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The national pastime, says Mike Hendrix, continues to endure:

[G]iven the reverence baseball has for its own traditions, it has proved nicely resistant to so much of what has made popular culture so damned rotten, so degrading and demeaning and sordid. I’ve always said that every time some player trots onto the football field with a yard of disgusting dreadlocks hanging out from under his helmet, the grave-rotisserie Johnny Unitas is on by now cranks on another 100 RPMs of speed. Meanwhile, I’d bet a goodly portion of the people who casually watch football have no idea who Johnny Unitas is in the first place. But you can be dead certain that everyone who watches baseball even occasionally can tell you at least a little about Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio.

Baseball history is never more than the next pitch away, and it still has the power to amaze. I remember looking up something on Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully, who retires after this season, and up to that point it had never occurred to me that Vin was calling Dodgers games while the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.

Yes, there are always going to be Unfortunate Events:

Of course, there’s always villainous, crusty old Ty Cobb to consider, too. And the Black Sox.

But there’s poetry in baseball still, and plenty of it. The rhythm and pace of a baseball game hearkens back to an earlier, better time. It’s casual, relaxed, and unforced. And the beauty of it is, there are no dodges: fiddle and fidget around on the mound all he likes, scratch and spit and adjust his cap by way of stalling, sooner or later, the pitcher has to throw the ball. And the batter has to either hit it or not. Ain’t no running out the clock. Sooner or later, the game will be played, and one team will win, and one … won’t.

When you sense your own clock might be running out, this means even more.

I am grateful for the fact that no team is ever going to go 162-0. With a week and a half to go this season, only one club — the Chicago Cubs, yet — is playing better than .600 ball. Get one hit out of every three at-bats and you’ll at least be considered for Cooperstown. And there’s always a smile when I consider that the Arizona Diamondbacks started playing in 1998 with one uniform number already retired: 42, for Jackie Robinson.

But maybe more important, in the grand scheme of things, is the sheer ubiquity of baseball: below the majors, there are several levels of minors, and they play by basically the same rules. (One anomaly: in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, a double-header consists of two seven-inning games — except when it doesn’t, as has happened a couple of times this year when one of the games went into overtime extra innings.) You can be in the nation’s capital, or you can be way up in Hagerstown, Maryland — where the Washington Nationals have a class-A affiliate — and if the Nats play a hair better, the hot dogs cost less in the South Atlantic League.

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Many of the horrible things that happened to this country in recent years started at the nonexistent 704 Hauser Street in Queens:

For those too young to remember, or too old to remember, Rob Reiner is famous for having played the character “Meathead” on the popular 70’s TV show All In The Family. The show was supposed to mock traditional Americans, particularly blue collar Americans, but the public received it mostly as a celebration of normal people at a time when normals were under assault from liberals, hippies and various other degenerates. Rob Reiner’s character came to represent what had gone wrong with the country.

Meathead was a loudmouth know-it-all boomer, who enjoyed lecturing his father-in-law about the terribleness of America and the men that had made the country. The irony was that Meathead lived off the people he ridiculed. Archie, the patriarch, worked and paid the bills while his daughter and son-in-law lived in his house. It was a perfect metaphor for what was happening in the country. The parasites were determined to kill the host, but in the mean time they were perfectly willing to enjoy the fruits the host had accumulated.

Years ago, the great Paul Gottfried remarked that the country had long been taken over by the Meathead generation and their ethics. The Archie Bunkers were all gone. By that he meant traditional working and middle class America had been lost and the country was now run by fashionable liberals, who occupied the first ruling elite in history to be actively working to destroy the foundation on which it rests. Look around the culture and all the high ground is occupied by degenerate boomers, who carry on as if it is still 1968.

There is, as there almost always is, an upside:

That means if you are a young alt-right trouble maker, you only have another decade or so to put up with degenerates like Rob Reiner. This realization may be at the heart of the hysteria we see in the ruling class. Rasping geezers like Hillary Clinton look around and see their time is just about done. They also see that what is forming up behind them is a giant cultural eraser, ready to rub out any trace of what her cohort leaves behind. Her “Basket of Deplorables” are young dudes and dudettes in hazmat suits, ready for cleanup.

