Thursday, June 8, 2023

If you're going to San Francisco, you're sure to find some feces on your shoes

After my freshman year at Oklahoma State University, I hitchhiked to Montana, hoping to get a summer job working for the National Forest Service. That plan didn’t work out, and I wound up working in a sawmill in the little town of West Yellowstone.

That was the summer of 1966, when young people were heading west to California, where the Beach Boys sang about a little surfer girl, and San Fransisco's Haight Ashbury district promised abundant marijuana and free love. 
West Yellowstone, where I was stuck, was merely a waystation for youngsters headed west, a place to refuel on pizza and Olympia beer.

"Are You Going to San Francisco" was a radio hit that summer and Scott McKenzie's lyrics seem to sum up the spirit of the day. "If you’re going to San Francisco," McKenzie sang, "be sure to wear some flowers in your hair." I recall standing on West Yellowstone’s main street, listening to that song on someone's transistor radio and wishing I had the money and the courage to go to San Francisco and hang out with the hippies.  When I arrived there,  the song assured me, I would find the gentle people I had been unable to locate in Oklahoma.

Fifty years later, I don’t think many people go to San Francisco to find gentle people or put flowers in their hair. The city is a mess. Homelessness is out of control, and deadbeats shoot dope and defecate in the streets.  Office towers suffer from a 30% vacancy rate, and retailers are moving out. Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Office Depot, and Walgreens, are fleeing Frisco to escape crime and rampant shoplifting.

San Francisco is the poster child for the downfall of American cities. New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major metropolises suffer the same malaise.

Every American should be alarmed by this trend because American cities are where creative people go to find opportunities. As Michael Marotta wrote in a blog essay, “The city is literally civilization. Cities--not nations or American 'states'--are the engines of creation and progress." Indeed, Marotta argued, "the American republic is culturally a very large city."

Unfortunately, most major American cities are run by idiots and race hustlers. They think they are showcasing their liberal values by enacting policies encouraging homelessness, shoplifting, and random muggings. They equate anarchy with personal liberty when in fact our individual freedoms are best protected in a society that respects the rule of law.

So if you’re going to San Francisco, don’t expect to find gentle people with flowers in their hair.  In today's San Francisco, you are more likely to find feces on your shoes.


Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Ukraine attacks Moscow; Americans obsess on transgender participation in women's sports

The movie Shane, released in 1953, is a classic Western movie that depicts the struggle between good and evil. The good guys are homesteaders who want to establish farms and peacefully raise their families. The bad guys are cattlemen who hire an assassin to drive off the homesteaders.

Stonewall Torrey (played by Elijah Cook, Jr.) is a hapless homesteader who boasts to his friends that he’s not afraid of the assassin, and he straps on his revolver and rides to town. In the town's saloon, Torrey meets the assassin (played by Jack Palance). The killer taunts and insults Torrey until he foolishly goes for his gun. The assassin kills Torrey with one bullet.

America is replaying the movie Shane. The United States is the foolish and bombastic Torrey, and Russia is the assassin waiting for an opportunity to strike.

A couple of days ago, Ukrainian drones attacked the suburbs of Moscow. Who believes the Ukrainians took that provocative action without the approval and cooperation of the United States? 

What in the hell are we doing? Does our government believe it can arm the Ukrainians with sophisticated weapons that have killed perhaps 100,000 Russian soldiers without suffering repercussions?

America’s media elites, intellectual elites, and government technocrats may think it’s fun to poke the Russian bear. If war breaks out between Russia and the United States, it will be the kids living in flyover country who will do the fighting. 

But perhaps the boobs who are running our government have miscalculated. Have they forgotten that we’re messing with a nuclear power?

Meanwhile, Americans obsess about transgender participation in women’s sports and drag queens in school libraries. How long will the Russians put up with our foolish dabbling in Eastern European affairs?

I oppose American involvement in the Ukraine war.  I can see no positive outcome for anybody.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appears at a railroad crossing on Houston's Kirby Street

I subscribe to the Houston Catholic Worker, the official newspaper of Casa Juan Diego, the Catholic Worker Hospitality House in Houston, Texas. My copy arrived in the mail yesterday, and I was disturbed to read that someone had stolen Casa Juan Diego’s ancient food delivery truck. Fortunately, the police recovered the vehicle, but thieves had removed the cargo box leaving the truck naked down to its frame.

I first saw that delivery truck in 2003 or 2004 while teaching at the University of Houston. I was driving down Kirby Street when I stopped at a railroad crossing so a train could pass. While waiting in my car, I saw the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe rising out of the traffic ahead of me. I was startled and instantly thought that I had been privileged to see an apparition of Mary, who has appeared from time to time in places like Fatima, Lourdes, and the little Irish village of Knock.

Staring intently, I realized that the image of La Virgen Morena had been painted on the rolling steel door on the back of the truck. After the train passed by, I caught up with the mysterious vehicle. I looked over and saw two ordinary men sitting in the truck cab. I spied nothing that would explain why the Virgin of Guadalupe was painted on the truck’s cargo door.

