Friday, February 03, 2006

Ted Rall is an idiot

Just saw him on "Hannity and Colmes" trying to make the point that it was inappropriate for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to formally complain about the ill-conceived and offensive political cartoon featuring a quadriplegic wounded soldier. When Sean said that "these guys give you your freedoms" Ted said "No they don't, the Constitution does". An argument ensued. He refuses to understand that while, technically, as a legal point, the constitution ensures freedom of the press it is the military and police who primarily ensure that this protection is meaningful and not just a bunch of words on an old sheet of hemp paper. What a bonehead! He could not have come up with a worse line while trying to defend this offensive and stupid cartoon.

And for you Muslims out there all up in arms about the Danish cartoons, we aren't planning to kill either the cartoonist responsible or dumb dumb Ted for defending it. We won't throw them in jail over it. We just despise them, write about them on blogs and tell them they are idiots. A few people will cancel newspaper subscriptions. A few more will remember to send a note to an old friend who served in the military thanking them again.

Oh, and good for the Joint Chiefs. This is not oppression of free speech. That is the most senior military men in our country doing part of their job, standing up for their men. A letter of protest from these men is no more oppression of speech than a letter from a CEO. Dumb dumb Ted knows that there is no threat of military force, assassination, jail time, "disappearing them", etc. These men do guarantee the freedom for idiots who make cartoons like this to publish them. That does not mean they have lost their freedom to disagree publicly with the misuse of that freedom.

Cartoons now, women next

Tammy Bruce has a great article on why we have to be very careful about not appearing to give in to threats about what we allow in our press.

Let me be very clear here about my views before I go to Tammy's great point. I have what you might call a pretty broad sense of humor. Some of the funniest jokes to me are ones that poke fun at my religion, heritage, way of life, whatever. Let's face it, all societies and all religions have things in them which are fodder for good humor. Some of my favorite comics are known for self deprecating humor. I am pretty hard to offend, being a big believer in Occum's Razor. But there is a difference between a good "a pastor and a priest and a rabbi" joke and doing or saying things that are intentionally offensive.

There are, in my view, three points here. First, people who intentionally publish or say things that are patently offensive are cretins. This would apply in my view in this case as the point of putting the cartoons up was to show that there were people who would draw "illustrations" of Mohammad even though Muslims find that offensive. It would be a different matter if we were talking about a political cartoonist who happened to use a depiction of Mohammed in an otherwise non-offensive way. I don't find all depictions of Jesus or Moses or God offensive, only those whose central point is to offend. Most of even those don't offend me but I feel I have a right to be offended by it if I so choose. Most of them make me feel pity for the offender, but that is just my personality.

Second, it just doesn't matter how offensive something is in a newspaper. Civilized people simply do not run around killing people because they said or did something offensive. Sometimes I wish we could, but we can't. I am sure there were many vets who would take great pleasure in taking a piece out of Joel Stein for his stupid tripe last week. They won't. As a marine sergeant friend once told me "I have put my life on the line to protect the right of idiots like that to offend me and I would do it again in a second".

Some of these lunatics went even farther than threatening the offenders. They are ready to kill any European they can lay hands on because a few cretins in Holland did something offensive. That is just not acceptable and it could lead to acceptance, and I mean a genuine acceptance not just joking around, of the philosophy that the only solution to Middle East peace is to kill all the Arabs. That is a crazy idea but when you see some of the things we have seen over some cartoons in the last few days it makes me nervous about that crazy idea becoming acceptable to otherwise rational Americans.

Lastly, I understand that the Muslim faith has some facets of it that are VERY different from the Christian faith just like we have differences from the Jewish faith and others. In this case the central point is we don't consider it offensive to draw depictions of Jesus. We also have no problem with a ham sandwich or a cheeseburger. We are different and we have somewhat different cultural norms and we are offended by different things. While all of this is true, and I believe it is not only Christian but imperative to a civilized society that we don't run around intentionally offending innocent people all day, we have societal norms here. We have freedom of the press. We allow people to print things that are patently offensive. If you want to live here, prepare to be offended every once in a while. Anti-semites and racists and just utter fools like Joel Stein live here and their stupidity is protected. That may bother you, but you aren't special. You cannot move here and expect us to outlaw ham sandwiches or speech that you find offensive. We will not do it. We can not do it.