I will, however, insist that Reiner’s magnum opus, This Is Spinal Tap, be preserved for posterity. Nobody, with the possible exception of Paul Ehrlich, is wrong all the time.

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Baton Rouge attorney Heather Cross, in a blistering Open Letter to the media:

First — as previously stated. There was a Noah’s Ark Level Flood. It affected all of us. Black, white, dog, cat, man, woman, child, transsexual.

While it was still raining, a spontaneous, private, and well-meaning navy of ordinary people assembled themselves. They were black, white, Asian and otherwise. They weren’t protesting anything. They got into their own boats, spent their own money, spent their own time, risked their own lives. Black people saved white people. White people saved black people. Nobody asked what color you were before knocking on your door. These are not first responders on some list somewhere. These are a bunch of guys who like to hunt and fish and as a result own flat bottom boats and they assumed that the actual police and other first responders, not to mention their fellow citizens — could use a little help. So they just showed up. Nobody told them to. They wanted to.

Meanwhile, across town, a spontaneous, private and well-meaning army of ordinary people assembled themselves in a 7 warehouse, un-airconditioned sound stage. (And FYI, it’s REALLY hot in August in Louisiana). They found some fans. And they had plenty of room. They gathered canned goods, bottled water, Gatorade, Neosporin, Band-Aids, toothbrushes, deodorant, hairspray, sleeping bags, chairs and pillows. They set up kitchens with their tailgating party supplies. Nobody told them to. They just did it. Why? All because people who just lost everything about a half hour ago, got plucked off of their rooftops in helicopters and this army knew that they needed somewhere to go, and something to eat. Pretty much instinctively.

Meanwhile, across town, people who usually lived as one family unit in well-kept homes slept on air mattresses in friends’ homes watching flood waters threaten every memory, every belonging, every photograph, everything they spent their whole lives building, every spot their child took their first step become over-run with ruin, knowing it would be months, if not years before they clean up the mess. People who lost homes in Katrina, went through the same thing again. People who don’t own much to speak of, have nowhere to return to. All of these people woke up in a place where they have nowhere to send their kids to school. Indefinitely. All of these people I’ve seen, are sad, they are tired — but they are resilient — they are smiling.

I wish I had that level of resilience.

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Severian sees the problem in a post-scarcity world:

Time was, everybody was fairly “conservative,” as even the richest and most privileged Westerners experienced “tough shit” moments daily. Carriage crashes, polio, no climate control, no running water … unless you actually were the Queen of England, every day you saw some easy, obvious thing that would make your life better, and it was juuuuuuust out of reach … hell, even if you were the Queen — catch Victoria with a toothache, and she’ll make you Viceroy of India for some over-the-counter aspirin.

But now, a level of material comfort that would be literal heaven to 99.9% of the world’s population for 99.99% of human history — and for a great many people even now — is taken for granted. Our “poor” people are fat and have flat screen TVs. I doubt there are more than 1 in 1,000,000 Americans who have ever experienced actual hunger — that is, I need food and have only a very remote possibility of getting any. So why shouldn’t everyone get everything he wants, the second he wants it? It’s no faaaaaair if I don’t!

I’m not suggesting we turn the clock back to the Middle Ages — that’s a liberal preoccupation — but I am suggesting that perhaps the greatest gift you can give your children is enrolling them in Little League. Something, anything, that teaches them that no matter how strongly you feeeeel about it, some people are better at some things than others, and sometimes the ball takes a funny hop.

I’d question that hunger “statistic,” but I think it’s pretty obvious that we have the wealthiest poor people in recorded history.

