Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lesbians Anoka Hennepin Snow Days

Now here is one of those topics where the Liberals and Conservatives seem to all get tangled up... And likely a humorous story for middle of the roaders like me...

The supposedly "Liberal" Public School folks try to do something foolish to make sure the Conservative constituents are not offended... Then they end up with a huge PR disaster that makes them look very foolish....

Then again, maybe it worked out very well... AH gets points from the Conservatives for trying to do something... And points from the Liberals for backing down quickly... What do think?

And we wonder why Public Schools are so expensive... It is amazing the number of lawsuits and strange issues they have to pay for... I am guessing that some Conservative will launch a counter suit because their child was exposed to the "sinful" couple and it scarred them for life.

It just hit me that the Public Schools are probably the closest thing we have to a true melting pot in the USA. Everywhere else we get to choose our peers. (ie neighborhood, work, college, church, social groups, etc) Whereas in Public School, a Bible Banging Christian can end up in the desk next to a Devil Worshipping Warlock... It is an incredible institution !!!!

For a humorous look at diversity in the Public School setting. Watch the movie Easy A, it is funny and makes some excellent points.

Associated Press Lesbian Teens Settle
Canadian Press Lesbian Teens Sue
Montgomery Advisor: Teacher's target Gay Students?
Southern Poverty Law Center

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teachers Grade Parents

Now this is an EXCELLENT IDEA !!!

Maybe we can tie it to their welfare payment or tax rate... You get a poor grade as a parent by neglecting your basic responsibilities, it costs you money... Talking about a good way to hold folks accountable for wasting our tax dollars!!!

Now how do we get folks to agree that Parents need to be held accountable for their beliefs, behaviors and irresponsibility? That our American society does not fund or tolerate poor parenting... Or do we continue saying that "Parent's know best", no matter how foolish, lazy or irresponsible they are??? Thoughts?

Cafferty Teachers Grade Parents
News4Jax TGP
Washington Post TGP

MN Sciences Scores

"Minnesota's education commissioner is calling the results of a federal test known as the Nation's Report Card a wake-up call for the state."

"The scores barely put Minnesota among the top third of states nationally. Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is calling the results "disappointing and troubling.""

I find these to be very puzzling quotes, when for some reason Science has not seriously been in the local Elementary curriculum until just the past few years when these tests started driving their addition. We had people worried about Spanish, Art, Orchestra, Cursive Writing, etc, however Science was just not that important...

So THANK GOD for Standardized Testing that is focusing the priorities of Public Schools on English, Math and Science, where they should be if the USA wants to compete globally...

I once interviewed with a company that would only hire Engineers for their Plant Mgr positions. When I asked why this was? He said they had found that it was much easier to teach Engrs the soft skills of dealing with people and a managing a plant, than it was to train non-Engrs regarding the science, math and plant mechanics... I thought that made sense.

So why the disappoint and surprise? We did not educate them, so they did not know the information.... Let's update the curriculum... Thoughts?

NAEP Science Report Card Pg
NAEP Science State Snapshots Pg
Star Trib Minn Science Test Scores Disappointing
Star Trib Minn Science Test Scores 2009

Monday, January 24, 2011

Differential JTEKT Cobalts Taxes Bday

Now this is a terribly confusing and rambling post... However it does contain a few interesting points. Have Fun !!!

As some of you know, I have a 2002 Maroon Suburban that I truly love. It is a great vehicle that has taken us on many really memorable adventures. Unfortunately it recently started making a slight rumbling noise when I put it into Auto 4WD or 4WD. After a bunch of research and draining some metal filings laden fluid, I have determined that a bearing(s) has failed in the front differential. (bummer) And they want ~$1500+ to put in a rebuilt unit. (double bummer) Finally, it is likely mostly my fault that the unit failed at ~95,000 miles, because I had been told there was a slow leak, and had not fixed it or kept it full. (triple bummer)

So I crawl under and say to myself... "I think I can pull it out and reinstall it. No problem..." And they only want $700 for a rebuilt unit !!! (much better) But "What will I drive for the week while it is being rebuilt???" Well, "maybe we should buy that third family car a couple of months early..." (good idea)

JTEKT and Cobalts
So I start looking into small, inexpensive, safe, reliable and efficient cars that would make a good third car, and not terribly offend the sensibilities of a teenage daughter. (well not too much at least) I look at many and narrow my list down to the Ford Focus and the Chevy Cobalt. (put money where mouth is... MIA the Myth) The research indicates that the Focus may be the better choice, however I thought the Cobalt provided better visibility. (ie smaller blind spots)

