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Just a Personal Note

 

I’ve been doing some research on the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, and the Sheriff. It’s depressing, especially when I think about the Chicago Police Commander that ran to engage a dangerous felon. He led by example, and sometimes that comes with a price. He lost his life, a wife lost her husband, a child lost her father, and his fellow officers lost a good police officer.

I’ve always believed that you cannot use a law enforcement agency to further political goals, especially goals that include ignoring crimes to please a specific group of people, or to increase your federal funding, or to push a narrative. There are also some serious corruption problems within this department.

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The Magic Goes Away

 

It is hard to believe that 20 years have passed, but 1998 seems like it was just yesterday. That year, I had moved to San Antonio after having lived in Montana for a while, and I was not happy. I was 23 years old and I felt my life was over, for it had no discernible direction. Thoughts of an academic career had not yet entered my mind.

Amidst all the uncertainty, I found a source of joyful escapism: the local hometown professional basketball team, the San Antonio Spurs. After a months-long delay due to a disagreement between league management and players, the 1998-99 NBA season got underway in January 1999, and questions abounded regarding who would succeed the Chicago Bulls as league champions, Michael Jordan and company having either retired or signed on with other teams.

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I Thought Today Might Be Less Stupid Than Yesterday. Sadly, No.

 

Some high school students and Louisiana saw another student draw a square root symbol as part of a math problem. Thinking it resembled a gun, they flew into a panic and called police. Police went to the math student’s home and searched it. I am not making this up.

My actual favorite part of this story is how the reporter felt it necessary to explain, “the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number.”

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Why Billy Graham Matters

 

In the early 1900s new ideas began to take root from Germany. Instead of starting with the Bible as the source of authority and working out to change lives and culture, we should begin with the authority of the Enlightenment — reason, scientific method, and literary criticism — and mold the Bible to its conclusions. The result of this movement is called modernism or liberal theology where one was free to rearrange any doctrine from the virgin birth to the resurrection to the writings of Paul according to this presumably higher criticism of truth.

In response to this movement Bible believers financed and distributed to churches a volume of books called The Fundamentals enumerating historical Christian beliefs in an attempt to push back this new onslaught. The Bible was God’s revelation and therefore its truths and teaching should prevail. Those behind this way of thinking about the Bible were called Fundamentalists.

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Why Do Russians Cheat?

 

Things began to change when we started to figure out hormones in the ’60s. Our treatments for thyroid disease, post-menopausal heart disease, breast cancer, and so on changed profoundly. And of course, this led to one of the most important events of the past 150 years – the introduction of the birth control pill.

That changed the world. But hormone research changed sports, too. As soon as steroids became available, the Soviets started experimenting with them in their athletes. When the Soviet athletes would show up to international competition looking like Lou Ferrigno (and their men were even bigger), the Western trainers would ask them how on earth they were building such remarkable athletes. The Soviet trainers told them of a new technology they were using: electro-stimulation.

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Spring Break

 

Attention faithful Ricochet Podcast listeners: We know what you’re thinking — after last week’s donnybrook, you’re looking for a nice, civil chat from your favorite audio based pundits. Well, we had planned to do a show this week, but due to some very complex travel plans of the hosts and the producer, well, we sadly could not find a good time to get one recorded.

We promise we’ll be back next week with a super duper show. In the meantime, enjoy this brief respite from the punditocracy.

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The Unluckiest Man in the World

 

It was 10:30 AM on a sunny winter morning. Looking for a break, I bundled up and walked up to the convenience store to buy my lottery ticket. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve heard it before. “Lotteries are a tax on people who don’t understand math.” It’s true. And especially for those who don’t understand the branch of math known as probability. If you spend money on tickets while thinking, “I’m gonna win,” you’ve already lost.

