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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tag Them..Track Them

I always say when money is short; people will find a way around the problem. In this case, the San Antonio North Independent School District is putting technology to use to corral the attendance money from the state. They're implementing a pilot program that tracks students, using transmitters inside identification cards (RFID).

Next year, and John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School will track their 6,290 students who use the district buses according to the San Antonio Express-News. If successful, the district wants to use the ID cards at all 111 schools and almost 100,000 students. There must be some big bucks to gain because the district plans to spend $525,065 on the pilot program and about $136,005 to run it.

According to North Side Independent School District Deputy Superintendent, Brian Woods, the ID cards would keep more accurate figures and recoup the dollars lost when a student is reported absent but may be in the nurse's office or elsewhere on campus.

Mr. Woods said if the program is implemented, the district will see an increase in 0.5% in attendance levels along with Medicaid reimbursement for special needs students who ride district buses and would net the district $2 million to 2.5 million each year in funding.

You can't have a system like that without the naysayers worrying about privacy matters but the system already contains pertinent information like social security numbers and grades. All the data is maintained on the school's server and is password protected.

There are legitimate worries about the misuse of the technology but Mr. Woods said the program would have only limited potential use for disciplinary purposes. The program does have the capabilities of tracking special needs students on district buses.

RFID in schools is not new to Texas. The Spring and Santa Fe School District have been using the technology since 2010.

The Northside Independent School District school board unanimously approved the pilot program last week.

I hate to be a wet blanket but the wealthier school districts can afford the equipment and software to recoup lost state funds but there is not a chance the poorer school districts will improve their status.

How about it; is this something you would recommend to our school board?I know, we don't have that many students and the first year year outlay of $761,070 would bring out several anxiety attacks just thinking about that much money.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Debunking a chain email

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I thought this presidential election it was going to be different because I have not seen any chain emails since 2008. That all changed this morning and I was going to go through each line and rebut each claim but luckily another blogger already has.

This is his answer to the chain email that was published in our newspaper.

I came across a list of Obama firsts and did a little research on them. I even added a few at the bottom. I also added my own assessment of the truthfulness or credibility of the claim along with a link so others can research it. And I numbered them to make them easier to discuss. If anyone can find an error or any contradictory evidence, I would like to see it.
I hope you find it interesting. I learned a lot!
1. First President to apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny he was a foreigner (not true. This began as a April Fool's joke and has fooled many people, even Mike Huckabee. No college has released Obama's records yet.)
2. First President to have a social security number from a state he's never lived in (apparently true, but not well established)
3. First President to Preside over a Cut to the Credit Rating of the United States Government (well established)
4. First President to Violate the War Powers Act (partly true. He did violate the act but is not the first.)
5. First President to Orchestrate the Sale of Murder Weapons to Mexican Drug Cartels (well established)
6. First President to be Held in Contempt of Court for Illegally Obstructing Oil Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (well established)
7. First President to Defy a Federal Judge's Court Order to Cease Implementing the 'Health Care Reform' Law (well established)
8. First President to Require All Americans to Purchase a Product From a Third Party (well established)
9. First President to Spend a Trillion Dollars on 'Shovel-Ready' Jobs-- and Later Admit There was no such thing as "Shovel-Ready" Jobs (well established)
10. First President to Abrogate Bankruptcy Law to Turn Over Control of Companies to His Union Supporters (well established)
11. First President to Bypass Congress and Implement the DREAM Act Through Executive Fiat (well established)
12. First President to "Order a Secret Amnesty Program that Stopped the Deportations of Illegal Immigrants across the US , Including Those With Criminal Convictions" (same as #11)
13. First President to Demand a Company Hand Over $20 Billion to One of His Political Appointees (well established)
14. First President to Terminate America's Ability to Put a Man into Space (well established)
15. First President to Encourage Racial Discrimination and Intimidation at Polling Places (well established)
16. First President to Have a Law Signed By an 'Auto-pen' Without Being "Present" (well established)
17. First President to Arbitrarily Declare an Existing Law Unconstitutional and Refuse to Enforce It (well established)
18. First President to Threaten Insurance Companies if they Publicly Speak out on the Reasons for their Rate increases (well established)
19. First President to Tell a Major Manufacturing Company In Which State They Are Allowed to Locate a Factory (well established)
20. First President to File Lawsuits Against the States He Swore an Oath to Protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN, etc) (well established)
21. First President to Withdraw an Existing Coal Permit That Had Been Properly Issued Years Ago (well established)
22. First President to Fire an Inspector General of Ameri-corps for Catching One of His Friends in a Corruption Case (well established)
23. First President to Propose an Executive Order Demanding Companies Disclose Their Political Contributions to bid on Government Contracts (well established)
24. First President to appoint 45 'czars' to replace elected officials in his office. (mostly true)“veil-of-secrecy”-accountable-to-no-one-but-obama/
25. First President to Golf 90 separate Times in His First Three plus Years in Office (true but exact number is uncertain because growing so quickly)
26. First President to hide his medical, educational, and travel records (true)
27. First President to win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING to earn it (well established, even Obama recognized the prize as a “call to action”)
28. First President to coddle America's enemies while alienating America's allies (true)
29. First President to have Three of His Gay Lovers murdered within days of each other (true, they died within a month and a half of each other but evidence Obama is guilty is lacking)
30. First President to publicly bow to Americas enemies while refusing to salute the US flag (well established)
31. First President to go on multiple global apology tours. (pretty well established)
32. First President to be praised by a plenary speaker at the United Nations for being born in Kenya and elected as president of the US. (well established),2933,554327,00.html?test=latestnews
33. First President to increase the annual budget deficit by $1 trillion in just one year. (well established)
34. First President to force a bill through Congress (ObamaCare) he knew the people did not want and Congress was afraid to vote for. (well established)
35. First President to have his eligibility to run for re-election questioned in a state administrative law court and his lawyer did not even show up! (well established)
It appears Obama will not be on the ballot in Georgia (for the primary, at least) but if he will do everything he can to hold onto power. Americans have to be informed in order to stop him. Best wishes to you!

