Quick Hits

The Middle Eastern chaos continues.

To the “disenfranchised” failures of the world, the US is the 1%, and just as in the US there is anger and resentment against wealth and success, so too does it exist worldwide.

These are just “Occupy Wall Street” people reinforced with religious fervor and grenade launchers, who swim in an environment of fellow discontents who believe the rich US got rich by plundering the poor.

The echoes of our domestic debate ring large.

————————————————

Interesting article in The Daily about the dangers of longboard skateboards, which it seems, are a bit more dangerous than regular skateboards.

We seek a risk-free society, but then the natural selection process is overridden

Anything less than earning a Darwin Award is a learning experience., and now we only lose the dumbest of the dumb.

Everyone does not deserve to live regardless of how stupid they are. Judging the odds carefully is a skill. Before I did some stupid things in my life, I did dry runs to judge the odds, where that was possible. (Licensed racing driver, licensed scuba, Licensed Concealed Weapons, Licensed pilot, mountain climbing, submarines…etc.)

It makes one wonder how we lived before banned trans-fat and Big Gulp drinks!)

To be eligible for a Darwin Award, one must die stupidly without contributing to the gene pool, like the young Californian who, ignoring signage, straddled a bl;ow-hole on the Hawaiian coast, was blown 50 feet in the air and dropped unceremoniously into the rocks a hundred feet below! (His mother sued the state of  Hawaii, but having had a child she was not eligible for a Darwin Award…
———————————————————

There is an article in The Daily about a school district in Central Texas which must share its increased income from property taxes with other less fortunate school districts, in an effort to equalize school spending.

That district has been considered “poor” for 38 years, and just in the past two years, upon the institution of “fracking” in nearby oil and gas wells, has seen its property tax base more than quadruple!

Now, without a grace period of a few years to upgrade from decades of neglect, they must “share.”

We all must share under a government enforcing kindergarten rules.

I don’t know how Americans can sleep when we have indoor plumbing and much of the world does not.  We are so greedy, it is only fair that we limit ourselves to one toilet, one car, one TV,  and send the rest to the poor of the world!

You first…

————————————————————-
Reports are that a new device is being developed to update currently “outmoded” portable speakers for the “ancient”  New iPad  iPhone 4S into Bluetooth-enabled devices ($28)!

It is a startup company being funded by crowdsourcing on Kickstarter.

Brilliant, but many Kickstarter ideas are.  Still an AirPlay connector would have been better because of the greater bandwidth, although not as universal.

Perhaps as a follow- on product

——————————————————-
There is much ado about Dutchess Catherine’s breasts. I have seen the photos (they were briefly on The Daily, but were unceremoniously removed) , and I can confirm what you already know – she is a beautiful woman – but the slimness of her waist is even more obvious an asset.

In this age, lots of people get to see almost every young woman’s privates  — “back in the day,” virgins were hard to find, but today we have successfully reached the 1920s definition of a virgin: ” Young girl, about five. Very ugly.”

I think the quote was from comedian W. C. Fields.

We have declined the culture to the point where the joke is reality.

Kate was at least in a private residence, but with cameras that can read a newspaper from space, nothing is now private.  She made what any normal person would consider a reasonable effort at privacy.  No effort will protect a beautiful woman from voyeurs in the age of satellite cameras, drones and paparazzi.

A Distinction Without a Difference

According to a new Pew Research poll, 58% of Americans believe that the “rich” do not pay enough in taxes.

This is either a triumph for the Occupy Wall Street Democrats messaging, an example of the colossal ignorance of the American population, or an example of greed and envy of the “common man.”

In the same article it is noted that the very wealthy 1/3 of the top one present, pay a total of 20% of the total taxes, and it makes one wonder how much would be enough?

We are certainly at a tipping point where 49% pay absolutely no federal income tax at all, and most of those receive a rebate each year of some thousands of dollars each for taxes they DIDN’T pay, simply welfare plain and simple.

One gets the impression that France’s new Socialist president, Hollande, with his anti-nuke, pro-green energy, and 75%marginal tax rate on the French rich could be elected president of the US!

I understand that President Obama says he is not a socialist, while Hollande proudly declares he is, but I can barely tell the difference.

A distinction without a difference.

 

Chicago Teacher Strike

In an Associated Press release addressing the Chicago Teacher Strike, there were many teacher objections to the proposed settlement, and apparently the teachers will continue on strike, further hurting the students they are paid, handsomely, to teach.

“The union said the evaluation system was unfair because it relied too heavily on test scores and did not take into account outside factors that affect student performance such as poverty, violence and homelessness.”

Whiners, all.

Yes, children of poor are hungry, and children of the middle class are sad because their parents are on pills, and children of the rich are depressed because their family is in the midst of divorce.

Life is a bitch!

Deal with it!

The children in Chicago schools are among the least educated in America, but they also have to attend school among bullets coming and going. One teacher’s students are not more or less put upon or hungry than another teacher against whom they will be compared.