Thus I start digging deeper into the Cobalt's reliability and recalls, and I find one that concerns me. (GM Steering Recall) It seems that many new cars of most brands have ditched the traditional belt driven power steering pump in the search for better gas mileage.(ie belt driven use power when going straight) They now are using an electrically powered system and GM has got 1.2 million that are not working correctly. (ie electric only uses power when turning, and it is from the battery... evens loading... ) So I go on my next test drive and raise the topic with the Chevy salesman, he responds in a slightly frustrated manner that the irony is that it is a Toyota part that is failing....

I am curious and do a little digging. It turns out that he is partially correct. Toyota does own 1/4 of JTEKT, the company that makes these steering devices. I do not know if it was bad parts or a wrong application of a good part... But I make sure the Cobalt I buy has had the unit replaced...
JTEKT History
JTEKT Answers
JTEKT and Timken
Who's Afraid of Electric Power Steering?

Now I find a good deal on a very clean used 2009 Cobalt with new tires at Main Motors in Anoka. The negotiated price is just about the "Clean Trade in" book value and I am very happy. (ie job well done) Then they roll up all the registration fees and taxes, and they total 10% of the purchase price !!!

Now I know this should not have been a surprise, and it was not. However I was reminded of the many additional taxes we continue to pay that make little sense. Also, I learned in that moment that Jessie Ventura's $99 registration fee cap was apparently rescinded sometime in the past few years. So the question remains... WHY DO WE PAY SALES TAXES WHEN BUYING USED VEHICLES? Talking about a regressive tax... (ie many poor folk buy used cars) The tax has been paid when the product was NEW !!! (ie many well to do people buy new cars)

Now to finish my drawn out tale... I put the Suburban up on jack stands and run it... Of course the noise is gone to my dismay... However I was reassured by a friend that it is only because the load has been removed. (ie tires off ground) So I prepare to pull it apart when an epiphany hits me... THE FRIDAY BDAY PARTY!!! (where we have to transport kids) How many??? Oh NO!!!

Since the Cobalt isn't much of a people hauler... I guess I'll be lowering the Suburban again and delaying the dismantling til next week.. Good thing I hadn't pulled the differential earlier.

If you made it to here. Thanks for reading this whole thing. Now for the questions:
  • Are you ready for electric power steering?
  • Thoughts on JTEKT buying part of Timken's business? (ie intellectual property/wealth transfer)
  • What are your thoughts on sales tax on used cars?
  • When did you last top off the fluid in your differential or transaxle?
  • Know any good and cheap differential rebuilders?(best price so far = $695)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

MLK Jr Prefers Segregation?

Checkout Speed's What Would MLK Jr Do? It's slipping into history and I am trying revive some discussion... Either here or there is fine...

Monday, January 17, 2011

RAS Improvement

I posted the following over at Speed's site and have received no comment. SG Give what they Want & SG Fairness 3 So with RAS posting a couple of presentations that discuss NCLB, Improvement Plans, and Forecasts, I decided to link them and see what the readers think.

"NCLB did not try to create a monolithic curriculum... It tried to ensure that every student is competent in Reading English, Writing English and Math. Nothing more. Nothing less.

It seems like a pretty rational goal given English is our National language and Math/Critical Thinking sneaks into every aspect of our lives.

The schools could do whatever they wanted beyond these basic expectations. Unfortunately the school system personnel chose to spend the years complaining instead of changing...

Their is too much bureaucracy and job security... If these remain, improvement will be near impossible... No matter which curriculum you pick."

RAS Closing the Gap
RAS Improvement Plan

Do these presentations make sense to you?
Will we make the necessary improvement?
Any ideas on how to accelerate the improvement?
Other thoughts?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Who Made Who ?

Since we wandered away from Entitlement vs Gratitude, as J pointed out. I'll start us up with a new topic. Which of the following viewpoints is correct and why do you believe this?

