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Quote of the Day: The Devil and Daniel Webster

 

“The Devil and Daniel Webster” is a wonderful short story by Stephen Vincent Benét which was made into an excellent film with Walter Huston as Mr. Scratch. It starts out:

It’s a story they tell in the border country, where Massachusetts joins Vermont and New Hampshire.

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Colorado Continues to Harass Cake Artist; He’s Fighting Back

 

Two months ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop didn’t have to participate in a same-sex wedding by creating a custom cake for the occasion. In the process, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was smacked down for their deep hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs.

It seems the commission was just getting started in their harassment of Phillips.

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The Underreported New Mexico Connections

 

Prompted by Doug Watt’s excellent post on the release, without bond, of Muslim extremists arrested in New Mexico, and alleged to be training their children to shoot up schools, I wanted to add this note on the connections between the Wahhaj family and some better known Americans. The incident also provides a further illustration of what the “non-partisan” media wants you to know and, more importantly, not to know.

As noted in the link provided by Doug, the father of the group’s ringleader Siraj Wahhaj, is a New York area iman, also named Siraj Wahhaj. The father is a follower of the Blind Sheik who inspired the first bombing of the WTC in the 1990s, as well as being an unindicted co-conspirator in that bombing. And, by the way, he also consistently calls for death to homosexuals. [CORRECTION: Andrew McCarthy, who prosecuted the WTC case, reports Wahhaj was not an unindicted co-conspirator; other than that he remains a really bad guy – see link later on for more.]

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The Russian Georgia War My Experience Ten Years On…

 
Russian Looters in Georgia 2008

It was August and it was hot. I had just got a short-term missions team sent home and so I finally returned to my village in Eastern Georgia. We were getting ready to celebrate my son’s birthday on August 8th. The Olympics were about to be on and we were anxious to watch them. We heard some disturbing rumors even back on August 5th when one of the Georgians with us had his leave canceled and was recalled to his unit. The rumors were about serious threats on the border of South Ossetia and a breakaway region of Georgia, but that happened every summer. We were sorry for our soldier friend but weren’t really worried. The tensions had been growing for days and several members of the Georgian government were gone on vacation and many military personal were on leave and 2,000 of Georgia’s best soldiers were away fighting in Iraq for the United States. I didn’t seem like war was about to break out.

Background to the War

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From the Police Blotter: I Got Nothing

 

Five adults involved in the New Mexico compound arrest have been granted a signature bond release by a New Mexico judge. This means that they do not have put any money up front to walk out of jail unless they fail to appear for trial.

Backus said that New Mexico state prosecutors were unable to show that the five defendants should have their bail denied because they posed a threat to the community. Backus said that the defendants will be required to wear GPS tracking devices through the duration of their court case.

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7 Shocking Takeaways from the PA Catholic Church Grand Jury Document

 

Today was a day that will forever change the face of the Catholic Church in America. The New York Times reported today:

Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.

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Group Writing: Will I Come Up With Anything?

 

A week or so back I signed up for this month’s Ricochet Member Group Writing project for August 14. I was sure that I’d have time the weekend before to come up with something. All it would do is take a little willpower. But, as things often will, circumstances got in the way of my writing. So I will tell you about what happened.

Will this be about this month’s Group Writing topic of “will?” We will see.

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Realization

 

I was at the grocery store for the weekly supply run, checking out. The cashier was a personable young woman, probably a college student, and she greeted me brightly. When I held up my phone to display my loyalty-card bar code, she apologized and said her handheld scanner was out of order. No worries, I said, and gave her my phone number instead.

She began unloading my cart, passing the items one by one over the stationary scanner. Meanwhile I stuck my debit card in the PIN pad and punched buttons, not really paying attention to what she was doing. Then I looked up and saw that this young lady was wrestling the 35-pack of bottled water out from under my cart and maneuvering it across the scanner. I had completely forgotten that it was there, and it hadn’t occurred to me that with her handheld scanner broken, she’d have to do this. By the time I noticed, however, it was too late for me to help.

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“In God We Trust” in Florida Schools

 

Back in March, Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Democrat in the Florida State house and a Christian, proposed legislation to display Florida’s motto in the schools. Gov. Scott signed a bill in March which requires all schools to display the state motto in a “conspicuous place,” beginning this week. The motto, “In God We Trust” became part of the Florida state seal in 1868 and on the Florida flag in 1900 and only became the state motto in 2006. Rep. Daniels from Jacksonville stated:

‘This motto is inscribed on the halls of this great capitol and inked on our currency, and it should be displayed so that our children will be exposed and educated on this great motto, which is a part of this country’s foundation,’ she said when a House committee took up her bill (HB 839). ‘Something so great should not be hidden.’

