Posted by: bkivey | 23 July 2014

Zues on the Loose

This is peak thunderstorm season in the US, although occurrence across the nation is highly variable.  The Midwest sees true monsters rising into the stratosphere, while across the South what the storms may lack in size, they make up in frequency. Where I live thunderboomers are uncommon to rare, but are often visible just across the Cascades.

If one in is in a safe place, these forces of nature engender feelings of awe and a certain vitality (perhaps from the ozone created by lightening).  It’s easy to see why the ancients thought the gods themselves must walk the Earth. Sometimes, though, ‘safe’ is a relative term. Here are the five most impressive lightening strikes I’ve witnessed, in ascending order of near death experience.

Wake Forest, North Carolina

I was living in a ground floor apartment in one of the nicer parts of town. The street was divided with a tree lined median. I was in the living room with the window open. Sunny day, but there was storm activity in the area. A man across the street was on a ladder doing something on the second story of his house.

Bright flash, and pressure on my chest. Loud boom. A bolt had struck one of the median trees. The guy across the street jumped off his aluminum ladder to the ground. No injuries, but the tree didn’t fare too well.

Columbia, South Carolina

For severity of storm, South Carolina gives Florida a run for it’s money.  During one especially violent storm, my siblings and I were in an upstairs bedroom watching the storm. The power had gone out, so the only illumination was from the lightening, and the room was fairly well lit.

We noticed a blue glow from the neighbor’s yard. Looking out the window, we saw an intensely blue-white baseball-sized sphere moving slowly atop the chain link fence.  After a few seconds, it exploded, rocking the house. My first and thus far only experience with ball lightening.

Pinellas County, Florida

Riding my bike in one of the less developed area of the county. There were storms in the area, but none especially close. Suddenly I felt my hair stand on end, my skin felt tingly, and there was a buzzing sound in my ears. Fortunately, I knew what was happening, so I laid the bike down (road rash was the very least of my concerns) and rolled into a drainage ditch. There wasn’t any actual strike, for which I’m grateful, because I likely wouldn’t be writing this if there were.

Clearwater Beach, Florida

While attending St. Petersburg College, I discovered that one of my classmates and I shared an interest in cycling. On Sundays we’d ride the Pinellas Trail from campus to Clearwater Beach, check out the heavenly bodies for a while, and ride back.

One day a rather ominous thunderstorm started moving toward the beach, and my friend suggested that maybe we should head back. I resisted, saying we still had some time. When the wind started to blow cold, I relented, and we headed back to St. Pete.

While crossing the bridge across the canal that separates Clearwater Beach from Clearwater, a bolt hit the canal in spectacular fashion close aboard. It was RIGHT THERE. I remember seeing the concentric rings of electricity spreading across the water from the several contact points. The sound deafened me. Immediately the heavens opened up, soaking us in seconds.

My riding partner stopped under the first available shelter, water sluicing off the roof. I pulled up, and he started cussing me out in royal fashion. I still couldn’t hear, but he was whites-of-the-eyes terrified. I didn’t need to hear to understand what he was saying.

My hearing returned, but not before he’d wound down. He insisted that we stay under shelter until it stopped raining, and I didn’t gainsay him.

St. Petersburg, Florida

Sitting in my 2nd floor garage apartment watching TV during the kind of storm that puts you in mind of living under a waterfall.

The entire wall to my right turned arc-light white.

One second  I was sitting in my living room, the next, the wall disappeared in a bright light.

I was stunned and deafened. I couldn’t hear, and I couldn’t move. This state lasted for some indeterminate time, as my first coherent thought was that someone was furiously knocking on my door.

A lightening bolt had hit the power pole transformer immediately (right next to the building) adjacent to the apartment. I was sitting less than 15 feet from the strike, and on the same level as the transformer.  My landlady, completely soaked, wanted to know if I was alright. I think I said something inane like ‘Sure’. She was skeptical, and in truth, I didn’t feel alright. I was a bit shaky, but no physical damage.

The power pole was removed.

Posted by: bkivey | 20 July 2014

The Ballad of Apollo 11

(Sung to the tune of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies)

Let me tell a story ’bout a man named Neil

A boyish charm was part of his appeal

Then one day he was flying ’round the Moon

Where he and Buzz would be landin’ real soon

July 20, 1969

 

He went down the ladder, and took a giant leap

A lifetime’s accolades he would surely reap

Aldrin followed, and then said ‘Gee’

‘A small step for Neil but a big one for me’

Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.

