What does science have to say about man’s tendency to violence? That is the subject of the latest episode of PBS’s NOVA program. Surprisingly, someone has found a way to quantify episodes of violence throughout history by statistical analysis of writings and make a very convincing case that, despite two world wars, violence is actually on the wane.  Needless to say, however, one of several individuals through technology now has the power to end human life as we know it.  All the more important, I submit, that we strive to consider this knowledge in crafting political checks and balances.

Given the fraught times we live in, I am finding this fascinating. Stephen Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and intellectual, is prominently featured. I commend this program to all my readers who, like myself, continue to puzzle over the meaning of life and human motivations.

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Odd thoughts go through my head:

Woodrow Wilson’s enemy was the Kaiser
Herbert Hoover’s enemy was economics
FDR’s enemies were the axis powers
HST’s enemy was communism
Ike’s enemy was the USSR
LBJ’s enemy was arrogance
Nixon’s enemy was himself
Carter’s enemy was micromanagement
Reagan’s enemy was the USSR
Bush I’s enemy was candor
Clinton’s enemy was testosterone
Bush II’s enemy was impetuosity
Obama’s enemy was the GOP
Trump’s enemy is democracy

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 417

A Frank Angle’s OITS posts are always thought-provoking. This one was particularly so for me because of its link to “ranked-choice voting”, and a fascinating link about the speed of light. Enjoy!

A Frank Angle

Like much of the country, winter has arrived in Cincinnati earlier than normal – and with prolonged temperatures delivering new daily records. Brrrrrrrr ….

James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is next to take the stage for a weekend concert. Schedule: Next Saturday, 23rd November 1:00 AM (Eastern US)

I continue to enjoy going through my blog closet. On the other hand, that cupboard is on the way to being bare.

I had my first grapefruit of the new season. With still a bit of bitterness that sweeter grapefruits do not have, I’ll try again after in two weeks.

By the time 2020 starts, and era will end – the last Sears store in Cincinnati will close. Just think – they could have been the Amazon of today before Amazon was Amazon.

While crushing their most recent opponent, the Benevolent Impalers (8-2) are in a 3-way tie for first place…

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After stewing all week over the scene in Washington I decided to write an op-ed letter to send to our local newspaper, the Joplin Globe.  I don’t know if they will have room for it this Sunday, but anyhow, here it is:

Today I heard GOP chairman Grassley accuse Democrats of being “monstrous” in their opposition to nominee Kavanaugh. Since November 2016 I’ve voted Democrat and I don’t feel that believing the following makes me a monster:

• Government should help people and solve problems.
• Keynesian economics makes sense and stimulus funds are a remedy for recessions.
• Government ought not promote any religion over another, but treat all equally.
• Capital punishment does little to deter crime and is more expensive than life sentences.
• A woman ought to have control of her own body and has a right to the same dignity afforded a man.
• I have a right to own guns (I do) but not machine guns, bazookas or surface-to-air missiles.
• What goes on in bedrooms by mutually consenting adults is none of the government’s business.
• Environmental programs are needed to keep the planet livable for everyone.

Relative to Senator Grassley’s charge, he and the GOP should recognize that judge Kavanaugh voluntarily entered the profession of politics knowing its nature (judges are elected) and that failing to meet the standards for a Supreme Court lifetime appointment is hardly shameful. The hearing was not a trial but rather a job interview. To take criticism and background interviews as personal attacks is to mischaracterize them. His family was not “destroyed” in the process. His angry performance is evidence to me that he lacks the detachment, political impartiality and temperament for the job. He’s a good man but just not the right man.

How can we begin to heal the terrible partisan divide in our country? I have a suggestion: ranked choice voting, a.k.a. instant runoff voting, in primaries. (You can look it up.) It is designed to favor moderates over extremists. Maine will become the first state to use it next Tuesday, 9 October.

Jim Wheeler




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‘Batboy’ Jake a big hit at the ballpark

Reblogged from Delightful!!


