Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Have Fun Stormin’ the Air Force Base

Greeting the aliens, from the 1997 film, Contact.

The word has gone out (through a joke Facebook post) to swarm around Area 51 in the Nevada desert on September 20 and storm the gates of this no-longer-very-secret but still highly-classified US Air Force base. Several thousand respondents to the Facebook post may be taking the joke seriously because close to 1 million of these future Darwin Award recipients have pledged to show up. They want to finally see for themselves that the government has, for many years now, been harboring or preserving deceased extraterrestrial beings and their interstellar or intergalactic spacecraft, and also discover how the Air Force has learned how to build incredible new aircraft based on alien technology. Which is why we also have flying cars, Teflon, Velcro, Super Glue, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Surrounding any military base in the United States and storming its gates with the stated objective of overrunning it and invading it, is not a good idea. Military personnel have a duty to protect any military installation from being taken over. They do this by using deadly force, meaning that they point weapons that fire bullets at would-be invaders that will penetrate the bodies of said-invaders and kill them.


Contributor Created with Sketch. US Economy Might Be Growing Faster Than We Think


The economics team at Goldman Sachs has made another run at trying to determine whether official statistics are undermeasuring America’s rapidly evolving digital economy. The bank now believes even more strongly that “technological change is not fully reflected in the real output statistics.”

From a bottom-up perspective, there’s all that missing growth from free digital goods. From a top-down perspective, Goldman economists note that the “growth of domestically generated profits and incomes (GDI) is outpacing that of GDP, a departure from earlier decades” and that “US profits generated in tax havens totaled over $300bn in 2018, some of which represents unmeasured domestic production.”


Contributor Created with Sketch. Draining the Swamp: BLM HQ Leaving DC for Colorado


One reason DC is so swampy is that so many federal agencies are located there. A mid-level bureaucrat can move from HUD to State to Agriculture, spreading bureaucratic groupthink and red-tape-induced sclerosis as they go. A great way to break this paper-pushing cartel is to spread agencies around the nation, preferably closer to the citizens they claim to serve.

On Monday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced a positive development on that front. The Bureau of Land Management will relocate its headquarters to Grand Junction, CO.


Contributor Created with Sketch. Technical Update


Many of you will have noticed that the site has been acting oddly since Friday. We’ve been having problems with our server configuration and unfortunately there has been some down time when the site was unavailable. I’m working on it and I apologize for the inconvenience.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. You Are My Teachers


On a whim, I checked the number of posts I’ve made: 736! I’ve also made 16,236 comments. But the number that moves me the most is the number of posts promoted to the Main Feed: 400.

That last number suggests that I reflect on its significance. It means that I wrote many posts that many of you decided deserved extra attention. (Yes, it also means you might really like me! At least you might like my writing enough to read my post!)


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. You Are at War


Dear America,

The Pax Americana that has sheltered you from wars on your own soil has made you mind-numbingly stupid. So stupid, you are at war and don’t even know it.


Contributor Created with Sketch. Beware of Liberals Matching Action with Rhetoric


For months, liberals have been comparing the immigration situation at the border with the Holocaust. Just last week actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this image comparing Vice President Pence to Heinrich Himmler,


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Why Capitalism?


Before we exchange the proven benefits of free markets for the Democrats’ promises of socialist utopia, it might be worth considering the things we’ll be giving up. My list follows. With what do you disagree? What would you add?

