Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Cloward-Piven "Crisis Strategy" Is Very Real

OTR has offered his readers many opportunities to learn about this strategy over the last two years. One of its authors, Frances Fox Piven, has called for its use in 2011 to overload welfare systems across the nation, create a fiscal crisis, and force the national government to support a "federally guaranteed national income." OTR thinks it is fair to call Piven an experienced academic community organizer who is delighted at having a fellow organizer in the Oval Office. Readers already know that the Obama administration, according to now Chicago mayor-in-waiting, Rahm Emanuel, is not one to let a crisis go to waste. Piven knows this may be her last, best hope to put the strategy to effective use and undermine our capitalist economy.

For the back story as well as potential impacts on you and your family, check out this Stanley Kurtz link at The Corner. Be sure to read the Ron Radosh link for the story about Piven's call to action in the latest issue of The Nation.

It is hard for OTR to understand how some who have benefited so much from the American experience could hold so much hate for this country.

The Absurd Concept Of "Settled Science"

As a historical geographer, OTR studied a variety of earth sciences including geology and geomorphology, hydrology, meteorology and climate, and biology. His training left him with an appreciation of science as a methodology for exploring our world. Under the right circumstances, where variables are understood and controlled, the same methodology can lead to a replication of results and statistically significant predictions.

Scale is an important variable in this pursuit. It is one thing to develop a formula for the mechanics of scree slope formation and quite another to prove a world climate model. Those who are familiar with the National Hurricane Center's forecast model ensemble recognize immediately that there is no such thing as "settled science" when it comes to hurricane prediction. OTR believes this conclusion casts serious doubt on world climate science. No doubt the climate is ever-changing. It's just a bit complicated defining if, when, where and how that change is "settled."

S. Fred Singer has more to say on this subject in Tuesday's Washington Times. He is an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia and former director of the United States Weather Satellite Service.

Hat tip to William Katz at Urgent Agenda who has some comment on climate and the mainstream media that readers will find interesting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

American Jazz Master, Billy Taylor, Passes Away

Billy Taylor, a pianist and composer who was also an eloquent spokesman and advocate for jazz as well as a familiar presence for many years on television and radio, died on Tuesday in Manhattan.

Taylor formed his own trio in 1951 and performed across the nation while developing a reputation as a lecturer and author. Many readers may remember him from his appearances on The David Frost Show and his programs on public radio and television, all beginning in the late '60s. Here is his New York Times obituary, continuing from the quotation above.

We can't leave the subject without listening to Taylor, the performer and teacher. These videos--two of five available on YouTube--were recorded at a master class at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The first shows Taylor at his best as performer, the second, as teacher with his protege, Christian Sands . The three additional videos from this class feature some fine performances by three young musicians who will be in the future of American music.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Renew! Renew!

One of OTR's favorite films--not close as a top lister, but still entertaining-- is Logan's Run. He couldn't help but post this satirical take on the film now that Democrats have written end-of life planning into a regulation after removing it from Obamacare legislation. Looks like required death planning is with us after all. Those who administer such planning will be called anything but a "death" panel.

Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) is responsible for this concept, but he is encouraging his fellow Democrats to keep quiet about the regulation. You can read more about it here on Moonbattery. Rest assured you will not be hearing about it from ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, NYT, WaPo and other leftist media.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meeting Margaret At The Farm On Old Receiver Bridge Road

Working in Washington afforded me the opportunity to meet some remarkable people. I was 26 and newly employed in the National Park Service at the Great Falls Tavern on the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. The canal and river at the fall line attracted many who had more than a passing interest in life. If anything, they were not about to let life happen to them. Instead, they grabbed opportunity and made the best of it. They loved the natural setting of the Great Falls of the Potomac and its river gorge just northwest of Washington. They loved history and the preservation opportunities afforded in multiple layers of settlement history over many centuries along the banks of the Potomac. They also loved their country, and many of them had defended it through employment in the armed services and the more clandestine agencies including the CIA and NSA. In their leisure time, they hiked the canal towpath and its more challenging trails on Billy Goat Island, did technical climbing in the Potomac Gorge, or took on the river challenges in canoes and kayaks as members of the Canoe Cruisers Association. They were a unique group. They loved to party, as well.

I liked to party, too, but I had yet to experience the drive that compelled many of my fellow partiers. Except for our intrepid leader who already retired from a career in the Navy and the National Security Agency, we were novices at challenging life and we relished opportunities to share in our “elders’” war stories. I especially recall an early evening event at Lock House 6 on the canal where we enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres listening to one individual practicing verbal judo on social and world affairs. It was obvious he enjoyed being the center of attention and we allowed him to occupy the stage. I didn’t know what to call him then. Today, he would be one of the few polymaths I have had the privilege to meet. Not only did he seem to know something about everything, he knew what, to me, was everything about an astounding range of social and political subjects. He was a fountain that fed my “Potomac Fever” at every word. All his knowledge seemed wrapped in a nerdy, quirky personality almost as repulsive as it was attractive. But he was not alone, and it was satisfying to watch this cast party of the Greatest Generation unfold before me. As the party wore on, he announced that he had to leave, but would be quite willing to entertain again the following Saturday, at the farm of his friend, Margaret, one of his colleagues. It was an intriguing invitation for me, so I carefully noted the directions to Margaret’s farm in the rolling Piedmont just west of Frederick, Maryland. He announced he would be arriving there by helicopter late in the afternoon and we should plan to meet him at that time.

After our guest had left, our hosts remarked how unusual he was, dropping in unannounced, capturing everyone’s attention only to disappear for months or years at a time. He was an ephemeral being. They described him as a brilliant personality, a well-respected leader in the intelligence community who as a storyteller lived as much in the world of fantasy as in reality. Their comments only heightened my desire to be a member of the party at the farm. That following Saturday, I made certain to bring a change of clothes so I could shed my uniform, dress in civvies and head north on Interstate 270 toward Frederick without returning to my home in New Carrollton.