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Heather Havrilesky, wearing her Ask Polly hat, takes on some of our collective miseries:

[L]et’s reexamine this widely held sentiment that if you’re basically warm and fed and reasonably healthy, any problems you have are automatically trivial. Funny how the phrase first-world problems has a way of creating consensus among those who fancy themselves sophisticated and liberal, filling our minds as it does with images of self-proclaimed artist boys in man buns, nibbling on almond-crusted salmon and moaning about how to get their work noticed, or spoiled white ladies, sipping Champagne and whining about how their designer stilettos give them blisters.

The presumption here is that longing for more when you have a lot is somehow a crime. Daydreams are bad and embarrassing. Noticing that you’re not really that happy is weak. Observing your faulty thought patterns is suspect.

And $DEITY forbid that you should be thought weak:

Weakness is contemptible. This is the driving sentiment behind a big part of our culture, and it speaks to some sick core of “I’ll get mine” American values: The world is split into winners and losers. If you’re a winner, you deserve to win and you shouldn’t concern yourself with anything more than winning and winners. If you’re a loser, you’ll always lose, and why should anyone give you a second thought? Go be a loser somewhere else, or at least shut up about it.

But I’m a firm believer in longing and daydreams. I think when you’re melancholy about your life, it’s not just crucial to notice that, but it’s an enormous waste of a life not to notice it and address it. Are we really going to define the platonic ideal of existence in the first world as keeping your fucking mouth shut about what’s true and real and difficult for you, no matter what?

Stoicism can carry you only so far. And I think it’s leaving me out by the curb.

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This tale from Jennifer Finney Boylan struck me as just about perfect:

After I left the otolaryngologist’s office with my diagnosis I called my wife on the phone. Mid-call, my throat closed up and I began to weep. “I’m sorry you have to be married to someone like me,” I sobbed.

“Jenny, I stayed with you through the gender thing,” she said. “You think I’d leave you because you have hearing aids?”

It was a beautiful morning in New York. I was surrounded by honking taxis, singing birds, shouting children.

“What?” I said.

Boylan, I have long since learned, has a cheerfully wry sense of humor, and her delivery is vaudeville-quality.

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Twilight Sparkle, in “Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?” (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, season five, episode 13):

This is your dream! Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now!

Now endorsed by the Republican National Committee, kinda sorta.

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“Vote for a winner,” they say. Better yet, don’t:

Those two big parties notice election results; they listen to their own more-successful upstarts — don’t think Senator Sanders hasn’t sent a shiver down the spine of moneyed Democrat power-brokers — and they pay attention to “third parties” that finish well. If you only give them what they want, if you act as if R or D is your only choice, that’s all you will ever get — and the only change you’ll see from either one is liable to be for the worst.

“Vote for a winner?” If the candidate you’re voting for doesn’t share your values, what, exactly, will you win by voting for them? What’s in it for you, the vague hope of slightly-better Federal appointments? More efficient global police-actions? If either big-party wins, you can count on more drone assassination, and unlike a sniper, the collateral damage is considerable to both bystanders (guilty and innocent alike) and in public opinion. You can count on more addled meddling from On High, by regulators and legislators long out of touch [with] the everyday lives of the ordinary and the unusual citizen alike. As for world affairs, we’d probably do more good if foreign policy was decided by fifty people chosen at random from the Duluth, Minnesota telephone book.

We’ve got idiots in D.C. and few if any realize they’re idiots. With that dread caveat in mind,you should vote for the outcome you want. If you’d be happy with a President Trump or a President Clinton, vote for ’em; if you are only settling for one or the other, if you are going to have to hold your nose to vote, consider the alternatives.

And at least this year in Oklahoma, it’s possible to vote for someone neither D nor R.

