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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Local politics - jail should be built with record low bond interest rates

Tom's FBI fingerprints in collage - Old Dell PC (top) replaced by HP workstation

PHOTO: (click on photo to enlarge) my scrapbook collage seen in the background of this photo includes a copy of my fingerprints that were taken by the FBI in order to obtain the U.S. Navy's top secret security clearance. (See middle right of collage and previous post Still alive after 'upgrade' to Windows 7 HP Workstation and Dream Color Monitor (1/26/14))

Tours of the existing Corvallis, Oregon Benton County jail are being offered as part of a local political campaign to get voter approval for a new jail. (See newspaper article by Bennett Hall, "Tours offer inside look at jail," gazettetimes.com posted Jul. 28, 2014, which says, "The Benton County Jail was built in 1976, replacing a facility that dated from 1929. It had room for 27 inmates and was intended as a stopgap measure, designed to last only until the state built a system of regional jails.")

Reading the above newspaper article brought back old memories that I shared in a letter to the editor supporting the new jail:

In 1977, Oregon State University administrators directed me to the then new Benton County jail for fingerprinting by the FBI so that I could obtain the U.S. Navy's top secret security clearance required to be employed as a graduate research assistant on my thesis advisor's project concerning digital sonar signal processing.

Amusingly, to enter the jail I had to ring a doorbell on its blank concrete sidewall and was greeted by a surprised jailer asking me why I wanted in!

The jail looked shoddily built, even when it was new.

Delaying construction of a new jail will likely cost taxpayers more money because historically low interest rates are expected to rise on government bonds issued to build it.

Coincidentally, many Corvallis retirees might buy these new-issue bonds to receive double tax-free income that is fairly safe from default.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: After all these years, it finally might be time to build a new jail," Gazette-Times, July 30, 2014, p. A9)

Critics of the new jail like to point out that jail officials have been very secretive concerning how many beds are actually needed. For example, see the letter by C. Hollis Jackson, "Letter: No one has yet offered any real justification for a new jail," gazettetimes.com posted July 24, 2014.

A more liberal and humanitarian perspective was given to support the jail in a letter by Max Mania, "Letter: Tour was an eye-opener about the need for a new county jail," gazettetimes.com posted Jul. 23, 2014.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gender bending OSU student recruits women into science and engineering

VIDEO: gender bending Oregon State University pre-Computer Science Student Savannah Kay Loberger started a summer camp called "Girls Get It" designed to recruit more women students into science and engineering at OSU is featured in a TV news report by Valerie Hurst, "Tired of being only girl on robotics team, Hillsboro girl does something about it," katu.com posted Jul. 8, 2014, viewed on KATU TV news broadcast July 8, 2014 4:48PM.

Fifty years ago, you could probably have counted the number of female students in engineering at Oregon State University with the fingers on one hand, and everyone assumed it was because of rampant sexism in society that expected women to be "barefoot and pregnant" in the kitchen taking care of raising the family.

Over the last 50 years, the women's liberation movement has been successful in bringing parity to most occupations, but not in the science and engineering professions, which are still dominated by men. The percentage of female engineers has risen, but not as much or as quickly as other academic fields. The one exception has been the fairly new discipline of Computer Science where relatively more women have succeeded than in the older engineering disciplines, such as Mechanical Engineering.

The reasons for this gender disparity are not clear because there has been much effort spent by college administrators, professional societies and corporations, such as Hewlett-Packard's college recruiting program that was redesigned decades ago to proactively help females or minority students obtain their college degree and start a successful career.

A foundational postulate of the women's equality movement has always been that all men and women are created equal and neither should be constrained in their choice of profession due to the traditional gender roles defined by society. For example, any man should feel free to become a hairdresser just as any women should feel free to become an auto mechanic.

The assumption has always been that workplace discrimination against women (and even men in a few professions) is only a social construction that can be changed -- and this is a theory that has been bolstered over the last few decades by the rising equality between men and women in many professions that were traditionally segregated by gender.

As a result, it has been politically incorrect for anybody to merely suggest that biological differences between humans might make one person more or less successful in certain occupations.

However, I believe that the gender axis (masculinity to femininity) is an independent variable from the axis of biological sex (male to intersex to female) and it is also independent from the axis of sexual orientation (asexual to homosexual to bisexual to heterosexual).

I am not ashamed to discuss the idea that biology may encourage some people to be attracted to certain professions depending on how butch or fem they are instead of it being related to their biological sex of male or female.

