Friday, December 28, 2012

Vladimir Putin in translation

Here's how to analyze the recent law just passed in Russia against Americans adopting Russian orphans; in response to a U.S. law cracking down on Russian human rights violations, Russia responds by passing a law violating the human right of their many orphans to have a family.

Shake your head, yes, and then get down on your knees and pray for the plight of these innocent ones.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yet another reason my family is homeschooling....

Apparently, the United States Department of "Education" is behind a move to require that half of reading in English class--and 70% for high school seniors--needs to be "informational texts" like Federal Reserve documents, IRS forms, and Executive Order 13423.  No, I am NOT KIDDING, and apparently many states are already behind this.

Now, I'll agree that informational reading is important, and I'll even confess that as an engineer who has done a lot of work on military contracting, I'm pretty good at it, too.  However, it apparently has escaped the notice of the bureaucrats at the D.o.Ed. (so to speak) that schools are filled with "informational reading"--that being of course the other five or six classes that students take each day.  So if a child is actually learning in that 85% of his school day, he is going to be learning the art of informational reading.

Worse yet, can you imagine the despair in English class when asked to read and appreciate the instructions for IRS form 8812 or Executive order 13423?  We're talking suicides here, folks.  Doesn't the 8th Amendment prohibit this sort of thing? 

(well, I guess I've had to read IRS forms, so clearly the courts do not adhere to my common sense interpretation of the Eighth Amendment!  Might as well inflict 'em on the kiddos!)

But even that isn't the worst of it; can you imagine what will happen to the quality of American thinking and writing when Mr. Clemens is replaced with the EPA statement on carbon emissions and global climate change?  The despair will not be confined to English class, but will go throughout society. 

The one bright thing I can think of from teaching students from the IRS Manual of Style is that a quorum of want-to-be writers of romance novels might bring the delights of the Instructions for Schedule B to that genre and kill it off in the same way Don Quixote killed off the genre of the tales of knights-errant.

That said, if people at the Department of "Education" can't figure out that this is a colossally bad idea, I'd suggest that they're not exactly adding much to the process, and our nation can safely cut well over $68 billion from the federal budget (plus "mandatory" spending in the same department) without any harm being done.

But please, don't read it.  Just pick up something by Mr. Clemens, or Shakespeare, or Homer, or Tolstoy, or Goethe instead.  It's the rebuke Arne Duncan, architect of a sixth grade reading level among Chicago Public graduates (and 40% don't graduate at all--guess how Obama gets elected!), desperately needs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hilarity, I mean sadness, on the radio

While running some errands this afternoon, the guys on WCCO noted that two hot "apps" for cell phones are intended for the singles crowd.  One would allow a person to "bump" another, and their cell phones (if both had the app) would detail their latest "list of diseases" they'd had "down there."   The other would allow a quick credit check of a potential paramour.

Apparently, many in our culture are of the opinion that when you're in a fairly dangerous area called "hunting grounds for casual sex," you can trust the information on our paramour's cell phone to protect you.  And we wonder why so many adults come down with those icky diseases.

Or, rather, I don't wonder if this kind of thinking is widespread.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Help for gun control enthusiasts

Obviously the atrocity in Connecticut has led to calls for gun control, specifically a lot of calls for stricter screening and even registration of guns, as well as outright bans on firearms with large "clips."  So in the interest of kindness, here are some tips for you.

First of all, the thing on the bottom of the firearm is called a "magazine," not a "clip", and it holds "cartridges," not bullets.  A cartridge consists of a brass or steel casing, a primer, powder, and the bullet.  Moreover, military-style semi-autos are not in general "high powered."  If they were, emptying a 30 round magazine quickly would send you to the doctor.   Ask anyone who has hunted elk or moose; the recoil on a large caliber hunting rifle dwarfs that of most "assault rifles." 

If you believe that gun control prevents crime, please explain the District of Columbia and Chicago to me. A University of Pennsylvania study found that the 1994 "assault weapons ban" had no measurable effect on crime.

Percentage of mass killings in the United States in zones ruled "gun-free" by law or property owner:  100%.

Percentage of 20th century genocides where gun control was used to disarm civilians prior to the genocide:  100%.

Partial list of mass shootings averted by a law-abiding private citizen, courtesy Mitch.

Partial list of mass shooting incidents where antidepressants and mental illness were involved.

Roving gangs of armed men on the streets which might make a large magazine firearm quite useful: Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, Nortenos, Pagans, Gambinos, Columbos ......

Reasons why gun owners get very testy when the media simply "blames the gun," despite the fact that our guns have in general killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's Oldsmobile:  see above.  Recent tragedies are much more complicated than a lack of gun control, and it's arguable that more gun control would, by making more gun-free zones and reducing the ability of people to defend themselves, make the problem worse.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

If this were a just world,

columns like this one from Amitai Etzioni would result not only in the perpetrator of said writing losing tenure, but also would lose his doctorate, any other college level degrees, his high school diploma, his kindergarten graduation certificate, and his drivers' license.  His idiocy? 

To suggest that sensible people ought to not only disarm--an idea that any survivor of the Nazis like Etzioni ought to spurn--but also that they ought to make it public knowledge that they are defenseless. 

Yeah, that'll keep the criminals of the world at bay.  Maybe take the bars off your doors and windows if you live in a rough neighborhood while you're at it, too.  

Facepalm/hat tip to Mitch at Shot in the Dark.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maybe I'm wrong here.....

....about GM and Chrysler necessarily going through bankruptcy again.  Why?