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Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, in an historical piece for the Society’s Gilbert Magazine, May-June 2016:

It is commonly thought that [G. K.] Chesterton was fired from the Daily News for raising his voice against the Liberal Party, but the fact is he quit, and his leaving the Daily News was itself news. But even before he quit, we can see a change in tone during the last months of his tenure there, especially when he devotes one of this columns to an open letter to the Liberal Party. In it, he confesses that for the first time since he started writing for the paper, he is not enjoying himself. He admits that he has been a Liberal “since shortly before I was born” because the party represented freedom and democracy. He could see, however, that it was clearly acting in the direct opposite of those ideals. Before the straw that breaks the camel’s back, there is a penultimate straw that does severe spinal damage. For Chesterton it is the compulsory Insurance Act [1911], and the fact that the paper calls someone who opposes the act an “anarchist.” Chesterton has already spoken out against the problems posed by compulsory health insurance: the rise in the power of the medical establishment joined at the hip with government, the looming threat of eugenics and, with it, infanticide, the messing with marriage, the manipulation of the working class, and above all, the helplessness of the citizen to do anything about it: “The broad, brutal fact about the capitalist State in which we live is in two parts: First, that we are all servants; second, that we know less and less whom we are serving.” And: “It used to be the weak things that hid themselves, now it is the strong things that hide.”

Historical notes: Chesterton’s last piece for the Daily News was in February 1913. The paper itself was merged into the News Chronicle in 1930, which in turn was absorbed by the Daily Mail in 1960.

Britain’s Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party merged in 1988 to form the current Liberal Democratic Party; a new Liberal Party rose the next year, but holds no seats in Parliament at this time.

The National Insurance Act, never really as “national” as it was billed to be, was eventually repealed; however, many of its ideas would rematerialize with the founding of the National Health Service in 1948.

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Roberta X notices the Senate wasting some time — specifically, a resolution to commemorate the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 — and suggests an upside to such waste:

The positive side is that every second the Senate spends — and I’ll be back to that word in a moment, “spends” — on frivolity of this sort, National Gardenia-Scent Aftershave Day, Hug A Scorpion Day, whatever, is one less second spent misappropriating funds and sodomizing pages. If, like me, you figure the fed.gov has all the laws they could possibly need for the next hundred years or more, such wheel-spinners do keep the empty suits from making it more illegal to serve guests milk from your own cow or making lists of approved pronouns (better write your Senator now, you frelks and throons!).

Which does not mean there isn’t a price to be paid for this wankery:

On the other hand, they’ve got the lights on and the air-conditioning running, coffeemakers gurgling and the vast presses of the Federal Register humming, world-famous Senatorial bean soup* glooping gently in the stewpots and filling every task, even the ones usually automated elsewhere, well-paid workers, hardworking (or heavy-sleeping, but I didn’t pay for a first-class flight of fancy ticket just to judge some low-level functionary) and ready to fulfill just about every whim … of the people in the big, fancy room, orating grandiloquently on the anniversary of an automobile race a third of a continent away: they’re spending my tax money at a nearly moonshot rate to perform self-important nonsense.

Mandatory footnote:

* Coals to Newcastle, beans to the legislatively flatulent. And nary a block of government cheese in sight!

And truth be told, some of those fart-ridden geezers couldn’t tell the Indy 500 from a Roman chariot race.

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The stuff gathering dust in my trunk, or on some USB stick, isn’t this heavy, but it suffers from the same issues:

Writing was not the problem, finishing was. Works in progress with titles like Mr. Ne’er-Do-Well (536 pages). Wherever There Are Two (660 pages of an outline), Death by Now (1,171 pages weighing over 12 points), or Miss Subways (402 pages and counting). All that would never see the light of day outside of Ted’s Bronx one-bedroom walk-up tenement apartment. Maybe today he would stumble upon a thought that would unleash the true word horde, that would unlock a puzzle, that would unblock him from himself, from his inability to compete and complete.

He remembered Coleridge, in the Vale of Chamouni, had written, “Hast thou a charm to stay the morning star…?” And that seemed to him to be the truest, saddest line in all of literature. Can you, man, find the poetry to keep the sun from rising, like a mountain, blocking its inevitable ascent for a few more moments? Can you, who call yourself a writer, find the words that will have an actual influence on the real and natural world? Magic passwords — shazam, open sesame, scoddy waddy doo dah — warriors lurking in the Trojan horse of words. The implicit answer to Coleridge’s question was: Hell, no. If the answer were yes, he would never have asked the question. The writer will never make something happen in the world. In fact, the act of writing may be in itself the final admission that one is powerless in reality.