Here’s a burst of sunshine for your weekend: Jake the Diamond Dog. No politics here, unless maybe you don’t like dogs. (I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs.)

Come on now, everybody smile!

I borrowed this from Ronni Bennett’s Time Goes By. I don’t think she’ll mind sharing the sunshine.

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Heroes and Cowards

As yet I have read nothing but scorn and condemnation for Florida deputy Scot Peterson, leading me to wonder whether there is any middle ground between hero and coward in his case. An early account mentioned that he had a long exemplary record prior to the mass shooting that left 17 dead.

Mr. Peterson was armed with a pistol. He says he thought the shooting was external to the building during a crucial four minutes during which his boss says he could have possibly saved lives. Even if this is not true, one might consider the situation he was up against, a notoriously inaccurate weapon with a 5, 6 or 9 bullet magazine against a semiautomatic rifle capable of spraying bullets, high-velocity and possibly armor-piercing, at 60 to 90 rounds a minute.

There are good reasons for SWAT protocols, the team approach, the armor, the deescalation communication attempts. An assailant will always have the advantage of foresight and planning, e.g., the pulling of the fire alarm in the Parkland shooting and the blending in with the fleeing students. Had Peterson thought about this situation ahead of time, and surely he had because of the commonality of mass shooting now, he must have considered the possibility of wounding or killing an innocent in the melee. He was no youth and and he would know this would be a tough thing to live with.

Heroism is highly revered in our culture, but the real thing is rare. Only six Medals of Honor have been awarded since 9/11 and only 472 in WW II. Since Pearl Harbor, 60% were awarded posthumously. The actions that merit this are usually spontaneous and derive from total selfless commitment to one’s comrades. I submit that while this is highly laudable, it ought to be the epitome of what is expected and not what is demanded of all. Men are not taught to fall on live grenades. There is good reason why the most effective military recruits are the very young and it’s not just physical vigor. Reality sets in with age. Congress, famously, has almost no personal experience with such situations.

I debated for a while whether I even ought to post these thoughts for we are culturally conditioned to accept nothing less than perfection from military and police ideals. Real life is much more messy. I will be interested in your reactions, particularly as they pertain to the gun control issues. I understand that deputies in Broward County will now carry semiautomatic long guns.  This is logical, given that these weapons are so easy to acquire.

When I was in the Navy I saw police in the Philippines patrolling the streets with machine guns. We are becoming much like them.

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Uncomfortable Truth

Thanks to a marvelous post by Duane Graham recently, a small group of subscribers had a


very interesting discussion on the concept of free will.  Whether such a thing actually exists will probably never be proven, but the politics of the 21st century certainly do not seem to support its existence.  Humanity, led by the United States government, seems headed down a very dark road that diverges from its founding principles.  Evidence of this is an essay by a West Point graduate reflecting on his involvement in the War on Terror in Afghanistan.  It is a remarkable piece of truth-telling, and it is likely not what you first assume.  Facing truth with an open mind can be very uncomfortable.  Here is how it begins:

Born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, a former businessman who had helped run companies into the ground, he was widely considered ill-prepared for the presidency, out of his depth, a lightweight in a heavyweight world. Still, having won the Republican nomination and then a uniquely contested election, once in the Oval Office he proved to have a striking inclination for backing extreme acts and seemingly no compunctions when it came to promoting torture, politicizing the Justice Department, or kidnapping terror suspects (the innocent as well as the guilty) anywhere on Earth.  He was determined to fill Guantanamo to the brim, more than ready to loose the U.S. military and American air power across the Greater Middle East, pleased to see that military and the CIA experiment with powerful new weaponry, perfectly willing to kill civilians in significant numbers without mercy, prone to ramping up America’s wars, ready to give the Pentagon whatever it needed (and more), eager to take down Iran and for that matter North Korea, and quite willing to put the fate of his foreign policy in the hands of “his” special general.

Who’s he talking about?  Probably not who you think.  Follow the link to find out.


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