 

Been 45 years since humans have stepped

Not since ’72 has anybody repped

But the Moon’s still there, and people want to go

Maybe private space will get on with the show

We’ll be back now, ya hear?

 

Word Watch

While responding to a post on another blog, I came up with the word ewachsenekinder. The English translation is ‘grown-up children’, and is meant to convey the concept of adults with childish attitudes about how the world works (or should work). German is known for mashing existing words together to express concepts, and perhaps someone more conversant in the language than I can tell me if this is a legitimate use of compounding words.

Posted by: bkivey | 15 July 2014

Summer Reading

I’ve been spending time with old friends Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin as they sail they high seas and ‘serve a round turn’ to the French and Spanish.  Patrick O’ Brian’s works are literary masterpieces, and there are scores of websites devoted to Aubrey’s voyages, the food (including recipes), life on 18th century English Naval vessels, a sailing simulator, and English society in general as pertains to the novels.

Despite being a 20-novel series, some of the books don’t jibe with others in that the events described would take far longer than the available time-frame.  O’ Brian’s response was that had he known how successful the series would be, he would have paid more attention to placing the novels in the correct temporal context. The reader is left to imagine that some of the novels take place in an alternate reality.

The Aubrey-Maturin novels have a surprisingly large female following for an action-adventure series; in no small part because it’s not all ships-at-sea. Large chunks of the novels have to do with the societal doings of lords and ladies and balls and manors. Food and provisions also feature, as well as copious amounts of alcohol. How these people do drink.

It’s apparent that O’ Brian’s favorite character is Stephen Maturin. A physician and polymath, he often gets the most ‘screen time’, and his ‘fish-out-of water’ persona allows the author to explain things that on a Naval vessel wouldn’t need  explaining. It’s through his eyes that people who may not be attracted to this genre can make a connection.

The 2003 movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is based on the series, and a fairly good representation, although an amalgamation of several novels. My thoughts on the closing scene were: how do they keep their instruments in tune?

O’ Brian’s gift is that he puts you inside the story, and that’s enough to ask of any author. If you’re inclined toward historical fiction, or just want to feel the heave of the deck or the grace of the ball, give O’ Brian a try.

World Cup

I watched the final between Germany and Argentina Sunday. Unusually for me, I watched the entire game. My normal practice is to wait until halftime for any game, because unless it’s a blowout (viz. Germany – Brazil), the best part of the action will take place in the second half. Or later, as we saw.

For most of the game, Argentina held the advantage, getting their chances, but failing to capitalize. The Germans started attacking late in the first half, but could not score.

As the game wore on through regulation, the feeling was that one goal would do it, and it seemed that the Argentinians would score that goal.

Somewhat surprisingly, leading scorer Klose was pulled for Gotze late in the second half of regulation. Klose said something to Gotze before leaving the pitch: don’t know what he said, but halfway through the 2nd OT Gotze scored on as pretty a goal as you’ll see, so maybe the words had some effect.

My partisanship in the game was with Germany: I was born there, so I had a rooting interest. I didn’t start following World Cup until 2010, while living in Soccer City USA (aka Portland, OR). It was a lot of fun watching matches, and, as always, watching the best in the world.

 

Posted by: bkivey | 6 July 2014

4 July 2014

I don’t usually write about my daily activities, because it would make for some boring reading. But I did see something this past July 4th that made me wonder.

I finished work early Friday, and repaired to a bar for lunch and to watch the Colombia – Brazil World Cup match (I’m predicting Brazil – Argentina in the final). Afterwards, I had the rest of a gorgeous summer day to do something on the 4th.

The MLB Arizona Diamondbacks Single-A (short season) affiliate is located in nearby Hillsboro, and watching a baseball game on Independence Day is a quintessential American activity. Sure, it’s nearly the lowest level of pro baseball (only rookie league is lower), but it is live baseball. A quick check of the schedule showed the Hops playing in Keizer, 35 miles south. No worries, a 45 minute trip down I-5 would put me at the game.