David Duchovny, from his novel Bucky F*cking Dent (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).

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Robert Stacy McCain, scoffing at what we are being told is some sort of “masculinity crisis,” comes to Casablanca, not for the waters, but for a very specific character:

The weak and helpless need heroes who are strong and brave. Do not let weaklings tell you that your strength makes you a “bully,” and never let cowards make you ashamed of your courage. Do not seek praise from fools. They mock the hero because they resent his greatness, and express their envy by ridiculing his virtue. Do not let yourself become discouraged because you are misunderstood. To be insulted by fools is an honor.

Resist the temptation of self-pity. Never blame others for your own failures. When you find you must suffer for the evil that others have done, do not expect anyone to help you, but be grateful you have the strength to endure suffering. Survival is victory, when you are surrounded by enemies who wish you dead, as heroes so often are.

Laugh in the face of danger. You are a survivor. You have lived through hard times before, and have the scars to prove it. Hold your head high and be happy for each new day. Every new challenge is a chance to show those sons of bitches they can’t beat you. And if you ever find yourself in a moment of doubt, just ask yourself, “What would Rick Blaine do?”

Now I appreciate a interesting antihero as much as the next guy, but it’s the hero, the one who does the right thing because it’s the right thing, who’s going to save the world, or the part of it that’s worth saving anyway.

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“Blame it on the Baby Boomers,” says everyone except actual Baby Boomers.

Which of course is not true. An example, from Jack Baruth’s comment section:

My generation, the baby boomers, have created a generation of complete and utter ignoramuses convinced of their own intellectual and moral superiority.

Not that it’s particularly difficult to find actual Boomers with similar convictions.

I blame Tee-ball. I think that’s where it started, even before trophies for showing up. WTF do you learn about hitting a pitched baseball from hitting one off of a tee? It’s baseball, not golf.

Today I asked my son, my only son, Moshe, whom I love, who will be 32 this year and now has two children of his own, if his mother or I ever once did anything to boost his self esteem. He raised an eyebrow and said, “Of course not.”

Now that’s Grade-A parental guidance.

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Amanda Kerri writes for The Advocate:

Somehow we have put up some qualifiers on which political party you’re supposed to be a member or supporter of as an LGBT person. It’s somehow become the accepted norm that when a person comes out of the closet, they come out carrying old WPA posters, a yellowed newspaper saying “Dewey Defeats Truman,” and a Mondale-Ferraro button. I’m alluding to the Democratic Party, of course. To be fair, we tend to get weird about Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, who complicate the narratives. Still, we seem to have become wedded to the idea that we are at least supposed to be Democrats as LGBT people, and to some you’re not truly “woke” on LGBT issues unless you’re slightly to the left of Trotsky. It’s odd that we think that way — that for some reason who we love or how we identify determines our attitudes about taxes, foreign policy, Wall Street oversight, and the Second Amendment.

Let me lay it out straight for you — pun intended — your sexual orientation and/or gender identity has nothing to do with what you should believe politically. It may shock you, but 20 percent of LGBT people self-identify as conservative. It goes up to 30 percent if you’re polling people over 50, but of course we all know gay people quit mattering after 40.

I did not know that. I did, however, know this:

Not everyone who falls into the conservative camp is a vile hatemonger corporate stooge, while not everyone on the progressive side is ready to cut off rich people’s heads and quote from Das Kapital.

With respect to that article, “don’t read the comments” applies particularly strongly.

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Do political pitches seem dumber than before, this time around? Maybe — just maybe — it’s not the politicians that are dumber, but the electorate:

I read Cyril Kornbluth’s Marching Morons stories years ago; I know what it means when “performance” cars have to play engine sounds through the stereo system to keep the driver happy. The vapid uselessness of popular culture mounts steadily and in more ways than one. We’re well past the Age Of The Common Man and entering the age of the Illiterate Techno-Peasant With A Grudge. Better buckle in; it’s going to be bumpy. Care for a nice glass of lead-laced water for the ride?

