Saturday, May 31, 2014

Taking A Break

If anyone has anything on their mind drop me a line, but for now for one reason or another I haven't felt a compulsion to blog. I'm not sure if it's because I have one hell of a cold for the last week or some sort of shift in attitude over the last few days. It's not like I don't have a bunch of opinions. It just seems to me some of the ludicrous things that transpired and what was said in the news is so far out there it's not worth my time or effort to blog about them.

I will give you just two examples* Eric K. Shinseki resigned as secretary of veterans affairs Friday- We've lost one of the most ethical men to ever have been in charge of the VA. When I watched the 4 hour House hearings with him, only four representatives from the house showed up. Yet 100's of political assholes from both aisles in congress went to the press calling for his resignation w/o giving him a fair hearing. Why the hell would any decent honest well qualified person ever want to be in charge of anything when these assholes time after time called for political beheadings that destroys all the good works one does over a lifetime?

* Benghazi Bullshit. Prior to Benghazi, there were 13 attacks on embassies and 60 deaths under President George W. Bush. Where was the congressional outrage and investigations?
These are just two examples of pure political bullshit not worth my time blogging about because anyone with a half of brain are intelligent enough to already know this. Same goes with my posts on alternative energies.

My other interest is in philosophical discussion
Apparently my posting seem too far out there for most peoples tastes. Take for example Neil deGrasse Tyson says aliens might find humans too stupid to bother making contact with them. I did consider a post about Jesus being actually an ambassador sent by aliens to Earth who's mission it was to determine whether humans were capable of being integrated into their culture. Yeah well, if that was the case we certainly screwed ourselves didn't we!

There's no interactions on this blog. I'm just not connecting with others who are thinking beyond those things I consider common everyday bullshit nonsense. Topics that are outside-the-box of everyday items in the news.

At this point I assume most consider me and this blog too far ideologically out there worthy of interacting with. Hence my lack of enthusiasm (at least for the moment) to come up with a bunch of daily postings about everyday nonsense. Especially the kind of everyday bullshit that people throw at one another.

So for now, until something really inspires me, I'm laying low and will only post occasionally. Far less then before. There's already enough noise out there. Why should I add to it?

"What are words for when no one listens anymore
What are words for when no one listens
What are words for when no one listens it's no use talkin at all"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Energy Equivalent To 100,000 Wind Turbines

I've stated on this blog many times the reasons why we need to stop extracting and burning fossilized crud. Not when we already have the technology to generate electric in other ways. Here's one more example.

It's called a "solar wind energy tower". Permission has been granted to install this monster near the city of San Luis, Arizona. Although the tower is half a mile tall there are no spinning blades at the top. That pretty much eliminates the argument against wind turbines saying they are migratory bird meat grinders.

With each new evolution of a alternative energy device there are less and less reasons for continuing to drill, spill and burn carbon fuels.* Wind is everywhere and yet in few places is it leashed to provide something useful as it blows past us.

* Garbage and human sludge in most cases is left to rot producing methane, a green house gas, into the air. Boy, wanna talk about 'natural gas'!

* The sun beats down during the summer months. Most homes crank up the air conditioner which is mostly powered by electricity derived from fossilized fuels. This waste is a twofer. Solar panels helps shade the roof (keeping the home cooler in the first place) while it absorbs energy from the sun to help generate electricity.
Those the three common major alternative energies sources. There are 100's of differently designed devices that can now provide not only useful energy, but in many cases get rid of our unwanted wastes. It's seems foolish to let the solar rays beating down on our homes or the winds slip past us when we can trap some of that and provide clean useful energy.

Solar Wind Energy, Inc. has been working on this for sometime. Technological development doesn't seem to be the problem delaying this project. The problem is (like everything) coming up with the estimated $1.5 billion to build the thing. Then on the other hand if it can produce the same power as the Hoover Dam (1,250 megawatts per hour) as promised, I'd be certain finding funding for ones after that would have clients banging at their doors.

The costs of this tower would also blow away the costs for building a nuclear power plant. Back in 2008 it was estimated to cost between $6 billion and $9 billion for each 1,100 MW nuclear plant.

About all there is left to say to anyone arguing against alternative energy is, just how uninformed are you?

It's cleaner, cheaper and technologically available now. No longer is there an argument against them by any reasonably intelligent person. Only those who are up to their ears with a stake in fossil fuels would make such a foolish argument against them. And even they be fools for not taking advantage of the wealth they made and converting their oil companies' investments over to the future in alternative energy devices.

Just as surely as the steam engine gave way to the combustion engine, it shall happen. Now even the combustion engine is threatened to be replaced by electrical motors. If large oil companies (which once replaced steam companies) can't read the tea leaves by now, they never will. Either run with the herd or get run over by it. It's coming whether they want it or not.

You see it's all a matter of economics. When alternatives to fossil fuels become cheaper then what big oil companies can offer their products for, what do you think will happen?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day (VIDEO)

Video Courtesy "Freedom Foundation"

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why Veterans Miss War

"Civilians don't miss war. But soldiers often do.

Journalist Sebastian Junger shares his experience embedded with American soldiers at Restrepo, an outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley that saw heavy combat. Giving a look at the "altered state of mind" that comes with war, he shows how combat gives soldiers an intense experience of connection. In the end, could it actually be "the opposite of war" that soldiers miss?"

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Republicans Blocked VA Benefits

"Republicans in February blocked important legislation from Sen. Bernie Sanders to improve veterans' access to health care among other things. Only two Republicans, Sens. Dean Heller and Jerry Moran, voted for the veterans benefits bill, which was endorsed by every major veterans organization."

End Of 'The Wise Guys Choir'

Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist-- "On Sunday (05/25/2014), the Wise Guys - eight intellectually disabled adults who have been singing, dancing and rocking out almost as long as Aerosmith - will hold a farewell concert at the Cardinal Krol Center. Owned by the Philadelphia Archdiocese, it's a residential community in Springfield, Delaware County, where the Wise Guys live with more than 100 other men similarly impaired.

The center is closing, the men to be dispersed to small group homes. And the Wise Guys will be no more."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Manufacturing Is Where Future Jobs Are

Currently college commencements are under way across the United States. Tens of thousands of students will soon be graduating more indebted than ever before. Right now total student debt stands around $1.2 trillion. And that only represents a tiny fraction of the money most parents pay upfront. Around here it's not unusual for a four year college degree to cost around a total $250,000.

Even more troubling is the fact that only about 17% of the graduates have a job lined up. Perhaps one of the reasons is kids today want white collar management and desk jobs. I've had my hands slapped more then a few times by today's recent graduates who said to me manufacturing jobs are "crappy jobs". Well good luck with that. This is the kind of attitude that explains why many recent college graduates end up back home living sponging off daddy and mommy in their old rooms.

