A time to weep

That, of course, is Notre Dame de Paris, as she has looked since roughly 1260. The interior it is said requited cutting some 52 acres of timber. That’s a lot of wood. And it’s been quite the life, through war and revolution, and even desecration, it’s hung on. But this morning it looks different.

Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier – RC1AC7F22C50

Frankly, it hit me as I watched very much like watching the attack on the World Trade Center did, for both were symbols the WTC of a proud trading nation, and Notre Dame of a time when lives were centered on God, not ourselves. I sat here for a while yesterday, watching through my tears, even as I did on 9/11. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of that, it just is. Not only me, either.

The French say it was just an accident caused by the renovators currently working there. Like most of you, I tend to distrust governments because they have a propensity to lie, to cover up, on the other hand, it would hardly be the first time a careless workman destroyed a building. So, it likely is so.

The French also say it will be rebuilt, and already contributions are pouring in. But I wonder, are they rebuilding a historic building, or a tourist attraction, or a house of God. The name is Our Lady of Paris after all, and the French have not been noted for their Christianity since before the Revolution. So we (or more likely you younger people) will see. I will pray for the rebuilding of a house of God.

Some, at least of the relics and artwork were saved, amongst them The Crown of Thorns, reputed to be the actual Crown of Thorns that was pressed on Jesus’s head this very week long ago. It may or may not be the original, but it is a reminder.

Another parallel with the Trade Center. I suspect some of you remember this, as I instantly did yesterday.

This is from the interior of Notre Dame this morning.

And so, again, the essential remains, and we have received a message, we would do well to heed.

Ecclesiastes 3 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather. A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.

A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away.

A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

A time of love, and a time of hatred. A time of war, and a time of peace.

What hath man more of his labour?

10 I have seen the trouble, which God hath given the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made all things good in their time, and hath delivered the world to their consideration, so that man cannot find out the work which God hath made from the beginning to the end.

12 And I have known that there was no better thing than to rejoice, and to do well in this life.

13 For every man that eateth and drinketh, and seeth good of his labour, this is the gift of God.

14 I have learned that all the works which God hath made, continue for ever: we cannot add any thing, nor take away from those things which God hath made that he may be feared.

15 That which hath been made, the same continueth: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restoreth that which is past.

16 I saw under the sun in the place of judgment wickedness, and in the place of justice iniquity.

17 And I said in my heart: God shall judge both the just and the wicked, and then shall be the time of every thing.

18 I said in my heart concerning the sons of men, that God would prove them, and shew them to be like beasts.

19 Therefore the death of man, and of beasts is one, and the condition of them both is equal: as man dieth, so they also die: all things breathe alike, and man hath nothing more than beast: all things are subject to vanity.

20 And all things go to one place: of earth they were made, and into earth they return together.

21 Who knoweth if the spirit of the children of Adam ascend upward, and if the spirit of the beasts descend downward?

22 And I have found that nothing is better than for a man to rejoice in his work, and that this is his portion. For who shall bring him to know the things that shall be after him?

Alex Trebek and an American Tradition

And so, Wednesday brought word from Alex Trebek that he has stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. Nat a good thing when you are 78, or ever in fact. We wish him a speedy recovery, and he will be in our prayers, but…well we are realists.

We’re also fans of Jeopardy, and it seems like we have been all our lives. Probably not least because we have stashed all sorts of unrelated and useless information, the perfect mess for playing Jeopardy, as it were. I can barely remember back at Bedrock High, a jeopardy contest, and quite a few bars over the years where the competition was spirited and friendly.

Mr. Trebek long ago made Jeopardy his own, I know he wasn’t the first host, although I can’t put a name to him, it was a perfect match, of host with program. Just as Monty Hall was on Let’s Make a Deal, Allen Ludden on Password. I can remember Bill Cullen and the GE Colleg Bowl, but it seemed impossibly hard at the time, but I was fairly young. But I’ve met many who find Jeopardy too hard as well.

Christopher Jacobs over at The Federalist makes the point that Alex is the very last man standing, the last real, professional game show host. He’s right, but let him tell it.

Few Game Shows Today

By comparison, few individuals currently on the air besides Trebek have hosted multiple game shows. Regis Philbin might qualify as a possible exception, having hosted a brief revival of “Password” after having helmed “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” But few individuals have hosted multiple game shows because so few game shows currently air.

Television dynamics have changed substantially in recent decades. The growth of syndicated daytime talk shows, beginning in the 1980s, eroded one block of time slots for game shows. And the launch of “Survivor” in 1998 heralded a new era of “reality” television programming in prime time, with cheaper costs and greater appeal to network executives.

