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Making Sense of Anything

 

Babies aren’t stupid. They look stupid, but they aren’t. They can start manipulating people around them when only a few days old. The problem babies have is that the world simply produces far too much data, and it takes a person years to figure out how to filter out enough stimulus to be able to accurately use our senses.

As we grow, we keep advancing this skillset. Most highly-productive adults manage precisely because we have trained their minds to ignore or otherwise block out the vast majority of data that our bodies is capable of receiving. Otherwise, we would be as paralyzed as a newborn.

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Quote of the Day: Death and Taxes

 

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Thus wrote Benjamin Franklin, 229 years ago today, on November 13, 1789. The recipient of his musings was one Jean-Baptiste Leroy, an eighteenth-century physicist and regular correspondent with Franklin. Like Franklin, he was fascinated by the science of electricity, and in 1749, he was a co-constructer of the electrometer, a device for detecting and measuring electrical charges and voltages. Thank you M. Leroy. I sing your praises every time I flip the circuit breaker, but then stick the little prongs of the pocket version of your invention into the outlet, or into the box, just to make absolutely sure I’m not going to send myself to kingdom come when I touch the bare wires. (I do loathe electrical projects. Messing with something I can’t see, which has the shocking power to send me instantly into the next world, fussels my boogie immensely.)

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Doctors, Guns, And Staying In Your Lane

 

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is never one to back down from a fight, even during emotional times following mass shootings. Last week, however, they clearly stumbled, in response to a recently published paper recommending numerous gun regulations.

The article, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was ostensibly a position paper for the American College of Physicians (ACP). The authors certainly do make numerous recommendations…some scientific and evidence based, while others were not. Among the various recommendations they make is banning all semiautomatic weapons, waiting periods for gun purchases, banning of bump stocks, and other restrictions.

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Macron and Merkel Allies at Last

 
The inscription at the Normandy American Cemetery Visitors Center.

Macron at least had the decency not to give his Nationalism speech at an American Military Cemetery in France. Merkel who I’m sure agreed with Macron should have the decency to keep her comments to herself.

Their European values whatever they may be this week cannot be defended either militarily, nor can be they defended logically. They have subjected their own citizens to an invasion that has placed their own sovereignty at risk.

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Remembrance of RAF Cadets in Arizona? Yes, and Therein Lies a Tale

 

Three Veterans’ Days ago, I attended the East Valley Veterans Parade in Mesa, AZ. After the parade, I walked over to a restaurant for a bite to eat. In walked a spry elderly gentleman, who sat down across the bar from me. He had a small lapel pin, a twin blade propellor, telling me he was an aviator. So I asked. He had flown from England, as he had for many years, to honor his fallen mates from pilot training.

For obvious reasons, Britain was not a safe place, to learn to fly, during most of World War II. So, the United States agreed to set up three airfields, with support facilities, for the RAF. That is how Mesa got Falcon Field, which is very much in use today.

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Group Writing – Eliminate the Negative (Of Your State)

 

The reminder for this post came from this comment, although the idea’s been an idle dream for at least a couple years now, and with the election, now seems an appropriate time to bring it up. For those who don’t want to click the link, the plan is that given the power to redraw state borders, Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee and the surrounding area would become a state, and Wisconsin would take the Upper Peninsula from Michigan.* There are a couple variants on that plan, but that’s the basic idea. As far as names go, I’m thinking that the new state would be known as Superior, or that it would stay Wisconsin and that the C-M-M combination would come to be known as Megacity One.

That got me thinking: I know about the movement to break up California into several states, in some cases with the addition of land from Oregon, but I’m sure that there must be other proposals that I haven’t heard about, or that people in different areas might have thoughts on how they would like to get rid of annoying parts of their state.

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Thousand Oaks Strong

 

When pushed into a corner you can either cowardly recoil or stand up straight and come out fighting. My city of Thousand Oaks will always choose the latter.

Wednesday night, just at that moment where dreams drape over the day’s consciousness, through my bedroom sliding door the sound of sirens grew louder. Jolted out of the light sleep, the cacophony was alarming. This area, the cozy confines of one of Americas perennially safest small cities (FBI), the din of sirens and helicopters are a rarity.

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Post Blue Wave

 

View original artwork here.

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An Interesting Take on the Midterm Loss of the House

 

From Jason Lewis in The Wall Street Journal:

McCain’s last-minute decision prompted a “green wave” of liberal special-interest money, which was used to propagate false claims that the House plan “gutted coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.” That line was the Democrats’ most potent attack in the midterms.

