Modern myth busting for 2020.

Ah, the first day of the new year, 2020, and I am at my curmudgeonly best. It’s a great time to attack, dismantle, wreck without mercy, six popular myths that are articles of faith of leftists, Democrats, and “progressives”.

Myth 1: The impeachment drama was the final nail in the president’s coffin. No, Trump will be re-elected President, if he runs, with a large margin of victory both in popular votes and electoral votes. Many constituencies that did not vote for him in 2016 will vote for him in 2020. He will remain as obnoxious and arrogant as ever. Democrats and their allies in the media, universities and corporations will be even more eager to get rid of him by any means, whether legal or not. The ignorant voices that opine “few are speaking out against him” must have some alternate explanation for CNN and MSNBC “all Trump, all the time, coverage.”

Myth 2: Trump=Hitler. No, Trump derangement syndrome trumps talent. Linda Ronstadt is my favorite singer of all time, and Parkinson’s disease has robbed her of the ability to sing, but not, apparently, to pontificate. She’s recently compared President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, saying both used strategies to “find a common enemy for everybody to hate.” Appearing before the CNN premiere of her documentary The Sound of My Voice, Ronstadt told anchor Anderson Cooper she was certain that Trump would be elected when he announced his campaign. “I was sure that Trump was going to get elected, the day he announced,” the “When Will I Be Loved” singer told CNN. “I said, ‘It’s going to be like Hitler, and the Mexicans are the new Jews.'” Ronstadt also drew parallels between Trump and Hitler’s ascension to their respective offices, saying that because few spoke out against their behavior while they campaigned. “The intelligentsia of Berlin, and the literati, and all the artists were just busy doing their thing. Hitler rose to power-there were a lot of chances to stop him, and they didn’t speak out,” she told Cooper. Linda, you’re so wrong. Just because your family is from Mexico, does not give you any authority to compare Trump’s treatment of Mexican illegals to Hitler’s murder of Jews!

Myth 3: Central planning and government control will build the perfect world. No, those are the tools of murderous utopians. Liberalism, the classical kind of John Stuart Mill, Democrats in the 1950s, and anyone who still cherishes freedom of speech, thought, and religion, is dead. It has been replaced by a nascent murderous Utopianism (all social Utopianism is ultimately murderous, because human beings don’t all want the same kind of utopia) that unites the Progressives who believe that their vision of social justice is the only acceptable one, worth lying for, worth killing for if it comes to that. A childhood idealist either matures out of the notion that everyone must think like they do, or becomes, if they gain sufficient power, a murderous utopian. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and other mass murderers all tried to impose their vision of a perfect future. So far, the United States has not proven to be fertile ground for government sanctioned murderous idealism, despite all the patently idiotic, ignorant comparisons of Trump to Hitler.

Myth 4: Islam is the religion of peace. No, Islamophobia is a real thing, and it should be. Islam has been violent from the moment Muhammad strapped on his sword. Rape and subjugation, slavery and killing on a breathtaking scale, were the means of spreading their gospel. The very word “slave” is derived from Slav, as militant Muslims captured millions of white women from the Slavic nations, or bought them by the thousands from Viking raiders, who plundered for the profit of selling white women to the Muslims. While modern Islam complains of Islamophobia, the people of Hungary, Poland, Romania and other Eastern Europeans still remember the decimation of their wives and daughters. Muslims complain about the “Crusaders”, but that only shows how whitewashed their own history has become. The “moderate”, domesticated Muslims living in western nations are not representative of either what the Quran says, or what their bloody history shows. The real reason the vocal, militant Muslims hate the United States is this: We dared to try to bring our doctrine of separation of church from government to them. Islam is a religion and a form of government. Nothing threatens the Islamic way of life like separation of the two. Do I hate Muslims? No, except maybe ISIS types, but my message to “moderate” Muslims is: embrace the truth about the history of your faith; you personally are not responsible for the atrocities others of your faith have committed, but stop lying about it and whining about not being trusted; win others over by your deeds and words rather than by complaining, playing the sympathy card or trying to silence your critics by force or influence.

