Have you ever heard of Pippa Malmgren? Maybe you have—not everyone is as ignorant of current events and culture as I am. Let's just say she has a very broad knowledge and experience base, and is absolutely fascinating in this 1.5-hour podcast with Ed D'Agostino, where she expounds on geopolitical, social, and economic realities, and how they connect. (bold emphasis mine)
I haven't listened to the podcast; instead I read the transcript, which you can find here: The Space Wars Are Here. Take your pick; I'm a fast reader, and generally prefer print to audio, but the podcast at double speed might have actually been faster. If you can make the time, I'd recommend it. It's good stuff, and unfortunately may be important to be aware of.
Here are some time stamps, followed by a small handful of excerpts:
00:00 Introduction to guest and what we talk about
03:28 The real story behind the “coup” in Russia
08:10 A Ukraine resolution has become a NATO imperative
15:19 How China and Taiwan fit into the Ukraine peace negotiations
24:02 We are already in WWIII
25:18 The invisible war in space
34:43 How tech innovation solves tech vulnerabilities
41:10 The mood in Washington and across the country in general
51:50 The rise of political angst in America, and what might be driving it
1:03:12 The economic “elevator” in the US is broken
1:08:58 Thoughts on the US presidential election
On the Russian side, I always think the most wonderful quote is really apt here. It came from Carl von Bismarck, who was the Iron Chancellor and who knew more about diplomacy than anybody alive today, and he said, "Diplomacy is the art of building ladders for others to climb down." And that's the situation we have here, is that Putin in some ways, he has no exit from what has turned out to be a terrible situation, and so this is not about being nice to him. It's like you're dealing with a cornered caged creature that is going to behave worse, until they can find a way to escape the situation.
There's an active strategy that the US is literally airlifting the most valuable parts of the semiconductor production in Taiwan, which are mainly those Dutch lithography machines, which cost 250 grand each, I think, and they're moving them to Texas and Arizona. And they're moving the families, because you need a certain amount of skill to operate these things. There's been lots in the press in the United States about we don't have the skills to make super edgy semiconductors, but the Taiwanese know how to do this. And those families are like, "Great, I'll just become American. How fabulous." ... I also see semiconductor production moving into space. We're going to have in orbit manufacturing that produces much higher grade computer chips at a lower cost.
We're in a hot war in cold places. Now those cold places are space, the Arctic, and the High North. People are like, "What do you mean we're at war in space?" I'm like, well, okay, so let's remember we live in a GPS world, and so we're completely dependent on satellites for not only missile guidance, but frankly, Uber Eats, right? None of this happens. ...
So what's been happening in space? The Russians have been targeting their own satellites, particularly the really big ones that weigh like 4,000 pounds, smashing them to smithereens, creating this huge debris field, which they call a Kessler effect, which has been described as razor blades in a washing machine. And that is partly what has forced the International Space Station to nearly evacuate on a few occasions, because they're getting caught in the shrapnel field that the Russians created. Now, why did they do it? Because they're trying to deny access to those critical orbits. ... The Chinese have also been very active in space, demonstrating they have lasers and all kinds of offensive capabilities, but two things there. One is only the United States and China have satellites with robotic arms. And the Chinese recently demonstrated with, I believe it's called the Shijian-17 satellite, that it was able to go up to a Chinese satellite, grab it with the robotic arms, and then hurl it into outer space. Now, why are they hurling their own satellite into outer space? To show us that they can. And so we're like, "Oh boy, all our satellites that we depend on could be gone in a heartbeat, and never to recover into the depths of space." So this is space wars.
It also has led to a fight over subsea internet cables. ... The fastest internet cable in the world is on a little island in the Arctic called Svalbard in Norway. Now, why is it there, of all places? Because that is where pretty much all the high altitude satellites connect to Earth, is at Svalbard. So you cut that cable, and suddenly your missile guidance system's not working, and your Uber Eats isn't neither. So how much damage can you do to the world? Answer, a huge amount. But luckily, that was a lot of redundancy already built in. ... It's such a wonderful story, it's so interesting. There was a oligarch yacht positioned over the top of the cable, and that yacht had a submarine inside it, but they think that, and I'll just say, we don't know who did this, right? And nobody wants to acknowledge who did it, but somebody's submarines went underneath it, and they cut away, I think it was six and a half kilometers of [cable]. Somebody cut it at both ends and took it away. Luckily, it was redundant. But it was the opening salvo to my mind of World War III.
