Posted by: bkivey | 29 September 2014

2014 Vacation Pt. 1

22 September

In which I blog on my annual vacation; a tradition for the past three years. I was hoping to make this a semi-annual post, but no such luck this year.

(NOTE: There is almost no visual record of the first part of my vacation, because I AM AN IDIOT. And it’s not a good idea to play around with camera settings when you’re tired. ‘OKAY’ doesn’t mean ‘Okay I like the settings’ when the menu is set to ‘Format card’.)

Regular readers know that I vacation during the week of my birthday; the third week in September. This year I decided to combine work and play and take my vacation in southern Oregon and northern California.

Overall, an A. I got to see and do a lot of interesting things; and I didn’t have to work too much.

The first good thing was that I made my flight, which was an improvement on last year. The aircraft was a Bombardier Q-400; a twin turboprop transporting 78 people. This aircraft boards from the ground; something I haven’t had to do in a really long time. I asked the baggage guys if they rigged covers when it rained, or was it a mad dash to the aircraft; and was informed it was a mad dash. This rang true with my previous experiences boarding from the ground. (Boarded once in Columbus, GA, in a downpour. The aircraft was actually pulling away with me and my brother running after it. Attendants pulling up the stairs saw us, and let us on. We were soaked.)

I’d booked POSH (Port Out, Starboard Home) because I wanted to see the mountains on the trip down. No such luck; clouds all the way. Still a fair amount of logging around Medford, though.

Logging near Medford

And Table Rock, a local landmark:

Table Rock near Medford

Solar panels outside Rogue Valley International:

Outside Medford airport

I picked up my chariot (MUCH more on this later) and headed for lunch.

After lunch I had in mind to photograph some covered bridges (this was the business part) and queried the GPS. Keep in mind that cellphone GPS isn’t true GPS; it goes off cell phone towers rather than satellite. I got directions, and headed off.

Only, where I wanted to go and where GPS took me were not the same. I headed up the Rogue River Gorge. This included the Hellsgate area, site of several movies, and generally spectacular scenery, but not where I was looking to go. Of course, I didn’t know this until GPS informed that ‘I’d arrived’, and I clearly hadn’t. It was OK. I got to see some great scenery, and I was on vacation.

I finally did find the bridge I was looking for, as well as other items of interest.

Grave Creek bridge

Grave Creek bridge

Wimer covered bridge

Wimer bridge

The city hall for unincorporated Wimer. I don’t know if this is a joke, but it’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.

Wimer city hall

The oldest institution in America, located not far from Wimer. Who knew?

Church of Christ

I decided to spend the night in Grants Pass, as that would put me 30 miles closer to the next day’s destination. I booked into a place called ‘Knights Inn'; mostly because the sign was easy to see (landmark), and it was next to a grocery store. They charged $68. The $50 I’d seen in Medford at the Hotel 6 was starting to look pretty good. What I didn’t notice until I’d paid for the room was that the property was directly next to a railroad track. On further review, I thought the track might be heavily used, as the warning bridge had no less than five signal lights and four crossbucks. A quick search of the internet revealed that the company owning the track wasn’t likely to be using it frequently; and in fact there was only one train.

I’d looked for a hotel downtown because I wanted to grab a bite at a bar. Bars tend to have TV’s, and on Monday during the season, they usually have Monday Night Football. There must be an ordinance in Grants Pass prohibiting the exhibition of football games on TV. Of the three bars within walking distance of the hotel, only one had a TV, and it wasn’t tuned to football. What the hell? I sucked it up and had dinner at one of the bars.

 

Posted by: bkivey | 3 September 2014

Long Train Running

The Oregonian has been beating the drum to raise awareness about ‘oil trains': trains consisting of mile-plus long strings of tank cars transporting oil from the fields to port. Articles focused on the subject have appeared regularly throughout the year, and a cursory search on the Oregon Live website yields a
couple dozen articles on oil trains this year alone. One might think that the subject is of intense interest to the population. I would venture that the residents of the Portland metro area don’t consider the subject in their top ten concerns, and likely not in the top twenty.

The motivation for this editorial focus appears to stem from the fact that area oil train traffic has more than doubled in the last several years as oil field production in the north central states has increased, the proposal for a new oil terminal in the area, and several high profile accidents in 2013. My motivation for this post was an editorial calling for real-time notification of emergency responders to oil train movements.