From time to time, game shows have reappeared on the television landscape. “Millionaire” single-handedly resurrected ABC’s flagging fortunes in 1999 and 2000, prompting a series of imitators to launch big-money game shows. But ABC aired “Millionaire” episodes so frequently they ran the franchise into the ground, forcing it into daytime syndication, while “Greed,” “The Weakest Link,” a “Twenty-One” revival, and others soon disappeared entirely.

Television studios do occasionally air game shows, often during the slow summer season. When they’ve had a need, they have usually hired comedians—Steve Harvey at “Family Feud,” Drew Carey for “The Price Is Right,” Alec Baldwin for “Match Game”—or talk show hosts—Regis Philbin at “Millionaire” and Michael Strahan for a revival of the “$100,000 Pyramid.”

But the days of a single host making a stable living going from show to show, and developing a distinct identity as a game show host, have long since disappeared from the television marketplace. That makes Trebek not just an icon for fans of “Jeopardy!,” quiz shows, and trivia, but the last of his kind for an entire television genre.

That’s said, I’m a Jeopardy guy, and have been since High School, but dad and my favorite niece both favor The Price is Right, and Mom liked Password.

But I suspect the game show itself may be nearing the end of the road. At it’s best, it was communal viewing, at home as a family playing along, as we all do on Wheel of Fortune, and watching Jeopardy was always best with a group of friends playing along. That’s even true for The Price is Right, mindless as it sometimes seems.

But communal or family events are not doing so well in America these days seems like everybody has the nose stuck in their phone constantly instead of reacting to those they are with.

I’ll take sad for a $1000, Alex.

CPAC, and Breitbart

I started blogging in 2011, never intending to do as much politics as I do, but it grabbed me and has never really let go. One of the things that braced me to it, was CPAC, which I had never heard of. What an enlightenment it was, to find there were others who thought as I did (and do).

Then there was Andre Breitbart, the happiest warrior for truth, justice, and the American way anyone could imagine. Combine the two, and you have this, via Nice Deb, Andre Breitbart at CPAC 2012, including the introduction by Sonnie Johnson.

What a feeling that was, I all but sat here and cheered, and then the unthinkable, he was gone, the first of many things we lost that year, including a lot of our political naivete. Not too mention the Presidency. But what Andrew talked about that year at CPAC is still true, they still want to destroy us, and they will if we let them. Here’s what I wrote, seven years ago, yesterday. How long it seems.

I imagine that most of us know already that Andrew Breitbart, of the “Big” sites, died last night. Age 43 is too young but, that is out of our hands.

Let’s talk a bit about things here. I and most of you who are about my age tend to put important thoughts into the written word. It’s the way we (and hundreds of generations before us) were trained. To thrill at the powerful, poetic, or moving word image. For instance, who amongst us doesn’t instantly recall the scene of  “Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor“. Words, and sentence construction matter.

But you know, the generation behind mine, started changing that, due to a convergence of technology, it became possible for normal, everyday people to use the spoken word, film, all aspects of multimedia to move humanity, in ways that those of us that are limited to the spoken word, never could. Most of us have come at least part of the way, many of you farther than I have, but all of us a considerable way. It’s good, I think. I also think it reckons back to our prehistory, before the written language when all knowledge was what you had seen, or been told.

Andrew Breitbart epitomized that change, he was a tireless champion of individual freedom to rank with Thomas Paine, if not higher. He is was almost exactly half a generation younger than me. He did a wonderful job of focusing attention on those things that impinged on individual freedom. A Champion of Freedom, indeed. Incidentally, the phrase comes from Sean Hannity in a phone interview with Martha McCallum this morning. That alone tells you how the world has changed, that I feel no need to further identify those two people because I’m confident that you all know who they are.

Breitbart, personally, always reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt, with his zest for life, his utter fearlessness, and his unsurpassed zest for life and battle, and his jutting jaw. He will be missed. But we will see him again when we rejoin the Armies of Freedom on the other side.

So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

And so we lost a warrior and a leader, but we are still here because as he said if you can’t sell freedom, you really do suck. Get to selling.

CPAC 2019 goes on as we speak, I imagine we’ll have some videos from that one day soon.

 

Earthrise

Fifty years ago, Christmas was. like it is this year, a welcome balm. 1968 was a year when we thought the United States might get ripped apart, even as it seems now. But it ended up with something that while not a miracle, was about as close as men have ever come, Apollo 8 orbited the moon. The chant USA wasn’t invented till the1980 Olympics, but that is how it felt.  Howard Chang and Jordan Lorence writing in The Federalist reminds us how it happened.

Many say Apollo 8 redeemed 1968. The first manned space mission to circle the Moon did so on Christmas Eve, and gave hope to weary millions jolted by the chaotic tumult of events in 1968.

