Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

And a big Thank You to JK Rowling for writing the novels that captivated me, an old lady. After seeing the first movie in 2001, I was totally hooked on Potter and his world of witches, wizards, spells, and potions.  I was thoroughly entranced by the movie, and I thought the casting of the main characters was as perfect as it ever could be.  Even today, the first movie is my favorite, and we watch it every so often. Of course, I have all the books, and have read them all dozens of times.  I am collecting the illustrated editions, and can hardly wait for Goblet of Fire this October.  I am a Pottermore user, and have been sorted into my houses at both Hogwarts (Slytherin) and Ilvermorny (Horned Serpent-see a pattern here?).  I have got my wand (pine wood with unicorn tail hair), and Patronus (stoat).

JK Rowling, for me, is just like Dorothy L. Sayers, in creating real people in her characters.  Peter Wimsey, Sayers’s aristocrat detective, seemed just like someone you might meet, and if you look closely, you will see elements that Rowling pulled from Sayers in the Harry Potter oeuvre (where else would she have found the name Cattermole, but in “Gaudy Night”?).

Best wishes to all the Potters, and all the Wizarding World!

You can’t spell Democrats without…

You can’t spell Democrats without…

Rats.  Those wily little rodents are much in the news lately, after our President took jabs at Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings who represents Baltimore.  It seems that more than one news outlet in that area has done stories, and documentaries describing the rat-infestation problems in Baltimore.  It is well-known that rats follow humans wherever they go, or live, and have been since time immemorial (probably since humans settled down in towns and engaged in agriculture).  Cities with endemic poverty, like Baltimore, have more rats than other places.

New York City has its own rat problem, in various neighborhoods, says a story in Pravda on the Hudson (hat tip, Prof. Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College), better known as the New York Times.

Los Angeles is also home to an excess of rats, who have brought with them ancient diseases like Typhus, that have not been seen in America in over a century.

Even Austin, Texas has its own rat infestation.

Seattle, which has one of the largest homeless populations in the US, is plagued by new infestations of rats, which like the abundant trash they can find in the homeless camps scattered around the formerly-beautiful city.

And what do all the cities mentioned above have in common?  They have been run for decades by, you guessed it, DemocRATS.

‘Nuff Said.

Random thoughts on Saturday

School dreams.  We all have them.  There are numerous variations on the situation where you find yourself in class, and it’s test day and you haven’t reviewed any of the course material.  The textbook is a fat volume of stories and you haven’t opened it all semester.  And you’re naked.

I have been having an entirely new variation on the school dream.  I am playing in an orchestra, and it’s concert time.  I open my violin case, and my violin is just a pile of sticks.  Or my bow has broken in half.  This one actually has a small connection to something that happened to me in real life.  I opened my case, and one of my bows had lost half its hair!  Another time, I opened my case and discovered that I had bugs, and they had eaten away part of the tip of my bow (you could see the little bite-marks-gross!). I had to fumigate the case and get the bow repaired, which just happened a couple of weeks ago.

On an entirely different subject, I feel a brag coming on.  I have been keeping a running tally of my finances lately, to show progress toward my goal of financial independence when I retire.  My total of investments at my primary investment company, Vanguard, is now comfortably over a million dollars.  About $650,000 is in my retirement accounts.  I am now a “Flagship” investor at Vanguard, and am entitled to a free meeting with a financial advisor, which I intend to set up sometime in August.  And in keeping track, I discovered that I have run out of digits on my little calculator!  Frustrating, but in a good way.

Last weekend, we took our first drive of the season up to the Diablo Lake Overlook in the North Cascades.  I have zillions of pictures of that area, but I always take my camera and get more.  Here are a couple.

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This is the Skagit River around the town of Rockport.

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This is Lake Diablo.  People for scale over on the left.  The water is always that bright blue-green color, as it is glacier-fed.  However, the temperature that day was about 85 at the overlook, and 92 at Newhalem, the town just where the road goes into the mountains.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sometimes I wonder why I read the news at all…Welcome to Seattle and King County WA

The story at the top of the KOMO Web site today is a video of an Army Veteran  who was touring Seattle with his wife and children, describing how a “repeat offender” just released from jail threw coffee on his young son in the stroller.  The offender had served eight months of a 12-month sentence for assaulting a random stranger on the street.  So what does he do when he gets released?  Assault another random stranger!  And the worst part of it is, that 74-time offender (yep, he has a record of 74 previous crimes) is not held on felony charges.  The ever-vigilant King County Attorney reduces the charge to a misdemeanor.