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5 Reasons Why Sinema Won Arizona

 

Outsiders think of Arizona as one of the reddest states. From Barry Goldwater to anti-immigration hawks like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, our most famous politicians tend to be Republicans. But traditionally, Arizona is rather purple and regularly features tight statewide elections.

In the past 45 years, Democrats have held the governorship as often as the Republicans. But in the last decade, the GOP consolidated their hold on power due to the unprecedented organization of the Tea Party and the Left’s hyperbolic anti-Arizona rhetoric in the wake of the illegal immigration debates. (“Vote for us, you dumb racists!” wasn’t the winning message Democrats expected.) Last Tuesday, the pendulum finally swung back to the center.

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Sinema Defeats McSally in Narrow Arizona Senate Race

 

Rep. Martha McSally (R) has conceded the US Senate race in Arizona to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D). Shortly before the concession, the Associated Press projected that Sinema would emerge victorious.

McSally had lead the vote count throughout Election Day, but lost that lead as mail-in ballots were counted in the days after. The updated vote counts were posted at 5 PM local time, showing that Sinema had further expanded her lead to a nearly insurmountable 1.72 percent.

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Trump’s Clumsy Mueller Gambit

 

It is commonly said that the next presidential campaign begins the day after the midterm elections are over. If that is so, then Donald Trump, true to style, has gotten off to a disastrous start with his opening gambit for the 2020 campaign. First, he fires—excuse me, requests the resignation of—Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump could not abide because of Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from oversight of Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump then compounded his own misery by announcing his appointment of Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice and alleged Trump “loyalist,” as Acting Attorney General until a permanent replacement for Sessions is confirmed by the Senate.

In one of the finer ironies of a most unsubtle age, progressive forces have come out in force to protest the removal of Sessions and to deplore the appointment of Whitaker. The past few days have witnessed mass protests to keep Mueller in place; 18 state AGs calling for Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation; an open letter from members of the legal profession condemning “Trump’s outrageous attempt to undermine the investigation into possible wrongdoing” in the 2016 election; and Trump’s toe-to-toe press conference confrontation with CNN reporter Jim Acosta—only for Trump to revoke Acosta’s press credentials, with a promise of more to come. The entire episode has not been lost on the electorate. The lackluster 2018 showing of the Republicans in a strong economy bodes ill for the president. Trump remains his own worst enemy, and for what?

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Quote of the Day: Originalism and the Constitution

 

“Our cases acknowledge the [option of imposing a lesser sentence than the death penalty], but they say that the content of the Eighth Amendment changes from age to age, to reflect (and I quote) ‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’ You will note the wide-eyed, youthful meliorism in this sentiment: every day, in every way, we get better and better. Societies always mature; they never rot. This despite the twentieth century’s evidence of concentration camps and gas ovens in one of the most advanced and civilized nations of the world. Of course the whole premise of a constitution in general, and of a bill of rights in particular, is the very opposite of this.” — Antonin Scalia, Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith and Life Well-Lived

Justice Scalia was a widely lauded originalist in his understanding of the Constitution, and his explanation of originalism in this book is enlightening. But his comment about the Left trying to justify their interpretations of the Constitution is profound. They demonstrate, over and over again, their naivete, arrogance, and ignorance about human nature that dominates their thinking in a way that endangers our Constitutional democracy.

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This Week’s Book Review: Shadow Warriors

 

They are five teens with family problems. Cal’s dad is a drunk. Letty’s parents are too busy fighting to care about her. Tony is homeless after his drug-addict mother died. Sasha’s foster parents see him as a payday. Opi’s stepmother wants Opi’s inheritance – even if that means killing Opi.

Shadow Warriors, a science fiction novel by Nathan B. Dodge opens showing these five’s family situations. The teens soon have bigger problems. They have been secretly drafted to fight in an interstellar war.

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RIP Stan Lee — Comic Great and Cameo Favorite

 
Stan Lee
Photo by shutterstock.com

As I noted in an earlier post, Stan Lee, Marvel giant, co-creator of many of its titles and constant cameo in many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films has passed away today at the age of ninety-five. He and Jack Kirby began Marvel Comics in 1961 with its first title, The Fantastic Four, and went on to create some of the most iconic characters in the genre: Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men as well as many others: Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and collaborated in the creation of Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man.

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber in Manhattan, New York City. Even in his youth he wrote and began his comic career with Timely Comics which would later evolve to Marvel. Stan Lee served in the military during World War II in the US Army where his talents were eventually applied to training films and materials.

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How I Taught My Kids to Say Thank You For Your Service

 

At around 18 months with my oldest, I began trying to teach her to thank anyone in uniform for their service; police, firefighters, a few security officers have been thanked in the process. Around three years old, we moved on to recognizing “special hats” like the one her great-grandfather wears, indicating past service in the armed forces.