Etan Cohen, co-writer with Mike Judge on Idiocracy, said last week that he never expected the film would wind up as a documentary. Of course, President Camacho, taking office in January 2017, can be expected to address this failure of prognostication.

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Once upon a time, we had contrarians, advocates for the Devil, the sort of people who would laboriously research a matter just to remind us that the conventional wisdom need not be either conventional or wise.

But that was then, when entrance into the common discourse required a measure of competency. Today we have trolls:

I posit that if there’s a story about a firefighter saving a cat from a tree, it’ll be attacked by trolls. Some will think government money shouldn’t be spent on such minor activity, someone else will suggest the tree was harmed, some dog owner will suggest preferential treatment for felines, a person will note that it was a white cat and ask whether a black cat would have gotten equal treatment, and yet another person will declare that there must have been a payoff by the evil cat lobby.

While all these, um, individuals differ in their pronouncements, they all suffer from the same ailment: they think themselves far more clever than they actually are.

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The billion-dollar hole in the state budget has brought out the usual “No! No! Cut THEM!” calls from various state agencies and their clients. No shortage looms larger than the one presented to the state education system, but as the Friar notes, the solution is not exactly cut and dried:

The problems with salaries and school funding are real: Our teachers are not paid what they should be, nor are our schools funded at the level they should be.

The problems with the revenue stream are real: The tax cut was an iffy idea at best considering how hard it would be to go back to the higher rate when need arose. And it made no sense whatsoever to tie the triggers to projected future income instead of to past or current income or to an average of them over several years.

But the problems with a 19th century educational system are real too. It’s organized for an agrarian culture without the ability to artificially cool buildings during summer. Its funding and governing structures assume myriad small populations near to but mostly isolated from each other by slow travel. Its methods and instruction principles have as much to do with the Procrustean production of two-legged voting and tax-paying citizen widgets as they do with educating students for their own growth and flourishing as thinking human beings. That many teachers manage to bring about 21st century people testifies to their ability to work in spite of the system that employs them, not because of it.

Being hopeful, alas, is not part of the mix:

I also fear that if the state somehow manages to find a Peter with a wallet fat enough to let Paul boost teacher salaries and per-pupil expenditures from their rank in the high 40s to the low 40s or even high 30s, the people who can make that change happen will smile and wave and say they’ve handled things and la-la-la-la their way long enough that when the problem reappears they’ll be sipping retirement coffee and shaking their heads at what the world is coming to and why their barista can’t make change.

I am generally inclined to dismiss rankings: no two states have exactly the same circumstances, and the Wobegon Factor, which afflicts too many of us, demands that everyone be above average, because fairness. But at headline level, only one metric seems to matter.

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Roberta X on the folks charged with dealing with disasters:

It’s easy to gripe about government, especially at the bureaucrat level and even more so when it’s a wrestling-smoke job like managing emergencies. Even the description borders on an oxymoron! Maybe in An-Cap Libertopia, there’s a market solution to disaster; maybe all your neighbors will pitch in (just as they often do in emergencies in this world). Here in the world of what is, these government agencies do exist. They’re not going away and given that, I would rather see them in the hands of competent folks who think the job is worth doing than some tired, cynical timeserver.

For the people who moan, “Where were the Feds? Where was the state?” when things go wrong, here’s how it works: emergency response happens from the bottom up; first response is coordinated and supported at the county level if it needs it. If the county finds it too big, they get help from the state. If the state needs help, they yell for the Feds. FEMA — the good handing-out-water-and-blankets side, not the tinfoil hat fantasy seen in YouTube videos of rail yards — is by definition the last on the scene.

Which, if you ask me, is precisely as it should be: take care of things on the local level, and if those things get out of hand, go up a level. There’s a reason most disaster declarations are made by states, and it’s not just because the Feds expect it to be so.