One editorial in the series notes that there are gradations in crude oil: some types are more prone to highly energetic combustion in the event of an accident. The Oregonian proposes notifying responders when these types of cargoes are in transit “so that they would, if called, be adequately prepared and equipped for evacuation and spill containment.”

I’m not sure how this is supposed to work, nor how it would increase response effectiveness. I’m sure 911 dispatchers don’t send crews off to emergencies without some description of the problem. And I’m reasonably certain spill response equipment isn’t locked in a warehouse somewhere.

“Station 51″

“This is 911 dispatch, We have a derailment at the Grant St. rail crossing.”

“Is it (dum dum dum) an oil train?”

“Yes”

“Damn. Our spill response guy is at lunch, and we don’t have the containment equipment handy. If only we’d known when the train was coming through.”

The point of having emergency services is to have highly trained,well-equipped, competent people ready to respond at a moments notice to a wide variety of emergencies. Nearly every cargo conceivable moves by rail, some of which are more flammable and toxic than crude oil. Responders quite often don’t know what they’re dealing with until they arrive on scene. If oil trains are a concern, and in particular a certain type of oil, instead of bogging the system down with additional regulation and expense, wouldn’t it make more sense for emergency crews to treat every oil train accident as a worst-case scenario? If it is, they’re prepared; if not, they’re still prepared for the lesser eventuality.

In 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, US railroads moved 1.7 million ton-miles of freight. 712 people died from all types of rail accidents; roughly comparable to the weekly auto accident toll that year. The total number of people losing thier lives to train-only accidents: 6 (source: NTSB).

One wonders at the motivation of The Oregonian’s editorial board to flog this horse. If the desire is to raise awareness of oil train operations, then to what purpose? Usually one raises awareness of an issue to effect change, but there has been no public outcry against the way railroads operate these trains.

Given the cargoes hauled and the size of the equipment involved, US railroads do a remarkable job of safely transporting a lot of what keeps the economy running. As the editorial notes “Oregon communities along rail lines would remain in the dark about most oil trains until long after they’d rolled through.”

Which is one of the hallmarks of effective transportation.

Mo Betta’ Trains

20140824_163105

 

On my day off a couple of weeks ago, I visited the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation in Portland. The picture above is the view looking in the front door. There’s a fair amount of equipment on the tracks around the facility, including a couple of restored first-generation diesels.

But the star attractions are the steam locomotives inside. Although there are some informational displays on the walls, the facility is more a locomotive shop than museum. The engine on the left is former Spokane, Portland & Seattle #700. The only surviving example of its class, it’s fully restored and operational, and usually powers the Christmas excursions.

The locomotive on the right is a recent acquisition undergoing restoration, and is expected to be operational in 2016.

Not visible on the right is former Southern Pacific #4449, a streamlined steamer and also the only surviving member of its class. I’d seen this locomotive pulling the Freedom Train in 1976, and was a bit surprised to find it here. It’s currently undergoing its 15 year inspection, and so is partially disassembled. This does allow an opportunity to inspect a lot of the mechanical parts normally hidden.

As a bonus, the shop sits right next to Union Pacific’s mainline, so you may get to see some modern railroading in action. During my visit, two trains passed simultaneously, causing every child (and a few adults) to go outside and watch.

There’s no admission fee, but donations are encouraged.

The O’Jays, Everyday

20140828_132753

 

I pass this sign several times weekly, and I invariably think of the O’Jays song.

I love sushi, any kind of sushi

I love sushi, just as long as its groovin’

Portents of Winter?

The official long-range forecasts are calling for a milder than normal Winter, and with the exception of our twice-decade storm in February, last Winter was fairly mild.

On the other hand, I’ve seen some trees starting to turn and shed already. Maybe I should find some wooly bears.

 

 

 

Posted by: bkivey | 19 August 2014

HIgher Minimum Wage = Lower Expectations

Part of the fallout from the Occupy Whatever movement is the agitation for a much higher minimum wage than is currently extant. The current Federal minimum is $7.25/hr., and hasn’t changed in five years. Where I live the state minimum is $9.10/hr., and is adjusted annually for inflation. The current figure of merit bandied about is $15/hr. I’ve commented on this a bit, but my opinion is that a minimum wage isn’t a great idea to start with, and forcing employers to pay unskilled labor $30,000 annually is a terrible idea. If a person desires a middle-class wage, they can develop middle-class skills. Society shouldn’t be in the business of awarding economic participation trophies.