USA Today published this article on May 16th, 2014 with the headline, "Selling manufacturing to a new generation". The article mentioned there are about 700,000 unfilled jobs in manufacturing that the average pay is around $77,505 a year as of 2012.

I don't know how many times I've said it here on this blog that not only colleges but trade schools are the way to go. They pay the most bang for the buck when it comes to investing money on education. Make no mistake about it. Education is an investment in which one hopes to make return on it. Not everybody can start out being in management. Even the failed Bethlehem Steel had only one boss for every seven workers. There can only be so many mangers. Someone actually has to do the work that "managers" manage..

United States companies need to compete globally at all levels. Graduates who haven't landed a job most likely were ones that companies felt couldn't fulfill that mission. Anyone trying to make themselves look a cut above the rest and failing to choose their course selections wisely have failed to convince companies of their worth. Otherwise they would have been hired. This is another reason why I'm against forgiveness against student debts.

Yes I do feel for them, but in the business world only the those who have taken courses that show they are attuned to the needs of business are those who demonstrated they're deserving of a job. If a student wants to take pottery making as a major rather then settle on something in the manufacturing sector or a blue collar job because they are prideful, then so-be-it. Just don't expect other taxpayers to pick up the tab for bad choices that may have been made.

Sorry that there's no nice way to say it. In this highly competitive world it's dog eat dog. Anyone willing to do what it takes (even if they prefer not to do certain jobs) will be the ones that will end up the winners over losers who refuse to concede. Anyone who feels they are more valuable then someone else needs to become just that. Otherwise plan on living with mommy and daddy or the in-laws for a good long time.

In short
Someone needs to look into what jobs are most in demand and pay the most. If someone has further aspirations pursue them on the side after one finds a means to first provide for themselves. Dreams and aspirations are a good thing, but only one in a million ever are fortunate enough in having them become a reality. One has to first and foremost take care of business as a matter of practicality. If one feels they are too good for certain jobs, chances are they will be disappointed with how things turn out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Policy On Commenting

So far 21 days in May 2014 I have received only two comments from two different people. Quite frankly I was pleased and feeling content this blog has gone that long without someone leaving comments. You see they always seem to turn out to be a pain in the ass for me, as you shall see. The only reason I leave comments on is so that people will have a way of connecting with me (just in case).

My Comments Elsewhere
I did a post about Urbanologists Without Cars. Two days later 'Publius' took me to task on his blog with a post entitiled Transportation Tuesday: the Rosegarden and LVCI Doubling Down on Stupidity. Which I absolutely have no problem with and never commented on it. Nor did I intend to. Here's what he/she/it posted..."Publius May 21, 2014 at 8:53 AM
No, you can call me stupid all you want. I totally support that. Though, I am guessing from the way in which you write and your paragraph structure that you are in fact LVCI."
Just for the record here's the comment I left back..."I never, never, ever comment under any name other then LVCI... And I rarely leave comments on others blogs. Your accusation accusing me of something I haven't done is exactly why I stopped.. I can guarantee you one thing, I will never ever again leave comments here.

My comment on your other post was the only one I left in over a month on another person's blog. The reason is it always goes badly for me. Thanks for reminding me again of the kind of BS I get when I participate with others."
You see I made the mistake of leaving a remark on one of his prior post. Something I promised myself that I wouldn't do with most of these other local blogs (and haven't done in a long time). No matter how many times I tell myself, I seem to be slow learner when it comes expectations concerning mutual respect and unfounded accusations.

A Recent Comment Left Here
Here's an excellent example what happens when I finally do receive a comment--
"Anonymous Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 7:13:00 PM EDT
Pubeless is like Jon Geeting, but with a foul mouth and overly childish attitude. Wait a that you Jon?"

I replied, "I'll let this comment stand (for now) as a reminder personal attacks and comments that are not adding to the topic are not acceptable here on this blog "

Let me make this clear as possible for the umteenth time!
I never ever once left a comment in all these years that wasn't under my LVCI blogger profile which anyone can easily verify by clicking on the link above my comment(s).

Here's my firm commitment (especially going forward) to anyone coming across LVCI..(1) I have never nor will I ever comment w/o using the LVCI tag linked to my profile.

(2) In the future any responses I have will be posted here and not on someone else's blog ever again. Although it's possible (but not likely) I may post a link in their comment section to my response.

(3) Although I attack ideals all the time I never attack someone personally. Nor will I tolerate it others who choose to comment.

(4) Any comments that don't add to the discussion will not appear.

No matter how many or few times I try to interact with the other bloggers or people who leave comments it always becomes a major pain the ass. Either I'm accused of being an anonymous coward or saying something I haven't said. In all cases after protracted discussion back and forth it ends up with name calling and character assassination the longer debate continues.

There are some followers of blogs and bloggers who deem themselves to be endowed with wisdom that somehow they bear more creditability then those they interact with. This is one guy who's never going to delude himself that I nor anyone else earns the right to disrespect someone who disagrees with them.

Most importantly I truly 100% don't care what others may think of me or my opinions. I REALLY DON'T!

What I do care about is not being accused of posting things I've never said. Nor that my character is anything less then honest in the things I've always said and done throughout my life, including this blog. I truly never misrepresented myself to being anything other then myself.

I simply don't care to compete in a battle of wits with other egos on these blogs. Therefore anyone who reads anything I supposedly said elsewhere ends today. I tried to interact with other blogs and it's never ever worked out once for me. Any and all responses will appear solely on this blog only going forward. If anyone reads something I've (LVCI) said other then here, it isn't me no matter what site (commercial or otherwise) the LVCI comment appears.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Urbanologists Without Cars

(LVCI is getting nasty again)

For some time I've read articles and comments by supporters of urban transformation who claim they don't own cars.
      Well la-di-da for you!

There are quite a few questions and issues I have for these cheerleaders, The way I figure it they either are full of horse feathers, some kind of hermit or sponging on someone else for a ride. Here's why I have my doubts.

Question #1: My daughter has twin daughters that are now 8 months old. One of them needs specialized care that local doctors said she needs at CHOPS in Philadelphia. How the hell would she be able to take her there w/o a car?

Question #2: Our medical plan says we can visit any doctor. However when the wife goes for her annual checkup she has to go various locations scattered about the Lehigh Valley for her annual tests. Keeping in mind it could be pouring rain on the day of her appointment or the middle of winter should she (a) Walk? (b) Peddle her bike? (c) Take a bus that stops a couple miles away?

