Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, July 31, 2020

Debate : Portland Riots - Summer 2020 

"Andy Ngo, a journalist who is covering the riots every night, has reported that many of the “moms” are far-left activists who change into the standard black clothes and join the violent protests later in the night." Click on the picture to read the article.

Should the United States send Federal law enforcement to cities that are troubled by violence even if local leaders don't want their help?

I don't know how many of you have been to Portland, Oregon, but it is one of the most beautiful cities in America, and believe me, I've seen them all. The horror that you see every night on TV is not anything like the Portland I know. So Trump has decided to send federal troops to Oregon to protect the federal building, which has been under seige for many weeks. If you counted the total number of protesters in Portland (both daytime and nighttime), perhaps you could say that most of them are peaceful. But if we're talking about the perimeter of the federal building, especially at night, the majority are quite violent.

Below is a brief debate on this question. Some have said that what the federal government is doing is ilegal. Not true at all. It has been done several times in recent history. The most notable example, I suppose, was in 1957, when Arkansas governor Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to prevent children from going to school. Eisenhower responded by federalizing the Arkansas National Guard so that they were under him and not under the governor. Then he sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to enforce allowing Black kids (sometimes called the "Little Rock Nine") to go to school.

Another example is the story dramatized by the film Mississippi Burning, where the federal government sent the FBI to Mississippi to investigate the murders of three members of the Freedom Summer campaign.

Sometimes you need to bring in the feds if local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to deal with the local situation, or even worse, it complicit in the criminal activity. So the legality of this kind of action is not up for question. Of course it's legal. But the fact that something is legal does not mean it is advisable. Legality and propriety are not the same. So debate is not about whether nor not it is legal. Clearly it is. The debate is about whether or not it is a good idea, and there are arguments worth considering on both sides.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced yesterday that the federal officers would be withdrawn, but both Trump and the head of Homeland Security are telling a different story, so we'll see.

Recently the head of the NAACP in Portland has spoken out on this issue. He said that the Portland riots are becoming a "white spectacle." This is an interesting feature of the Portland demonstrations/riots: This whole thing is not being pushed by Black people. It is being pushed by angry White people. And Portland is becoming known as the "Whitest city in America." What many also do not know, is that many years ago, the Klan was very strong on Oregon. I attended a Black church a few years ago that had actually been financed by the Klan because the Klan wanted them to move out of a White community.

The short video below addresses this issue. There is nothing so special about this debate over any others. I picked it because it is relatively short—the video is 11 minutes long, but the debate starts at 3 minutes in—and because it touches on the main issues people seem to be arguing about. There are six people that you see here, but Shannon Bream, after an introductory statement, does not participate that much in the argument. Here's a little info about the others:

Juan Williams is a liberal/moderate Democrat. I say that as an observation. Perhaps he would identify himself as a moderate--the designations are always hard when you're talking about liberalism. In American politics, conservatism is the core and liberalism pulls against the core, so liberals are destined to become more liberal. Yesterday's lefty looney is today's moderate. But I have listened to Juan Williams over the years, and I think he is pretty good at articulating the classic Democrat position on a given issue. He is also a really nice guy. I don't agree with him very often, but he does make some good observations, and especially brings in useful information that the others may not be inclined to mention, such as the republicans who disagree with Trump's policy.

Jesse Waters is the lead "in your face" conservative in this debate. Not surprisingly, he argues with Juan Williams a lot. Also, his mother sometimes sends him text messages while she is watching the show. Sometimes he reads them on the air. One time she told him to apologize. He is good at articulating the conservative position, and identifying the issues conservatives tend to be interested in. He doesn't miss much.

Kennedy is important for this debate because she is from Oregon and her brother was was in law enforcement near Portland for a number of years. She opposes Federal people coming from outside, but is also critical of the mayor.

Greg Gutfeld is a Libertarian atheist. Libertarians are a combination of left wing and right wing. But my feeling about Libertarians is that it is virtually impossible to be perfectly balanced between the two. When I was a kid playing on the playground at Lewis and Clark School, I used to stand on the teeter totter and see if I could keep it balanced so that neither side could touch the ground. I could never do it for more than a few seconds. This is the way it is with Libertarians. They are neither Democrat nor Republican, but in fact you will find that Libertarians eventually lead toward one or the other. So there are Democrat libertarians and Republican Libertarians. Greg Gutfeld leans more to the right, I think. But not entirely. At the end of the day, he is a Libertarian, not a classic conservative.

All of the above are employed by Fox News.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Science Night : The International Space Station 

The construction of the International Space Station began in the late 90s. It has been occupied continuously for almost 20 years. Always someone there.

So what good is a laboratory in space? The key is that certain things can be done in a weightless environment that cannot be done on earth. So lots of science is happening all the time—not 24/7, they do sleep—but continuously throughout the year. In actual fact, the space station environment is not truly weightless. Gravity in the space station is about 90% of gravity on earth. But orbit is a process of continuously falling. That "always falling" state produces an effective weightlessness.

This tour is really quite well done, I think. It is casual and not tightly scripted, but I like it better that way. It is really good to let scientists like this talk freely and explain the life and activity they live with every day.

As I mentioned in the Science Night post on the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station was built of components which were shipped to space on the Shuttle. Now that the Americans have phased out the Space Shuttle, it would be really tough to try to build a station of this size. But not to worry—the Space Station is expected to operate until 2030.

I strongly encourage you to get a cup of coffee and enjoy this casual tour of the International Space Station. This is really good science.

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