Thursday, February 28, 2008

Immigrants and Self Interest

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Immigrants are here because of:

Their own self interest. Even at what Americans consider crappy wages and conditions, the immigrants have it better here than where they came from. If they didn't, they'd never come here.

The self interest of those who employ them. The immigrants are willing to work for lower wages and under worse conditions than Americans will. Wink, wink, no, nod, from all the business owners, primarily Republicans, gets them through and allows them to stay here. Without that self interest, we could plug the borders in one day.

The average American Joe has no easily identifiable self interest in having the immigrants here, other than diversifying the gene pool while simultaneously allowing there to be a rung on the ladder below them, in most cases. Otherwise, immigration is just one more part of overpopulation, expensive housing, crowded schools and emergency rooms, more accidents on the highways, etc.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

As far as I am concerned, if the immigrant can pass the GED as presented in English, then he or she may stay. If they can get an A.A. degree, then they may bring in one additional person, who can in turn get an A.A. degree (any subject except a "foreign" language), and so on. It would raise the average educational level of the country substantially.

PS Somebody also pointed out the desire on the part of the Democrats for more voters likely to vote Democratic.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Picture Perfect Cultural Diversity Self Test

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I've discovered a new game. If you go to the Reuters site below, and you click on the slide show option, you will get a description of a news event somewhere in the world. If you cover up the part of the screen where the picture appears before clicking on the next picture, you can then make up a scene in your mind based on the description.

For example, there was described a man in England looking over his damaged bedroom aftre the earthquake. in my mind I conjured up an image reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes in garb and demeanor, looking into a bedroom straight out of the Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The picture turned out to be of a young man, and could have been taken in any San Jose apartment, complete with stereo and laptop and unmade bed.

Another scene in Peru was also just as USA, just as modern, at a hairdresser's parlour, and just as much a surprise to good old narrow minded me. The world is racing towards the mall in most places.

Reuters Location for Catch of the Day Pictures.

(be sure to click on "slide show" to get the desired effect)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

KVMR and other Radio Pledge Drives

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It would seem to me that once you have paid your yearly dues, you could be given a code which you could input on the web radio page to get "best of" shows in chronological order during the pledge week. You wouldn't have to keep listening to the pitches for money, which become very annoying after you've paid. Each person gets one code for one computer. It would be a real incentive to sign up and go back to more normal listening. Plus, you could have a bonus prize for one of those who do sign on using the web radio, or either way.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

18 Thinkers Think These are the Challenges for Technology

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Make solar energy affordable
Provide energy from fusion
Develop carbon sequestration
Manage the nitrogen cycle
Provide access to clean water
Reverse engineer the brain
Prevent nuclear terror
Secure cyberspace
Enhance virtual reality
Improve urban infrastructure
Advance health informatics
Engineer better medicines
Advance personalised learning
Explore natural frontiers

Support the Danes in Free Speech & Against Iran

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Time to go to the local markets and buy Danish products, cheese, bacon, hams, cookies, etc.

From the BBC:

"Danish MPs have cancelled a trip to Iran after Tehran demanded they apologise for the republication of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam.

Two days before the scheduled trip, Tehran demanded the MPs condemn the cartoon on their arrival in Iran.

The row follows the arrest on Tuesday of three men for allegedly planning to murder Danish cartoonist Ko Vestigal.

The following day, 11 Danish papers reprinted his drawing depicting the Prophet with a bomb in his turban.

A condemnation and apology would help convince the Iranian people that Denmark's authorities had distanced themselves from the action, Iran's parliament said in a letter to Danish MPs.

If anyone needs to apologise... it is the Iranians
Villy Soevndal,
Danish MP

Nine members of Denmark's foreign affairs committee were due to arrive in Iran on Monday for a three-day trip focusing on human rights and the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

"We are not the ones to apologise," said Villy Soevndal, the leader of Denmark's Socialist People's Party.

"If anyone needs to apologise for freedom of speech, human rights, imprisonments, executions and lack of democracy, it is the Iranians."

Denmark's foreign minister has backed the parliamentarians' decision not to travel."


The Iranian LEADERS, have no sense of humor. The Iranian people, that's another story. After all, they have to live with the Iranian leaders....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Huckabee Comes Out in Favor of Solar Energy!

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"Tell the Saudis to keep their oil and their sand!"

Mike Huckabee in Madison Wisconson, about 2 minutes ago on CNN.

Well D U H !

Welcome Aboard!

I've been screaming about this for years. Thank God God's finally getting his act together. It's about time, as time is running out.

So You Want Your Child to Succeed in School ???

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The most important thing you can teach them, regardless of what "school" they are in, is the need for them to take responsibility for learning, and for them to be persistent. No teacher can pour knowledge into the top of students' heads via funnels and then put on a locking cap. The schoolhouse is not a bottling plant. The very best teachers can facilitate learning and make it happen happily, for some of the students. It is very seldom you will find a teacher who can teach everybody across the board in a classroom setting, unless the students understand and embrace the two cornerstones of education above.