"Society and the people are definitely changing in the USA. (ie heading towards 300 yrs) Probably in some good and bad ways... As they/we change, so does our government. It is selected by us in society, so we have no one to point at but ourselves." by G2A/John

My perspective points to the "Government" as a mirror of Society. And since Society continually shifts, therefore Government continually shifts. Ultimately, us, it and it's laws are accountable to the Supreme Court. (ie play within the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Amendments)
Bill of Rights
Amendments (Text)
Amendments (Summary)

"... Government has grown beyond our control, and spent beyond the limitations WE imposed on them in the Constitution." by J Ewing
My interpretation of J's comment is that "Government" has become a unique independent entity that is no longer controlled by the people. It now controls the country and citizens, and does as it wishes. (J, Please correct as appropriate)

Personally I think this is a huge cop out... It conveniently removes the blame for our problems from the American people and transfers it to a shapeless scary monster !!! (ironically: one we created)

I mean, go ahead and say that American's are becoming self centered, soft, lazy, greedy, non-religious/amoral, uneducated (relative to best countries), egotistical, power hungry, unfocused, entitled, etc, etc, etc. But don't blame our problems on the bogeyman !!! (ie "Government")

Government is a symptom... You can never truly fix a problem until you find root cause. We as a whole are the root cause. Now how do "WE" change in order to change our "Government"? That is the question. Or do we want to keep sliding into debt, dependence and poor academic achievement? I personally think we are better than that, however only time will tell.

Apparently multiple people said something similar to this, and it seems to hold true. "We have met the enemy and he is us." Walt Kelly


And stop pointing to that "OTHER PARTY", we all have dirt on our hands. Look hard in that mirror and ask, "How am I contributing to the Problem?" and "Am I willing to change." See Below...

This is an inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey:

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change –

So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,

And who knows, I might have even changed the world.”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Entitlement or Gratitude

I found my buddy Jason's comment very thought provoking.

"You've got some good points. Also, depending on who you get the money from, also determines what you feel about the gift:

1. A sense of Entitlement 2. Gratitude"

The question that it raised in my mind was:

Does anyone feel Gratitude when receiving money or a service via the Government?

I mean, the "Government" is just a pass through like PRISM, Sharing and Caring Hands, Feed My Starving Children, St Judes, United Way, Red Cross, etc. "They/we" take other people's money and distribute it to folks that need help. (And yes J, they forcibly gather/steal it if citizens resist society's mandate/norm/law) {ie society's enforcers} "They/we" feed the needy, fund medical procedures, rebuild homes, rescue people, pay bills, educate, provide Global Policing and hundreds of other beneficial services and products.

So do the citizens and other beneficiaries that benefit from this charity feel Gratitude. Do they feel a desire to minimize their draw on this gift and the giver?


Do they rationalize that they have paid taxes in the past, and that this in some way Entitles them to maximize the benefit to themselves?

Using 2 examples from the last post, will these folks feel Gratitude for what their fellow citizen's gave up to give them a head start or retirement security? Will they think they succeeded all by themselves? Will they think their fellow citizens should pay for their being irresponsible and not having a diverse savings plan?

"child who came to kindergarten unable to speak English, and who graduates from
high school with honors."

"person whose pension was wiped out by the mismanagement of their employer, and who is now dependent on a government job now, to put food on the table, and who will be dependent on the nanny state's retirement benefits, and the nanny state's Social Security to put food on the table in the future."
By the way, this does not apply only to the poor and needy... Do we feel Gratitude for our safe streets? Do we feel Gratitude for the great roads? Do we feel Gratitude for Tax Deductions? Do we feel Gratitude for Unemployment funds? Do we feel gratitude for subsidies that support our industry? Do we feel gratitude for being able to chase the American Dream? Etc Etc Etc


Are we entitled to maximize our personal benefits at the expense of ourselves and other tax payers?


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Politics in America

The discussion below from Choice, Complexity & Payment fascinates me for the following reasons:
  • This is the power and weakness of America, we get to actively argue at both the logical and emotional level. (ie Gov Dayton and the Tea Party Protestors)
  • It shows how broad brushes and stereotypes can and are applied. Which we know are not correct because everyone's beliefs, intent and methods are unique.
  • It implies that the people in a "party" with a slight majority can make significant changes. The reality as we have seen during the last 2 yrs with Obama and his legislative slight majority is that they tend to in fight, and they tend to be somewhat self serving. (ie what can I get for my voters... how can I increase my visibility, power, influence, etc)
  • It raises the question of who is the most greedy and self centered? Those demanding money for nothing or those fighting to keep the money they inherited or earned? In God's eyes, is there really a difference?
  • Is a Conservative truly smarter and more logical than a Liberal? Or do they just have different logics and ideals?