In the beginning, it was tough. My daughter was non-verbal; now she is oh so verbal, I hardly remember the days she was only communicating in sign language. She was also painfully shy, also no longer a problem. What it looked like in those early months was me walking up to an officer, getting on my knees at her level, saying thank you to the officer, and then showing her to do the sign for thank you. A lot of really kind and really patient members of the NYPD (mostly) helped in those early months, waiting for excessive amounts of time and encouraging her with smiles while she worked up the courage to sign “thank you.”

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Remembrance Day Weather: Rain in France

 

mediaThe official observances in France, were under rain. Indeed, the rains were heavy enough to repeatedly interfere with the satellite TV transmission signal back to C-SPAN. You see that in the multi-national ceremony and in President Trump’s address at a war memorial for Americans. The rain, and the disruption, is so appropriate to the commemoration of a war in which men lived in muddy trenches, never really dry, for years. Feet, constantly wet, started disintegrating. It was called “trench foot” and is called “immersion foot syndrome.” [Emphasis added.]

Trench foot, or immersion foot syndrome, is a serious condition that results from your feet being wet for too long. The condition first became known during World War I, when soldiers got trench foot from fighting in cold, wet conditions in trenches without the extra socks or boots to help keep their feet dry.

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Thoughts from a Veteran

 

I’m a veteran. I was in the U.S. Army artillery, stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. in 1962 during the period of the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis. My 155 mm howitzer battalion personnel and equipment were boarded and loaded onto aircraft several times during that period of alert in anticipation of flying to and landing in Cuba, if required. The 82nd Airborne and Special Forces would have secured a landing field for that to happen. That is the closest I came to any combat situation.

I salute all U.S. veterans today, and a special acknowledgement to those who gave their lives.

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Don’t Take My Name In Vain

 

On this Veteran’s Day it is good to consider those who served, for those of us who served to reflect on our service, and for the nation to enjoy a moment (rare as it is) of unity of purpose. Not all who served did so with honor, and some have dishonored themselves after service, but — for the most part — veteran identification says something meaningful about an individual. It is this honor, and the nation’s gratitude, that some in the State of Washington hope to make the means to their nefarious, dishonorable ends.

As I was walking into the grocery store today I saw the table set up. It seemed a little early for the paid initiative signature gatherers to be stationed already (the election was last week for crying out loud!), but there she was. Some poor sap with no idea what she was asking of people stood behind a table with signs imploring people to “Support Veterans!” As a veteran I was interested to learn exactly how this particular initiative would support me and my cohort, so I stopped to read the initiative (something almost no one in this state does before signing the petition.) To my horror I discovered the measure has nothing to do with veterans; rather, the initiative reinstates affirmative action in the state.

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Do Republicans Lose An Abnormal Number Of Close Elections?

 

I decided to actually look at some data. Before doing so I set the parameters, looking at all House and Senate elections from 2006 through 2016 and defining very close elections as those in the House where the winner won by 1.5% or less of the total vote, and those in the Senate where the winner won by 1.0% or less of the total vote.

Below is the raw data. Hopefully some Ricochetti with more expertise can tell us whether there is anything statistically significant in the results.

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Vatican Bans Further Editions of Book on Viganò

 

Many decades ago, the Catholic Church banned Franco Zeffirelli’s film of Romeo & Juliet because the director showed the couple in bed after they had been married by Friar Lawrence and because audiences got a brief glimpse of Romeo’s rear end and split-second glimpse of Juliet’s breast. The ban was essentially toothless since it was more of a signal of displeasure from the Holy See but otherwise something that couldn’t prevent Catholics from seeing the film. My late father, a huge fan of the film, who was fluent in Italian, quite knowledgeable about Catholic theology and who converted to the faith during WWII, was incensed by the Church’s pronouncement. The film has stood the test of time and is a classic not merely for Shakespeare’s insightful and beautiful rhyming couplets but for the way in which Zeffirelli handled the material and his choice of actors, locations (in Verona, Italy where the legendary story of the star-crossed lovers is actually set), costumes, music (Nino Rota) and cinematography.

Fast-forward 50 years to the Catholic Church of What’s Happening Now where predatory homosexual priests, bishops, and cardinals who have raped children, sexually groomed seminarians, and engaged in drug-fueled orgies are protected and promoted and very rarely punished or defrocked; and where a militant gay clergy continues to aggressively push the Church (with a nod and a wink from Francis) to openly embrace an active gay lifestyle that runs counter to almost two thousand years of Church teaching.

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Thank You

 

View original artwork here.

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