Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Decor At The University Of Minnesota

This memo was sent to University of Minnesota student employees and faculty during the week of Dec. 11, 2017:

Since the memo created a minor furor and made Gopher Nation something of a national laughing-stock the memo was later described as simply an advisory with no particular authority by the same office that had issued it. Media coverage of events such as this seldom identify the bureaucrats involved. We think that interested folks should be able to know if the person at the next table at McDonalds or across the aisle on a flight to San Antonio was a figure in a matter of interest. Below are some of the people that occupy positions in the large and complex diversity division of the U of M.

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Michael Goh and Peter Demerath, leaders of the University Office for Equity and Diversity, and the Generation Next/UROC Faculty Fellows.

 Susan Thurston Photo by Lori Hamilton

Susan Thurston Hamerski, spokesperson for the the school’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences (CFANS), tasked with denying that the grinch memo was a university mandate and was instead an "ill-advised" effort by an undisclosed employee.

Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) Administration

432 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: 612-624-0594
Fax: 612-626-0397

Michael Goh
Interim Vice President

Shakeer Abdullah
Assistant Vice President
Ralph Blanco
Administrative Associate
Jonathan Brown
CORE Director
Barbara Chapin
Anitra Cottledge
Director of Communications
Denise Dieffenbach
Assistant to the Vice President
Sean Garrick
Interim Assistant Vice Provost
Anne Hornickel
Program Director
North Star STEM Alliance
Amelie Hyams
Program & Communications Manager
Stef Jarvi
Director of Education
Wendy Weimerskirch Plager
Education Program Manager
Julie Showers
Interim Associate Vice President
Virajita Singh
Assistant Vice Provost
Kitt Young-Dickerson
Principal Office and Administrative Specialist

OED Offices

Business & Community Economic Development
Darryl Peal, director
2221 University Avenue SE, Suite 136
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Conflict Resolution
Bruce Grosland, interim director
662 Heller Hall (West Bank)
271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Disability Resource Center
Donna Johnson, director
180 McNamara Alumni Center
200 Oak Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
612-626-1333 (V/TTY)
Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action
Tina Marisam, director
274 McNamara Alumni Center
200 Oak Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life
Stef Jarvi (formerly Wilenchek), director
46 Appleby Hall
128 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy
432 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence
Aurelio Curbelo, director
140 Appleby Hall
128 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Women’s Center
64 Appleby Hall
Uyenthi Tran Myhre, acting director
128 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Upper level administrators in the University of Minnesota diversity directorate.

After Christmas a spokesman for the University made an attempt to defuse the situation, per this article in the local press.

Evan Lapiska
University of Minnesota Public Relations Director Evan Lepiska, currently the spokesman in the school's attempt to regain some credibility.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Coyote Danger

Left: A coyote in St. Paul's Hidden Falls Regional Park went after one dog and was tracking another before a police officer shot at it on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. (Courtesy of D'Aquila family) Right: The coyote went after Mark Bahn and his 8-month-old Goldendoodle, Ollie. They were able to get to safety. (Courtesy of Mark Bahn)
A photo of the actual coyote that threatened a man and his dog at Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul, Minnesota. The threatened dog is on the right.

The adaptable coyote continues to disorganize the order of post-modern civilization by invading American communities, as this story from the St. Paul Pioneer Press explains.

Hidden Falls Park is a secluded spot on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the gorge that runs through Minneapolis and St. Paul. Through the years much of the land adjoining the river has been reclaimed from commercial and industrial uses and re-purposed to recreational activity, which apparently involves mostly planting grass over what was once concrete. There's also the idea that this will be a return to "nature", strips of wilderness in the city.

Unfortunately, not only joggers and dog walkers enjoy the artificial/natural setting near the river. Real wild animals seem to like it as well. To a city dweller, the sight of any wild animal larger than a squirrel can be exciting or scary or both. The relatively recent expansion of the populations of Canada geese and wild turkeys in the area have created mixed feelings in the neighborhood. Both of these large birds can be a "nuisance".  But these avians are not carnivores. They don't pretend to look at mixed breed dogs as a potential lunch, if indeed that's how the coyote views a closely related domestic canine.

In this particular incident, the coyote was described as "tracking" the golden doodle and its owner. This meant intended harm, contact with law enforcement and shots fired. A number of questions arise.

