I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Memoriam: Dr. Wayne C. Bell

In Memoriam
Dr. Wayne C. Bell
Feb 18, 1943 - Oct 13, 2014

We regret to inform the YA community and other frequenters of this blog that Dr. Wayne C. Bell passed away on the morning of October 13.

Wayne was the original "yellowarmadillo" (a neologism of his own coinage) and, of course, the progenitor of this blog. Wayne regarded this blog to be an extension of his mind and a good window into how his brain worked. Peer through this window and you will find the keenest of insight, the wryest of humor, a wonderfully eclectic intellectual taste, and many slices-of-life from a life well-lived.

But of course Wayne was much more than simply a blog author to the many, many people whose lives he touched. For me, he was my mentor, my best friend, and a second father. I loved him very much, and I will miss him.

Wayne's obituary can be found here. Wayne's memoir is a wonderful piece of writing and a great source of information about his life and times.

Please consider a contribution in Wayne's memory to the Murray Independent School District Foundation for Excellence, which can be found here. A particular favorite of his was the Burgess-Spann Foreign Travel Fund.

Wayne: Rest in Peace my dear friend. Your light shone very brightly here, and for those of us who knew you and loved you, the world will always be a dimmer place without you in it.

To my fellow yellowarmadillos, and to other friends of Wayne: Please be sure to add your own thoughts in the comments below.

Rob Donnelly

Monday, October 6, 2014

Going Pink


This article http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/think-before-you-pink-during-breast-cancer-awareness-month-1.2788447 brings up some good points to consider this month when showing your support for the battle against breast cancer.  It also touches on a side of human nature that is not so desirable and that is our tendency to do things that make us feel “good” instead of things that actually do “good”.

I am reminded of the story of two individuals that visited a sick friend in the hospital.  The first friend said “If there is anything I can do just let me know”.  The second individual wished him well and then went to his sick friend’s home and mowed the grass.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Climate change has jumped the shark.


Climate change has jumped the shark.

