Changing LINKS
Blog Directory Del's Perspective: 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Serious Question to All Out There

From the "I Need to Know" category, can someone educate me about recirculated air such as on commercial jets, trains, etc. Are they highly filtered to reduce the spread of viruses?
If this is a stupid question please forgive. Your response could help me determine whether or not I should consider a future trip.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's.......A Spy Blimp Near You (Maybe)

It's hard to imagine a world without Agent Bond...James Bond. It's hard to visualize a planet without the super powers of our beloved friends Superman, Batman, and Wonder woman but here in the real world we will lose all of them to DARPA.

By real world I mean that sci-fi has become real-truth in that our supposed friends at the Pentagon has ready for delivery a blimp destined for a 12 trip into space so that it hover over just any old place and spy on just about any person, place, or thing that brassy guys in uniform so determine.

The Pentagon says this new balloon can stay in one place for days, weeks, months, and years just for the purpose of reconnoitring. Under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) the Pentagon has found yet one more way to watch just about any group it deems necessary to place a lens over. This $400 million project is set to launch one of these surveillance vehicles around 2014.

It's okay to run up into the attic and get those scary books that made us think, surely you remember them: Brave New World, 1984, and Animal Farm.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take Your Child to Work Day: What a Joke

Is it really necessary to take your child to work? The individual(s) who thought up this grand scheme may have given birth to a novel idea. Maybe it is important for children to see how the daily bread is earned. Maybe children can truly develop a sense of respect for dear old mom or dad for their awesome contribution to society and the GDP. I certainly don't want to take away from that particular aspect of the concept. My problem deals with some ancillary things that go along with taking children to work.
First, why isn't it an activity for the summer? Children need to be in school. The absence from school puts an additional work load on the teacher(s) in that homework assignments need to be explained yet one more time, and what was covered that day in class will need to be taught yet one more time. It can not be emphasized strongly enough that a child cannot receive the same benefit as his/her peers when absent from school, even given the makeup work. The interactions that occurs in the classroom is extraordinary to the learning process.
Second, it is not unusual for a child to miss school on this day so that he/she can be with his mom/dad who is (are ready for this?) a teacher.
Stay at home moms will have their children stay at home on this day so that her child can ( I'm not making this up) see what she does all day.
Third, for many schools this is the week for the ubiquitous "end of instruction" or achievement tests. So here it is one of the most important of all school days and we find parents pulling their children out so they can go to work with them. Shouldn't someone have had the decency to coordinate their respective calendars to end such a conflict of interest?
Fourth, and this is the most disturbing side effect of the such a day, is that now most schools want proof that a child did come to a particular business. In order to skirt this requirement, some parents just flat out lie and keep their child out by just calling the school with reports of illness, bee stings, allergic reaction, ad nauseum.

The truly great part of this story is the history of it. It started out as Take Your Daughter to Work Day, with the nascent thought that girls could be empowered by seeing the real work place, that it was truly possible for women to compete and work equally with men at any level. It was and is a refreshing idea in that today women earn on average 77% to that of men for the same workload or job description. Fewer young ladies enter the engineering and mathematical abstract careers than young men. So the original take your daughter to work idea was and is a good way to inspire girls to greater heights in the job market.
Now that the day has morphed into "take you child to work " let's be honest and at least have it slated for a summer day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guam Can't Handle Huge Population Growth

Guam will receive 7,000 marines by 2014. That would be bothersome enough for the island that it is already at capacity with water and sewer facilities and an electric grid that is on overload, but now add 7-to-8 thousand military dependents and the situation becomes stressed.

Why is Guam the recipient of this huge human bubble? In 2006 the U.S. and Japan signed a treaty to bring about the withdrawal with details that are confusing at best. Nonetheless, Guam must find the resources and the wherewithal to deal with this dubious agreement.

How can Guam deal with a possible 15% population increase? Her revenue forecast for 2010 is around $500 million which falls far short of the needed $5 billion experts say is necessary for the infrastructure.