What is the status of a coyote in the contemporary American city? Is it illegal for them to frequent parks? If they do, are they subject to the death penalty? Are they so dangerous that perhaps a concerted effort should be made to eradicate them? Maybe there should be a special squad made up of coyote hunters. Are only cops allowed to shoot at them? Can one call law enforcement to kill an offending opossum or raccoon?

Is a coyote threatening a dog or person by simply being near them? Can humans read the intentions of the coyote mind? If death by gunfire is the response to a coyote "threat", what of the threat that a human might perceive from another human? If a person feels threatened by the proximity of another do they have the right to shoot them or is this response limited to animals of a lower state of evolution?

Is it a good idea for law enforcement to be shooting in public areas? When cops fire their guns at people there's usually some kind of an investigation. Will there be one as a result of this incident?

There was evidence that the coyote may have been wounded. It's an unwritten law, or maybe even a written one, that animals that have been wounded must be tracked and dispatched to end their misery. Every hunter knows this. It doesn't seem that any such thing occurred after this encounter. Wouldn't an unhappy, wounded coyote be even more dangerous than an undamaged one? Couldn't some innocent child walking near the park run afoul of a coyote in pain and be attacked? 

There may not be any good answers to these questions but as conflicts between humans and wild animals that have adapted to a new environment become more frequent decisions will have to be made.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New York's Finest

 Image result for NYC cops on front page of wsj New York City policemen or storm troopers from a dystopian future? You decide.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fake News: A Cure For Wellness

In an effort to create buzz and stimulate attendance, 20th Century Fox admitted to having created fake news sites intended to promote the film A Cure For Wellness in early 2017, according to this story in the New York Times.

The tactic was apparently unsuccessful, however. 

A Cure for Wellness grossed $8.1 million in the United States and Canada and $18.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $26.5 million, against a production budget of $40 million.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hard Choices

For over 15 years, in the 1980s and 1990s, the image of the face of Lady Diana Spencer was seen everywhere. Even today, 20 years after her death, while her photos are no longer ubiquitous in supermarket check-out line magazine displays, they are still often seen and almost all westerners know who she was.
 Image result for princess diana

Her place, at least for the time being, as the woman whose photograph has been most reproduced in the media, has been taken by Mrs. Bill Clinton. It's a curious fact that the more recognizable a person might be, the more likely it is that their picture will appear in the print or on-line media. Everybody knew who Princess Di was and what she looked like but nevertheless her face peered at us everywhere.
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Such is also the case with Mrs. Bill Clinton. We all know what she looks like but the media insists that we see her regularly anyway.

That brings us to the literary Mrs. Clinton and her 2014 memoir Hard Choices. The 635 page effort centers around her tenure as Secretary of State ending in 2013. If you think that Mrs. Clinton must have been very busy in the 16 months between her leaving the State Department and the publication of Hard Choices you would be right. But the brilliant Mrs. Clinton didn't lock herself in the attic during that time span to write and revise. Like many another politician with literary ambitions she had a little help, in this case considerable help. Clinton was assisted in writing the book by three aides credited in the Acknowledgements section as her "book team", two former State Department assistants, Dan Schwerin, speechwriter and Ethan Gelber, researcher, and Ted Widmer , a speechwriter in the Bill Clinton administration.

Shortly thereafter, Hard Choices, was released in an audio format. Sadly, Mrs. Clinton was otherwise occupied and unable to narrate her own memoir to adoring fans with failing eyesight or a desire to listen to her account while commuting by car or public transportation. Instead, the book was read by Kathleen Chalfant, a Tony nominee Broadway stage actress. In the case of a Mrs. Clinton literary effort, it truly does "take a village".

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Will The Tie Die?

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Michael Lewis, best selling author, is often seen wearing a jacket but no tie.

More and more we're seeing powerful,fashionable American males dispensing with the cravat. Perhaps this is a change in fashion, maybe the lack of a tie and an open collar are signs that comfort has become more important than appearance. The closely controlled artificial environment that surrounds moderns might be a factor. In any event, we should applaud the slow disappearance of a silly and meaningless fashion accessory.

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Prince Harry doesn't dig ties, either.

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Fashion maven Harvey Weinstein is often seen sans tie.

On the other hand, there are items of neckwear that do make sense, the kerchief, for instance.