The year that ended with the unifying wonder of Apollo 8 began with the aggressive attacks of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in late January, followed by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. in April and Robert F. Kennedy in June. Riots engulfed cities with fire and rage, and violent protests later that summer rocked the Democratic convention in Chicago, leading to a bitter, divisive presidential election that November.

The growing cascade of fury made it seem that everything was falling apart. But then, one bright hope crowned 1968: for the first time in history, humans flew around the Moon.

NASA’s Hard Year

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) designated Apollo 8 as the mission to pioneer sending people to the Moon, but they planned it with great apprehension. Less than two years earlier, NASA had lost three astronauts during the Apollo 1 launch pad fire. Neither the public, nor Congress, would accept three more dead astronauts.

Had their extensive work fixed all of the problems? The new mission was far from a sure thing: Apollo 8 would be only the second human launch since the Apollo 1 fire; humans had not flown using the massive Saturn V rocket required to reach the Moon; the farthest humans had left Earth’s orbit was 850 miles, during the Gemini missions, as compared to the 240,000 miles necessary to reach the Moon’s orbit; during orbit, the spacecraft would periodically pass behind the Moon and lose contact with Earth; and if the engine failed to fire while trying to return to Earth, the crew would be forever trapped in space.

Do read the rest, but the key is this, on that long ago Christmas Eve, as we all watched the Earth rise above the horizon, the very first Earthrise man had witnessed. As they did so they read this to us.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry landEarth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it wasgood.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there islife, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

And suddenly the world changed, even before they got home two days later.

A Boondoggle in Hoosierland

From James Taylor at American Spectator.

Under a renewable energy proposal from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Indiana consumers would face a 12 percent electricity rate hike, which will cost the average household more than $100 per year in additional electricity costs. NIPSCO is justifying its renewable power rate hike by asserting renewable power saves consumers money, but there’s absolutely no truth to these claims.

Indiana ranks seventh in the nation in coal production and generates 68 percent of its power from coal. Together, affordable coal and natural gas generate 95 percent of Indiana’s electricity. As a result, Indiana electricity prices are substantially lower than the national average. National electricity prices are 10 percent higher than in Indiana.

Unfortunately, NIPSCO wants to put an end to these low prices. It is proposing to shut down two perfectly functioning coal power plants that provide much of NIPSCO’s low-cost electricity. In their place, NIPSCO wants to build expensive wind and solar power equipment and battery storage for when the wind isn’t blowing or the Sun isn’t shining. NIPSCO claims transitioning from affordable coal power to wind and solar will save consumers money, but at the same time that it makes these unfounded claims, NIPSCO is proposing to hike electricity rates 12 percent to pay for the renewable energy “savings.”

NIPSCO is a government-protected monopoly utility, with Indiana state government guaranteeing NIPSCO a profit of approximately 10 percent for every dollar it spends. Accordingly, NIPSCO has a financial self-interest to engage in costly business practices. Building expensive new power facilities, even when existing facilities are working perfectly well, is one of the most effective ways for NIPSCO to ramp up its spending and guaranteed profits, and it does so at the expense of consumers, many of whom will have no knowledge that their electricity bills are about to rise substantially.

In return for NIPSCO receiving guaranteed profits on its expenditures, the Indiana Utility Regulation Commission (IURC) must approve any NIPSCO major investment proposals. In its filing with the IURC, NIPSCO claims its proposal to shut down its coal power plants will save consumers more than $4 billion.

More at the above link.

Which it won’t, not least because windpower installations rarely last beyond 20 years, solar I don’t know, but doubt they are any more durable, and with current technology, batteries won’t last a decade.

It’s pie in the sky bullshit, dreamed up to placate the left, which many of the executives of these companies are of anyway.

But a blast from the past for me. NIPSCO was part of my growing up. As I’ve said, my dad ran a Rural Electric Coop, one of those local associations formed when companies like NIPSCO wouldn’t extend their lines out into the country (mostly farms in those days). Those coops had a love/hate relationship with the privately owned companies. Bought power from them, sometimes even shared poles, but fought like brother and sisters about everything, especially the price of power. In the field, we cooperated fine, which is normal.

So as it happened, dad knew the guy that built NIPSCO from a pretty small municipal water company to the electric and gas utility for most of northern Indiana. Knew him and respected him, and it was returned. They often opposed each other, but each knew the other would fight reasonably fairly.

When I was in my early teens I came by dad’s office one day (most days, really), his secretary waved me off, he had a visitor, not uncommon. I went and amused myself in the shop. A half hour or so later here came dad with a guy in the nicest suit I’d ever seen through our pretty neat but not sparkling shop. He was the CEO of NIPSCO, and the three of us spent a couple hours sitting on shop stools, shooting the breeze. He was a pretty interesting guy to talk to, much more of an office guy than dad was. Learned quite a bit that afternoon. Never forgot how nice he was to me, and how complimentary to dad, either.