Question #3: Before I retired my job was 9 1/2 miles outside of town. The wife's current job is 6 miles. My daughter works at a hospital 15 miles from her home. None have bus service to and from these locations. Even if they would, bus service is not available in the late evening hours each of us work(d). So what would the carless cheerleaders recommend each of us do?

Question #4: I bring home three or four bags of groceries each week. Assuming I am forced to take a bus to a grocery store I much less prefer, do I set the bags on the seat next to me, put them in a cart blocking the bus aisle or what? Then lug them several more blocks from the bus stop to home? Should I even have to spend and hour or two (possibly changing buses) when the store I most favor is less then 5 minutes (26 blocks) by car? What do carless people do.. eat out every night or spend 30% more at the neighborhood bodega (with it's extremely limited selections?

Question #5: We have pets. If you will note there is not one veterinarian located in downtown Allentown. Do the carless just ignore pet care?

Question #6: What about vacations? What do these carless wonders do? (a) Pack the bags and family and take a cab to the Greyhound bus terminal or airport? (b) Hookup with someone else's vacation plans who has transportation? (c) Screw the family out of vacations?

Question #7: When carless wonders need supplies for hardware, electronics, clothes, etc. do they order online (possibly paying extra for delivery)? Kind of defeats the argument they aren't contributing to the consumption of gasoline/diesel, doesn't it?

Question #8: Assuming their kid joins a sports team, what about the away games. Are they making them walk or bike to each game miles apart from each other? Or are they sponging on other parents (who pay for their cars) to take their kid(s) to them?

Question #9: Unless someone is a miserable bastard no one ever invites, how do they/their family get to a picnic at someone's house, a wedding/reception, etc?

These were a few examples of the questions I have for the carless. Furthermore, my wife and I also enjoy riding on the various trails throughout the Lehigh Valley. We also watch the daughters babies when she works and go up to her house to watch them on occasion. There is absolutely no bus service to these locations. The added expense of cab rides is out of the question.

I don't know who these carless advocates are. Nor ever want to emulate their lifestyle. Do they not understand even going back to 1792 in the days of James Allen folks used wheels to get where they needed to be in Allentown in the form of horse and wagons? Even before that Indians in this area used horses to get around!

No matter how much urban planning goes into making Allentown a one-stop for everything, it never did nor ever will happen. Neither is it possible to provide convenient public transportation to all the places one needs to go.

Anyone who claims they and their family can walk or ride public transportation for all their needs is flat out FOS. Either that or too cheap, broke, incompetent enough to drive or lost their driving privileges. There is only one other possible explanation. They are so obstinate in their beliefs they're not capable of being rational when it comes to practicality.

There's only one more thing that remains to be said. Less then 5% of the people in the United States live in large urban cities. If carless wonders want to hoof it in large urban cities, go for it.

Speaking for the rest of us, living in town or otherwise, don't expect to hitch a ride with us. That was your choice.. live with it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

About Apartments' Heating Efficiency

There's been an argument made regarding how apartments are more efficient to heat then homes. Years ago (in the 70's) the wife & I helped manage and did maintenance involving four apartment complexes. One was in Salisbury Township, another in Catasauqua and two more in Bethlehem. These totaled about 400 units. All of them were either electric forced air or electric baseboard heating.

I'm here to tell you that in many ways (per square foot) these apartments were less efficient then many of the newer single homes of that day. The reason is they were designed knowing renters would be paying for their own electric. When the builders constructed the apartments they did so in the least expensive way.

The insulation, doors and windows used were far from the most efficient available at the time. In three of those complexes' buildings they didn't use insulation between the walls of adjacent units. This meant there was additional costs to someone living next to a empty or someone living next to an occupant who ran their heat (or air conditioning) at a lower setting then their own. Yes there were fire walls, but they were only installed on every other unit. In one case the firewalls didn't even extend beyond the units up to the commons attic roof. This created a draft (summer & winter) from one end of the building to the other end across the top of their ceilings.

It may be true that some apartment complexes may be more efficient then single homes, but that's not always the case per square foot. Some friends we had at the time owned homes several times larger who's heating bills ran lower then some of our single bedroom apartments. Not only because of the way the buildings were constructed, but also because the homes didn't rely on electric heat (which is the most expensive form of heat).

In my particular case the owners built these apartment complexes as cheap as possible then sold then right after to another group of investors. Then leased them from the new owners for the next 5 years (gaming the tax advantages). They were never built to last over the long haul for the new investors nor with tenants utility costs in mind. The point is, don't buy into what some promoters of urban growth tell you regarding apartments always being of greater efficiency.

What one should also keep in mind is the thermodynamics. It always cost more to cool upper level units more then lower ones. Heat rises. The higher the number of stories a apartment is located, the more it will cost to cool it. Which means sometimes it will cost more to cool a 4th floor apartment then it would to cool an average two story single home.

This is an example of another kind of myth that urban proponents constantly perpetuate against single home ownership which tends to aggravate me.

Allentown: The Billion Dollar Gamble

With this post I'm going to assume everyone by now is familiar with the billion dollar NIZ development going on in Allentown, Pa.

For those who need a quick primer, taxpayers will have loaned (when all is said and done) about $1 billion dollars to private developers in Allentown to make something of this city to try and turn it around.

I will expand on this after mentioning a few other of my prior posts concerning this matter.* On this post I asked, " How many of each and everyone of you readers have ever stayed overnight for a entertainment or sporting event?" In that same post I spoke of the difference between socialism and the NIZ. "With socialism, peoples' tax money is deferred and the government retains ownership. With the NIZ, peoples' tax money is deferred and certain private individuals retain ownership"' Which would you rather, one or the other or neither?

* In this post I challenged my readers to . see how many minorities they count in the videos.

* And finally on this post I pointed out data shows "as they age, Americans continue, in general, to shift to suburbs, and later smaller communities, looking to buy homes and start families." Also I pointed out the fact while Philadelphia may be a magnet for young people, they do not stay. I also listed 10 things I would have planned for Allentown instead.
As you might have gathered I'm no fan of the plan. This is because I remain unconvinced of the outcomes.

Let's us suppose for one moment all the urban planners' dreams come true. A whole bunch of middle class workers in their prime age flock back into the city like moths to a flame. It has been estimated about 95,000 new residents over the next few years will be moving to the Lehigh Valley. Let suppose a majority of them do decide to live in Allentown. No doubt along with those dreams real estate prices will double (along with their taxes). I remain absolutely 100% convinced this won't happen, but let's go with that scenario for purposes of this discussion.

Here are the resultant questions that follow..* What happens to all those retired or living on limited incomes currently living here?

* Wouldn't many more of these new arrivals still need to commute? There's simply not enough jobs in center city to accommodate them all.

* What happens to the abandoned areas outside of Allentown? Not that this will ever happen, but what if? Wouldn't they then look like the abandoned ghettos of Allentown? Back to square one, eh?

