Spring Break

 

Attention faithful Ricochet Podcast listeners: We know what you’re thinking — after last week’s donnybrook, you’re looking for a nice, civil chat from your favorite audio based pundits. Well, we had planned to do a show this week, but due to some very complex travel plans of the hosts and the producer, well, we sadly could not find a good time to get one recorded.

We promise we’ll be back next week with a super duper show. In the meantime, enjoy this brief respite from the punditocracy.

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The Unluckiest Man in the World

 

It was 10:30 AM on a sunny winter morning. Looking for a break, I bundled up and walked up to the convenience store to buy my lottery ticket. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve heard it before. “Lotteries are a tax on people who don’t understand math.” It’s true. And especially for those who don’t understand the branch of math known as probability. If you spend money on tickets while thinking, “I’m gonna win,” you’ve already lost.

But that’s not how I buy lottery tickets. For me, they’re a form of entertainment. My wife loves to go to concerts and plays and movies as her form of entertainment. She easily spends hundreds of dollars per year. She gets charged up in crowds. Me? I get drained by being in crowds. I’ll do it occasionally, mind you. I go to some of the concerts, plays, and movies with her. While I do it, I’m often thinking I could be home working. So, how does a workaholic with an aversion to crowds let off steam and recharge? Daydreams. I can spend a buck or two on a ticket and then take a 10-minute break every few hours to imagine how my life would change if I won. Usually, it comes down to, who would I give the money to? I like what I do. I wouldn’t stop doing it just because I won a lottery. Still, my church could use a bit more and there are a few non-profits I would support, and I might set up something for my nieces and nephews, although that is less likely. The older ones have never done anything to contact me. I send them presents, and what do I get? A thank you note? Nope. Forget about them.

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Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated, Jake?

 

Jake, for some time now, you’ve been one of the few mainstream media reporters I could tolerate, because you seemed like you played it straight. I may not always agree with how you presented the news, but it seemed like you took the time to try to understand both sides and let that understanding guide your stories.

So my question for you is this: When did you find out that a Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy stood by at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and did nothing as 17 children were slaughtered? Was it before the town hall, or after it? Would have moderated this Two Minutes Hate had you known that it was cowardice that led to this slaughter, not one particular style of gun? Would you have let Sheriff Lobo Israel run roughshod over Dana Loesch knowing that the incompetency of his department had a direct impact on the scope of the slaughter?

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Quote of the Day: Outrage Politics

 

“We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Isn’t it strange how C.S. Lewis’s description of hell so closely matches the outrage politics of today? Or maybe it isn’t.

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ACF#27 Ex Machina

 

Out in theaters this weekend is Alex Garland’s second directorial feature, Annihilation, so the American Cinema Foundation is bringing you a discussion of his directorial feature, Ex Machina, starring Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, and Domnhall Gleeson, and which earned Garland his first Oscar nomination, for Best Writing Original Screenplay. We talk about everything from the movie’s warning about how we might replay creation, as per Genesis, and get it wrong, being that we’re not God, to the strange way in which sci-fi has become the last place for heroes, for moral stories where we, faced with crisis, retrieve an understanding of our own human nature that helps us make sense of the future.

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Now for Some Complications

 

Some of you have been generously helping out in my quixotic, querulous quest to understand abortion in America. One of the things that prevents me from becoming an enthusiastic Pro-Lifer is the emphasis not just on overturning Roe, but on enacting laws to outlaw abortion either completely, or after a certain gestational age.

I am — as friends already know — a serious baby-person. I feel very protective towards little ones, born and unborn. I agree that it is dreadful — unconscionable — that we have created a culture in which it is considered normal and even desirable that abortion terminates hundreds of thousands of healthy, normal pregnancies.

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Trump and the Evangelicals

 

Ever since Trump’s election, the lopsided statistics concerning Evangelical involvement in his victory have not gone away. They continue to be trotted out as though they were a shocking revelation of some kind of hypocrisy within the Christian right. So, of course, in response to the National Prayer Breakfast, NPR had several guests on to discuss Christianity in relationship to the Trump Presidency.

Larry Mantle began by questioning Professor Marie Griffith of Washington University:

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Q&A with Francisco Gonzalez of National Review Institute

 

We recently caught up with Francisco Gonzalez. Francisco is the Director of Philanthropy of National Review Institute, the host of the Agents of Innovation podcast, and recently named among the “Central Florida 100 Voices” by the Orlando Sentinel. The founding directors of Lone Star Policy Institute are alumni of the National Review Institute regional fellows program in Dallas. So, we enjoyed asking Francisco about NRI’s vision for Texas.

Q: Introduce yourself. Tell us about National Review Institute and your role there.