by

Steven F. Hayward Contributor- Forbes

Lay aside for now all of the arguments that can be made about the weaknesses of catastrophic climate change predictions.  In fact, for purposes of discussion, let’s assume that the worst-case scenario is likely to come true.  The paradox of climate change is exactly this: the more serious the problem, the more implausible are the remedies of the environmental community.  That’s what ought to make the climate campaigners realize that last weekend’s mega-march in New York City represents the dead-end for their cause.  Truly we can invoke that overused cliché that climate change has “jumped the shark.”
Here’s why: From the beginning 25 years ago the arguments over climate science have dominated the scene and distracted us away from the fundamental problem: the prescribed method for preventing climate change is essentially replacing nearly all hydrocarbon energy, in the space of less than two generations.  Climate orthodoxy calls for an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, worldwide, by the year 2050, which would take the United States back to a level of hydrocarbon energy use last seen more than 100 years ago.  For the developing world, it means remaining poor for several more decades.
There has been very little recognition and less candor about the sheer fantasy of the emissions target.  Energy transitions, as the energy scholar Vaclav Smil has explained in great detail, are long-term affairs, even if a new superior technology exists to displace a current technology.  But affordable large-scale, low- or non-carbon energy capable of replacing our current energy infrastructure simply doesn’t exist at present, and there isn’t much on the horizon.  The developing world needs to triple its energy supply over the next generation if it is going to raise hundreds of millions out of abject poverty, and that means using abundant hydrocarbon energy, not expensive boutique energy popular with ever-preening rich Americans and Europeans.  Just last week India’s new environmental minister, Prakash Javadekar, reiterated that India is not willing to discuss limitations on its rapidly growing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.  “India’s first task is eradication of poverty,” Javadekar told the New York Times; “Twenty percent of our population doesn’t have access to electricity, and that’s our top priority. We will grow faster, and our emissions will rise.”
American and European climate change action advocates have ignored these realities, and have from the earliest engaged in relentless happy talk that a shift to renewable energy (chiefly solar, wind, and biofuels) would launch us down the golden road to a post-carbon energy future.  The more economically illiterate among the climateers peddle the free-lunch argument that we’ll all get richer by mandating investment in more expensive, low-yield energy sources. The relatively modest amounts of low-carbon energy developed over the last two decades have required enormous government subsidies and have delivered negligible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  (In some cases, like biofuels from palm oil and corn, the full environmental tradeoff is likely negative.)  The bitter irony for the climateers is that the most significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have been achieved by the production of newly abundant cheap natural gas through fracking, which has been displacing coal at a rapid rate.
The climate change community has reacted to this wreck of a policy not with second thoughts or openness to alternative frameworks, but with rage.  The fact that global warming has slowed or stopped, and that an increasing number of peer reviewed studies conclude that climate sensitivity is overestimated (meaning that the problem is either over-predicted or will be much slower in developing) is greeted with denunciations, and a shockingly shallow new refrain that “97 percent of scientists believe in climate change,” which is like saying that “100 percent of scientists believe in gravity” in response to any query about the mysteries of how gravity actually works.  When you point out the unreality of green energy dreams, you are met with foam-flecked denunciations of the Koch brothers.  In fact the opposition to the climateers is tiny by comparison to the resources deployed by the environmental establishment, not to mention the massive sympathy they receive from an uncritical media.  From the way people like Al Gore complain you’d think the climateers were up against the teachers union.
Which brings us back to last week’s crazy-quilt climate march in New York.  The most conspicuous aspect of the march was its open expression of discontent not so much with climate change, but with our current civilization generally.  It coincided with a new Naomi Klein book, This Changes Everything, that is getting a lot of buzz on the left (and even in Vogue magazine). In case you’ve forgotten your show notes, Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine, a book ragingly popular with the far left that is so far gone into absurd conspiracizing and looney renderings of “neoliberalism” that it makes Lyndon LaRouche look positively staid by comparison.
What is the “this” that “changes everything” in Klein’s new title?  Why climate change, of course.  And what does it “change”?  Why capitalism, naturally.  The argument of the book in one sentence is that only overthrowing capitalism can we solve climate change.  Don’t take my word for it.  Here’s how the progressive lefty site CommonDreams described it: “Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism.”  This view was well represented in the banners and posters at the climate march last week.  If climate change disappeared, one suspects the capitalism haters would still find a reason to march and rage against civilization. For this bit of candor, we owe Klein and the climate marchers a debt of thanks.
Even more revealing was the rage of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who told reporters during the march last week that climate skeptics should be jailed, and that the Koch brothers are “war criminals.”  This is what passes for reasoning among environmental leaders?  Quite obviously no one would pay attention to RFK Jr. if is last name was Jones instead of Kennedy; on the other hand, he received a standing ovation a few years ago from the Society of Environmental Journalists after another of his typically demagogic speeches, proving that most environmental journalists are just green activists with bylines.  This is why you can expect that no environmental organization or prominent journalist will criticize Kennedy, Klein, or their extremist line of thinking.
The last big march in New York City like this was the 1982 march in favor of a nuclear freeze.  It drew more than twice as many people as last week’s climate march, and was equally irrelevant, if not in fact a hindrance, to genuine efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear war.  This is what a political movement looks like when it cannot recognize reality: it descends into ever more radical fantasies and rage, and gives its voice over to its most extreme elements.  Like anti-nuclear activism 30 years ago, climate change activism has decayed into irresponsible advocacy, and deserves the increasing scorn of the public.  And like the nuclear freeze movement of 30 years ago, if catastrophic climate change is a real prospect decades from now, these are the last people who should be put in charge of developing responses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Zeke Emanuel hopes to die at 75

Here is an article called "Why I Hope to Die at 75" by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and used to work in the Obama administration.

I have some real reservations about what he writes - he couches nearly the entire piece in terms of how we "contribute to work, society, the world" asking whether or not after 75 we are "worth our contribution" and he dismisses as trivial such pleasant activities as "bird watching, bicycle riding, pottery, and the like." I ask, what about being in love? Being a "productive" member of society seems to me a sad way to measure life.