There's this invisible war that it's there if you look for it, but because no one's given you the overarching narrative of this World War III happening in these spaces, in these ways, most people just don't even see it. And then that's just the hot war in cold places. I've also said we're in a cold war in hot places, which is what I've described in the Pacific and Africa. And I'm about to do a piece talking about the hot war in hot places, because now the coup in Niger, and the string of coups across Africa, it's literally heating up into a regional war, where it's ultimately the Russians versus the West.
I feel like this is coming to a head, some of what was happening in this country politically, where you had far left and far right people ... I'm going to try to thread the needle on this, but you had one side not understanding the other, and I almost feel like that was a distraction put out on purpose by the political class, if you will. I've abandoned the idea of there being this real left versus right divide. I'm sure there is to some extent, but I feel like the bigger divide is really those with political power and everybody else, all the rest of us. There was a song released last week by a little known singer in West Virginia named Oliver Anthony and this guy, he was doing his thing, he's an artist, he's putting his music out on YouTube and getting maybe a few hundred views. Then he released a song that I want to play for you, because I really want to know what you think because this song, last time I looked, after having been posted for eight days on YouTube had already achieved 12 million views. I'm sure it's way higher even as I speak, but I think this guy nails really what a lot of people are thinking.
Wouldn't you know? The day I read that paragraph, I had also run into that song elsewhere. The Malmgren podcast had been sitting in my inbox for weeks, and I just happened to get to it the day I heard this song for the first time. Here is Oilver Anthony's Rich Men North of Richmond (which as I write this is up to 61 million views).
Remember those days when everybody said inflation was dead? And I'm like, "Listen, as an economist, I'm telling you, when you throw free money in the system and you drop interest rates to zero, the only purpose is to create inflation." ... What we did is we tipped the balance in favor of the speculators, at the expense of the savers. And the savers are now feeling it, or the people who don't have any savings, they feel it in the form of, "Wait a minute, I'm working this hard, but I can't feed my family." And this is what gives rise to Trumpism. ... Inflation hits the poor really hard and really fast.
One of the trends that I find really heartening is that a lot of companies in America, particularly regional, large, medium-sized businesses, so not your Fortune 500s, but real companies that generate genuine unimpaired cashflow that do real business, increasingly they've been ... reverting to a very old model, which is, let's hire high school graduates, not even college, let's hire high school graduates and let's offer them that we will train them in the company because the school system isn't even providing the skills that we need. They may have a degree, but we got to train them again from scratch. So, let's bring them in, and then we'll say, "We'll pay for your college education." So you can do that while you work here, but we train you first with our priorities. And so it's the old-fashioned apprenticeship system that the whole German economy was always built on, and that economy has always been very sound because it was focused on small and medium-sized businesses. A lot of family owned businesses, regionally rooted businesses. And that's working well. But of course, that's heretical to say to the education system, which thinks that they own the stamp of approval on whether you're employable or not.
I am very optimistic about the world economy of tomorrow. I see so many new jobs being created, so much innovation that's going to make our lives easier and better. I think the biggest constraint on the future is, number one, we refuse to take advantage of the free time that we're given, because we're so ego-driven. ... We keep wanting to still make more money and have more stuff. So, that's a human problem that can be solved. Second, our most undervalued asset in the world economy are people. And we have this industrial revolution mentality that you have to have a certain degree, and you have to have a certain title, you have to have certain job skills in order to do certain things, which is simply not true. And people are capable of extraordinary things.
I began this blog almost 20 years ago, a fact that astounds me. In those years I have written some 3200 posts. Where have those 20 years gone? Have I accomplished anything good through those posts?
Perhaps it's time to revisit what I wrote about why I began to publish my thoughts.
Lift Up Your Hearts! can most charitably be called "eclectic." Some blogs are political, some personal journals, some accumulate interesting articles and news stories, some keep far-flung families in contact, some are formed around a specific cause or issue. I aim to be jack-of-all-trades, and if that means being master of none, I see nothing wrong with that. It depends on your audience. Five-star restaurants require highly-trained and gifted chefs, but I'd take my mother's home cooking and the family dinner table any day.
