Monday, December 19, 2005

Future Schools, Draw the Curtains Open Wide !

Ski The Far Stars

So we're back to the age old question of who decides what the youth are to learn, the elders or the youth ?

My younger daughter is envious of the fact that I had a chance to take Latin, as she now battles her way through medical texts.

I think that a middle ground may be found in which a cadre of teacher overseers work with each student on an occasional basis, querying them with questions designed to have them thinking about what they want to do in the future, and what they need to pick up on now to be able to do it. At the bottom end of the scale, the economics of living off mom and/or dad can be repeatedly explained until the students get that their lives will take a real turn for the worse, if they fail to learn SOMETHING, at least the ability to read, write, and do simple math estimating. Teacher and principals should be empowered by law to expressly communicate repeatedly to both students and parents the realities of present day economics, and the need to PREPARE to avoid a homeless existence. where the only V8 in their set of wheels, will be a can of veggie juice. The global economic rat race is on, and the rest of the world is busily educating faster rats.

I think that the tools of communication now just being explored, everything from cel phones to blogs, to PowerPoint/Videos, to whatever's next out of the techno-chutes will completely reconfigure the average high school soon. The cadre of overseers can include people from all walks of life, anywhere. The student's output can be checked for flimflammery by the locals and electronic databases and AI. There's nothing more embarrassing than having an AI program come up with a question that you should have been able to answer, if you really wrote that paper.

I'm retired, but I still sub from time to time and just spent time in a school where the kids were moving all over the place, but appropriately, to different teachers with different specialities for short segments of time.

It seemed to be working very well, but this is rural suburban America, and people are more relaxed out here, usually on at least 2 to 5 acres. "We all need space," from the Wrong Trousers guy's story about the Zoo animals.

Cosmology, Religion, and Common Sense

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Here is a portion of a wonderful essay found at

Noise Filter

It is from a talk given by Niel Postman in 1990

"Now, in a way, none of this is our fault. If I may turn the wisdom of Cassius on its head: the fault is not in ourselves but almost literally in the stars. When Galileo turned his telescope toward the heavens, and allowed Kepler to look as well, they found no enchantment or authorization in the stars, only geometric patterns and equations. God, it seemed, was less of a moral philosopher than a master mathematician. This discovery helped to give impetus to the development of physics but did nothing but harm to theology. Before Galileo and Kepler, it was possible to believe that the Earth was the stable center of the universe, and that God took a special interest in our affairs. Afterward, the Earth became a lonely wanderer in an obscure galaxy in a hidden corner of the universe, and we were left to wonder if God had any interest in us at all. The ordered, comprehensible world of the Middle Ages began to unravel because people no longer saw in the stars the face of a friend.

And something else, which once was our friend, turned against us, as well. I refer to information. There was a time when information was a resource that helped human beings to solve specific and urgent problems of their environment. It is true enough that in the Middle Ages, there was a scarcity of information but its very scarcity made it both important and usable. This began to change, as everyone knows, in the late 15th century when a goldsmith named Gutenberg, from Mainz, converted an old wine press into a printing machine, and in so doing, created what we now call an information explosion. Forty years after the invention of the press, there were printing machines in 110 cities in six different countries; 50 years after, more than eight million books had been printed, almost all of them filled with information that had previously not been available to the average person. Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.

But what started out as a liberating stream has turned into a deluge of chaos. If I may take my own country as an example, here is what we are faced with: In America, there are 260,000 billboards; 11,520 newspapers; 11,556 periodicals; 27,000 video outlets for renting tapes; 362 million TV sets; and over 400 million radios. There are 40,000 new book titles published every year (300,000 world-wide) and every day in America 41 million photographs are taken, and just for the record, over 60 billion pieces of advertising junk mail come into our mail boxes every year. Everything from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to the silicon chip in the twentieth has amplified the din of information, until matters have reached such proportions today that for the average person, information no longer has any relation to the solution of problems.

The tie between information and action has been severed. Information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one's status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don't know what to do with it.

And there are two reasons we do not know what to do with it. First, as I have said, we no longer have a coherent conception of ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one another and our world. We no longer know, as the Middle Ages did, where we come from, and where we are going, or why. That is, we don't know what information is relevant, and what information is irrelevant to our lives. Second, we have directed all of our energies and intelligence to inventing machinery that does nothing but increase the supply of information. As a consequence, our defenses against information glut have broken down; our information immune system is inoperable. We don't know how to filter it out; we don't know how to reduce it; we don't know to use it. We suffer from a kind of cultural AIDS.

Now, into this situation comes the computer. The computer, as we know, has a quality of universality, not only because its uses are almost infinitely various but also because computers are commonly integrated into the structure of other machines. Therefore it would be fatuous of me to warn against every conceivable use of a computer. But there is no denying that the most prominent uses of computers have to do with information. When people talk about "information sciences," they are talking about computers -- how to store information, how to retrieve information, how to organize information. The computer is an answer to the questions, how can I get more information, faster, and in a more usable form? These would appear to be reasonable questions. But now I should like to put some other questions to you that seem to me more reasonable. Did Iraq invade Kuwait because of a lack of information? If a hideous war should ensue between Iraq and the U.S., will it happen because of a lack of information? If children die of starvation in Ethiopia, does it occur because of a lack of information? Does racism in South Africa exist because of a lack of information? If criminals roam the streets of New York City, do they do so because of a lack of information?

Or, let us come down to a more personal level: If you and your spouse are unhappy together, and end your marriage in divorce, will it happen because of a lack of information? If your children misbehave and bring shame to your family, does it happen because of a lack of information? If someone in your family has a mental breakdown, will it happen because of a lack of information?

I believe you will have to concede that what ails us, what causes us the most misery and pain -- at both cultural and personal levels -- has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers. The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot provide an organizing moral framework. It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking. It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most. The computer is, in a sense, a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we most needed to confront -- spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable conceptions of the past and future. Does one blame the computer for this? Of course not. It is, after all, only a machine. But it is presented to us, with trumpets blaring, as at this conference, as a technological messiah."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fighting Spyware, Round Three

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I was able to get Mozilla and Eudora working OK. I would have thought that 1.5 gigs would have been enough to make the transition, but it needed 2.5 for four years of mail. I still have Ad Watch spyware and one other embedded in my operating system, but now I know to right click the connecting monitors icon and watch the outbound traffic. When it starts to roll, I CTRL-ALT-DEL and delete the program from memory. I'm still working on a Linux modem master machine, and converting to XP at a minimum.

The Ethnic Christian

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I finally realized I am a member of a silent, in some localities, social but unorganised group. I am an Ethnic Christian, fully entitled to the rights that all Ethnics enjoy. If not, why not ? Why should it be OK to be an Ethnic Jew, with many of the traditions of the Jewish religion and culture, and yet not OK to be an Ethnic Christian, practising many of the traditions of the various branches of Christianity ?

This the season to celebrate Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hannuka, Kwanza, and a whole host of other mid winter celebrations. The tilt of the Earth will on December 22nd begin to bring longer days instead of shorter, in the Northern hemisphere, thus making for more time to enjoy and work in the visible outside world. The opposite is true down under in Australia and New Zealand and South America. Rejoice one and all, just don't put others with different views about the possibilities of an afterlife, and any God or Gods associcated with it, down.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Boston Legal, Money Changers, and Temple

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Boston Legal, Money Changers, and Temple

I was so happy to see the show take a major swipe at the megacorp creditco's in the show the other night. According to the Bible, if I recall correctly, Jesus drove the money changers from the temple. It would seem that they have taken up shop in South Dakota, where the legislature, in order to get more commerce, let them selves be bribed into voting for 29.9% interest as an OK amount to arbitrarily charge people whose check may have gotten lost in the mail, once in 5 years. Headquarter your bank in South Dakota or Delaware, and charge rates that will bankrupt the poor of the country. Eventually the Chinese will buy us out, then where will the US exec's be???

I went to look up the chapter and verse of this in the "textbook" "The Bible and Its Influence" by Schippe and Stetson, but by gum they don't have money changers or any thing about Jesus driving them from the temple. Could it be that those who bankrolled this book had anything to do with that deletion? The rich of the country run the press so that it is a distraction, and not a call for action and change. Some AM radio stations are now having newsrooms "sponsored" by banks, who promise "not to meddle," heh heh heh. Based on what I see in supermarket tabloids passing off as science, I'm not suprised the rich are getting away with it.

Christmas Giving:

New technique which just occurred spontaneously the other day for me. I was in line at K-Mart getting pet food (they have the cheapest prices, a loss leader) when the lady and two kids in front of me had a credit card came back bounced. I could see the pet food in their cart too, and saw the mom who on second glance had to be grandma, and the angry and disappointed kids faces, so before anybody could say "no" I just reached over and swiped my card and punched in my PIN. Felt good, sorta like the paying for the next 10 cars on the Bay Bridge used to. try it, you'll like it. The rest of the people in line behind me had bewildered and puzzled faces, I noticed as I turned to go. I'm glad I gave them all something to think about. The boy asked me if I were Santa Claus, and I replied, "sometimes."

Effectively I gave three times, as none of us in line behind had to wait for whatever delays might have otherwise ensued, and the animals were well fed, there were some special treats in the basket...

Besides, that kind of giving is what gives the Western Nevada County its special charm. You can still drive and courteous strangers will let you in from a drive way.
People stop and help. Many of the fire departments have major volunteer staffs. The Ladies Relief Society raises cash and distributes it to other non-profits, nobody has to go for the glory and grand-standing. People smile and say hello. It's just plain pleasantly different from the Bay Area. Everybody usually does at least two jobs, often both part time, one of which would be "beneath their station" elsewhere. So there you go, a common phrase here, where right and left generally get along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I was rather hoping...