I have evolved to this opinion after decades of watching the gender dynamics of gay people, most of who will insist that they are fully male or female, except for wanting to love somebody of the same-sex. I have also noticed that the gay men, who get the angriest when somebody suggests they are an effeminate queen, are usually the most effeminate acting men and they have been teased about it all their lives about it. Given this sensitivity, I have always been careful not to further traumatize them by letting them know how everybody views them as a nervous nelly swishy hairdresser type.

My point is that gay men prove the idea that biological sex is an independent variable from gender behavior or expression, and the relative success of masculine-acting gay men versus effeminate acting gay men in professions traditionally associated with wither men or women might provide some useful insights for researchers.

My caveat is that what I am talking about are not binary (e.g. yes or no, on or off) variables and they are continuous variables, which makes every human a unique combination of masculine-feminine and gay-straight, but most people like to simplistically pigeonhole everybody into a binary description of being either gay or straight, and either male or female. However, good scientists know that studying continuous statistical variations between groups of humans can yield useful insights and a better understanding of human nature.

For example, it is well accepted that human intelligence can be statistically measured in many different ways to sort people into those who will probably succeed in college and those that might flunk out. However, it is also well known that self-educated individuals, who were cast as being stupid, have gone on to be considered geniuses later in life. Therefore, it would be a mistake to use such statistics to limit anybody, just as it would be to use statistics on masculine-acting individuals, whether male or female, and prevent them from becoming an engineer or auto mechanic.

Instead, I hope that advances in gender identity science will be used to make discoveries that can help everyone, but I realize and accept that this area of research is so controversial that it will take some brave and creative researchers to do make any breakthrough discovery.

Kim Kraemer shown working on a car engine in a newspaper business page story by Mike McCraken, 'Woman mechanic fits in well,' Gazette-Times, Mar. 13, 1980, p. 13

PHOTO: (click photo to enlarge) from 34 years ago, a newspaper article by Mike McCraken, "Woman mechanic fits in well," Gazette-Times, Mar. 12, 1980, p. 13. (See previous post Kim Kraemer auto mechanic 1980 (11/7/09). In the 1970's Kim started as a Mechanical Engineering major at Oregon State University, despite the fact that everyone around her tried to discourage her from trying to enter a "male profession."

UPDATE 7/18/14 -- after I wrote the extemporaneous blog post above on the continuous variable axis of sexual orientation and gender identity, a Portland, Oregon gay newspaper published two, more polished essays on the topic for trans women:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Former OSU professor discusses gay marriage in 1953 and 1963

Cover headline of ONE June 1963

PHOTO: the former Oregon State University Professor W. Dorr Legg moved on after World War II to edit and publish a pioneering research journal, to help establish what he called "homophile," or we call today gay rights, titled ONE magazine, which in 1963 featured the cover headline "Let's push homophile marriage" that included discussion of gay marriage. See Jim Burroway, "The Daily Agenda for Friday, June 20," boxturtlebulletin.com posted Jun. 20, 2014 who gives a good summary of the ONE discussion on gay marriages and a summary of current legal victories. (See previous post Gay marriage discussion in 1953 vs. 1963 and today (12/13/16))

ONE Magazine Aug. 1953 'Homosexual marriage?' cover headline PHOTO: the former Oregon State University Professor W. Dorr Legg moved on after World War II to edit and publish a pioneering research journal, to help establish what he called "homophile," or we call today gay rights, titled ONE magazine, which was ahead of its time when it mentioned the idea of "homosexual marriage" in 1953 long before "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage" became a cause of some gay liberationists in the 1960s. See Jim Burroway, "The Daily Agenda for Friday, June 20," boxturtlebulletin.com posted Jun. 20, 2014 who gives a good summary of the ONE discussion on gay marriages and a summary of current legal victories. (See previous post Gay marriage discussion in 1953 vs. 1963 and today (12/13/16))

See my previous posts and the following links:

Wheelchair accessible Speed Queen Washer Dryer replaces old Maytag stacker

Speed Queen AFN51washerADE41Fdryer installed July 3, 2014

PHOTO: my new wheelchair accessible Speed Queen Stainless Steel Washer Model AFN51F and Speed Queen Stainless Steel Dryer electric version Model ADE41F are both front load machines, with control knobs in the front, so that you do not need to reach over to a back control panel. Fortunately, I am still able to walk and talk, despite what neurologists think I should be having trouble doing based on my fMRI tests, and I don't yet need a wheelchair accessible machine, but since I was replacing my 26 years-old Maytag, I thought it would be wise to plan ahead for likely future need. (See Speed Queen Home Laundry Products accessed May, 2014 and the Speed Queen advertising brochures for the Speed Queen Stainless Steel Washer and Dryer AR08-100 - The Imperial Series Brochure AFN51F, ADE41F/ADG41F (PDF).

