Tag Archives: education

Human is, as Human ___?

18 Feb

Here’s a heartwarming story…

Earlier this month, After 41 days of an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, all of the armed militants surrendered peacefully. And even though the armed occupiers were “heavily armed” and had multiple weapons that they at times threatened federal authorities and police officers with and had even pointed at them while shouting phrases like, “You’ll never take us alive” and “We’ll never surrender”, they were all captured peacefully.

No one was injured, and no shots were fired during the arrests in which officers of the law were heard to say, “nice and easy, hands behind your back.” I’m not sure if the words please were ever uttered by law enforcement officials but shouts of “hallelujah” echoed through the phone lines of those involved in the final roundup of the protesters.

Did I mention that the protesters were armed…with guns? And after their surrender they informed federal agents that the occupied area had been left booby-trapped…with explosives! And finally, after carefully (very) searching through the area, Investigators indeed found explosives, firearms and even human feces to add to the occupiers careless 41 day desecration of what was a 6,000 year old Native American archaeological site.

But the good news?

Not one of the heavily armed occupiers was:

shot in the back while running away, or shot in the front 15-20 times while holding what appeared to be weapons, or shot while surrendering, or shot while sitting in a wheelchair, or shot while being only 12 years old, or shot while holding a toy gun, or shot by a ricocheting bullet fired in fear of one’s safety, or shot to death while sitting in a car, or choked to death after surrendering, or found hanging in a jail cell after capture, or found dead in a van after the drive to jail.

So let’s all cheer “Hallelujah!” It can be done. Those who either are or are perceived to be, Threatening, belligerent, frightening, angry, heavily armed, militant criminals can be apprehended peacefully, even when law enforcement officers are in fear for their lives…even though I read no mention in any of the Oregon reports, of any law enforcement officers expressing fearfulness for their lives during the 41 day ordeal…although I’m sure, at some point, they must have.

01_06_oregon_standoff_fbi_01

Oregon Standoff 2016                                         Ferguson, MO. 2014

In conclusion: Humanity can and does work! Everyone should give it a try.

 

 

It’s Good To Be Rich…and Getting Better All the Time!

18 Feb

New medical studies show that being in the top 10% of income earners means that you will live on average 15 years longer than folks who are in the bottom 10%… and that gap is growing in leaps and bounds! 30 years ago the difference in life expectancy between the very rich and very poor was only 6 years.

But there have been big advances in medicine, technology and education, in the United States in the past 30 years…available for all people…no? So how come the longevity gap between high-income and low-income Americans has been widening? Public health researchers say that they are still investigating the causes for such a large gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor?

Gee, could it be that the rich are rich?… and in our society money buys whatever is for sale?… and although we all hate to admit it, health care, like all things American, is for sale. If you can’t pay for it, then all of the advances of the modern age might just as well be imaginary…N’es pas? Or French for that matter, I guess.

500 years ago there were 500 million humans on Earth. Today there are over 7 billion thanks in no small part and perhaps ironically, to advances in medicine, technology and education. Yet here we sit, in a free and modern country still openly debating whether or not all citizens should have access to affordable health care. And those who are opposed to that proposition can honestly only site one objection. It might cost too much.

And so at the dawn of this new age of longer life…and most probably, with continued medical and technological advances, even immortality… we are faced with the question: What will it avail a man to live long if he is to live long and be poor rather than prosper?

And what might those who prosper now want to save their money for in the future rather than share it in the present by making medicines and medical advances affordable and available to all their brethren? Well, if you only have billions today and are planning on living forever then you very well might need every penny of it for spending in your never ending future. Life I’m sure will be pretty expensive then too.

So let them eat cake and drink poisoned water and let their pensions run dry. For the rich  have got a lot of living to do!

 

We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe

27 Jan

A 17 year old senior at Edmonson County High School in Kentucky, got in trouble last week for wearing a dress that did not meet the stringent requirement of the Kentucky high school she attends. The dress, was considered to sit too high above her knees. According to the high school’s dress code, dresses worn by young ladies at the high school must not be more than 6 inches higher than the knee.

You’ll notice in the picture below that the student in question was also wearing black tights beneath her dress but still she had to prove that her dress was the appropriate length by kneeling before her principal (a man) so he could measure its distance from the floor and then by walking around with her arms in the air (again in front of her principal) to see if her dress rode up any higher than previously measured.

 

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She failed her test…but only after walking around with her arms in the air. Otherwise she would have passed. Somewhere between 30 to 40 girls were sent home by the principal that day for similar violations.

Boys, in case you were wondering, have a dress code too but usually only get sent home if their clothing is ripped or torn in some way, as in ripped jeans etc. There was no mention as to how long boys had to wear their skirts when they wear them. This is 21st century America we’re living in isn’t it? So you know that boys get to wear skirts and make-up too… Don’t they?