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...that a combination of Mozilla's older browser and Eudora email might give me a combination that would give WIN98 R2 machines a few more years of life, but Eudora so far is being cranky. It did not import all the messages from outlook express, and apparently did not import any of the filters. Mozilla is doing fine, no popups whatsoever, and it allows me to manage my email on-line and delete the nasties.

What has happened is that after 7 years every hacker and his brother has discovered enough holes in WIN98 R2 to drive way too many trucks through, and then back out again, with personal data. Microsoft has no interest in plugging the holes, and the vendors who sell products to fight spyware and virii find it too much trouble to make proper fixes for the holes, and so any standard WIN98 R2 machine, even one with full updates and a current antivirus, firewall, and spywall, is doomed to fail the moment you go anywhere much on the net.

I'll continue to give this a shot, but I am very close to going on to Linux, and taking my chances there.

Daffy Bubba-Louie, what a great moniker ! It fits so well, almost as good as a certain postcard image.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Force 6 Cybercane is Approaching FAST !

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Well I thought that by safe mode booting and running my antispyware products I could weather this storm. It worked the first few times. It doesn't anymore.

I thought I was fighting Mirar and then Bookedspace, but at this point I think it is something far worse. My machine is a Win98 R2 with all the updates from Microsoft for the OS. I also run Computer Associates ETrust for anti-virus. I was quite happy with AdAware from Lavasoft, but when it was unable to function in regular mode, I bought XCleaner from XBlock. It worked one go round. Then it was disabled.

I tried to start from safe mode, and was able to get them both to work, once. The next time a mysterious gray box showed up next to the AdAware box in the running program area. No title and a seach of running programs via CTRL_ALT_DEL revealed nothing more than Explorer and AdAware. It would appear that whatever it is, it is buried deeply in the operating system.

I had kept a copy of the XCleaner Install program, renamed and in a different directory. I tried to copy it on top of the now bad install copy, renaming it a I went from DOS, but when I dropped back into Windows safe mode, it still hung in the middle of the install.

At this point I will quietly copy as much as I can of my personal data files onto CD's and DVD's and just leave the Outlook Express data alone. I will then go to a new email account and notify the people I want to hear from just what the name is. This is a tremendous waste of time. In terms of being a terrorist attack, I would say the time and data lost across the country will cost the US as many lives as 9/11. If the good doctor is trying to restore his computer, who's minding his/her patients ?

My four computer scheme, non-Microsoft Windows of any flavor, as awkward as it is, looks like it will be a necessity. I'm sure the Mac people are smiling, for now. Soon to get the last 5% of the market, the marketeers doing this crap will hit their machines too, and there are far fewer Mac specialists to fix the situation.

Web TV on an HD screen is beginning to sound good.....

It's hard being an environmental comedian when

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a Supreme Court Justice is out there shooting off the left wings of all the ducks...

"Well I woke up this morning..."

This time I really did wake up at 4am from an anticipated performance nightmare, in which for some reason I had scheduled myself as an environmental comedian, and I had no material, or hardly any, and I was scheduled to go on in a much bigger and more impressive venue than I had planned. Sweaty palms time backstage.

Actually, I realized afterwards that maybe I was onto something. Now here's a niche that has not been well filled yet. I googled and found all of 27 references to "environmental comedian." Most of them were teachers, integrating humor into their environmental curriculums.

For comparison I googled left wing comedian and right wing comedian and found 159 and 738 respectively. To get a further sense of perspective, I googled "Christian comedian," and got over 30,000 hits. I'm not really at all sure what to make of this, other than it strikes me as being rather funny.....

Are environmentalists too serious about saving the world ?
Do Christians have a better sense of humor ?
Do Christians need a better sense of humor ?
It's not "PC" to laugh about environmental problems ?
This is the group that brought us "nature bats last," and that is seriously funny at least as I read it.

Reminds me of the polical cartoon in which the cockroaches all dance in a circle as mushroom clouds arise in the distance. (Cockroaches are more resistant to radiation poisoning than humans.)

Good day to you too.......

Monday, December 05, 2005

Amazing Grace, I Got Lucky !

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I just had an experience like the folks down in Australia the other night who got to see the car-sized meteor splash through the sky. Some lucky guy even got an excellent video of it.

I've been having fun with some really nasty adware, Mirar and bookedspace. I just recently bought the upgrade to XBlocker/cleaner, and it was installed in C:\program files/XBlock or some such directory. I had requested a desktop icon when I installed it, but it never showed up. So I went looking for the program using Windows Explorer. BTW, I'm sing Win98 release 2 on this particular machine.

Anyway I found the program and fired it up, and it ran once, finding those two malwares and some others, and then crashing. I restarted the machine, a full cold boot, and went back to the directory, where I noticed a new file named "_new_file.exe" I then tried to run XCleaner again.

What I saw was XCleaner, file size 788 kbytes, suddenly become xCleaner, file size 0. Suffice it to say, trying to start it again came back with an error from Win98. That other new file disappeared completely. It was just by chance that I got to see malware attack a program designed to remove malware. I've downloaded another copy, and I'm going to make a complete backup copy of it before I install it. I will then run the computer in safe mode, if that is possible. I know that mode allowed AdAware to do a complete scan/removal cycle without interruption.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Trespassing and the Social Mechanics of Blogging

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Well, I don't feel so bad now. I got hit by "booked" which rates a 10 on a scale of one through 10 for damage. Despite being given a clean bill of health several times now by Lavasoft's AdAware Professional and Computer Associate's ETrust AntiVirus, each time I start IE6, the darn thing comes back, so this is being written from Opera. The terms above are trademarks of the respective companies. This blog is copyrighted by me.

I have a feeling the Mirar's big brother is "booked." All of it is bad, bad, adware, malware. I have to compliment Symantec Corp on having very detailed and well organised information about these nasties.

Previously I thought I just had Mirar, which is considered insignificant. I don't consider rewriting my IE6 window such that I can not longer acess my on-line email insignificant. I'm sure that anyone who is handicapped doesn't consider it insignificant either. The blind are very dependent on having stable software, as they have to "listen" to descriptions of each part of the page in order to make sense of it and "see" what is on it.

It seems to me that the blind shound be able to sue under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. The behavior of this "adware" is like blowing up handicap access ramps, and ripping apart the sound boxes on busy street corners that alert the blind to light changes. It is out and out vandalism.

If I have land and castle, and I put a barbed wire fence around it, and I put signs on that fence every 50 yards or so, saying, "no trespassing," I am legally entitled to have the sheriff come out and remove any individual who comes onto my property. If the person repeats, the sheriff can lock him up for a while to think about it.

As far as I am concerned, my computer should be no diffferent.

If I put up firewalls and virus protectors and ad protectors, I have said, "no, you are not welcome to come in." The amount of effort I'm expending is beginning to remind me of the Israeli's building their 30 high, 10 foot deep, wall to keep the Palestinians from playing walking time bomb.

The current state of affairs in cyber law is that if a marketeer can figure out how to fly over, tunnel under, or blast his way through the walls and signs, he/she has a perfect right to stick huge billboards about whatever, wherever he/she pleases. And if a second competing marketeer shows up, the two of them may fight and totally destroy my stuff, and I have no recourse.

This has got to stop. Legally there has to be a way of defining one's computer as one's castle, and metting (sp?)out punishment to those who, without permission, trespass.

I don't want to see the government take over the internet, but I do want to put a stop to wanton billboardism. The first step would be to review the books of those caught doing the placement of the ads. The second step would be to charge those who pay them to place the ads, megabucks. Yes, that's right, if Walmart pays Joe Cleveritas X amount of dollars to place an ad in front of Y number of faces, then Walmart pays a fine = to 10x + ($100 * Y). That should be discouraging to any megacorp.

The money goes directly to a fund to set up homeless shelters in the most expensive (value of exec's house there) 2nd home town of the megacorp's CEO, and I do mean Hillsburough, Pebble Beach, New Rochelle, Palm Springs, Aspen, Cape Cod, Kennebunkport, Crawford, etc. The home town is NOT the one he lives in to go to work from, unless it is outside of a major metro area. That would be REALLY discouraging to any megacorp executive ! He'd be hounded out of town by his toney neighbors. The shelters would need to provide FREE transportation to the to the toney new location from the nearby urban areas with crowded shelters.


I've noticed that my older daughter's cartoon has come true for my younger daughter. She, the younger, is in med school, and is blogging, and we parents and her many other friends wind up reading her blog to see what she's up to, because she is so busy studying, she seldom has time, even for phone calls. Her blogging I'm sure also provides her with relief from psychologically stress, which has got to be intense, when you take on the "save my life, please!" job. You can never know everything you'd like, and there are always more patients than there is time or are resources 4. There, I didn't end the sentence with a preposition !

I will write more on "booked" later. The sun is up and it's time to go outside. Tis the season photos will be up on in 15 minutes.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Death of America Via HyperMarketing

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I've just spent at least 8 hours clearing off some adware, a form of malware, in particular the variant know as Mirar. Buried deep on the Symantec site there is a complete listing of the changes you need to make to the registry.

8 hours of not teaching, of not working on my mini farm, of not helping out at the science center, of not doing good things for my body or mind.

8 hours wasted because some SOG (Son of a Glitch) decided to make software that deliberately and stealthly installs itself on other peoples' computers, without their permissions, despite up to date virus and spyware and adware and firewall protection.

8 hours wasted because this country cannot pass laws that make not only the developers and purveyors of this crap liable, but also the sponsors, whose messages they seek to spread, liable. Shall we also bring in the ISP's and those who hide the domain names so conveniently, who also get a piece of the pie provided by forcing people to watch their marketing ??? They all ought to be taken out and have their heads glued to computer screens for a week straight with their crap popping up in front of them every three seconds.