Why do all the research if the one who posted will not admit he tried to pull a fast one?

All the credit goes to this young gentleman.I agree with everything he wrote but I could have added more detail but why?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Does the Truth Matter Anymore?


I think our main problem is listening, reading comprehension and staying on the topic. Yesterday I posted a blog knowing that the usual suspects would attack the message, but they were not going to be able to rebut the facts, so their only recourse was to ignore it or try to distort it. So far, my analysis has been wrong because I have not really been attacked for it, but maybe they are just ignoring it. I can see where another bulldog attack or the rehashing the voter recount would take priority and not that many people are interested in politics.

It took me a couple of days to post my recent blog about Obama not being the big spender that the right made him out to be because I had to see how it was going to be portrayed in the nationwide media. It's been given very little attention even though the contents have been fact checked because Democrats and Republicans don't know what to make of it. I also have to admit that since I knee- high to a grasshopper, I have been led to believe that the federal government was just one great big wasteland. If we break it down, the message is pretty simple. It's like a similar blog I posted several months ago stating that taxes are lower than they have been since the Truman administration. It's not a message that the government is not spending too much or that taxes are too low. It's just a counter message trying to put things in proper perspective. The message is; $3 in spending cuts to $1 in revenues is a great start in reducing our deficit and when the economy starts to recover, we can put more emphasis on the debt. We shouldn't panic over short term deficits because they will be fully repaid in one year or less. It's like I always say, Republican's stay on the message; if the data was on their side; Fox would have run it on a continuous loop forcing the Democrats to respond. President Obama used the content of the blog I posted in a stump speech yesterday but, unless more Democrats repeat the message; it will go up through one ear and not the other.

An exaggerated crisis could also be manufactured at the local level. For example, example some poster at the VA forum stated that the recent recount fiasco was another “gate like situation" i.e." recount gate" etc. Really? How can Victoria have a gate -like situation if only 10% of the registered voters show up to vote? Did we see a long line of massive protesters from Precinct 1? It just a continuance of mayor gate because a few will protest anything he does. There are some posters dissecting the mayor's words on what they thought he meant. Excuse me if I don't get too worked up over that because I don't have a dog in that hunt. I can't serve two or three masters; national, state, and local politics...:-)

What matters more? the message or the messenger? On the matter of gay marriage, I saw a poll where 59 percent of African Americans say they support same-sex marriage, up from an average of 41 percent in polls leading up to Obama’s announcement of his new position on the matter. I found that very hard to believe, but then I looked at a more realistic poll that centered on African Americans of North Carolina where the number went up to 27% from a low of 20% in favor. I remembered President George Bush getting 12% of the African American vote because several states had gay marriage on the ballot by design. The black clergy and the national NAACP are making the issue more about civil rights. On the local front either it was an Abomination to God with selective scriptures or the usual “how’s it hurting your marriage?'' The subject never gets any traction in Victoria.Will we ever get a straight answer. I think the whole country is evolving.

Will we ever be able to have a discussion with our adversaries that doesn't involve name calling, cherry picked facts, or exaggerations? I'm opinionated, but I become an ideologue if I start to argue with facts. I've been accused of being a spinmeister but that has its limitations as more people understand the facts. That reminds me of a time I unintentionally angered my Jehovah Witness when I said “there could be multiple versions of the truth.”