Volcanoe stadium ext 1

 

The Volcanoes home stadium was decorated for the holiday. The listed capacity is 4200, but the announced crowd was 5600, likely because of the fireworks show after the game. The Hops were at the top of the standings, while the Volcanoes were at the bottom, so I was reasonably confidant of a visitors victory. I grabbed a couple of hotdogs, a large soda (suck it, Bloomberg) found my seat, and got ready to watch some baseball. Life was good.

4 July game action

 

Game action. That’s the Cascades in the background with Mt. Jackson just to the right of the foul pole. The clouds over the desert had an interesting texture, like shelves stacked atop each other.

alpenglow at game

 

A bit of alpenglow during the 7th inning stretch singing of God Bless America.

Contrary to expectations, the Hops starting pitcher gave up three runs in the first inning, and the Hops bats could make no headway against the Volcanoes starter. Things looked hopeful late in the game, but the Volcanoes reliever pitched himself out of a one out bases loaded jam. The home team finished with a 5 -1 victory.

That was the game, but what motivated this post was this:

4 July pregame 1

A scene from the nearly hour-long Independence Day pregame ceremony. Independence Day in the US marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. I would expect that a celebration of this event might include a reading of the Introduction and Preamble of the Declaration,  along with reenactments of some of the rhetoric (particularly Patrick Henry’s speech) that took place prior to ratification of the Declaration. Perhaps some speechifying by politicians on what it means to be an American with a selection of patriotic music and songs.

There was none of that.

What did take place was a celebration of military veterans. I’m as supportive of the military as the next person, perhaps more so, as I grew up an Army brat, but I found the focus of the event irritating. The veterans honored were heroes all, including one who had survived five years as a guest of the Vietnamese, and the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. But the focus of Independence Day is, or should be, on the country and the people in it. We already have a holiday devoted to military veterans. My feeling about the event was as if people were going to throw you a birthday party, but when you get there, you find someone else being feted.

I don’t think my expectations about an Independence Day event are out of line, and events on the day in my youth were a celebration of the US. Even on military bases where parades would consist largely of soldiers and weaponry, the theme was still focused on the country. Why would the Volcanoes events staff depart from that model to focus on veterans?

My thinking is that the events staff thought a military-themed event would be ‘safe’. Whatever one may think of the military as an institution, even in this part of the country most people understand that military service ranges from hard to near-impossible, depending on the job. Every person serving is a volunteer, and rare is the individual who will publicly disparage them.

Perhaps the front office thought a US-focused event wouldn’t be inclusive enough or might offend those who weren’t US citizens. I would hope that wasn’t the case, as the erosion of tradition and neglect of history is how cultures die.

It may be that because the Single-A season doesn’t extend into November, staff thought that Independence Day would be an appropriate time to honor military veterans. There’s certainly a place for that, but I don’t think it should be the entire focus of the event.

“With Us, It’s Psychological”

Rite Id

Posted by: bkivey | 4 July 2014

The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers are a collection of essays and articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the US Constitution.  They should be required reading for high school students and those seeking US citizenship, as they offer insight into the philosophical underpinnings of American society and culture. If you haven’t read them, buy or borrow a copy, and find out what the term ‘American exceptionalism’ means.

A selection of quotes to whet your appetite:

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.” (Federalist No. 2)

John Jay

“The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government.” (No. 9)

Alexander Hamilton

“But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.” (No. 10)

James Madison

“…the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens[.]” (No. 10)

James Madison

“WE HAVE seen the necessity of the Union, as our bulwark against foreign danger, as the conservator of peace among ourselves, as the guardian of our commerce and other common interests, as the only substitute for those military establishments which have subverted the liberties of the Old World, and as the proper antidote for the diseases of faction, which have proved fatal to other popular governments, and of which alarming symptoms have been betrayed by our own.” (No. 14)

James Madison

Whether there ought to be a federal government intrusted with the care of the common defense, is a question in the first instance, open for discussion; but the moment it is decided in the affirmative, it will follow, that that government ought to be clothed with all the powers requisite to complete execution of its trust.” (No. 23)

Alexander Hamilton

“…there must be interwoven, in the frame of the government, a general power of taxation, in one shape or another.” (No. 30)

Alexander Hamilton

Silly Season

As sure as there will be fireworks today, there will be small-minded people complaining about them. For the last week the local paper has been running stories on how fireworks upset pets and veterans. It’s really become quite tiresome.