You take my 8 hours and multiply that across the country. The Roman Empire fell, and so shall we, if we don't stand up and say, "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

Those who don't spend the 8 hours, will quickly lose 8 hours to the maddening advertising. It's like changing a flat tire, one that was a brand new sound tire that hits a nail delberately placed in the road by a vandal. You still gotta do it, or you'll have to replace the rim, and then the axle too. And in the meantime, you'll be going much more slowly than before.

8 hours to put off Gator Gains from putting advertising into the brains of unwilling citizens. Repression via absolute unending noise. It calls for revolution.

Here's the recipe:

1 computer for email (Linux)
1 for surfing (Linux)
1 for applications (Windows of some sort)
1 as a server (Linux)

Each computer should have with its own set of protectors, with auto updating, if possible from different manuafcturers, and probably it would be nice to have hardware protection.

Only the applications machine would have Windows Obsolete/Compromised By Tomorrow Software for an operating system, and it stays OFFLINE, except for occasional talks with the server. In fact, it might be good to burn a DVD to move files over.

The rest of the computers have Linux or something even more obscure for operating systems.

I will physically disconnect machines from the outside world and one another except when it is absolutely necessary to have them connected. Jacks and ports should be on front of machines. Upgrades to OS's via CD's from manufacturers only, if at all possible. Does somebody make a sniffer that really tells you what's going in and out of your machine ? A box with a big fat switch on the top that shuts the data stream down NOW! ???

This will be my personal revolution. It is the only way to preserve the ecologies of my infosystems. And my sanity.

The internet is going the way of public television when it comes to fighting 1984 style forced programming/advertising. It is losing, slowly but surely.

The products that offer to fix the Mirar problem are just about as bad as the problem. I downloaded PC Tools when it said it could fix it for free. It identified it for free, I had already done that. It wanted $29 more to fix it, but didn't tell me that until after I had wasted my time downloading it. I deleted their program.

These products (PC Tools, Dr. Spy, etc) maintain a website that looks like it is consumer oriented, but it is really just one more way of pushing their stuff.

Went to CA ETrust, which does my anti virus, and purchased their Pest Patrol. THEN it tells me I have to uninstall my ETrust anti\virus software to make Pest Patrol work. Went to get my money back. Did so without ever having downloaded it even once. Did so within the 24 hour arbitrary limit they set. They told me another dept would send an email confirming that I wasn't using it, before they would refund.

I still don't have that email.

They admitted they knew I had never downloaded it, but they still wanted me to fill out this supposed email before dumping the amount from my credit card NEXT billing cycle. This BTW was all under Digital River Media's umbrella, Mr. Rollens(sp?) back in MN. Same group that billed me TWICE for Norton in 2000, which I was NEVER able to download, will NEVER use them again.

My credit card company says I really have up to 120 days to protest it, and I have to wait till it posts, it hasn't as yet, that may take 3 to 5 days. This country will wear out its consumers and we will not make enough money to keep everyone employed and then the whole darn thing will go down because Biggie WE SAY SO Corp is too short sighted and self centered, and marketing is KING, and it will be the DEATH OF AMERICA, if left unchallanged. Anything that makes 100 million/year certainly doesn't need the legal fiction of personhood, which is the only reason corps get to lobby for laws to line their pockets further, and to pick the pockets of the environment and the consumer. This is one of the cornerstones that lawyers laid to guarantee that the fiction of American Democracy & Relative Equality would never become a reality.

Phooey on WalMart and all the rest!

I write incomplete sentences when I get ticked off, yes, I know I do.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Stopping Theft of Donated Holiday Gifts

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It seems like every year I hear of a theft of toys originally destined for the poorer members of society. My guess is the stuff is stolen to be resold.

If some large sticker company could find it in its heart to make up totally non-removable big stickers that identify the product as a donation, it might slow down the rate at which the stuff gets ripped off. It would also make it easier for the police to bust someone, stopped for other reasons, who has a suspicious amount of toys in their car, should a sticker be visible.

The design of the sticker should be a cross between a holiday star and a police badge, done tastefully. Most police badges do not include red and green as dominant colors. Having a Good Sam put up a $10,000 reward for dealing in stolen donated goods would be nice too.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Global Economy in a Nutshell

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The human cost of one penny less

General, Bangladesh, U.S.A., Weblog

‘Dateline NBC’ investigates the human costs in the developing world behind the bargain shopping trend of the Americans and the competitive deals of the big discount stores.

The investigation goes to the source of the goods these store offers. In Bangladesh, a female worker, Masuma gets more like 17 cents for sewing as much as 80 stripes on pants in an hour, a perfectly legal wage, and more than many Bangladeshis like her earn. But she can barely live with that wages.

MSNBC arranged to bring her to the US, to a store where these pants are sold. She was shocked to find the selling price ($12.84) of one striped pant, more than she could imagine. She said the price of the pants left her feeling taken advantage of. If she was paid 25 cents an hour instead of 17, a 50 percent raise, she could lead what she considers a decent life.

When a US customer on that store was asked in front of Masuma, whether she would by the pant if it was 25 cents more, she declined. She said that she feels for Masuma, but she is counting her pennies as well. It’s the debate over globalization in its simplest form.

One Bangladeshi garments executive claims:

A few years back, I told Wal-Mart, “Give me one cents more a piece, one cent. I will use that money for these poor people.’ Wal-Mart’s reply was, ‘No, give us two cents less.’

So the industry gives in to the competition, shattering millions of workers’ (like Masuma) dreams:

“They make us work so hard, and they cheat us so much and we’re human beings. I’m not an animal. I’m a human being. Of course I’m angry. This is really shocking.”

Will they ever be heard? Will we still be counting our pennies?

Nobles and peasants, welcome to the 21st century, a return to feudalism !

All watched over and supervised by multi-national corporations, not governments, Orwell was very close to having it right. Verizon will fire anyone who doesn't wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, AT THE SAME TIME they declared Thanksgiving to be, "just another peak minute weekday." T-Mobile followed suit according to a friend.

"Duck and cover" has new meaning for me.

"We have seen they enemy and they is us."

- Walt Kelly of Pogo fame

I wonder how long those on the bottom will continue to put up with this ? I wonder how long those on the top can keep those on the bottom (via mindless tv and ads) from seeing how they are situated in the grand scheme of things ? Will I live to see a better world ?

Niel Young beats Bob Dylan and the rest that have sold out music of the 60's boomers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wingnuts, Right, Left, and Trees + more Adult ADD

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wingnut 10,000 hits on google
"right wingnut" 600 hits on google
"left wingnut" 99 hits on google

wingnut is a tree on wikipedia, + a crackpot, either persuasion, + an air force person in an air force base dominated town.

If you type in "too many nuts" +not +enough +rope on any search engine, you get more great serendipity stuff. BTW, this is my new bumper sticker.

don't boink !

Douglas Keachie

Monday, November 21, 2005

On the Wonderfulness of Blogging

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I just love finding stories like this from :


"Monday, November 14, 2005
What I know about America's greatness I learned from immigrants

Like many places, my city plays host to many different groups of immigrants: primarily Ukrainian, Bosnian, and Hispanic. I appreciate the last group because I'm trying to learn Spanish, and nothing helps to build the vocabulary better than walking through the local Home Depot.There's a smattering of other nationalities here from Eastern Europe, primarily Romanians. Romanians don't get no respect; our local drug stores provide free translation services for Poles, Vietnamese, and Filipinos, but not for Romanians. I think that's unfair. Any nation that has lost virtually every war they've ever fought in, yet thrives as an independent state (another country that comes to mind is Finland) deserves some respect, for resilience if nothing else.
An immigrant once told me, "No one knows exactly what the American Dream is, but what all Americans share is that we all believe that there is such a thing." Just as few defend the faith with the vigor and clarity of enthused converts, new Americans often see our country with the respect that we jaded old-timers lose after just a few generations.

I was proud of the unity that our country initially displayed after 9-11. In many ways I hope never to see the most touching scenes ever again: walking by a visitor's lounge at the hospital and seeing a dyed-in-the-wool "redneck", with his long hair braided into a pony-tail, openly weeping as the camera panned over the rubble of the twin towers. I didn't ask him if he were a registered Republican or a registered Democrat. That kind of thing didn't seem very important at the time.

One of the most passionate and outraged Americans I encountered was a Ukrainian who had recently just received her American citizenship and works as our hospital's librarian.

"How can zey do zees to my country!?!" she exclaimed in her heavily accented English. She'd been in this country for ten years, and she was every bit as American as my family that can trace it's descendants to the 1700's. Maybe even more so, given that members of my family couldn't tell you what the three branches of American government are to save their souls.

Back then one of my patients was an 95 year old woman from Poland. She showed up for appointment wearing a beautiful embroidered tiny American flag on the label of her jacket (like most folks her age, she would never have gone to the doctors wearing jeans and a sweater). She had had classic irritable bowel syndrome for sixty years, and nothing I prescribed ever affected her symptoms one way or another. She could remember the exact day her symptoms began.

"My father owned an apartment building in Poland. I remember one night the Nazis came and dragged off all the Jews. I remember the sound of their heavy boots coming up the stairs like it was yesterday. I've been nervous ever since. Then after the war one night the Communists came to my father's apartment building. This time they were looking for my father because he was a land owner. We left very quickly. I've had bad diarrhea ever since."

I've traveled to Romania three times and came away with two things. I'm told I have an excellent Romanian accent, probably because I naturally speak in a monotone and I can roll my "R's". I also have an enduring hatred of totalitarianism, regardless of ideological stripe. Nicolae Ceausescu was a "liberal" of sorts who routinely thumbed his nose at the "conservative" Kremlin hard-liners. He was also a vicious lunatic who damaged the Romanian psyche so deeply that it will take a generation or two for his ugly scar to heal.

