Think twice before pushing “send”

So begins the NY Times piece on panic spreading on Capital Hill as the Russians make public yet another luminaries personal emails:

WASHINGTON — A panicked network anchor went home and deleted his entire personal Gmail account. A Democratic senator began rethinking the virtues of a flip phone. And a former national security official gave silent thanks that he is now living on the West Coast.

The digital queasiness has settled heavily on the nation’s capital and its secretive political combatants this week as yet another victim, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, fell prey to the embarrassment of seeing his personal musings distributed on the internet and highlighted in news reports.

“There but for the grace of God go all of us,” said Tommy Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman for President Obama who now works in San Francisco. He said thinking about his own email exchanges in Washington made him cringe, even now.

“Sometimes we’re snarky, sometimes we are rude,” Mr. Vietor said, recalling a few such moments during his time at the White House. “The volume of hacking is a moment we all have to do a little soul searching.”

The Powell hack, which may have been conducted by a group with ties to the Russian government, echoed the awkwardness of previous leaks of emails from Democratic National Committee officials and the C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan. The messages exposed this week revealed that Mr. Powell considered Donald J. Trump a “national disgrace,” Hillary Clinton “greedy” and former Vice President Dick Cheney an “idiot.”

I’ve been struck in the book Founding Rivals with the indirect, veiled and fussy way the great men and women of the late 17th Century wrote about themselves. I suppose being crass would have gotten them into duals. Here’s how James Madison wrote to a friend explaining that his girl friend had dumped him, “a disappointment in some circumstances.”

In the books I read about LBJ by Robert Caro I was fascinated at how he eschewed the use of paper to communicate. He was on the phone all day and all night. Nothing could be traced. How fortunate for historians that once he became President all his phone conversations were recorded.

I long ago made up my mind that I would write all my emails as though they would be made public. When, seven years ago, I was in a seemingly life and death struggle with Johnston Controls my emails were subpoened. It took me a week to go through them but with my techy son’s help I gladly sent them over a thousand emails which were then considered public property ( I guess ) and quoted out of context in the Duluth Budgeteer to make me seem brutish. I derided the criticism I knew that lots of my allies in Let Duluth Vote were in fear about their emails to me being read by JCI’s attorneys. In this they were like all of today’s poobahs in Washington D.C.

Honestly, I am pleased to know that General Colin Powell described Donald Trump as a “disgrace.” I have always valued Powell’s opinion and this hack has only validated that opinion.

BTW I rediscovered this old promise I’d written in the blog seven years ago. I still hold by it:

I’ll reserve my hardest and most caustic comments for big shots, chronic liars and the like. I will accept criticism leveled at me from people whose genuine motivation is their children’s welfare with patience and my rebuttals will be tempered with fairness and objectivity.

Get the lead out

After I was nearly finished scraping and painting the sides of my house this summer I began thinking that I should have at least worn a mask while scraping to avoid inhaling lead. Then I thought it was probably not that big a deal because lead was removed from paint a long time ago. Well, Kerry Leider told me otherwise. It was still in paint through the 1980’s a period of time I put new coats on my house. Oops!

What brings this to mind was today’s story in the DNT about concerns that a three quarter million dollar donation to prevent the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker seems to have been rewarded with laws to protect lead paint manufacturers from lawsuits from folks like me who have been poisoned by their products. Of course, the Republicans and the Governor’s office deny that the money had any influence on them.

I found it interesting that the people reporting his story were from Great Britain’s Guardian Newspapers. They were looking into Karl Rove’s Club for Growth operation. I’m sure that Karl’s not the kind of guy who would arrange any back scratching, would he?

Mulch alternatives wait for no School Board

Cory Kirsling, one of the Lester Park parents who successfully persuaded the School Board to come up with a new playground surface told me the other day how Lowell Elementary parents took the bull by the horns and helped develop a second playspace and more to let their children escape the mulch on their playground.

I zipped up to Lowell yesterday to check it out. Part of the space that the parents put in themselves was a sandy area next to the mulch with cut log stumps around it. In addition they cut a trail through the woods overlooking the school which teachers can now use to talk about the enviorment.

The equipment on the orignal space covered with rubber mulch still commanded the attention of most of the children when I dropped by. It will evenaually be replaced over the next year but it demonstrates the willingness of parents to help the District cut costs as we move to our new playgrounds. I’ve heard that the work the parents put into this new outdoor space helped unify the PTSA.

A couple pictures I took while there including the sand pile and the path into the woods.

Newsweek’s story on Trump’s 500 overseas tentacles

US Grant was derided for years as an incompetant President who presided over a corrupt nation. Recent scholarship is much more charitable. Lincoln was indebted to him. That’s good enough for me.

Chester Authur was a corrupt political hack who reformers were appalled to see succeed a towering James Garfield when the later was assassinated. At the time he was given credit for surprising contemporaries by cleaning up his act and not encouraging corruption when he unexpectedly took the Presidency.

