Giving Thanks

 

Our Thanksgiving family tradition is to go around the table and express gratitude for our blessings. It’s such a simple exercise, and yet almost as satisfying as the feasting. Maybe we shouldn’t confine it to Thanksgiving? We have observant Jewish friends who’ve done something like this every week at Shabbat dinners. Each person cites a “highlight of the week.” It sets a tone.

For me there is a spiritual dimension to giving thanks. But even from a purely instrumental perspective, there is good evidence that gratitude increases happiness. As the Harvard Healthbeat newsletter reports, a number of studies have tested this. Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami designed a study in which participants were divided into three groups. The first was encouraged to record things that had gone well for them. The second took notes on things that irritated them. And the third just wrote down matters that had affected them for good or ill. At the end of 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. As a group they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than the other study participants.

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Caravan

 

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Quote of the Day: Friends

 

“When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun.'” – Groucho Marx

Yes, it’s true. Sometimes the things you do are not the smartest. But it is always nice to know that there is someone who will have your back, even then — and think afterwards that it was fun. Kipling talked about that kind of friend in his poem The Thousandth Man.

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Trump Fatigue Syndrome: Is There a Cure?

 

I’m tired. And I take full responsibility for my condition. I’m not here to blame Donald Trump for my difficulties. I also think I’m not alone, and I care a great deal for all the people who are in the same dire straits. My biggest concern is that Donald Trump’s prospects for 2020 could be at risk. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, let me explain how I arrived at this point. I’m one of those many people who was not a Trump supporter at the beginning, but I came on board early as I saw his many accomplishments: tax cuts, great economy, Supreme Court justices, cuts in regulations, demands that the Europeans pony up for NATO—and the list goes on.

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The Democrats Eliminated Health Insurance

 

What “health insurance” means, or used to, is something like this: a financial product insuring against future medical problems, and having enough money to cover them at fair prices because it does not insure against past and current medical problems for the same price.

Democrats banned health insurance in America. (After some Republics helped move things in that direction! See comment # 19 below.)

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Global Warming Alarmists Spontaneously Combust

 

As the search goes on to find the missing, and the dead from the devastating wildfires in Northern and Southern California the blame game has ignited.

Global Warming: California once again is burning, with hundreds of thousands of tinder-dry acres going up in flames. Gov. Jerry Brown says it’s global warming. President Trump blames forest mismanagement. Who’s right?

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Fishing Expedition

 

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Is the New York Times Good for the Jews?

 

The New York Times (a former newspaper … hmmm, where have I heard that phrase before?) in the case of Walter Duranty, could find nothing wrong in Stalin’s Russia. Even the Holodomor and the great purge show trials of high Stalinism escaped his twisted perception. Instead, he won a Pulitzer prize.

Yes, it seems that Marxism can do no wrong as far as the Times is concerned. Of course, Karl Marx himself, who Juncker has proclaimed “just a philosopher” might have had a bit of a negative attitude toward the Jews.

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2 Charts That May Change Your View on American Living Standards

 

Sometimes when looking at living standards, observers forget to take into account how the tax code and safety net intersect with incomes. In The Washington Post, columnist Robert Samuelson highlights Congressional Budget Office Research that does just that. (I did the same a couple weeks back.) Samuelson:

 If the bottom 99 percent experienced stagnation, their 2015 incomes would be close to those of 1979, the study’s first year. This is what most people apparently believe. The study found otherwise. The poorest fifth of Americans (a fifth is known as a “quintile”) enjoyed a roughly 80 percent post-tax income increase since 1979. The richest quintile — those just below the top 1 percent — had a similar gain of nearly 80 percent. The middle three quintiles achieved less, about a 50 percent rise in post-tax incomes.

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Happy Birthday Honey, Nobody Likes You

 

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted a photo with two other couples. Each couple had one child, and of the three children, the two smallest had their backs to the camera, and the third had a heart sticker over her face. You couldn’t see any of the children’s faces, and curious if this was a mistake or just my friend playing it safe, I asked: “Do any of these parents post their kids’ pictures online?” The answer: no.

When my husband Seth and I first had kids, we decided this would be our personal policy. The primary reason we did it was because of what we do: there are a lot of crazy people out there, and we’d like them to know as little about our kids as possible (we also don’t post their names). We also decided to keep them offline for their own privacy; I imagined how I would have felt if I grew up to discover all of my childhood pictures were out there for the world to see. I’m a fairly open person, and I think even I would have minded that; Seth is far more private, and I’m certain having all of those photos freely available would have driven him nuts.

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California’s Forest Fire Tragedy

 

Over the past several weeks, California has been gripped by two of the most deadly forest fires in its history: the Camp Fire north of Sacramento and the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. At last count, the toll of this disaster includes 76 dead and hundreds missing, the destruction of nearly 10,000 homes, and unhealthy air quality—now called the “dirtiest in the world”—throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, leading to the postponement of many local events, including moving the “Big Game” between Cal and Stanford from November 17 to December 1.