Hey, all you happy Seattleites, are you pleased that this 75-time offender is allowed to walk the streets after yet another release from jail?  Have you already screamed bloody murder about repeat criminals not being punished for their crimes, but released back into society to offend again, and again?  And had your concerns ignored, or been called bigoted and insensitive for not having compassion for the poor, Hispanic, offender?  Funny, local law enforcement seems to value his life more than yours.  You, who are paying the taxes to support the jails, prisons, and wimpy prosecutors of King County.  Why does it seem like the KC prosecutor is trying to reduce his own workload, rather than making Seattle safer for the law-abiding citizens who pay his inflated salary?

Instead, King County is “preparing for rising sea levels on Vashon Island“.  They are spending millions of dollars on a “comprehensive plan” for shoreline development in preparation for rising sea levels in the future.  Nowhere in the article does it mention just where the county got the figures for the amount of sea level rise in Puget Sound.  Just  which source predicts sea level rise?  My guess?  Someone’s “climate model” that can tell 50-100 years in advance that the water level will rise and affect the million-dollar beach houses on Vashon.  They would rather respond to predictions of climate doom than protect their own citizens, today, from assaults by repeat offenders.

Seven years later, Seattle’s Plastic Bag Ban has room to grow.  Only 85% of businesses are “in compliance” with the ordinance enacted years ago.  And the most likely offenders?

Leeching Tran, Vice President of View-Wah Supermarket in Seattle said their grocery store had made the transition but understands why other ethnic grocery stores would struggle, due to language barriers and financial hardships.

The city cares not a whit for the financial hardships of small ethnic grocery stores.  Hmmm, does that sound like a city whose values include “diversity”?

And then, there’s the obligatory story of the two cities suffering from a “homeless crisis”, Seattle and San Francisco.  The author speaks to a “homeless” drug addict in SF.  Interesting perspective he has.  The moral of this story? What you subsidize, you get more of.  Seattle and San Francisco both highly subsidize homelessness, and then complain when they count more homeless!

Just more and more reasons to stay the hell out of Seattle.

Socialist Senator (and presidential candidate) Bernie Sanders gets a taste of Capitalism

But does he recognize it?   I’m guessing probably not.  This situation is the epitome of a capitalist tradeoff.  His campaign staff is unionized.  He went along with it, because he has to, as a “democratic socialist”.  He is also highly in favor of a minimum wage of $15 per hour.  His campaign has a budget, with a certain amount of dollars.  So, Mr. Sanders has discovered that, with his current campaign budget, he cannot afford to pay everyone $15 per hour.  So, he has stated that he will reduce some staff hours in order to pay everyone that vaunted $15.  Yes, Bernie, when your cost of doing business rises (with little to no productivity improvement), you are forced into tough choices.  Do you lay off an employee?  Do you reduce everyone’s hours?  Do you reduce only some staffers’ hours?  If you want to maintain a viable campaign organization, you will need to make some hard decisions.

Now, will he connect his own predicament with that faced by various fast-food restaurant chains which are affected by the “Fight For 15” movement?  Will he now be able to imagine himself in the shoes of the Human Resource and Finance departments of McDonald’s and Burger King?  Good question, and I’m awaiting the story about how his various employees are taking the news.  Will they picket his campaign offices?  Will they take to social media to decry the unfair reduction in hours?  Get out the popcorn, everyone, this should be a good show.

Who’s the Racist Now? Rapper spotlights Black Racism

I found this story on Fox News, about a mixed-race rapper who pulled out of a music festival when she found that the festival was charging white ticket-buyers more than they were charging “people of color”.  I had to applaud her good sense, not wanting to be associated with that sort of behavior.

However, my applause were somewhat less enthusiastic when I read the complete article, where the young lady described what she did and why.  She seemed to tie herself in verbal knots, trying to avoid calling the situation what it was.  Here is a quote from the article-see if you can figure out exactly what she was trying to communicate.

I have family members that would have, under those circumstances, been subjected to something that I would not ever want them to be in … especially not because of anything that I have going on.”

What?

Now, this is how the organizers of the AfroFuture fest described what they were doing by charging whites twice as much as blacks to get into the festival.

AfroFuture explained their policy and rationale for it on their Eventbrite page. Organizers cite “equality” and “equity” in their ticketing, and state their structure “was built to insure that the most marginalized communities (people of color) are provided with an equitable chance at enjoying events in their own community (black Detroit).”

“Affording joy and pleasure is unfortunately still a privilege in our society for POC and we believe everyone should have access to receiving such,” organizers wrote.

So, they created inequality to promote equality?  Did they even think about what they were doing?  Speaking of tying yourself in verbal knots!  It’s just another example of Black Racism.  Good for Jillian Graham (Tiny Jag) for calling them out.