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There's a long tradition, maybe as long as the necktie, of American outdoor workers wearing a neckerchief. A rag worn around the neck keeps the icy winds of the Great Plains from blowing down one's chest, It can be worn wrapped around the face to filter out dust or snow. It can be used as a washrag or dishtowel. In the days before paper towels and sanitary wipes, a kerchief could be used to clean up a surprise mess. With a small stick it can become a life-saving tourniquet. Scrap your one-dimensional tie and knot on a neckerchief.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Strangest Aspect of the Attack on Rand Paul

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Kentucky senator Rand Paul mowing his lawn.

Details have been slow to emerge on the suburban fracas between neighbors that left Kentucky libertarian senator Rand Paul with broken ribs and other less serious injuries.  There's been no definitive statement from the attacker, a next-door neighbor of 17 years, on the possible reasons for his aggressive behavior.

In the early years of the twenty-first century, physical confrontation is truly unusual, especially between members of what must be termed the upper class. That is not, however, as unusual as a sitting United States senator actually mowing his own lawn, or any lawn for that matter. You can be pretty sure that not many of the 99 other members of the world's most exclusive club personally mow their lawns. We're unlikely to see photographs of Diane Feinstein, John McCain, Kamala Harris or Robert Menendez mowing a lawn.

The revelation that Senator Paul personally cares for his own grass must be considered a positive for Americans that wish to see their elected leaders operate on a more common level.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

If It's Bad For Putin and the Russians to Inflluence Elections. . . .

why is it OK for George Soros to dump millions on US elections? He is, after all, a Hungarian.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Four Things That Really Matter

In post-modern America there is a concern over "unity" and "diversity". Signs that said "United We Stand" were posted everywhere after the 9-11 disaster. Similarly, "Black Lives Matter" signage has appeared, more of an appeal to diversity than an encouragement of unity.

The fact is that there is indeed a general unity of opinion on four things, the four things that really matter to practically all Americans. Ranked in order of their importance they are: comfort, convenience, entertainment and security.

Comfort is the most important thing in the life of all Americans. The man-made environment created for them begins with the necessity of comfort. The temperature in homes, offices, schools and businesses must be somewhere between 67 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the relative humidity, regardless of the outside temperature. Automobiles, airplanes and trains have similar requirements. Lighting must be at the desired level and ambient sound must not be objectionable. The Goldilocks syndrome. No one would disagree with this. The population is united in this feeling.

Convenience is the spur to the recent changes in retailing and other business relationships. Internet access eliminates many trips to the library or even the corner store. Pizza is delivered to the front door. Amazon will ship the customer a copy of the latest Tom Clancy book via a simple computer transaction. Utility bills can be paid in the same way. Should an actual in-person visit be needed to make an exchange, receive a service or perform one, it's mandatory that a place to park the automobile be as close as possible to the front door of the destination. There is unity in this desire.

Entertainment is next on the list of American necessities. Being afflicted with boredom, or even lack of sensory stimulation at a certain level, can't be accepted. This has become more and more important as devices that are able to combat boredom have become more commonplace. Where in bygone days people carried "pocket books", volumes meant to be portable mental stimulation, miniature radios and recording devices; and now smart phones are everywhere. Even in situations that are  entertainment, like a sporting event, lulls in the action are filled with more entertainment; music, giant scoreboard visuals, etc. There can't be any time that's not filled with some kind of stimuli.

The fourth requirement is security. This can range from discouraging a missile attack from somewhere near the Ural Mountains to prevention of bicycle theft or safety in Halloween trick-or-treating. Aspects of life that all Americans favor.

So, the country is united in at least these desires. What about the divisive parts of life? The ideas that inspire disunity are the ones that aren't meaningful on a personal level. For instance, lately there's been much discussion about where transgender people fit in. Chances are the average man of the cul-de-sac has experienced perhaps only a few minutes of Ru Paul while working his way through the 350 channels. Most men would have a difficult time telling an unattractive women from a sissy guy.

  Image result for rupaul
Ru Paul, actually a guy.

Another controversial subject is AGW or now more often "climate change". While there will be storms, droughts and other weather events in the near future just as there always has been, nobody alive today will be able to point to evidence of anthropogenically caused climate change during their own lifetime. Yet, since no real evidence exists opinions can run a gamut. It produces disunity. People seem to enjoy arguing about it though the argument can't be settled at this time in any meaningful way and if it could would have no discernible effect on anyone's life.