* Assuming Allentown gets rich off the tax revenue by drawing businesses away from the burgs, how does this benefit Pennsylvania overall?

* One final question. If you had all the money you ever wanted, would you or your family personally really truly move to downtown Allentown even if all these urbanologist plans materialized?
I truly believe when it comes right down to urban planners, there are mainly two kinds. One are those who are young idealists. The other who are paid or profit from this ideology.

What this all boils down to is a few things (1) How old you are. (2) Married with a family or not. (3) How much your able to afford. (4) Whether one profits from it.

In essence where one stands right now economically and family wise in their life depends on how one feels about it. Ideology is all fine and dandy but one has to look behind the scenes to see where these promoters actually choose to live for themselves and their own families. In most cases they are either young just starting out or making a living off the promotion of it.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with making a city sparkle when residents take pride in their city and their residences. BUT.. the NIZ efforts are a far cry from a grassroots movement. It is forcibly taking money from peoples pockets to accommodate a certain number of well connected people to accomplish a agenda of their own.

Anyone disagreeing I offer this challenge. Will you put your own money and family behind your words by moving to downtown Allentown and it's public schools from outside the city?
     .. I didn't think so!

Friday, May 16, 2014

911 Emergency Texting Available In Allentown

It was announced on Thursday, May 15, 2014 the major mobile cell phone carriers across the country are making 911 texting available in select cities. Allentown just happens to be one of only four cities here in Pennsylvania to now have it.

As of May 9, 2014 the FCC list about only 40 other cities in 16 states where this service is available. So it's rather fortunate we here in Allentown, Pa. are one of them.

The main purpose for this new emergency service is to provide for those who are hearing disabled or can't speak when having a medical emergency. It also should be useful if someone has a 911 emergency and doesn't want someone to hear them. Let's say like under a home invasion or hostage situation.

Keep in mind this service is not meant to replace regular 911 calls under any other circumstance. When texting it's important to provide the nature of the emergency.& location within the message. Also no videos, pictures or other attachments are acceptable.

There are several other things you may need to know. Further details can be found HERE on the mayor's site.
Hopefully shortly on the City of Allentown's official webpage HERE.
      Which as of this posting has not been updated yet. No surprise there!

Uploaded On June 27, 2013

Under Obamacare Clinic Forced To Shut Down

According to a report filed by Dylan Scott at 'TPM' the 'RotaCare Tacoma' free clinic in Washington state was forced to shut down at the end of January because of Obamacare.

Because they were set up only to serve patients with no healthcare coverage. Right after Obamacare kicked in their 150 or so patients were no longer uninsured. So in essence they no longer had any patients.

This was not the only one. The same is being reported in Mena, Arkansas-- "We’ve gone from seeing around 300 people a month on a regular basis, but as people were enrolling in Obamacare, the numbers we were seeing have dropped. We were down to 80 people that came through the medical clinic in February, all the way down to three people at the medical clinic in March. Our services won’t be needed anymore, and this will conclude our mission.”

While this comes a good news in some states, the picture isn't so rosy for other ones that rejected the new plan's Medicaid expansions. In November 2013 Bloomberg reported "at least five public hospitals closed this year (2013) and many more are scaling back services, mostly in states where Medicaid wasn’t expanded."

Is the new Health Care Affordability Act perfect?

No, but there is cause for optimism when we read about some of the good things happening because of it. I tend to think of this as a work in progress. There's never been a piece of software, an invention nor first time idea that didn't start out rough around the edges.

Just because the first seed planted may not yield optimum results, there's no reason not to keep trying to perfect something. It was that way for the Wright brothers and Graham Bell. Just as it was for far too many governments to mention that were setup and failed throughout history.

Although the United States itself has been around for 238 years it too still remains far from perfect. It too is still a work in progress. For this reason I see no reason to scrap either the United States constitution nor the healthcare plan.

Speaking towards the future going forward. Both will do just fine with the right kind of tweaking and adapting laws to make things work better.

"A failure is not always a mistake,
it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances.
The real mistake is to stop trying."

~ B. F. Skinner ~

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cher's D2K Tour Coming To Allentown UPDATE

The second concert coming to the soon to be completed PPL Center arena in Allentown, Pa. was announced. It's will be one of 14 cities in 2014 that Cher will perform her 'Dressed To Kill' concert series. Pat Benatar is also scheduled to make a guest appearance.

The date is set for Monday, September 15th, 2014. Just four days after the Eagles perform on the Friday before.

Prices range from $57.50 to $153.50 as of this UPDATED posting (09/13/2014). Plus ticket fees and taxes, which are about $24+. (Deck parking is around $10)

Here's A Video Preview Of Cher's 'D2K' Tour


Cher postpones Allentown concert date due to illness


Cher has now canceled not only her Allentown concert but the rest of her tour due to illness

Click here for more information

What's With My 'Garmin'?

This is kind of weird. We have a Garmin GPS device for the van. Because I'm too cheap to buy a memory stick for it and spend additional money on top of that to update the maps, we haven't updated anything since 2010 when it was bought for us as a gift.

So yesterday the wife wanted to go to a friend's house out in the Breinigsville for her Yoga class.

I punched in the city, A-OK.
I punched in the street number, A-OK.

But when I entered the street name it wasn't in it's database. I'm assuming this was because the home and street where she was going wasn't built until after 2010. OK I get that. So I returned to the map setting anyway.

As a alterative I Googled and printed out the map and instructions for her. The wife said leave the Garmin on anyway. Here's the strange part. Miss Garmin called out and echoed the directions perfectly.. huh?

How was that possible?

Kind of makes you wonder if Miss Garmin (these computers) aren't a lot smarter then they are leading us humans to believe, eh?

Anyone have an explanation?

See My Prior Post From 01/28/2013
'Meet Miss Garmin'
(Karen Jacobson)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More Guns Will Not Make Us Safer

Florida cops fired 377 rounds at unarmed men
By Travis Gettys | The Raw Story
"They were saying put your hands up, and the guys were still moving after they shot maybe 50, 60 times,” said neighbor Anthony Vandiver, who witnessed the shooting from his apartment. “The guy tried to put his hands up, and as soon as he put his hands up, it erupted again, and that was it for them. That guy tried his best to give up."

A homeless New Mexico man who was illegally camping in the Albuquerque foothills was fatally shot by police.

Police Shoot and Kill Man for Watering Lawn "They saw Zerby holding what they thought was a gun. It was actually a water hose nozzle."