Because I at least try to speak a little Romanian, I get to see what few Romanians live in my area. One of my patients is an older woman who was educated as, of all things, a lawyer.

"My education was a total waste of time under the Communists," she said. "The judges didn't care about the law. Most of them didn't even know it. You couldn't bribe them because they were rich compared to the rest of us, who had nothing. All the opposing lawyers could do is to convince the judge which one of them was the biggest Communist. I didn't care for the Communists, so I never won any cases."

I never knew what she thought about our Supreme Court and the conduct of the Senate Judicial Committee. I don't know what she thinks about our political climate in which our first question to any statement of "fact" is not "Is it true?" but "What is the party affiliation of the claimant?" Next time I see her I'll have to ask.

From what I can tell (perhaps there is some irony in this statement), the only just war we have fought since WWII was the Serbian campaign, in which we dislodged a murderous tyrant who, although he was a constant menace to his neighbors, posed no security threat whatsoever to our country. During the campaign our home shower door broke and needed replacement.

Two Bosnians came over to replace our shower door. One was a Muslim, the other an Orthodox. This struck me as a bit curious, given the enmity between the two groups that we were all seeing on CNN.

"Of course we would probably be trying to kill each other if we were back in Bosnia," the Muslim said, "but this is America, and here we all can voice our own views without any threats".

I think that moment was the proudest I've ever been of my American citizenship.

posted by JusPasenThru | 6:27 AM | 0 comments links to this post "


This doctor is brilliant !

On the Demographics of Blogging

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I got into this by way of my older daughter, who jumped into it full bore several years back, as a semi-frustrated writer who couldn't stand newsroom language and banter.

I sort of assumed by now that the Whole World Was Doing It, but a brief conversations over the last several months with many people I interact with, from all age groups, reveals that actually a great many very literate people have still never even heard of it.

I think it is safe to say that those between 21 and 35 are the most active in the area. I think those of right wing and evangelical leaning & persuasion, who have more than 1/2 a brain, have embraced it with a passion. Since they are a minority of the population, they are few and far between in physical reality, and joining electronically gives them a sense of belonging ("belogging?")and strength. Listening to the Drudge Report, I heard him say that the polsters admit that they poll MORE DEMOCRATS than Republicans, how evil of them! Shame! Of course they do. There are more Democrats than Republicans, so, to keep the polls accurate, they have too. D'oh! When doing a poll, this is called, "Intelligent Design." Ever heard of that, Drudge ?

What blogging does is similar to what friendster, orkut, myspace, and other groupy devices do, which is to allow one to link up with others who embrace similar ideas. Except that it does it with much more depth and control, i.e., before you even let another person know you exist, you get to read a lot about their ways of thinking and feeling. It's a Lurker's Banquet, on the one hand, and on the other, as my wife likes to say, it's Vaudeville becoming Blogville, an intellectual's exhibitionistic playground, "Look at ME!" "See What I Think!" "See what I'm Feeling!" etc.

The Wingnut Bloggers, are so smug about this disparity in representation, that it is downright funny. I wonder if they'll laugh so much when the left really takes up the sport in earnest for organising. Democrats don't need no stinkin blogs to find one another, but eventually they will get around to using them, and perhaps re-balance the country in the process, something we sorely need.


Douglas Keachie

Further thoughts on CHP officer protection:

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Further thoughts on CHP officer protection, the Andy Stevens dilemma:

Dr. Bill Wattenburg at least gave my previous ideas a fair hearing on KGO the other night, but he shot them both down. This is not too discouraging for me, as I know that he makes a a lot wierd calls, along with his good stuff. Oh well, back to the drawing board !

Perhaps a central body shield, with a Lexan 1" thick peephole, similar to what riot police use, will be necessary. Two way voice can be enabled, given the advances in anti feedback technology necessary for 2 way video walls. It would be even cooler if there way a way to design it so that any bullets fired would be likely to bounces back and strike the perp.

I would also build in a nanny sized tv cam that picks up the perps visual as the officer walks up and immediately relays it to a VCR on the cruiser, AND SENDS IT to HQ ASAP. Another possibility is to insist that the windows of the car remained CLOSED. The officer places audio tranducers on the windows to establish communications. Any gunfire will result in an embarrassing and obvious shotup window, and glass on the driver. Drivers license, insurance(don't forget this one, fines can be up to $900 in CA!) and reg can be handed out through a crack no bigger than 1".

still thinking,

Douglas Keachie

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Vermont looks into Sucession, Unions are Bad

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Vermont looks into Succession, Unions are Bad.

Well it seems some folks in Vermont have decided that the US under Bush is just so far out of control and dangerous that they want to succeed from the Union. Apparently this possibilty was allowed for by the founding fathers, or at least talked about, but when the states in the South tried it, those in the North said "no, no, no ! That's not Right!" (apologies to Stan Freberg and the clang,clang,clang jazz, he got it right on)

Part of the arguement is that all the states need to band together for mutual protection against outsiders, "let's all hang together, or we'll all hang separately." This view is pushed still by the Republican Right.

Now what's funny about this is that as long as the Right is talking about states of the union, "hanging together" is the favored mode. The moment you try and invoke the same logic for the workers at a company, the concept is suddenly seen as "bad doggies, no donuts!" What's good for the goose is not good for the gander....?????

Needed: Cheap, Automatic-Reporting Radiation Detectors

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Given the worries these days about a nuke being brought into this country and hidden somewhere, or many of them, it seems we could use many, many, monitors.

If you were to design a radiation detector with a built in cel phone and GPS system that could be mounted in government vehicles, the process could be automated. They could also be planted close together along the entire Mexican and Canadian borders, disguised as rocks or plants native to the areas. Solar powered, of course.

If you could make one small enough with blue tooth technology that transmitted to a cel phone which already had the GPS capabilities, then they could go wherever police officers and others go in the normal line of duty, which is a great many places. The officer would not have to do anything exept turn it on at the beiginning of a shift, and off at the end, and recharge.

I assume that the US already has detection equipment at every seaport. If we don't, we're doomed. I would not put it past the mind of Osama & company to want to have many of them in place, completely shielded by lead walls, and then set them off all at once, after a long period of time, to totally break the American Spirit. Such an attack would probably have that effect. We have to remember, he's playing Chess and Bush plays Checkers. They have entirely different mindsets and Osama is aware of and plays on this fact, and Bush is hopelessly unaware, figuring that God will warn him of eminent danger. "Danger, Will Smith, Danger!" Unfortunately this Pat Robertson approach has proven to be unreliable.

The rest of us have to make sure we cover the holes in Bush's mental state. We should have bought up Russia's stockpiles long ago, and moved them to within 100 miles of the South Pole. It would have beem the wisest investment the West could have made during the 90's....

It might also help to have detectors of large masses of lead.....

Friday, November 18, 2005

Remembering and Honoring CHP Officer Andy Stevens

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Remembering and Honoring CHP Officer Andy Stevens of Roseville, California. An idea which occurred in the afternoon.

How can we discourage such killings of CHP and other officers ?

Maybe if cars had a place on the back, a part of the frame, with a 1/2" diameter hole through 1/2" thick steel, there could be a deterrent.

Officer approaches car, from behind as always. The difference is that he is carrying a latching, locking hook, attached to 1/2" steel cable, attached to a reel in the front of the police cruiser. Before he ever goes near the driver's door, he clips the hook. Any sudden jerks on the hook trigger a sensor which instantly call for backup. The hook hole could also be used by towing services.

The potential perp now nows that his only exit will be on foot. That should be disocuraging to most potential perps.

it's just a thought, but my intuition says it will work.

Douglas Keachie

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Assuming it does get around to snowing in California....

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A New Business Model:

I have just become domain master for and for, as well as a bunch more similarly named sites. If you would like to list with either of these soon to be active sites, please contact me at Keachie (a@t) swland org fill in the missing dot. Or at area 530 prefix 277 suffix 3456.

If you can make the snow go, you can be a SnowGobot (registered trademark). You can be a company with a fleet, or a high school student with a shovel, as long as you can dig it. Some SnowGobots can also run errands, liking picking up pizzas, videos, and other takeouts.

These two sites will list other snow removal and snow blower contractors and equipment suppliers in the Truckee, Donner Lake, Soda Springs, Tahoe-Donner, and Donner Summit areas, that can do snow removal if I am already tied up. As I am a one man operation, I am often tied up. While I don’t go to Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, Alpine Meadows, or Northstar and Kings Beach, others listed here do.

I do work Nevada City and Grass Valley, especially when I am teaching or tutoring students off the slopes. Have blower, will travel. Just look for the blue/purple Toyota Tacoma truck.

Monday, November 14, 2005

More Adult ADD

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Typing in "Well I woke up this morning" into technorati or feedster or the like results in some wonderful serendipity, for those of you who, like me, like jumping out of airplanes into totally unknown territories (with a parachute and supplies, thank-you!).

Rampant Adult ADD

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Yup, the flogging (advertising, editorials, messages from bosses) keep people from realizing that the stuff many would really appreciate could be produced and distributed, if it weren't for all the time wasted listening to pitchmen for schlock.

The constant pitching gets on the way of realizing that maybe a decent house, a well made form of transportation, good healthy food, a good medical situation, access to good education and the arts, and ways of meeting like minded people are really all most of us want out of life. Add in MORE FREE TIME, and the ability to travel without worrying about being blown up.

Well I Woke Up This Morning.....

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Well I Woke Up This Morning.....with a ton of stuff on my mind.

Cadavers and spirits. More later.