Fine. But why? Why do I put so much time and effort into blogging? What do I hope to accomplish?
I post first of all because I can't stop my mind from writing, and it's helpful to give concrete expression to the phrases, paragraphs, and essays that are constantly churning within my brain. The blog is a particularly satisfactory way of getting my thoughts into print: the primary audience may be small, but they're loyal readers, and occasionally people stop by from all over the world and find something useful. I can write what I want, when I want, with no pesky editors, stockholders or advertisers to interfere.
Because I write primarily for family members and friends who actually enjoy hearing about the details of our lives, there are a number of posts that are personal and of no interest to the general public, whoever that may be. I make no apology. You don't like it? Don't read it. This is not high school English class. There will be no homework grade and no final exam.
Then there are the random posts of odd bits of news, posts from other blogs, and anything else good or ill that has struck me as worth sharing. There's a lot of data out there, with a very poor signal-to-noise ratio. If I find something good, important, or thought-provoking, I want to increase its visibility.
It is obvious to me that most of the best ideas I've had, and the good decisions I've made, especially in the areas of childrearing and education, came because someone else was willing to share them. I take some credit for implementing and expanding ideas, and for having a few of my own, but I'm keenly aware that most of what I've done right I owe to someone's book, someone's conversation, someone's example. What's more, there have been many, many ideas about which I've thought, "Why didn't I know this years ago, before it was too late? Why didn't someone tell me?" For this reason I have not hesitated to pass on good ideas when I think the recipient might be receptive, or at least interested. I love to give books that I've found helpful, though I almost always add the caveat that I don't necessarily approve of everything the author has to say. Sometimes there's much I don't like, but always there's at least something I find so valuable I want to share it. Do I expect everyone to appreciate what I find valuable? Of course not. Am I offended if they ignore what I find important? No. Do I direct certain books or articles at specific people because I think they "need" them? Believe it or not, I don't. I share what I find good, useful, enlightening, or helpful. I want to make information available, in hopes that fewer people will look back and say, "I wish someone had told me about that before."
Blogging provides many more opportunities than giving away a few books, and that's another reason I write. This is the one area where I think of a wider audience; someone, somewhere out there may care about what I have learned about xylitol, or epidurals, or math curricula. Again, I don't apologize for writing what some may not find interesting; if you don't like it, skip it. But if you find something valuable in it, and especially if you have something to add to the discussion, I greatly appreciate comments. Let them, however be polite. While I don't hesitate to publish comments I disagree with, I also don't hesitate to delete comments I deem offensive; I am the sole judge of "polite" for this blog.
One thing all my posts have in common is commentary. You get my opinion on politics, education, and health; on books and movies; on bike trails and genealogy. More often you get my opinion-in-progress, as writing is as much my way of forming thoughts as of expressing them. What you won't get is something directed as a weapon against you—certain public persons excepted, although even then I prefer to challenge ideas, not people. I write from my own accumulated knowledge and experience; whether you agree or disagree, your own experiences are more than welcome. My best work still comes from those who are willing to share.
Disclaimer: I'm a grandmother, not a doctor, lawyer, certified teacher, or other expert. I offer my experiences and opinions, not professional advice. Check with your own advisors, do your own research, and use your own common sense.
The blog never did become the discussion forum I had envisioned, but I'm not sorry about that. I had hoped to recreate on a larger scale the wonderful intellectual discussions I had enjoyed—especially when we lived near the University of Rochester—with people who cared about some of the same things I care about, whether or not we agreed about them, supporting each other in areas of agreement, learning from each other in areas where we differed. And indeed I have experienced some of that here, but the political and social climate of today plus the anonymity of the Internet is not conducive to the kind of helpful discussions I was hoping for.
By now you must be wondering if this is a swan song, and I'm about to announce the end of my blog. Not at all. I still need to write. The phrases and paragraphs continue to well up and swirl around in my brain whenever I am awake—and probably in my sleep as well. What's more, I need to write to an audience: For years I kept a journal, and now find it an invaluable source of information, but as an outlet it was less than satisfying to be talking to myself. I've tried publishing newsletters for family and friends, and while I have certainly enjoyed creating them, they were more for news than for thoughts. The blog has been perfect as a thinking aid.
