Unsolicited Product Endorsement: Harry’s Shaving.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I bought a Harry’s razor partly because I knew it would help pay my former co-blogger’s salary, but mainly because I wanted to elevate my shaving game. Unlike Jon, I am not into the retro-shaving gig, but I knew that the men’s shaving industry was badly in need of some innovative disruption. Just like bundled cable, which forces you to pay for 200 channels you DON’T want in return for the ones you do, the shaving industry forces you to pay for their bloated advertising and marketing budgets by tying you into one razor and one type of blades. 

Harry’s does the same thing of course, but without the bloated overhead. And what razors! What blades! 

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I popped for the higher-grade “Winston” set (cigar and scowl not included), and was glad I did so. The razor itself very well-balanced and so well-made, and and appears to be meticulously crafted and beautifully made. There’s a solid, pleasant heft to the razor, not unlike the feel of a well-made kitchen knife or high-end 1911 pistol. This is, quite simply, a man’s razor. 

I selected the foaming shaving gel as my emollient of choice, and it foams up nicely, with a rich, pleasant smell that is neither floral or dank which lingers after the shave is over but stays in the background and is not overpowering. 

The shave, you say, what about the shave? 

I’ve had one fantastic shave in my life, in a barber shop in a Smitty’s grocery store that is now long-gone. Now I’ve had two. The difference between shaving with my old Mach3 razor and the Harry’s razor is the difference between writing with a Pilot and a Mont Blanc. It’s the difference between Dewar’s and Glenfiddich, or LG and Blaupunkt. Will a Pilot pen write? Sure. Do you get more out of the writing experience with a Mont Blanc? You betcha. 

Shaving is one of the few things a man can do that is a brief moment of relaxing luxury in an otherwise frantic day. Take a moment for yourself, and make your shave something you look forward to, not something you have to do. 

Yes, if you haven’t figured it out, I LIKE THIS RAZOR, and if you type in Ricochet (plug), you get it for $5 less than you normally would. Try it, and keep the store-bought razor around if you don’t like it. I think you’ll soon toss the Gillette in the dustbin, and switch to a higher form of shaving lifestyle. 

 
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October 17th, 2014 by exurbankevin

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Towards Bigger Government

Phillip Klein writes about something I’ve noticed as well, the outcry on right for increased intervention from the government in the Ebola crisis that is coming from people who usually treat bigger government like, well, Ebola. 

Though there are fair criticisms of the CDC’s handling of Ebola, by giving into the temptation to point fingers at Obama, Republicans run the risk of reinforcing the idea that any crisis or perceived crisis can be handled if only there were a better person in charge. And this could cut against many of the arguments that conservatives usually make about the inherent problems with federal bureaucracies.

I’d like government to be competent, but if it can’t be that, then get it out of the way and let us deal with the problem. Passing laws and increasing the reach of the .gov in the midst of a crisis inevitably leads to horrible laws that have far-reaching effects way beyond their original intent.

Does anyone REALLY think that the “Ebola Czar” position will go away once this initial panic is over? Let’s find solutions to the Ebola problem that don’t involve the .gov. 

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems, government IS the problem.” 

- Ronald Reagan

 
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October 17th, 2014 by exurbankevin

The World Is About To Get A Little Less Smart

I don’t like talk radio. I don’t listen to Rush or Hannity, and when my co-workers play Mark Levin, I turn up the volume on my Surf Rock Pandora mix and rock out with my headphones on.

I don’t like talk radio. But I liked the Jim Sharpe show when I lived in Phoenix, and now it’s going off the air

Jim’s a friend, and he was stupid enough to let me into the studio every once in a while to rant on the air. Obviously, he’s never seen “Play Misty For Me“, or he’d know how that sort of thing ends. 

I digress. 

In a world full of radio polemicists who use repetition and the volume of their voice to make their points, Jim and John McJunkin (the Sancho Panza to Jim’s Don Quixote) used reason and consistent, logical arguments. That was why their show was #1 in their time slot for years on end, and that’s what made them so special.

And now it’s ending. Jim and John, you’ll be missed, even from 1500 miles away. Ride hard, shoot straight, tell the truth, and may we meet again around a mic (or a cold beverage) very soon. 

 

 
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October 16th, 2014 by exurbankevin

Mumbai…Oklahoma City…Nairobi…Woolwich…Ottawa?

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Mumbai: An attack by militant Islamists shooting randomly into crowds kills dozens and injures hundreds. Military and police forces were almost powerless to stop the rampage.

Oklahoma City: A convert to radical Islam beheads one coworker and attempts to kill others, but he’s stopped by a good guy with a gun.

Nairobi: Radical Islamic terrorists attack a crowded mall with guns and explosives, committing slaughter on a wholesale level until they are stopped by a mixture of armed citizens and government forces.