Still, the article was interesting, I think, worth reading.

Monday, September 22, 2014

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism


I strongly recommend:  How the  Poor Can Save Capitalism a book by John Hope Bryant. The nature of the book means that he could have said:  and vice-versa.  At 150 pages it is a quick read and very interesting.

I believe that the disparity of incomes is a serious and growing problem.  It is inextricably bound up with race, but not entirely a problem of race.  I like what he does in that Bryant accepts both of these aspects of the problem.  As many have noted before, there are more poor whites than blacks in America.  A main theme is that if the only role models you have are sports stars, movie stars and drug dealers, then your prospects are not very good.

He rejects both:  the mantra that the poor just need to change their culture
and 
the theme that the poor only need for the rich to give them more money.

He notes that the poor do not know how to deal with finance and how that drags them down from the outset.

He says that the poor need self-confidence, role models, and opportunity. He proposes private and public initiatives to deal with this - hitting first on financial literacy as a root cause of the problem.  For more on this see: operation hope

With the support of a number of bankers for his capitalistic approach (which gives him credibility on the right) and Bill Clinton and Andrew Young (who give him credibility on the left) he represents an attempt to solve a problem by reaching across the great divide.

Even the effort is refreshing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Will we ever learn? Rand Paul


SEN. RAND PAUL: There is no debate more significant for a legislator than the decision to engage in war. We must hold our leaders accountable. If we do not, there will be no end to war. The ridiculous and the absurd must be laid to rest. You've all heard it before. Toppling Ghaddafi led to a jihadist wonderland in Libya, toppling Hussein led to the chaos that is Iraq, toppling Assad will lead to a new chaos and greater danger from the jihadists.

The moss covered too-long-in-Washington crowd cannot help themselves. War, war, what we need is more, more war. Their policies and the combination of feckless disinterest, fraudulent red lines, and selective combativeness of this administration have led us to this point. Yes, we must now confront ISIS, in part for penance for the President's role in their rise. But while we do so to protect our interests here, what we need is someone to shout: War, war, what are we fighting for?

Amidst the interventionist's disjointed and frankly incoherent rhetoric, amidst the gathering gloom that sees enemies behind every friend, and friends behind every enemy, the only consistent theme is war. These barnacled enablers have never met a war they didn't like. They beat their chests in rhythmic ode to failed policies. Their drums beat to policies that display their outrage but fail to find a cure. Unintended consequences drown and smother the possibility of good intentions.

Must we act to check and destroy ISIS? Yes, and again yes, because of the foolishness of the interventionists. But let's not mistake what we must do. We shouldn't give a pass to forever intervene in the civil wars of the Middle East. Intervention created the chaos. Intervention aided and abetted the rise of radical Islam and intervention made us less safe in Libya and Syria and Iraq.

To those who wish unlimited intervention and boots on the ground everywhere: Remember the smiling poses of politicians pontificating about so-called freedom fighters and "heroes" in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq...unaware that so-called freedom fighters may well have been allied with kidnappers, killers or both. Are the so-called moderate Islamic rebels in Syria friends or foes? Do we know who they really are? All debatable questions at best.

As the interventionists clamor for boots on the ground, we should remember that they were wrong about Iraq. They were wrong about Libya. They were trying to intervene last year on the wrong side of the Syrian war. When will we quit listening to the advocates of perpetual war? When does a track record of being consistently wrong stop you from being a so-called expert when the next crisis arises?

We should remember that they were wrong, that there were no WMD's, that Hussein, Khaddifi, and Assad were no threat to us. We should remember that radical Islam now roams about in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. We should remember that those who believe that war is the answer for every problem, were wrong. We should remember that war against Hussein, that war against Khaddafi, that war against Assad led to chaos.

That intervention enhanced the rise of radical Islam, and ultimately led to more danger for Americans. Before we arm the so-called moderate Muslims of Syria, remember what I said a year ago: "The irony you will not be able to overcome is that these arms will someday be used against America."