Maytag stacker washer dryer built 1988

PHOTO: My old Maytag stacker washer and dryer purchased in 1988, which only required a few minor repairs over the last 26 years -- hopefully my new Speed Queen washer and dryer will provide me with a similar quality experience in terms of reliability and dependability. I originally purchased this Maytag stacker washer and dryer when my employer moved me to the San Francisco Silicon Valley and I had to live in a small condominium, which only had limited space for a laundry room. Although I moved several times since then to full-sized houses, my old Maytag kept working and working so well that I didn't see any reason to replace it even though I had a full-sized laundry room.

User's manuals, installation guides and parts list for the Speed Queen Washer Model AFN51F and Dryer Model ADE41F electric version are listed below:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gay marriage newspaper coverage 1971 vs. 2014 Corvallis Pride event

Corvallis 2014 gay marriage Pride coverage G-T Jun. 29, 2014, p. A1 and A8

PHOTO: front and back pages of local newspaper coverage of the June 2014 Pride month in Corvallis celebrating a court decision legalizing gay marriage in Oregon. See Corvallis Pride 2014 Festival pridecorvallis.org/2014festival/ and newspaper story by Canda Fuqua, "A Celebration of Marriage: Pride in the Park festival celebrates same-sex weddings," Gazette-Times, Jun. 29, 2014, p. A1, A8 published online as "Marriage theme takes off at Corvallis gay pride event". (Also, see previous post Gay marriage boosts Pride turnout in Corvallis, Oregon (6/30/13) about last year Pride event coverage and gay women quoted as wanting to get married in a 1970's newspaper story and previous post Mainstream ignoring US Supreme Court's 1972 gay marriage decision (12/11/12).)

PHOTO: scan of an original cellophane-taped scrapbook clipping of a 1971 newspaper story about the 1970 gay marriage of Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, which led to the first U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage in 1972 -- Bob Protzman, staff writer, "'Gay' Marriage OK Predicted," St. Paul, Minnesota Pioneer Press, Oct. 22, 1971. (See personal blog page by Jack Baker, "Marriage equality was inevitable DFL party demanded equal marriage in 1972," box8661.blogspot.com posted June 13, 2013, edited May 11, 2014, accessed Jun. 29, 21014) I have transcribed below, for me and my blind and low vision readers, the full text of the above newspaper article and also annotated it with my comments in parentheses: (COMMENT: It is telling that an editor made the journalistic decision to add quotes around the word "gay" in the headline, because the story said "gay" was the term preferred by Baker, and the story also used the phrase, "same-sex marriage," which did not become standard usage by newspaper editors until years later when newspapers probably adopted it to sound unbiased when reporting on the politically volatile issue of gay marriage.)

Jack Baker, an admitted homosexual and third-year law student, told the Ramsey County (Minnesota) Bar Association (a professional group of lawyers) Thursday he is confident same-sex marriages will be legalized in the United States. (COMMENT: it was common journalistic practice to use the criminal reporter's term "admitted" to avoid a libel lawsuit and this usage was also probably encouraged by the fact homosexual acts were criminal in most states.)

Baker, whose invitation to speak to the organization at its monthly luncheon in the St. Paul Athletic Club stirred some criticism from members, began his talk by saying what a pleasure it was for him to be able to speak to the Bar Association. (COMMENT: ironically, the Athletic Club was a place that some gay men frequently cruised for sex partners amongst the rich and powerful men who regularly networked and struck business deals in the club.)

He added, "Especially since the bar put extreme pressure on the University of Minnesota law school two years ago to refuse to allow me to enroll. (COMMENT: gay men were routinely barred from military service and discriminated against under the assumption they would engage in then illegal homosexual sodomy acts.)

This comment drew no response from the 96 or so lawyers and their friends at the luncheon -- a turnout which program committee chairman Bert McKay said was "average."

McKay said he had "heard from some lawyers that some lawyers" were complaining that Baker was invited to speak at the luncheon. He said no complaints were made directly to him or to his knowledge anyone else on the program committee.

Baker, 29, Minnesota Student Association president (COMMENT" commonly called the University of Minnesota student body president) explained his recent legal actions, which have included his being adopted by, then married to James McConnell, also 29. (COMMENT: born circa 1941 or 1942 -- age 72 or 73 in 2014)

He told the lawyers he thinks that same-sex marriages, or marriages between homosexuals, or "gay" people (the term he prefers), are not only authorized by the U.S. Constitution, but are also mandatory.