But I digress because look at what girls in Kentucky high schools get to wear when they are not in the classroom… Here is the Kentucky high school championship Cheer-leading team…sans leggings…and you certainly wouldn’t want to use a ruler to measure their skirts distance from their knees. And are those skirts?

Cheerleaders competed in the KHSAA state championships Saturday.

Here’s a typical Kentucky HS field hockey team? Don’t they make shorts for girls anymore?

Oh…here are the Kentucky shorts…part of the typical girl’s HS volleyball team in Kentucky. They don’t look that comfortable to me, especially for running around and jumping and bending over,  but I’m a guy so what do I know about fashion…

Because here’s what the Kentucky boys wear when they play basketball. Their shorts seem to fall about 5 inches below the knee! Go figure!

What is appropriate for young women to wear in public high schools these days and why can’t they choose to wear what they like and are most comfortable wearing, like the boys do? As long as it’s not ripped or torn? Have we come a long way in our attitudes about men and women here in the United States or haven’t we?

I leave that question for the women to answer because I’m pretty sure that we men have absolutely no clue…oh we have a code…but I’m pretty sure it’s not for everyone.

Debtor’s Prison

14 Jan

This just in! Total student loan debt in the US has reached 1. 3 TRILLION dollars…and that starts with T, which rhymes with P and that stands for Payments you’ll never finish Paying.

Because according to the Associated Press Americans who are between the ages of 35 to 50 still owe as much money on their student loan debt as new graduates do! Thanks to interest… and not the kind that the bank pays you but rather the kind that you pay to the bank when the bank loans you money from the pile of depositors money that they are not paying interest on to depositors… a college loan is the gift that you keep on paying for!

There is even a website that you can go to now to watch the U.S. student debt rise as it happens in real time… at a rate of $2,726.27 per second!

But Huzzah! The Federal government is stepping in with a plan to cap student borrowers monthly loan payments at 10% of their discretionary income. And since discretionary income is the money you have left after deducting taxes, other mandatory charges, and expenditure on necessary items. (loan payments are now even surpassing groceries as the biggest monthly expense for many households) Which begs the question: Are groceries necessary?

So in any event…you should be repaying that loan…forever! Or at least until you check into that nursing home, at which time the Nursing home and your Alma Mater will have to duke it out to see whose debt trumps whose. Or is that whom? Which rhymes with tomb…

College debt is becoming a veritable debtor’s prison, where you get to stay at home, but only if you can afford one, that is.

So parents, when your kids grow up and start to inquire about college you might want to trot out a new twist on an old phrase…”Ignorance is cheap. ‘Tis folly to be wise!”

 

 

 

 

Some Sobering Facts

13 Jan

Here’s something new that I just learned. In Iran the drinking of alcohol is prohibited. As a result Iranians drink an average of 60 million liters of alcohol every year. That’s 16 million gallons of booze to us here in the States.

Which is roughly the amount that Wisconsin drinks in a year…not the state but the people in it…and we have 49 other states, many of which I do believe are thirstier than Wisconsin! So I wonder, is it freedom or religion (or lack thereof?) that makes us such booze hounds?

Also, did you know that as far as internet speeds go (and we do love our internet here in the U.S.) the United States is 16th in internet speed! Latvia is 9th! Latvia??? And it costs us Americans about 50 dollars per month to use our 16th fastest internet. So you can just imagine how much it must cost in Latvia!

Okay, stop imagining. It costs 12 bucks over there. South Korea is first in internet speed at almost twice our speed…and you guessed it…at less than half the cost. And why is that?

Probably because we drink so much… I guess?

Does Believing Make it So?

5 Dec

Scientifically speaking, we humans are all alike, because all humans can trace their family tree back to a surprisingly small group of common ancestors. And recent evidence shows that every person on Earth’s most recent common ancestor might have died less than 2000 years ago.

And If you simply count the number of parents you have (2) and then keep multiplying by 2 (because every parent also has 2 parents) for each generation of your family, you’ll discover that you alone have billions of ancestors just within the last thousand years or so. And that’s true for all people because…we all share ancestors.

Yet, if you ask people about this they will probably tell you about how different we all are.  And about how something as simple and as superficial as skin pigmentation can penetrate deep down into a human beings soul to make them altogether a completely different species of human being from you.

And they’ll probably tell you about how our belief systems are so different and varied and in such opposition to one another as to make us all completely incompatible. So much so that we all have to fight unceasingly, without the hope of ever agreeing with each other, forever.

And this is all because we are so different from one another…even though all of the evidence that we have discovered here on Earth and even out in space, shows us that we are not.

And not many of us ever seem to realize that our belief systems, which we hold so dear and to be incontrovertibly ours throughout time, are simply that. Belief systems: meaning based on beliefs that are not supported by facts but rather by… thoughts and ideas that we have or by stories that we have been told.

be·lief: noun: 
plural noun: beliefs
  1. an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.     