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Columnist Cal Thomas would like you to watch Finding Your Roots (PBS: check local listings), which is, he says, “the best and most compelling television you will ever see:”

The greatest contribution of this show is that it helps viewers see beyond externals — such as race and politics — and into the hearts and minds of the guests where their real selves reside. My personal favorite in the opening program is Donna Brazile, a longtime liberal Democratic activist and an African-American, with whom I am acquainted. I wanted to measure my reaction to someone who holds political views opposite my own.

In addition to revealing to Brazile the source of her unusual name, Gates also discovered a female ancestor who, at age 14, was sold as a slave to a white man. Brazile shakes her head in sadness and begins to cry. At that moment she turns herself inside out and we realize Brazile’s depth of character has nothing to do with the political views she holds. Most importantly it reminds her and viewers that her ancestor’s value as a human being had nothing to do with the price put on her by a slave auctioneer.

And he quotes series creator Henry Louis Gates Jr.:

In a press release, Gates says, “We can’t truly know ourselves until we know something of our origins.” His goal is to “inspire people to find out more about their own personal family stories, and spark an interest among young people in genetics, anthropology, history and the pursuit of science.”

We may not be sure where we’re going; but it’s important to know where we came from.

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Jack Baruth’s last post for 2015 was nominally about hookers, but a section on avoiding the appearance of hooking had more, shall we say, universal applicability:

I’m in a pretty decent team at my current contract but I’ve worked places where I thought everybody in the department would be primarily useful as a kidney or liver donor. I had a boss a few years ago, a director of the company, who was this sort of grinning nonentity. He lifted weights as his sole hobby, so he had a head that looked like Ron Howard’s on this really wide neck, and he always had this stupid look on his face like he’d just been given an extra ride on a children’s Ferris wheel or something. Every single thing he ever said was either a deliberate lie or a gross misrepresentation of events.

The day finally came when I went into a meeting with him, lost my temper, and said, “You’re an idiot and a wannabe tough guy and I have complete and total contempt for you. Everybody who works for you thinks you’re too stupid to be allowed to take a bath by yourself. When you’re in a weight room by yourself, you’re not the smartest object there.” Let me tell you, that was immensely satisfying and I’ll never forget the look on his face as I proceeded from there to call him out in the most forthright terms possible for ninety full seconds. The reader will not be surprised to hear that I didn’t work there the following day, although it sure as hell wasn’t the last day I collected a check from the firm.

That little diatribe probably cost me a quarter-million bucks in salary and deferred compensation. I know it cost me my “Cadillac” health insurance. But it was worth it. By the time I was done with him I’d wiped the smile off his face. That’s a moment that I’d have been proud to have my son witness. But most of my days are pretty ordinary. I go to work. I go home. They pay me. It’s a living.

A lot of us swear by those last four brief sentences, even if occasionally we swear at their implications.

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Cobb considers the source of various anti-Islamic noises:

I am actually encouraged by the loudmouthed divisiveness of our diversity. Americans talk much more shit than a little and we entertain incredible fantasies of violent retribution. And yes when we do so it’s with Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves. All of us talk this kind of Quentin Tarentino talk from time to time. Getting medieval on somebody’s ass is part of the lexicon. But it’s also something Americans don’t actually do, unless and until it’s war. And war is something Americans don’t enter into lightly.

So we will continue our loudmouth faux bigotry and insult people’s mothers, telling them to kiss the ugliest parts of our body politic. But we won’t do anything violent. We live deep in rhetorical hatred and violence every day, and we never forget the mentality. But American life is far too pleasant for us to take all that talk seriously. When somebody is actually crazy enough to put those words into action, we’re all shocked. So it’s difficult for most American to conceive of Daesh’s motivations as anything but desperate, stupid insanity.

This, of course, does not mean that desperate, stupid insanity is not a factor; but it does suggest that the situation is a bit too complicated to fit into a sound bite, no matter how vicious that bite might be.

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