I could not get this seemingly trivial incident out of my mind, and I mentioned it to John Burke, a Catholic friend of mine. John said the truck belonged to Casa Juan Diego, the Catholic Worker homeless shelter and food pantry just off Kirby Street in West Houston.

I had an unpleasant job at a local university at the time and looked for ways to escape from vicious campus politics. I volunteered to help haul food from the Houston Food Pantry to Casa Maria, Casa Juan Diego’s food distribution site located in one of the barrios of southwest Houston. Every Thursday morning, I joined a group of volunteers who traveled in Casa Juan Diego’s food delivery truck to help load and unload four tons of donated food to Casa Maria. Occasionally we would stop at a Mexican food wholesaler, picking up several hundred pounds of rice and pinto beans.

This volunteer work was a blessing to me. I was doing something useful for at least a few hours every week. As a result of my vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Kirby Street, I was introduced to the Catholic Worker movement and the writings of its founder, Dorothy Day. I also learned about the seven corporal works of mercy, which form the mission statement of the Catholic Worker movement.

Perhaps most importantly, I came to know Mark and Louise Zwick, who founded Casa Juan Diego and devoted their lives to assisting the poor, particularly the undocumented Latin American immigrants who reside within the sheltering folds of a welcoming and generous metropolitan Houston. Someday, Dorothy Day will be canonized by the Catholic Church, and I believe Mark and Louise will be canonized as well.

In the meantime, the Catholic Workers of Houston have replaced the stolen cargo box. Soon, they will paint a new image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the rolling backdoor of Casa Juan Diego’s venerable food delivery truck, thereby invoking the protection of the Little Brown Virgin, the Patroness of the Americas.

 Listen and understand, my littlest son, let nothing frighten and afflict you or trouble your heart … Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow? 





Friday, May 19, 2023

Blue Plate mayonnaise rolls out a new label and gets at least one new customer. Meanwhile, Budweiser loses its fan base

Liz Faul, who writes for my local newspaper, reported a charming story about Blue Plate mayonnaise, made by a New Orleans company that's been in business since 1927. As Faul’s story explains, Blue Plate recently rolled out a new label that will likely attract new customers.

Why is the New Orleans mayonnaise company named Blue Plate anyway? The name refers to Blue Willow plates, which were popular in the South in the 1920s. Blue Plate's version of the plate features depictions of a pelican, a river steamboat, and Magnolia blossoms. These words appear across the top of the label: “A New Orleans family tradition since 1927.”

I love the new label, and as soon as I finished reading Liz Faul’s story about it, I told myself Kraft mayonnaise, you are dead to me.

What makes the Blue Plate mayonnaise label so appealing? It's because it seeks to bond with its customers. The label reminds grocery shoppers that the mayonnaise is made in New Orleans, America’s foremost food city. The Blue Willow plate design, with its images of a pelican, a steamboat, and magnolia blossoms, signals that the company is proud of its regional heritage.

Compare Blue Plate’s new label with Budweiser’s disastrous advertising campaign designed to make the company appear woke by putting a transgender influencer’s mug on its beer cans. That harebrained scheme cost Bud Light about a quarter of its customers in just a few months.

Insulting corporate customers is like cheating on one's wife. The relationship may survive, but it will never be the same. Several of my Louisiana relatives were loyal Bud Light customers until they saw Dylan Mulvaney’s endorsement of their favorite brew. I don’t think any of them will ever drink a Bud Light again.

Bud’s boycotting customers are not transphobes or homophobes. They’re just people who like to drink beer and associate beer with bowling, fishing, golfing, and watching football games on television on Saturday afternoons. And when they're relaxing with a brewski, they don't want to talk politics.

And Budweiser knows that. If you look at vintage Budweiser advertisements in old magazines, you will see nostalgic scenes picturing people having a good time in casual settings. And when they’re having that good time, they certainly don’t want to be virtue signaled by their beer company.

What will my relatives drink now that they’re boycotting Bud Light? Maybe they’ll switch to Modelo, a Mexican beer company that promotes itself as a beer for fighters.

This Bud's not for you, you transphobic son of a bitch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

God bless people who work at useful jobs

Millions of Americans don’t work. Some are unemployed and looking for work; others simply refuse to look for a job. In fact,12 percent of men in their prime working years aren't in the workforce and aren't looking for work. Millions of healthy men are living off relatives, surviving on government benefits, or working side hustles in the underground economy and not paying taxes.

Millions more have jobs but are not doing anything useful. I spent 25 years in higher education, and I can tell you that many professors have retired on the job. These professors don’t do research, teach their classes poorly, and don’t show up at their offices except for mandatory office hours (maybe six hours a week). Hardly any university schedules classes on Friday, which means that a large percentage of university faculty members are working four-day weeks.

All across the national economy, we see Americans doing nothing more than pushing paper around. People in the advertising game are blitzing us with inane commercials for products we don't want or don't need. The gaming industry is promoting gambling, which is a pernicious and addictive pastime,

Thankfully, millions of Americans are working hard at jobs that need to be done. I suffered a stroke last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I dialed 911, and six EMS professionals showed up at my location within five minutes, despite the fact I had given them an incorrect address. I was able to unlock the front door even though I was partially paralyzed, but the 911 dispatcher assured me that my rescuers were willing and able to break down the door to get to me,

Those people work hard and are well-trained. My EMS team got me to a hospital in time for me to receive a time-sensitive drug that limited the long-term damage from my stroke.