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Clean Air vs. Dirty Hogs

 

A modern David versus Goliath confrontation is now unfolding in rural North Carolina. This past April a local jury awarded 10 plaintiffs each $75,000 in actual damages and $5 million in punitive damages against the pork producer Murphy-Brown LLC, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, which was acquired by China’s WH Group in 2013. The plaintiffs were able to prove that the continuous and deliberate actions of the hog farmers caused them to suffer “episodes of noxious and sickening odor, onslaughts of flies and pests, nausea, . . . difficulty breathing” and more. A related lawsuit using the same nuisance theory is now being brought against a Smithfield farm in North Carolina that’s home to 4,700 hogs. Both farms are part of the $2.9 billion hog industry that anchors much of North Carolina’s rural economy.

The defendants in both these cases are not shy in denouncing the initial jury verdict against Murphy-Brown? as “an outrageous attack on animal agriculture, rural North Carolina and thousands of independent family farmers who own and operate contract farms.” Smithfield’s CEO Ken Sullivan insists that personal dislocations necessarily “go hand in hand” with normal farming operations. And he protests that no liability should be imposed on hog farms that operate in full compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations. He made the dire forecast that if these verdicts stand, chicken, turkey, and even wheat farmers could be next. He warned ominously that Smithfield could pull out of the state altogether.

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The Right of Citizens to Vote Shall Not Be Denied…on Account of Citizenship (or Lack Thereof)?

 

I just returned from a Portland (Maine) City Council Meeting where there was a proposal to send to referendum a measure to allow legal immigrants who are presently not citizens the right to vote in local elections only. Speaker after speaker, with few exceptions, ground through the following list of grievances dressed up as argument: white male privilege; the 200-plus-year-old document written by the slave-holding class of the aforementioned folks, aka The Constitution of the United States of America; Donald Trump’s tossing rolls of paper towels at Puerto Rican hurricane victims; diversity; inclusion; more diversity; more inclusion; democracy; more democracy; taxation without representation; immigrants’ rights to an unlimited list of privileges; my 12-year-old daughter thinks it’s a cool idea; people in Europe do it, so it must be a cool idea because everything they do is cool and inclusive and diverse. Do I need to continue?

So I patiently waited my turn (struggling intensely to maintain my composure). I get up to the mic and my three minutes starts. I begin by mentioning that two of my siblings have spouses who followed the prescribed process for becoming citizens to obtain their right to vote. I didn’t mention this in my comments, but in neither case, did I ever hear out of them (at least not in my presence) any sense of entitlement or resentment about the process. It’s bureaucratic and cumbersome and seemingly endless, but they did what they had to do to get the brass ring.

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Why is Government “Charity” So Toxic?

 

This is what James Madison was concerned about when he said, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” 

This is a central flaw of progressive politics and the welfare state. Charitable giving and helping your neighbor are worthwhile endeavors that help your community. You would think that if something as big as government, with its limitless resources, got into the business of charitable giving and helping your neighbor, then that would be really good for your community, right? But it hasn’t worked out that way.

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Tackling Trump’s Twitter

 

View original artwork here.

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Nerdy-ness in Miniature

 

Every so often I feel the need to re-assert myself as one of Ricochet’s prominent nerds. I suspect this is because prominent nerds can’t really help ourselves as we ache to tell someone – anyone, really – about our 17th level Paladin and his Holy Avenger or about who could win in a fight: Superman, Goku, or The Hulk (it’s Superman, by the way). Today, mostly because we seem to have a large number of collectable card game players, I will represent their ancient arch-nemesis: The Miniature Gamer (more on the conflict later).

Take it slow if you need to. The turtles will.
Pictured: large scale conflict at a much more manageable scale.

Miniature games actually are pretty old in the gaming world, though the more familiar iterations we have today, which are frequently fantasy or sci-fi versions of the hobby. However, historical games have been around longer and have attracted many a player. The historical mini-wargames typically focus on periods of great conflict of course, such as World War II represented in Flames of War or Bolt Action. Other take generalized conflicts for inspiration, such as many medieval war games or Team Yankee which takes modern military equipment and armies and pits them in hypothetical conflicts.

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Booting Alex Jones from Social Media Wasn’t a Bad Idea. But Is There a Better One?

 

The social media banning of loopy provocateur Alex Jones is likely to result in calls from conservatives to regulate or dismantle Big Tech. (The left is more worried about the market power of the tech titans.) Actually it is already happening, at least on Twitter. But even before Jones and his Infowars content got the boot from Apple, YouTube, Facebook, and Spotify, Republicans were calling for action against “censorship of conservatives.”

Their evidence, however, appears to be a smattering of weird one-offs rather than a systemic problem. But politicians and pundits continue to connect the dots. As Sen. Ted Cruz said on a Breitbart podcast last spring: “These tech companies are hard left. . . . They are suppressing the views of conservatives. They are blocking conservatives. . . . That is invidious. It is invisible, and it is profoundly dangerous.”