The children in Chicago in any given school  are uniformly poor, hungry, scared, ill-clothed…

So Mrs. Barnes in Classroom A is not placed in a disadvantage because Mr. Grace in Classroom be has better fed, or better parents. A comparison of classes in the same school is valid.

Except to teachers, who believe they are, like the children of Lake Woebegone, all above average.

Tooo Many Emotional Single-Issue Voters For My Taste

On a blog today, a blogger makes the case for homosexual marriage:

“There is no reason why, in the year 2012, two people who love each other should not be allowed to legally marry.”

Now it is pretty hard to take that beginning sentence out of context, so one must ask: Brother and sister? Brother and brother? First cousins? Mother and… The list is endless! Many people who love each other are not permitted to marry.

And where is it in stone, “two?”

Since we do not (and should not) rely on the Bible for our laws, or the Koran for that matter, as a society we have the right to define our cultural norms, so this is a state issue under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

Personally, I am a traditionalist, but those who hold other opinions are welcome to their opinions without anger, and if their opinions prevail in the state as recognized by a vote of the people, I can accept that without getting all bent out of shape.

Society should establish cultural norms, and change the cultural norms if and when they are outdated — but only after careful consideration. If each of us had been raised in a part the Middle East we would likely each think polygamy to be the norm and correct, because we get our cultural opinions selected from the surrounding society.

Is there discrimination in marriage as it stands today? Absolutely, including discrimination against brothers and sisters, for example. Some discrimination is rational, for example the discrimination that forbids the blind from getting an airline pilots license.

Of course the two examples are not comparable, but the neither are twin brothers.

I am not a single-issue voter, and this subject is not a hill I intend to die upon.

 

 

I Am Crazy, Not Stupid!

I am still considering the iPhone 5, but not too seriously.

Let me see if I have this right, Apple offers me a larger screen on a phone when a phone actually needs no screen at all, and what a larger screen means is I must buy a larger protective case and belt case. Wonderful. I have to pay more money for things I don’t need or want? I surf on my iPad. Why do I need a larger screen on my iPhone?

Oh, yes. Apple is bringing me a new connector for charging and using my speaker systems! I need that because?

My current connector is larger than I need? I DON’T CARE! Apple wants me to buy six or eight new USB cables, and a couple of connection converters? At Apple prices, that is a fortune, and yes their cables perform better and last longer than similar cables from the Internet at 1/10 the cost.

I am all in favor of spending money. (Just ask my wife of 55 years!) I am a nerd, a gadget collector. Heck I just found a pen-shaped line scanner I bought years ago that I never used.

But I feel better about that that purchase than I would about a new iPhone 5.

Guess I just made up my mind. Sorry, grand kids, you don’t get a handed down iPhone 4S.

I am crazy, but I am not stupid, and Apple thinks I am stupid.

 

 

Late Breaking Schooling And Education

The National Report Card changed their methodology a bit in a recently released (today, in fact)  the results of a test of Writing in given in 2011, and in this report they do not report the results this time by states.

That could be because their testing was done to fewer than 30,000 per class rather than the usual 150,000 or so.

Nevertheless, the results were interesting: In writing, students with computers at home performed better than those without computers; women tested better than men; and suburban students outperformed both urban students and rural students.

There were the usual breakdown of students who get free lunches, and those with one blue and one brown eye. If you have an interest in that sort of thing you can see the statistical breakdown at

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2011/2012470.pdf.

There are the usual and expected results: Asians do better than anyone, private school students outperform public school students, but it is the technology component that caught my eye: “Students who use computers more frequently to draft and revise their writing score higher.” (pp. 17,18,19)

Those interested in schooling, and education – they are not necessarily the same thing – should read the report.

The Chicago Question

There are 350,000 students in Chicago not attending school in public school, but there are 50,000 who are attending school in public schools.

Those 50,000 that are attending public schools are attending charter schools.And there is a waiting list in the charter schools of more than 7000 students.

(And now you know why there’s a waiting list in charter schools!)

The teachers are already the highest paid in the nation, and they have been offered a raise of 16% over four years, so it’s not money. No, it is about what all modern teacher union battles are about — teacher evaluation.

The Illinois Legislature passed a new bill requiring that 40% of a teacher evaluation be based on student improvement on standardized tests, and they passed that before Rahm became Mayor of Chicago — but that law had been favored both by President Obama and Rahm when he was in the White House.

Currently, the negotiated number is 25% for the percentage of a teacher evaluation that is based on student performance– and the union will fight against increasing every percentage point!

Both the head of the union and Rahm are hard headed. We shall see, but this is a national fight being fought in Chicago.

Rahm, of course, sends his children to a private school, even as now President Obama but then Senator Obama did, and they both use the University of Chicago private K-12 school.

I think it speaks volumes that politicians send their children to private schools.