"I am convinced," he said, "that same-sex marriages will be legalized in the United States." He did not predict when this might occur.

Last week, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that state law prohibits marriage between persons of the same-sex. (COMMENT: the decision did not order his legally performed marriage to be annulled.)

Baker said he does not believe the decision invalidates his marriage. He said the decision will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. "I think we have a good case and will win it," he said. (COMMENT: in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-sentence ruling , which essentially left the definition of marriage to state law, and the court did not issue any order annulling Baker's legally performed marriage under a Minnesota law that did not specify gender.)

In a second court case, this one involving only McConnell, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld this week the right of the University of Minnesota to refuse a librarian job to an admitted homosexual. "That verdict probably will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, also, Baker said. (COMMENT: McConnell was forced to take job with another public library system, where he had a long and successful career until he retired.)

Baker discussed this and his lawyers' legal positions about same-sex marriages. In a question-and-answer session following his talk, he said the gay movement and women's liberation movement have much in common. (COMMENT: Women liberationists were central to the founding of gay activist groups, including the one at Oregon State University.)

Both groups want to knock down the artificial roles assigned to men and women, to establish that men and women are people and equal in all respects -- except for the "plumbing," he said.

He said, in answer to questions, that he does not believe there has been any increase in the number of homosexuals in recent years, but that because of increased activism by some gay people, many others "are coming out of the closet." (COMMENT: A common fear back then was that one could be made gay by being molested by a homosexual pervert and gay liberationists were actively using "coming out" as a political strategy.)

He estimated that there are 70 active gay people at the University of Minnesota, "There are many friends of gay people," he said. (COMMENT: I was one of 50,000 students at the U of M at this time and I concur with his estimate based on the number of people you would see at bars, meetings and rallies. At the time, gay activists would often say the "Kinsey Report" said that 10 percent of all people are gay, an oversimplification of the data that only wasted time arguing about the accuracy of the data instead of the fact that all men should be treated equally under the law.)-

(Quoted from Bob Protzman, staff writer, "'Gay' Marriage OK Predicted," St. Paul, Minnesota Pioneer Press, Oct. 22, 1971)

Photo of story about gay women on page 7 of Jan. 9, 1976 Corvallis Gazette-Times.

PHOTO: Jan. 9, 1976 feature article by Anne Wood, "Gay women: Coming out of the closet in Corvallis, 'Now I want to marry this woman,'" on p. 7-8 of Corvallis Gazette-Times. One of the women profiled in the article came out in a letter to the editor of her student newspaper and she was active in early gay women's groups at Oregon State University. (See previous post Gay 1976 newspaper controversy (5/3/06))

Baker et al. v. Nelson, United States Reports, Volume 409, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, October Term, 1972, Oct. 10, 1972 'dismissed for want of a substantial federal question.'

PHOTO: An original printed bound copy of first U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, which was one-sentence long, is available for viewing in the OSU Valley library. The first gay marriage case was initiated by University of Minnesota law student Jack Baker in and his lover Michael McConnell in 1970 after they noticed that Minnesota State law did not specify the gender of married couples and they got married: Baker et al. v. Nelson, Oct. 10, 1972, "United States Reports, Volume 409, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court, October Term, 1972," U.S. Government Printing Office, 1974, p. 810. (See previous posts Mainstream ignoring US Supreme Court's 1972 gay marriage decision (12/11/12), Baker v. Nelson 1972 Supreme Court order on gay marriage (7/22/09), Arthur Leonard CA Prop 8 appeal still citing Jack Baker gay marriage case (8/3/12) and (NY Constitutional law Professor) Arthur S. Leonard on Baker v Nelson gay marriage case (7/28/09))

See my previous posts and other links of interest:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Anti-gay Governor challenged by conservative business show host