Warren Harding was a nonentity who was maneuvered into the Presidency by super Boss Mark Hanna to prevent a successor to the trust busing Theodore Roosevelt from entering the Oval Office. He kept company with scores of crooks during the Roaring Twenties. He had the good sense to die before the scandals broke out leaving him the reputation as the worst President of all time. Other than fathering a child out of wedlock I don’t recall his being accused of sharing in the ill gotten gains of his crooked friends.

Richard Nixon, only the second President to face Impeachment, high tailed it out of Office to avoid being punished by Congress for numerous abuses of power. Personal financial gain was not one of his serious failures. A failed President he nonetheless pushed through a wealth of domestic and international actions that profoundly improved the world for the better.

Hillary Clinton, a First Lady and faithful spouse, stuck by her husband when his infidilities were exposed during his Presidency – the first to have them exposed publically since Grover Cleveland a hundred years before. After a succussful term as a United States Senator and a competant Secretary of State she and her husband attempted to redeem a savaged reputation by raising hundreds of millions of dollars from numerous sovereign nations and wealthy individuals to help impoverished people throughout the world. She made herself available for innocent discussions to these contributors while Secretary of State with little evidence that her contributors benefited from the interchanges. She recieves nothing from the Clinton Foundation but does make money giving speeches like a great many recently retired Presidents.

Then there is Donald Trump. Here’s Newsweek’s recent expose of a handful of the 500 or so problematic relationships. Many of them would call into question a President Trump’s financial conflicts of interest. “Unscrupulousness” hardly begins to cover the national security threat to the United States.

One of the more distressing aspects of this story are the many defenders of Donald Trump and their comments following the story. It reminds me when supporters of Barack Obama in 2008 were accused by Republicans of treating Obama as though he was a Messiah who walked on water. Now Trump’s supporters are proving to be similarly inclined despite ample evidence to the contrary.

Madison and Monroe – state’s rights before States

Before I delivered my grandsons to school this morning I had a half dozen posts pounding on my door begging to be written and uploaded. Let’s see how many make it to the blog before the day is out.

I’ve just come in from my sun porch where I was forging ahead with the book Founding Rivals mentioned previously. Reliable Book Reviewer Kirkus describes this book as “lively, clear-cut.” It is. Both men, confronted the impossiblity of running America as 13 squabbling republics each with veto power over the whole. First friends, then foes and then friends again the two men, preside over the first resolution of the question. Madison and Monroe, the fourth and fifth Presidents of the United States, were simply among the first Americans to wrestle over the question and they were divided about the adoption of our Constitution.

Those questions continued to reverberate until the war that my hero (and the namesake of this blog) settled. But the question was like the undead. It rose again to search out more living brains to consume.

Today’s Party of Lincoln has taken up that call from the Dixiecrats who hated civil rights and fought integration. They have presided over what is being called the resegregation of the United States.

That’s enough for the first post. The next post will highlight the Grand Old Party’s latest champion.

Subject heading on an email I sent to myself at noon: “Any mouse”

Prompted by reading the chalk board at Canal Park Brewing which read:

Any loaf of bread is a waste of good grain that could have been used for beer, Anonymous.

Which led me to email this to myself so as not to forget it: “I don’t know who anonymous is but I would like to meet her as she is always given credit for saying such memorable things.”

I wondered if anyone said anything similar so I put that in my search engine and googled it. Nothing similar popped up so I simplified it to:

“I don’t know who anonymous is but I would like to meet him since he pens so many memorable quotes”

Again to the search engine. Nada

If anyone has come up with something like this before I didn’t find it on my search engine. I now claim it (both of them) as mine.

A selfie, not taken by “Anonymous”

How yesterday started

Yesterday I got a lousy night’s sleep. They seem to have come back again with the beginning of the School Year after a relatively blissful summer. Coincincence I’m sure.

During one of my sleepless hours the night before I’d made up my mind to visit Congdon Elementary School that morning at the beginning of its school day. I’d gotten the sense that the school was a little more disordered in recent years due to myriad changes in the School District. But all those sleepless hours resulted in me waking up at about 7:15. (I don’t often set alarms anymore) By the time I’d fed the cats, completed morning chores and cleaned myself up it was ten to 8. I was afraid the busses had long since dropped off the children but I drove over anyway. For the past six months I’ve been making up for the hideous first two years of my service on the School Board. I had stayed away from schools lest employees be brought under suspicion for being seen in my presence. I know that sounds, well paranoid, but it was a concern I had. Twenty years ago I used to joke with another school board member that our school board’s slogan ought to be “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.” If its any comfort to my readers, and it shouldn’t be, I always worry that everyone in the District is paranoid about me especially what I might write about them in my blog. Mostly I give our employees a pass. As for my fellow elected officials……..I just write what I see, experience or hear tell about them. We are the elephants fighting in the African proverb about trampled grass.

When I got to Congdon it was quiet as a mouse. I’d only seen one parent I knew crossing the parking lot to get to the school. I signed in and introduced myself to the Office denizens and explained my intention and my failure to get to the school before the busses. I told them I’d walk the halls for a few minutes and make sure to get to Congdon earlier next time. On my way out of the office I followed one of the staff members to her office. When I asked her what she did she told me she was working with the homeless children. That rang a bell. I asked her if it was her name on the new emmployee list I’d perused at Monday’s Human Resources Committee. She affirmed that this was the case.