The argument is that cats and dogs, with their sensitive hearing, are alarmed by the noise. This is true, and pet shelters report that one of their busiest days is 5 July, as dozens of pets that have run off are brought in to be reunited with their owners. The recommendation is that owners bring their pets indoors on the 4th and put them in the quietest room in the home. That’s good advice, because honestly, if I want to shoot off some fireworks, why is your pet my problem?

More problematic is the admonition concerning veterans. Yes, there may be a very few war veterans for whom the bangs and pops of fireworks may trigger unpleasant memories. But my beef with this nannying is that it treats adults like children who must be protected.

The great majority of veterans are rational people who can read a calendar. They know that there are going to be loud noises on that day. I’d venture that more than a few veterans will be setting off some fireworks of their own. Were I a combat veteran, I’d be peeved that I was being drafted to serve in someone else’s war on tradition.

And that’s what the whole movement against personal fireworks is. A very small minority don’t like fireworks, and gin up protected classes to advance their cause. It’s likely that if one were to propose that a foreign culture abolish a given tradition, most of those in the anti-fireworks crowd would be up in arms about cultural oppression and insensitivity to cultural norms.

Well, what about my cultural norms and traditions? Aren’t they just as valuable as anyone else’s? Shooting off fireworks on the 4th is part of American cultural heritage. Sure, there’s some risk associated with the activity, and annually there are mishaps and injuries, but on the whole, it’s a lot safer than running in front of a herd of bulls.

Americans like seeing stuff shoot up and explode. For the vocal minority that doesn’t, I suggest they buy a good set of earplugs and tough it out for the one night a year.

Happy 238th, America.

Posted by: bkivey | 24 June 2014

Cishet? You Bet!

The Portland Mercury is one of the two alternate weeklies I read, and recently while noodling around on their website I chanced upon the I, Anonymous blog (I could post every day just using this as source material). This is a forum where people can write on whatever they want, and in keeping with the Mercury’s editorial bent, usually in NSFW language. This gem was posted on 21 June:

Wake up: It’s time for a cultural shift.

Posted by Anonymous on Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Aside from the blatant bigotry, I really wish people would make the effort to respect one’s gender identity. I identify as a glittery fem-boy gender fluid accepting towards all except cishets (I’m sorry cis people). When I was a teen, I identified as both androsexual and demisexual (demi-androsexual), then in my early twenties, I found myself at a crossroads between skoliosexual (attracted to genderqueer and transsexual people) and gynesexual/gynephilic (attracted to females, women, and/or femininity). Things got a little “easier” in my mid-twenties and I found myself experimenting with adrosexuality (which isn’t just attraction to men {and certainly not just attraction to cismen}, it’s attraction to all things manly, which would not only cover post transition men, but also women expressing as men). We all have our own journeys, so don’t assume I want to be labeled a “he/him/his,” I only respond to the pronouns such as zir, zim, zey (Transgender, genderqueer, and other gender-variant people {LGBTTIQQ2SA people} may choose different pronouns for themselves; please be mindful of this). Gendered pronouns makes you sound completely out of touch, so look up the Spivak model for gender-neutral third person pronouns
(ey/em/eir/eirs/eirself) for an example. Or use Ne” is n+(he or she), “nem” is n+her+him, “nir” isn+him+her. “Ve” is another good option, without a specific bias towards either gender. Become a real human being, educate yourself and be RESPECTFUL- it’s not that hard.

Surprisingly for the demographic that makes up the bulk of the Mercury readership, the comments are uniformly dismissive. A couple of commenters float the idea that the piece is satire. I hadn’t thought of that, primarily because this is just the sort of drivel that’s routinely offered in this neck of the woods, and from this news item about a recent decision from the Vancouver, BC school board. If it is satire, it’s brilliant.

My thought on the Vancouver item is that people don’t generally address other people with pronouns. Even if someone says ‘Hey, you’, ‘you’ in English is gender-neutral.

But to the larger point, I had to do some research to understand half of what this person was saying (if your audience doesn’t understand what you’re saying, you’ve failed to communicate). I looked up the words, then went to several websites and blogs that cater to the gender confused. They all had a remarkable similarity to the radical lesbian feminists I wrote about a few years ago. They’re accepting of a wide range of lifestyles in the same way people can see a wide range of colors in a very narrow part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Whether or not the example post is satire, there are people who are so self-absorbed that they actually think their self-obsession is important to others. It’s not. My opinion is that those who are gender-identity obsessed don’t have any talents or abilities to draw attention to themselves, and to get that attention, they have to invent problems and portray themselves as victims.

