Posted by: bkivey | 1 June 2016

The Intolerance of the Irrational and Ignorant

On 17 May the Portland Public Schools Board voted to ban any material that cast doubt on Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). No longer will words like ‘may’, ‘might’, or ‘could’ be used in presenting AGW; it must be presented as fact. Board member Mike Rosen introduced the measure, and it passed unanimously. Mr. Rosen is also active in several environmental groups, and one wonders why no one thought to mention this conflict of interest, a conflict Mr. Rosen himself brings up. The editorial board of The Oregonian expressed concern over this action, noting that the purpose of a school board is to determine the most effective ways to educate students, not “to produce acolytes”.

But producing acolytes is exactly what Progressivism is about, and no dissension will be tolerated, no deviance from The Narrative permitted. Board member Julie Esparza-Brown gave an archetypal example of Progressive intolerance and cognitive dissociation when she stated at the meeting that she demanded ”  “assurances that … there will be room for safe dialogue and for multiple and diverse viewpoints.”, then turned right around and voted to ban diverse viewpoints. The Left welcomes diversity as they define it, which never includes opinions or data counter to The Narrative.

And the data doesn’t support the Progressive version of AGW. In their mind, we’re all going to suffer untold misery if we don’t do as they say and impoverish ourselves in order to save Gaia. Never mind that the only real misery is that which they inflict. They’ve been predicting disaster for decades, yet like preachers of old predicting Judgement Day, deadlines have come and gone and the world is pretty much the same.

The Chief High Priest of AGW is James Hansen, who brought AGW to national attention in the late 1980’s. Dr. Hansen is a climate scientist who focused his early work on . . . Venus. Venus is known for its thick atmosphere and very high surface temperatures. The Venusian atmosphere is composed almost entirely of CO2 (~97% by volume) compared to the trace gas status of the compound in Earth’s atmosphere (~0.04%). Dr. Hansen’s flawed leap of logic was to conclude that CO2 concentration was a major determining factor for surface temperature, glossing over the facts that that planet’s atmosphere is much thicker than Earth’s, Earth’s albedo is much lower than Venus (resulting in less infrared radiation to be trapped in the atmosphere), and the big one: Venus is about 30% closer to the Sun, giving a surface insolation value about 60% higher than Earth.

Setting aside the fact that AGW is based on a flawed premise, you’d think after numerous unfulfilled predictions, and the complete failure of Church-approved climate models to predict anything, the Church of Gaia would have lost all credibility. And in fact among those whom Progressives claim to represent but whom in fact they despise, the people who make society work, their credibility is shot. Just have a look at the comments section of any story on AGW.

Because Progressive philosophy isn’t grounded in any sort relation to the observable universe, and because its practitioners suffer from a guilt complex bordering on psychosis, the only way they can promote their agenda is by force and fiat. No aspect of Progressive philosophy can withstand rational scrutiny, so they must ban any dissent while engaging in ad hominem attacks on those opposed. I suspect that the only reason the Board’s vote was unanimous was because it was easier for some to engage in groupthink than be identified as Other, and so subject to the vicious attacks that are a hallmark of the tolerant Left.

Pittock Mansion

In my quest to find interesting things to do on my day off, I chose to tour the Pittock Mansion in the West Hills of Portland. Located off of Burnside where it goes over the hills, I’ve passed the sign for the mansion many times, but have never had a look. A story on the property in the local paper a couple of weeks ago motivated me to see what it was about.

Commissioned by local businessman and newspaper owner Henry Pittock, construction started in 1909 and wasn’t completed until 1914. The building was built from local materials and included the modern conveniences of central heat, central vacuum, and indirect lighting. The original Pittock’s didn’t get to enjoy their house for too long: Georgiana died in 1918, and her husband passed a year later. The last family member moved out in 1958. The city of Portland bought the estate in 1964, renovated it, and opened it to the public in 1965. The property has undergone several renovations since then. Very little of the original furnishings and wall coverings remain, and in most rooms the furnishings are not the same as were extant when the house was completed. Some 80,000 people visit annually, and the parking lot isn’t overly large, but for the middle of the week it’s sufficient.

The first thing you see is the garage, now the ticket office and gift shop:

Pittock mansion garage

The building never stabled horses, and this was the chauffeur’s residence when one was employed.

The public entrance is at the rear of the house:

Pittock mansion rear

There’s a porte cochere on the left where visitor’s could exit their vehicles out of the weather.