All of this begs the question: What Were They Thinking?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Unemployed Denied, The Elite Win Out

I watched in dismay when S. Carolina Governor Mark Sanford proudly stated that he would not take part in the stimulus package offered by the federal government in spite of the fact that he has thousands standing in unemployment lines. Much like sheep, the unemployed and concerned citizens hadn't pilloried him with anything other than a wet noodle before they felt the shears of an uncaring politico.
Then came the state legislature of Virginia that sang in one voice that they just couldn't accept the stimulus package money either lest they be excoriated by the national far-right conservatives. The logic they offered for the rejection was simple: If they took more money for unemployment compensation, for example, and at some point in the future if said money drained away they would be required to force businesses to pay a greater amount into the system (they have one of the lowest payout in the nation). In other words, they pandered to big business (again) and have now taken on the role as its mouthpiece. One can almost hear them chanting to the unemployed: "Get over it, we can't help you".
Using logic with more holes in it then Caesar's punctured body, both Sanford and the state of Virginia have taken the intransigent attitude of "No further discussion about our reasons", a sort of "Stare decisis, damn it! We'll decide what is right and we won't hear about it again".

Rewards adults, Ignore the Kids - Tulsa's Sad Model

In a story that only Scrooge could love, the corporate world rules with a heavy hand when it comes to adults getting the new toys and the children getting absolutely zilch. Is this story occurring in your city? See if this scenario is happening in your city or town.

The city of Tulsa has a wonderful minor league baseball park . The parking is spacious, the ballpark is clean and in great shape, the park attendance hovers at about 1/4 capacity. But this otherwise ideal situation wasn't good enough for the city leaders (both Demo and Repub) who went into a frenzy looking for ways to find erect a new ball park with a horrible location, pitiful parking, and a cost of about $20 million.

The cost will be more than the $20,000,000 (I am sure you knew this was coming). Yep, in order to help the city recover from the tailspin in revenues the decision just had to be made to save money and, by God, the kids will have to do their share. How's that? Of the 23 public swimming pools only 7 will be allowed to open this summer. All summer camps will be closed including the only one that brings joy to special needs children. But, yeah, the corporate icons will have a ballpark paid for by Tulsa citizens in the form of taxes. And, yes, the corporate sponsors will get huge tax exemptions.

I am quite sure one could carve a better mayor and city council out of a bunch of bananas.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good News About Oil Reserves: In the Trillion of Barrels

The U.S. Geological Service issued a report in 2008 (where was the press on this one?) on how much oil was in North Central region of the U.S. in a basin known as Bakken. The Energy Information Administration (who the hell is this group?) estimates a starting base of over 5oo billion barrels of oil with a worth in the trillions. Additionally, scientists say there is over 2 trillion barrels of untapped oil beneath the Rocky Mountains.

Okay, I can hear your question from here: Why aren't we going after it to rid ourselves of foreign dependence? Short answer: Somewhere in Congress someone has an agenda with the Mideast oil producers.

Okay, you don't like that answer, try this one: Oil companies could be flooded with oil right up to the CEO's executive suite but it wouldn't lower the price of gasoline or oil products because we haven't built a refinery in over 25 years. The oil execs offer up the "EPA makes it impractical to build refineries due to all their rules and regs" as if to say it should be okay to inhale all their carcinogenic carbons. Therefore, the fewer the refineries the greater control over supply. Control over supply equals (hold your breath) higher prices.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Prez Scores Mightily In Europe

After all the fatuous statements by pundits regarding Prez Obama's failure to achieve much success after his kiss-and-makeup tour with European leaders, it's pretty clear that he got what he went after....a starting point for continued dialogue; a promise to meet often; a vow to really listen.

The talking heads on the conservative radio/TV programs went after the Prez with hammer and tongs basically saying he didn't have a spine and that wimpy Euro leaders couldn't bring much muscle in the World Wrestling Arena on Nuclear Power. They hinted that he should stop Kim ll sung and that we would be absolutely stupid to drop production of the long-range interceptor missiles, never mind the fact that such hubris could easily create another scary brinkmanship campaign that kept this nation on edge during the Cold War that almost went hot.

I'm in the Obama's camp on this one. It took us eight years to totally incense the European nations. Eight years of referring to them as cheese eaters, monkeys, wimps, etc., we shouldn't expect them to trust us overnight. Just because we have a new man in the White House doesn't mean they are ready to embrace him until they know what he's up to and developing trust doesn't come with a social visit.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Budget Woes Hurt: Beating Up on the kids

As is often the case there is always more to a story than the replayed story on television. All of us are concerned about the the auto industry and the possible loss of the Big Three. In this case the city of Detroit is bracing itself for the shuttering of 23 schools and the lose of 600 teacher positions.