Police Shoot And Kill An 80-Year-Old Man In His Own Bed Over Drugs That Weren’t There

Unarmed And Dangerous
By James Pinkerton | Houston Chronicle
"From 2008 to 2012, officers shot 121 people, 52 of them fatally. Police say their lives or others were threatened in all those incidents, although more than a quarter of the civilians shot by the Houston Police Department during that time were unarmed. Of the unarmed people shot, 10 died. They include a mentally ill double amputee in a wheelchair and a Navy veteran diagnosed with schizophrenia."

My Comments About The Articles Above
Gun supporters would have us believe we'd all be safer having more guns in the hands of the general public. Hell sometimes we're not even safe having this many in the hands of cops at this point. Here are a group of supposedly well trained professionals. They are not just trained in gun safety but (supposedly) also when and how to use them in all kinds of situations. If this is the kind of stuff happens already imagine what happens when a untrained individual gets involved!

I could go on and on listing many more unarmed shooting mistakes by police of unarmed individuals. Some cops can be already pretty quick on the trigger. Now imagine a cop gets a call for a armed situation. Two or more people have guns drawn when they get arrive. How are they suppose to know which is the good guy? If one thinks police were a little trigger happy in unarmed situations, you ain't seen nothing if a bunch of people are toting guns when they arrive on scene.

Take for example the Gabby Gifford shooting back in January 2011. NBC reported the armed hero nearly shot the wrong man.

In September 2012 "a police officer shot and killed a convenience store worker who plowed into him on a sidewalk while frantically fleeing an armed robbery "

There's no way more guns on the street will make us safer. The more out there the more dangerous it becomes no matter who's behind the trigger, whether it be a cop, criminal or gun toting citizen. At this point I'm not sure which to fear the most.

Now comes along these loons...
"Operation American Spring". They are hoping 10 million will show up for "as long as it takes to see Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holder removed from office."

They claim they will come peaceful and unarmed to Washington on Friday May16th, 2014 and stay as long as it takes. Anyone want to take a bet how many militia members will show up armed with guns?

The operation named "American Spring" ought to tell you right there what their intentions are. It says on that site, "my knees will not touch the surface as a result of some piss ant occupant of the White House or a corrupt legislator, or outside element...I will fall to my death standing if necessary."

'Tea Party Nation' posted this gem, "Finally and very importantly, if all of these peaceful remedies fail to achieve our constitutional goals, then ALL other remedies sanctioned by our Founders and "natural law" must necessarily be relied upon by the American people."

This just gives me one more reason why I can't see guns making us any safer. Especially when they fall in the hands of clowns like these.

No one (not anyone) wants to see an 'American Spring' uprising like the revolutionary uprisings that came with the likes of 'Arab Spring' protestors. Well, except for maybe these militia assholes. Hopefully it's a lot of bluster. Nothing will come of it and this will be a bust.

There could be no one who could provide a greater reason for gun control legislation and supporters for it then these bozos. If they create a problem Friday down in our nation's capital they only have their own selves to blame for it.

"Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I wish mental health care was as easy to get as, say, a gun."
~Andy Borowitz~

Ron Reagan on Gun Control - February 1989

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Save A Bundle On A Electric Vehicle

Pennsylvania offers up to a $2,000 rebate. Couple that with a federal tax credit up to $7,500 and you might save not only on fuel, but on the cost for the vehicle itself. Here's the pdf rebate form for Pennsylvania

Several states offer rebates as well. Even the oil rich state of Texas offers a $2,500 rebate.... BUT... There's a catch when it comes to Tesla models. Texas requires all vehicles to be sold through dealers. Tesla markets only direct (via the web) saving the middleman costs associated with dealerships When legilsators wrote the law they made it so only vehicles sold at dealerships or through official dealership channels could qualify.

To even buy a Tesla in Texas here's what it takes to buy one. Seems to me if Texas wants to be chosen over Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico for Tesla's future $4 billion factory this isn't exactly a swell way to lobby for it. Just another reason why I think Texas has more horses asses running around in it then any other Southwestern state.

As of March 2014 at least 40 states enacted electric vehicle incentives

Two car charging stations are now available on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

This isn't just about some leftwing wacko greenies as some would have you to believe. It makes good economic sense for high end car purchasers since there are less parts to repair. Plus other then the initial purchase cost the ride is almost free!

.. "Charging stations making it possible to travel all the way from the east to the west coast of the United States entirely depending on free charging stations designed for Tesla Model S,...

John Glenney, a Lexington Kentucky citizen and owner of 4 Tesla Model S sedans, became the first person to drive cross country utilizing a network of Tesla Supercharger stations on a road trip with his daughter leaving from New York on January 20th and arriving in Los Angeles on the 26th. Out of the 71 active Supercharger stations in the country, Glenney says he used 28."

According to 'Edmunds' the MSRP for a Tesla S is $71,070. After Pennsylvania's $2,000 rebate and assuming the maximum federal tax credit of $7,500 is taken off the MSRP, the final cost for a Tesla S would be $61,570. Far less then some of the mainstream gasoline powered upper end vehicles currently on the market.

Tesla Model S Official Walkthrough

Largest Solar Panel Array In The World..

.. is now located in Arizona desert. "At full capacity, the new plant will be able to power 230,000 houses."

I don't care whether you are a denier of global warming or not, solar panels are absolutely the best way of meeting our energy needs going forward. Couple that with electric cars and we'll all be better off.

A Quick Primer On Global Warming
If we go back millions of years ago (through the study of geology) there was a time almost all of Earth's life forms disappeared. It wasn't due to mankind's endeavors but rather through volcanic actions. What both today's global warming and then have in common are the gases that form which then create unsafe conditions for human habitation to continue in existence. Fortunately for us there was far more ocean water and vegetation around that once could absorb and trap these gases.

These gases never disappeared. Instead are now buried beneath the ground and under glaciers. What we are doing today is drilling deep down into the decomposed vegetation extracting what we commonly refer to as fossilized fuels. These are both the gases and semisolids which make up today's petroleum products (crude oil). We are doing this not only on land but also under our oceans.

Earth has tried it's best to absorb these dangerous materials and shield them from us. What we are doing is reintroducing them to the atmosphere by burning them while at the same time risking accidental releases of them.

There is yet another component buried beneath us. It's the radioactive materials which too have been absorbed by the dirt and rock below. Why would anyone with sound reasoning want to disturb these when there are alternatives?

When scientist caution that humans can cause global warming they are not blowing smoke. As you can see it's not just about smoke stacks.

Even if someone is thick headed enough to blow off the whole idea of global warming, why wouldn't they support a cheaper, cleaner and easier way to make electric is beyond my understanding. It seems to me to beyond stupid to go to all the trouble of drilling holes everywhere in the Earth. Moving fossil fuels to the generating plants (which have an average 10% loss in their transmission lines to point of delivery). All-the-while risking the release of these toxic components unnecessarily.