  • Free markets have pulled billions of people out of extreme poverty. In just the last few decades, the lives of hundreds of millions of Asians – mostly in China and India – were significantly improved when their countries free up their economies.
  • The environment in the capitalist west has improved significantly. Air and water quality are higher, and millions of acres of land have been reforested. The profit motive provides a strong incentive to use scarce resources to their best effect. Inefficiency is waste and waste is pollution.
  • Water and sewage treatment technology, largely invented in the west, has significantly extended people’s lives – not just in the west but globally.
  • Western medical breakthroughs, such as antibiotics, have also extended human lifespans globally.
  • The Green Revolution – heavily backed by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and led by American agronomist Norman Borlaug – eliminated food shortages throughout the world. Today, famines are no longer caused by natural disasters but are almost exclusively man-made (see, for example, North Korea and Venezuela).
  • Foreign trade has eliminated any excuse for imperialism. As Adam Smith observed in The Wealth of Nations, conquering and maintaining control over foreign territory cost far more than can ever be extracted from that territory. During Japan’s conquest of Southeast Asia, for example, the Japanese found that they received fewer goods from the conquered areas than they had previously gotten through trade. People don’t produce as much at the point of a bayonet as they do when they benefit by their production.
  • Capitalism has raised women’s status to that of equality with men. In capitalist societies, brains are far more important than brawn, and women are more than capable of competing with men in that realm.
  • Capitalism has largely eliminated the need for child labor. Child labor was a fact of life throughout most of human history. One man using a stick for a plow simply couldn’t produce enough food to feed a family. Children worked or they, and perhaps their families, starved. In the west, laws against child labor were passed only after the practice had all but ended.
  • Children were exploited terribly in countries that tried to outlaw child labor before their people were productive enough to support so many idle hands (and mouths). Children still had to work to eat, but they had to do so surreptitiously without any protection from the law.
  • Free markets have so increased human productivity that, in western countries, mere day-to-day survival is no longer the central focus of life.
  • Innovation sparked by the profit motive has placed the world’s knowledge at our fingertips.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Sometimes, You Should Eat All the Butter


Ripe mangoes in combination with grilled sun-dried salted fish is one of the most popular Khmer dishes served when the weather is heating up. That is because we consider mangoes and fish as cool food. According to Khmer traditional medicine, an offshoot of Indian ayurvedic, food is divided into two groups, warm and cool. Warm or cool in terms of the food’s internal characteristics, not its physical temperature. When we eat warm food, it has a heating effect on our bodies, while cool food adds a cooling effect. So, when the temperature is heating up, we eat cool food to cool us down. 



Contributor Created with Sketch. Aaron Friedberg: On the Rise of China and the Strategic Threat to the United States


China already a serious strategic threat to the United States? If so, how should the United States respond to its rise as a regional and global power? In this Conversation, Aaron Friedberg, professor of political science and international affairs at Princeton University, argues that a rising China is now the most significant foreign policy challenge facing the United States. Reviewing recent history, Friedberg notes that America since the end of the Cold War has pursued a policy of greater engagement with China, believing that the country would ultimately liberalize politically. As Friedberg explains, this has not happened. Rather, the Chinese Communist Party has increasingly attempted to shape the world system in ways favorable to China and detrimental both to the security and economic well-being of the United States. Friedberg calls for economic, technological, and diplomatic efforts by the U.S. to meet the challenge from China.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Slowing Sanctuary Scam?


Trump thumbs upA three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a district (trial-level) judge’s decision on funding of sanctuary cities, and with it another fraudulent nation-wide injunction by a mere district judge. Voting 2-1, with two George W. Bush appointees, Judges Sandra Ikuta and Jay Bybee, supporting President Trump and the Clinton appointee, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, supporting the California and national Democrats’ position.

Here is the decision [PDF], in City of Los Angeles v Barr, handed down on July 12, 2019. From the case summary:


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. The Census Case and Our Radical Chief Justice?


I’ve been thinking further about the Chief Justice’s opinion in the Census case, Department of Commerce v. New York (full opinion here). I am concerned that his opinion may reflect a truly radical and dangerous idea, in a way that he may not have considered. Though frankly, this seems unlikely, as he is an extremely intelligent and experienced lawyer and judge.

I find the Chief’s reasoning very troubling, and his rationale was shared by none of the other eight Justices. The Chief thought that the substantive decision made by the Secretary of Commerce — to include a citizenship question on the census long form — was perfectly permissible as a general proposition. However, the Chief thought that the possibly bad motives of this particular Secretary made the decision impermissible.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Such Was the Fidelity of a Dog: Mousel, the Mascot of the 8th Illinois Infantry

Civil War Period Illustration of a Soldier with his dog. (Peterson’s Magazine, October 1863)

Civil War soldiers faced the dangers of the battlefield with great valor, but they also had to come to terms with the boredom and loneliness that was part and parcel of army life. To help cope with the stresses of military service, many soldiers adopted pets or mascots that traveled with their owners on the march and in battle. One of the most famous Civil War mascots was “Old Abe,” the eagle mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, but all manner of creatures served as mascots. Probably the most common mascot was the dog, and they came in a wonderful variety of breeds and sizes. The importance of these canine companions to the soldiers they followed should not be underestimated; the following story, published in the Vicksburg Daily Herald, on July 21, 1864, illustrates this fact.



Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. The Gnostic LGBTQ+


My lesbian friend told me that on Saturday there was to be a Gay pride parade on King Street between Foggy Pine bookstore and the Jones house. Reading about it in the local news feed, I didn’t agree with the narratives proclaimed on the Jones house steps, but I don’t begrudge them for staging the event. All people of religious convictions should take their best shot at winning their fellow traveler.

To sink one’s heart in the LGBTQ+ way of thinking you have to embrace Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a departure from Christianity that captured the cultural imagination at the end of the Apostolic age. John, the last of the Apostles, warned against this coming trend when he spoke about not denying that Christ “as coming in the flesh” (2 John 1:7) and arguing in his epistle that doing righteous deeds in the body does indeed matter (1 John 3:7).


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day – Ragsdale’s Rules


Once upon a time, I was a green engineer a couple of years out of college. At the time I was working in the space program making the normal sort of blunders associated with green engineers a few years out of college. Then I started working for a gentleman by the name of Al Ragsdale. He was one of the sharpest engineers I ever knew. His specialty was simulators and simulations.

He had been working in the space program at JSC since the Apollo days. If you watch the films of Mission Control during the Apollo 11 landing you can see him on the other side of the glass window on the right side of the Mission Control room, to the right of the picture, working the back room at the time. He was also working on the Lunar Lander simulators. During Apollo 13 he kept the simulator at least four hours ahead of the actual mission making sure nothing done would kill the crew. (In sims he “died” half a dozen times, but was always able to develop workarounds to ensure the crew did not suffer a similar fate. I think he got a Silver Snoopy for that.)


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Alas Acosta


Is Alex Acosta a tragic figure? By Paul Mirengoff’s account at Power Line Blog, rehearsed and elaborated over the past two years, Alex Acosta is a man on the make, a social-political climber. His aspiration: the comfortable security and status of a federal judgeship. To gain that prize, Mirengoff claims, Acosta spent his time in both the George W. Bush and Trump administrations carefully not offending powerful Democratic Party interests. That is, Acosta passive aggressively sabotaged his presidents’ stated policies. Maybe so, maybe no.

Alex Acosta was invited to walk out with President Trump Friday morning, addressing the press alongside the president. This was a resignation, but one in which President Trump and his Secretary of Labor would concede nothing. What he and President Trump got was a sound byte summary of unheralded achievements that matter to real Americans.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: The Big Sleepy Chill


Okay, you buncha wimps! So this month we are supposed to discuss namby-pamby stuff like:

  • The weather. In the middle of summer, how do you cool off?


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Universal Basic Income and the Alaska Dumpster Fire


Every now and then a think piece shows up from conservative writers considering whether providing a Universal Basic Income (UBI), or a fixed payment to everyone, no strings attached, might be a positive alternative to Great Society-type programs.

I urge all of those considering these arguments to take a look at the cautionary tale of Alaska. As a condition of statehood, Alaska has no private oil and gas rights owned by the state, and the state invested the royalties in a Permanent Fund. Eventually, the money flowing in was so much more than state expenses that the state income tax was rescinded, and a dividend on the fund earnings are paid every year to every resident (depicted here in the Simpsons movie). This Permanent Fund Dividend, or the PFD, is essentially a UBI. The Permanent Fund has ~$60 billion in it, and historically the PFD has been in the $1-2K range. With the natural gas boom going on in the contiguous U.S., royalties on current oil production in Alaska plummeted around 5 years ago, so the previous governor (a left-leaning independent) reduced the dividend, expanded Medicaid by fiat, dipped in to the state’s savings to make the state budget, and proposed reinstating the income tax. Last year, the current Republican governor was elected promising to restore the full dividend (and more), cut nothing of significance, and have no new taxes.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. A Nice Story About Ralph Lileks


Our James wrote a nice story about his father today in his Friday Star-Trib column. I have enjoyed the many stories he has written about his father through the years in the Bleat, especially the war stories. There are not many people like him anymore I’m afraid.

There’s this guy who bought the Sunday Strib every week, for years. Never missed it. Never subscribed, either — he liked the old-fashioned ritual of going to the store and picking up a paper from the thick, neat sheaf.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Make Your Own Sabbath: Chill-Out!