Woolwich: Islamists attack a drummer in the Fusiliers with knives and cleavers in revenge for British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Police and military are unable to stop the murder, and the killers waited around to be arrested.

Ottawa: “Intelligence officials tell NBC News that Canadian authorities have heard would-be terrorists discussing potential ISIS-inspired ‘knife and gun’ attacks against U.S. and Canadian targets inside Canada.” 

Maybe one day, the U.S. and Canada will be willing to admit that the best way to fight a dispersed threat like radical Islamic terrorism is a dispersed, flexible response, but until that day comes, I’m going to carry my CCW, keep a bigger gun nearby and have a first aid kit handy

 
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October 9th, 2014 by exurbankevin

The Glower Behind The Throne

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John Fund goes there

On Capitol Hill, members of both parties are more and more mystified at Obama’s apparent disengagement from parts of his job. Months before he dropped the ball on ISIS, he failed to keep himself properly apprised of the problems with Obamacare’s website. Jarrett appears to exercise such extraordinary influence that in some quarters on Capitol Hill she is known as “Rasputin,” a reference to the mystical monk who held sway over Russia’s Czar Nicholas as he increasingly lost touch with reality during World War I.

No one suggests that Jarrett is solely responsible for the administration’s slow response to the crises, contradictory communication, and labored political calculation that have become its hallmarks. But many do think that she has failed to encourage the president to bring in new people with fresh ideas. 

Is Jarrett solely responsible? No, bad advice is only damaging when you heed it. Is she Obama’s go-to person for (bad) advice? Yes. As much as progressives wanted to blast Karl Rove as the evil genius behind George Bush, the fact is, Valerie Jarrett *is* what they imagined Rove to be. When the Fifth Estate decides to stop being Fifth Columnists for the Democratic Party and start to report the honest truth about the Obama Administration, we’ll find out it was Valerie Jarrett who was the Obama’s Ike Turner. 

Only this time, it was our country that took a beating. 

 
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October 3rd, 2014 by exurbankevin

“For The Children” is the new last refuge of the scoundrel

“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” – Samuel Johnson

Attorney General Eric Holder ripped technology companies Tuesday that he said are ‘thwarting’ the federal government’s ability to stop child abuse” – Time Magazine

Mr. Holder, please stop. My privacy is, well, MY privacy, not yours. If that means it’s a little bit harder for you to arrest the people who need arresting, so be it. The default setting on everything about my life should be “none of your business” unless I choose to make it someone else’s business. That’s changed over the last few decades, though, due to the War On (some) Drugs, War On Terror, War On (some) Women, and the War On Whatever We Want To Go To War With. 

Enough. What we’re really fighting is a war on the private citizen. The preamble of the Constitution starts with “We, the people of these United States…” 

When was the last time you felt you were a part of the government of the United States? When did that change, and how can we change it back? That’s the war we need to fight. 

 
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October 1st, 2014 by exurbankevin

A pack, not a herd.

Grover Norquist lays out the case that America isn’t having a “libertarian moment”, it’s having a libertarian MOVEMENT

“So forget ‘moment.’ Think trend. And consider the once-impossible political shifts that have taken place over the past 30 years. The relevant dividing line is not right versus left or Republican versus Democrat but the expansion of individual liberty versus whatever and whosoever stands in the way.”

I agree. 

With the internet pervading almost every facet of our lives today, we have an unprecedented amount of information on which to base our decisions and make our choices. This explosion of personal empowerment hasn’t been seen since the invention of movable type, and that little gadget brought us Protestantism, democracy and capitalism. 

Not bad.

Of course, it also brought us the Thirty Years War and book bans, so with every blessing comes at least one curse. 

Despite the Democrat’s best efforts, we are also living in a period of broad and deep personal wealth. The poor are doing better than ever before, and while there is still much, much more work to be done, the trend around the world is towards improved economic health on all levels. With that increased economic clout comes the desire for increased political clout as well. It’s no coincidence that Tiananmen Square happened as Chinese citizens gained personal wealth: People with more money have more reasons to resent the government telling them what to do with it.

The world was a scary, unstable place in the 1700′s as parliaments gradually took over from absolute monarchs, and it was scary in late 1800′s as  progressive socialism infested the capitals of the world. We’re passing through the collapsing confines of the liberal nanny state, and if we’re lucky and work hard for it, we’ll end up walking into the bright light of a new day of personal freedom.

“listen: there’s a hell
of a good universe next door; let’s go”

-e e cummings

 
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September 26th, 2014 by exurbankevin

It’s a good day when Michael Barone agrees with me.

This has been a bugaboo of mine for quite a while now: We are entering into an era of increased personal empowerment unseen since the invention of the printing press. I don’t HAVE to watch the evening news to know what’s going on, I have my podcasts and RSS feeds. I don’t HAVE to limit myself to what’s on the shelves in the local Sears store, I have millions of e-commerce website to chose from. I don’t HAVE rely on a union shop steward to empower myself, I have the soapbox of a blog and the Rolodex of my LinkedIn contacts to help advance my career. 