I am not quitting this valuable format. I have, sometimes, considered a different platform, perhaps one a little more private (e.g. subscription-based), but haven't moved in that direction yet. I just keep going along as things are.
However, I have other writing projects that are crying out for more of my time. They don't serve the same purposes, but their own purposes are important, and they need my attention. Time is limited; just so is my "writing energy" limited. To focus on these other projects, I need to curtail some of my work here. Which is difficult, because writing here is one of the great joys of my life.
I'm not stopping. I don't even want to blog less frequently, if I can help it. There's more data than ever out there, with an even worse signal-to-noise ratio. If I find something good, important, or thought-provoking, I still want to increase its visibility. As a rule, I'd rather not just have someone's bare recommendation of a book, movie, podcast, video, or article, but want to know more about why the person recommends it. But I'm planning to violate my own rule, and do a lot more of pointing my readers to something I've found valuable, with maybe some commentary but a lot less, with fewer quotations and fine-tuning, which take a lot of time. After twenty years, my regular readers know enough about me to either trust, or not trust, my recommendations. What's more, I trust my readers to judge what's valuable to them at this point in their lives, and am content just to put the information out there.
For good or for ill, commentary will only be reduced, not gone. I still have plenty to say and opinions to flesh out here. For now, I'll just see how this experiment goes, and if it spurs progress on other fronts.
My heartfelt gratitude to all who have found my writing useful enough to hang in there for so long!
Here's an excerpt that I found interesting from an exchange between DarkHorse host Brett Weinstein and philosopher Steve Patterson. Caveat: I know nothing about Patterson, good or bad. But what he has to say here about complexity, information loss, and the plateauing of progress strikes a chord. (14 minutes, works well at higher speed)
Insist on answers to your letters in writing. "Come in and we'll talk" is never an acceptable answer.
I'm still cleaning out files, and finding gems. This one came from an article by Dale Berlin, "Tips for Parents from a Parent Who's Been There," published in NETWORK for Public Schools, Winter 1988 Vol. 13. No. 4. The author presents several tools of basic parental advocacy for ensuring that a child is not being treated unfairly in school.
Why did I choose this one to highlight? Because the "let's talk" tactic is on the rise, not only by schools but also by employers, businesses, government officials, and other authority figures. More and more people seem to be allergic to putting their words in writing. I'm dealing right now with a local government official who refuses to answer by e-mail some straightforward questions about our city's recycling practices. She'll be happy to discuss it on the phone, she says. Maybe that just means she thinks it will take less time than typing out a few sentences, or maybe she thinks she can explain the situation better orally, or maybe she wants to give an intentionally fuzzy answer (I've gotten a lot of that recently). Whatever the reason, what I want is facts, serious facts about a serious situation, and I find answers to be a lot less slippery when they're pinned down in written form.
I obviously trust our financial advisor, or we'd find another one. But he does have a significant strike against him: he doesn't like to communicate by e-mail. If we send him a question over e-mail, he will call us on the phone to answer, or if the question is complicated enough, schedule an in-person meeting. I suspect he's just more comfortable speaking than writing. I'm the opposite; f you want clarity and truth from me, ask me to write; my verbal answers are much less likely to be accurate. But I understand that some people are different.
However, in some situations it's not just a matter of preferred communication style. Words written down have been purveyors of serious meaning for millennia. Written words may no longer be literally etched in stone, but they're still more permanent than what is spoken. More importantly, you can go back and refer to the text if there is a question about what was said. There's a reason secretaries take minutes during meetings, and the court reporter's job is critical.
Printed-on-paper communications have the advantage of being on a material medium. On the other hand, e-mails have the advantage of being easily searchable, so sometimes I prefer one, sometimes the other. Texts, social media messages, WhatsApp, and the like are also text-based, and useful in their own sphere, but much more ephemeral and difficult to search, especially since there are so many platforms. Video and audio formats are orders of magnitude less searchable; how much time is wasted going back over a recording trying to find out where in the two-hour presentation the speaker mentioned something you later want to refer to? Much too much, in my case.
And often, as in the above-mentioned situations of what someone is doing with our children, or our money, oral communication doesn't leave a record at all. Long ago I read the advice that every phone call and in-person meeting should be followed up by an e-mail to the effect of, "This is what I remember of our conversation; if you don't respond to this e-mail and correct me, I will assume you agree with my summary." Great advice, but also a time-consuming pain, and I'm not good at remembering to do it.