Now, back to Tammy.
today they demand world culture bend to their internal restrictions about Mohammad depictions. If these savage bullies prevail in damaging or destroying freedom of speech in non-Muslim Western countries, what do you think will be next? And there will be a next you know.

Think about it. What is the other everyday, most obvious Western sign of civilization and modern secular life that Muslims in Western countries have already complained about? How women dress, of course.

She has a great point here. And while I find a fair bit of current "fashion" amongst today's teenagers at least unsettling if not down right inappropriate we are not going to outlaw that either. More than that, if you lay hand on some inappropriately dressed teenage girl in many parts of this country you will find yourself confronted by adult men who are not impressed with your sense of offense or your sense of appropriate roles between men and women.

Feel free to move here and write articles about how offensive and inappropriate it is for 14 year old girls to be running around the mall half naked, tattooed and heavily pierced. I have. Stand in front of the mall holding a protest sign. We allow that. We also allow them to dress as they like within OUR societal norms and the rules of their parents, whether we like it or not.

If you are offended by women in bikinis (something I do not personally understand, but that is a different matter) do not go to a US beach. The Europeans consider us prudes on this front and some of them are offended that they cannot go topless on our beaches. We generally don't allow that either. They, fortunately or not, must live by our rules when they are here. Everybody does, no exceptions, no apologies.

Blackmailing votes

The Volokh Conspiracy goes into some detail on the nuances of blackmailing law. Trying to understand those nuances made my head hurt but there is a point that can be made from it (I think).
3. But if I ask you for money or a service in exchange for my not revealing embarrassing information about you (and recall that I have no preexisting legal obligation to keep quiet), then that's a crime.

That makes sense to me. But it goes on from here.
Say that during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, a publisher tells a Congressman "If you vote to impeach Clinton, I will publish information about your own sexual indiscretion." That may well be blackmail (many blackmail laws cover attempts to get people to do things as well as just attempts to get money).

Anywhere that this is not a law it should be, especially with regard to public votes. I am more offended by people doing this to politicians than asking for money and it does greater potential damage to the public good. I was unaware that this was not illegal everywhere.

Here is where the conundrum comes in.
But if the publisher starts a series of articles exposing the sexual indiscretions of Congressmen who have stated their intention to vote for impeachment, that's perfectly legal journalism even though the implication is clearly "If you vote against impeachment, we won't run this article about you." Likewise if the publisher asks the public for information that might prove to be fodder for such articles. (During the scandal, Larry Flynt's behavior was fairly similar to that in this hypothetical.)

This makes sense on it's face but it is where my head started hurting. If memory serves correctly, Larry Flynt actually said he was going after fodder on Republicans who had either had or might vote to impeach or vote guilty. If the threat is not explicitly stated and cannot be proven then freedom of the press would be the rule of the day. Once it is obvious on its face that a paper/magazine/web site is making an explicit threat to get a particular vote it would seem no different than the "blackmail in most/many places" case to me. Apparently not according to Mr. Volokh, who is a lawyer (and I am not).

Ouch, ouch, I quit. Go read the whole thing if this sort of thing interests you. He goes through a number of other examples.

How far we have come

We are now blogging about people buying discontinued soda from strangers over the Internet.

Operation Thunder Storm

A 13 year old girl scout in LA has started a most valuable project. She is seeking volunteers to "adopt" Marines in the field in Iraq. She has teamed up with a Staff Sgt to link up folks who wish to support our troops with Marines in the field. She has gotten hundreds of adoptions through to date and it is just getting started. Visit her web site, read the story and adopt a Marine. My bible study group is starting with 2 marines. To adopt you need to agree to send 2 care packages in a 4 month period and write weekly. Is that so much to ask for folks putting their lives on the line?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Update Mozilla Firefox to

There is a security problem on most platforms up to and including 1.5. Trust me. Just go do it.

More poor journalism from the Denver Post

The D-Post ran an article about how the new chancellor at CU wants to increase the ethnic minority population on campus. The problem with the story is that the only statement hinting at a problem isn't backed up by any useful facts. Here is what we get:
In 2004, for instance, there were at least 289 African-American students applying to colleges in Colorado who met CU's minimum admissions requirements, according to university figures. Of those, 120 applied to CU, and 111 were admitted.

But only 41 enrolled.