Doesn’t happen much like that anymore, that respect for the opposition, the world has changed, and not for the better. Hard men, but fair, now we have soft men (boys really, more than I was at 13) but completely willing to employ any means to win, fair or not. And mostly, that’s what is running our government and our companies, even our unions these days. Running it all, right into the ground.

This deal? Par for the course. Good deal perhaps for the shareholders, certainly for the management, crap for the customer.

No better, no worse than any other alternative energy scheme, really. It’s all the same.

Mandarins and Admirals

I seem to be a bit under the weather, not really sick, but instead of my normal 4-5 hours of sleep, all of a sudden, I’m sleeping 7 to 8. No bad thing, really, but my schedule doesn’t allow for it. So my posts tend to be late. So sue me. Enjoy.

We’ve talked about the ruling class fairly often, sometimes in passing, sometimes deliberately. Here some more, from Chris Bray at The Federalist. Well thought through.

In the first days of July, 1940, the American diplomat Robert Murphy took up his duties as the chargé d’affaires at the new U.S. embassy in Vichy, France. Coming from his recent post in Paris, he was as impressed as he expected to be by the quality of the Vichy mandarinate, a highly credentialed class of sophisticated officials who were “products of the most rigorous education and curricula in any public administration in the world.”

As the historian Robert Paxton would write, French officials were “the elite of the elite, selected through a daunting series of relentless examinations for which one prepared at expensive private schools.” In July 1940, the elite of the elite governed the remains of their broken nation, a few days after Adolf Hitler toured Paris as its conqueror. Credentials were the key to holding public office, but not the key to success at the country’s business.

DeGaulle, both a Catholic and an army officer, was the ultimate outsider. Well, you know that story.

In any society, the right to authority is derived from some origin everyone understands: education, bloodlines, swords in lakes. What gives the people who run the place the right to run it? Why are the leaders the leaders?

More importantly, how well does the gatekeeping work? Do the steps for choosing leaders in a society put it on a path to peace, power, and prosperity? If everyone who runs Freedonia gets to hold a position of authority because she found a magic dingleberry on the hidden path, does finding a magic dingleberry on the hidden path demonstrate that a person has consistent and effective forms of practical knowledge?[…]

Historical shifts, changes in technology and the structure of global power, undermine old knowledge and credentials. An elite status group highly gifted at X may turn out, in a new day, to lack gifts for managing Not X. Yesterday’s talent may not matter today.

Today a well-entrenched class of professional thinkers largely understands expertise as the product of formal education and relationships to elite universities: You become an expert, or start to, by acquiring academic credentials. Extra points for grad school, and more points still for being a professor like Paul Krugman or Jonathan Gruber. Like the administrative class in Vichy France, or the scholar-officials of imperial China, you’re smart if you go to school a lot and excel on your exams, so you get to be in charge of some piece of the political or cultural mechanism.

But is it working? Are our credentialing instruments producing people who are capable of practical action? To borrow a question from firefighters, can our credential-holders put the wet stuff on the red stuff?

Nearly a decade ago, Angelo Codevilla noticed the calcification of the American ruling class, a thing we sometimes pretend not to have. Our elites, he wrote, are “formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits.” Thoroughly enculturated, the American elite gathers itself around a “social canon” that one does not question. Speaking of societal controversy with the wrong words puts a person outside the circle, out there in flyover country with the deplorables.

It’s even more true in Britain, as near as I can tell, and more stifling as well. This is, of course, one of the causes of ‘politically correct’.

For 40 years, with gathering uniformity of purpose, our credentialing institutions have taught postures rather than skills, attitudes rather than knowledge. This isn’t invariably true, and many fine scholars have taught many excellent practitioners, especially outside of the humanities and social sciences. But the overarching trend is toward training in intellectual and psychological uniformity, toward the world of excellent sheep. […]

Staffing up a new administration, Barack Obama hired Power, professor Cass Sunstein, professor Steven Chu, professor Christina Romer, and so on. Donald Trump hired generals, CEOs, and governors, people who were credentialed by lives of action and management. This isn’t disagreement; this is a difference of foundational premises.

In short: Trump declines the authority of the cultural sectors that most assertively claim it. That’s the conflict, and that’s why it’s being played in a relentless tone of hysteria. There are credentialing authorities — and credential-holding elites — who can see the path to their own obsolescence. Like the empress dowager, they will not go quietly.

But if we are to remain America qua America, go they must.

There’s much more, all of it very good at Our Culture War Is Between People Who Get Results And Empty Suits With Pristine Credentials

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