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Clearing the Search History

 

A few weeks ago I panicked. I rarely ever panic. I was sitting at the kitchen table, researching and writing. I usually sit facing the windows with my back to the room – kids playing and doing assignments behind me, often coming to ask questions every few minutes – math, handwriting assignments, the nature of Infinity Stones, monoglycerides…you know, life.

I typed what I thought was an innocuous inquiry into my search engine and was immediately blasted with a full page of hardcore pornography of the worst kind. My heart raced and I began to feel the heat of terror in my neck. I d­idn’t know what to do and the milliseconds ticked away. My first thought was of my kids playing behind me. Were they seeing this, or were they occupied? I couldn’t tell because I was turned the other way. My next thought was my wife. She was in the bathroom, also behind me. What would happen if she came out and saw my screen? Would she believe me when I told her it was an accident? So many times in years past it hadn’t been. What would happen now?The clock was ticking. It had been almost a full three seconds and I still wasn’t sure what to do. I saw a couple of the images before I bounced my eyes away – a tactic learned through hard experience. Should I close the page? My computer is notoriously slow to close pages. Back button? Minimize it? Where are the kids right now?

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Quote of the Day: Nikki Haley on Right and Wrong

 

Nikki Haley is an indomitable force at the United Nations. She has repeatedly called the UN on its immoral and biased actions. She has attacked it for publishing misleading information; she has “taken names” of those countries that refuse to support the US and yet support terrorist organizations; she has criticized the UN for misusing funds. She has called out Iran for supporting groups that use human shields; she was instrumental in the US withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council.

I look for any opportunity to celebrate a high-level US official who stands up to lies, abuse, mismanagement, deception, and immorality. Nikki Haley more than fits the bill.

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Emancipating Humor

 

In light of recent conversations on the death of humor, at work today in the space of about five minutes or so I blurted out some comments that I thought were humorous; sharing these thoughts with some of my customers. I departed from my usual “Welcome. Whatcha lookin’ for today?”

I’d share the specifics except for the fear that they might get back to someone in my company who would be offended, leading to disciplinary action. What I will say is that in response to a customer’s question about how we can sell our farm gates so cheaply, I responded with a non-traditional reply that involved absolving President Trump of any culpability for providing indentured servitude to construct or supply our inventory of gates. Shortly after that, I used another line that is probably safe, which was after a customer asked if we carried mailboxes. I replied, “No, ours are gender neutral.” I’m sure there is a certain amount of “you had to be thereishness” to it for y’all.

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Nope, the Blue Wave Is a Myth

 

Shhhhh … don’t tell the Democrat-media-outrage complex, but the Real Clear Politics average of generic ballot polls just narrowed to D+3.9%. Republicans are going to hold the House and gain seats in the Senate. Deal with it, America. According to Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, Democrats need a seven-point lead to retake the House. This is due to two reasons: 1) Democrats waste votes in urban areas; and 2) Obama so decimated Democrats’ standing at the state level that Republicans have gerrymandered the bejesus out of districts all over the country.

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Warehousing Joy: A Retail Therapy That Works

 

Mostly, I hate to shop. I cook well enough that buying ingredients is sometimes a pleasure, but retail therapy doesn’t work on me. There’s only one kind of store where I consistently leave calmer than when I arrived, and that’s a home-improvement warehouse.

Many household chores produce only ephemeral improvement. Doing laundry and dishes never ends. With toddlers underfoot, as soon as you finish vacuuming or mopping, you might as well start again. By contrast, even minor home-improvement projects can deliver lasting satisfaction. Like many women, I’m no expert in naming all the doodads which make up a proper, manly workshop, but I’m still mechanically inclined and pretty handy with tools. A trip to a home-improvement warehouse promises long-term solutions to household problems. The warehouses also smell good — the lumber especially, though even the weird chemical smells in the lawn care section smell comfortingly of problem-solving. The warehouses’ high ceilings mean the background music is actually in the background for a change, and plenty of products on offer are pleasantly unclad: you see the items themselves, rather than a jarring welter of flashy packaging. These stores are peaceful places.

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How to Build a Computer 11: The Binary Search Algorithm

 

We’re taking a break from the manufacturing process to cover some ideas in programming. Algorithms, what that means and why. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? It ain’t as bad as it sounds. Let’s jump right in:

What’s An Algorithm?

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‘Turncoat’ Offers a Fresh Look at Benedict Arnold

 

Benedict Arnold has become synonymous with treason. Yet few today know his story. Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty, by Stephen Brumwell is a fresh look at the man and his times.

Arnold was a brilliant general, probably only second to George Washington in talent. Next to Washington, he may be most responsible for the survival of the patriot cause. His dogged defense on Lake Champlain in 1776, and his spirited attacks in the Saratoga campaign in 1777, defeated Britain’s northern offensive and led France to enter the revolution on the American side. Absent Arnold, Britain would likely have won by 1778. Three years later, he tried to give Britain the war by betraying West Point to them.

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