For those of us who are pretty independent and don’t like anyone telling us what to do (I assume that is at least 75% of the people who follow Ricochet!), the idea of a Sabbath might be unattractive, to say the least, and distasteful at worst. But over the last couple of years, I’ve come to my own understanding about the Sabbath, how not only Jews and Christians can benefit from it, but everyone needs to have at least one Sabbath day each week. This is what I figured out:

In Judaism, G-d tells us that we must observe the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. I’m not the most observant Jew, but even with those mitzvot I follow, I realized why there are so many rules to Shabbat: because G-d knows we will cheat! And the only ones we will cheat are ourselves!


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. QOTD: Calvin Coolidge and the Declaration of Independence


Calvin Coolidge, born on July 4, 1872, was known as “Silent Cal,” but wasn’t afraid to speak out about his Conservative values. He clearly rejected the revisionist approach to the Declaration of Independence and demonstrated his beliefs in an exemplary way. In fact, he believed that changing the meaning of the Declaration was not progress, but a step backward in our understanding of the Founders, and the values that we hold.

How unfortunate that the Progressives of today don’t realize they are trying to take us back to more primitive, tribal times when people insisted they were superior to others, based on their intellect, education and the color of their skin. They clearly do not believe that we are created equal (since Conservatives are a different species), that the wishes of the governed should direct the work of the government (since the government knows best), and the more government, the better (which ensures the massive growth of the administrative state). After all, the government and its elites are quite prepared to tell us how to do everything: how to live our lives, what to invest in, and what to believe.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. Lifesaver


The wind blustered through the trees, swirling fallen leaves as it went, till it reached the old cottage door, lying blown back on its hinges. Maybe she had put just a trifle more oomph into that lock-picking spell than she had meant to, she conceded, looking down at the little electric-blue spark still crackling on the end of her finger. ‘Um, hello?’ she said, stepping tentatively inside, ‘I knocked, but I couldn’t seem to get an answer …’

Strictly speaking, she shouldn’t be doing this, she thought, looking over the neat clay-tiled kitchen, but it wasn’t as if she had much choice. ‘I’m sorry about the door,’ she continued. ‘It’s just … I’m in trouble, and I need your help …’ And, in a whisper, ‘I kind of need a hero …’


Contributor Created with Sketch. How to Build a Computer 34: Etching


We’re moving back from the series on measurement to the whole process of making computer bits out of silicon. Way back, starting with Computers 7, I started a series on patterning; how you can take an idea and draw it small enough that you can apply that pattern to these really tiny circuits. I went over, step by step, each thing you need to do to create the pattern. I skipped entirely the bit where I tell you what, exactly, you do with one of those patterns when you’ve got them. This is the first of a couple of articles that fit, in manufacturing terms, between Computers 15 (Developing), and 16 (Stripping). You develop your pattern on with photoresist, this is how you make it permanent.

We’ll start with etching. Broadly speaking ‘etching’ covers any process where you start with more material and end up with less material. I mean aside from gambling. Let’s say you’ve got your silicon wafer, you want to etch some of that silicon away. To do this we start by burning your wafer. …Okay, perhaps that’s poor phrasing. Put the flamethrower down and I’ll describe what I mean. To protect your silicon wafer from the damage the etching process would do to it we’re going to want to mask it, with a silicon dioxide layer. Heat your wafer up in the presence of oxygen and this happens:


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by members Created with Sketch. The Most Ridiculous Movies About Climate Change


Here’s my hot five, feel free to add yours in the comments won’t you?

The Day After Tomorrow – Global warming causes New York to freeze and CGI wolves to run amok in New Jersey. I forget, is Matthew Broderick in this one, or do I have it confused with some other Roland Emmerich POS?


Contributor Created with Sketch. ‘Yesterday’: A Cute Beatles Fairy Tale You Shouldn’t Think Too Much About


Yesterday is really two movies, one better than the other.

The better movie in Yesterday, the latest by director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), with a script by Richard Curtis (Love Actually), is a light, cute, modern fairy tale that assumes one’s love of the Beatles* (yes, this movie could not get more British). It presents a simple yet striking what-if: Jack** Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling, mediocre musician, suddenly enters a world that resembles our own in (almost) every way but one: Only he remembers The Beatles.*** Through a series of convenient but credibly implausible circumstances, he then rides this newfound knowledge to astronomical success, doling out hit after hit seemingly from divine inspiration to all around him, while only he (?) knows the truth.