Floor plans of the publicly-accessible parts of the house:

Pittock mansion floor plan 1

Pittock mansion floor plan 2

The lower level is below grade. There is a third floor, really a finished attic, housing the servant’s quarters, but it’s not available for touring.

If you were visiting back in the day, the first thing you’d see would be the 2400 sq. ft. steward’s house. The steward was the property’s jack-of-all-trades. If it didn’t involve cooking or cleaning, the steward did it. You can see why you’d want to attract the most competent person available, and living quarters like this were certainly an inducement.

Pittock mansion stewards house


Pittock mansion stewards house rear

The house is open for tours ‘when volunteers are available’, but apparently none were available on the day.

Continuing up the drive, there’s a view of Portland to the east:

Pittock mansion view from yard

And then the house proper:

Pittock mansion view from drive

There were enough people where it was difficult to get unobstructed pictures, but there are some points of interest.

The main entry doesn’t open directly onto the main staircase, but instead there’s an entry hall:

Pittock mansion main entry hall

The music room is on the right, and the library is on the left. The main stairs are directly behind:

Pittock mansion main staircase

The house was built during a time when people employed live-in servants, and to me the more interesting parts of the home were the parts of the east wing that formed the services core. There is a servants staircase that connects all levels and allow the help to easily access the kitchen, laundry, pantry, delivery vestibule, boiler room, and other areas necessary to keep the owners comfortable.

The servants stairs:

Pittock mansion servant stairs

The intercom and annunciators that let the help know where their services are required:

Pittock mansion servant comm

The kitchen has professional-grade equipment, and the floor is covered with 8000 interlocking rubber tiles. It’s a nice amenity for folks who spent a lot of time on their feet. Placards note that such niceties helped to attract good help.

The laundry room:

Pittock mansion laundry room

Apparently the gentry didn’t employ a full-time laundress, but would have one come in a couple times a week.

The ceiling in the smoking room:

Pittock mansion smoking room ceiling

That’s all plaster. If you had money in the early part of the 20th century and built a house, you had a smoking room, even if you didn’t smoke, and the Pittock’s apparently didn’t.

A couple of showers:

Pittock mansion shower 1

Hot and cold water were mixed in the tank, and the chains controlled the overhead and ring showers. A more complicated way to bathe:

Pittock mansion shower 2

This contraption includes a bidet spout on the floor, heads to stimulate the liver and kidneys (obscured on the left), and shower rings for a whole body wash. There’s a ‘Test’ valve that let the user check the water temperature before going full monty.

More plumbing in the form of overhead radiators:

Pittock mansion overhead radiator

The view from one of the bedrooms on the second floor:

Pittock mansion view from bedroom

One of George Pittock’s daughter worked as his private secretary, and this was her office. At the time, there were two telephone companies in Portland, so to reach everyone, you had to have two phones and two directories:

Pittock mansion secretary desk

The museum staff solicit feedback on the direction preservation efforts take through a selection of donation jars. I voted for ‘Authentic Rooms’.

Pittock mansion donation jars

The Pittock Mansion is well worth a couple of hours and the $10 admission. More than the opportunity to see a nicely furnished home, the house gives a glimpse into the life of the upper class during the period. To me it was interesting to see how the house is laid out to facilitate the flow of daily life. One of the more impressive aspects is even though the home cost around $8 million in today’s money, it conveys luxury without ostentation. The arrangement and size of the rooms give the place a comfortable feel, as if this is a place one could actually live in, as opposed to occupying a trophy.

Small World

Earlier this week I worked with a gentleman wearing a US Army hat. I asked if he’d been in the Army, and he replied that he hadn’t, but his father had. I asked what his father had done in the Army, and was told that he was an airborne trooper with the 101st in Vietnam. I was a bit surprised, as my father spent three years flying Huey’s around Vietnam for the 101st. It may well be that my father flew his father around. The things you learn 45 later.




  1. More excellent spots to visit! (-I’ll be hiding out in Tigard for a week this Fall.)
    Thanks for the head’s up on Amtrak food. I’ve only taken short day-trips on Amtrak before, and only East of the Mississippi. (I’m in Michigan but there is a car Ferry across the Lake to Milwaukee, then Amtrak to PDX.
    – I’ve tasked my Granddaughter (7th grade) with figuring out how much time we have at stops along the way & any relevant train-related facts we need to know.

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