The school district says it has a deficit of over $300 million and, wouldn't you know it, consolidation is the only way to resolve the matter. So, what should the kids expect out of this mess? You can bet that the district will raise class sizes to an intolerable limit. Inexperienced teachers will replace veteran teachers in a manner so as to lower cost. Look for tests scores to go south ( so much for NCLB, now it's about manning the zoo-like conditions), and while you're watching don't be surprised to see a mass exodus to a place called home-schooling (who wouldn't with no rules/no regs).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Take a Minute and Think of the POWs

Today, April 9th, is POW Remembrance Day.
Please take a few minutes and give thanks to those who suffered in the name of this wonderful country.

Vouchers Aren't The Answer

The magic bullet has been placed in the chamber in hopes that all of the ills of public education will disappear. Like other supposed cures, it sounds good in the sound bites, but it just won't cut it when the smoke clears.

School vouchers work something like this: Student X doesn't like h/her current high school and wants to be with h/her friends at Scared Heart Secondary School. Student X applies for chit (voucher: equal to the amount the public school spends on h/her for an academic school year) with a value of $3000 to $5000 depending on the state.

The hue and cry promoting the vouchers is that the private school has:
1) smaller class sizes;
2) high quality instruction;
3) a safer environment; and,
4) higher tests scores.

There is no longstanding evidence that could suggest that any of the above are factual save for #1.
But, let's get to the points that aren't shared with the public.
1) Private schools are not required to admit anyone, so racial groups might have issues upon enrollment;
2) Students with disabilities are likely to find the admission doors closed; and
3) Private schools are not required to meet any state standards on tests, teacher quality, special education, etc.

An example of unfairness in the voucher program is if student X takes his chit to Sacred Heart and discovers that that school does not have a speech therapist (physical therapy) on staff, state law will require his previous high school to provide for that service even though the expenditure money for student X is now in the coffers of the private school.

Of course the above list is short, and yes there are many more issues that should be brought front and center to the marketplace of ideas for a fair hearing in the public square.

So, the next time you hear the cheer for vouchers, take the role of a wise and informed citizen and look at all the facts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Be My President Not My Idol"

With the nation going ga-ga over Michelle Obama's European trip with her famous husband and with the conservative news stations serving up the headline: "The U.S.- Road to Socialism", I am hoping we take a collective reality check.

Whether we like it or not this nation is viewed by most European leaders as brash, pushy, and demanding. At the onset of the Iraqi War our nation's leaders took a John Wayne, hard-nosed attitude with them with verbiage that said: "You're either with us or you're part of the problem". Even kind and generous Americans were thought of as "Ugly Americans" by most European citizens. So, it should come as no surprise that developing an amicable relationship with the European hierarchy isn't going to happen over night.

Michelle Obama's appeal, both national and international, can't bring further harm to the Prez's image here and abroad. Let's be honest about it, she's a breath of fresh air. A new look, a new voice. But isn't that her role?

As for the conservative talk shows, what credibility can be garnered when they feel the need to exaggerate the dangers of the economic course in which this country is headed. The answer is none.

As for the President I want him to stay the course, stay grounded, and stay away from concept that he should be hep, cool, and with it. I just want him to be himself. I don't want him to be my idol, I want him to be my prez.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Global Warming"? ..Yeah, Sure !

Here in the south central part of the U.S. we have experienced some severe winter storms and even below freezing temperatures in the first week of April. Of course such weather brings out the expected comments about Al Gore and the issue of global warming. Surely you have heard them: "So much for global warming" or "It just proves that Al Gore doesn't know jack about climate", and so on.
Intelligent people say stupid things that get picked up by h/her not so intelligent peer and soon the average g/gal on the street is repeating a falsehood as if it were true. Unfortunately, had those who blew off Gore as if he were an alarmist, and looked at his main points regarding climate, h/she would have discovered a most interesting point: huge swings in weather conditions. Instead they sneer at the "Inconvenient Truth" and the former Veep as if he were the village idiot, not realizing that their very disparaging remarks identify them as such.

"Operation Firewall"

Obama bolsters Mexico border in new drugs ...

Fourteen tons of drugs burning in Juarez, Mexico.

Mexican drug cartels are fighting for the U.S. dollar in a modern drug war along the U.S./ Mexico border. Officials at the D.E.A. have reported that American consumers spend about $12 to $15 billion each year for illegal drugs and have pledged to bring such a demand to a grinding halt.

More than one year ago Congress passed the Merida Initiative in an effort to stop the violence and the flow of drugs into the U.S. The initiative calls for $1.5 billion in aid to Mexico with approximately $117,000,000 for military hardware and equipment (that's more than the Defense Dept. hands to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan).