This tells me NOTHING USEFUL to make the case that there is a problem. Mind you, there may be a real problem. This just doesn't make that case nor does anything else in the story. The above needs to come with MORE DATA. What percentage of whites who met base qualifications were admitted? What percentage of them enrolled? How about Asians/Hispanics? What happened to the black students who were admitted but didn't enroll? Did they go to Harvard or Stanford? Did they get in to the Air Force Academy? Did they decide to save money and go to a community college for the first year or two to knock out those challenging courses like English Lit on the cheap? Did they get tossed in jail for driving while black?

What we do get is this:

Of the African-American students in 2004 who were admitted to CU but didn't enroll, Jimenez said: "They chose to go to other colleges for a reason. Not all of those reasons may be race-based or racism-based, but that's something we haven't looked at - why they aren't going here."

OK, so the university realizes that they need to look at this very relevant piece of data. Good for them. The reporter should have been smart enough to at least ask for comparative data with whites and other ethnic minorities for comparison. That data isn't, in and of itself, dispositive, but it would be a good hint as to the possibility of a significant problem.

I applied to 5 or 6 universities as a high school senior. I was accepted to all of them. If your university has relatively high standards the majority of people who meet your minimum qualifications are going to be accepted to multiple schools. That is a good thing, not a bad thing, IMHO.

It seems to me that the first thing CU needs to do is get in touch with as many of the 70 kids who were accepted but didn't enroll and find out why they didn't enroll. If most of them tell you they went to some other school because CU was a backup plan but they didn't want to go to such a racist institution unless they had no choice.... then, and only then, you have a good reason to institute a touchy-feely class for incoming freshmen (sorry newperchilds). If they say, "Dude, I got a full ride to Princeton, what would you do" then you should look at your academic standards (i.e. the quality or lack thereof of your professors) and leave the students alone.

My suspicion is that this is a combination of getting in to better schools for their intended major, economics (Community Colleges), and randomness. Boulder and CU have many problems but racism doesn't seem to me to be one of them. The university and the town in general rank way up there in the liberal spots in the country. Liberals have many faults but overt racism isn't generally one of them. Forced touchy-feely classes is one of them and I feel sorry for the engineering students who will have to endure this for potentially no good reason. Been there, done that.

Algae as fuel?

Professor Bainbridge had a similar reaction to the typical political pitch for corn as car fuel that I did. He proposes a different investment. Sounds fairly rational to me after following his links. I am still more interested in the physical battery but that is probably because I am a science geek and physical batteries are just plain cooler than algae.

Dave Barry didn't really retire

He started a 24 blog!

Ann on Justice Alito and chicken Republicans

She is very funny this week. Send a copy to any Republican political representative you have. Awe, send it to the Dems too, they need a little humor break after this week.

Cox & Forum hit nail on the head

Just go look unless you are one of those overly sensitive, jihad supporting, wife beating types of Muslims. If you are, just go away. If you are a rational, people loving Muslim you should definitely go look and consider how the rest of us see this controversy over stupid cartoons. What the Danish paper did may have been ill-informed and immature, but cancel your subscription already. Threatening to kill people over a cartoon is a bit EXTREME. Christians and Jews have been dealing with ill-informed and immature free expression in the press for quite some time. We cancel our paper, we protest to financial sponsors, we pity the fools, pray for them, and move on with our lives. We are thankful for the freedoms that allow such nonsense even when we don't always like how that freedom is used.

Children in High Places

This is FUNNY! Either Congressional staffer or Congressmen themselves are trying to influence the wikpedia project in high inappropriate ways. We need an INVESTIGATION! Or not. I like Professor Bainbridge's answer better.

Soon to be published pictures

We will apparently have recent pictures of something that doesn't exist. Pictures of the slums of Cuba have been smuggled out of the country. I know, some investigative ABC reporter snuck in, got the photos and sent them home by carrier pigeon. WRONG! A Czech model hid the memory card in her bra when arrested in the slum where foreigners are not allowed. I don't follow the modeling world, so I had not heard of Helena Houdova before. She is not only very pretty, she is very brave and, apparently, quite crafty. I can't wait for the pictures so we can point them out to the whole left-wing "Cuba is a paradise" crowd.