And that my friend is a summary of this blog.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It’s All About Ideology

I've always had this deep curiosity to find out what makes a group of people react the way they do. I immediately ruled out spontaneous because their actions are predictable. Pick any subject and it's pretty easy to determine on what side of the issue a liberal, conservative, libertarian or moderate will fall on.

People will often tell me that they are conservative, but they don't think that way just to prove the fallacy of stereotyping. Perhaps, but did they answer the questioner consciously or subconsciously? There's always an exception to the rule.

I've already read several books about liberalism and libertarianism and the only change I have found is that modern-day liberals are calling themselves Progressives. The liberals allowed the conservatives to define them as tree hugging, Latte- loving, Volvo driving, antiwar hippies whose philosophy of " anything goes" was leading to the destruction of American values. Today's liberal- progressives are not as vocal as their counterparts and are not comfortable at adopting a label. That’s just it; there is not a liberal think tank to define our values.

I've written a couple of blogs about this subject, but I've come across new information after reading a book titled “The Reactionary Mind" by Corey Robin. The author explained that conservatism is a 24/7 mindset. While everyone is asleep, conservatives are developing "Think Tanks" to come up to with solutions on how to destroy their moral enemy; the Liberal. The liberal thinks that government does have a role the play, so that must be challenged with well crafted words such as " smaller government; no new taxes, wealth distribution, spending other people's money, welfare state, shared sacrifice and any private and public venture." The conservatives will demand transparency, so they can gather enough information to create doubt and incompetency. Transparency will magically disappear when conservative return to power. That's not to say that the average conservative hates liberals but by adopting that ideology, it gives them a small sense of superiority, which is usually enough to sway votes. Who doesn't want their politician to be prudent with taxpayer money? Liberals have let conservatives hijack the word prudent (Careful and sensible; marked by sound judgment) to mean" no new spending or taxes." They have also given up ownership to the word “wealth distribution" because that word again has two meanings. Since taxation comes from a general fund; tax incentives that favor the rich are also a form of wealth distribution. That is why I will continue to say,” conservatives are great campaigners, but they can't govern." The Republicans will never find another Ronald Reagan, so the next-best thing is to adopt an ideology the underlings will follow. Most Republicans will run on the philosophy that Washington (any type of government) is bad and 90% of its duties are either unconstitutional or need to be run by the private sector. That's the reason conservatives are against unions, social programs, and regulations because, if the people ever start to trust the government; their goal is doomed.

Social conservatives believe that rights are unalienable, and that they come from God. It's their guiding principle in governing. When they come across a law, they don't like, they will often revert to Nature's Law. Modern day social conservatives have left out the poor in their dealings with the government because they believe in “voluntary associations." I have often wanted to ask our self-professed Christians why is it that they never talk about the poor although it's mentioned over 2000 times in the bible. They only come out to condemn gay marriage or a pro-choice stance.

A conservative poster once asked me (thinking they could trick me) how big the government should be. I promptly said that it should be large or small enough to be efficient.

I've learned a lot, but I still have that guiltiness of reading material that fits what I have already come to believe. Does anyone care to challenge?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Love National Politics

Romney Tattoo © Daryl Cagle,,Mitt Romney,Oil Companies,tattoo,ARCO,Atlantic Richfield,Mobil,Gulf,76,Texaco,Exxon,Citgo,Shell,Sunoco,Sinclair,BP


It’s normally called the silly season and so far the politicians are not letting us down. This is a presidential election or a lame duck session where nothing will get done until after the election. The politicians may come out of their partisan cubicles to fight the "raising of the debt ceiling" but then they will go home to pat themselves on the back and then try to convince their constituents to give them another term.

Events like the Cory Booker gaffe will dominate the news cycle even though it means little in the scheme of things. For those of you who don't know about the gaffe, I will try to explain it. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, was a guest on "Meet the Press” this past Sunday. The panel was talking about the dirty politics in campaign ads. Cory Booker, Obama's surrogate, said he was sick of the GOP trying to inject Jeremiah Wright into the campaign and was equally agitated with the bashing of Bain Capital. That's when things started going south for Mr. Booker. The Republicans instantly launched an ad in support of Cory Booker right to speak his mind saying that he shouldn't held hostage by the Obama campaign. A couple of things happened; Cory Booker was a trusted ally, so he was not prepped and Mr. Booker was unaware of Obama's strategy. Corey Booker and Harold Ford JR. and many New York/ New Jersey politicians get a lot of their funding from Wall Street. The largest private-equity fund, Black Rock, contributes heavily to the Obama campaign. President Obama is not going after Bain Capital; he is just saying that being the owner of a private-equity fund does not qualify Romney to be the president of United States. He went on to explain that as president, you must represent the little guy and as well as the private-equity firm. A private-equity firm is just about the profits and not about the general welfare of the public. To be fair, Romney wasn’t the owner of Bain Capital when some of those companies went down in the ads because he was out saving the Olympics. Mitt Romney is not talking about his record as governor, and that's where the Obama wants him to go. If they get him to go there, they will expose his 47th in the nation, job creation record and of course Romney Care.