Myth 5: The LGBTQ behaviors are harmless and every bit as natural as heterosexuality. No, Homophobia is a real thing, and it should be. If homosexual activists were honest about their “lifestyle”, most discussions would concern genitals: whose they are using, where and how they are using them, how their use differs from heterosexuals. But no, do you ever read or hear about that? Virtually all LGBTQ literature, demonstrations, and complaints are about anything and everything except their actual sexual practices. They never cease demanding more rights, more suppression of dissent to their claims, less freedom of speech to anyone who finds homosexuality distasteful. When the sympathy card doesn’t work, you use threats and lies (Chick fil-A) to get your way. You never talk about your actual sexual behavior, like that in rare public display at gay pride marches in San Francisco. I guess the nitty gritty of gay sex is not a big support winner.

Myth 6: Gender and sex are different, and “non-binary”. No, Transphobia is a real thing, and it should be. There are two human sexes, male and female, XY and XX chromosomes in every cell. Lopping off sexual protuberances does not change the chromosomal composition of your cells. Transgenderism, and all the suppression of disagreement, and the penalties and perversion of the lexicon (deadnaming, transphobic) that go along with protecting the non-binary myth, are mainly for the purpose of demonstrating the power of progressives to impose a ridiculous, unscientific theory on the larger society. But science isn’t the final arbiter of reality. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27. Call me old fashioned, but Biblical truth was good enough for most of the historically famous scientists—Newton, Galileo, Pasteur, Wright brothers, Marie Curie, Boyle, Faraday, Pascal, Mendel, countless others—and it’s good enough for me. But you don’t believe it? You know better? What have you ever accomplished? Transphobia? Transphooey!

Myth 7: Marriage is a union of two people who love each other, regardless of their sex. No, What kind of man not only “marries” another man but is proud to call himself thewife”? I suppose I could have asked “what kind of woman ‘marries’ another woman but is proud to call herself the “husband”? The word husband has at least three meanings: male partner in a marriage, frugal manager of resources and a steward of another’s property, whereas wife has only one meaning, that of the female partner in a marriage. I will not apologize nor soft peddle my personal opinion here: Woe unto those who misappropriate our language to promote their own perverse agendas.

Celeb “climate change” hypocrisy.

Media Research Center, MRC.ORG, rated celebrity climate change hypocrites: When Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t blaming conservatives for destroying the planet, he’s cruising in his private yacht, or flying among the four houses he owns on both coasts. DiCaprio told the German newspaper Bild that he planned to “fly around the world doing good for the environment.” Like John Travolta? Does his plane run on waste plastic and belch tree seedlings? Net worth $220 million, 5 homes.

Starring in the nine-part alarmist Showtime documentary “Years of Living Dangerously,” James Cameron warned future generations were going to be left with a “world that’s in shambles” because of his movies climate change. Yet, the director owns a collection of motorcycles, cars, dirt bikes, a yacht, a helicopter, a fleet of submarines and a Humvee fire truck. Okay, the yacht makes sense after his homes are flooded, the subs can be used to check the barnacles on the yacht, but the Humvee fire truck? Is it armored? Does it have the .50 cal on top? Net worth $700 million.

According to the London Evening Standard (UK), despite telling British fans to “do their bit’ to tackle global warming,” John Travolta has been “clocking up at least 30,000 flying miles in the past 12 months“, producing an estimated 800 tons of carbon emissions, nearly 100 times the average Briton’s tally. Travolta’s solution to climate change? “I’m wondering if we need to think about other planets and dome cities.” He added that “everyone can do their bit. But I don’t know if it’s not too late already. We have to think about alternative methods of fuel.” Especially for your jets! In a rare paroxysm of honesty, he said “I’m not the best person to ask about climate change, considering how much I fly.” Net worth $165 million. 5 private jets.

In 2007, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (now the Beacon Center of Tennessee) found that Al Gore’s “20-room home and pool house devoured nearly 221,000 kilowatt-hours in 2006, more than 20 times the national average,” according to an ABC News online story. The year he ran for President, his tax return showed total charitable contributions to be equal to the zero carbon footprint he blathers about. I guess his wife is the tipper. Net worth $300 million.

Media mogul Arianna Huffington has committed an entire section of her Huffington Post website to environmentalism and climate change alarmism, yet she herself flies in a private jet. According to Huffington, though, it’s not her jet that endangers the climate — it’s soccer moms and their SUVs. In 2003, she condemned SUV owners for “supporting terrorists,” in a series of television commercials. But when she was asked to clarify that comment by the liberal (and Soros-funded) outlet Mother Jones, she complained that “there seems to be an epidemic of literal-mindedness at the moment.” No Arianna, that’s liberal-mindedness! Net worth, $65 million.