Lynn Swann nears GOP nomination for PA Gov

Being a Steeler's superstar can't hurt when running for office in Pennsylvania. Is it enough to beat an entrenched Democrat? I hope so for two reasons. I have seen both Ed Rendell on many occasions and he needs to be defeated. I have seen Lynn Swann talk about what he wants to accomplish and he seems to be one of those rare citizen legislators. He made his own money (and lots of it) and he isn't likely to be influenced by anyone else's. He was more nationally famous as a football player than he will ever be as a Governor of Pennsylvania. He seems to have a big heart that is in the right place. Citizens of PA, give him a shot.

Cindy Sheehan beaten up by cops

We could only hope. Seriously. I felt sorry for her loss but she is a parasite at this point. My sympathy for the loss of her very brave and apparently very level headed son has been exhausted. I feel for him and the rest of his family and his comrades in arms, but not for Cindy. Some kind rich liberal please buy her a brain transplant. The moron from CA who invited her should be thrown out of office. And if you really believe that the capitol police who escorted her out were anything less than professional you live in a very strange fantasy land that I never want to visit.

How does the press cover her insane statements with a straight face? Why does anyone publish what she says? She is an embarrasment to all Americans, especially those who oppose the current GWOT policies but do so from a place of reason and patriotism. Those people are wrong, IMO, but they are honerable. She is not.

Of course, this is all oppression of liberal speech by the big, bad Bushies. Never mind that a Republican Congressman's wife was also removed for wearing a "support the troops" T-shirt. Attire with messages isn't allowed in the gallery and frankly it shouldn't be. You are there to OBSERVE the political process, not to influence it. If any were allowed, all would have to be allowed and we don't need or want that in this particular environment. I might invite a random stranger wearing a "support the troops" T-shirt to dinner at my home but they shouldn't wear it into the floor of Congress. Just my opinion.

dissapointed in my fellow hoosiers

Apparently there is a rash of stealing man hole covers in Indy. Not only is this sad in many respects it is very, very dangerous.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Thieves have made off with dozens of hefty manhole covers and sewer grates in the last few days, leaving gaping holes scattered in streets across the city.

I hope when they catch the animals doing this they charge something more than stolen property, like attempted manslaughter, to make the point.

3 kings cure cancer?

Maybe the bible has a little bit of science book in it after all.

A Virginia Tech scientist says frankincense oil might be useful in treating malignant melanoma -- an aggressive cancer that attacks humans and equines.

Go read the whole thing, it is interesting.

Newspapers suing Google

I don't get this. It seems to me that if anything Google is probably increasing the traffic to newspapers. If I read your paper, I read your paper. The only other way I get there is if a blog, search engine or news aggregator sends me there. I happened to find this article on the Yahoo news aggregator. I don't understand their motivation other than to be stupid and force everybody not to link to them. If that turns out to be the case, those newspapers which allow this practice without charge will be the ones with traffic of significance. The others might as well shut down any web sites they have unless they decide to actually upgrade their product and attempt to compete with the WSJ which can, and does, charge for their outstanding content.

I pay for a local news paper only because my wife insists that she saves more with coupons than I pay for it. That means 5 days a week it goes straight to the trash. Some of the other trash is insulted.

John at Powerline agrees.

creative scam

We have all gotten at least one of the "help me get this big pile of money and I'll split it with you" scam messages. Having many email accounts, I have gotten a bunch of them. I got the one below this morning. I thought it was one of the more creative naratives so I offer it for your enjoyment.

From: Prince Ortega Torrellas Gomez.