Independence Day Salute to America

Independence Day Salute to America

 

The Greatest Country on God’s Green (and getting greener) Earth.  I am proud to be a Citizen of the United States of America.

The United States is the most Prosperous nation in the history of Mankind.  People who come here from elsewhere know that, if they work and save, they can aspire to be wealthy, and their children will do better than they did.

The United States is the most Free Nation on Earth.  Why else would hordes of people from most other parts of the world travel thousands of miles, across oceans and deserts, to come to America?  Why are thousands of Africans, South Americans, Europeans, and Middle-Easterners clamoring to come to America?

The United States has the most polyglot, diverse population on Earth.  People here in America speak hundreds of languages, and our governmental units, from local to national, accommodate them with ballots, signs, and government forms in so many other languages it boggles the mind.

Despite what detractors say, America has the best, most-advanced medical care system in the world.  Our scientists and medical professionals bring to market more new, life-saving drugs and procedures than any other country.  Americans earn more Nobel Prizes than any other country.  America has non-profit organizations that, with donations from private American individuals, fund vital research on all sorts of genetic and communicable diseases, improving the lives of millions of people, both Americans and foreigners.

The US Military literally protects the World from Tyranny.  After World War II, and the Marshall Plan, America rebuilt Europe, and allowed their countries to spend less on their own defense and more on their vaunted social programs.  And We Protected Them, and still do.  NATO is still predominantly funded by the United States of America.  Would Germany be quite so prosperous today if it had had to fund its own defense?  Probably not.

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And the US Military is the largest benefactor in the world, when natural disasters happen.  Any time there’s a bad earthquake, a tsunami, a devastating hurricane or tropical storm, the US is there, with food, infrastructure, and other supplies to help the suffering.  Some people like to say that they don’t want America to be the world’s policeman, but just hear them scream if the US is not there within 24 hours after a disaster somewhere.

Americans are the most generous people on Earth.  Americans give a higher percentage of their incomes to various charitable organizations than anyone else.  So-called “social democracies” nurture Government as the source of all good works.  In America, it’s the People who do most good works.  Disasters here bring out the donors in minutes-the Red Cross and United Way rake in the donations when there is an appeal.  Americans volunteer more of their precious time too, working at soup kitchens, shelters, and offices to help their fellows.  Personally, I saw how generous Americans are.  One of my Ricochet friends had some very bad family problems, and was in need of support.  I started a GoFundMe campaign, and within a few days, our Ricochet Members donated over $7.500.00.

I get very angry when I hear Americans tear down their country, calling it “racist, sexist, greedy, and mean”.  There are many Americans who grew up in the relative lap of luxury, and now, from their ivory towers and suburban homes, denigrate America.  I believe every single American should appreciate how fortunate they are to be an American.

Speaking of ivory towers, most of the worst America-haters are found on US college campuses these days.  Instead of being seats of learning and exploration, they have become nests of vipers, despising and spreading lies about their own country, the country that allows them this kind of free speech (become mere liberal propaganda).  There is, however, an antidote to the modern “progressive” college campus.  That antidote is Hillsdale College, in Hillsdale, Michigan.  Named one of the best private colleges in the United States, Hillsdale accepts not one penny of government money in any form, and they have been Pursuing Truth and Defending Liberty since 1844.  RushBabe and Hubby are endowing a music scholarship at Hillsdale, and we urge followers and friends to learn about the school, and support it.  Here’s a production of the Hillsdale music department, just for Independence Day.  I have to admit that, while watching this, tears came to my eyes.  Maybe it’s the Music.  Maybe it’s the Truth.

 

 

Next, here’s a taste of my favorite march for Independence Day.  The Stars and Stripes Forever, played by the President’s Own Marine Band.

 

And here are some of the comments on that performance.  Get a feeling for how people in other countries feel about America.

Man, that’s amazing. I’m from Brazil and it’s impossible to be a patriot here. I wish there was something like this here. But this… this is awesome. Glad many of you enjoy it. The 284 dislikes are from heartless bitches. God bless America!

My deepest respects and regards to the culture and values of the american people, my neighbours. I am from a city called Monterrey in north east Mexico and I have nothing but praise for what the US has done in a short amount of time as an independent nation. Hopefully in the near future we can solve our differences and bring our nations to the level of mutual respect and dignity. Only then we can make this part of the world the most prosperous, peaceful and free, but In the meantime i’ll still enjoy what your culture has to offer. 

So, on this Independence Day, cheer for America!  It deserves all our praise.  And fireworks.

God Bless America.  God Bless our President Donald Trump.