But that’s not how I buy lottery tickets. For me, they’re a form of entertainment. My wife loves to go to concerts and plays and movies as her form of entertainment. She easily spends hundreds of dollars per year. She gets charged up in crowds. Me? I get drained by being in crowds. I’ll do it occasionally, mind you. I go to some of the concerts, plays, and movies with her. While I do it, I’m often thinking I could be home working. So, how does a workaholic with an aversion to crowds let off steam and recharge? Daydreams. I can spend a buck or two on a ticket and then take a 10-minute break every few hours to imagine how my life would change if I won. Usually, it comes down to, who would I give the money to? I like what I do. I wouldn’t stop doing it just because I won a lottery. Still, my church could use a bit more and there are a few non-profits I would support, and I might set up something for my nieces and nephews, although that is less likely. The older ones have never done anything to contact me. I send them presents, and what do I get? A thank you note? Nope. Forget about them.

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Ever Get the Feeling You’ve Been Cheated, Jake?

 

Jake, for some time now, you’ve been one of the few mainstream media reporters I could tolerate, because you seemed like you played it straight. I may not always agree with how you presented the news, but it seemed like you took the time to try to understand both sides and let that understanding guide your stories.

So my question for you is this: When did you find out that a Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy stood by at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and did nothing as 17 children were slaughtered? Was it before the town hall, or after it? Would have moderated this Two Minutes Hate had you known that it was cowardice that led to this slaughter, not one particular style of gun? Would you have let Sheriff Lobo Israel run roughshod over Dana Loesch knowing that the incompetency of his department had a direct impact on the scope of the slaughter?

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Quote of the Day: Outrage Politics

 

“We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Isn’t it strange how C.S. Lewis’s description of hell so closely matches the outrage politics of today? Or maybe it isn’t.

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ACF#27 Ex Machina

 

Out in theaters this weekend is Alex Garland’s second directorial feature, Annihilation, so the American Cinema Foundation is bringing you a discussion of his directorial feature, Ex Machina, starring Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, and Domnhall Gleeson, and which earned Garland his first Oscar nomination, for Best Writing Original Screenplay. We talk about everything from the movie’s warning about how we might replay creation, as per Genesis, and get it wrong, being that we’re not God, to the strange way in which sci-fi has become the last place for heroes, for moral stories where we, faced with crisis, retrieve an understanding of our own human nature that helps us make sense of the future.

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Now for Some Complications

 

Some of you have been generously helping out in my quixotic, querulous quest to understand abortion in America. One of the things that prevents me from becoming an enthusiastic Pro-Lifer is the emphasis not just on overturning Roe, but on enacting laws to outlaw abortion either completely, or after a certain gestational age.

I am — as friends already know — a serious baby-person. I feel very protective towards little ones, born and unborn. I agree that it is dreadful — unconscionable — that we have created a culture in which it is considered normal and even desirable that abortion terminates hundreds of thousands of healthy, normal pregnancies.

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Trump and the Evangelicals

 

Ever since Trump’s election, the lopsided statistics concerning Evangelical involvement in his victory have not gone away. They continue to be trotted out as though they were a shocking revelation of some kind of hypocrisy within the Christian right. So, of course, in response to the National Prayer Breakfast, NPR had several guests on to discuss Christianity in relationship to the Trump Presidency.

Larry Mantle began by questioning Professor Marie Griffith of Washington University:

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Q&A with Francisco Gonzalez of National Review Institute

 

We recently caught up with Francisco Gonzalez. Francisco is the Director of Philanthropy of National Review Institute, the host of the Agents of Innovation podcast, and recently named among the “Central Florida 100 Voices” by the Orlando Sentinel. The founding directors of Lone Star Policy Institute are alumni of the National Review Institute regional fellows program in Dallas. So, we enjoyed asking Francisco about NRI’s vision for Texas.

Q: Introduce yourself. Tell us about National Review Institute and your role there.

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A World of Trumpkins

 

Are we living in a world of Trumpkins? (Before anyone panics about banned words, I’m referring here to Trumpkin the Red Dwarf in Prince Caspian, the second book in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. This post has nothing to do with the President or his more exuberant fans.) In our world of believers and non-believers, who does Trumpkin represent, and what does this mean for the future? These are the questions I’ve found myself asking, and now will pass on to you.

There’s probably not any need to put a spoiler alert on a book published 60 years ago, but … yes, this will go into detail about both this story and the others in the series. 

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