I asked her how many homeless kids went to Congdon. Forty she replied mentioning that there were about 80 such children at Myers-Wilkins (the old Grant School) and some more at Piedmont Elementary.

We spoke for about fifteen minutes before I went on my way. What I was assured of was of great importance to me. These kids going to Congdon, Myers Wilkins and Piedmont are allowed, encouraged even to continue on at the same schools no matter where they may move to while living in Duluth. That’s called stability and transient children need this desperately.

This is a vast improvement over the situation that existed when I was first on the School Board. I’d agonoized over “transient” children in those old days. These were kids who might find themselves in a half a dozen different school within a single school year as their rootless, homeless families wandered from residence to residence or even the back seat of a car – if they had one. Back then Congdon, being situated as it was in the posh Congdon neighborhood, didn’t have many homeless kids. Today it does and even handles more than its “share.”

My walk around the hallways afterward reminded me of the old orderly Congdon. Some of the teachers from Congdon I’d met at Denfeld on August 30th averred that class sizes were a little too generous but I saw no evidence of chaos in my walk through. Whew! That “Whew” said, its still early in the school year.

Among the news stories mentioned in the previous post that had me in their grip was one about Minnesota’s poverty rate reported by Minnesota Public Radio. The story reports that Minnesota has the second lowest poverty rate among the fifty states at 9.1 percent. Having mentioned homeless students I should add that Duluth’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the rest of Minnesota’s rate and that poverty affects children on average more than the adult population.

The DNT had a chart of National poverty rates going back to 1960 that I couldn’t help but contrast with the Op Ed piece the Tribune commissioned from the conservative blogger, John Hinderaker, of Powerline.

Hinderaker makes the case that the reason for Minnesota’s falling from the top to the middle of prosperous states is because of a couple decades of high taxes. I’m not so sure. Republican legislators have managed to fight state tax increases pretty successfully for the past fifteen or so years of this new century. A case could be made that the taxes not spent in education and fixing up old infrasctucture blunted our economic growth. As evidence I’d offer Minnesota’s economy from the 1970’s through the 1990’s during which Minnesota’s growth exceeded that of most other states while we were one of the five or six highest taxing states.

Furthermore, the MPR story about the nation’s declining poverty that ran in the DNT also included an intesting graph showing the decline and leveling off of the nation’s poverty rate from 1960 to today.

Hinderacker might be advised to look at the steep decline in poverty from 1960 to 1970. That was during LBJ’s War on Poverty and judging by this evidence it did a marvelous job lowering poverty rates until 1980 when the Reagan Revolution, with its War on Welfare Queens, left us with a mildly fluctuating poverty rate plateau of 12 percent. That’s half of what it was when Jack Kennedy was elected President. Its been stubbornly stuck there ever since.

How my day started

At 7:09 Claudia came downstairs and asked me if I didn’t have a men’s group meeting I was supposed to be at. One quick expletive and I shoved the particularly informative DNT aside and hurried off to my meeting where I was suppose to introduce, Pat Collins, of the Minnesota Land Trust in the next five minutes. Trouble was, I was in such a hurry I didn’t have time to check my notes and I’d forgotten his name. I had to sit down next to him without recalling what it was.

Shaking my head and shaking Trump’s hands

I’ve made clear that I will support Hillary Clinton this year for President. I recently wrote to my Buddy and told him I was so busy I would not be emailing him so much…….that’s proving hard to do. His email to me last night:

From: [Your Buddy]
To: “Harry Welty”

Subject: Clinton Never Learns That the World Sees Every Stumble – Bloomberg View – Megan McArdle

First the veracity of Fox was questioned . . .
If Gabriel Rossman perfectly summed up the spin cycle yesterday, David Axelrod perfectly summed up the problem beneath it: “Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”

Unfortunately, there’s now a possibility that even if such a cure is found, for Hillary Clinton, it will come too late.

To which I replied:

I mostly just shake my head at this stuff. I don’t think the stumble is the problem its the excessive spin. Clinton may have infected her whole campaign with paranoia. She should have learned from Nixon that the cover up is what kills you. Don’t know if its too late for a vaccination but I’m beginning to sense Trump has taken a shot to keep his foot out of his mouth.

By coincidence last night I watched a PBS show about how in 1953 Winston Churchill kept his severe debilitating stroke out of the news. Ah the good old days.

PS. I should note that in an earlier email to my Buddy on this thread I mentioned that I got pneumonia when I was just past 50 and it knocked me for a loop. That lasted a week or two and its bugs haven’t gotten to me since. I know that Clinton shakes lots of hands and presumably got the walking pneumonia on the hustings. Trump better watch out or he might be next. But then again I’ve read that Trump is phobic about that kind of thing _ shaking hands.

So what did we talk about at Monday’s meeting?