The latest foofarole to strike the American fancy is the disrespect shown to the Star-spangled Banner by black football players during the national anthem ceremony before NFL football games. Why the flag should be displayed and the anthem played at the commencement of a rodeo, hockey game or soccer match is very much a mystery. And, as controversial as this subject has been lately, the varying opinions on it and the behavior of the witnesses are in reality of no consequence to anyone. Everybody knows that a red, white and blue striped flag with stars on it represents the US.

There are other controversial ideas that might create dissension; the gold standard, income tax, a guaranteed income, illegal immigration and ethanol in motor fuel, for instance. These are however, abstract areas of thought. A temperature of 82 in the office or a parking space 2 blocks from the front door are genuine issues.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Which Is The Invasive Species?

Image result for king salmon
A Chinook, or King Salmon


Zebra mussels

This article tells us that there are issues with the viability of the economically significant king salmon fishery in the Great Lakes because of invasive species such as the zebra and quagga mussels and their effect on the salmon food supply, the alewife.

The story also points out that the king salmon themselves, a specie native to the Pacific, were introduced to the Great Lakes about 50 years ago. It seems that those aggressive fish are invasive themselves, although their arrival was the result of conscious human effort, rather than the accidental distribution of mussel larva through dumping of ship ballast.  In any event, both salmon and mussels have an effect on other organisms in the Great Lakes ecosystem, the alewives, themselves, for instance. The salmon are OK because they support a sport fishing industry, the mussels plug up water intakes. The ultimate value of an animal is directly related to its positive or negative relationship to humans. Mosquitoes are bad, pandas are good.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Legal Fees

Image result for us district judge john tunheim

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim oversaw the case of Stephanie Jenkins vs. Ted Swem. Jenkins was suing Swem for an incident of sexual harassment that had occured in 2011. This article tells us what happened. After a jury verdict found Swem guilty, Justice Tunheim awarded Jenkins a symbolic $1 and ordered Swem to pay court costs of $18,900 and $305,000 in legal fees to Jenkins' attorneys, who had presented a bill for $802,000 for their work on the case.


Stephanie Jenkins in 2011.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

150 Years Ago Alaska Becomes Part Of The US

From the Fairbanks News-Miner:

It was in August 1867, for example, that Secretary of State William H. Seward, who secured the purchase of Alaska from Russia at a price of $7.2 million, issued his instructions to the man who would become the first overseer of the new U.S. possession, Brig. Gen. Lovell H. Rousseau.
Secretary Seward began his Aug. 7, 1867 dispatch to Gen. Rousseau as follows:
“General: You will herewith receive the warrant of the president, under the great seal of the United States, appointing you commissioner on behalf of this government, to receive from a similar officer appointed on behalf of the imperial government of Russia, the territory ceded by that government to the United States, pursuant to the treaty of the 30th of March last.
“On arriving at Sitka, the principal town in the ceded territory, you will receive from the Russian commissioner the formal transfer of that territory, under mutual salutes from artillery, in which the United States will take the lead….”
The secretary continued with detailed instructions on what types of property would come into U.S. possession and what would remain private. He wrote of the holdings of the Greco-Russian church and what the Russian-American Co. would be allowed to do to wind down its operations.
And he concluded with a comment about relations between the U.S. and Russia.
“It is expected that, in the transaction of the important business hereby entrusted to you, it will be borne in mind that, in making the cession of the territory referred to, his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias has been actuated by a desire of giving a signal proof of that friendship for the United States which has characterized his own reign and that of his illustrious predecessors. It is hoped, therefore, that all your intercourse with the Russian commissioner will be friendly, courteous and frank. This department understands from the president that, upon the conclusion of the business with the Russian commissioner, you will have command in the territory, to be exercised under the orders of the war department.”
Gen. Rousseau supplied a quite lengthy report to Secretary Seward dated Dec. 5, 1867, detailing the transfer ceremony — as well as some of his difficulty in reaching Sitka, known as New Archangel, or Novo-Arkhangelsk, under Russian rule, and the bureaucratic work of the transfer itself, such as taking inventory of the holdings in Sitka.
“...We cast anchor in the harbor of New Archangel on the 18th of October, at eleven o’clock a m., where we found the troops and supplies had preceded us several days. The day was bright and beautiful. We landed immediately, and fixed the hour of three and a half o’clock that day for the transfer...
“The command of General Davis, about two hundred and fifty strong, in full uniform, armed and handsomely equipped, were landed about three o’clock, and marched up to the top of the eminence on which stands the governor’s house, where the transfer was to be made. At the same time a company of Russian soldiers were marched to the ground, and took their place upon the left of the flag-staff, from which the Russian flag was then floating. The command of General Davis was formed under his direction on the right. The United States flag to be raised on the occasion was in care of a color guard — a lieutenant, a sergeant and ten men of General Davis’ command...
“...the ceremony was begun by lowering the Russian flag. As it began its descent down the flag staff the battery of the Ossipee, with large nine-inch guns, led off in the salute, peal after peal crashing and re-echoing in the gorges of the surrounding mountains, answered by the Russian water battery (a battery on the wharf) firing alternately...
“The United States flag (the one given to me for that purpose, by your direction, at Washington) was then properly attached and began its ascent, hoisted by my private secretary, George Lovell Rousseau, and again the salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading off. The flag was so hoisted that in the instant it reached its place the report of the last big gun of the Ossipee reverberated from the mountains around. The salutes being completed, Captain Pestchouroff stepped up to me and said: ‘General Rousseau, by authority from his Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the Territory of Alaska,’ and in as few words I acknowledged the acceptance of the transfer, and the ceremony was at an end.”
The U.S. issued a check to Russia on Aug. 1, 1868. The Russians cashed it two weeks later.
Today we celebrate Alaska Day, 150 years as a possession of the United States.
 Information and documents about the 150th anniversary of the Alaska purchase and transfer can be found at the Alaska Historical Society website at this shortened address: Here is the society’s main website:
Here is a shortened link to the Library of Congress website about the Alaska purchase:

 Alaska’s top destinations

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tesla Service Centers

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In the US there are currently 70 Tesla Service Centers in 25 states. If you live in Havre, Montana the closest service center to you will be in Salt Lake City, 683 miles away.

2017 National Sports Center Track Cycling All-Star Team

The state fair has come and gone, there's no more brats in the refrigerator and the wild turkey chicks are just as big as their mothers. Summer, and the track cycling season in the Twin Cities, has come to a close for another year. It's time for the subjective selection of the most impressive riders for 2017.

Nikki Munvez, has made steady progress as she's moved up the ranks of the ladies peloton. She not only outpointed most of the local competition but was also the winner of the lady's division of the National Cycle Courier contest in Milwaukee.

Junior rider Peter Moore made his presence felt on multiple fronts. Generally a winner at the NSC Velodrome he was also a star at the 2017 USA Cycling Elite Juniors Track Nationals in Carson, CA , July 31-Aug 5, winning gold in Jr. Men's Individual Pursuit, Sprint and Points race as well as a silver in the time trial.

Minneapolis firefighter Dan Casper is a familiar sight leading the pack across the finish line at NSC Velodrome endurance events and this year was no exception. A consistent performer at both the national and international master's competitions, Dan is a reigning world's masters champion in the individual pursuit, scratch race and team pursuit along with NSC Velodrome rider Tim Mulrooney.

Fuerza rider Anna Schmitz has determinedly worked her way up through the competition and is now a leader in the women's peloton.

Erin Porter grinds her way to victory on a regular basis in the Cat. 4 women's contests. She won't be Cat. 4 for long.

Fan favorite Cat. 3 racer Lionel Space annually makes his way to the NSC Velodrome from Phoenix and teaches some lessons to the kids for a couple of weeks.

 Swaziland native, Macalester College alum and Medtronic employee Mandla Shongwe has quickly taken to track cycling and become a force in the Cat 4 ranks.

Category 3 Tacocat rider Risa Hustad races sled dogs around Ely, MN when there's too much snow for track cycling.

Lady's track rider of the year for 2016 and 2017 Anya Malarski sits down to a big meal after a race like all competitive cyclists.

Strong man Andy Keough moved up to Cat 1/2 this season and put serious pressure on the men's peloton.

Men's track rider of the year is all-around riding star Brandon Krawcyzk.

Clayton Shepard put the hurt on the competition both locally and at the 2017 Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles, winning two gold medals in his division.

Sprinter Linsey Hamilton has been an all-star for a long time and remains one to this day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Guy That Caught The Homer

Sunday night at Dodger Stadium the division play-off game between the Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs ended with a walk-off three run home run by Dodger third baseman Justin Turner. As explained in this account the ball was caught by a fan who has made a habit of snaring consequential long fly balls. Keith Hupp's hobby is attending Dodger games with his baseball glove in hopes of catching dingers.