The Obama team is still seething because President Obama, first question coming from the G8 International Convention was about Cory Booker's statement. I suspect Corey Booker will be sent down to the minor leagues to work on another off speed pitch because the GOP just hit a 400-foot homer off his best fast ball. Mr. Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party, and we will be hearing a lot from him in 2014.

Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and a few others are foaming at the mouth, trying to convince the Mitt Romney camp to go after Obama and his ties with Jeremiah Wright. That would be a mistake of enormous proportions because voters have already vetted President Obama, and that leaves the door open for a left- wing Super Pak to question Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. I don't doubt Mitt Romney will get down and dirty, if he is down by 10 points in October. Mitt Romney doing pretty good in the polls right now and he's closing the gender gap to below the double digits, so I expect him to ignore them for now.

It seems like everything is getting politicized; even the NAACP is supporting marriage equality and they went a step further than the president, by calling it civil rights. A civil rights violation is covered under the 14th amendment and is enforced by the Federal government.

A total of 43 Catholic groups, including the archdiocese in DC and New York and Catholic institutions like Notre dame are suing the administration over provisions of the healthcare law that requires a cover birth-control in most of their health plans. I think the law suits are premature because the Supreme Court will rule in June, and besides those provisions won't take place until August of 2013, and they are still being negotiated. I believe it's more a power play by the Bishops and who are often at odds with the nuns. It's really strange because I'm pretty sure that the Bishops don't want the Supreme Court to define what a religious right is because they want that privilege. It's all politics and another reason I think religions should "render under Caesar; what is Caesars" I seriously doubt the administration will be able to satisfy the bishops because they are taking a stand for religious freedom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I’m a Happy Blogger

I'm starting to enjoy our online forum a lot more these days by being more selective; not only on what I discuss but the posters I have a discussion with. I can’t remember the last heated discussion that I engaged in. I will have some of those but they will be limited and with a poster I respect. The key is not to be too selective or I’ll never learn anything.Hey, it may take a while for this old man to figure it all out but who knows what tomorrow will bring. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I don't want be too selective with the posters that I have a discussion with because I may take something out of context and besides they have all right in the world to disagree with me. Most of time, I will just consider the source. I know there are some posters who start to disagree with me, after the first word in the first sentence I write. For example, there's no reason for me to get in a discussion over the Trayvon Martin-Zimmerman case anymore because it has become "you post your vile and I'll post mine" and "I'll insult you to boot.” That doesn't mean that I won't read about the subject somewhere else or lose any interest in the case. It's become a" there goes the neighborhood” thread..IMO

I really enjoyed the "name the owl” contest. The participation was outstanding and names that were submitted were pretty good. I'm not that creative, I would have settled for Owl #1 & Owl #2.

It just feels good not to have to pretend that I'm a moderate, down the middle “everyone’s out-of-step but Willie" type of poster who wants to appeal to everyone. By now everyone expects me to write from a “left of center" perspective. I'm not scared to get go out on a limb; what have I got to lose? I’m not competing for something that I’ll never be. I will never be the best blogger. It's not as if the posters pay attention to me anyway; the other day I said that I keep my politics secular and I received five religious answers and posts in return. I didn't respond and let them have the blog and I felt that I did the right thing. I just take it for granted that they don't mean any harm and that is just the way they are. Besides my posts just adds unneeded fuel to fire sometimes. The other day, a person who dislikes Obama answered a letter writer by saying that no president can control the price of gasoline. Sometimes you have to let the truth sort things out.

Anyway this blog will take the place of a Saturday vent because I don't have anything to gripe about these days.

Open thread weekend...Lets discuss something that is on your mind.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

She Never Ceases to Amaze Me

Electrician Cartoon 2761
You would think after 45 years of marriage that the element of surprise wouldn't be a big part of our marriage. It probably wouldn't have been in my way of thinking because I didn't factor in my wife's retirement and how big of a difference it makes. If you count the military, I worked for 40 years but my wife worked for 45 years. She now has free time because the cats and I are low maintenance.

What's that got to do with the element of surprise? My wife has never had time on her hands because when she was working outside the house (I’m not going to make that Hillary Rosen mistake) and she was super busy being the bedrock of our family. She really didn't have time to tinker with appliances or electronic devices that much but I could tell she always had an interest in it. I didn't have the patience to teach her what little I knew. That's the background and now here's the rest of the story.