Today in History

451 – 10th recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet

The comet’s period is 76 years, so the first recorded passage would have been in 309 BC.

1128 – Afonso I of Portugal defeats army of his mother Theresa

2014 – Portugal ties US in a World Cup match. Not quite the same.

1861 – Tennessee becomes 11th (& last) state to secede from US

Next up: Texas.

1901 – 1st exhibition by Pablo Picasso, 19, opens in Paris

What were you doing at 19?

1938 – 500 ton meteorite lands near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Not sure ‘lands’ is the right word here.

1947 – Flying saucers sighted over Mount Rainier by pilot Ken Arnold

First recorded UFO’s in the US.

1961 – Iraq demands dominion over Kuwait

1991: demands answered.

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 21 June 2014

Lowered Expectations

From the 21 May issue of the Portland Mercury:

MAKE WAY FOR THE MONEYRE: “COPP Out” [News, April 23], regarding a new charging policy that criminalizes camping on public land as well as targeting other quality-of-life behaviors.

DEARMERCURY—For many people without houses, camping is not an option. It is a basic act of survival. Issuing warnings to people for urinating and drinking in public is to elevate those activities to a privilege status, to be enjoyed only by those with the economic privilege of a house or apartment. Removing individuals for repeat offenses of such acts seems part of a gentrification attempt to drive away Portlanders who do not fit the image of the desired landscape. The new set of rules is another way to make the downtown area a haven for the wealthier residents of Portland.

Cathleen McCormick

First, kudos to Ms. McCormick for using what I’m assuming is her real name.

Does she even listen to what she’s saying? Incoherence, thy name is Cathleen. Not by any reasonable permutation of logic can I think of a way to equate urinating in public with economic privilege. Providing the necessities of life for oneself is a minimum expectation of civilized society. Even if one is temporarily unhoused through no choice of their own, not fouling the community nest is a rock-bottom standard. I’m fairly certain Ms. McCormick wouldn’t want people urinating on her floor; why does she think others should be more accepting of those who defile public spaces?

In downtown Portland there are a number of public bathrooms available 24/7, including City Hall. There are several other restrooms publicly available during operating hours, such as the library, parks, and Portland State University buildings. It seems reasonable that anyone with a minimum of self-respect would learn where these places are, especially if they didn’t have any other options.

By Ms. McCormick’s ‘reasoning’, I should be free to urinate in public, as I am economically ‘privileged’ enough to pay for my housing. But housing oneself isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity. And in a functional society, a requirement.

So no, Ms. McCormick, I don’t want to live in a place where people are free to urinate on the sidewalk. That doesn’t make be bigoted, it makes me human.

It’s Here!

The summer solstice has arrived, and we’ll enjoy nearly 17 hours of daylight. It’s a happy occasion, as by this time of year summer weather has usually taken hold. Folks in Seattle will have to wait a couple more weeks. If you live in Florida, it’s likely been summer since April. In Honolulu, it’s pretty much always Summer, although there is a cooler version in the Winter.

There’s a bit of a melancholy note, because starting tomorrow the days will be getting shorter. We’ll lose 4 seconds on 22 June, and continue losing daylight until 21 December, when we’ll have just about 9 hours of daylight.

Except for our 5-year snowstorm in February, we’ve had a mild Winter, so Summer isn’t quite the joyous occasion it usually is. Still, I didn’t get to do anything last Summer. I’ll be looking to rectify that this year.

World Cup

It’s also time for the quadrennial kickball fest, also known as World Cup. Although I played city league for three years, I’m not a huge soccer fan. I follow the Timbers and the Thorns, but otherwise am fairly indifferent.

I don’t have any interest in the teams outside the US, but I’ll watch games when I can. No matter the activity, it’s always worth watching the best in the world. I’ve enjoyed the games I’ve seen, especially when one or both sides is facing elimination. Those games provide eye-popping action and a level of soccer not commonly seen in the US.

And is it just me, or is the World Cup logo featuring three hands, in a sport that generally bans the use of hands, somewhat ironic?