If the parents do not instill those values, and instead take the attitude that, "it is the teacher's job to teach their kids, whether the kids are primed to learn or NOT," then we will need Continuation Schools, Delinquent Schools, Remedial Schools, Summer Makeup Schools, Alternative Schools (some, not all), so-called "Academies" of this that or the other thing (I watched SFUSD add the word "Academy" to a half dozen schools, to no effect on test scores even years later).

If a child, with encouragement from his parents, has made up his mid that he or she is "dumb," or simply that he or she is going to resist learning for spite, for whatever psychological reasons, usually completely beyond the control and often even the background knowledge of the teacher, then learning will not take place.

And, BTW, the military is doing its darndest to avoid taking on kids who fail in school. The military has learned that if a kids has failed there, the kid is also likely to fail in the military. It takes a willingness to learn to succeed in today's military.

For me, I see the biggest problem confronting society is in educating the previous batch of kids who are now having kids of their own, that they are not stupid and can learn. This is good for them, it is good for their kids, it is good for the country. Do any of our present Presidential candidates see this issue? I don't see it being talked about anywhere, other than in the very general "yes we can!" slogan of Obama.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hal 9000 and Heaven, and Ecology/Global Warming

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Here's Another View of Life After Death, and the Place of the Environment in God's Plan

It therefore comes as a something of a shock that Wright doesn't believe in heaven — at least, not in the way that millions of Christians understand the term. In his new book, Surprised by Hope (HarperOne), Wright quotes a children's book by California first lady Maria Shriver called What's Heaven, which describes it as "a beautiful place where you can sit on soft clouds and talk... If you're good throughout your life, then you get to go [there]... When your life is finished here on earth, God sends angels down to take you heaven to be with him." That, says Wright is a good example of "what not to say." The Biblical truth, he continues, "is very, very different."

Wright, 58, talked by phone with TIME's David Van Biema.

TIME: At one point you call the common view of heaven a "distortion and serious diminution of Christian hope."

Wright: It really is. I've often heard people say, "I'm going to heaven soon, and I won't need this stupid body there, thank goodness.' That's a very damaging distortion, all the more so for being unintentional.

TIME: How so? It seems like a typical sentiment.

Wright: There are several important respects in which it's unsupported by the New Testament. First, the timing. In the Bible we are told that you die, and enter an intermediate state. St. Paul is very clear that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead already, but that nobody else has yet. Secondly, our physical state. The New Testament says that when Christ does return, the dead will experience a whole new life: not just our soul, but our bodies. And finally, the location. At no point do the resurrection narratives in the four Gospels say, "Jesus has been raised, therefore we are all going to heaven." It says that Christ is coming here, to join together the heavens and the Earth in an act of new creation.

TIME: Is there anything more in the Bible about the period between death and the resurrection of the dead?

Wright: We know that we will be with God and with Christ, resting and being refreshed. Paul writes that it will be conscious, but compared with being bodily alive, it will be like being asleep. The Wisdom of Solomon, a Jewish text from about the same time as Jesus, says "the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God," and that seems like a poetic way to put the Christian understanding, as well.

TIME: But it's not where the real action is, so to speak?

Wright: No. Our culture is very interested in life after death, but the New Testament is much more interested in what I've called the life after life after death — in the ultimate resurrection into the new heavens and the new Earth. Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return. Part of this will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will "awake," be embodied and participate in the renewal. John Polkinghorne, a physicist and a priest, has put it this way: "God will download our software onto his hardware until the time he gives us new hardware to run the software again for ourselves." That gets to two things nicely: that the period after death is a period when we are in God's presence but not active in our own bodies, and also that the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ's kingdom.

TIME: That is rather different from the common understanding. Did some Biblical verse contribute to our confusion?

Wright: There is Luke 23, where Jesus says to the good thief on the cross, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." But in Luke, we know first of all that Christ himself will not be resurrected for three days, so "paradise" cannot be a resurrection. It has to be an intermediate state. And chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, where there is a vision of worship in heaven that people imagine describes our worship at the end of time. In fact it's describing the worship that's going on right now. If you read the book through, you see that at the end we don't have a description of heaven, but, as I said, of the new heavens and the new earth joined together.

TIME: Why, then, have we misread those verses?

Wright: It has, originally, to do with the translation of Jewish ideas into Greek. The New Testament is deeply, deeply Jewish, and the Jews had for some time been intuiting a final, physical resurrection. They believed that the world of space and time and matter is messed up, but remains basically good, and God will eventually sort it out and put it right again. Belief in that goodness is absolutely essential to Christianity, both theologically and morally. But Greek-speaking Christians influenced by Plato saw our cosmos as shabby and misshapen and full of lies, and the idea was not to make it right, but to escape it and leave behind our material bodies. The church at its best has always come back toward the Hebrew view, but there have been times when the Greek view was very influential.

TIME: Can you give some historical examples?