My wife is very traditional and will always resort to the instruction manual and takes tedious notes before tackling a project she is unfamiliar with. I guess that's why I didn't have much patience in teaching her the basics of computing. I would be at the computer telling her how to apply certain commands and she would stop me in mid-sentence, so she could literally write down every word. I still believe that “hands on” and learning by making mistakes is the best way of teaching.

Yesterday, she surprised me by leaving her traditional world of instructional manuals and relying on her common sense. I had a television sound system installed several years ago but about a year ago, after one of our storms, the system died. I've tried exchanging the power cord and even took it to repair man who told me it would be more expensive to fix it, than to replace it. There you have it, all the answers were laid out for me and I pretty much gave up on it but having those inoperable speakers in the living room bugged the hell out of my wife. We went looking for a new system where I could use the same speakers but the salesman said that my system was out of date, so I heard those magic words again" it's just cheaper and better to buy a whole new system." My wife said she poured herself a cup of coffee and decided to tackle the sound system by using a process of elimination. She tightened all the cables and re-plugged the unit and to her surprise the blue light came on indicating power, this alone supplied her initiative to continue. The RCA cables were color coded so she started plugging them in one at a time. She then called me to do the easy work of using my remote to turn off the TV Sound and test the receiver. I was reluctant because all the answers were already laid out. Anyway, after 45 years I knew I wasn't going to get any rest unless I obliged. On first try, nothing, but she said "just wait a minute," and rearranged some wires, and like magic the sound system was working. You could see that glow of pride come across on her face. Rather than having the friendly argument of how she saved me $300-$600, I quickly decided to take her to dinner rather than tell her I wasn't ever going to buy a new sound system. First that would sound unappreciative and she probably wouldn't believe me anyway...:-)

I think my wife was inspired when Dish Network called and said that they had some work to do on our system and that we were not going to charge us for it. The technician told me that the main office noticed a glitch in our system through a signal from our DVR. He said the newer model DVRs have software that are capable of detecting trouble and transmitting that information to the main office. I don't know if I believe all that but it was free and we were having some minor problems that went away.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Local Election Apathy

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I have to admit it took a lot of inner persuasion for me to go vote this past Saturday. The amendments were not earth shaking as I read them. I did not vote for David Hagen, so I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. I was really surprised that only 10% of the registered voters showed up to cast their vote. Just goes to show, that all that whining and complaining on VicAd did not transcend into votes. And no matter how you slice and dice it, the water sewage plant was not a big issue for those on the south side because Denise Rangel barely lost and not that many voters showed up to vote against her.

I did vote for the bond because I can see the growth around Victoria, so I thought that this bond will allow us to continue training our existing workers and those of the future. It solidifies our commitment. Then again, I can't remember ever voting against a bond. I voted for the two new schools to be built a few years ago and this is just a continuance of my line of thinking that doesn't fit neatly on a spreadsheet. I still think new businesses will view our city more favorably since we have a strong commitment to educational facilities.

I looked at those amendments and didn't buy into all the conspiracy points that were made but I do admit, the language that was used 50 years ago was pretty ambiguous and needed to be brought up to standard. I would bet my bottom dollar that it was the old timers who did not want the teenagers running for public office. I'm not going to tell you how I voted on that amendment...:-)

I was never that excited by this local election ,so I didn’t have an “election hangover.”I'm glad the local elections are over but I never believed in "biting the hair of the dog that bit you" remedy, so this post is the last I'll do on this subject. I’m eagerly awaiting the upcoming congressional elections and of course the Super Bowl of all the elections; the presidential in November.

I like to be surprised and Councilman Paul Polasek sure did that. I'm not sure of his motives; perhaps it was an attempt to stop all the rumor mongering before the new session takes place. It's about time someone from the city voiced their opinion with some credibility. I have to admit that I don't know a thing about Mr. Polasek but I hope he keeps posting, so we can see both sides of the issue. I don’t know about you but I can’t make up my mind when only one side of the issue is presented.. I hope the questions and answers will continue to be as civil as they have been because nothing will turn off an elected official more than trying to engage with an uninformed poster who is just trying to bring attention to himself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Just be Yourself

I was disappointed Sunday when, Vice President Joe Biden's, opinion on gay marriage became such a big deal. It became a feeding frenzy for the media and the next morning, a political consultant asked the head of the Department of Education what his gay-marriage view was. It concerned a gay-marriage amendment in the recent North Carolina primary. The question then became, why is the president evolving on this issue and why doesn’t he make a definitive decision.

I don't really care what Joe Biden's view on same sex marriage is because that's his opinion. My political party has already given up on gun control, the environment, the death penalty, unions, and now they want to poll test gay marriage! I don't think gay marriage should be a ballot issue because, if that were true, civil rights would have never been passed in the south. That's why we elect representatives.