Interesting People

I was at my favorite fish house Friday getting something to eat and watching World Cup (adios, Honduras) when an older gentleman engaged me in conversation. We talked about the LPGA and the World Cup on the TV’s, then about sports in Portland. He talked about his son taking him on an upcoming fishing trip to Grand Cayman, and from there we talked about the Caribbean islands.

He asked me if I was retired (it was mid-afternoon on a weekday); I laughed and told him I wasn’t that old or well off. I asked about him, and things got interesting.

He told me that he’d retired from a career selling process piping for steam plants, and prior to that he’d spent 13 years in retail. He left that occupation when he came home one day and his wife told him that she’d registered their son for kindergarten. His response that their son was a baby was met by the reply “He’s five years old”. The man quit his job the next day.

I asked him how he got into selling process piping, and he said he’d served as an engineer in the Merchant Marine during Vietnam. At this point I realized that this man’s life was more interesting than the game, so I started watching less of it and listening more to him.

His job was to take WWII Liberty ships out of the mothball fleet, ready them for service (in 30 days!), load them up with ammunition, and sail them to Vietnam. It was, according to him, the most money he’d ever made.

That’s saying something, as he put his son through four years of college, three years of law school, and and then bought him a partnership in a law firm.

He was, it seemed, a decent and honorable man, who’d provided for his family and been successful in at least three careers.

And now his son was taking him fishing in Grand Cayman.

I hope he catches a whopper.

Posted by: bkivey | 13 May 2014

AGW Jumps the Shark

There are a lot of reasons to dismiss the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) movement: the observed data doesn’t match the predictions, its acolytes have to fudge, manipulate, and outright fabricate data to give the appearance of a crisis, supporters have fairly successfully installed it as an official State religion, and it’s a naked attempt by watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) to control people’s lives.

Then there’s the inconvenient truth that predictions made in the late 80’s for the early 21st century completely failed to materialize. The AGW crowd is now caught up on the euphemism treadmill: ‘global warming’ isn’t happening, so they changed the name to ‘climate change’, but that can mean anything, and now we have ‘climate disruption’, which is supposed to sound ominous enough to scare people into giving up control of their lives to the Anointed. But of all the reasons to suspect the AGW movement, only a Progressive would make the claim that it doesn’t resonate with people because its too . . . White.

In a story that sounds like something straight from The Onion, but is all too real, Suzanne Goldenberg made just that argument in The Guardian on 8 May. The title of the piece: “Why are so many white men trying to save the planet without the rest of us?” is an indication of the level of naval-gazing, and the lede sounds like a bad joke:

Climate change affects minorities and women, the elderly and the poor. But the leadership of the environmental movement is pale and male. That doesn’t look like progress.

Apparently non-poor White people are unaffected by climate change disruption.

Ms. Goldenberg enumerates a number of ‘Green activist organizations and notes the paleness and XY-chromosome-ness of their leaders. She complains that leadership in Big Green “. . . doesn’t even look like America.”

Oh, but it does.

AGW in America, and much of the West, is almost exclusively the concern of White people afflicted with a severe case of White guilt and/or a pathological need to control people. I would posit that a large number of White males involved in the AGW scene think they’re showing their ‘sensitive’ side, and are hoping to score with women.

You’d think that Ms. Goldenberg would be advocating for people of color to join the AGW movement, but, uh, no. I suspect she knows the AGW argument falls on deaf ears in the developing world, where  people want the standard of living the West has, and where the majority population is decidedly non-White. Her social myopia is evident by her column’s insistence that the movements faults lie in the fact that not enough women are involved.

As long as a person buys into the religion that is AGW, their sex is a distinction without a difference. Ms. Goldenburg comes across as a whiny teenager complaining about how unfair life is, and that pretty much sums up Progressivism in general.

Making Money on Sports Betting

If you want to make money betting on sports, call me up, ask my opinion, then bet the exact opposite. Cases in point:

The Portland Winterhawks played Game 7 of the WHL Final last night. After winning the first three games of the series, the Hawks dropped the next three. Seeing that Game 7 was on home ice, I was confident they’d win the championship. They lost to to the Edmonton Oil Kings 4 – 2.

The Portland Trailblazers were completely dominated by the San Antonio Spurs in the first three games of the Western Conference semi-finals. It looked like a four game sweep for the Spurs, and that’s how I would have bet. I may have remarked to people that Monday would be the Blazers last game of the year. They won, continuing the series at least through Game 5.