VIDEO: Conservative TV business channel host Joe Kernen on CNBC's Squawk Box challenged the Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry on why he supports the anti-gay policies of the Republican Party -- aired live on June 16, 2014 at 5:30AM Pacific Time, 8:30AM on Wall Street -- to see the video and to read a text transcript, see Alexandra Bolles, "VIDEO: CNBC educates Gov. Rick Perry on the fact that gay people cannot be 'changed'," glaad.org posted Jun. 16, 2014. I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up this morning, June 16, 2014 at 5:30AM Pacific Time (8:30AM on Wall Street) to hear the predictably conservative, pro-business, pro-Republican, and pro-Tea Party anchor Joe Kernen on CNBC's Squawk Box challenging the Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry on why he is supporting the anti-gay policies of the Republican Party that are dividing people out of the Party, such as with Perry's anti-gay marriage views and his belief in ex-gays -- the idea that gay people can choose to be straight. Rightwing host Joe kernen directly asked Gov. Perry why he thought heterosexuals could become homosexuals and why he thought gays could become ex-gay or choose to be straight when the major psychological groups agree that such therapy is unethical. Governor Perry answered by only repeating his mantra on the 10th Amendment saying that the states should decide gay marriage instead of a central government. Gov. Perry boasted that 70 percent of Texans and voters in many more "Red States" wanted to recognize only marriages between one man and one woman. When the CNBC host asked if Texas would respect the marriages performed in other states, Perry only said that he neither condoned nor condemned the decisions made by other states, but did not say if Texas would legally recognize these marriages, which Texas law currently forbids. The reason I was so pleasantly surprised to see this interview is because Joe Kernen and his cohost and Tea Party cheerleader Rick Santelli are so rightwing and into the "everyman for himself" type of Republicanism that both of them have become hard for me to listen to, but I have forced myself to watch the start of their show every day only because I want to hear what Wall Street is saying before the market opens each day.

Local newspaper moves to old building with a leaky roof

PHOTO: Google map of where the local newspaper Gazette-Times offices moved to 1835 N.W. Circle Blvd. Corvallis Oregon in June 2014. See "Here's how to reach the Gazette-Times this week while we move," gazettetimes.com posted Jun. 4, 2014 and Staff, "G-T moves to Circle Boulevard offices," gazettetimes.com posted Jun. 9, 2014.

A current topic of research and discussion in engineering journals addresses the decaying of America's aging infrastructure by proposing how existing public policies to ensure public safety should be updated in the 21st Century. The need for doing this has risen because during the post-World War II building boom in America building codes and enforcement policies were properly focused largely on new construction, which has proven to be an efficient and effective way to reduce the possibility for injury or death, due to fires, electrocutions, building collapses, by slowly over time making the majority of structures in America meet modern building standards.

However, as new construction has slowed down and the average age of buildings in America has increased, the issue of poor maintenance has become a bigger concern because the only incentive for structure owners to prevent injuries is their fear of losing a liability lawsuit or of being shunned by the community or marketplace.

The motivation for structure owners to reduce their personal liability has diminished because more and more real estate is owned by anonymous limited liability corporations and real estate investment trusts (known as a REIT) that can go bankrupt and legally shift liability risks to insurance companies and the public.

The experience of my local newspaper editor dealing with local landlords because his corporate owner asked him to move into smaller offices, prompted me to write the following letter to the editor:

The Gazette-Times' offices are moving into the same commercial building complex where a restaurant owner had to hang plastic sheets from the ceiling to catch water drips from a leaky roof his landlord either refused to or was unable to fix.

Skillful property managers profit from delaying building maintenance.

I worry that public policies for building inspections might allow structural damage, such as corrosion or dry rot, to be missed in America's aging infrastructure, which could lead to a building collapse and the loss of life.

Thomas Kraemer, Corvallis

Editor's note: The roof is undergoing repair at the new Gazette-Times office at 1835 N.W. Circle Blvd.

(Quoted fromThomas Kraemer, "Letter: Building inspection policies should raise safety concerns," azettetimes.com posted Jun. 12, 2014)

It is rare for an editor's comment to be appended to a letter as above, but in this case it confirmed my speculation that roof repairs were needed, which had not been mentioned in the newspaper before I submitted my letter, perhaps because the newspaper did not want to pick a public fight with their new landlord.

I was also pleasantly surprised when I received a rare and personal email from the editor, especially given he was busy in the middle of moving, thanking me for my letter submission and giving me his description of the bad experiences the G-T had dealing with local landlords -- I am sure he didn't want to say anything libelous or slanderous because I double-checked my letter for any libel before I submitted it!

I also found it interesting that one of the newspaper articles said the number of employees at the newspaper shrunk from 100 in 1970 to about 25 in 2014 -- given this fact and the number of pages printed today and the percentage of advertising, one could calculate a good estimate of the revenue and profits of this real newspaper today -- it looks to me like the old-fashioned newspaper is nowhere near going out of business in the Internet Age as many pundits have predicted. Most of the staff reductions are easily explained by productivity improvements, if you don't believe email has taken it all away. (See Steve Lundeberg,"Sex, race and other topics from the inbox," Gazette-Times, Sunday, Jun. 15, 2014 the Albany editor humorously describes how the productivity improvements in the Internet Age for producing newspapers has been cancelled out by the "few hundred emails to deal with every day." and Mike McInally, "Think Too Much: A tip of the hat to an old friend," Gazette-Times, Sunday, Jun. 15, 2014)