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A World of Trumpkins

 

Are we living in a world of Trumpkins? (Before anyone panics about banned words, I’m referring here to Trumpkin the Red Dwarf in Prince Caspian, the second book in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. This post has nothing to do with the President or his more exuberant fans.) In our world of believers and non-believers, who does Trumpkin represent, and what does this mean for the future? These are the questions I’ve found myself asking, and now will pass on to you.

There’s probably not any need to put a spoiler alert on a book published 60 years ago, but … yes, this will go into detail about both this story and the others in the series. 

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Recognizing Our Limits

 

I love the conversations here, but it brings up an issue that is often very frustrating. The members on here are well read and well informed, but that makes us outliers in the general population. And I mean outliers in the very specific statistical sense; so far out of the distribution that our presence doesn’t represent a useable data point.

I have always known that I follow politics and government more than most people. One incident revealed how far out of the mainstream I was.

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Character Assassination

 

It’s ugly. No one will deny the intensity and revolting events that have taken place since the election of Donald Trump. In one sense, destroying another’s reputation is not new; but the collaboration in order to take down the President and his administration is a process I’ve not seen in my lifetime. It’s character assassination. I’d like to define that term, provide a few examples of the ways it’s been practiced historically, and how is different in these times.

Character assassination is slandering a person with the intention of destroying public confidence in that person. Further, I believe it is an evil act. Dennis Prager explains that these actions actually violate the Ten Commandments, specifically the Eighth Commandment, “Do not steal.” After explaining how stealing a person (enslaving) is prohibited, as is taking away a person’s property, he talks about the most egregious type of stealing:

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It’s a Fine Line

 

In my time as a police officer, I saw and dealt with the unedited person. I saw them before a defense attorney cleaned them up to present them to a jury. I saw them before a social worker visited them. I saw them before the therapist saw them. I saw them in real time.

When someone I confronted told me they were going to fight, if they were so intoxicated that they couldn’t get up off the floor, or sidewalk without my help, I considered that a low-level threat. The intent to fight was expressed, and until I could search them for weapons I was still on my guard. Someone who expressed the intent to fight, and who could stand up without my help, whether they were intoxicated or not, found themselves on the receiving end of a different response.

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The New York Times Offers Another Underpowered Case for Breaking Up Big Tech

 
Former Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaks to Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google.

Hot on the heels of Esquire’s 7,000-word argument against Big Tech comes the New York Times Magazine’s 8,000-word argument against Big Tech. Hed: “The Case Against Google.” Dek: “Critics say the search giant is squelching competition before it begins. Should the government step in?”

The piece’s author, Charles Duhigg, answers in the affirmative: “If you love Google, you should hope the government sues it for antitrust offenses — and you should hope it happens soon, because who knows what wondrous new creations are waiting patiently in the wings.”

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Billy Graham’s Death Tells Us One Important Thing About the Far Left

 

Billy Graham died yesterday.

I didn’t really know much about him, what with being Irish and a Catholic under the age of 28. Nevertheless, as a history teacher of the American 20th century (he got a short mention in Irish history textbooks) to high school pupils, I recognize the impact he imparted on America, particularly with his Crusades in the 1950’s and his friendships with many American Presidents, from Truman to Obama.

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The Modern Moses

 

Billy Graham passed from this world into the next at the amazing age of 99. I heard a quote by him today that is even inspiring amidst news of his passing. It was adapted from someone Rev. Graham admired, a 19th-century evangelist named Dwight L. Moody:

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive that I am now. I will have just changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

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16 Penny Summer

 

Summertime is the time for making money. Sophomore year of college was a good one, but there was void in my bank account that needed to be filled before I was properly funded for a good Junior year. Being an underclassman, and an English/Poly Sci major, there were no useful and certainly no profitable internships available to me. So I headed home and picked up the same job I had worked the previous summer; as an apprentice carpenter for a local remodeling contractor. There was plenty of work, and I had established myself as capable and available, so they paired me up with a lead carpenter by the name of Jimmy, and away we went.

I liked Jimmy from day one. He stood about 5’7”, had close-cropped blonde hair, and the permanent red-tan skin of a man who works outdoors. He walked with a certain swagger that is characteristic of all experienced framers, spoke with a loud clear voice, and used plenty of colorful language. He was a former military man and had racked up his carpentry experience working for engineering crews in the Army. When the boss introduced me to him as ‘Stu’, Jimmy immediately laughed and shouted, “like Disco Stu from the Simpsons!” I was “Disco” for the rest of the summer. He seemed to take a liking to me; I think Jimmy saw my curiosity and work ethic and knew I was someone he could work with.

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