If Loren Martell’s intention to stop reporting on our school board meetings holds up it will be especially good that we are beginning to broadcast them. I presume yesterday’s HR and Business Committee meeting will show up but I’m not sure more than a couple dozen folks will bother to watch whereas hundreds of folks or more would have read Loren’s column reporting them. His loss is all the more notable because our DNT Education reporter is making fewer and fewer of our committee meetings.

For reasons I cannot fully explain the two meetings have turned on their heads. When I was on the Board it was not unusual for the HR meeting which took place first to take ten minutes, fifthteen less often. Today a fortyfive minute discussion of personnel issues is not uncommon. Today there is only one item I have much interest in reporting on and that has to do with my coincidental meeting with a new employee who was on our new hire list. She’s works with Homeless children. More on that in the next post.

Here is a not terribly extensive list of what we covered yesterday.

We asked numerous questions about new hires, resignations, job reclassifications, leaves etc. There are about twelve such categories and the School Board has to sign off on them even though they generally are simple administrative actions. There was a brief discussion of how retiring Facilities Director Kerry Leider’s job will be divided up at his September retirement.

Our HR Director Tim Sworsky told us he would be providing “comparables” that Art Johnston had asked for last month comparing the compensation and duties of our Superintendent with those of other area superintendents. We have two months to tell the Superintendent whether we intend to ask him to stay on.

We talked about some new jobs we have created and Alanna Oswald had questions about the various pots of money from which we funded a new job to help minority students.

We asked quite a few questions about the request of one collection of our employees – integration specialists – who wish to break away from their current bargaining unit (union) and create their own.

The fact that our Board now focuses so long on what used to be overlooked and mundane internal work must sigify something. Perhaps its little more than some of us paying real close attention to questions affecting our employees.

As you can see none of these topics are hot enough to draw folks to our newly released videos.

I’m already bored writing this so I’ll only mention one of the topics we discussed in the following Business committee which was scheduled to start fifteen minues after HR started but which had to wait till closer than an hour to begin.

The principal areas of discusion involved proposed changes to our policy. This is sort of a big deal because the School Board OK’s the rules by which we operate. However, I was shocked when the Red Plan reared its bloody head to discover that Supt. Dixon all but ignored a hundred years of policy and the Board pretty much did whatever it wanted. In effect policy was whatever the Board wanted to do at any given time limited only by state statute. In the old days the Board took votes to suspend policies that interferred with whatever actions it want to take. I found that extremely capricious and cavilier.

For the past two years our Administration has been looking at a “model policy” book for school boards that has been set up by the MSBA (Minnesota School Board Association). Every meeting we get a handfull of them to consider. Our current policy book is about two inches wide so this will take a long time.

The biggest discussion, which I prolonged, had to do with our transport policies bussing kids from home to school. Among the things we considered was Alanna’s interest in making maps available easily to families for the transportation routes to and from schools. I raised at least two issues. I suggested that requiring families to drive their children to the language immersion classes at Lowell School was inequitable because poorer families would have a harder time ferrying their kids to and from Lowell. I also suggested that current language allowing the Superintendent to appoint a someone to the Traffic Hazzard Safety Committee be changed to give that authority to the School Board Chair and insure that the appointee be a school board member. I’ve been puzzled by any mention of that committee in the past three years. I served on the committee for three or four years in the 1990’s.

I also raised the question and Alanna added insight to the subject of getting the DTA to pick up schools after hours and help them with transportion to and from extra curricular activities. This was commonplace when I was formerly on the Board. Poor kids again are the ones who lose out. Alanna mentioned the case of ninth graders at Denfeld who have no way to get themselves to Lincoln Junior High for swim practice.

I don’t feel like proof reading this. Sorry. I have a lot of other things and some other posts to work on. Oh Loren. I’ll miss you.

ISD 709 committee meeting video recordings

Art, Alanna and I have been pushing to record our Committee meetings in addition to our monthy School Board meeting. We want more transparency in the School District. Over the summer we succeeded in getting the Board to go along with no disentions. We have recorded our Monthly school board meetings for decades. In those days the video was recorded to VHS tape and were kept at the Duluth Public Library.

Yesterday’s meeting of the HR and Business Committee were recorded for the second time. A month ago the August meeting was recorded on a trial basis and uploaded to Youtube. Yesterday’s meeting was also supposed to be both livestreamed to television on channel 187 as well as put on youtube. An intern wasn’t available yesterday so the livestreaming to television didn’t take place but in a day or two the video should be up on Youtube.

Not many people watch these multi-hour videos. It takes stamina to attend a meeting when you get to talk. It takes far more stamina to sit mute in the audience. As of today there have been 41 views for our trial August committee recording. I would note, however, that this is about 36 more people than sat in the audience at these meetings. Not everyone is able to make time to watch our 4:15 meetings. I’m listening to that trial video play in the background now as I type.

Its been interesting for me to hear the recording and see the trial video. No doubt this is because I’m listening to myself. The Board room has a false wall about 75 feet in front of the Dais where the School Board sits. Three cameras are hung on the wall and trained at different sections places where we sit through the meetings.