Spybots, privacy, security, and pave the way with gold for this addy trying to diddle my machine. You can set the first two to wide open, and sites demanding cookies, supposedly, still announce they can't get through. Post their site name to the edit part of privacy, and BINGO, you're into them like Flynn, and Vs Versa, apparently to a much deeper degree than MS or they admit to. Just a cookie ? yeah, right! Like Sony and their rootkit stuff.

Popups in the middle of my tv shows, plus huge long ad sequences, it is enough to make me ready to disconnect the dish and go back to the antenna. Turner Classic Movies is going to be my fare from now on, + Netflics.

Who gives a darn about anybody, sell more stuff (and BUY MORE STUFF), or we'll all starve, and you are a bad person for not owning MORE STUFF (especially poorly made Chinese stuff, not all, but a lot of it, thanks, Walmart). Of course those giving those directives are ONE HECK OF A LONG WAY FROM STARVING THEMSELVES. It's a flogging thing, to get more work, needlessly, out of the less wealthy folks on the planet. It distracts them from the fact that they ARE being flogged too. It degrades the quality of life for everyone, the rich just don't give a darn.

I don't use swear words here, as I expect that some of my students may stumble into the page, and I don't need the grief of explaining it to parents and adminstrators. Do mental substitutions as needed and appropriate.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rather than have Khatib get lost in the shuffle...

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Rather than have Khatib get lost in the shuffle......I've started up a petition.


The responses so far have encouraged me to set up a petition at:


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

For Man of the Year, let's pick Ismail Khatib

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Hmmmn, so how or other the front of this post got scrambled. Basically I called for nominating the Family or "Family of the Year" and the Nobel Peace Prize. Good grief, did somebody hack my site ?

Slain Palestinian boy's organs donated
Father says child's spirit is alive in 'every Israeli'

Monday, November 7, 2005; Posted: 11:02 p.m. EST (04:02 GMT)

Ahmed Khatib's organs were donated to Jews, Arabs and a Druse girl.

A gift of life in the midst of death (1:48)

NABLUS, West Bank (AP) -- The father of a Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli soldiers said Monday he believes his son's spirit is alive in "every Israeli" after donating the boy's organs to Israelis waiting for transplants.

Ismail Khatib said he was extremely proud of his decision, even if some corners of Palestinian society might be upset with him.

"No one can tell me what to do," he said. "I feel very good that my son's organs are helping six Israelis. ... I feel that my son has entered the heart of every Israeli."

Khatib's son Ahmed, 12, was shot Thursday while Israeli troops conducted a raid in Jenin. The soldiers said the boy was carrying a toy rifle and they mistook him for a militant.

Ahmed died of his wounds late Saturday at an Israeli hospital. On Sunday, his kidneys, liver, lungs and heart were transplanted into recipients ranging in age from a 7-month-old baby to a 58-year-old woman and including Jews, Arabs and a Druse girl.

Khatib said the decision to donate Ahmed's organs was rooted in his memories of his brother, who died at age 24 while waiting for a liver transplant, and in his family's desire to help others regardless of their nationality. He said he hoped the gesture would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

"We're talking about young children. Their religion doesn't make a difference," he said.

Some Palestinians privately questioned the donation, especially in light of the circumstances of the boy's death. But Khatib, a car mechanic, said his fellow residents in the Jenin refugee camp offered him only praise.

Israel has a chronic shortage of donor organs that many medical officials attribute to Jewish religious taboos against such donations.

Riad Gadban, whose 12-year-old daughter Samah had been waiting five years for a heart, called the donation a "gesture of love." He said his daughter was weak Monday but had opened her eyes, was alert and speaking to relatives.

Gadban, whose family belongs to Israel's Arabic-speaking Druse community, said he spoke to an uncle of the boy Monday.

"I told him I'm very sorry and thanked the family from the depths of my heart," he said, adding that he invited Ahmed's family to visit him.

Khatib said the many phone calls he received included a conversation Sunday with Israel's acting finance minister, Ehud Olmert, one of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's closest confidants.

He said Olmert apologized for the boy's death and invited him to Jerusalem. Khatib said he had not yet decided whether to accept the offer.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

Surely this man is more deserving of the honor than many of the creeps that have gotten it lately. If not "Man of the Year," then Nobel Peace Prize. I bow to his enormous humanitarian spirit. Send a Christmas card with a picture of him and/or his son, and their story, to tell the true meaning of Christmas.

The story was lifted from the CNN news site, Nov 7, 2005, so sue me.


Ending High Speed Chases and Stopping the Carnage

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Ending High Speed Chases and Stopping the Carnage:

Now here's a simple solution to a deadly problem. I've called this into numerous talk shows, but to no avail. Probably another case of "not invented here."

Police, sheriff, CHP, state troopers are driving along and become aware of a baddie in a nearby car. They "light it up" (turn on the bubble gum or panel of lights on the top of the police vehicle) but the vehicle, instead of stopping, takes off at high speeds. This is very disrespectful of the police, and they take off after the baddies.

If this were done on a closed course, no problem, but it is often done on city streets at highway speeds, and is a totally unpredictable deadly menace to everybody, including the police and the baddie.

My solution:

Install a high powered paintball gun in the cruiser.

The ball contains a tennis ball sized glob of bright florescent paint of a special color reserved for law enforcement.

Have a special 911 style number, which only operates when there is a paintball released in the area.

People who see a vehicle with the large blob of special paint get to call in to the number and report the location of the vehicle.

3 of said callers will win prizes donated by the business community, or outright grants of say, 250 scratcher lottery tickets.

When the baddie hears a big splat on the rear of his or her vehicle, they know that everyone out there will be looking for a piece of the action.

Have a fine established of say $100 per 1/10th of each mile traveled beyond the point of the splat, to be billed to the car owner (assuming it is not stolen) or the baddie. The car is impounded and sold to pay the fine, if the car is not stolen, and the baddie cannot pay.

Hearing about a fellow baddie that just lost his/her new Lincoln Navigator, and still owes the car dealer $30,000, should cause most relatively sane baddies to slam on the brakes immediately.

Saw a great video clip today showing an aerial of a baddie trying to slip inbetween two 18 wheelers, with an empty lane between them. Just as the car gets up to the front of the pair, the one truck steers towards the other, and the car becomes a weggie !

Anyway, hope some day some where, one of my ideas helps one person.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

So TV, the Media, and the Arts are Controled by.....

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..... a minority sector of the culture found predominantly in the humanities, i.e. the media, the arts, and education--the 'communicators' with the most power to influence a culture as a whole through language and images.

I don't think so.

Last time I looked, the content of most movies is determined by whatever those who have the money to have them produced.....think will make them even more money. The actors and the rest go along, it's a living. Most people who create art do not make a living at it, and most art is never seen. Again, that which is seen is that which put out for sale, and generally if it doesn't sell, it goes away, or at least people don't waste their time trying to sell it.

Van Gogh was not a millionaire. People do make make porn and call it art, but that's not why they make it. They make porn because they know they can sell it to willing buyers. The fact that there are willing buyers is simple testimony to the fact that this culture really doesn't have a very good way of dealing with that aspect of being a human being.

Culture is plainly a work in progress, with different ones succeeding in different areas. The cultural traditions of this country have always had a real problem with sexuality, and violence too. Everybody takes everything too darned seriously at the wrong times. This leads to tragedy, from domestic violence to road rage and worse.

As for teachers influencing a culture, they are more and more under the gun to quit, the risks of getting screwed around retirement time are increasing, as the rich in this country and the MEDIA they own and the ADS THEY PAY FOR through the COMPANIES THEY CONTROl sway elections, in a time of ever increasing greed, pandering just barely to whoever they think will help them, including various religious groups.

Anyone can look at the state standards and teach from either a left slant or a right slant. Those on the right wing tend to be either too stupid to become teachers (shy intellectual horse power or inclination) or too smart (it's a bad investment). If teaching were as lucrative at the right wing would like to present it, more right wingers would go into it.

Instead, the rich rich have learned to avoid traffic jams by going up to Tahoe on Thursday or Friday morning, and not coming back until Monday, except maybe for the breadwinner.

Soon they will have exactly what they want. Automated schools staffed by teachers scarecly older than their charges, who learn via computer based training and watch nationally syndicated teachers with ton of cash behind each performance. The cost of schools will drop, and real schooling (the new private school system) takes advantage of the new materials and presentations for the cheapo public video nurseries. The real schools are only for the rich rich, $35,000/year and up. The rich rich want vouchers, so that whatever they pay in taxes, they can get back for these super expensive private schools.

This all assumes that the rich rich do not soon find themselves in control of a country more impoverished and stupid than many third world nations, in danger of internal collapse, revolution, or an outright, straighforward, buyout by China, with all our Walmart/others dollars doing the destruction. Was it Lenin or Marx that said capitalists will sell you the rope you use to hang them ?

The Chinese woman on Mars in 2008 will be paid for with Walmart/HP/IBM dollars.

Americans will own a ton of breakable schlock for consolation prizes.

Farstars SkiTheStars ski the far stars

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jonathan Kozol's still got the Knack

This is from an article in Harper's about American schools being as unequal as ever.

Three years later, in third grade, these children are introduced to what are known as "high-stakes tests," which in many urban systems now determine whether students can or cannot be promoted. Children who have been in programs like those offered by the "Baby Ivies" since the age of two have, by now, received the benefits of six or seven years of education, nearly twice as many as the children who have been denied these opportunities; yet all are required to take, and will be measured by, the same examinations. Which of these children will receive the highest scores? The ones who spent the years from two to four in lovely little Montessori programs and in other pastel-painted settings in which tender and attentive and well-trained instructors read to them from beautiful storybooks and introduced them very gently for the first time to the world of numbers and the shapes of letters, and the sizes and varieties of solid objects, and perhaps taught them to sort things into groups or to arrange them in a sequence, or to do those many other interesting things that early childhood specialists refer to as prenumeracy skills? Or the ones who spent those years at home in front of a TV or sitting by the window of a slum apartment gazing down into the street? There is something deeply hypocritical about a society that holds an eight-year-old inner-city child "accountable" for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years earlier.