That prediction is now true. We will fight ISIS, a war I accept as necessary, largely because our own arms and the arms of our allies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar have enabled our new enemy ISIS. Will we ever learn?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is ISIS Islamic?


I was pleased when Bush 43 said that the 911 terrorists did not represent Islam.

I was pleased when Obama and Cameron said similar things.

We don't want to be at war with Islam (or sometimes "1.6 billion Muslims").  It was appropriate for us to give a great religion the benefit of the doubt.

But I think that that has been said enough - by us.  If we keep saying it, then it relieves the folks in Tehran, Cairo, Saudi Arabia and such places from having to make that argument. It lets the leaders of Islam off the hook that their particular crazies have put them on.

I understand some muslim leaders in the US have issued a fatwa condemning the ISIS movement.  That is their job - to guide their flocks and tell the world that they are not all terrorists.

So I'm ready for Obama to quit saying things like:    ISIL (sic) is not "Islamic." 

(Which is a step beyond the previous statements above.)

How does he know that they are not Islamic?
They say they are Islamic.
How did Obama get to be the arbiter of who is and who is not Islamic?
If ISIS is not Islamic, why doesn't the much talked about "1.6 billion Muslims" step up and smash the 32,000 imposters who are ruining their good name?



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Congressional authorization

Count me among those who are confused about when exactly the President is supposed to get congressional authorization for military endeavors.

Here are some things I think I know:

President Bush got congressional authorization to go into Iraq.
President Obama did not get congressional authorization to go into Libya.
President Obama sought but did not get congressional authorization to go into Syria, so he didn't go.

Now President Obama says he doesn't need congressional authorization to go to Iraq/Syria.

Do I have my facts straight? If I do, I'm thoroughly confused.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shafted employees


I have heard of this anecdotally, but more recently saw a credible documentary about the way many businesses are treating their employees.

This is Walmart, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.

You are paid minimum wage or close to it.

Your work time must be less than 40 hours/wk to avoid benefits. (another example of liberals and the stasis fallacy)

So you will have to have another one of these jobs to make ends meet.

All this is bad enough, but it gets worse:

You are frequently not told that you are not working that day until you arrive.

In order to work those 35, or 28, or 23 hours a week you have to be "on call" and ready to go to work for up to 80 hours a week!!

I generally think business folks take too much heat for normal operations.

But they ought to take a hellish amount of heat for this kind of thing.

Friday, September 5, 2014

entrepreneur


Definition:
entrepreneur - a person who is willing to work 14 hours a day in order to not look for a job.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Movies and television

I'm often struck by how much violence is allowed to be shown on TV and in the movies. I have a real problem with the way that certain things are considered OK and others not.

How in the world could someone defend giving a movie a PG13 rating in spite of the fact that it shows shootings, stabbings, or other violence, while a scene with a female breast or male member exposed warrants an R rating when there is no little or no other objectionable material?

It seems backwards to me that images of murder are largely OK but scenes of a consensual sexual nature are not.

Poor doesn’t exist


I ran across this article http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/opinion/what-makes-people-poor.html?_r=0 titled “What Makes People Poor” that discusses, at length, what the author thinks makes people “poor”.  I did not find any startling reveleations in the article, but I was VERY struck by the title and the mindset.

While people can be poor, poor is not really a “thing” any more than cold or dark are things.  Poor is the absence of prosperity so the proper question is what makes people prosper.  The distinction is not trivial; it is the difference between planning to succeed vs. planning not to be “poor”.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

War of words


To date the White House has carefully avoided referring to the military actions in Iraq as acts of WAR against ISIS (or ISIL).  The problem is that the term WAR is a universally recognized fig leaf that gives humans moral cover to kill other humans.

If we are not killing ISIS members as an act of WAR what is our moral cover?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

IRS note


Dear IRS,

Thank you for the automatic extension.

I think the software messed up here and my loss on that rental should not all be deductible, but they are the professionals so I went with them.