Personally, I wonder how one of our brightest founding Fathers would have fared in our America of Modern politics. (Ben Franklin Quotes) (note: you have to read these, the man was brilliant) Do we really think things were simpler, more logical or better back then?

So what do you think? We now have Legislative and Executive gridlock at both the State and National level... Is this a good or bad thing and why? Would the founding fathers be proud or disappointed in us?

Any ideas for improving this discombobulated chaotic mess we call American Politics? Many people see it as the best system in the world... Sometimes I wonder...

Finally, have us Americans become so self interested, lazy and stupid that the script writers and TV ads have taken over our leadership? Just like the infomercials... "You really need this George Foreman grill in your kitchen.... CALL NOW !!!"

"I look forward to that, too, but I expect liberals to fight tooth and nail to insist that free markets cannot possibly produce the greatest good for the greatest number, and that only having some bureaucrat take from one of us and give to another to take care of a third is the compassionate ideal."

Am I the only one who follows the events of the day? Are all these conservatives who are so proud of canceling their subscriptions to the Star Tribune unaware that they won last November's election, and they can do what they want at the state legislature, no matter how many teeth and nails, liberals throw into the fight?

If Republicans want to open up the health care market to competition, they have the power to do it. That's what it means to win elections, to be the majority party in the legislature.

The point you are missing is that liberals "fight tooth and nail" rather than engage in rational decision-making, debate and legislating. They will mount furious attacks on the personal and public morality of ANYONE who threatens the gravy train of government largess that they consider their birthright, or at least their right by virtue of their own overwhelming moral and intellectual superiority. They do not and seemingly never will acknowledge that their ideas were defeated at the polls, and absolutely not admit that their ideas are wrong (not possible), so they take it as a personal affront and attack their opponents accordingly. It's just what liberals are and what they do.

And the disgusting piece of it all is that this tactic has worked too well for too long. Government isn't the debating society it was intended to be, where the best ideas are brought forth, tested and melded into the best course of action. It's professional wrestling. Lots of grunting, bravado and taunts, followed by a fake contest won by the script-writers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

IB favored over AP ?

The RAS Board has decided to take another attempt at phasing out the transfer busing. Remember: last time they reinstated the buses near the end of the previous phase out plan. We had just passed the referendum, money was available and Parents lobbied, so it the phase out was cancelled.

RAS Transfer Busing Phase Out Plan Site

The plan seems to make sense overall, however I am puzzled by the following statement.

"Honors transfer students attending Robbinsdale Cooper High School currently in grade 9 or above would receive busing throughout high school. A prior decision phased-out transportation for Honors transfer students to Robbinsdale Armstrong High School over 4 years, ending with the 2010-11 school year."

I must not have been watching close enough again, since I can not for life of me remember the prior decision or it's rationale. Why were we on the path to phasing out cross district busing to AP (ie East to West), while planning to continue cross district busing to IB (ie West to East)? Can anyone jog my memory?

4 years is a long time to carry the extra costs, however at least the clock has started again. Hopefully, this time we will follow through and the potential new Magnet does not swallow up the Transportation savings for it's busing needs. I'd rather have the funds go into the classrooms.

Since things are never simple and though I am in general against all this transportation complexity and expense. I want to remind folks that this savings, though necessary, will likely make the District and community less attractive for some small percentage of families. Those that want choice and busing. (remember: losing 50 students is equal to losing ~$500,000) Now we'll see what happens?

What are your thoughts on this change and it's handling?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dr Brenda Casselius ?

It looks like we are in for 4 more years of grid lock, except in reverse... What are your thoughts regarding this expected turn? (ie selecting a "Status Quo" Public School Administrator...) I am betting that:
  • Education funding will stay low. (thanks legislature)
  • We will hear a lot of complaints about "Low Funding".
  • Charters and Accountability measures will be further vilified by the Education Status Quo.
  • Tom Dooher is going to spend more time spending Education Funding (ie Union dues) on our TV.
  • Little change or real improvement will occur in MN Public Education for at least 4 years.
  • Things may get worse if accountability measures can be removed without requiring a change in MN Law. (ie Dept of Education stops monitoring and emphasizing results...)
Agree or disagree? What am I missing?

MinnPost Early Appointments - Different Course
Dr Brenda Cassellius Resume
MPR Dayton names Head of Education...