An enormous debate has developed over the cause of both fires. Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown has loudly proclaimed that climate change deniers are “definitely contributing” to the onslaught of new fires. But the best evidence says otherwise. Global temperature increase has been nil over the last 20 or so years, notwithstanding the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Similarly, the repeated claims that we have had more unstable global climate patterns within that period is likewise false. According to Professor David B. South of Auburn University, “data suggest that extremely large megafires were four-times more common before 1940” than today, even though CO2 levels were lower.

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Noise Elimination

 

Noise is always around us. We need sounds to warn us of danger, so plugging our ears with uncomfortable earplugs is not always practical. Traditional passive techniques for noise control include isolation, such as done in recording studios, and shields around noise sources. Industrial equipment is a prime source of unwanted noise, and new designs can reduce fan noise without heavy shielding. We are always looking at ways to reduce noise, such as with jet aircraft designs and barrier walls for road noise. As discussed later, noise reduction techniques even increase auto fuel economy!

Many times unwanted sounds are generated inside machinery such as a heating system. Using trial-and-error techniques to isolate the sound source can take months to find. A new method, called a Sound Camera, analyses all sounds emanating from the device. The original method used one microphone as a fixed reference, while another microphone scanned the object using a robotic system, but the scan time was too long. Adding more microphones reduced the scan time, but a full system of microphones would cost well over one million dollars! By using an array of 1,024 low cost hearing aid microphones, the Sound Camera quickly finds noise sources when tested in an anechoic chamber.

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Jonestown Mass Suicide: Blame California Democrats

 

A provocative headline, but true. Thanks to another Ricochet member for commemorating a day that should live in infamy, 18 November 1978, Jonestown 40 years ago yesterday. Secular-supremacists, from the first news of the mass suicide, with the horrific photographs published in major news magazines, sought to smear devout religious faith. The narrative was all about blind following of a cult leader. Yet, the true story of Jim Jones’s rise to power, and eventual movement of his devoted followers out of the United States, is inextricably tied to the modern California Democrat party.

Lest you discount this claim as a right-wing, conservative, Republican outrage, exploiting deaths of over 900 men, women, and children, here is what the San Francisco Chronicle has to say:

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Jim Acosted

 

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The Dangerous Beliefs of Non-Believers

 

One of progressivism’s many problems is that it doesn’t work. But I think a more serious problem is its tendency to dissociate its followers from reality. The abandonment of rational thought and deductive reasoning would appear to be a requirement for admission into the progressive club. Those untethered from rational thought tend to be guided largely by their emotions, and thus become more passionate about their beliefs, even if they don’t make a great deal of sense. Congressperson Ocasio-Cortez was asked recently how America could pay for “Medicare for All” (which somehow sounds less scary than “Socialized Medicine”). She answered incredulously, “We’d just pay for it.” She couldn’t believe someone could ask such a stupid question. Soon thereafter, she told an interviewer that she couldn’t afford an apartment in D.C. until she started getting her paychecks as a Congressperson. Some might find that odd:

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40 Years Ago Today

 

File:TuckermanRavine.MtWashington.NH.jpgI was sitting in the little snack bar in the base station of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington (a short mountain, comparatively speaking, but one which has its own set of challenges for climbers), prior to setting out on an expedition with Mr. She, “when our love was young,” as the saying goes, when a shocking newsflash came over the radio: Hundreds of people had died in an impossibly massive murder-suicide event in Jonestown, Guyana. It was one of those “Where were you when…?” moments. That’s where I was.

People were flabbergasted. Most of us had no idea what any of it was about. And as the bizarre and gory details came out over the next several days, the story just got stranger and sadder. By the time all the facts were known, over 900 people were dead, a US Congressman had been assassinated, and an ominous, and often flippant new phrase, “he drank the Kool-Aid,” had entered the English Language.

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How to Mess Up Your Child

 

Just tell them that they are not enough for you. Better yet: put it in their name, so they can never forget just how inadequate they really are. After all, if you are not good enough for your mother, then how can you be good enough for anyone else?

And she [Rachel] called his name Joseph, saying: ‘May the LORD add to me another son.’ (Gen. 30:24)

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The Myth of Bitcoin Disintermediation

 

I’m going to explain why the hype about both Bitcoin and blockchain is overblown, and then, at no extra charge, tell you what the real Next Big Thing is going to be in the world of computing.

But let me start with an admission against interest: I have a spotty track record as a prognosticator. I played with the internet before it was born, when it was something called NSFnet, and didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. I scoffed at the introduction of color displays on early personal computers, and thought moving video on a PC was pointless. (Certainly, I never intended to have use for such frills.)

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Male PE Teacher Ordered to Watch Girl Undress in Locker Room

 

You’re not having a nightmare. You’re living in a nightmare. Reality has been replaced with a dark, surreal, obscene, and in some cases demonic dream from which you can’t shake yourself awake. If you were skeptical that the warnings about decades-long post-modernist ideology should be taken seriously and just something that an overexcited psychology professor from Canada is getting too worked up about, then consider this sick story out of Florida:

Most parents would assume that refusing to look at a naked child of the opposite sex goes without saying for any teacher, but a school district in Florida has opted to punish a male physical education teacher for attempting to avoid that situation.…

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New Democratic Map

 

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