Attn: Friend,
I know this mail might come to you as surprise and the temptation to ignore it as unserious could come into your mind; but please consider it a divine wish and accept it with a deep sense of humility.
My name is Prince Ortega Torrellas Gomez,
I am a 54 years old man; I am currently residing in Mexico. I was formerly living in Cuba and served under Fidel Castro’s government, but had to run into self exile after the ruling Government, closed in on my family on accusations of anti-government, I was once married, but my wife and children escape to America before they met their untimely death, as Almighty God loves them most, they are among those victim that lost their lives in world trade centre ‘Sept. 11th', may their gentle souls rest in bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
l did made a lot of money, while serving Castro and before now, I have been into dealing s in Ornamentals, Oriental Carpets and Artifacts and life was very smooth for me until about three(3) years ago when I was first diagnosed of Cancer of the Larynx.
Before this happened my business and concern for making money was all I lived for, I never really cared about other values in life. But since the loss of my family and home town, I started engaging my self in things of the Lord and also being a born again Christian, that made me to found a new desire to assist helpless families.
I have been helping orphans in orphanage/motherless homes,Churches,Mosque,widows and also helping the destitudes.I have once donated some money to orphans in war ravaged Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and some East European Countries.
Before I became ill some years ago, I made huge amount of money during my tenure in office, but I sent it abroad for safe keeping and for my future investment, the sum of 6.5Million Usd (SIX POINT FIVE MILLION UNITED STATE DOLLAR) out of 15.5million Usd that was kept as a long-term deposit vault, still in their custody waiting for claims, through, it was deposited in {DIGUISE}with the name of my first born,{prince Morgan Gomez}, as the original owner, without stated any next of kin, now that Morgan is late and if I also die without moving out the consignment, it will automatically go into the coffers of the security company and I don’t want such to happen.
I have left the hospital and presently receiving treatment in an acupuncture clinic, undergoing treatment for Esophageal Cancer. I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a few months to live, but he is not my maker to said so, this might be my last wish to see the remains of this money distributed to charity organizations.
Most Importantly, I want you and the entire members of the organizations, to always pray for forgiveness of sin, to survive from this predicament, as I do not lived a life of a worthy Christian when in power, but I believe that the Almighty GOD will hear your prayers and have mercy upon me.
Brethren, is not that I don’t have relatives and friends, I have but they plundered so much of my wealth since my illness; I cannot live with the agony of entrusting this huge responsibility to any of them.
Please, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing for another person for this same purpose and you will assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein.
Finally, I beg you in the name of God to help me collect the deposit and distribute it as directed, use your judgment to distribute the money and feel free to reimburse yourself when you have the money for any cost you incur during the process of collecting and distributing the money to charity organizations. I am willing to offer you a reward if you are willing to help.
Looking forward to hearing from you soonest.I will appreciates if only you send reply to this email: REDACTED_FOR@THE_STUPID.COM for easily assesment.

Prince Ortega Torrellas Gomez.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ethanol from Corn or BioMass (more fun with math)

In the SOTU, the President pushed for technology funding to make ethanol from wood chips and grasses. It occurred to me that it had been a while since I did the math on the reality of mass use of E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline). Here are some raw numbers with references. I assume that you could find somewhat different numbers elsewhere. I am not married to these numbers. They are literally the first ones I found in each category. I did reach the same conclusion I did the last time I did this but feel free to attack them if you like.

In 2004, 3.4 billion gallons of ethanol were produced from 1.22 billion bushels of corn. That gives us a yield of 2.78 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn.

In 2003 American's used 375 million gallons of gasoline per day. Our yearly consumption is, therefore approaching 137 billion gallons of gas (and rising).

Corn production in the US in 2000 averaged 133.9 bushels per acre. That was down a few percent so I will use a nice round 150 bushels per acre.

For calculating the mileage change of moving to E85, I select somewhat randomly a 2WD Dodge Caravan. Some cars had a bigger hit, some smaller, the Caravan of 21mpg on gas (averaging city and highway) versus 15mpg on E85 seemed to be in the middle.

So, now some math! 137B gallons of gas got us (using 21mpg) 2.877 trillion miles of travel. On E85 (using 15mpg) we need 192B gallons of fuel. That fuel is only 85% ethanol so we need 163B gallons of ethanol. We get 2.7 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn so we need 60.4B bushels of corn. If we get 150 bushels per acre we need to plant 402 million acres of corn. The US current production of corn, wheat and soybeans is approximately 170 million acres.

So forget the cost of producing ethanol as opposed to buying or drilling for oil and refining it. All ethanol production is highly subsidized or it wouldn't be affordable for much of anything. That doesn't matter. Oil could go to $200/barrel and then that cost would look good. We cannot produce enough corn to switch the country to E85 unless we can at least 10 times (and that is probably generous) the miles driven per acre of corn. I am not saying that it won't be possible to get there. I work in the computer world. Every few years I can buy 10 times the compute power at the same price. That isn't happening in this space at this time. Don't get real excited about us being able to switch to E85 in mass while George Bush is still POTUS, and possibly not in his natural lifetime, or mine for that matter.

I am not saying anything about production from wood chips, etc, as I couldn't find good numbers to calculate how much of this "waste" biomass could reasonably be used and how much ethanol that would produce. I am, however, cynical to say the least.

My personal feeling is that putting money into building nuclear plants and funding research for physical battery production and/or hydrogen cell technology would make more sense.