Matt Damon can’t seem to follow his own advice on climate change. Damon’s 2012 movie “Promised Land,” which attempted to villainize the natural gas industry, was produced “in association with” Image Media Abu Dhabi, a company owned wholly by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to the CIA World Factbook, UAE exported $166 billion of crude oil in 2013. The UAE is also a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Oil producing nations have been very concerned by U.S. fracking for financial (not environmental) reasons. What, Jason Bourne shilling for OPEC? Net worth $75 million.

In a new PSA for Conservation International, Julia Roberts narrated ominously. “Some call me Mother Nature. I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years–22,500 times longer than you. I don’t really need people, but people need me. Yes, your future depends on me. When I thrive, you thrive. When I falter, you falter. Or worse. But I’ve been here for eons. I have fed species greater than you, and I have starved species greater than you. My oceans. My soil. My flowing streams. My forests. They all can take you or leave you. How you choose to live each day, whether you regard or disregard me, doesn’t really matter to me. One way, or the other. Your actions will determine your fate, not mine. I am nature. I will go on. I am prepared to evolve. Are you?” Nope, not me. I don’t fly for climate change between my multi-million $$ homes and European resorts!

Gwyneth Paltrow teamed up with Cameron Diaz to encourage Americans to switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs and hybrid cars in order to combat global warming. This team effort was part of a PSA from the Environmental Media Association. To show solidarity, the actresses added that they turn off their lights when they leave their bedrooms–or when having sex–and turn their thermostats “down to 65 degrees and wear a sweater” to conserve energy. Paltrow and her ex-husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, were criticized for insisting on being driven .06 miles between two celebrity get-togethers in 2012. Other celebrities, including Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr, Jane Fonda and Amy Smart, had no problem walking between the two events. Despite stunts like this, Paltrow was ninth most influential climate change celebrity in 2011, according to The Guardian. Time magazine also listed her as one of “The 30 Most Influential People on the Internet.” Paltrow’s London, England house with Martin lost 1,020 kWh of heat a year through poor insulation, according to a report by the British news outlet Building.co.uk, which used a thermal imaging camera to calculate energy loss. So not insulating just one of your homes results in far more energy consumption than turning down thermostats saves. Oops. Net worth $60 million.

Climate Depot asked Mark Ruffalo at the 2014 People’s Climate March if people like Gore and DiCaprio are really the best spokespeople to “fight global warming” since they have huge carbon footprints, “Oh brother,” Ruffalo responded. “anyone who attacks Leonardo DiCaprio is either a coward or an ideologue.” Great answer Adolf. Apparently there is no room for thinking poorly of DiCaprio’s habits of flying around the world to attend multiple parties in the same night, or borrowing the yacht of a Middle East oil billionaire — twice. Climate isn’t the only area where Ruffalo is a hypocrite. Despite joining the Occupy Wall Street protesters to rant against wealth and the financial industry, Ruffalo himself is worth $20 million.

Satire and ridicule, the most effective enforcers of moral agency.

Satire: A literary or visual work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn, or trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly. Ridicule: To make fun of, either sportively and good-humoredly, or unkindly with the intention of humiliating. Moral agency: The ability and desire to act on and be accountable to a standard of behavior that represents a moral or religious philosophy higher than your own desires.

The first two definitions were from merriam Webster, the third is my own. I also want to offer an antonym, the opposite of, moral agency: The disease or excuse model of bad behavior. “I steal or I gamble with my family’s food money, even though I know it’s wrong, but I cannot help myself, due to my……upbringing, addiction, circumstances, fill in the ___________, not because I am too lazy to work, or too impulsive to delay gratification, or too undisciplined to save money.” Moral agency says “I will function according to my society’s rules and laws, as long as they don’t violate my conscience, but I am accountable to a higher power.” Here’s the problem though. What if “my society” is ISIS, or al-Queda, or a drug cartel world, or a vicious and repressive dictatorship? What if your “higher power” loves death more than life? Bad behavior on the part of immoral individuals can be dealt with by the law, moral agency can be enforced or lack of it discouraged. Can moral agency be enforced if people are doing evil under the belief that their evil is good?