Rooftop Solar Panel Advantages* They absorb heat in the summer from reaching roofs
* Help protect roofing shingles themselves from weather elements
* Reduce energy consumption (bills)
* Reduce the 10% loss from long distance transmission lines
* Reduce dependency on the power grids
* Supply power during power blackouts during a storm
* They last longer then asphalt shingles. They last 20-30+ years
* Can recharge electric cars eliminating the need for fill ups at the gas pump
* Reduce dependency on the whims of foreign nations and power companies
* etc, etc, etc
Who the hell cares whether global warming is a fact or not. Solar energy makes more sense at all levels no matter which side of the fence one argues.

Can't afford installation?
RENT THEM... "The program’s only upfront charge is a security deposit of roughly US $500, which is paid back with interest at the end of the contract."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

No Such Thing As Artificial Intelligence

This post is regarding our research into creating futuristic machines that are said to one day be capable of possessing "artificial intelligence".

According to 'Merrian-Webster...
ar•ti•fi•cial adjective \ˌär-tə-ˈfi-shəl\
: not natural or real : made, produced, or done to seem like something natural
: not happening or existing naturally : created or caused by people

Unfortunately this is only a superficial explanation regarding the matter of intelligence. One day machines may be developed to simulate or even exceed mankind's ability to process information. In essence mimicking or even exceeding the human brain's capabilities.

It can be said we as a biological unit can process information that currently non-biological machines can't. Egotistically we assume intelligence starts with us humans. Let's take a look at this from another point of view.

Are we the originators of information or just processing the information we are capable of understanding?

How do you go about defining intelligence?
We're assuming a machine isn't capable of exceeding our capacity for understanding and processing information. Therefore the machine lacks intelligence as we define it. However what if the machine one day knows more then we and is capable of processing it much faster? Would we not then be of less intelligence?

Which bring us right back to trying to understand what we consider intelligence to be. If you think about it, intelligence is not exclusive to either human beings or machines. It's unto itself. There is the known & the (as of yet) unknown. Neither which makes machines or ourselves originators of it.

Therefore since intelligence exists outside we both (in the nature of all things).. THERE CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.

There exists nothing but processors (either biological or otherwise) to observe and possibly understand aspects of it. The question then becomes, does this intelligence favor one or the other over the ever evolving universe?

As a fellow biological unit this concerns me when we so easily dismiss so-called artificial intelligence as inferior to that of our own species.

Further Reading By Charles T. Rubin...
"Artificial Intelligence and Human Nature"

Scientist Create New Form Of Life

May 8th 2014 Fox News-- "Scientists create first living organism containing artificial DNA"

I'm not quite sure I'd use the word artificial to describe it. I think 'The Daily Mail' has a more accurate headline-- "'Alien' life form is grown in a lab". Not only do I feel it was a more appropriate headline but 'The daily Mail' provided far more details how scientist accomplished this.

Not that I understand all this complicated DNA razzmatazz but from what I gather they added RNA molecules to double helix DNA strands. This is something not found occurring naturally on it's own. In doing so created a new form of E. coli bacteria..

The whole thing kind of reminds me of Frankenstein
It makes one wonder why after millions of years of evolution by the life forms on Earth this hasn't occurred in nature.

Scientist hope it might lead to Nanomaterials which may lead to health benefits for humans. However there are safety concerns when messing with this kind of stuff. It also makes me think of giving a chemical set to a kid too young to own one. Your never quite sure how things will turn out, do you?

See also THIS ARTICLE which cautions, "Some experts are worried that scientists could create artificial life forms which might escape from a laboratory and cause an environmental or health disaster."

Friday, May 9, 2014 Announces Sunday Deliveries

On May 7th Amazon announced a list of 15 cities where they do Sunday deliveries in a deal with the USPS. Although Allentown, Pa. isn't on the list, my last three orders came on a Sunday delivered by the United States Postal Service.

I'm not sure if this a good or bad thing for the U.S. postal workers. I did feel kind of guilty making them work straight time on a Sunday. Then on the other hand I suppose some of those employees would rather have off on a weekday for one reason or another. It certainly does seem like the cash strapped postal service can benefit, no?

The interesting thing is all three came within two or three days even though I'm neither one of their 'Prime' members nor opted for anything other then the free shipping. Maybe it has something to do with one of their warehouses only being 10 miles away?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The 2014 'Freddy' Nominations

Today (Thursday, May 8th, 2014) the 2014 Freddy Awards Nominations were announced. (Emmaus High School leads with 19)The top award for "Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical"
     Bangor Area HS Seussical
     Dieruff HS Chicago
     Emmaus HS Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
     Freedom HS Crazy For You
     Parkland HS The Wizard of Oz
Click on the link above to see all the nominations

I'm Pulling For Dieruff HS

For previews of all of them check out the videos 'Lehigh Valley' posted

Beware Of The Robots

On Monday, April 21st, 2014 I posted that robots we are working on may one day render us extinct. Ironically enough only about two weeks later Stephen Hawking said, "it would be the "worst mistake in history" to dismiss the threat of artificial intelligence."

Now that was a cute video warning us much of the same thing. However, here is a documentary video (not so cute) on how the United States is building robot Armies...

Regarding my original post. I had concerns in mind that robots don't need water, air or food to survive. Also that time meant little to them as it does for us humans. What's 60 or 70 years to a machine that can be upgraded unlike us humans. As long as we humans control the kill switch we have nothing to fear. But what should happen if these machines found a way to circumvent our abilities to shut them down if they should become aggressive towards us?

Humorously speaking, it's rather interesting to note that Stephen Hawking & I seem to be in agreement within days apart regarding this same line of reasoning. Does that make me a genius too :-)

Oh here's one more video from U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Have sweet dreams

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Scott Ott Resigning As Lehigh Commissioner

The Morning Call-- Ott said in a statement that his family is moving to Texas....

Taking Responsibly Not Always Best Policy

Truck driver in fatal Route 222 crash told police, 'It's all my fault. I did this,' records say
"... was sent without bail to Lehigh County Prison."

Believe me when I say there's no stronger advocate for someone taking personal responsibility then I. However when someone's involved in an accident it is not time to make such a statement. It's best to remain with lips sealed until such a time as they have legal representation. Save the honesty and offers of restitution for the court room under advice from an attorney.

No one's saying someone shouldn't clear their conscience and be honest, but that's best left to a time when any such statement won't be able to be used against them to the max.

Let me explain. I was friends with a fella who started out on his destiny to become a lawyer at Temple University Law school. The question was presented, suppose you were sitting at a red light waiting to make a left turn. Someone driving a ratty old pickup without a license comes up behind you and rams into you. Your car is then propelled across the intersection into a double parked private limousine. Who do you sue?