One more political point, it is rumored that one can produce a lot more miles/acre with hemp/marijuana. You never hear a politician pushing those research dollars. And this is not about the "drug war". My grandfather and many others were paid to grow hemp in WW2 by the government. It was used for clothing and rope. As a result, wild hemp is all over the woods where I grew up. You don't want to try to smoke it. It is low in THC and high in tar and other toxins. But it grows huge, fast and close together. You can get a lot of biomass/acre and harvest more than once per year in most of the country. Politics say corn=good, hemp=bad irrespective of the simple scientific and mathematical realities. Politics!

More on Spam

Richi has another fine post on SPAM entitled "Fewer spammers forging the From header". I agree but would add one more thing to this bullet item:
Increasing use of sender authorization technologies such as SPF, Sender ID, and DKIM by spam filters -- spammers think that a valid return address makes it more likely that their spam will get delivered

These technologies, as well as brute force techniques such as Sender Verify, not only reduce the chances of a spam with a fake From address getting through, they cause bounces. Many of the large ISPs are now tracking these bounces and therefore tracking down people using their networks to spam. In a few cases they are even coordinating efforts with competitors. This makes it much more "dangerous" to spam or create a spam bot which uses a fake address.

As Richi rightly points out most abuse desks are greatly overworked so they concentrate their efforts on the most egregious, but all of these slimeballs are getting their software from the same places and sharing techniques to some degree.

Just some more inside baseball.

Hugh's latest drinking game

Hugh has suggested that we play a drinking game on the Democratic response to the SOTU tonight. I am just getting over a cold, but it sounded like a plan to me. Then I read the game:
Whatever your poison and whatever your portion, throw back when you hear:

"culture of corruption"
"working families"

Even if I use half-shots, I don't think my system is up for that much abuse. I am not sure it ever has been.

I am therefore suggesting a slight twist on this. Guess in advance how many times these words will come up. Loser drinks. I am going guess 23. I am only going this low because I don't believe I have ever heard the "moderate" they are putting on. If it was Slo Jo I would have to guess at least 40. I will try to count and post the result. Then I'll have a drink just in case everybody else is closer.

Update: I guess I could have played the game Hugh's way after all. I only counted 3 and that was including "working Americans" as a viable substitute for "working families". The response from the Virginia gov was interesting but a bit of a sales job. All his talk about bi-partisan approaches sounds great, but it doesn't work when one party is calling itself the opposition party as opposed to just the minority party. There were no particular "plans" in the speech, but "let's play together and get something done" is a much more respectable message than we have come to expect from Senate Democrats in recent years.

Monday, January 30, 2006

First Class Education

On Friday's Hugh Hewitt Show (OK, I am behind on my iPod), Patrick Byrne, the president and chairman of Overstock.Com spoke about an initiative being put on the ballot in CO and other states. You can get more info at First Class Education. The plan is simple.
1. By the end of 2008, pass a law in all 50 States and the District of Columbia requiring every Schools District to spend at least 65% of its education operational budgets in classrooms for the benefit of teachers & kids.

2. Keep local control of education, but demand statewide accountability.

I couldn't find the transcript on RadioBlogger or on Hugh's site so I backed up and am attempting to give you the salient points and a couple good quotes.
The US spends $420B educating 46 million kids in public schools K-12. Of that money, only 61.3% gets to what's called the classroom. Now, the classroom is a congressional definition that includes teachers, teacher's aides, supplies, music, art, sports, anything where you've got a teacher in front of a student or a coach teaching them development. The rest of the money goes to some worthwhile things like food and buses and libraries, but that is really a small amount of the 39%. Most of that is now going to bureaucracy. That bureaucracy is expanding year after year so the percentage that goes in the classroom keeps on declining.

By using a standard known well in the business world, benchmarking, they determined that the goal here should be 65%. The top 10% of states (or top 5) are at 64.9% and up. This all presumes that there is not only a correlation between this percentage and performance of schools, which Patrick and his group claim is true (and I suspect he has done his homework), but a causal relationship. He, nor the web site for this movement, claim to have any proof of a causal relationship. They do offer the fact that as our quality of education has declined this percentage has declined. It seems common sense to me that there would be a causal effect to decreasing overhead, ergo increasing the total spent on direct classroom education and putting priorities where they belong. That isn't proof, but it seems to resonate with the voters.