The last two days of "Morning Joe" and have been very interesting because all the topics that I'm interested in were discussed. Everything evolves around our economy because that's the one problem, we are all absorbed with. An NBC military analyst said that we could require every student that's not enrolled in college to sign up for some type of patriotic service. The military would be the first choice because that will purge the young person's bad habits. It would also allow them to earn a little money and gain a little of discipline in their lives. This is the perfect opportunity, since our young people are having difficulty entering college for one reason or another.

One of my favorite economists, Paul Krugman, said that we should be sending ~$300 billion back to the states, so they can rehire the teachers, policeman and other essential public service workers who were let go, until the economy comes back. He then said, as inflation starts to pick up (a sign of growth) instead of the FED raising interest rates, the government should start to cut spending. Simple logic, as economy grows, cut back government spending. Then we will again be led by the markets. Right now, the markets aren't leading. That is the true intent of Keynesian politics.

I don't see why people just can't be themselves and let it go at that. The discussion would be more fluid and enlightened. I think after six years I know where everyone's political leanings are, so that should be off the table in our discussions.

My morning bicycle ride has been great therapy. I don't want to be like the two blackbirds I saw fighting this morning. I was contemplating, answering a poster with yet another" people living in glass houses" or consider the source post, but I decided against it. Why should I have to defend myself? I shouldn't have to prove and reprove myself time after time or become entertainment for the posters who like that sort of thing. I figure intelligent posters can see right through a backhanded compliment and a poster telling me that I am wrong for doing what he normally does. I will never win the Mr. Congeniality award, and I'm quite content with that because I'm just being myself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cell Phone Addiction

It took me a month to two to convince my wife to get rid of the land line phone because she cherished the old number we had for over 30 years. She worried that we wouldn't have any type of service during a hurricane. A mother has to have some type of communication with her children at all times; mama grizzlies...:-) We had a phone that plugged directly into the outlet without the need for electricity. Can you believe it, she went out and bought a telephone receiver (looks like a regular phone) which she can answer and talk like she used to? The receiver had to initially be paired with her cell phone and after that, it automatically pairs itself when she is within the 30 feet of the base. I’m afraid she is going back to ignoring her emails and text messages. I must've spent a good 3 days teaching her how to use the iPhone and she caught on but now she may be drifting back to her comfort zone.

The other day, my wife threw a big scare into us. While she was still under the carport she called me from her car and then her voice drifted and I couldn't hear her, so I hung up and tried to call her back several times. I then called  my children to help me find her. A few minutes later she came up the drive way all smiling, not knowing what she had just put us through. You see, she was going to Walgreens and called me to see if I needed anything, while she was out and about. She dialed me from the Prius (within those 30 feet) but then realized she didn't have her cell with her and decided she didn't need it since she was only going to Walgreens and back. For some reason she had forgotten that she had called me. If she hadn't called me, there would not have been a problem. Those 15 minutes were like an eternity.

I've gotten too attached to my phone, when I get home ,I place it on a coffee table next to my recliner, sometimes I glance at it now and then, to check the VA and my personal blog. My ESPN app reminds me when my favorite team has started playing, scores and updates. There has been a couple times when the Astros got behind by three runs or more, so I switched channels to watch something else. A few minutes later, the familiar ESPN tone came on telling me that Houston caught up, so I switched back to watch the game. I also use the cell to track my bike activities and when I'm through, I get a report of how many miles I traveled, average speed, and time elapsed for my records. I can also look at the map to see the route I traveled.

Well I now have an app to remind me on Thursday to look for that Mother's Day card. It's funny how my older sister and my wife agree that they don't want any festivities because all they want is a phone call or two and then to be left alone for a good portion of the day to just relax..What do they know?....:-)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Free Ivy League Education on-Line?

Funny student Bill Lee  cartoon from June 28, 2006

Education costs are at the forefront and they should be because if you think healthcare costs are out of control try paying for a university degree. Health Care costs have risen 250% in the past 25 years but education costs have skyrocketed by 450% in that same time period, according to the National Center for Public Policy. Everyone should know that we can't sustain that.

Along comes Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng who believe the Internet should allow millions of people to receive first class education at little or no cost. The two professors who teach competitive computer science at Stanford have launched Coursera which will makes courses from top tier universities available online, at no charge, to anyone.

So far they have signed up volunteer professors from Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. Coursera will offer 35 courses in subjects ranging from computer science to world history and contemporary American poultry. They're not only videotaped courses because they will come complete with homework assignments, examination and grades.

Coursera was just an experiment but over 100,000 students have enrolled and 13,000 completed the course. Coursera does not pay its professors but that might not be a problem because a few venture capital firms have climbed on board and more will join when enrollment hits up into the millions. It's quite possible that Coursera will charge companies for helping them to find qualified job applicants.