In a 12 July guest editorial for The Oregonian, Chris Morgan examines the effect of  a high minimum wage on systemic unemployment, particularly  as it affects the Millennial generation (the tween to early thirties demographic). His two main points are that a high wage won’t help this group obtain employment, as older long-term unemployed persons will re-enter the workforce, and that a high wage will encourage young people to forgo higher education in favor of entering the workforce.

Both points are valid. If a $15/hr. wage becomes common, a lot of people who didn’t think they could support themselves on $10/hr. are going to be much more interested in working. Leaving aside my opinion that supporting oneself, by whatever legal means, is essential to dignity and self-esteem; all else being equal, an employer is likely to select the more seasoned worker for a given position. Thus the already generally entitled mindset of the Millennial takes another hit.

Mr. Morgan’s second point is more problematical, and stems from the everyone-should-go-to-college mindset. Mr. Morgan fears that society will suffer from irreparable loss if an 18 year old decides that making decent money for low-skilled work is preferable to spending years in a classroom. I tend to agree, but not in the same way as Mr. Morgan.

There are any number of people in college that have no business being there. I’ve met them. Some don’t have the intellectual horsepower, but the majority of the don’t-belong are people in school because it’s what was expected, or they didn’t know what else to do, but they have no real interest in going to school. If  working becomes more attractive than sleepwalking through class, then they should by all means do that. It may be that a few years of labor will give them a greater appreciation for education, to the betterment of all concerned.

From his essay, Mr. Morgan appears to belong to the group that doesn’t believe people can make good decisions on their own. Like any other organism, people tend to make decisions in their own perceived best interest. If those decisions don’t happen to jibe with others notions, well, that’s really no one else’s business.

Cool Explained

sci fi venn diagram

h/t to Mike Mallow.

Posted by: bkivey | 18 August 2014

Dude, Where’s My Blog?

The blog has been on unenforced hiatus, because: life. I have one business that has me jumping; I started another last month off the proceeds from the first business (aka bootstrapping). And because I had a few random hours left in the week, I agreed to do some consulting for a former employer.

Something had to give, and it was this blog. I feel guilty about my lack of attention, not because I have any great insights to share, but I do enjoy the process of developing an essay, and I have as many opinions as previously when I had more time. As one blogger whom I read regularly, and who also spent time away said “The less you write, the less you feel like writing.” I’ll see what I can do about posting more regularly.

Seattle Blues

Regular readers know that I like sports. I’ve played a few in various leagues, and I enjoy watching sport played well, especially if it’s a local team. The highlight of my day off Sunday was attending the Portland Thorns match against rival Seattle Reign. The Reign have been the class of the NWSL this year: no one else is even close. I’d bought my ticket weeks ago because the regular season closed against the Reign, and rivalry games are usually worth watching.

The 2013 champion Thorns have had a rough year. Injuries and a shaky back line have made the season more of an adventure than players or fans would have preferred. Of the nine teams in NWSL, the top four make the playoffs; everyone else goes home. Going into Sunday, Portland stood fifth on the table. The third and fourth seeds lost their games, so Portland was in with a chance. A win would catapult them to third place: anything else would close the season.

For Seattle, the match was a meaningless game. Sure, no athlete wants to lose, but there was nothing on the line. They’d secured their first- seed playoff spot. For the Thorns, the contest was essentially a single elimination playoff game.

Thorns Tifosi

Tifosi prior to the match. If your Spanish is a bit rusty, the sign says ‘(All) Everything I can imagine is real’. In literature, this would be foreshadowing. The smaller signs are individual portraits of the players.

And, fight!

Portland came out hard and strong. There was no let up from Minute One. They set up camp in Seattle’s half of the field. Seattle spent so little time in their attacking third, I was surprised they didn’t have to go through passport control. It was all Portland, all the time.

Enter the refs.

For the first half, it seemed that the referee crew was blind to the transgressions of the Reign. Blindside tackle; play on. Elbow? Play on. Thorn’s goal? Hey, there’s a foul. At the half the score was 0 –  0, which felt like a win against the Seattle side, and the refs were roundly bood.

The game felt like one where one goal would win it, and in the 68th minute, Alex Morgan found the back of the net with her head. It was the most important goal of the Thorns season.

Keeper Nadine Angerer was brilliant. The defense held. And when the final whistle blew, 17,000 + at Providence Park erupted.

 

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.

 

 

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