The answer is the limousine.
Because he's the one most likely to have money.

A lawyer can argue that if the limo wasn't parked illegally in the first place you injuries may never have occurred. The defendant's attorney on the other hand could counter sue arguing if your vehicle's wheels weren't cocked in the limos direction none of this would have happened in the first place. In the end you (the victim) could be found guilty as well as the person who hit you from behind irregardless of what charges were filed by the police when it comes to civil liability claims.

I bring this up because according to the article "Police said the impact pushed the minivan into southbound traffic." Which direction were the wheels pointed on the minivan that might have caused it to veer into southbound traffic?

So no matter how well intended, by stating "It's all my fault", this guy made it nearly impossible for a lawyer to defend him. I am in no way trying to look for a way to get this guy off the hook, but he's made things so much worse for himself then need be. As you see he's been locked up without bail. He could end up owing multimillions dollars in lawsuits, paying for highway cleanup, traffic fines and/or even spend decades behind bars. Quite possibly he won't be able to get commercial motor vehicle insurance ever again either.

I'm sure when this 56 year tractor trailer driver woke up that morning he had no intention of killing someone. He seems to be a honest guy. His honesty will not be rewarded. It would have been so much better for him to 'zip-it' until such a time where it would be more legally appropriate to do so.

I urge anyone who ever gets involved in an accident provide only the minimal details required for police to file their accident report. Save the explanations, apologizes and confessions no matter how compelled or well intended. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Besides all the admissions in the world will not change what happened.

There's nothing barring someone from rendering aide and comfort, but don't necessarily expect that to be a consideration by a jury in a court of law after admitting total responsibility. The sad fact is, no matter how well someone may feel inside about coming clean, it matters little to others when meting out punishment.

Really Tough Not To Take The Bait

It's really becoming tougher and tougher for this blogger not to take the bait and refute the claims made in the media by so many. There's just too many of them that it's become overwhelming so I've been trying to ignore them. However I'll slap together a few of them for the purpose demonstrating why I haven't spoken of them over the last few days.

Prayer Before Public Meetings
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday by 5-4 local officials can open public meetings with Christian prayers. Just goes to show that the U.S. Supreme is not perfect nor above playing politics. One would think if the framers of the constitution intended for 'Christianity' they would have used the word specifically. No where is it either mentioned nor implied.

Reductio ad Hitlerum
Speaking towards critics of that decision some ignorant idiot radio host on Fox News said Hitler excluded Christianity., "The Germans tried it with Hitler. It didn’t work out very well with them.". Like I've always said, if you want to learn anything about the real facts don't watch Fix Fox News. "In his semi-autobiographical Mein Kampf (1925/6), he makes a number of religious allusions, claiming to fulfill the will of the Christian God and having been chosen by providence. In a 1928 speech he said: "We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity ... in fact our movement is Christian."

Hitler used Christianity as a means to con the German people which led to atrocities unimaginable. Our forefathers had the insight based on their understanding of previous history far earlier then Germany's rise to include protections in the constitution that apparently our brain dead Supremes and current crop of politicos are no longer capable.

Women's Pay Equality
Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Tuesday suggested that women who made more than their husbands could be a “recipe for disaster". Apparently she supports a study that says 5 times more men are prone to cheat on their spouses who make more money. So go ahead women stay barefoot and pregnant if ya wanna keep your man. I'm not sure it works the other way around as an excuse for women who earn less then their husband.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck makes about $1 million a year at FOX and is worth a reported $12 million. She's married to Tim Hasselbeck a retired quarterback. He is worth a reported $12 million also. So I'm sure she's qualified to speak towards those of us who income disparities are worth far less then those two.

If Ya Can't Beat em' At The Polls..
Impeach Them-- "Pennsylvania House Democrats walk out of hearing on Kathleen Kane impeachment plan.

Investigate them-- Hold 13 hearings over Benghazi, Libya

Prosecute officials appointed by Obama and block his nominations.

Sen. Compares Obamacare to Concentration Camps
"State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) caused a stir Monday morning when he wrote on his personal blog that "Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of mandatory sign ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s."

A Few More Idiots I've Found It Hard To Resist Responding To

Fox Host Wants TV Meteorologists To Ask Obama About Benghazi

Glenn Beck says God told him directly he is coming back to kick some ass.

AL pastor offered to baby sit 13-year-old, then took her to his church and raped her

Landlord Demands Current Tenants Prove They Make At Least $100K To Keep Apartments

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) Constitution only protects Americans who ‘cling to God and guns’

There are far too many assholes that shouldn't be receiving anymore attention then I've already given them in this post. It isn't that I'm not aware of these stooges. It just that I've chosen to mostly ignore them. I only brought this up as a matter of pointing out a few examples of the stories I'm trying not to concentrate my efforts on. By even mentioning them it is giving them the attention they don't deserve.

I just wanted to make people aware that I am familiar with the kind of fools that walk this Earth. I also wanted to point out how hard it is to resist taking the bait of the low hanging fruit these wingnuts provide.

Enough said
Unless someone wants to discuss these further, most of this kind of stuff I'm not usually prone to blog about. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Life After Bethlehem Steel

On Monday, May 5th, 2014 'Lehigh Valley TV' put out the following video entitled...

"The Bethlehem Story - Life After Steel"

According to their channel description on YouTube-- " is a 24/7 on-demand video library with complementary broadcast programming. Created by... FireRock Productions...

FireRock Productions quickly welcomed Emmy® Award-winning Countess Communications to the production team, and, in partnership with Discover Lehigh Valley and Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, it was fast realized that everyone shared a common goal: collaborate locally to be recognized nationally..."

Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.- Lehigh Valley

WFMZ-TV69 Video Report (04/29/2014)- "Officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday April 29th, 2014 at the new beverage facility in Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County."

"This video was created for their annual meeting to show
the growers what their $100 million investment created."

Video Courtesy- "FireRock Productions"

In addition to the production building on May 1st they also held a grand opening for their one million square foot distribution facility in Kutztown. This center will ship about 40% of all the products made by Ocean Spray globally.

The company received a $182,700 grant in addition to a $3.15 million loan from the state of Pennsylvania. The distribution center is located within a larger business development in a TIF zone.

On the downside...
Bordentown, NJ (where they came from) may be looking at sewer rate hikes after Ocean Spray's departure. About 138 employees were displaced by the shutdown. 100 of which are expected to make the move to the new Lehigh Valley faculties. SOURCE: 'Central'

I can't find the expected water usage of the new plant. However in 2013 each day on average 17 million gallons of water was already being drawn from the Little Lehigh Creek, Schantz Spring and Crystal Spring. I'm not sure how that will play out for us if it should be a dry summer.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I Have My Own Questions About Benghazi

On September 11, 2012, terrorists attacked our embassy in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in only four Americans being killed. So here's my questions...(1) Republicans via the Faux Fox nut News Network are demanding answers. Can anyone tell me exactly what the questions are they are specifically asking?