Like so many new great ideas, they always start on the West Coast and mainly in California. Many from that state have been taking online courses for quite some time using products from companies like Udacity, Khan Academy and the Minerva Project. Can top universities continue to charge $250,000 for a college degree when online courses are available for free? Something has to give.

Universities will it need to reconsider their business model and figure out what is they're selling? It can't be their coursework because that's available online for free. Could it be a face -to- face with overpaid professors? Is it football programs and frat parties?

The government stepped in it took away the loan making, interest charging middleman and now free online courses!They are being put on notice.

Don't you love it when American entrepreneurs take the ball and run with it?

This is am article I copied from the current issue of NewsWeek.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Odd Man Out

Last night I went back and read a ViCad thread that started as a letter about Sarah Palin way back in 2008, and ended 256 posts later as anything but Sarah Palin; it convinced me that we just talk past each other when it comes to politics. Everyone is entrenched in their beliefs (some more than others) and at the end of the day it's just another stalemate. I realize this but being the usual “odd man out” in our conservative county, I just want to add my opinion to the discussion.

I just finished reading Alton's blog where he was describing "critical thinking" but he blew it in his first example. His attempt to exonerate President George W. Bush for his role in the 2008 financial crisis is baseless. He attempted to blame the Democrats because he said that they controlled the last two years of the Bush administration. The Democrats did win the 2006 elections but they didn't take office until January of 2007 and Bush always had the veto pen. The two wars, the Bush tax cuts and the seven trillion dollar prescription drug bill had already been passed and both parties were in reelection mode by June of 2008. It's another attempt of I'm trying to be the reasonable one if just those guys on the other side would do the same. I'm doing the same thing with the link I providing to prove it's the other sides’ fault for the gridlock. I do agree with his example on racism.

Bob Munoz's blog caused a stir but instead of the accuser coming forward and apologizing; the blog became a place to settle old scores about Obama, Palin, and other posters. I was surprised it didn't turn into another Trayvon Martin blog. For the record, I’m a little surprised how some posters are dismissive of Palin’s obvious negatives and would actually trust her to run to this country.Really, some posters compared her voluntarily quitting her job as governor to Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevic, who wound up in prison for trying to sell a political position. I don't recall one Democrat coming to his side nor to New York's Congressman Anthony Weiner either.

I left the work place several years before President Obama was elected, so I don't know what the scuttlebutt is is about having to defend oneself from being called a racist if someone doesn't agree with the president's policy. I know that that is a minor belief held by the right on the national front because I hear the pundits talking about it. It is my opinion that if you're not a racist, you shouldn't have to prove it because it's like that age old question" when was the last time you beat your wife?" I don't care if a person likes President Obama or his policies and of course they have a right to post their opinions but I also have a right to rebut. I'm not a salesman or a recruiter and I prefer for those persons who don't like the president to stay in their respective parties. I know metaphorically people will always blame the current president for all the ills; that's human nature but myths can be debunked. For instance, the right likes to compare President Obama with President Carter because of the latter's failed presidency. Mitt Romney is starting to do that and Obama is comparing Romney to President Bush. President Carter is very different from President Obama because Carter was a southern conservative Democrat; he was what we call today a blue dog democrat and that's probably why the former president said that he would not be frighten by a Romney presidency.

I was just a teenager when the Republican Party last took a far right turn. It was not surprising to read that a study by distinguished political science professor Keith Poole proved that with his analysis, that Republicans are to blame for the gridlock.

"Poole assessed all of the Republican and Democratic votes in the House and Senate from 1879 to 2011, and plotted both parties on a liberal to conservative axis. Poole’s study shows that beginning right around 1980, House Republicans began to vote in strict partisan lines considerably more than Democrats."

I know that republicans who are reading this are saying "that's bunk" because they hold Democrats just as responsible for our polarization but that's not the case. The conservative democrats are usually republicans who can't win their party's nomination in a conservative district. For the most part Democrats are Keynesians and republicans of today are for austerity measures to obtain their new goal of smaller government and no taxes increases. The republicans of today know that they have to cut the legs out underneath the government at all levels. They will use words like welfare, nanny state, food stamps and government programs in the pejorative because if government policies were ever considered a solution, it would be easier to tax the wealthy and cut spending on their favorite expenditures.

I was listening to a Senator Marco Rubio's speech the other day where he said that his parents never wanted the government to redistribute the wealth and give it to them. I thought about that for a minute and said to myself" hey, my parents didn't either." Mr. Rubio conveniently leaves out the fact that Cubans that reached our shore received an automatic path to citizenship. It's like Supreme Court Justice Thomas, who is a product of affirmative action, but has always ruled against it. It's one of those" do as I say do not as I do."