I have included the penalty and interest for my late payment.

Sincerely

John Q. Taxpayer

PS  I am not now, and I have never been, a member of the Tea Party.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

MLK I have a dream speech


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
Martin Luther King - August 28, 1968 Hear highlights at I have a dream speech or read the full text.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bill Ayers

I recently saw a Foxnews interview with the SDS - Weathermen - revolutionary William Ayers.   

Mr. Ayers claimed that he was not with any of those groups when they were actually killing people.  He only wanted to blow up things - like the pentagon- as part of his antiwar effort.  

He is a very skilled user of words and avoider of any responsibility for anything. His guys "killed" people (American civilians).  Whereas the American government "murdered people" and engaged in "genocide".

The reason that I bring this up here is because I was quite disappointed that Fox did not ask him about the following disparity:


What is the basis of your authority to decide to take the actions you took vis-a-vis the authority of the US Government to take the actions that it took?  
The government had that authority vested in it by 200,000,000 people and from 200-1000 years of history.  
Ayers group was apparently recently self anointed.

The fact is that what Ayers advocated and advocates is anarchy.  If you oppose something - blow it up?  If you disagree with the government - blow it up?  Because he was really-really against the war and his philosophy is apparently:  If it feels good - do it.

But by that time history had presented a well established and clearly moral way to oppose the government in a democracy. According to Wikipedia the earliest germ is in Sophocles' Antigone, you can follow it in Shelley and Thoreau, and see it blossom in Gandhi and King.  It is the idea of civil disobedience.  You get in the street.  You put yourself at risk to persuade people to seriously consider your point of view.  That was what eventually happened and ended the Battle of Vietnam.

But that would have put himself in the line of fire and that is not what you do when you have a really-really special gift for knowing what the world should do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Justice in Ferguson


The people of Ferguson are demanding justice.  Our legal system may have been designed with justice as a goal but in the end justice and the law are not necessarily the same.

As in the OJ case and the Trayvon Martin case one gets the impression that the only outcome that will be perceived as justice is finding the shooting officer guilty of murder.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Obama should sue right back"


I am sure that individuals ought not be allowed to sue the President.  But the House has the right of impeachment so if anyone can sue the president I suppose that the House is the one.


I saw this article and thought - "this should be funny."  It wasn't.

The author thought that gerrymandering (in the extreme at least) was undemocratic and the House is supposed to be democratic.  Therefore the Courts would have a right to require States to do this in a nonpartisan manner.

After I thought about it a minute I agreed.

 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Reporters arrested in Missouri

I'm posting this partly to share an opinion but also to ask for clarification as to whether or not I understand the reporter situation in Missouri correctly.

A WaPost reporter and HuffPo reporter were arrested briefly in a McDonald's the other day. They were there to do some reporting on the protests in Ferguson.

It is generally unseemly to me when reporters themselves become the story as opposed to the events they are covering, but given the militarization of the scene I can understand why this incident warranted some coverage.

What I'm unsure about, though....is whether or not they were arrested for reporting? Yes, they were told to turn their cameras off (we do, in fact, have the right to film police officers) but as far as I understand it, committing the act of journalism was not the reason they were arrested.

I don't feel like I'm going out of my way to defend the police here (they were almost certainly going overboard), but there is a difference between getting arrested for doing journalism and being arrested for doing something else even if you happen to be a journalist.

I repeat, I'm less than sure that I know the full details. Perhaps someone here can help...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A global temperature conundrum: Cooling or warming climate?


Here is a quote from an article I found in “Science News” that was evidently published in “Earth and Climate.

“When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently requested a figure for its annual report, to show global temperature trends over the last 10,000 years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Zhengyu Liu knew that was going to be a problem.”


I have been unable to find a copy of the original IPCC report but I have seen NO reports on the IPCC report that even hint at the conundrum described in the article.  I think the article is fairly balanced and in the end it tends to indicate 3 things I agree with:

1.  The earth is warming
2.  Hunankind is a contributing factor to warming
3.  The science is not settled