Patrick isn't spending his company's money on the initiative but he is spending some of his own. The amount didn't come out from Hugh's interview but given his passion for this issue and his prominence on the web site I suspect it has a few zeros on the left of the dot.

Hugh asked if he was worried about the precendent of the National teacher's union and other unions throwing tons of money into the CA initiative process last year. The response, and I thought this was brilliant, was that by putting the initiative on the ballot in at least 7 states this year they can dilute the effect of out of state money. They may be able to thwart it in one or two states, but they can't come up with enough money to stop it in 10 at a time.

And the money quote from Patrick:
To me education is the only real social issue that I care about. So many other issues, to me, are just downstream effects. You know, kids graduate from high school, and one kid comes out of a great high school with a great set of human skills, his future is made. And somebody comes out of a crummy school and, you know, the game is rigged against them. It seems to me that a lot of what the political debate is about are really a lot of down stream effects. If we could solve education, other pernicious social problems would wash out over a generation. And if we can't solve this then everything else is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The jobs are all gonna move to Pakistan.

That is the most succinct explanation of the "American quandary" that I have ever seen. My parents understood it, which is how I went to a good University with no debt from a farming community. Part of it was scholarships because "OK" wasn't acceptable. The other part is the foresight to see what was required to be in the new middle and upper middle class. The sooner the rest of our society gets it, the better.

In case you live in CO, here are the numbers for CO and our districts. There is info on other states at the First Class Education web site.
In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, Colorado ranks 46th in the nation for the percentage of education money that actually makes its way to our classrooms. While Colorado spends billions of dollars on education, only 57.8 cents of each of those dollars gets into the classroom.

More than 25,000 students:
Cherry Creek 64%
Boulder Valley 64%
Aurora 60%
Northglenn/Thornton 60%
Douglas County 58%
Denver 54%
Jefferson County 51%
El Paso 51%

Highest ratios:
Aspen 69%
Branson (Las Animas) 66%
Cripple Creek 66%
Granada 65%
Gilcrest 65%
Greeley 65%
Estes Park 65%

Lowest ratios:
Rangely 41%
Vilas (Baca) 45%
Centennial (Costilla) 46%
Hinsdale 46%
Sierra Vista 47%
West End (Montrose) 47%
Silverton 47%
Campo (Baca) 49%
Parachute 49%
Plainview (Kiowa) 49%

Professor Mike Adams takes on feminists

A Criminology professor has taken many swipes at modern feminism in a (so far) 4 part series. Part 1 and Part 2 make what I think are some very valid perceptions, and also pretty funny. Part 3 and Part 4 begin to go far afield in my opinion. (HT: Betsy)

Read it if you dare, and I didn't say it, he did. I suspect he has more day to day contact with the annoying, hyper-ridiculous feminist types than I do. He works at a university which is where that sort of thing breeds. Most of the women I know who would call themselves feminists are more the "don't tread on me and we'll be fine" type. They don't even get mad when you open a door (although I did work with one of those once, thankfully long ago). It isn't about common courtesy and chivalry for them, it is simply about being taken seriously and having equal opportunities based on qualifications.

Thomas Sowell has another interesting idea

I don't think I agree, but it is worth thinking about.... (HT: Betsy)

His idea is simple.

1. Make the salary $10M/year.
2. Limit Senators to one term (presumably House members to a small number).
3. Forbid people for running for anything else for a few years after a term.

The idea is not about getting rid of the allure of contribution money and power, but to expand the available pool of candidates.

Money is not the only thing that corrupts. Power also corrupts and some people go into politics for power.

Nothing can be done about such people -- except force them to compete with other people, drawn from a far larger pool, including top people in highly paid professions who today can seldom afford to serve in Congress at the expense of their family's standard of living and financial security.

I am a believer in term limits. It never works that way because nobody wants to give up the power of having their senior Senator on the such-and-such committee while nobody else does. This would have to be done by constitutional ammendment. That would be hard.

I have an alternative proposal. I doubt that I have thought about it as long as Mr. Sowell did, and it is clear that I am not in his league intellectually, but it is my blog. I also don't think this one requires a constitutional ammendment. If McCain/Feingold is constitutional, this should be too (bearing in mind that I am not a lawyer).