I was watching a "Frontline" special about the power big oil has. For example, when a Nigerian diplomat asked President George W. Bush as to why he didn't call up the old giant executives and demand that they quickly clean up their spill off the coast of his country and compensate those involved, the president said" I can't do that , those guys are too powerful."

Allow me to reiterate, I'm usually speaking about the national party and if I'm speaking about individual posters, it's usually about their ideology because I realize they don't have any control over the national party.

In closing,  last night Rachel Maddow showed a New York Times chart showing that government has always grown under a Republican president and has always shrunk under a democratic president. I’ll have to double check that article before I post it on the VA,  and it has to leave a message  I want to convey...:-) Those carts are tricky sometimes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Is it Intelligence,Talent, or Experience?

I've always admired intelligence but I think most of it is heredity. I've always admired a person who could look at blueprints and build a house from the ground up. I respect the person who can speak multiple languages because I can't imagine all the reverse gearing it must take to go from English to Spanish to German etc. but people in Europe do it all the time. That leaves the question; is it talent or experience or intelligence?

My sister and her husband came down to see us last Sunday. My brother –in- law started bragging about a talented young mechanic he found, who was really cheap. I think my brother –in- law was more impressed with the "really cheap" part about the mechanic. He explained how the mechanic tried to fix his power steering fluid problem. To make a long story short, the mechanic was just a part changer and my brother -in -law had to take his car to the dealership where they replaced the pump that was designed for his Chevrolet. The young mechanic may be talented but he will get better with experience.

On the occasions I've had to visit my daughter at her school, her colleagues have always lavished praise on her and told me how smart of a teacher she is. I don't know how smart she is but I do know that she works extra hard and some might say she is a workaholic. She's always been that way, crying when she got her first "B" because she was expecting the usual "A." I think success comes easier for really intelligent people. It might be because of their ability to remember, life experiences, genes, or other factors. I believe we've all met that person(s) who never cracked a book and always made straight "A's." Didn't we just hate them?

My mother always admired handymen because that's the culture she grew up in. My grandfather built their house and did all the repairs. Somehow our extended family broke that chain and the handymen (when there was one) came in as in- laws. She would always jokingly say that she didn't raise any men because my brother and I aren't mechanics, finishers, plumbers, electricians, and don't go past the “plug it in" phase. It didn’t really matter to her if we had good jobs because it had nothing to do with repairing our building things. That's what she associated talent and intelligence with.

In today's world it’s probably the computer geeks who we classify as being talented and intelligent.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Honey..Did we get back our deposit?


We haven't had a landline for a few months but for some reason I asked my wife if we ever got back our initial deposit. She laughed and said that was over 40 years ago and I said" why should that matter?" I knew all along that it was another one of those things we take for granted. I have never gotten back my deposit from any utility company or people I have rented from. I remember renting an office where the landlord refused to apply my deposit to another office he owned. A friend of mine, who owns a 4-plex, told me that today's landlords hold all the trump cards and it's a "take it or leave" business.

I am wondering if the May Day protesters will make a difference. It seems like all my life, I've had to accommodate businesses instead of the other way around. I heard that Starbucks is changing their policy because it's not productive to argue with customers. They have instructed all the teenagers they hire to give the complaining customer a free cup of coffee, hoping it will defuse the situation and retain customers. It sounds a little condescending to me because it doesn't teach the workers how to get to the root of the problem. I know, what problems can you have at Starbucks -which a free cup of coffee won't cure? That's not to say that I haven't had a customer satisfaction during the years but it should be routine. It's like local politics; go to any forum and they all sound like the next Abraham Lincoln but as soon as they get in office they will start on their agenda.

Do you still get that birthday greeting from the salesman of the first car you ever bought? I do, even though he's now selling funeral arrangements and burial plots. My wife and I laugh every anniversary because like an accurate time piece, we have been getting his greeting for over 20 years. I have to admit it works because whenever I think of funeral arrangements, I think of him even though I may not purchased from him. I'm sure for him it's gone from the index cards to a computerized alarm system but the sentiment is the same. I bet if I walked up to him at a grocery store, he wouldn't remember me.

I see the world evolving where we have gone from paying a little bit more but having better service, to a system where we won't ever see a sales person like at Amazon. The person we talk to at customer service will likely talk with an accent and they are only able to give us generic information but we accept that because we saved 20 bucks.

I love my cell phone but I hope it keeps working because I hate going to AT&T more than seeing my dentist and I get a nervous twitch every time we get high winds because it means I will have to try to get a hold of Dish Network.

This is not a gripe session because I have become immune to life's daily ups and downs. At least we're not like in the AMC series "Mad Men" where every character lights up a cigarette every 15 minutes.