It's true that there are benefits to spoken communication that one doesn't get when the words are in writing, especially since the time-honored art of conveying and interpreting emotional content with letters has all but died out. Emojis just don't cut it. I love a good chat among friends. Bring back campfires, family meals, and tea parties!
But if you're my child's teacher, or my financial advisor, or my employer, or my government, nothing says "I will stand by what I say" better than putting it in writing. That won't stop you from going back on your word, or being wrong, or just changing your mind, but at least it will be clear that you did.
Enough is enough.
I won't drink Bud Light. I won't buy Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Big deal. I don't like beer, and I've long found Ben & Jerry's not worth the price, especially since they sold out.
I almost never buy spices from Penzey's—previously my absolute favorite spice source—having found alternatives that aren't deliberately offensive to half their potential customers. I still buy King Arthur flour, because it's simply the best I've found, but the company has become more aggressive in pushing their political positions, and that has left a bad taste in my mouth—maybe not the smartest move when you're a food company.
Or any company.
I get it. Corporations are run by people, and people have opinions and favorite causes. A business can seem like a very handy bulldozer with which to push those opinions and causes. But behavior that may be appropriate for individuals and small businesses is annoying (or much worse) when adopted by large companies.
Corporations: You want to make the world better? I have some suggestions for what to do with your money and influence. Do these first, before throwing your weight around in places that have nothing to do with your business. And if you can, do it quietly, without blowing your own trumpet too much, please.
- Think and act locally. Make your community glad to have you as a neighbor.
- Provide good jobs, and pay your employees fairly. You have extra funds? Give them a raise, or at least a bonus.
- Improve working conditions. Consider not only physical health and safety but mental and social health, and opportunities for autonomy and initiative.
- Clean up your act. Wherever you are, make the water and air you put out cleaner than that which you took in. (Until the late 1960's, my father worked for the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York, and I've never forgotten his comment that the water that went back into the Mohawk River from their plant was cleaner than what they had taken out of it. Whether that said more about GE's water treatment or the state of the Mohawk at the time I leave to your speculation.)
- If you're a publicly-held company, don't forget your shareholders. Think beyond next quarter's numbers and work to make your business a good long-term investment.
- Return charity to where it belongs. Instead of using their money to contribute to your favorite causes, lower your prices and let your customers decide what to do with the extra cash. Maybe they'll contribute to their favorite causes. Freely-given charity is always better than forced charity. Maybe they'll even spend the extra money on more of your products, who knows? But being generous with other people's money doesn't make you virtuous, it makes you despicable.
- Improve your product. Are you making or doing something worthwhile? Then do it better.
Any or all of these business improvements would make the world a better place without controversy. I've never understood why a company would deliberately and aggressivly seek to alienate half its customer base, but that seems to be happening more and more frequently. Do they think those who appreciate their controversial stance will out of gratitude buy more to take up the slack? Do they think they can ride out a temporary downturn and that those who are offended will quickly forget and go back to "business as usual?" My cynical side thinks they may be right about the latter, but I also think we may be reaching a tipping point.
I'm not a fan of boycots, preferring to make my commercial decisions based on quality and price rather than on politics. But I sense, in myself and in others, a growing distaste for dealing with companies that have gone out of their way to make it clear they think I'm not good enough to be their customer. I still shop at Target, but I just realized that the last time was more than three months ago. I still buy King Arthur flour, but find myself less inclined to linger over their catalog and consider their other products. Penzey's still has some products I can't get elsewhere, and I won't rule out another purchase—but I find myself unconsciously doing without instead. Small potatoes, sure. What difference can one formerly enthusiastic customer make to such large corporations?
A big difference, if that one person is part of a groundswell of discontent. I think it's happening.
I call on all businesses to adopt my simple model of true corporate responsibility. If you want to see better fruit, nourish the world at its roots.
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I thoroughly enjoyed watching the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and the coronation of King Charles III, which heightened our awareness of royalty when we recently visited Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. The Scandinavian countries have monarchs, but they don't wear crowns and have no coronation ceremonies, as our guides appeared to take pride in telling us.