Image result for keith hupp
There might be a certain amount of human interest in this story but more significant are the circumstances of Mr. Hupp himself.

 "Hupp, 54, retired from the South Gate Police Department in 2013 after attaining the rank of captain. He lives in San Gabriel, the city where he was born and raised."

This well-fed former public employee retired at age 50. No doubt he has more profitable things to do than watch soap operas during normal working hours but we don't how he actually spends his time. We do know, however, that if things work out the taxpayers of some region of California are going to be on the hook for his retirement benefits for perhaps 30 years or more. It's obvious why California has fiscal problems. According to this site the lucky Mr. Hupp's annual pension is $152,625.72. For you blue collar folks that translates to $73.38 per hour, based on a 40 hour week. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Exploring the Harvey Weinstein Mess

Most of the commentary on the revelation that hugely successful movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is a lecher has dwelt on that simple fact. He was able to engage in his swinish conduct because he was a rich and powerful figure in not only the movie industry but also in progressive politics, able to dole out career-enhancing roles and contribute money to favored politicians. He had power over the power-less and the ostensibly powerful both. He delighted in making use of this power in disgusting ways. That's only a part of the story, however. The repulsive wretch could indulge his vices only because others wanted what he had to offer.

Obese, obnoxious, unattractive Harvey Weinstein is 65 years old. His attractive actress and fashion designer wife Georgina Chapman is 41, an age difference of 24 years and not an unusual match in the elevated society of finance and entertainment. It's difficult to believe that if Weinstein had been limo driver for Miramax or a janitor at some sound stage that he and Miss Chapman would have become a couple. The chemistry that brought these two together is obvious to even the slightly cynical. Weinstein acquired a trophy wife and Chapman found access to funding and influence that would advance the interests of her clothing label.

Not to say that there's anything wrong with this. Relationships have been based on those kind of considerations for as long as humans have existed. At the same time, we should realize that women are willing to engage in a relationship with a slob if there's a reward down the line.  See Mrs. Bill Clinton, Huma Abedin, and many others. We don't know what innocent females expected when entering the presence of the bloated cinema genius but we can guess.

Of note is the fact that the reporter who wrote the expose' of Weinstein's misogyny is Ronan Farrow, son of Mia Farrow. Mia Farrow married singing and acting legend Frank Sinatra when she was 21. Sinatra was a handsome, talented and wealthy man but he was also 61 years old at the time.

Another aspect of the Weinstein crisis is the rejection of his $5 million donation for  an endowment for women filmmakers at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Chances are that if Weinstein, probably having well-clogged arteries, had left this mortal coil a couple of months ago his donation would have been cheerfully accepted by the feminine auteurs. Maybe a chair at the university would have been established in his name or, even better, his name might have been emblazoned over the doors of a campus theater. This is the danger of memorializing still-living financial benefactors. They sometimes turn out to be scoundrels.

Even those that seem to be worthy of remembrance at a particular time and place after their demise can sometimes undergo reconsideration in the future. We can't be too careful about whom we honor.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Worried About North Korean Missiles?

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Move into this before it's too late. Probably need some water storage and an electrical generator, too.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Does Facebook Equal Radio Liberty?

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According to some sources Russian hackers have been successful in thwarting the coronation of Queen Hillary by posting on phony Facebook accounts prior to the 2016 presidential election. These scoundrels did not succeed in penetrating the election process itself, however.

Various influential political figures have called this behavior an "act of war".

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) most recently accused Russia of engaging in warfare.
“I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” Coleman said during a hearing this week at the House Homeland Security Committee.

It's only been in the very recent past that a technological innovation like Facebook could even be used in any kind of campaign, political or otherwise, and  domestic players have been quick to use it and other internet social media to advance their own candidates and causes. That's apparently OK, or at least tolerated for the present.

Like anything else, technological advancements in communication have had effects on international relations. The "Zimmerman Telegram", for instance, was a major factor in the US entry into WWI. German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman had proposed an alliance to the Mexican government that involved the return of areas in the southwest US to Mexico. It was intercepted by the British and its public release produced outrage in the US that culminated in the American entry into the war in April 1917.