I was disappointed that the Winterhawks won’t repeat as WHL champions, and happy that the Blazers have a little life left, but don’t take my advice on sports book.

Posted by: bkivey | 4 May 2014

Everybody’s Got One

Selections from recent Letters to the Editor.

From the 30 April Portland Mercury:

RE: The Portland Mercury, a free, urban weekly newspaper that primarily serves the population of Portland and those who visit it… and those who use the internet.

DEARMERCURY—Many of us live in the suburbs and don’t pick up your paper until we visit downtown on the weekends. By then it’s too late to catch your Wednesday and Thursday highlights in “My, What a Busy Week!” [Then maybe come to town before the weekend? How is this our problem?—Ed.] How about starting your week on Friday and ending with the following Wednesday and Thursday? I feel bad for the smaller crowds some of your Wednesday feature acts get. [How do you know that's the case if you don't get to town until the weekend?—Ed.] Yeah, I could check your online edition earlier [Yeah!—Ed.], but it’s still too late to plan for things on the day of a show.

Tony Laundrie

The Portland Mercury is the editorial younger sibling of  Willamette Week: while the latter paper has demonstrated editorial growth, the former is still very much in the teenage mode. I enjoy both papers for different reasons. What I enjoyed about this letter was the editorial comments. The writer thinks that other people should adjust their lives to them, and the editor makes it clear that that’s not gonna happen. Good for you,

From the 2 May edition of The Oregonian:

Minimum wage

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans (annual base salary $174,000 plus allowances and perks like health care and retirement) blocked a national minimum wage increase to $10.10.

Any American voter earning less than $50,000 annually who votes for a Republican has got a screw loose. Don’t be fooled, these folks really are all together with a secret handshake.
The Democrats aren’t much better, but at least they’re making an effort to fix the mess the Republicans handed them in 2008.
A little research shows that Senate Democrats earn the same same salary as Senate Republicans, with the same ‘allowances and perks’. And why is ‘$50,000 annually’ the magic number? Indeed, what does income have to do with the desire not to be dictated to by people who never outgrew childhood and have authority issues?
As for ‘. . . the mess the Republicans handed them in 2008?’ Hmmm. I’m trying to remember what happened in 2008. I believe there was a Presidential election. Who was elected? McCain? No, I do believe it was Barack Obama. Huh. As Tina once said: ‘Who’s zoomin’ who?’.
The Worst Timing Ever
I watched Game 6 of the Portland – Houston NBA series from a bar. Portland had a chance to close out the series on the home floor, and I wanted to experience the moment with a crowd. This was a fantastic series by two evenly matched teams. The first five games featured three overtimes. Every possession important; every point crucial. Houston appeared to be in control for much of Game 6, and in the waning minutes I closed out my tab. With the score 98 -96 Houston with 0.9 seconds left and a Blazer in-bound, I figured the Blazers would lose the game, and the series. Portland hasn’t escaped the first round of the playoffs since 2000, and I didn’t see much hope of winning in Houston for a Game 7 in front of the opposing teams fans.
So I left the bar.
I turned on the radio in the car just in time to hear the final play.
Batum inbound to Lilliard. Three point shot.
Count it.
I did get to hear the final play from the Blazer’s radio play-by-play man Brian Wheeler: I much prefer the radio announcing to TV, but I missed the undoubted pandemonium in the bar. Maybe next time, I’ll stick around for the last second.
Formatting
WordPress doesn’t always format the way you’d like it to, and there’s no apparent fix. So the post looks like shit, and not much to be done about it. Apologies for the look.
Posted by: bkivey | 30 April 2014

Throwing Stones

The recent public revelation of NBA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racially charged comments has become the latest controversy du jour. Comments Mr. Sterling made in a private conversation with his mistress were leaked to entertainment site TMZ, and the shitstorm began. On 29 April NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed the death penalty: banning’ Mr. Sterling from NBA functions and fining him the maximum allowed under league rules. Most of the public commentary prior to the league’s action centered on what the NBA would do: post-sanction discourse has focused on the swiftness and severity of the league’s measures.

By this time the facts are well-known: Mr. Sterling did make racially offensive comments. While not a ‘fact’, one may be reasonably sure that he didn’t expect his comments to become public. A cautionary tale for those seeking mistresses.

