQ restaurant. We do not roll up the sidewalks at night because there are no sidewalks.

There are two DMV’s to choose from, one located closer to Tucson, but still about 30 miles away. The other is 30 miles north in a small mining town. I always go north to the mining town. On a busy day you might see a rancher leaving the DMV. He’ll touch the brim of his hat, and say “Howdy”. He doesn’t want to hear your life story, but he’ll acknowledge your presence. The expectation is that you’ll return his simple greeting with your simple greeting, and you do.

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Stopping Strzok

 

View original artwork here.

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Combating the College Free Speech Crisis

 

Increasingly, American college campuses are places where critical thinking is eschewed for group think; where thought police maintain total control and punish wrongthink in classrooms and outside. For PragerU, Greg Lukianoff, President at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education explained the situation:

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A Disgrace

 

Judicial Watch has obtained a memo that shows that John McCain and his Senate staff sought to collude with the Obama Administration to target conservative advocacy groups.

In the full notes of an April 30 meeting, McCain’s high-ranking staffer (Henry) Kerner recommends harassing non-profit groups until they are unable to continue operating. Kerner tells (Lois) Lerner, Steve Miller, then chief of staff to IRS commissioner, Nikole Flax, and other IRS officials, “Maybe the solution is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous.” In response, Lerner responded that “it is her job to oversee it all.”

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Being Decent

 

Not too long ago, I returned to my parked car and found a sheet of paper on the windshield bearing an expletive-laden message. The anonymous poster had obviously gone to some effort to make these flyers on his home computer – complete with color cartoon figures and such. It let me know what a $#@&*%! I was. My sin was having parked my car a tiny bit over the white line. I confess. I’m guilty. The garage was full of empty spaces, mind you, and it was only a few inches, but still, it was wrong. But did it require that response? If he had to vent his rage, couldn’t he have left a note saying “It’s inconsiderate to park over the white line”? My offense seems to have been merely an excuse. This person, clearly overflowing with hostility to his fellow men, had preprinted these vulgar missives, and delivered them to everyone who offended him.  

Is it my imagination or has the tone of the Internet seeped into daily life? People often suggest that Twitter’s cruelty and misanthropy are unique to the format. Announcing that he was deleting Twitter from his phone, Andrew Sullivan advised: “Social media has turned journalism into junk, has promoted addictive addlement in our brains, is wrecking our democracy, and slowly replacing life with pseudo-life.” 

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