So, why isn't this program working? The Department of Homeland Security says the "shared problem, shared solution" hasn't gotten out of the portals of the Treasury Dept. because the new military technology hasn't been resolved. Huh? The word we should use here is bureaucracy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Job Market Looks Bleak for Grads

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has announced that this year's crop of grads will have a rougher go of it in the job market. Their report says that corporations plan to hire 22% fewer graduates. Reporting corporations also said they wouldn't be hiring at all.

The only bright spot in the employment arena is the announcement by the fed govt that they will be hiring but the increase is only a whopping 5-6%.

Want ideas about getting hired? Whether you are a newbie or a person recently laid-off, you can find a wealth of helpful info in the Wed., April 1, Reader's Digest, article by Hilary Sterne and Cathy Grandel.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ssh! If We Sit Here Long Enough Even More Will Die In Darfur

The press is so mum on the subject of Darfur one would think it's "All Quiet on the Western Front" all over again. With all due respect Remarque and his wonderful book we could use his example regarding silence again. The scene: the Western Front of the Great War with millions dying while we ( Americans) sat as happy as clams thinking nothing was happening at all.

Now we have Darfur about the size of Texas, a region in Sudan about 1/4 the size of the U.S. and what is happening therein is a perfect storm whipped up by the Janjaweed who have killed over a 1 million souls, and have displaced over 300,000.

The U. N. sits on it's collective rump and does nothing about the slaughter. The U.S. and all its bluster about worldwide freedom doesn't say or do a thing.

Just think about the geography one more time. Darfur the size of Texas! Just thinking about how to police the region, not to mention food or drug distribution, would require one hell of a military presence.

Ssh, all's quiet in a world with no backbone!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hey Ladies! What's Wrong With this Picture?

Let's see: they are the world's leaders. They represent all of us, all races, all genders.
What does the picture below tell us? Females represent 51% of the world's population, yet one could hardly tell it by the photo of the "elected" representatives (ok, some of them come from plutocracies) at this conference.

The U.S. Congress has 535 members is made up of only 15% women.

What does this picture of the G-20 conference tell you about power?

G20 leaders, with Her Majesty the Queen

Huge False Alarm: Was it Done on Purpose?

Yesterday, for no worthy reason, the respected Washington Post editorial staff sent out the ominous alarm that we would see a "light-switch tax" in Prez Obama's budget. So, right now let's get it clear before the heated discussions at the water dispensers and the local pubs heat up. It's not in the bill. It's not even vaguely mentioned in the bill.

I have a great respect for the fourth estate. We sorely need them to serve as a check and balance on the three branches of the federal govt. We should expect them to report the facts and we should also understand that they can surmise all the want in their op-ed sections, but to stoop to a legerdemain-like trick as the Post did yesterday is below the standards of good journalism. Was this done in a manner to get the concept out into the marketplace of ideas to see if it would fly? Doubtful.
Was it done as a way to create an even greater uproar from members of Congress (who probably haven't read the bill and are not likely to do so) to stifle its passage? Maybe.

Was it an oversight? Not in a million years.

Who knows? Just know that it isn't true .

Joseph Goebbels said something to the effect that if we tell a big enough lie long enough the will people tend to believe it. I am pretty sure this false alarm will be repeated as the truth for weeks/months to come by millions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Want to Win the Debate Over the Stimulus Package?

Last Sunday I wanted to throw a shoe (Ok, both shoes) at the talking heads decrying the negatives over the Stimulus Package. On almost every show some conservative shouted out that the New Deal didn't work during the Great Depression. I knew they were wrong so I did my homework and this is what I discovered:
1. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) produced over 2,750,000 jobs;
2. The WPA was at work in every county in the nation producing dams, bridges, water systems, roads and sever systems;
3. That same group built almost every library and public school in its 9 year existence, with employment near 3,000,000;
4. The F.D.I.C. was created (where would we be without it today?)
5. The Security and Exchange Commission was created (it has failed us of late, but the idea is solid if "regulation" were placed back into force;
6. Photographers, artists, and musicians of every stripe were hired to maintain our cultural heritage;
7. The Tennessee Valley Authority brought forth thousands of jobs, bringing electricity to rural communities and farms; and,
7. It worked!

Most of the conservatives who waved off this Keynesian Theory dismissed its value by saying it was only WWII that stopped the economic collapse. Not true. Such pseudo-logic completely leap-frogs over 9 years of hunger, strife, and family separation that would have been further exacerbated without such a program.

Now, go win the debate!
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