But this is a brouhaha in which almost no one has clean hands.

Donald Sterling

Mr. Sterling has a long history of documented racial discrimination. Whether refusing to rent to non-Koreans in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, or refusing to rent to Blacks and Hispanics generally, he hasn’t exactly been private about his bigotry. One might say that he’s an equal-opportunity bigot, and there were no racial slurs on the leaked recording.

The NBA

Mr. Sterling became an NBA owner in 1981 with the purchase of the then San Diego Clippers. Owners in the major sports leagues are very much a part of the Old Boys network, but there is a fairly through vetting process for prospective owners. American culture of the early 80’s was far different than today, and it may be that Mr. Sterling’s racial animosity was met with little more than a nudge and a wink. He was white (well, Jewish) and he had money. For much of Western history, that was enough. Even so, it seems a stretch to think that the NBA Powers That Be were unaware of his opinions. The excoriation of Mr. Sterling by NBA management rings a bit hollow.

The Press

One could start with TMZ for leaking what they surely knew was an illegally obtained recording of a private conversation. But blaming TMZ is like blaming a wolf for eating sheep: it’s what they do. The mass media were actually fairly restrained prior to the NBA’s decision, but afterwards, like the wolf, just couldn’t help themselves.

The gleeful announcement of the NBA sanctions is a bit unseemly for an institution that’s constantly crying about ‘freedom of speech’ and protecting their member’s rights. If the shoe was on the other foot, if a reporter had made some ill-considered remarks in private that were made public, you better believe the press would close ranks and denounce the leaker. But because the comments fit the media’s generally Progressive mindset, groupthink is the rule of the day. The rules are different for the Cool Kids.

The Race Industry

As soon as Mr. Sterling’s comments went public, the press fell over themselves to stick microphones in the faces of Al ‘Tawana Brawley‘ Sharpton, and Jesse ‘Hymietown‘ Jackson. These two are the most visible faces of the American race industry, a group of people, organizations, and press enablers who derive their power by keeping perceived racial animosity in the national conversation. The sheer over-the-top rhetoric from this segment is a clear indication of their understanding that they’re increasingly irrelevant. President Obama was at the front of the line to comment on the issue, and his statements were of a piece with his propensity for inserting himself into any situation that might be remotely racial.

Every one of the race industry representatives tried to spin the private opinion of an 80-year-old man as symptomatic of larger societal ills. Most Americans understand that this isn’t the case, but given the lack of any real, systemic racism in 2014 America, the race-baiters had to come out hard, and in doing so, vastly overplayed their hand.

Barack Obama

The man elected to the Presidency as a unifier has been the polar opposite. Mr. Obama hasn’t missed an opportunity to use the merest hint of racial strife for political gain. He’s spent his life using his race as a shield to deflect criticism, or as a tool for advancement. Ronald Reagan was dubbed ‘The Teflon President’, because fallout from scandals never seemed to stick to him. The Obama Administration has produced scandals much worse than any on Reagan’s watch, but he’s immune from serious criticism because, Black. Mr. Obama has used the Sterling kerfuffle to deflect attention from a stalled economy, a disastrous foreign policy, and a catastrophic signature legislation.

One of the more interesting things I heard was a reporter’s analysis of the situation prior to the Commissioner’s announcement. He laid out the case for the NBA wanting to avoid the death penalty: the recording was illegally made, the NBA likely knew Mr. Sterling’s racial opinions and didn’t want to open that can of worms, and Mr. Sterling had ample basis for suing the NBA if the sanctions were too harsh.

In a rational world, all of that would make sense. But the NBA is 80% Black, and the aforementioned race industry was throwing gas on the fire. Mr. Silver didn’t have any realistic choice but to do what he did. By invoking the harshest sentence possible, he put an immediate end to any speculation that he didn’t do enough, and stopped the controversy in its tracks. As for Mr. Sterling, he’s an 80-year-old billionaire, and however irascible he may have been in his younger days, may just decide to say ‘screw it’, sell the team and retire.

Research tidbit

While researching the post, I found that the figures for the racial makeup of the NBA were supplied by ‘racial equality activist’ Richard Lapchick. I suppose that in Mr. Lapchick’s world, racial equality for Blacks is a super-majority.

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