Yesterday I presented ridicule of the idea of the death fatwa by Larry David in his “fatwa sex” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I also mentioned the British satire called The Real Housewives of ISIS. So how are satire and ridicule effective enforcers of moral agency? More specifically, the moral agency of preserving human life and human freedom, as opposed to the upside down “moral agency” of killing and oppression by a warped sense of what God wants, which I assert is really a coverup of their own bloodlust and sexual lust (see my post entitled Lust Rules the World). Try this thought experiment: ISIS effectively used videos to recruit their foreign minions by exaggerating their exploits and portraying their cause as something to give meaning to the lives of their recruits. Imagine an “equal time” rule whereby every ISIS video had to be followed by a Western “unrecruitment” video. Wouldn’t the best counter to their false promises of glory be laughter at them?

Example: ISIS brides are discussing the coming beheading party, and complaining “I have nothing to wear to the beheading” when a fifth bride comes in modeling a suicide vest, twirling around while bragging about the quality of the Semtex. One of the four brides snidely exclaims “you stole my outfit, you copycat! That’s what I was going to wear”, as they start uploading snide Instagrams of each other. Compare that to a more didactic video trying to lay down the facts about their propaganda. Satire would win. Humor wins. How do I know? The French magazine Charlie Hedbo was physically attacked, staffers were killed, over cartoons. Any joke, cartoon, sketch or video satirizing any aspect of Islam is subject to death fatwas, bombings, shootings or media outrage, while Christians and Jews (especially) can laugh at themselves or their own foibles. Truth is not threatened by humor or satire, lies take themselves so seriously that threats and violence are preferred to debate.

Fatwa sex?

ISIS fatwa council on how to rape slaves….Islamically.

I love “inappropriate” humor, as if anything that makes me laugh could be inappropriate. The most truly inappropriate humor is the way evil fanatics, like ISIS (Daesh) seriously discuss “Islamic” guidelines for raping female slaves (photo above), and I find nothing funny about it, except when it is ridiculed, like the following:

Curb Your Enthusiasm is a humor series on HBO that celebrates being: inappropriate, obtuse, insensitive, insecure, twisted and other adjectives not mainstream. The show is the creation of star and comedian Larry David, who was also Jerry Seinfeld’s co-writer, perhaps even mentor, of Seinfeld. Larry stars as himself. Imagine a balding (with tufts of white hair on the side), uglier version of Larry of Three Stooges fame, whose personality combines the worst of Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George. He’s a walking Black Death to all social graces or vestiges of politeness.

In one episode, he conceived of a comedy musical called Fatwa, based on the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and promoted it on Jimmy Kimmel live. As a result, the Ayatollah Whomever, probably Hassan Ben Sobre (in a guest appearance from the Three Stooges’ Malice in the Palace), issued a fatwa on him. Subsequent episodes have him hiding in hotel rooms, wearing a ridiculous disguise, while all his friends know where he is, and are more afraid that the fatwa will rub off on them than they are about his being killed. Finally, in desperation, he seeks the advice of Salman Rushdie, yes, the actual one (of countless cameos portraying themselves—Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Jimmy Kimmel, Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Richard Lewis, Rushdie…..and this is one episode). Rushdie tells him that the best part of being under a fatwa is the women who are attracted to “men of danger”, which leads to the best sex of all. No, not makeup sex, not breakup sex, but fatwa sex.

Are you starting to get the drift? All these stars are tripping over each other to portray themselves on the rudest, most politically incorrect series on TV. It gives me hope for Hollywood! So Salman suggests that he and Larry go out to lunch in a Hollywood restaurant, to demonstrate how fatwa sexual attraction works. As soon as they walk in, beautiful women all over the restaurant eye them, including Elizabeth Banks, who sends wine to their table. But let me digress, before getting to the steps in fatwa sex.

Another sample: Larry is holding a door open for a person behind him, when he realizes that this person isn’t a man but a woman dressed and coiffed like a man, so he lets the door go just as she reaches it. Then she asks him, “why did you let the door go just as I got there?” His answer: “I didn’t get the ‘would you hold the door’ kind of vibe from you, and was afraid you would be insulted if I held the door.” They then get into an idiotic argument about what vibe she was projecting. In another scene he’s at a memorial service for a young man who died as a result of Larry’s carelessness, and a bearded man wearing an Islamic-looking skullcap comes in. Remembering the fatwa, Larry stands and shouts “he’s got a gun”, resulting in a stampede of mourners. The bereaved father yells at Larry, “he’s my best friend.” Too late, the huge picture of his deceased son is thoroughly trampled upon. Yes, I admit I am a little warped!