As a child of the 60's, I was quite familiar with the sentiment, "Why should we get married? We don't need a piece of paper to validate our love!"
Many Protestant Christian churches look askance at liturgy, formality, and ceremony in worship.
Nuns and priests are no longer clearly distinguishable by their clothing.
In languages that distinguish between formal and familiar pronouns (e.g. French vous/tu or German Sie/Du), use of the familiar form has become widespread.
Adults have largely dropped the use of titles with other adults. (Except for doctors, who stubbornly insist on being called "Dr. So-and-So" all the while calling their patients by first name.) When I was young, my parents used Mr., Mrs., and Miss when speaking of or to anyone with whom they would have used the pronoun "vous" had they been speaking French. And even their closest friends retained the titles when they were spoken of in front of children. As the years passed, I watched this dissolve, as most of our own friends specifically did not want any honorific, unless it was the compromise of a non-relational "Aunt" or "Uncle." In some families children even call their parents by first name.
Why? Why this suspicion of anything formal, polite, or respectful? Is it from humility, or more precisely the feeling that others should be humble? Or because we have been taught to see excellence in manners as undemocratic, as C. S. Lewis observed in Screwtape Proposes a Toast? Or perhaps because we believe it hypocritical to honor those whose behavior has demonstrated that they don't deserve our respect?
On the contrary.
We have pomp, ceremony, rituals, oaths, symbols, traditions, and manners not because we deserve them, but because we don't.
When I first met the man who turned out to be one of my favorite pastors ever, he surprised me by asking us to call him "Father." Years of Evangelical Christian sensibilities were not ready for that. But I liked his explanation: Use of the title was an ever-present reminder that the office of priest—his calling, his vocation—was a higher and better thing than the man filling it.
In the military, you salute the uniform, not the man. A couple in love does not need "a piece of paper" to prove it, but the promises, the ceremony, and the legal standing serve to uphold that love when it is tested and struggling. Maintaining historical liturgy can help keep a church from descending into apostasy even in the hands of a heretical priest. Blurring the line between adults and children opens the door to unhealthy disrespect and even child abuse. And sometimes parents need reminding that it's our turn to be the adults in a relationship, and to act accordingly.
Watching the two recent British ceremonies, knowing the difficulties and just plain terrible behavior that beset the Royal Family, I could almost see them rising to the occasion, becoming better, at least briefly, as they conformed themselves to the customs and expectations of their positions. If I lived under a monarchy, even a constitutional monarchy, I think I'd want my king to be upheld by the traditions and trappings that encourage him to act more wisely and righteously than he is by nature.
We have pomp, ceremony, rituals, oaths, symbols, traditions, and manners not because we deserve them, but because we don't.
I've mentioned the Task & Purpose YouTube channel before. Here's another fascinating report, about how Raytheon's new laser weapon is a promising defense against military drones, which have become a deadly problem.
Who knew that those hours and hours our boys have spent playing video games would turn out to be so valuable?
You know I'm a big fan of Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying—the folks I call my favorite Left Coast Liberals. There's a lot we disagree about, but plenty of common ground, and I admire their dogged search for truth and willingness to follow where it leads, even if that sometimes aligns them with people they were once taught to despise.
For longer than I have known of them, YouTube has been profiting off their popular DarkHorse Podcast without remunerating them in any way. That is, YouTube "demonetized" them, which means that they can no longer get revenue from the ads YouTube attaches to their posts. The ads are still there, but YouTube takes all the profit for themselves, instead of just a percentage. (Okay, I'm aware that 100% is also a percentage; you know what I mean.) It's a dirty trick, and forces content creators to tie themselves in knots trying to avoid giving YouTube an excuse to demonetize them or to shut them down altogether. In frustration and protest, many creators have left YouTube. But that's a tough way to go, as YouTube's stranglehold as a video content platform is exceedingly strong.
One alternative that has become more and more popular is Rumble, largely because it makes a point of censoring only the most egregious content (e.g. pornography, illegal behavior) while encouraging free speech and debate, including unpopular views—such as the idea that the COVID-19 virus was originally created in the Wuhan lab during U.S.-sponsored gain-of-function research. While widely accepted now, it was not long ago that expressing such an opinion on YouTube was a fast track to oblivion.