And Michael Barone agrees: Big government and empowering technology do NOT mix

“Large” technology requires the standardization of masses of people, centralized command-and-control, conformity to social norms. Massive work forces and massive armies cannot operate optimally otherwise.

“Small” technology enables individuals to make personal choices, fashion their world to their own dimensions, deploy their own talents and pursue their interests in ways of their own choosing. Standardization yields to customization.

President Obama doesn’t seem to get this. He sees history as a story of progress from minimal government to ever-larger government. He’s only sorry that he hasn’t taken us farther on that track.

But history doesn’t proceed in a straight line; it moves around. “Large” technology made big government seem necessary in 1914. “Small” technology requires something different, something more adaptive today.

The deer now have guns. Obama and the big-government Democrats don’t get that, and now they face extinction.

 

 
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September 12th, 2014 by exurbankevin

Creating Christian Media For Men

Or CCMM, for short.

I’ve been rolling around ideas inside of my brain about getting men back into the church, and getting worship services back to being like worship and not like a concert. 

1. Break the Fourth Wall. And the Third Wall. And the Second Wall, too.
I realized what modern church worship really is meant to be, not worship, but rather, the halftime show at the Super Bowl. 

At a Super Bowl halftime show, musicians come out and sing the songs you’ve heard them sing on the radio for years, and the point of the show is to keep you entertained until the game starts up once again. The thing is, though, when’s the last time you saw a halftime show that didn’t stink? The last one that comes to mind is U2′s stunning 2002 performance, which was more than just about entertainment, it had a message that was meant for people who WEREN’T in the seats in the stadium or watching it on TV, namely the victims of 9/11. 

When was the last time you heard music in church that was meant for people NOT in church at the time? 

2. The Best Christian Music of Today Isn’t On The Radio.
There was a vibrant and exciting Christian ska culture in the 1990′s, and absolutely NONE of it made it into church. Ditto for Sufjan Stevens’ brilliant music or anything by Sixpence None The Richer or a host of others. There is some great Christian music out there today, but it’s not focused on making into churches on Sunday morning, it’s focused on the artistry and honesty of the message, not whether it makes it onto the radio. I’ll let Hank Hill sum up my feelings on this matter. 

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And please, stop trying drag the pop music of past into the sanctuary. The worst example of this I’ve seen happened a few years ago at my church in the Phoenix area, when the music of The Beatles was a focal point of the worship service. 

Let’s put aside the fact that because of their popularizing of Maharsi Yogi, The Beatles did more to bring new age philosophy into the West than anyone else before them or the VERY questionable suitability of some of their lyrics   and concentrate on the fact that this church decided to show how “hip” and “with it” they were by playing the music of  forty years ago in today’s sanctuary. 

Funny, but I don’t recall churches in the 80′s playing The Andrews Sisters to show young people how cool they were, although I’ll become a member of any church who plays the entirety of “A Love Supreme” on a Sunday morning. 

I digress.

The fact is, churches need to stop trying to be hip and start getting real, because honesty is the new hip.

3. Stop Talking About Relationships. Start Talking About Leadership.
Because, of course, if there’s one thing guys like to do, it’s talk about relationships and our feelings. Is there a time to talk about such things? Sure. Is Sunday morning the time to do it, surrounded by hundreds of strangers? Probably not. Get men in the seats by challenging them to go forth and change the world, not brood on the nature of  their relationships. 

4. Create Other Channels Of Contact.
Almost every modern church has a website. Many more churches have a Facebook page and post videos of their services and have podcast feed of their sermons. 

How many have a Spotify channel of music similar to what they play in church, or better still, music they DON’T play in church? What about custom channels for men, kids and teens? Why do worship pastors think their job is just to prepare music for Sunday morning? Aren’t we supposed to be worshipping God all the time, not just on Sunday morning? Why not have a “director’s cut” of the pastor’s personal music tastes as a way to get the know the man, not just the leader.

Christians are behind the curve when it comes to Internet, and that’s a shame, because the Internet is the greatest tool for personal empowerment since the invention of the printing press. The printing press put the Bible in the hands of the common man, which led to the evangelical, worldwide church. Christian’s haven’t had the same success with using the Internet as a witnessing tool, and that needs to change.

 
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September 7th, 2014 by exurbankevin

Daily Carry.

When I had my little misadventure last month, I was in the midst of testing out gear for a daily carry messenger bag to have near me no matter what. Something as simple as always having a ready and available source of water makes a big difference on a 2 hour road trip, and the bag has proven to be useful at least a half-dozen times since that day in St. Louis. 

I’ve finally sorted out what I want to have in the bag, and have a writeup on what did (and did not) make the cut over at Smart Suburban Survival

 
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September 2nd, 2014 by exurbankevin