Then there’s the namaste incident. At the end of a yoga class, the teacher leads the class in namaste (the common greeting in yoga, a gesture to send a message of peaceful spirituality to the universe in the hopes of receiving a positive message back. Most say namaste as a means to thank the teacher or use as an expression of relief upon the ending of the class.) Of course, our hero doesn’t participate, and the teacher calls him on it. “Well, I’m just not a namaste kind of guy, I never participate in group anything.” They then argue about the third eye. He keeps poking the center of his forehead, “if I had a third eye, that would hurt, but it didn’t therefore I don’t have one.” She’s horrified that he is abusing his third eye, as he keeps poking it. Finally, exasperated, she says, “get the f**k out and don’t come back.” Of course he observes, “that’s not very namaste of you, is it?”

But you want me to get back to fatwa sex, right? The steps are very clear: insult Islam or an ayatollah, or even just joke about either; get the attention of an ayatollah with your attitude, provoke him enough to get a fatwa issued; make sure lots of people know about the fatwa, especially women, by going on TV or YouTube about it; hold your head up high when you are in public, and do not look around furtively, like you’re worried; when women ask you, “are you the fatwa guy?”, do not ask “did the ayatollah send you?”, even if there’s a considerable bulge with rectangular shapes about her waist and a red button under her thumb, or if she is wearing a hijab (if it’s a burqa instead, just run as fast as you can); ask her to buy you an alcoholic drink to make sure her intentions are bad (in a good way); if you are still alive at this point, go with the flow.

You might wonder, “I thought uncle curmudgeon was a Christian. How can he have such a warped sense of humor?” Wasn’t the apostle Paul himself who joked he wished the judaizers would try to circumcise themselves and end up cutting it off? All I can say for myself is, better an excessive sense of humor than a hypocritical piety. Some people think Muslims don’t like to laugh at their coreligionists, but a hilarious satire on British TV called The Real Housewives of ISIS was very popular with Muslims. If they can laugh at ISIS, I can laugh at fatwa sex.

The true "wild west".

The following history is directly copied from the Foundation for Economic Education, FEE.ORG. I believe the truth is too important to be trampled upon by Hollywood myths and popular imagination. Here is a very brief history of the real pioneer-era United States “West”, whether you can accept it or not.

Before the Civil War, the Western territories were unincorporated land. No formal government (that Americans would recognize) reached that far west yet, so the settlers had no “official” way to keep the peace. But, wherever people begin to gather, conflict of some sort or another is fairly inevitable, so various forms of conflict resolution formed. Private organizations like land use clubs, cattlemen’s associations, wagon trains, and mining camps protected private property and mediated disputes. Civil contracts, localized constitutions, and social pressure including ostracism (a very real threat so far away from the rest of America) largely kept the peace instead of threats of violence. As Bruce Benson writes of the time, “The contractual system of law effectively generated cooperation rather than conflict, and on those occasions when conflict arose it was, by and large, effectively quelled through nonviolent means.”

The homicide rates, even in what qualified as the big cities in the Old West, were astonishingly low. Major railroad stops like Wichita and Dodge City (yes, that Dodge City) had lower murder rates than major eastern cities like New York and Boston at the time.

Interactions with the local Indian tribes were mostly peaceful and trade-based. White settlers may not have always liked the native tribes they shared space with on the frontier, but it was easier and less expensive to deal with them in a generally peaceful way than it was to wage war on them. As Jennifer Roback writes in Property Rights and Indian Economies, “Europeans generally acknowledged that the Indians retained possessory rights to their lands. More important, the English recognized the advantage of being on friendly terms with the Indians. Trade with the Indians, especially the fur trade, was profitable. War was costly.”