Rumble has been steadily making improvements, but it's still not as polished and easy to use as YouTube. YouTube still has a virtual monopoly, so few content creators can afford to drop it altogether. And if your content has no political, medical, or socially-unacceptable content, it's hard to find the incentive to make the effort to switch. So I won't be boycotting YouTube any time soon.
That said, I'm glad to see that while we were out of the country, DarkHorse began moving to Rumble. Apparently they will do what many other creators have done, keeping a smaller presence on YouTube, which has by far the wider reach, while enduing Rumble with additional content. Viva Frei, for example (my favorite Canadian lawyer's site), does the first half hour or so of his podcast on both YouTube and Rumble, then invites his YouTube viewers to move to Rumble for the rest of the show. How it will eventually work out for DarkHorse I don't know yet, but for the moment, their podcasts still appear on YouTube, but the question-and-answer sessions, along with some other content, are exclusive to Rumble.
In honor of DarkHorse's new venue, and to give myself a chance to learn how to embed a Rumble video here, the following is the Q&A session from Podcast #175.
Embedding the video turned out go be easy enough, but I haven't yet figured out how to specify beginning and ending times. So I'll just mention that the section from 12:47 to 31:10, where Bret and Heather deal with the subject of childhood vaccinations, is particularly profitable. It may lead some of my readers to realize how insightful they themselves were many long years ago.
Heather's brief environmental rant from 1:11:35 to 1:12:45 is also worth listening to.
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The following is excerpted from an article in the June 1980 National Geographic magazine: "Indonesia’s Orangutans: Living with the Great Orange Apes," by Biruté M. F. Galdikas, adjunct associate professor of anthropology, University of New Mexico. Her son, Binti, was born at their research camp and lived there until he was three years old.
Bin’s development during the first year helped clear up my own thinking. Up to that point most of my adult life in the forest had been orangutans and more orangutans. … After five years of living with orangutans, I had reached the point where the line between human and ape was getting somewhat blurred.
Sometimes I felt as though I were surrounded by wild, unruly children in orange suits who had not yet learned their manners. They used tools, liked to wear bits and pieces of clothing, loved to indulge in junk food and candies, were insatiably curious, wanted constant affection and attention, expressed emotions such as anger and embarrassment in a manner seemly very similar to human beings.
Further, laboratory studies that indicated apes could use sign language and were capable of complex reasoning made me wonder. I was actually beginning to doubt whether orangutans were all that different from human beings.
But Bin’s behavior in his first year highlighted the differences very clearly, and offered me a new perspective. At the same time I was hand raising Princess, a 1- to 2-year-old orangutan female. A 1-year-old orangutan merely clings to its mother (or me in this case), showing little interest in things other than to chew on them or put them on its head. For Princess the main interest in life seemed to be sustenance. This trait would continue throughout life; orangutans are extremely food oriented.
Bin, on the other hand, was not particularly food oriented; in fact, unless he was very hungry, he gave all his food to Princess. He was also fascinated by objects and implements and would watch in great concentration whenever Rod or I, or an orangutan for that matter, used one of them. He was constantly manipulating objects. Another major difference was that Bin babbled constantly, while Princess was silent except when squealing.
I found it fascinating that many of the traits associated with the emergence of humankind were already expressed in Bin’s development before the age of 1: bipedal locomotion, food sharing, tool using, speech. These differentiated him sharply from an orangutan of equivalent age. I knew from my experience … that orangutans were capable of such behavior at a later age, but it never developed as fully.
The 20th anniversary DarkHorse Podcast is full of apparently random interesting topics. If you have the time for the whole hour and 40 minute show, you can skip to about minute 11:30 to get past the ads. There is discussion of sea star wasting disease, then a very long section on telomeres and how both the New York Times (no surprise) and the New England Journal of Medicine (more concerning) recently managed to ignore critical information that was known 20 years ago.
I enjoyed those parts, but if you just start at 1:13:00 you'll get 26 minutes of really good stuff, I think. From finding truth in the words of people with whom you have serious disagreements, to the complex problem of moving forward without losing the good of what you've left behind, to why dishwashers that use less water might poison the environment by forcing the use of more and stronger detergents.