Perhaps in order to deflect these recognitions, or to soften them somewhat, many people, even while they do nor doubt the benefit of making very large investments in the education of their own children, somehow—paradoxical as it may seem—appear to be attracted to the argument that money may not really matter that much at all. No matter with what regularity such doubts about the worth of spending money on a child's education are advanced, it is obvious that those who have the money, and who spend it lavishly to benefit their own kids, do not do it for no reason. Yet shockingly large numbers of well-educated and sophisticated people whom I talk with nowadays dismiss such challenges with a surprising ease. "Is the answer really to throw money into these dysfunctional and failing schools?" I'm often asked. "Don't we have some better ways to make them `work'?" The question is posed in a variety of forms. "Yes, of course, it's not a perfectly fair system as it stands. But money alone is surely not the sole response. The values of the parents and the kids themselves must have a role in this as well you know, housing, health conditions, social factors." "Other factors"—a term of overall reprieve one often hears—"have got to be considered, too." These latter points are obviously true but always seem to have the odd effect of substituting things we know we cannot change in the short run for obvious solutions like cutting class size and constructing new school buildings or providing universal preschool that we actually could put in place right now if we were so inclined.

Frequently these arguments are posed as questions that do not invite an answer because the answer seems to be decided in advance. "Can you really buy your way to better education for these children?" "Do we know enough to be quite sure that we will see an actual return on the investment that we make?" "Is it even clear that this is the right starting point to get to where we'd like to go? It doesn't always seem to work, as I am sure that you already know," or similar questions that somehow assume I will agree with those who ask them.

Some people who ask these questions, although they live in wealthy districts where the schools are funded at high levels, don't even send their children to these public schools but choose instead to send them to expensive private day schools. At some of the well-known private prep schools in the New York City area, tuition and associated costs are typically more than $20,000 a year. During their children's teenage years, they sometimes send them off to very fine New England schools like Andover or Exeter or Groton, where tuition, boarding, and additional expenses rise to more than $30,000. Often a family has two teenage children in these schools at the same time, so they may be spending more than $60,000 on their children's education every year. Yet here I am one night, a guest within their home, and dinner has been served and we are having coffee now; and this entirely likable, and generally sensible, and beautifully refined and thoughtful person looks me in the eyes and asks me whether you can really buy your way to better education for the children of the poor.

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Spyware from the Washington Post

Declaration of Independence from Newspaper Spyware

Lately the papers I read on-line have been getting more and more obnoxious with ads and spyware. I am seriously thinking of setting up a, newspapers and others who are prone to this disease, computer. As soon as I am done reading the news on that machine, an older laptop for low energy consumption, I just put LavaSoft's Adware to work ( } and let it sweep that machine while I go about my real email elsewhere on my main machine. That way when the goonsquads come back the next day, they learn nothing. In fact it would be great to put nonsensical cookie like objects on it for their software whores to pore through in puzzlement. The guilty parties include our local "The Union" and the "Sacramento Bee." So far these two merely clutter up the lines with tons of margin ads and banners, but are not trying to shove Avenue A onto my machine.

I sent the following this morning to the Washington Post:

"At one time, I used to get the ability to comfortably read the articles. Then you started trying to shove Avenue A down my computer's throat, and my ad blockers kept it out. Then it took several tries to get to the article. Now it does not work at all.

If you had a reasonable fee for AD FREE, SPYWARE FREE on-line news, like say $2 to $5 per month. I would pay it. As it is, I will either be forced to adopt a computer that does nothing but download obnoxious crap and then dispose of it daily, by using an email that is strickly for sites that insist on sending obnoxious crap, or I will drop my subscription altogether.

You want to put stuff in the margins, OK. But let's keep it to 1st party cookies only, no spyware, market trakers. Neither GOD nor the GOVERNMENT FORCE you to make your business decisions. YOU MAKE YOUR DECISIONS and you are annoying the heck out of an otherwise good reader. I will be making MY DECISION based on your response, and the speed at which it arrives.

It is very easy to simply re-subscribe with another email addy, and do it with every company that I am only slightly involved with. It is very easy to blog about this concept AND TO SPREAD IT ACROSS THE COUNTRY, so that EVERYONE is doing it and your aDVERTISING DOLLARS for this source go to hell in a handbasket. Please see for another copy of this.

If you don't like my CAPITALIZATIONS, then maybe you should think about how I think about YOUR SPYWARE.

Douglas Keachie

To the Washington Post and other Newspapers following their lead down the SPYWARE path. Sent October 25th, 2005

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Monday, October 10, 2005

The Most Patriotic Flag in the U.S.A. is......

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...the one yet to be built.

Picture if you will, the canvas as the roof of ANYSCHOOL USA. Or any building, really.

Picture bars and stars made from solar panels, or at least the framing around them painted red white and blue, and you have the most patriotic flag this country can wave.

{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } { } [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } (((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } { } [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } (((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

and etc. My original flag was much better. How do you force the retention of spaces on Blogger ?

Another patriotic mission. Bring back the S.S. United States, holder of the TransAtlantic Blue Ribbon, I think to this very day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gas Crisis: Solved!

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Soon it will be hard to even get gas, so it behooves us all to put on our thinking caps, and realize that the world's about to get a lot cozier.

To wit: everybody loves the time alone while driving, and that, probably more than anything else, drives the one person/one car mentality. Unfortunately, it is a luxury (yes I know it's a necessity) that will probably die, except for those in hyper-efficient vehicles. It does give you time to think and listen to music and call friends.

The scarcity and cost of gasoline will soon demand the development of an on-line, real-time cross between EBay and the sex offenders registry.

As cel phones are now pretty ubiquitous, and the computer technology can handle it, it's time for, TAh DAh, "HomeLand AutoBay People-to-People Yes," or "HAPPY" for short. Each driver and would-be hitchhiker needs to be entered into the database. The data could include a security rating for each, personal characteristics like "loner," "gregarious," "golf fanatic," "non-smoker," "right wing," etc. Insurance companies could get in on the act and offer special policies in the event anything untoward happens.

A potential hitchhiker would dial into the database and indicate where he wants to go. Most phones already know where he is. Drivers could see or hear a running commentary about the hikers they are approaching who want to go to approximately the same destination as the driver, or at least to a point along the driver's route. The hiker could offer an amount to get to a given location, which would be paid when the GPS's on both the car and the hitchhiker's phone reached the destination, from PayPal or equivalent. Or, the government might offer a tax break to both individuals participating, based on milage.

It is unlikely that anything untoward would happen, as long as both follow the prime directive: "Shut Up!"

Each person could still be coocooned in their own little world, if need be, via all of our electronic gadgetry. However, I think that it might lead to a new bubble in the melting pot we call culture.

This was posted for the first time ever at It is sponsered by "The Rolling GradeBook," an outstanding Excel template designed to make teachers' lives easier. See it at

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Marketing and Stupidity

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I got a blackbery pie at the supermarket today.

At least that is what they called it.

Apparently these blackberries had some sort of accident on the way to the pie. There used to be an expression that dealt with the notion of getting what you've paid for, but I haven't heard it much lately; it goes like this, "The oats are much cheaper if they've been through the horse once already."

My observation for the day is that in an effort to make a given product cheaper, they keep reducing the qualtiy to a point where the item is no longer even recognizable for what it is supposed to be. Why is it that you have to buy premium this or premium that in order to get just plain old what you'd expect to get. Artificial should be in the biggest type used anywhere on a package that contain artificial anything other than a preservative. Juice drink should contain at least 50% juice, not 3%.

Marketing and Stupidity, my wife came up with the junctaposition of these two words this morning. I really do think they go together. When I buy parachute cord, I don't want to read anything less than 600 lbs test on the label.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Now that was MUch FAster

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It picked up on RGB very quickly. I wonder if they scan for terms in common use faster than they scan for oddball things like Rolling GradeBook ?

Fast, Cheap, Simple Evacuations

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It seems to me that you could decrease the load on the highways if you were to use the railroads and a cheap version of an extra big commuter train.

Gondola cars are normally used to transport bulk goods, but, with a bit of plywood, 4 x 4's and plenty of mattresses they could be modified to carry people in an emergency. Simply divide up the area within the car such that in the event of a sudden stop or start, only one person would be thrown into the mattress in a given sector of a gondola car. The necessary supplies for the modification could be stockpiled near big railroad yards. The mattress could be ones otherwise headed for landfills.

This should speed up the evacuation process, as the cars can be prepped out of harm's way, and 100 cars each holding 100 people could move 10,000 people in 2 hours to at least 100 miles away from the disaster. This means 10,000 people every four hours for each train so set up. Ten such trains could evacuate a city of 1/2 million in less than 24 hours.

What do I have to do to call this concept to the attention of Homeland Security and FEMA ? Of course, since they didn't think of it first, and I'm, well, not a very good Republican, they'll probably reject it out of hand, as "not invented here."

Barabara Schmidt Miller Celebration of Life Triathlon

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I had a really good time at the 11th Barabara Schmidt Miller Celebration of Life Triathlon. I took pictures, photos, pixs, picts, from on the water on my windsurfer, and from in the water with an underwater housing. you can see them at, be sure to scroll down.

This event took place at Scott's Flat Lake, near Grass Valley and Nevada City California, 95949 and 95959, on Sunday, September 25, 2005. I also shot the runners and bicyclists, and a lot of money was raised to fight cancer, such a good cause! BTW, the reason for the redundancies in this listing are so that people searching using technorati or other search engines will be able to find it easily.