And even though we can provide no concrete or indisputable proof, evidence or even facts to support our firmly held beliefs, we don’t care. We just believe.

And even though we are presented with facts from years of scientific study that explain how much the same we all are and how we have all shared the same planet and are of the same planet and are all composed of the same elements and proteins and chemicals and “star stuff” from this finite world…

We still don’t care.

And so we fight, over ancient books written by ancient minds and untruths told by small minded people and misconstrued notions forged from ill conceived imaginations. And when the facts prove us to be wrong or when we discover that our proofs have no facts to support them?

We, at best,  say maybe…and then fall back on our beliefs, which we know, by the very name we give them…to be unsupported convictions held together by opinion, acceptance and faith.

So is this because thinking, that which separates us from the other animals in our world…makes it so? And is it that “making it so” is better than discovering “what is so”?

And is that what it means to be human?  That we embrace what we make… more lovingly than what we find?

And thus we tragically end up with… not “I think therefor I am”, but rather…I believe therefor I am…(with the addendum) and you’re not.

So isn’t it also interesting to note that while science seeks answers in an effort to provide hope for the future of all human kind, faith almost always provides us with the hope for global destruction of all human kind so that we can go to another place where we won’t be able to screw everything up with our belief systems.

Hmmmmm…kind of makes you think doesn’t it? (or maybe not)

Still Not Interested!

15 Nov

I was doing some on-line banking this morning and as I was scrolling through my recent transactions I happened to notice that my bank, one of the largest in the world by the way, made an interest deposit in my favor…for 5 cents!

Once upon a time when I was little an interest credit of 5 cents would have meant that I was a five year old whose dad had just opened a savings account for him with 1 dollar.

I’m all grown up now and I have quite a few more dollars in the bank but I’m still getting 5 cents in interest!

I tried to figure out what kind of a percentage that meant I was getting on my money but my calculator melted while trying to do the math.

Honestly I don’t even bother to add the interest into my balance anymore. It’s not worth the time or worth using up one of the spaces in my register to add just pennies to my balance. I just wrote pennies didn’t I? Imagine that! Pennies in interest on a banking account in the 21st century… when I was teaching high school the students would throw pennies at each other rather than keep the annoying coins in their pockets. Now they’re my investment income.

Honestly, I’d rather they kept their 5 cents than insult me with such a transaction.

But sadly, just the other day, while I was making a transaction at the drive up window, a bank assistant manager asked if I would like to transfer my money from my checking account to a fabulous new Platinum Savings account where I’ll earn 3 times as much money in interest! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful idea?! And she was so cheerful and peppy and excited for her offering me this great new prospect for my increased wealth!

Wow! I thought. 3 times as much interest! So, instead of .01 percent or .0001 for those who do math. I can get .03% or .0003 in interest on my hard earned and saved money. Why that’s 3 dollars instead of 1 dollar as thanks for holding onto my 10,000 dollars (that’s if I had 10,000 dollars…I’m only using that figure so my example can have real numbers in it instead of imaginary ones! As it is that’s 25 cents or one quarter per month…in interest on 10 thousand dollars.

Soon I suspect they will be paying my interest in imaginary numbers.

I’d love to be able to take out a loan from the same bank and then hand them 5 cents when the interest on that loan came due… wouldn’t you?

Of course that probably would have meant that I had only borrowed a dime.

I mean really, one of the largest banks in the world can only afford to give me 5 cents in interest these days on the money I put in there for safe keeping and which of course they are also allowed to use to make themselves money?

Has our government heard about this?

The one that’s made up of 47% lawyers and 43% millionaires?

Or is it the other way around?

No matter I guess…Because most of the candidates running for president this election cycle are promising NOT to bail out the big banks should they fail again, like they did in 2008. Do they realize that “in the banks” is where Americans keep their money? (those that have any) And have these lawyers and millionaire candidates ever heard of FDIC insurance, a law that’s been in effect since 1933…whereby the Federal Government (them) promises to insure our bank accounts (us) up to 250,000 dollars. (By the way, that’s 75 dollars of interest per year! Yay!) So if the banks fail…and they don’t get bailed out…we’re all penniless. Literally and figuratively!

Which, by the by, is how the banks ran their scam the first time! They couldn’t lose!

Anyway, I don’t know whether I’m more angry, insulted or depressed by the whole situation…in which the banks seem to know the law all to well and the candidates pretend to know no law at all?!

But it does kinda make you lose interest in more ways than one doesn’t it?

Live Long and Prosper?

10 Nov

http://cdn3.chartsbin.com/chartimages/l_3385_150e6f59e87c3a99d7d1b94a1fb46e7b

Each year the Legatum Institute, a division of a private investment firm, creates The Legatum Prosperity Index, which is an annual ranking of 142 countries, based on a variety of what are seen as human prosperity factors including wealth, economic growth, education, health, personal freedom, personal well-being, and quality of life.