My favorite part, however, and the part I think some of our family members will appreciate, is the discussion of Elimination Communication at about 1:28:10, and the idea of the new mother's "babymoon" period just before that. (They don't use either of those terms, however.) Not that our famly will find anything new there—and it's been known for years among the homeschool/home birth/breastfeeding/raw milk/organic food/homesteading/etc. crowd. What's so interesting to me is that it shows up in this podcast, totally unexpectedly. In their naïveté about the subject, Bret and Heather get some things wrong (as their listeners were quick to point out) but they get a lot right, too, and at least they are aware of it, which most people are not.
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Over the years, Porter has ordered all sorts of movies from Netflix (the old-fashioned, DVD-in-the-mail way), and every once in a while one will catch my attention, too. I wasn't planning to watch Bridge of Spies, but I wandered into the room at the wrong time, and was soon hooked. Probably because it's based on true events, maybe because it stars Tom Hanks. Anyway, it's a worthwhile movie. Here's one of the trailers (under two minutes).
What has stayed with me clearest and longest from the movie is a single quote. Actually, it's one quote but used multiple times. You can see three in this 2.5-minute video.
"Would it help?" We find ourselves asking each other that question a lot these days, when we all have so many things to worry about. It makes us smile, and maybe let go of a little anxiety.
One advantage to having aligned myself with the more "high church" denominations is that the major holidays. Twelve days of Christmas and 50 days of Easter! Therefore I get to post this Babylon Bee Easter skit. The background is this passage from the 28th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, describing the situation a few days after Jesus was crucified and buried in a rock tomb.
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead....”
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed.
It must have been a goodly sum of money to get the guards to confess to having fallen asleep on duty. I'm sure the penalties for that were severe—not to mention the shame. And the story about Jesus' disciples stealing his body and pretending that he had risen from the dead could easily have had credibility in the early days. But given what they later went through because of their insistence on the truth of Jesus' resurrection, I don't see how it could have held up. (five-minute video)
Sure, people throughout history have given themselves over to torture and death for things they believed to be true and important, even if they were wrong. But how long could you maintain that attitude about a lie that you knew to be a lie because you orchestrated it yourself?
It begins early, the idea that there is only one right answer to a problem.
Here's part of a journal entry from when one of our children was in first grade:
She brought home several papers of the kind in which she had to identify beginning and ending sounds. The focus of one was a set of images, for which she was supposed to indicate whether the "p" sound came at the beginning or the end.
Next to the picture of a policeman, she had indicated that the "p" was at the end, and the the teacher had corrected it to the beginning, without further comment.
You can probably guess what comes next.
I asked our daughter what the picture was, and she replied, "cop."
What if I had not been there to assure her that her answer was perfectly correct, and to explain why the teacher thought it was wrong?
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In honor of Holy Week and Easter, I present this 12-minute guide to the "What is it with all those different kinds of Christian churches?" question. You could be forgiven for suspecting this to be another offering from the Babylon Bee, but although it may be fun, it's serious, and surprisingly accurate. Being Anglican myself, I especially appreciate this line:
it's difficult to understand what Anglicanism really is, but don't worry, they don't understand it either.
Try not to get confused by the direction of the arrows from 10:20 to 10:34, which seem backwards to me. It must be one of those mysteries the Orthodox are always talking about.
Our Palm Sunday service went well yesterday, and it was a joy to sing our anthem: Hosanna and Hallelujah (Ovokaitys/Thomson/Raney)—suitably modified because "Hallelujah" is verboten during Lent. But I'm fighting sadness because the "ordinariness" of the service, and the anticipated blandness of worship for Holy Week and Easter to come, is such a contrast to the gloriousness of worship services we have had in the past. The fact that our pared-down services are saving us a lot of work and stress, while appreciated, does not quite make up for the loss of joy.
It was good therapy to run into this photo from Palm Sunday, 2020, when affixing a palm to our front door was the best we could do, because our church had done the unheard of: The doors were closed—services shut down for the holiest and most joyful week of the Church Year.
It was but the beginning of sorrows. And this was not even the work of the state, which had exempted religious services from stay-at-home orders, but of our own Episcopal hierarchy. It was a sad and shameful time.
Our worship services may seem depressingly mundane to me these days, but they exist, and the choirs are singing, and we sit next to our neighbors once again—and even occasionally hug them. That's a lot to be thankful for: a loud hosanna!, and an even louder hallelujah! in six more days.