Rainy Quito From The Hilton


Quito is at 9000 feet attitude and it does rain. Took a tour this morning and discovered the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, the most beautiful and opulent church I’ve ever seen. (YouTube here
Magnificent paintings and sculpture, the latter covered in gold leaf extracted from the hills around here. The church was built over a 160 year period ending in 1765.
This is a cathedral covered in gold!!! The 17th century was very good in some contexts. Of course, no photos there as flash may dim the gold. 
More later, but I do love traveling in Latin America.

Thank God the South Didn’t Win the Civil War

In 1948, or so the legend has it, the Major League Baseball Winter meetings were held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was because there were two minor league teams in the community, the Millers in Minneapolis, and the Saints, in St. Paul. The headquarters was the original Radisson Hotel on 7th Street near Hennepin Avenue.

The meeting took place in early December and attracted executives from Major League and Minor League teams who were accompanied by sports writers and other reporters.   As occurs in Minneapolis at that time of the year, a polar vortex did what polar vortexes do, that is dump sub=zero weather on the city. With the morning air a brisk -20, a writer from Georgia stepped out of the hotel onto 7th Street, and, as he gasped for breath after inhaling the arctic blast, was heard to exclaim, “Thank God the South didn’t win the Civil War or we might of had to occupy this place.”  

I heard this story from a fellow who claimed to be right there. 

Who was Fahrenheit and What Did He Do?

With this sudden blast of arctic air over the midwest, I was wondering who this fellow Fahreheit was and what he did.

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736) was a noted member of the Royal Society as a scientist and builder of scientific instruments. In 1714, he used his glass blowing skills to make a thermometer using meercury to register temperature changes. Prior to this, alcohol was used with a noted lack of accuracy and no agreed upon scale, like 60 for boiling and 7.5 for freezing, or whatever.

Fahrenheit established a scale by first submersing his thermometer in a slurry of salt, ice and water. The temperature of this super cold mixture was set as 0 degrees.  He then observed the point at which a thin film of ice formed on water and set that as +32 degrees and added 180 degrees to that for the observed boiling point of water or +212 degrees.  It still isn’t crystal clear, but that’s what he did. 

Fahrenheit had suggested that the human body would be 100 degrees, but that just missed at +98.6 degrees. 

Now, let us wonder at why he couldn’t just set Zero as the freezing point of water and use any number for the boiling point, and  this Celsius stuff wouldn’t have arisen. I still can’t tell if it is hot or cold in Toronto, although I was told that -40 is the same on both scales.

Colgate Beats Number One Minnesota in the Mariucci Classic

I just finished watching the Colgate Raiders beat the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in a hockey shoot-out. The regular game score was 2-2 but ‘gate won the shoot-out 2-1. It plays Ferris State for the Championship tomorrow afternoon.  My daughter, Caroline, is a Colgate Junior and is now celebrating this victory at Buffalo Wild Wings near the arena. I am thankful that her big sister, Natalie, is also there.

This was a part of the Mariucci Classic tournament that has some of the nation’s best teams. Minnesota wanted very badly to win this tourney. The last tournament I saw involving the U was the Dairy Queen Classic last March at the Metrodome. In the first game there, Dartmouth beat the U 10-1. I mentioned that just because I love to mention that.  Cheers

“Marijuana Use Dulls The Mind,” Opinion from the StarTribune

This morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune has an opinion letter from Dan DeWitt, a writer for the Tampa Bay Times, that says “Marijuana Use Dulls the Mind.” A link appears Here. In his article, he refers to a 2008 article by Washington Post writer Neil Howe who referred to the “Dumbest Generation,” (A book title) that attributes low SAT test scores to cell phone use, high divorce rates, and etc. DeWitt says the cause is “one activity in which my age group achieved historically high marks-marijuana use.” He goes on to describe the rampant use of pot among his age group during that period.

When I read this opinion piece, I remembered a woman who was a patient at a drug rehab center in 1976. Where most of the patients were there for alcohol, she was there for marijuana. There was then a notion that marijuana was a non-addictive, non-gateway drug that was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. So what was this woman doing in a rehab center for use of such a product. Her story was very interesting.

She told me that mariijuana created a dependence in her that controled her life. That her daily use kept her in a perpetual somnolent state and that she had lost a job over “diminished performance.” She said she pretty much acted normally, was never arrested, had no physical signs of abuse, but she said she had no relationships that were real and that she couldn’t do her job. Marijuana was supposed to have no effect on work and relationships so I asked what the problem was. She said, “I’m an English professor and poet.  I can’t write poetry anymore.” I asked if that was due to pot, she said,” I didn’t think so until a math colleague told me that he was losing his ability to do complex math and he attributed it to his pot use.  I think the same parts of the brain are involved.” She came to treatment because she wanted to get off pot that she said was more subtle and destructive than booze.

As it turned out, she was right and she learned that pot had long term effects that were destructive of long term activities. It was like running a file over the edge of a sharp knife; the knife may still cut, but not well. She could still write, but not well, as her math colleague could still do math, but not well. That may be why DeWitt says that pot use is the cause of low SAT scores for his generation. The SAT tests English and Math.  The long term effects of pot may come from the fact it is stored in body fat, some say in the nerve’s myelin sheath.

We are now seeing a surge in legalization of this dangerous substance.  In wondering why this is, we need only look at the politicians favorite substance, a drug for the people. This was Margaret Mead’s (a famous anthropologist) request that “government develop a drug to allow people to deal with the traumas of modern life and legalize marijuana.”  She said this in 1969, or so, however, dealing with the traumas of modern life is what propels us forward and improves modern life. It is the search for cures, solutions and improvements that solves society’s problems. By legalizing marijuana, we may be giving the “opiate for the people,” (Karl Marx said this in reference to religion.)  that politicians have sought for some time. How can you vote against your drug dealer? Just think about this when the issue of legalizing pot comes up in your state. 

Marijuana dulls the brain as that woman and her math colleague learned so long ago.  It may be that is what we are seeking or our political leaders are seeking for us. It is easy to control a stoned society, but a stoned society does not cure its ills, solve its problems or improve its situation. Think about it.

Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

New Years Day 1863 was the day the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. It took a lot of political courage to do this, and Lincoln was not supported well in the North. Read comment here.
Lincoln and Washington were our greatest presidents for the wisdom, courage and leadership they gave the nation.

The New Jim Crow: Updated with Keon Mangun’s Sentence

This is a reblog of an earlier post entitled “The New Jim Crow.” This update is to inform the reader that Keon Mangun, who sold heroin to dealers who then gave it to a woman 100 miles away was sentenced to 134 months in prison while those who gave the dead woman the drugs got 1 year. Of course, Mangun is black and the other dealers white. I am arguing for balance in the sentences and not leniency for anyone who contributed to this death. The imbalance is the New Jim Crow and this post and the book, authored by Michelle Alexander, is well worth a read.