(2) Republicans and Faux Fox News accuse the Obama administration of a "major security breakdown that signaled the broader failed policy in the region." Frankly I would think they both would be more concerned with what the hell went wrong back on September 11th, 2001 with the "major security breakdown that signaled the broader failed policy in the region" of NYC right here in our own backyard.

Who the hell were the ones that dropped the ball when nearly 3,000 people got killed. Three buildings in the heart of New York city fell to the ground. A portion of the Pentagon got destroyed and a fully loaded passenger plane fell to the ground in Shanksville, Pa.. killing all those aboard? Where the hell was Fox's or the Republicans outrage either now or back then?

(3) Are these propagandist more concerned about the America people getting answers or more concerned about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton running for president?

(4) Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.... Doesn't this do-nothing congress have bigger fish to fry rather then just playing politics? Things that actually concern and affect Americans like issues on immigration, campaign finance reform, cities & pensions going bankrupt, income tax equality, etc., etc., etc.?
Face it, Fox News sets the agenda that Republicans follow in lock-step. Right now these guys are living in their own bubble and beating the drum 24/7 focusing only on Benghazi for one reason only... out of fear of Hillary getting elected in 2016.

In the world of reality the vast majority of average Americans are far more concerned about what affects them directly. They could care less about politics. Why should they when things like their job opportunities, income and who wins the next American Idol mean more to them. At the most Fox News generates about 5+ million viewers. American Idol 11+ million. About 143+ million watched the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile congress's approval ratings are around 6%. If Republicans in the House & Fox News want to hang their hats on Benghazi 24/7 while ignoring what most Americans are concerned about in their daily lives I suggest neither get their hopes up too high. Frankly most average Americans are fed up with their BS over Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!

After the 9/11 attack in NYC we had 2.6 million service members sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. 4,486 US soldiers were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2012. Over 2,319 in Afghanistan. About 10x's that many were wounded or are currently suffering from PTSD in addition to the nearly 3,000 civilians killed in NYC on 9/11... And all FOX News and Republicans in congress want to talk about is Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi ..

Cenk Goes Off About Bengazi
(Caution Bad Language)


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Schools Have Become Out Of Control

Schools have become out of control on two levels. One concerns the learning environment. The other concerns how we pay for education.

'Lehigh Valley Live reports, "At least two students are under police investigation after recording and posting onto Facebook a video of themselves hitting, taunting and cursing at other kids on school grounds."

Bullies Have The Advantage
There are a few things that make it hard for schools to weed out these troublemakers. Troublemakers are less likely to suffer then those who they bully. Here's why. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), "Gives disabled students a legal right to a free, appropriate public education, and procedural protections against school discipline. IDEA also requires schools to provide services that address behavior issues of disabled students... There are strict procedures that must be followed before a school district can remove a special education student from school. If the misconduct that led to the disciplinary action was a "manifestation" of the child's disability, the school district may not be able to suspend or expel the child at all."In fact the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACLU put out this handy booklet for students entitled "Know Your Rights" It explains in greater detail more about the laws under the heading "Discipline of Students with Disabilities".

Did you know the school can't suspend a "disabled" student more then 15 days over a school year?

Did you know, according to the Pa. Dept. of Labor students are allowed to work on the days they are suspended or expelled?

So all these bad actors need do is qualify for a Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) and they are then considered disabled. Which puts the ball back in their court over that of what the schools can or cannot do to them

Compounding the problem for schools is their dependency on state and federal funding for around 2/3rds of their budget. These monies are handed out based on their schools' performance scores which are directly impacted by the percentage of students in attendance.

As you can see the problem goes far beyond the local school districts. Legislators in Harrisburg and Washington have gummed up the works. Parents & taxpayer complaints shouldn't fall squarely on the laps of local administrators and it's unpaid elected board members. Not when their hands have been tied by politicos. Most who have neither the background, the education nor the experience of ever having worked in a school.

Face it bullies get more protections under law then the adults who are suppose to be in charge. One screw up and it can cost a teacher not only their job, but their pension as well. Why should any of them want to risk their future earnings, pensions and risk lawsuits from parents by confronting student bullies? Would you?
~ ~ ~

WITF-PBSTV (Harrisburg)
"Senate panel hears from backers of plan to kill property taxes"
"State Senate supporters of a plan to replace school property taxes with higher personal income and sales levies are shopping their proposal around to colleagues."

When it comes to funding education property taxes are the least fair taxes of them all. It matters not whether one single person (who never had kids) owns the same house or whether a dozen kids live in that home, the tax would be the same. Owning real estate no more equates then someone owning a vehicle or a boat having to pay towards education. One has nothing to do with the other.

In fact the more kids someone has, the less they pay in taxes. That was all fine and dandy when we wanted to encourage population growth in the early days of this country. These days in many cities we are already overpopulated and now have the direct opposite problem.

In some homes there may be several wage earners whereas in another there may be only one. It makes absolutely no sense to tax both homeowners the same.

When someone buys something, they paid a once and done sales tax on that item. Real estate holders on the other hand pay taxes year after year over a lifetime for their purchase of a home.

Most cities have row homes that look like rat holes. We should be encouraging nice looking homes. Rather then rewarding those who made improvements we punish them by increasing their assessments. Bass ackwards if you ask me!

If we're going to stand by the age old argument that we all benefit from education let's carry through on that thought. Houses don't benefit, people do. They benefit with higher earnings and being able to buy things. Why then not derive taxes from those?

Those who argue against this proposal cite there can be too many fluctuations from year to year. Damn straight there is. Where is it written that homeowners receive the same guarantee theirs won't either? Why should schools be prioritized (to it's own detriment) if too many homeowners should then lose their homes resulting in them coming off the tax rolls?

The bottom line is this
We can either tax people causing many to lose their homes in which they and their families need to live or find another way to pay for education. While education is important, having a roof over one's head is far more important to my way of thinking. Especially for those who are retired on fixed incomes and already paid their debt to society many times over for decades.

In short, both education and funding for it in the U.S. are a total mess. The whole point of education is to make society a better place in which to live. Students who are bullied and taxpayers both are receiving the short end of the stick. America has failed in both areas. Those who disagree are deluding themselves. It's time to change both the laws for the funding of it and educational responsibilities for districts regarding students behaving like assholes. To do otherwise puts our future in grave jeopardy.