Because Michigan will no longer allow the UAW to insist that all hourly workers be UAW members.  With a bit of luck, the Detroit Three will be able to shed the UAW tax and start to be competitive.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Heard on the radio.....

.....on the way home from work  (WORK!!!!!) was our President arguing against "right to work" laws in Michigan on the basis that the future did not lie in low skill, low wage jobs.  Of course, by defending the UAW in this, he apparently is of the belief that the future does lie in low skill, high wage jobs, as if UAW members have no competition in Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and for that matter, Thailand and China.

Thankfully, it appears that Governor Snyder is poised to sign it, and it'll be very, very interesting to see how many UAW members drop the UAW like a bad habit when it goes into effect--and what things the UAW does, legally or illegally, to prevent them from doing this.  If the UAW tries what I think it will try, it'll be interesting to see Mr. Obama try to avoid the DOJ invoking RICO against one of his prime sources for campaign funds.  Moreover, if Obama surprises me and does what's right in response, it'll be interesting to see how much of the UAW bailout money goes to former members suing for illegal intimidation.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The school lunch and the UAW lunch

First of all, in a hit article Gino has already pounded (quite well BTW), it appears that the USDA is "allowing" school lunch programs to have a bit more grain and meat in the school lunch.  As the son of someone who worked in the school lunch for years, I have to say that I've learned that the degree of control exercised by the government in this area has to be seen to be believed, and it still doesn't get rid of "real Italian pizza."  (no insult intended to real--or fake--Italians who know what real pizza is; it's the school district's ethnic slur, not mine!)

For that matter, does the government's "one size fits all" recommendation for eating in general fit any of us?  The 6'10" guy and the little gal at 4'8"? The thirtieth generation of grain farmers (that is, most caucasians), and those descended from hunter-gatherers?  Really?

And in other inspiring news, the Chrysler workers caught drinking their lunch have apparently been, at the demand of the UAW, been reinstated in their jobs.   Because it's not like UAW workers work around heavy equipment that could kill a man, and it's not like doing their job incorrectly could cause a catastrophic failure in their product, after all.

When Chrysler and GM go bankrupt again, I hope we have an adult in the White House who understands the consequences of bailing out the UAW.  Chrysler's poor quality record is not all the UAW's fault, but this kind of nonsense certainly doesn't help.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Pretty close.....

David Limbaugh writes something that needs to be heard.  Given the obvious fact that President Obama is not negotiating in good faith with GOP Congressmen--pretending that $1.6 trillion in tax hikes and $400 billion in spending cuts (none to take effect in 2013 to speak of) is balanced, for example--it's time for Speaker Boehner to end the charade and present the GOP plans directly to the public.  No more secrecy, and no tax hikes until President Obama comes up with some serious spending cuts that take effect this year.

We can start with the Department of Energy and cut funding for everything but basic research--there's nearly $30 billion to start with, annually.  After 40 years, they have yet to develop a single source of alternative energy. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Seriously cool!

Italian researchers have figured out that a simple breath test can accurately detect at least some forms of colon cancer 75% of the time.  Now I don't know how expensive this would be--I'm sure the capital investment could be high--but as the son of someone who died from this disease, I'd be willing to make a trip to Rochester (or hey, even Italy) to help them figure out what the rate of false positives would be.

And I have to admit that I wondered whether the test could be even more effective if you fed the tool with flatulence. (and would a good bowl of chili the day before throw it off?)

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Your legal system at work

H/T Elspeth @ Breathing Grace.  Apparently, a soldier in Utah has seen his daughter adopted without his consent, and those involved in the adoption have misrepresented the law as stating that a married father must show interest in his child, have misrepresented the father as having abandoned his wife, have lied about the father's whereabouts, and more.  Despite the adoption agency's insistence on the adoption going through, they apparently always knew

Perhaps this is the "J" part of my "INTJ" personality, but my personal take here is that the ex-wife needs to be sent to jail for perjury, and the lawyers for the adoption agency and the adoptive family need to be disciplined--misrepresenting the clear meaning of the law to this family is putting two families through Hell.  If the misrepresentation is particularly egregious, I would favor disbarring the lawyers.

And the adoption agency?  Well, for starters, their part in the matter justifies a large compensation to the father, and if I were the state agency governing adoptions, I'd be asking for a look into their records to see how many other fathers have been wrongly deprived of their children.

Seriously cool......

Bombino, the Jimi Hendrix of the Tuareg of Africa.  Take a listen.

If you want to know what is wrong with Wah'habi Islam and Al-Qaida, they stand against this kind of music.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Why bother working?

No, I'm still going to start my new job next Monday, but this article here does have me asking why I bother--except for the fact that God says that if a man shall not work, neither shall he eat.  Here's a graph from Pennsylvania demonstrating a very scary reality.

In a nutshell, the single parent earning nothing actually has more disposable income than the same person with an annual paycheck of $50,000.  The single parent earning $29,000 (a decent factory or clerical job) has more resources than the same person earning $69,000--the wage of an engineer with a few years' experience.

Now of course, not all states are the same, but I'd hazard a guess is that, apart from the absolute numbers, the same principle will apply.  Someone working at "Chez Mac," or not working at all, gets pretty close to the same goods and services (at least the government's cost for those goods and services) enjoyed by someone who busted their rear to get into a well paying profession, and people in DC are wondering why it's hard to persuade people to bust their tails to get into a profession.

Or, for that matter, into any job that offers the hope of advancement.