Although I had explicit directions, finding Old Receiver Bridge Road proved challenging, but I did find Old Receiver Road. It, however, proved to be a puzzlement. I had no phone number for Margaret, no last name, no local contact, And none of the locals had ever heard of Old Receiver BRIDGE Road. I drove up and down Old Receiver Road several times looking for the specific landmarks the guest had given me. Many were there, but it was a foreign landscape in the end. Nothing made sense. I returned home that evening a disappointed voyager. Had I been duped or was I just a poor listener? When I had a chance to ask my host at Lock House 6 about Margaret, he said he didn’t know of her or her farm. He also admitted there was no way he could contact his guest. Apparently he was as much a mystery to my host as he was to me. Either that or I was not in a “need to know” position. And either way, I never saw him again.

Over forty years, I have never given up on Margaret’s farm on Old Receiver Bridge Road. Earlier, I thought so much of it as a title, I intended to write a short story around the subject. Google Earth has provided me a chance to explore what is called Old Receiver Road and its remnants. Today, it rises at the foot of the Frederick Municipal Forest. It has farms and a threat of upscale subdivisions moving in from the east. The fragmented landscape has many ghosts. Could Margaret still be there? Was she ever there? I’ll never know. The polymath is a distant memory and my host passed away in Florida in 2007. I am left to run up and down that road in my mind and wonder where meeting Margaret, the polymath and other partiers may have taken me at a formative time in my early adulthood. I can only say it was a wonder meeting such fascinating people and, though I never encountered many of them for more than a few times over two to three years, their memories and influences were quite strong in shaping who I was then and what I have become. I like the mystery of it all and am content to let it be.

Photo: Old Receiver Road, Frederick, Maryland. Is it Margaret's farm?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Young, Bold; Big, Brass

The Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys posted this video earlier this week. Kinda caught my attention.

Bob Feller Walks On The Field Of Dreams

OTR was ten when Bob Feller ended his extraordinary pitching career after the 1956 season. To the boys in Maryland's Georges Creek Valley, the pitcher of renown would always be our hometown boy, Lefty Grove, but finding a Feller card in your bubble gum pack was still golden. Feller passed away earlier this week. The New York Times provides a first-rate obituary for one of baseball's greatest stars.

Photo: dbking

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot's Fractal Dimension

Some months ago, OTR noted the passing of Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals. Mandelbrot's geometry has given us a new way of viewing and measuring the complex natural world around us. Thinking "fractal" has also led to some surprising and diverse applications in our everyday lives. National Public Broadcasting's NOVA series has rebroadcast a fascinating 2008 program on the man and his legacy entitled, Hunting the Hidden Dimension.

Though the subject itself may look too complex and esoteric for evening entertainment, don't be misled. It's a fast 52 minutes of biography, science, art, and mathematics with broad appeal. Here's your link. Grab some popcorn, settle back, and enjoy this amazing exploration of the world around us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

You Shouldn't Be Able To Cancel Anything For Weather In A State Where People Voluntarily Ice Fish

Powerline's Scott Johnson brings to our attention a very entertaining column by Jason Gay on the Minneapolis Metrodome collapse. OTR can hear the laughter already.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Michelle Rhee: Making Change In Florida

OTR seldom listens to talk radio, but he did awake this morning to Neal Boortz, who rants on his program as the chief priest of what he calls "The Church of the Painful Truth." After more than twenty years as a resident of Atlanta, Boortz recently honored his wife's wish to relocate to Florida, Naples to be exact. They owned a condo there for many years, so Boortz has often found "local" political themes to bring to his listeners and his website. That was the case this morning when he mentioned the significance of Michelle Rhee's appointment as Florida's Commissioner of Education. Rhee made significant improvements in Washington, DC, as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system. Rhee's extraordinary reforms, among other politics, energized the local teachers unions to oppose the re-election of Mayor Adrian Fenty. He was defeated in the November elections. Rhee resigned prior to the election after seeing its outcome on the horizon.

Boortz sees this loss for Washington students as a great opportunity for Florida, a state without an income tax, but one burdened by a mediocre school system. If Rhee, as a member of Republican Governor Rick Scott's cabinet, can work her magic on the schools, Florida should once again become a magnet for those who understand and appreciate the value and meaning of entrepreneurship, wealth preservation and quality education. Boortz also sees Florida's expansion as very costly to Georgia, a state in need of serious educational reform. Georgia could well be flirting with ending its income tax, already having done so for virtually all retirees, but many of its schools would continue to stall improvement particularly in core urban centers and small rural counties.

It will be interesting for OTR to see how Georgia handles the competition from her southern neighbor. Unless Georgia's leadership wakes up to the pending Scott-Rhee reforms and the tax differential, Boortz predicts that a savvy Atlanta businessman could make a fortune arranging relocations to the Sunshine State. The people will always gravitate to multiple opportunities. Boortz generally avoids inflammatory rhetoric, so OTR respects his interpretation of this pending scenario. Perhaps this wake-up call could bring the necessary improvements to the Peach State. Imagine the two coastal states of Georgia and Florida as a great magnet with a combined population of 26,000,000 people (2010), 40 congressmen, no state income tax, other business-friendly incentives, quality education systems at all levels, and a superb geography and climate. This is, for certain, the kind of hope and change that Americans are waiting for. Rhee could play a major role in that transformation. OTR wishes her the best.

Pearl: 69 Years Ago Today

NPR has a link to several stories from those who survived this "Day of Infamy."

Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command. The caption:

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance.
A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California.
On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port.
Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right.
Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.