You are welcome to make copies of the images for non-commercial, personal use, but I would appreciate you dropping me a line at keachie (at@at) swland org. You fill in the dot and unscramble the "at" sign.

Curiouser and couriouser....

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Or however you spell it. I am still looking to see how technorati picks up on things. I will now post this, and put a fully written out RGB in a comment. I want to see if technorati just gets the main post, or if it can grab from a comment as well. So this post stays up for several days, to see if I can pick up on "RGB in a comment," and then I add in a comment with RGB written out, and see if it can pick up on RGB written out in a comment.

Thanks David, whoever you may be, for the feedback. It took at least 8 hours to work.

Monday, September 26, 2005

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Ah ha, the HTML from technorati does show up in every post. Ok kiddies, the "Rolling GradeBook" can be found at

This post is formatted for fast reading, just like the program it describes. The formatting does not work for every posting situation.
It is a shameless promotion of a scheme to save teachers from going to Stress City when grades are due. It's my little bit to save the world, one classroom at a time. I wish I had this system waaaay back when!
I used to do classes in Excel for other teachers as a Mentor Teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. I have since upgraded the concept and am now producing, and still developing a grade book called, "The Rolling GradeBook," which is described in detail at
One big difference between this one and all the rest is that it can be used by the person who knows no Excel, right out of the box, and yet it has every whiz-bang feature I can think of, and I keep adding to it, from those mentioned to me by teachers after they've used it. As time and inclination permit, the teacher can learn the magic (how Excel works) behind the scenes.
It's sort of like buying a car. With the Rolling GradeBook you can get in, turn on the key, and drive off. It can be used the night before grades are due, if necessary. Later on, if you wish, you can find out how the motor and the electric headlight wipers work.
Another big difference is that this system assumes that you'd rather walk around the classroom with a clipboard and a piece of paper with your current students neatly listed on it, with space for writing, than to be chained to a laptop or desktop, lugging a tablet PC, or trying to squint at a Palm Pilot.
A third difference between this and the rest, except others based on Excel, is the ability annotate in great detail any assignment, grade, or code for attendance or misbehavior, while it is still fresh in your mind. You get to use Excel's comment feature for this, and, if that is not enough room, or you wish to add photos or sound bites, you can simply add in another tabbed worksheet to your file, and use the comment to reference that tab. A missing work indicator instantly shows up in the classroom or Internet posts, even in the summary postings, so that the student cannot declare that they didn't know that anything was missing.
Each class and each grading period gets its own Excel file, which can be "saved as" incrementally during the report card period for maximum safety, security, and speed. Each class can thus have its own password, and the files are small enough to fit on a 1.44 floppy, and the program avoids all the hassles of database rebuilds, connecting to the Internet, slow connections and computers (this will run fast on pre-Pentium computers), and monthly or yearly fees. You cannot get "lost," as long as you can remember your file names, which can be as clear as, "Period_1__Monday_Day_1.xls," etc. The day of the period is clear identified inside each file, right above the data you are entering, along with the day of the week, and the date of the year.
You can still post as much information about grades and attendance as you like to the classroom wall or the Internet, with the student’s names anonymized, and the anonymization changeable daily if necessary. There is plenty of room for IEP's, etc., to be tucked safely away from casual eyes. You can also develop graphs from the data, and easily import and export data to your District administrators.
As I am slightly visually impaired, the program makes extensive use of the formatting and color coding capabilities of Excel. It is ideal for people with low vision.
And, "Yes Virginia," you do get to assign weighing factors to each and every assignment, but I recommend you do that for tests, quizzes, papers and projects only. Besides, handing back one of the above, graded 0 -100, and telling the class it has a factor of 5, gives them practice in multiplication. They can easily see the effect in the grade postings.

Retired and rolling on...

Techno-Ratey Doesn't See Me

Apparently Technorati is unable to find me because nobody is linked to me, and vs versa.

I'm wondering if I have to leave the techrati htmkl code in every post from here on out to make it look.

Technorati Tie-In

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Linking to Technorati

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More On Rolling GradeBook

If you will link to my blog, I will send you a copy for the cost of the postage and the disk.

This post is formatted for fast reading, just like the program it describes. The formatting does not work for every posting situation.
It is a shameless promotion of a scheme to save teachers from going to Stress City when grades are due. It's my little bit to save the world, one classroom at a time. I wish I had this system waaaay back when!
I used to do classes in Excel for other teachers as a Mentor Teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. I have since upgraded the concept and am now producing, and still developing a grade book called, "The Rolling GradeBook," which is described in detail at
One big difference between this one and all the rest is that it can be used by the person who knows no Excel, right out of the box, and yet it has every whiz-bang feature I can think of, and I keep adding to it, from those mentioned to me by teachers after they've used it. As time and inclination permit, the teacher can learn the magic (how Excel works) behind the scenes.
It's sort of like buying a car. With the Rolling GradeBook you can get in, turn on the key, and drive off. It can be used the night before grades are due, if necessary. Later on, if you wish, you can find out how the motor and the electric headlight wipers work.
Another big difference is that this system assumes that you'd rather walk around the classroom with a clipboard and a piece of paper with your current students neatly listed on it, with space for writing, than to be chained to a laptop or desktop, lugging a tablet PC, or trying to squint at a Palm Pilot.
A third difference between this and the rest, except others based on Excel, is the ability annotate in great detail any assignment, grade, or code for attendance or misbehavior, while it is still fresh in your mind. You get to use Excel's comment feature for this, and, if that is not enough room, or you wish to add photos or sound bites, you can simply add in another tabbed worksheet to your file, and use the comment to reference that tab. A missing work indicator instantly shows up in the classroom or Internet posts, even in the summary postings, so that the student cannot declare that they didn't know that anything was missing.
Each class and each grading period gets its own Excel file, which can be "saved as" incrementally during the report card period for maximum safety, security, and speed. Each class can thus have its own password, and the files are small enough to fit on a 1.44 floppy, and the program avoids all the hassles of database rebuilds, connecting to the Internet, slow connections and computers (this will run fast on pre-Pentium computers), and monthly or yearly fees. You cannot get "lost," as long as you can remember your file names, which can be as clear as, "Period_1__Monday_Day_1.xls," etc. The day of the period is clear identified inside each file, right above the data you are entering, along with the day of the week, and the date of the year.
You can still post as much information about grades and attendance as you like to the classroom wall or the Internet, with the student’s names anonymized, and the anonymization changeable daily if necessary. There is plenty of room for IEP's, etc., to be tucked safely away from casual eyes. You can also develop graphs from the data, and easily import and export data to your District administrators.
As I am slightly visually impaired, the program makes extensive use of the formatting and color coding capabilities of Excel. It is ideal for people with low vision.
And, "Yes Virginia," you do get to assign weighing factors to each and every assignment, but I recommend you do that for tests, quizzes, papers and projects only. Besides, handing back one of the above, graded 0 -100, and telling the class it has a factor of 5, gives them practice in multiplication. They can easily see the effect in the grade postings.

Retired and rolling on...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rolling GradeBook

This is a really neat Excel template for teachers which covers just about all the bases needed for slick classroom management. Rolling GradeBook can be seen at

In addition to the usual autocalc features, this grade book offers a striking visual realization of clarity in data entry. The various items are color coded, and each day is clearly delinated from the others. Every entry can have a comment which can be HUGE, but stays hidden until you mouse over the cell.

By making maximum use of Excel's tab features and drill through data capabilities, you can keep IEP's on separate pages, create quickie one time lists for fieldtrip checkoffs, textbook checkouts, and lab fees, etc.

Each class gets its own file, and thus each class can have its own password.

The data can be possed with easily changed code ID's to the classroom wall or to the internet. There is a system for visual alerts for missing work, space for the District ID numbers and codes, or even codes created by the teacher.

Try it, you like it. Soon to be available on EBay.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Under God doesn't sound Good to me

When I was in second grade, we were suddenly told we had to add "under God" to the pledge that had worked so well through WWI and WWII, and earlier, without the phrase.

I was born partially deaf, and my parents were not particular religious, and religon was2abstract to pay attention to, except for when my grandmother was burned up in a fiery headon collison with a tanker truck, and I was told she gone to God, that God had called her, and a bunch of other things which may me question just who the heck was this Being who ran off with my best friend ?

We are now told that it is optional for the students to say, "under God."

As soon as it is "optional" for the teacher to lead it without being forced to say the Christian/Muslim/Jewish phrase, then maybe it is not a mixing of church and state. There should be a standard unit (grade appropriate versions) to be taught anytime a student has a question about the inclusing/exclusion of the phrase.

What the heck does "under God" mean ?

"With joyful support from God," I could understand, but still have objections.

"Under God," has sinister connotations.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Vouchers, Smouchers!

Vouchers, Smouchers!

This was written in response to a post that public school teachers were bad for sending their kids to private schools, and that the public schools were failing the Blacks, and that voucher schools would do better for them. Private schools and voucher schools are NOT EQUAL. This is the false premise that blows the argument.

A public voucher school only gets the same amount of money from the state to operate that a regular public school gets. Charter schools are sometimes seen as voucher schools. They have smaller class sizes because the staff, for whatever reason, is willing to get by on less income.

Charter schools also have typically much more parental support, as parents are often the founders. Every adult body in a classroom affects the tone of the classroom, as does reducing class size. The smaller the class size (12 -18 is optimum, based on expensive private school experience) the greater the progress of the students. Extra hours in an over-crowded, unmanagable classroom can actually be detrimental to a child's education.

As for public school teachers sending their kids to private schools, you need to consider the following: Teachers so value education that they are willing to pay WAY MORE than what the state would offer as a voucher. Teachers want their kids to get the best education, not just a $5,000/year one. Good private schools typically run between $10,000 and $30,000/year. Are you in favor of doubling or six folding the portion of what you pay in taxes for public education ?