This all changed in the mid-1860s. Now that it wasn’t so busy with that pesky Civil War, the federal government of the United States could turn its attention westward. Terry Anderson and Fred L. McChesney, who have both written extensively on this subject, put forth in the Journal of Law and Economics that once the costs of using violence against the native tribes of the Plains became distributed across the rest of the country through the use of taxation, “raid” replaced “trade” in relations with the Indian tribes. Two of the US generals, General William T. Sherman and General Grenville M. Dodge, who headed up many of the major campaigns in the Western territories go into great detail about the atrocities committed against the Plains Indians following the American Civil War, and, more importantly, why. Deals had been struck prior to the War for the federal government to subsidize the building of the transcontinental railroad, and now that the War was over, it was time for the government to make good. Violence against the American Plains Indians was at the behest of the government on behalf of crony railroad barons. The campaign to “pacify” the Western territories resulted in the devastation of the native populations and fatally injured the tenuous relations between white settlers and native tribes.

“Raid replaced trade”. The “cost of violence…distributed across the rest of the country through the use of taxation.” Let that idea sink in. Taxation of the whole distributes the cost of harm done locally. Harm is always local—armies are composed of individuals, who fire the guns, launch the missiles, swing the swords, on other individuals. The costs—equipping and feeding the forces, making or buying the weapons—are great. Taxation can pay for public works, or it can pay for conquest.

How you do anything is how you do everything!

So says my co-favorite fictional character Orphan X, AKA “The Nowhere Man”, his personal chosen name of Evan Smoak (Jack Reacher is my other). This commandment was taught to him by his mentor, Jack Johns. Why does he fascinate me? I don’t think there is any fictional character more unique, nor a fictional program more likely to be real—think Jason Bourne crossed with The Equalizer……on steroids, but more than that. The next two paragraphs, from the most recent Nowhere Man novel, Into The Fire, by Greg Hurwitz, open a small window into that world.

Within the top echelon of intel circles in nations of influence and instability, Evan Smoak was known as Orphan X. At the age of twelve, he’d been pulled out of a foster home in East Baltimore and raised in a full black covert operation buried so deep inside the U.S. government that virtually no one knew it existed. His upbringing consisted of relentless physical, emotional, cultural, and psychological training, a grinding wheel that honed him into a razor-sharp implement. His handler, Jack Johns, raised him not merely to be a top-tier assassin but also a human being—two reactive elements that, if put under enough pressure, might combust. And then Jack had taught him to integrate those pieces. To balance on the tightrope dividing yin from yang. To not combust. It was a lifelong challenge.

When Evan had gone rogue from the Orphan Program, he’d kept his other alias—the Nowhere Man—and devoted himself to helping people in dire circumstances who had no one to turn to. His clients reached him by calling a little-known number that had become the stuff of urban legend: 1-855-2- NOWHERE. Each digitized call traveled over the Internet through a maze of encrypted virtual-private-network tunnels, circling the planet before reach-ing Evan’s RoamZone phone. He answered the same way every time: Do you need my help? And then he stepped in to protect the innocent because no one else would, to shield them from those who would do them harm. To hunt a monster, the shopworn proverb went, you must become one. But to Evan’s ear the saying had always rung hollow. He had been monstrous once, a weapon sharpened to a singular point. His role as the Nowhere Man was an undoing of that. Every time he helped someone, he regained some tiny part of his soul. And when he was done, he asked his clients to pass the favor along. To empower themselves by finding someone else in untenable circumstances.”

But my post is really about the title. That commandment resonates with me, yet I believe most people would argue with it. I am meticulous, consistent, reliable in the small things and the big things. This philosophy isn’t unique to me or Orphan X. “And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ “ Matthew 25:20-23. There are no big or small promises, only promises to be kept. There are no big or small problems, only problems to be solved. There are no big or small habits, only habits to be refined….or eliminated.

Do you believe that? Are you as meticulous and honest in the things you consider small as those you consider big and important? Or are you slack in certain things? A prosaic example is recycling. I recycle all my paper, plastic, glass, tin and aluminum. I have for more years than I can remember. I read the local guidelines of recycling. Many people recycle plastic shopping bags with all the other stuff, but I stopped doing that when I read a flyer from the City of Spokane that said they don’t want the bags because they get wound around the equipment and can shut the operation down. Sometimes my apartment recycling basket is full and I don’t feel like walking to the trash/recycling room, when I could just throw the items into the trash can. But I don’t. I can’t bring myself to do it. Why not? How you do anything is how you do everything.

