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

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.


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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The problem with Health insurance

Health insurance Consumers question their premium amount, but not the cost of services.  Who among us has asked (prior to treatment) the cost of a professional medical service in recent years?  All we want to know is does insurance cover it and what is my co-pay.  We are not responsible consumers and we must accept the blame for high medical costs.

Remember when you paid cash for a doctor visit, your insurance covered major medical, and premiums were affordable.   Perhaps our health insurance problem is that we have too much health insurance. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing

From the Atlantic, Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing.

Several interesting take-aways from this article. Particularly the idea, which I agree with, that any large group (214 schools, over 131,000 students) would be better served with Big Data, for logistical reasons.

However the thesis of the article, that standardized testing is standardized only to the textbooks the test publishers write, is damning to testing everywhere, not just to large school districts.
In the meantime, there are a few things the district—and other flailing school districts in America—can do. Stop giving standardized tests that are inextricably tied to specific sets of books. At the very least, stop using test scores to evaluate teacher performance without providing the items each teacher needs to do his or her job. Most of all, avoid basing an entire education system on materials so costly that big, urban districts can’t afford to buy them. Until these things change, it will be impossible to raise standardized test scores—despite the best efforts of the teachers and students who will return to school this fall and find no new books waiting for them.