This year Norway tops the list as the most prosperous country in which to live with the United States coming in a distant 11th, which isn’t too bad though when you consider that their are 131 other countries behind us. However, last year we ranked 10th (in 2008 we were 6th) while Norway was still number 1. This year Ireland jumped from 12th place to move ahead of us. Now how did that happen?

Anyway, those countries still ahead of us, in their respective order from number 2 are: Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Netherlands and Finland. Not bad company but what I find most curious is that if you look at the map above showing the world’s most recent population growth rates you’ll see that these are also the countries that mostly have the lowest growth rates and where their prosperous citizens are giving birth to the fewest children.

And if you’re wondering who’s at the bottom of the prosperity list well, all you have to do is look at the map and see where all of the children are being born and those are the very same places that are among the least happy to live in, including such happy places like Chad, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and most of Africa and the Middle East.

So Why do all of the happy and prosperous countries produce the fewest children while just about all of the sad places are veritable population bombs? Why do people who are poor and living in the worst of conditions want to have children while those humans who are most affluent and able to afford and care for offspring, do not?

In fact affluence is the only form of birth control among humans that actually seems to work long term. And It seems that the more one has, the more likely one is to want to live separated from others and in larger spaces and often with extra homes that they don’t even use. And affluent countries are also the most likely to want to build walls and fences to keep other, less fortunate folks out…and/or deport those who they see as poor baby making squatters who don’t belong to their citizenry and probably never will.

Money and happiness seem to work hand in hand to make people more reclusive and stingy. Which begs the question: Which came first? The children, or the eggs-istentialism? the happiness or the un? Does one just have to look at the map above to see who the future inheritors of the Earth shall be? Was all that hard work just for zero growth… or rather… nothing…so to speak?

Where’s the Beef?

8 Nov

In the Hindu religion, if you take care of cows, your family will prosper and you will have peace. Your children will have a good spiritual life. God will look after them. In India’s capital city there are as many as 3 cow shelters that serve as both barn and sanctuary for thousands of urban cows. And in a city of 17 million, people that is, an estimated 40,000 cows roam freely on the streets.

So imagine my surprise this week when I read in Time Magazine that India is the world’s largest exporter of…beef! In fact India accounts for about 23% of the world’s beef exports with Brazil close behind and the U.S in a distant fourth place at around 11%. (Australia is third)

But how is this possible? Is sacred now a word synonymous with delicious? Well, as it would turn out, with a little more research on my part, what India exports is carabeef, which is another word for the meat of a Water buffalo, which is a relative of the American Cattle from which our delicious and very own cow derives, which of course is what we also call a female Water Buffalo…even in India.

Anyway, It seems to me that all religious belief among humans, as with any other form of belief or worship, present or past, and even among those of us who choose to cling to our beliefs religiously… is all relative in the end…and no matter how devout or casual, probably just as tasty as anyone elses.

Can You Find the Scandal in This Story?

2 Nov

Here’s another heart warming story from the world of American college athletics.

A salacious sex scandal is beginning to unravel at the University of Louisville, where campus parties provided by the director of basketball operations and a local madam, provided strippers and sex for players, recruits and their guardians along with money provided to the players to pay for the sex…and wouldn’t you know it…the head coach, Mr. Rick Pitino, knew absolutely nothing about it!

How scandalous! Young college men, students and basketball players all, provided with strippers and with money to pay for sexual favors! And now the NCAA is launching an investigation to get to the bottom of the whole sordid story…and even the University of Louisville has hired an investigator to find out what it actually is that the University of Louisville has done! Because apparently no one there knows.

And should the investigations prove that money was provided to students and basketball players and guardians… then the punishment will most likely mean a postseason ban and loss of scholarships for the Louisville basketball team. Or in other words, the students will be punished!

Because the real scandal here is that athletes were given something, when we all know that athletes are supposed to perform for nothing except the privilege of attending their university for free…even though their work precludes their ability to find the time to attend that university.

The University of Louisville is a public university in Louisville, Kentucky. It is a member of the Kentucky state university system, where room and board and tuition for a Kentucky resident comes to around 20 thousand dollars per year. And where the director of athletics is paid 1.4 million dollars per year and the basketball coach has a 51 million dollar contract. That’s the equivalent of 2550 students each year.

But I digress because the real scandalous and salacious part of this story is not that young athletes were provided with sexual favors at a Kentucky university but rather that millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars are made by the university off of the labor of their athletes and is then spread around among university officials and coaches, while their academic students are still required to pay thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to attend the university.

And what do the athletes get? Illicit sexual favors in exchange for their hard work? That’s it?

The new American University business model: Pimp and prostitute. User and Usurer. And they know not what they do…

Now that’s a scandal.

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