In 1949 the US established Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to broadcast the capitalist/democratic message to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. This service is still provided 68 years later despite many changes in politics, government and technology in what were once the members of the Warsaw Pact. The combined efforts of RFE/RL, financed by the CIA until 1972, are broadcast in 23 different languages to 26 separate countries with a budget of over $108 million and a work force of almost 500 people, headquartered in Prague, the Czech Republic. Iran, Armenia, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been added to the targets of the service.


Dramatic Improvement For Muslim Women

You may have gotten the word that some Saudi Arabian women will be allowed to drive automobiles in the near future, maybe a year or so from now. But that's not all the good news for Muslim ladies. It's been the case for many years that Muslim women are not allowed to make the Haj to Mecca unless they are accompanied by close male relatives. Soon women over the age of 45 may be able to make the pilgrimage without their 'mahram' or close male relatives if traveling in groups of four or more, according to the Times of India.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Spengler On Planning and Execution

Similarly, the verbally managed enterprise led to the separation of thought from those of the hand. In every  enterprise planning out and carrying out are distinct elements, and, as between these, practical thought henceforth takes the leading part. There is director's work and there is executant's work, and this has been the basic technical form of all human life ever since. Whether it is a matter of hunting big game or building temples, an enterprise of war or of rural development, the founding of a firm or of a state, a caravan journey or a rebellion or even a crime--always the first prerequisite is an enterprising, inventive head to conceive the idea and direct the execution, to command and to allot the roles--in a word, someone who is born to be a leader of others who is not so.

For in this age of verbally managed enterprises there are not only two sorts of technics--these, by the way, diverging more and more definitely as the centuries go on--but also two kinds of men, differentiated by the fact of their talent lying in one or in the other direction. As in every process there is a technique of direction and a technique of execution, so, equally self-evidently, there are men whose nature is to command and men whose nature is to obey, subjects and objects of the political or economic process in question. This is the basic form of the human life that since the change has assumed so many and various shapes, and it is only to be eliminated along with life itself.

Spengler, Oswald; Man and Technics; University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, HI; 2002, pgs. 62-63.

Sign over the door of a elementary school in Minnesota. If this is a school that specializes in producing leaders, where are the corresponding followers indoctrinated?

Spengler believed in two kinds of men, born leaders and born followers. But, these individuals are, indeed, born, not manufactured. Much as various institutions would like to be able to produce leaders, the military service academies and universities, for instance, the fact is that they cannot mold followers into leaders. In their efforts to do so, unsuitable individuals are placed in positions where their efforts to lead result in failure or disaster.

In a small society, where most members have personal knowledge of most other members, the leaders are quickly sorted out. This is not the case in large, complex societies, especially those where individual merit is ultimately determined by some kind of democratic or institutional process. Additionally, Spengler fails to mention that often the executant is himself a leader and the commander might very well be a follower that has plodded down the pathway to a position of ineffective leadership.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Robert Ardrey

Humans were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres however frequently they may be turned into battlefields. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk, but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses. 

OSIRIS-REx Mission

On Sept. 8, 2016 the OSIRIS-REx Mission left Cape Canaveral, FL to begin a multi-year project that involves intercepting the asteroid Bennu, securing samples of it and returning to earth with them in 2023. The space craft was seen from the Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham near Safford, AZ on Sept. 1.

While the OSIRIS-Rex Mission is a mind-boggling scientific and engineering achievement, the true wonder in all this is how little it relates to everyday life. That is, that while the US has the capability of sending mechanisms far into space to perform tasks and then successfully return, at the same time American law enforcement uses 14th century technology that involves the use of a rapid chemical reaction to drive metal pellets through the body of individuals who decline to do as they are told, often with fatal results.

Monday, September 11, 2017

National Shortage of Construction Workers

A recent article on the website visits the increasingly visible issue of a national dearth of carpenters, electricians, plumbers and laborers needed to build the homes and commercial buildings of the US.

As with other commentary on this problem, the contractors mention the things being done, and that should be done, to encourage workers to enter the construction industry. Yet nowhere in the article is it suggested that wages for these craftsmen be increased or working conditions be improved, the two things most likely to spur an increase in interest in the field. The same viewpoint is expressed here.

Economist Scott Sumner speculates on wages and other factors in this essay but doesn't approach the issue of working conditions, as outlined here.

The fact of the matter is that if the construction industry wants to fill all of its available job openings it will have to compete with other occupations in wages and conditions.

 Image result for iron worker