August’s trial video begins with a half hour long discussion of our proposal to raise the pay of our hourly non certified substitutes. Because the Board room is hot in August we are dressed for the weather. I found it interesting to see how I appear on camera. If you watch it note how vigorously I shake my foot. Its sort of like the wagging tail of a dog when its excited. I ask a lot of questions but at least I don’t try to lick anyone.



I didn’t mean to put that in all caps but I’m too tired to retype Ecclesiastes 1:2-4.

I pushed through the last six pages of Proverbs to get to Ecclesiastes a few minutes ago. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book.

I wrote a post in 2014 with this phrase baked into its heading. I revisited it just now but didn’t have the patience to re-read it. Way too Stream of conscientiousness. It tells how I became a fifth wheel (or third) when two of my old gradeschool acquaintences mind melded at my mention of the Byrds’ pop song Turn, Turn, Turn. Its a riff on the verse in Ecclesiastes that begins “For every thing there is a season.” Too bad it wasn’t my season.

My friends hadn’t known each other till I somehow got them together on one of my summer sojourns back from Minnesota to Kansas. They were both Ace students (I think that’s an apt description) and each was the respective President of their High School’s Senior Class, one at the venerable Topeka High the other at Topeka West. I felt like an inadvertant match maker when I learned later that they went to one of their high school Homecoming dances together.

Serves me right not knowing anything about the Bible.

Sex Education

One of the most engaging articles in the Sunday paper was written by an intern for the Duluth Budgeteer, Ryley Graham. It was about her appreciation for books written by today’s crop of American female comedians. Her story began with a bunch of rednecky old men who saw Ms. Graham reading Amy Schumer’s recent best seller “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.” . They let Ryley know they approved because Schumer was very funny and joked a lot about sex. That they were a bunch of red neck’s made no difference. Ms. Graham appreciated such books for a different reason. They are full of useful information. For instance, Schumer’s book has been controversial and contains anecdotes that none of the geezers probably ever heard about. Schumer’s candidly describes waking up to find her boyfriend stealing her virginity without asking permission. The memoir leaves it up to the reader to decide whether this was an act of rape or not.

I wrote about Schumer once before on the blog and the topic led me to use an all too common four letter word that I only use sparingly here. (A quick check suggests that this is only the 30th time that the word shit has made it into my blog either on its own or in compounds like “bullshit.”) That’s out of 17,598 posts or once every 586 posts. I’m not particularly prissy but after inflicting my fifth grade potty mouth on Topeka, Kansas, my Dad advised me not to waste perfectly good swear words through overuse. He said that if I wanted to catch people’s attention I needed to use them sparingly. Hell, (to use a word I’m less fussy with appearances in over 200 posts), young people today don’t think twice about using these words. I hear them shouted out by partying college students many a spring and summer night when my windows are open for the fresh air.

It’s a three letter word that had parents panicked during my junior high years “sex” as in sex education. Half of the parents were afraid these classes would give kids ideas. The other half were afraid that if we didn’t inflict the class on their children their children would inflict a lot of embarassing questions on them. A number of male comics have made hay with this subject through the years but female comics have been slower to follow suit. I’m not sure if this is because women want to appear demure or if they thought the “ick” factor would drive away the male half of their audience. But Ryley’s old farts haven’t been deterred. Yes, even the Chainsaw Massacre of subjects female business can catch a guy’s attention more successfully than the self submitted porno videos that litter the Internet.

Yesterday I finished reading American Rose to Claudia. Its a biography of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. I found it in a thrift shop this summer and to my delight it dished about a lot of historical characters I’ve been reading about lately as well as vaudeville, and burlesque. It makes clear that Gypsy mythologized her life while giving new meaning to the term “stage mothers.” Her Mother was a lesbian/psychopath/serial murderer. Trust me, none of that got into Gypsy’s self created mythology. Gypsy and her sister survived one helluva childhood.

Gypsy was a product of those bad old days before sex education classes. You know, the Era of brothels, madams, back alley abortionists and casting room couches. I doubt that the departure of Roger Aisles will put an end to that Era and God knows, today a pernicious new sex trafficking epidemic to taken root. Thank goodness the idea of “fallen women” is being put to rest by women like Schumer. She might even kill off “slut” or force us to find an equivalent term for men that doesn’t leave us jealous or in awe of them. Talk about bragging rights Casanova claimed to have gotten his own daughter into bed.

I was in junior high when Sex Ed classes relieved my parents from the responsibility of embarassing me but just in case my folks had no objection to my seeing the movie Gypsy should sex ed fall short. Heck, my Aunt and Uncle were sophisticates and when they were visiting Duluth they took in the Saratoga as many young couples did in the Mad Men Era. Myth or not I suppose seeing the movie was every bit as edifying as anything I learned in Sex ed. It wasn’t graphic; and it was a myth; but it also gave my parent’s way of giving me a preview of coming attractions. Today Amy Schumer fits that bill.

Gypsy was famous for giving her audiences as little sex as possible and performing a parody of strip tease with a wink and faux blushes.
I prefer the candid conversation prompted by today’s young comics who don’t wink and who leave all the blushing up to me.