Wright: Two obvious ones are Dante's great poetry, which sets up a Heaven, Purgatory and Hell immediately after death, and Michelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine chapel, which portrays heaven and hell as equal and opposite last destinations. Both had enormous influence on Western culture, so much so that many Christians think that is Christianity.

TIME: But it's not.

Wright: Never at any point do the Gospels or Paul say Jesus has been raised, therefore we are we are all going to heaven. They all say, Jesus is raised, therefore the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do.

TIME: That sounds a lot like... work.

Wright: It's more exciting than hanging around listening to nice music. In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the new world on God's behalf. The idea of our participation in the new creation goes back to Genesis, when humans are supposed to be running the Garden and looking after the animals. If you transpose that all the way through, it's a picture like the one that you get at the end of Revelation.

TIME: And it ties in to what you've written about this all having a moral dimension.

Wright: Both that, and the idea of bodily resurrection that people deny when they talk about their "souls going to Heaven." If people think "my physical body doesn't matter very much," then who cares what I do with it? And if people think that our world, our cosmos, doesn't matter much, who cares what we do with that? Much of "traditional" Christianity gives the impression that God has these rather arbitrary rules about how you have to behave, and if you disobey them you go to hell, rather than to heaven. What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfil the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here.

TIME: That's very different from, say, the vision put out in the Left Behind books.

Wright: Yes. If there's going to be an Armageddon, and we'll all be in heaven already or raptured up just in time, it really doesn't matter if you have acid rain or greenhouse gases prior to that. Or, for that matter, whether you bombed civilians in Iraq. All that really matters is saving souls for that disembodied heaven.

TIME: Has anyone you've talked to expressed disappointment at the loss of the old view?

Wright: Yes, you might get disappointment in the case where somebody has recently gone through the death of somebody they love and they are wanting simply to be with them. And I'd say that's understandable. But the end of Revelation describes a marvelous human participation in God's plan. And in almost all cases, when I've explained this to people, there's a sense of excitement and a sense of, "Why haven't we been told this before?"

Thursday, February 07, 2008

How About a New IRS in Which No Individuals

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How About a New IRS in Which No Individuals,
just the corporations, are taxed?

Since AlwayRight (a local commenter at The Union newspaper) claims that the Republicans and their corporations are responsible for everything that gets done, let's have the corporations take full responsibility for ALL THE TAXES the government collects.

To encourage the formation of corporations, there will be no income taxes on anyone who works for themselves, with no employees (except family) helping them. There will be no income taxes on any employee who works for a corporation or government body. A soon as the workers get together and figure out a new way to make some product or service, with their new found freedom from taxes and resultant available capital, we'll have yet another corporation to tax! Wonderful!

Hey, thanks for the inspiration, Mr. AlwaysRight!

I've always wanted a cool answer to the Flat Taxers, and this is it. What shall we call this new tax plan ? I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Fire the School Principals, Save Money !

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I wrote the following in response to some local idiots who were going to save money by getting rid of the principals and other administrators.

About 85% of your education tax dollar goes to pay teachers' salaries and benefits. Very little is left over for books, supplies, and administrators.

A great deal of time the administrators are working with students who have become such a problem in the classrooms that they have been kicked out by the teachers. The also deal with the parents of these students....and the the cops and the lawyers.

When not so occupied, they deal with broken stuff around the facilities, and getting downtown or the District office to send someone out to fix it. After that they attend to WASC (recertification) meetings at least every six years for an entire year. Ah yes, settling disputes within departments among teachers, or between departments among teachers, that's another fun activity.

Somewhere in here they look into building new facilities and getting funding, and getting out the vote. How about a PTSA meeting each month, and God knows how many athletic events, band concerts, and art exhibits they attend? Miss any of these and at least one parent or student will either be crushed or angry or both.

As a teacher of 30 years I actually went most of the way through the process of getting an admin credential, having worked with at least a couple who did an excellent job. It pays a lot more than teaching, and that was appealing.

Then, one day during my internship at Balboa High School in SF, I found myself on patrol. My job was to find students wandering in the halls and escort them back to class. I came across three kids and began tailing them. As it was summer school, I had no way of knowing who they were (1500 plus students), so the strategy was to simply tail them until I could meet up with security (I had radioed them), and they would handle the physical details.

One of the kids asked me, "Why should I go back to class?"

I explained: " if you go to class and do well you might get into college. If you get into college and do well, you might get to do the extra 1.5 years and become a teacher. If you do three years as a teacher, you might be able to get into a program that makes you an administrator. If you get to be an administrator, you will get paid $85,000/10 month plus plus(longer than teachers)school year to walk behind kids and tell them to get back into class! It's not a hard job, once you get to that level."

Once I finished my little speech, I knew I was never going to be an administrator. 20% of being a leader is changing bedpans, for sure, for sure.

If you are going to dump the administrators, then please plan on building holding cells, and hiring burly bouncers to take the disruptive little darlings out of the classes as needed and store them until their parent(s)/guardian picks them up.