Now I am in rehab, working with a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. All my therapists are highly skilled young women who are enthusiastic about their jobs and full of energy. They assure me I will make a full recovery and walk again.

Our economy is changing drastically, and many college students are taking out loans to get an education that will not lead to a good job. A bachelor's degree in the humanities, liberal arts, or social sciences is a dead-end degree. A young person taking out student loans to get a degree in these soft disciplines may be committing financial suicide.

Most young people want a satisfying career in a field that pays well. Most of them seek work that is useful and meaningful. Today, smart young people don’t go to college to get a liberal arts degree. Instead, they choose majors that offer a clear path to a well-paying job and a satisfying career. 

I am grateful that some of these intelligent young people are choosing to work as first responders and healthcare workers. Our society needs them. I'm not sure it needs humanities professors.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Biden says white supremacy is the nation' s biggest threat. Where are those white supremacist rascals?

President Biden spoke at Howard University‘s commencement ceremony a few days ago, where he told his audience that "white supremacy" is the nation’s biggest threat. I’m not buying it.

I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is a majority-Black city. Our mayor is African American. Our police chief is African American. Our school superintendent is African American, and African Americans are well-represented on the municipal council and the school board.

 Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge has an African American president. The LSU law school recently appointed an African American woman with impeccable academic credentials as its new Dean.

Are there white supremacists in Baton Rouge? Probably, but they keep well hidden. If President Biden knows where they are, I wish he would point them out to me.

Everyone agrees that the United States has a shameful racist past. As late as 1955, an African American boy was lynched in Mississippi by a racist mob. Even today, I’m sure there are pockets of virulent racism throughout the United States.

Nevertheless, the nation has come a long way since the Supreme Court desegregated public schools in 1954. The nation elected its first African American president in 2008, and our current vice president is a Black woman.

I was deeply offended by President Biden’s remarks, which can fairly be described as race-baiting. It certainly was not a helpful thing to say to a mostly Black audience.

President Biden’s shameful speech reminds me of a passage from Solzhenitsyn’s novel, Cancer Ward. The trouble with Stalinist Socialism, one character observed, is that you can never hate enough. You can never say I’ve hated enough. From now on, I’m going to love.

Just as the soulless bureaucrats of Stalinist Russia constantly searched for more people to vilify, more people to denounce, and more people to ostracize, Biden constantly searches for more ways to divide Americans rather than unite us. He is like the wealthy planters in the Reconstruction South, who pitted poor Whites against poor Blacks and, thus, kept both groups from prospering.

But perhaps I am giving President Biden too much credit. We all know the President simply reads what is put in front of him when he makes a speech. Perhaps it is President Biden’s speech writers who are the hate mongers, and not the President himself.

Mildred and Richard Loving

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Get smart before you go to college because you might not get smarter while you're there

 I had a stroke last month, and I spent three weeks at a rehab center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During my time there, I was treated by several gifted occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists.

All my therapists were young women in their twenties. Every day I was inspired by these therapists’ competence, energy, and optimistic spirit.

Why did these women choose therapy as their occupation instead of gender studies or sociology? Why were they spending their days teaching elderly people how to walk and feed themselves instead of working as a government bureaucrat?

This is what I learned. The women who choose to become physical therapists and occupational therapists selected their vocation early, and they planned their college studies to reach a specific goal.

One young woman, I’ll call her Laura, told me she was awarded a state scholarship for her undergraduate studies, which she received based on her high school GPA and her score on the ACT exam. This scholarship award was good for four years, but she managed to graduate in three years, which allowed her to use her scholarship money for the first year of her graduate studies. she finished college with no debt.

Laura had to take out loans to finance her master's degree program in physical therapy, but she lived frugally and only borrowed $22,000. When the COVID crisis hit, the Department of Education put a hold on student debt collection. Unlike most student debtors, Laura kept on making monthly payments during the whole time of the COVID moratorium. She told me she reduced the amount of her debt from $22,000 to $17,000 during this time.

Unfortunately, I might say tragically, millions of college students do not pursue their vocational goals with the same discipline and clear-mindedness that Laura displayed. They see college as a time to party, to drink, and to engage in casual sex. They see student loans as a way to live a lifestyle they could not afford with their parents’ limited financial resources. They choose their academic majors carelessly. Perhaps they major in sociology because they heard it is an easy major. Maybe they choose a major like gender studies or ethnic studies in order to nurture a sense of victimhood.

When these hapless fools graduate from college, they learn that there are no jobs for people who graduated in the humanities or the social sciences. They realize they have no job skills at all. They can’t solve problems, they can’t write coherently, and they lack the people skills to be successful in the workplace.

Thank God there are still young people like Laura, who understand they have a responsibility to become productive citizens, and they have a desire to do something useful with their lives, even even if the job involves the unglamorous work of teaching an old man to walk, talk, and feed himself.

Not everyone can major in gender studies.