I find that to be true in my life. Whenever I am tempted to shortcut a process, I remember that commandment–so much of behavior is derived from habits and our long track record of having done it over and over again. The idea of coming through in big moments by suddenly rising to the occasion really doesn’t happen…..unless you have practiced in your mind. That old cliche “practice makes perfect”, is false. Perfect practice makes perfection almost attainable, and perfect practice can only be done in the mind. Ask Russell Wilson (and his mental coach, Trevor Moawad), the closest to a perfect QB in the NFL. Ask LeBron James or Michael Jordan. Rising to the occasion is ONLY possible because of the consistent work put into the mundane things day in and day out, including mental practice. Otherwise, “rising to the occasion is wishful thinking!

There are 7 (of 10) Orphan X/Nowhere Man Commandments that we should apply to our everyday lifestyle: Assume Nothing; How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything; Master Your Surroundings; If You Don’t Know What To Do, Do Nothing; Question Orders; One Mission at a Time; Always Play Offense. There are others, but they pertain to the life of an operative. Think about these 7. What would your life be like if you really applied them, starting with my title?

Death at random.

This morning I was reflecting on something the visiting nurse said yesterday. I pointed out that I had created vital documents, and taped copies of them on my refrigerator: Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments (POLST); durable power of attorney for healthcare; healthcare directive/living will; list of medications; and personal written instructions for hospice. The nurse said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that, they all think nothing will happen, even though if I am here, that means they are very sick.”

They all think nothing will happen? I guess they’ve—the nebulous “they”—have never been to war. Once you have been to war, or even in a serious accident, how can you believe nothing will happen? Guess what? Denial, wishful thinking, is endemic to the human race. Even in Vietnam, while my platoon was sitting on the helicopter pad, waiting for a combat assault, clutching our rifles, I listened to men joking how it wouldn’t be them to catch the bullet or mortar round, but someone else, the guy next to them. Perhaps that’s what it takes to face the fire—a fantasy that it isn’t random, that the bullet has someone else’s name on it. That particular combat assault was a bad one. Sometimes the chopper drops you in a rice paddy and only farmers are around. This time, the drop was into an ambush zone; my platoon was decimated within minutes. Random!

I was stationed at the firebase, or Landing Zone (LZ) of Quan Loi, near An Loc village, in what Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), designated III Corps, just north of the Mekong Delta. It was 50 years ago, but the memory pictures are clear. We lived in self designed “hootches”. A hootch started with a wooden 2×4 frame, to which we nailed screening, to keep the mosquitoes from an easy entrance. On top of the frame we laid steel plates, which were also used to build the landing strip for the C-123 Caribou’s, our lifetime to supply. Atop the steel plate we laid sandbags, and more sandbags were piled along the sides. Inside we tried to create a semblance of privacy by hanging poncho liners from the framing. There you have it, your basic hootch.

Even young men who didn’t want to be there, wanted to customize their abodes, many creating, accidentally, another way to die. Someone got the clever idea to substitute wooden rocket boxes for sandbags. These boxes were scavenged from the Cobra helicopter assault teams, which used the 2.75” rockets to bring hell to the enemy (along with 20mm rapid fire cannon, rapid grenade launcher). The clever guys would fill the boxes with sand, pile them up against the walls (screening), and think “now I have more protection than sandbags”. Some would further customize their “walls” by using a torch to bring out the grain of the wood—snazzy. One day, I was sitting in my hootch scraping globs of mud off my boots, when the air raid sirens went off, signaling a Vietcong mortar or rocket attack. Before I could even react, there were multiple explosions just outside. Two hootches were hit, one with sandbags around the walls and one with rocket boxes. The guys in the sandbag hootch were alive, looking like sand monsters. The guys in the rocket box hootch were either dead or badly torn up….by the wooden splinters from their customized walls, rather than from the explosion or mortar shrapnel. Random!

My oldest daughter was driving home after a family engagement party, during which no one had alcohol—no particular reason, we preferred sparkling apple cider. One the two lane road, headlights were weaving from side to side, coming towards her. Before she knew it, the small pickup truck was in her lane. She turned the wheel hard left, rather than right, without thinking. The car was totaled, she ended up with a fractured wrist. Had she turned right, she would probably have been killed. Random! The other driver had consumed two six packs of beer and was working on a third, after smoking weed. It was late at night, there were few other vehicles. Random!

It’s all random….unless you believe, as I do, that a sovereign God watches over all. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:6. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”- John 10:27-29.