Solar wind not cosmic rays

As fascinating as I find the subject astronomy is not my forte. As I was lazing in a hammock yesterday afternoon enjoying the temperate weather soon to depart I looked up into the tossing leaves of my three poplars and thought about something I’d just written in the last post. I’m about to correct it. I wrote that our planet’s magnetic polls protected us from the bombardment of cosmic rays. No. The magnetism of Earth does protect our atmosphere by preventing solar winds from stripping the Earth bare. There is a connection with protection from gamma rays from space. Ozone. That’s the chemical that began disappearing from the South Pole a couple decades ago from all the chlorofluorocarbons that were released from spray cans and old refrigerators. That in turn pushed up melanomas (skin cancers) where the ozone was reduced.

So there is an indirect tie between gamma rays and our magnetic fields. The magnetism repels the solar wind that would strip the ozone and a lot of the rest of our atmosphere away. Gravitation plays a role too. Earth is the largest of the four inner “rocky” planets and has a little stronger hold on the light weight gaseous molecules as a result. The lightest of them are mose likely to fly off into space unless they are chemically combined with other elements.

The video above gives a good sense of what blasts our inner planets day in and day out. When the winds are particularly intense they produce northern and southern lights. When there is a particulary explosive event that is aimed directly at the Earth the consequences can interfere or even knock out communication systems. In one particulary vigorous such occasion that took place when electronic communications was limited to telegraphy world-wide communication was hit hard. It took place in 1859, on the eve of the Civil War, and was called the Carrington Event.

How such an event would affect our space stations or the astronauts within is unclear to me. We are discovering that being in outer space for long periods is not healthy for astronauts – at least in our current flimsy space craft. Better to stay on Earth for a long life.


One of my latest sources of information and a highly visual one is Pinterest. On it a few months ago I found this arresting illustration showing Earth with its ocean and atmosphere congealed into spheres representing the non solid components of the planet:

I have always been interested in science beginning with dinosaurs and seashells. As a second grader I reconciled religion and science by determining that Adam and Eve were cavemen. The trouble is that I eventually concluded that Adam and Eve’s eariest ancestors were single celled organisms. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, is, is…..Wrong.

The message I take from this illustration is the fragility of our planet’s zone of habitability. Why are we not like Venus or Mars? Well, yes its partly our being in the goldilocks zone of not too hot and not too cold but there is much more to it. We have a Moon that was likely created by a massive collision four billion years ago. That collision and/or the Moon’s constant tidal influence seems to have given us an active interior which in turn has given us the magnetosphere which keeps killer cosmic rays [Correction – Earth’s magnetism keeps the solar wind, not cosmic rays, from stripping away our atmosphere] from ravaging life on Earth. Without this guide for compases our ocean would probably have been blown away into space as were the oceans of Mars. Perhaps those oceans now coat the comets in the Oort Cloud.

I’ve read many articles on how unlikely the Earth we live on is. At the same time I am inundated with news stories about how a massive human population is undermining the Earth’s livibility. But we only have Earth. I uploaded another space related post on just how remote we are from everywhere else in the Milky Way. It won’t be generations before we can get to other potentially habitable planets. Rather, it will be a hundred generations and possibly tens of hundreds of generations. And that doesn’t even begin to account for the time it will take to “terraform” other planets into zones where we can grow bacteria, insects, fish, palm trees let alone humans.

In the next couple of generations we will need to experiment by sending poor copies of Earth’s environment into our own solar system. Each such vessel will have to take a tiny grain of Earth with it like soup stock or starter dough. They will not be able to carry the zillions of lifeforms on Earth that keep our planet alive but they will have many generations to perfect their zoologies before we dare escape the Sun. In the meantime we must begin working overtime to give the remaining non-human part of Earth some space not to disappear. I love EO Wilson’s suggestion that we keep half of Earth for everything else. Developers will hate that idea and won’t rest until we humans can walk accross the oceans on all the floating garbage we let loose from our coastlines.

I talk about rejoining the Republican Party and bringing some sensibility back to it but the often flakey Green Party might be a better fit for me as I blunder into old age. It might welcome me hey, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican as well as the founder of our National Parks.

I always liked Joni Mitchel’s song Big Yellow Taxi:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem ’em
No no no
Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey farmer farmer
Put away the DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey, now they paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Why not?
Listenin’ late…

A lot of the Earth that I knew as a child is gone. Even more of the Earth that existed when my Father was a child is gone not to mention what existed when his Father was young.

I’d like more than parking lots left for my Grandchildren.

What the City Council giveth they can taketh away

The banner headline in yesterday’s DNT trumpeted the City’s brave attempt at transparency by replacing “street fees” from Duluth utility bills with honest to john property taxes. This was in anticipation of the Courts jumping in and forcing us to make the change…….well no matter the motivation, transparency is good.

But then the story explains that the City will tripple the “franchise fee” on Minnesota Power from one million to three million dollars. Those are disguised taxes too. Transparency only goes so far.

Yeah, I’m no fan of Bill Clinton

I think this is a riposte from my Buddy.