1. Pay Congressmen and Senators (and the President and VP) $10M/year.
2. Once in office, they never pay income taxes again... on anything.
2a. Revokable on being found guilty of a felony.
3. Once in office they cannot accept any campaign contributions from anybody.
4. Any residual in their "bank" has to be liquidated into their favorite non-political charity.
5. People running against them can raise unlimited funds (with reasonable but larger individual contribution limits). Strict and near-real-time-on-the-web disclosure of all contributions.
6. Make it a crime for any individual to put any non-verifiable statement about any candidate on the air (radio/tv/maybe newpapers) in the last 60 days before an election. And I mean a go-directly-to-jail felony. Never mind slander protections, in the days leading up to an election you can say you disagree with candidate X's vote or position on something. You may not misrepresent their position or vote. You may not make personal slurs. If you do, go to jail for the next 10 years. No waiver for reporters.
7. No residual income or benefits for Congress (Presidents get paid $1M for life until they start acting unpresidential, a couple names come to mind).
8. No getting donations and then giving them to candidates (DNC/RNC fundraising). Funds must be given directly from an individual or business to a candidate. PACs are outlawed. It is all about the citizen legislator.

I think not paying income taxes again is more likely to get highly motivated, highly successful people than paying them $50M/year. I would only give them $10M/year so they don't need to raise money to compete in the next election. This makes them like federal judges. You put them there and then they do whatever they want because you can't give them another dime. They are just easier to impeach. That threat should keep them more honest to their promises than they are now.

Salazar gets it part right

Sen. Ken Salazar has decided he will vote for cloture but against the nomination of Judge Sam Alito. Not voting for cloture would have been a big problem for him politically. I am still waiting to find out how the electorate will react nationwide to 30+ Democrats voting against a guy this qualified, well liked, and mainstream. This is the move of a coolaid drinking lefty, not a centrist.

This is a deal breaker for me. I was willing to give Salazar a chance to represent me since he was supposedly a centrist. Unless the Republicans run somebody completely reprehensible they can expect a few bucks and a couple votes from my wife and myself to unseat him. Maybe we can get our esteemed Gov to run after a couple years off. He doesn't seem to be on anybody's short list for Pres.


The Germans paid off the terrorist kidnappers of Susanne Osthoff in Iraq with marked money. Then they found a bunch of it on her when she was returned. Methinks somebody is in BIG twubble. (HT: LGF)

Dry Bones running

The internet poll is still going. Laugh at this and this, then go vote for him.

Speed Blogging

Hugh takes on Journalism and the way it is now taught.

Muslim admits that Koran is a source of evil and hate speech in Court! It will be interesting to see if this defense works.

Publius Pundit caught Codepink using photoshop..... funny.

US Navy busts pirates off coast of Somalia.

An interesting attempt to correct a bias in public schools.

Regional bank BB&T takes moral high ground and will not loan money to private projects that use eminent domain to get land.

Gays to cause problems at Easter Egg Roll?

Minnesota's Ed Union advertising for more money. Powerline gives some interesting stats.

E3 Expo Bans Booth Bunnies? In LA? Next to Hollywood, land of the see through dresses for formal affairs? Odd but true. I wasn't going anyway.

Iceland to ban gasoline. It is an interesting plan.

Uzbekistan bans fur-lined underwear. Now you might think that fur lined underwear is some kinky sex novelty. But it has been a couple weeks since the temperature has gotten over -20 there. In that context, fur lined underwear sounds down right practical.

Guy busted for driving in HOV lane with "dummy" in passenger seat. The article reads like there is no additional penalty for trying to fool the police with this ruse in Colorado. Someone should fix that if that is in fact the case. Of course, it is the Denver Post, so it could just be bad reporting.

Former President Jimmy Carter calls for more aid to "Palestinians" after they elected Hamas to represent them. Sure Jimmy. Have you been hitting the Billy Beer too hard again?

Professor Bainbridge details a very interesting set of financial transactions between Carl Icahn and various companies he owns or sits on the board of. Sounds slimey to me but it might actually be reasonable in the world of high finance and the strange world of telecommunications.

Apple offers college lectures via iPod. Very cool. I have actually listened to a couple of interesting lectures and have downloaded a few more.

Powerline takes on the NYT on their lies about the NSA wiretap program. A Must read.

No more raising your hand in British schools. It could be bad for kids egos. (HT: Tammy)

Alito debate ends with cloture vote 72-25. Kerry looks silly again..... still.