The "average" private school is a Catholic school, with low tuition. These are NOT the schools that teachers typically chose for their kids. There are many, many, Catholic schools, so the "average" cost of a private school education is lower than the numbers I cited. The Catholic church also had the foresight to buy up real estate and has long since paid for the buildings, so their costs are lower. And, Catholic schools (and all private schools) can KICK OUT the trouble makers, unlike public schools, such as voucher/charter schools. A new private/voucher/charter school must pay for the buildings and furnishings at the current fair market value, something even the regular public schools are able to avoid to some degree. A school district with a half a billion $$$ /year budget (60,000 students) can get discounts on lots of items not available to a new school, and has entire staffs looking for foundation and governmental freebies.

As far as the public schools failing the blacks, maybe you should go to a Hunter's Point school in San Francisco called Gloria R. Davis. It sits smack on the line between BigBlock and WestMob, the two main gangs which seem to do in 20 to 30 or so on each side each year. I was the librarian there for one year. There were effigy shrines to the dead, usually a tree dressed up like the deceased, complete with a "T" shirt with a bullet hole or two. These were decorated with balloons, "we miss you" messages, and , as a nice final touch, a circle of empty liquor bottles around the shoes....

The kids seemed to be divided into several groups, plus the minority Samoans, who just tried to stay out of sight, out of mind. About 30% were doing their best to get the heck out of there, the ghetto called Hunter's Point, by studying everything and anything, regardless of conditions. Another 20% were sort of following their lead. 25% were there to party, 10% were sullen and didn't care. 5% were seriously neurotic or borderline psycho, and about 10% were there to destroy anything and everything that anyone, adult or child, was trying to do.

That last 10% are ChrisRock/Terminator/Hanibal wannabees, and they are very good at it. Since most of their parents have gone through the system, the kids have top notch tutors who know how to scam the system very well. Thus, in each classroom of 30 kids, you've got 3 who are there to make your life miserable, day in and day out. At first I thought it was racism. No, the young, talented, black staff, male and female, had the same problems, as the young whites & Hispanics. One PE teacher and one music teacher, both older white females, did fairly well, as did an older Filipino woman, and one older black guy. But we all struggled.

I have no doubt that given a charter/voucher school, with lower salaries, you'd have exactly the same disaster scenario. But you'd be less likely to get talented staff in the first place. Why is it that more money gets and keeps the best superintendents (San Francisco's Ackerman gets over $300,000 year) but the same logic isn't supposed to work for teachers, who go a full year and 1/2 to college beyond a B.A. or B.S. ????????

So, try teaching in a ghetto school yourself, it's a real fun job. Please keep in mind that educating children is not like torquing bolts onto the wheels of tractors in a factory, at $ .50/bolt. Many people like to think it is, but it is not. Bolts are made from standardized grades of ore, producing uniform steels with uniform properties.

Children, however, come from very differing ores, with so many different characteristic that it is beyond valid statistical tracking, unless you do a lot of prohibitively expensive and time consuming testing for academics and psychological profiling, including home visits. Just what sort of home is it, BTW, when the parents themselves attended such a school, and wound up as parents, often before age 18 ? Typically the dad's incarcerated, the mom's on drugs and/or barely working, and grandma's finally gotten the hang of being the parent. Is it their fault, or society's, I'll leave that one for later.

The talented teacher is the one who can size up a child, and decide just how much "torquing" and at what rate will result in maximal learning, without our "bolt" either breaking, exploding, or being totally bored.

Measuring this ability to size up and teach accordingly is likewise nearly impossible, which is why teachers reject most forms of evaluation, and merit pay. Somebody's bound to get screwed unjustly, and teachers are conservative, and are willing to settle for less cash, and know in their hearts they've done their best, and that they are "professionals." BTW when society pays the public schools what teachers pay for their private schools, then teachers will put their kids back in public schools, but not until then. In the meantime, the typical double professional income household of a teacher will just have to pay the extra price, just like the Republicans who moan about, "high teachers' salaries," to send their kids to private schools.

Douglas Keachie

PS, teachers in a big enough system can make sure their kids are prepared, and follow procedures needed to get their kids into the very best public schools. This is what we did with my younger daughter, we moved to the "correct neighborhood" in San Francisco for her kindergarten, and now she's headed for medical school. There's always more than one way to skin a cat.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Council of 36

Well I've spent about 4 months tuning up. I now have 5 different blogs on 5 different services, most of which were experimental and will now go fallow. I think this is the one where I will post posting my "morning musings," ideas which I typically have after first waking up from a good night's sleep.

This morning I woke up with the following vision, for improving the expression of new ideas and old cultural values within our political social system.

The United States needs 36 people, chosen by popular vote, from the ideas they express through Atavars, and no other information.

Their role is to advise the President and Congress, and to be the stars of a nightly tv show, one night in 3 per person, wherein they also express their opinions. Their goal, to set forth new ideas, review current issues, and allow the populace to examine these people based on their ideas, rather than their worldly party & religious positions, as potential future politicians.

For all practical purposes, any individual wishing to join, will first become a blogging atavar. An atavar is a cyberspace person, typically a 3D character with movable parts built to be a visual image to interact in 3D cyberspace. In this case I am not interested in the visual aspects, but strictly the ability of a person to express their ideas using words, and to otherwise remain anonymous.

These 36 people will go on the air in groups of 12, in rotation, for one hour each night. Each atavar (person, member of the council) will have 5 minutes that is theirs, to do with as they please. They may wish to do a monologue. They may wish to present material from other sources. They may wish to combine their five minutes and debate with others. Each will have a salary and benefits and office and research expenses equivalent to what the average U.S. Senator gets. They have complete freeedom of speech, including hate speech and religious speech and porno speech. They may even choose to sell cars. They just are not allowed to accept outside renumeration for such activities, ever. They will remain anonymous to the public for as long as they please, but once selected, they may "go public, " if they so desire.

So every 3 days, each of the 36 will get to have their say, on whatever. They will appear on tv as their real self, or as an avatar with a faked voice.

The major channels will be required to carry their stuff, in rotation, one day of three, or lose their FCC licenses. Absolutely NO COMMERCIALS allowed. 60 minutes of information, no begging for money or commercial advertising allowed. Or you could do a CSPAN like channel. None of this is set in stone.

To become a member of the 36, six months before a presidential election, a person logs into a site, and publishes to an anonymized blog, that will follow them throughout their career as a potential member and member. They will be able to set up polls, add links, etc. Each and every interested voter will get a serving of 12 blogs the first night for review. They can mark them thumbs up, neutral, and dump. The next night they get the thumbs up ones, plus 12 more. And the process repeats.

In general, no statements are allowed at this time (before selection as a council member) which would enable people to identify a particular candidate. Potential candidates may make statements about their state, and region of the state, but no geographic indicators smaller than 100 square miles are allowed. No statements about running for election or office holding are allowed. General occupational statements are allowed. Statements about membership in fraternal or religious organizations are allowed, as long as the groups so listed are not so small as to allow for identification of the individual. Lying about facts, especially general identifiers, is not allowed, and discouraged via an investigative wing, which checks out all semi-finalists.

Weeding out the losers can be done by, dumping those who, after the first 10 days, are consistently dumped by 99.5% of the voters, after the second 10 days being rejected by 99%, and so on. From those still standing at the end of the 5 months, the highest rated 99 will become semi-finalists, along with 99 more, chosen at random, and all their blogs will be viewable by everyone, and chosable by everyone. Their ratings will not be visible. At the end of the 6th month, the 33 now highest rated will be chosen and announced. Three more will be drawn from all of those remaining at month 3, at random, just to spice things up. Each time a voter gets a new batch of 12, he/she will not have any idea of how each one is ranked so far. If one of their chosen ones is eliminated, they will be notified.

We will learn volumes about the American psyche this way, and what makes America tick.

This will require a Constitution Amendment to keep it free from Congressional or Executive branch meddling. The GAO should issue the funding for the machinery to make it all go.

The normal employer of each person chosen will be funded to find a replacement for the four years. The employer must hold open a job at the salary the employee would have risen to. The employer must offer back the employee's position at the end of four years. The employee does not have to take it. Self employed individuals will be funded to find their replacements too.

Here are a few more twists for the Council of 36:

Each year, six people are voted off, to be replaced by people at random from the 5th month's survivors. The first year the most popular of the three originally chosen at random is kept, so most likely his two "outsider, random 3rd month" types get voted off, along with four "blandies." The second year the 3 most popular randoms are kept. The third year the six most popular randoms have immunity. Those voted off now move to the 2 am time slot, again with 5 minutes every 3 rd day. By the fourth year, there are 24 people there, yakking it up in counter point to the main 36.

Also, by the 4th year, the Council of 36 becomes much more random, and less "blandy." 18 people will be there, chosen from the 5th month's randoms. This should result in some interesting confrontations, just in time for the next presidential election.

Yes, I did watch "Survivor" last night. Funny you should ask !

There would also have to be a ton of money to upgrade libraries and public buildings for wifi and freely accessable/handicap accessable, Internet terminals, open for much longer hours, if necessary via special "semi-outside" enclosed areas, served by busses to the local homeless shelters, to avoid conflicts of that nature.

As I think of other modifications, I'll add them. Suggestions welcomed !

Douglas Keachie

PS For those who really want to know what's being taught in our schools, please visit:

and tell me that a Republican teacher couldn't teach all they wanted to about the history of our country. I see, you don't believe the Federalist Papers have anything to do with the founding of this country ? Maybe the relationship between salary and the expectations of the employers have much more to do with the lack of Republican public school teachers than what they can teach. Oh yeah, the qualified college educated Republicans are all off in Iraq, fighting the good fight, and so are not available to teach, sure !