From: [Your Buddy]
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2016 7:21 AM
To: Harry Welty
Subject: Photos Show Bill Clinton and Donald Trump Hanging Out


Not even The Donald and The Big He are always tribal.

Your Buddy

And I’ll acknowledge that this tidbit is worth acknowledging. In fact, today’s Trib has dueling viewpoints on what a First Husband Bill ought to look like here and here. I didn’t read them but I have a lot of strong thoughts where William Jefferson Clinton is concerned.

Oh he’s a rascal all right but I’m not amused or besotted by his charm. I devoted one of my best snow scultures to him right after he was first elected and said nice things about him. I even pissed off untold numbers of Ross Perot supporters I’d been working with when I decided Perot wasn’t up to the Presidency and hopped off his bandwagon.

I’m sure if you type Bill Clinton into my search engine you will find a couple disparaging remarks I’ve made about him. In my emails to my Buddy I passed on my suspicion that our ex President raped a woman while he was Arkansas’s Attorney General. A few years ago reading my favorite blogger Andrew Sullivan I was directed to a story suggesting that both Trump and Clinton hobbed nobbed together on some Multimillionaire’s Caribbean island where underaged girls were available.

If my Buddy thinks my disgust with Bill Clinton’s mores will put me off of Hillary he’s wrong. Don’t get me wrong. They put me off but people are endlessly fascinating. Clinton was a competent President and I believed him years ago when he said Hillary was even smarter than he is – just not as publically charming and facile.

Hillary’s sins were often petty as for instance when she told reporters that she wanted to do more than bake cookies. As a house husband myself when she said this I was mortally wounded but I got over it. Yeah, she didn’t make evidence on Whitewater easily available and she and Bill obviously bent the rules to make ends meet and she turned a blind eye to his infidelities. For Republicans, as I told my Buddy, the primary sin of the Clintons was acting like Republican policy makers. That undermined the whole GOP schtick about bleeding heart liberals bankrupting America. He reformed Welfare for God’s sakes! Who did he think he was? Ronald Reagan!

I’ve also told my Buddy many times that I was tired of the Clintons and wanted them to just go away. Ditto the Bushes although Donald Trump makes all the Bush’s look like saints by comparison. I stopped talking to my wife about Hillary. She was wounded eight years ago when I was rooting for Barack Obama and disparaging Hillary. My wife can’t help but see a lot of dyspeptic mysogyny in the way Hillary has been treated and Claudia identifies with it. Claudia’s elementary school teacher wouldn’t let her give a little speech about her desire to be a space scientist. She was told to give a speech about being a nurse or a teacher. Claudia refused to give the speech her teacher wanted. Its high time for a competent woman to be President of the United States and no one in our benighted age is as smart as Hillary Clinton like her or not.

Even in 2008 I had to give Hillary credit for having earned a shot at the Presidency. She was no longer a First Lady but a United States Senator from the Empire State – New York. All her Republican Senate colleagues made it clear that she was a hard worker and whip smart.

The great irony of the 2008 campaign was that the pundits of the GOP, especially Rush Limbaugh, said wonderful things about Barack Obama to stick it to Hillary who had been their bogey woman for years. The political calculation was crude and obvious. If the Democrats were stoopid enough to nominate a “N” America wouldn’t elect him to the Presidency and their Republican candidate would win the day despite a disaserous end to the George W Bush Presidency. America fooled them.

For the past few years I’ve told Claudia that Hillary had a shot at the Presidency. She kept tellling me it was too late – Hillary was too old. I wasn’t really eager to have Hillary be the candidate and I’m still tired of the Clintons. I’ll probably feel that way in 2020 if Hillary runs for reelection – if she gets past voters who consider her a “B.” But I am finding myself rooting for her to beat the Dickens out of Republicans who have made governmental dysfunction their calling card. They couldn’t stand that ugly word “compromise” any more than they could stand my being a RINO after they took over my party and threw out old liturgy.

I always sympathized with the Republicans of my Grandfather’s Era having to put up with the sainted Franklin Roosevelt and enduring his four successive Presidential wins. But I don’t blame the voters of either 1940 or 1944 for sensing that changing a horse in midstream during the world war was a bad idea. I won’t blame voters this year if they decide an insecure man who makes fifth graders sound smart by his repetitive use of two sylable words is not quite the brilliant fellow he constantly tells us he is. Frankly, I’m in awe of Hillary Clinton, both Clinton’s really, for their tenacity, durability, intrigue and ultimate success. By contrast Donald Trump is a dumb-as-a-stump chump who, treats his customers with W.C.Field’s disdain, “Never give a sucker an even break,” or P.T. Barnum’s guile, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” As for his panache? I’m afraid its only some rainbow sherbert he dripped on his Gucci sports coat.

That’s what people voting for Donald Trump should expect – a nonexistant degree from Trump University. As the Donald might say: that would be a horrible, horrible, horrible, thing. Ooh. that’s a three sylable word. I’m impressed, impressed, impressed.

BTW: I decided there was more work to do on Bill Clinton after I busted him. This was the finished product:

Clinton, like Trump, could toot his own horn.

Sully two

After I went to bed last night something popped in my head that made me question Eastwood’s motives for making the movie Sully. Did Eastwood want to throw darts at incompetent, uncaring big government as some sort of message for the American electorate? The movie makes much of the suspicion and hostility of the NTSB in investigating whether Sully didn’t have other safer and prescribed alternatives to landing in the North River.

My quick answer after doing a little googling is No. I don’t think so.

I base this on this story from the Denver Post about what the real Sully thought of Eastwood’s movie and the fact that this movie started life well before Donald Trump was imagined as anything other than a media celebrity with the tag line “Your fired” attached to his reputation.

According to the article Eastwood when considering the story wondered who the antagonist could be in a five minute miracle landing. Of course, as the screenplay made clear to Eastwood, it had to be the officials second guessing Sullivan’s hasty decision.

I don’t know if Eastwood ramped up their overbearing a notch or not but Sullivan explains that his heartbeat was still racing months after his landing and his appearace of calm, by the books, confidence. And Sullivan bears no ill will to the NTSB which according to the movie he had to set straight on the realities he faced in the cockpit. In fact, as the movie makes clear, he was in the process of transistioning after retirement to safety consultantcy – just what the National Transportation Safety Board is all about. Its their duty to unearth the facts after tragedies no matter the tender emotions of the victims.

All this does is confirm my first judgement of the movie. I give it four stars.


Claudia suggested a movie today. She had finished her homework and wanted a change of pace. I gave up the idea of cleaning up my office. (Tough decision that) and looked up what movies were in town. I saw that Eastwood’s Sully was here and checked Rotten Tomatoes to see how the critics and audience rated it. 84% approval is usually a tip off for a good movie. I did note one sour critique, to wit:

Sully is fascinating as a study of Eastwood’s persecution complex, his fear that not everyone in the world adequately worships an accomplished white man.

I once panned Clint Eastwood for his performance at the 2012 GOP National Presidential Nominating Convention. It ticked me off as much as it appalled Mitt Romney who is frankly a nice guy. Its pretty tame stuff by Donald Trump’s standards and it obviously still sticks in some people’s craw today.

We went and enjoyed the movie very much. Ironically Sully’s demeanor reminded me of Barack “No drama” Obama’s demeanor. I don’t care if an old white guy does something heroic and Eastwood did him justice. I think we should all celebrate a fine movie.

I was about to write that as far as I knew Eastwood hadn’t said anything good about Trump then I thought better of it. Easy enough to Google. Well, I guess Clint still has it in for President No Drama. Pity that.

My Buddy and I quibble with each other

From: [Your Buddy]

Sent: Fri, 9 Sep 2016 14:20:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Mongering, Fish, War, Clinton, take your pick |

By your saying that Hillary doesn’t scare the shit out of you or offend your intelligence, are you implying that Trump does? Oh, boy. There is shit, and there is shit. The tragic American military venture in Vietnam began with Kennedy, continued with Johnson, and eventually ended with Nixon. More than 50,000 American military lives were lost, and presumably many more Vietnamese lives were lost; and for what? Senator Hillary voted to authorize President Bush to invade Iraq. Do you suppose that Trump would do anything to scare you more, or to more offend your intelligence, than what any of the aforementioned persons other than Trump have done?

Talk is cheap, Harry — for Hillary, for Trump, for Dick Morris, and for you.

If you bet your farm that Hillary will be elected, that won’t scare me; but I think that that would be foolish. Blabber on.

To which I replied:


There aren’t many folks I could vote for who voted against the Iraq War. Paul Wellstone is about it. His death was a great loss to an important national debate. BTW. Obama opposed the war. As I recall you weren’t too impressed with him. Fat lot of good his being prescient did for him where you were concerned.

Although he has lied and denied it even Trump supported the war. Hell, I did too having bought into the argument that we ought to help bring democracy to the Middle East. Damn me. As I’ve written many a time when I was twelve my Grandfather told me the worst mistake of his life was to vote for a Democrat (Woody Wilson) because he promised to keep us out of war. Then Woody laid the foundation for today’s neocons with the slogan. “Make the World safe for Democracy.” Sadly that line of thinking was always popular with southern democrats (who only objected to the democracy part where black voter registration was concerned) and they brought it into the GOP when Barry Goldwater welcomed them into the party.

I’ll admit that Senator Clinton voted for the war and in doing so demonstrated sheep-like behavior for an old Vietnam War protester. That said, she simply demonstrates a lot more sober mindedness than Trump,

Talk is cheap. My blog only costs me $66 a quarter. Reading it is even cheaper. Lucky you.


Ten years ago when my wife was helping clean out her Uncle’s farmhouse she encountered this picture of Woodrow Wilson that had been awarded to the family by the long defunct Farmer’s Wife magazine headquartered in St. Paul. I mischieviously enjoyed cleaning it up and hanging it up in my office as a bit of a memorial to my Grandfather’s worst mistake. Today I have it hanging in our basement laundry room. I’m sure my grandfather would approve his demotion.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."