Monday, March 30, 2015

This Is For Climate Change Deniers

According to UPI temperatures at Antarctica set an all-time record high of 63.5 degrees on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015. Here in Allentown, Pa. it only reached 45 degrees @ 4:51PM on that day.

It looks like Antarctica might be the place to be if ya wanna enjoy a bit of Spring at this time of year. Who woulda' thunk it?


Hell, that even beats today's (03/30/2015) predicted high of 52 degrees !


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Millennials Move Over You're History

Millennials Hating On Boomers


NOT SO FAST!
'Baby Boomers' range in age from 51 to to 69. The majority of Millennials are now between 35 and 50 years of age (Generation x). Although the 'Generation Y' component (aged between 20-34) still are considered Millennials the majority of Millennials are between 35-50 old.

Don't look now but you have become your parents. Millennials are highly prized by employers and major international corporations trying to sell them things they most readily scoop up and can afford to buy. Thus making them the most influential social and economic force currently.

'Time Magazine points out, "The average age of an S&P 1500 CEO is 50. And they’re already leading the majority of growing companies: 68% of Inc. 500 CEOs are Gen Xers." In other words you guys now have the bull by the horns and can't keep blaming mom and pop for whatever ails befall you in the marketplace.

CHECK OUT THE REARVIEW MIRROR
Perhaps you guys haven't noticed you've become the 'boomers' as far as 'Generation Z' is concerned. Members of 'Generation Z' are those ranging from age 2 to around 19 years old (your kids).

The New York Times: Move Over Millennials -- Here Comes Gen Z-- "They tend to be independent. While a 2015 Census Bureau report found that nearly a third of millennials are still living with their parents, Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose." So while many in today's Generation Y may be content after college to return home to the nest, not so much your offspring.

'Forbes' reports, "Forget about generational spats with Boomer bosses and trying to break free from over invested parents, the cohort Millennials really need to worry about is Generation Z."

TIME WHERE DID THOUEST GO?
Why it seems like only yesterday when hippies, who became today's boomers, were bitching about their parents over wars and the neglect over social issues. Then our kids (the Millennials) came along telling us how bad we were with all our protest marches, sexual immorality, the drug culture, how crummy we were as parents and the lousy legacy we left behind. Even our music sucked.

Now Generation Z is coming into bloom.
     OH LOOK-- I see a lot changed...






SO WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
     (1) Maybe daddies and mommies of the 'boomer' generation weren't so F'd up after all!
     (2) The more things change, the more they stay the same
     (3) This bullshit argument between one generation and another is just that!

I'll leave you with something my parents once told me. You can fill in the blanks..
     "I hope someday when you have kids ...."


:-)


New Spin On Old Song

Just a short piece in which TruthSurge says, "Speaking of random vids... I always wanted to try this and I just plugged in and did it in about 20 or 30 min. It was fun. No idea if my parts are correct. Just did it by memory."


Pretty cool, eh?

More?

Here's another cool video he did about a month ago (02/22/2015)


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mr Bill On Sales Tax

A Cautionary Tale

One of the vloggers I follow is a fella from McCook, Nebraska. As most people know by now Pennsylvania Governor Wolf is proposing to boost sales taxes to 6.6%. in addition expand sales taxes on items that weren't taxed previously. This coupled with changes to the state income tax.

The carrot at the end of the stick is a promise this will somehow help lower property taxes a bit (but not all of them).


Not So Fast
Let's take a look a what Mr. Bill has to say about how that's worked out for them in Nebraska

I looked up a few things regarding taxes in Nebraska and here's what I found. According to the information I found on nebraskalegislature.gov-- "The property tax is higher in Nebraska than most states." Doing a bit more research at revenue.nebraska.gov I found the state's sales tax in Nebraska currently stands at 5.5%. BUT, cities are allowed to impose additional sales taxes. This results in boosting them to a total ranging from 6.5% to 7% on average. One exception is David City where residents pay a total of 7.5% in sales taxes.

A Word Of Caution
No one's saying what happened in Nebraska will transpire here in Pennsylvania if we do this thing. But, it certainly should give us pause given what has transpired both there and here in Pennsylvania over the past few years.

Pennsylvanian homeowners were promised what they believed would be significant savings on their property taxes if casino gambling was approved. How's that working out for ya?

Thus my hesitance in believing things will turn out differently this time. I have little faith raising taxes will end up in our best interest over the long haul. Even if property owners are given hard numbers initially (which I doubt) doesn't guarantee in a few years we'd be better off for it.


I've nearly always found that promises to save me money usually doesn't end up that way. This is true of business solicitations and goes double for government's promises. When it comes to government promising us unicorns we usually end up with donkeys. Will this be the exception?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Allentown- The Gentrification Debate

I came across an interesting read on 'The Brown & White' (Lehigh University's student newspaper).

PPL center sparks debate on gentrification
March 26, 2015: Michael DeCrosta, a sociology graduate student and Bethlehem local, called the efforts a prime example of gentrification, or the act of development to the point of local displacement... ..concerns remain about what the development is doing for Allentown residents."
This whole thing is a damned if you do. Damned if you don't situation. We know as a city Allentown was sliding downhill for a very long time. Then this project comes along and Allentown as a city may end up doing better. But what about the people living there both then and now?

I tend to lean on history as a means to find a better solution. Allentown was once home to dozens and dozens of skilled and unskilled jobs (mostly in the small privately owned businesses) that no longer exist. These jobs once paid enough a family could live on. This is no longer the case. Here in Allentown, along with the rest of the world, things changed a lot since then. The good paying jobs are now with huge companies which have located themselves into huge expansive malls and office/industrial complexes in the suburbs. Robots have replaced tens of thousands of well paying jobs workers once held (skilled and unskilled alike). This is not only true here in Allentown but nearly in every other city throughout the United States. Therein lies the problem in a nutshell.

How Do We fix That?
City government seems to think we can't. So instead is trying to lure the suburban dwellers to the city. This may help the city overall or not but does little to solve the root of the problem for those currently living below economic levels within the city. What we are seeing instead is a trickle down service sector type economy. A few large players have benefited with about a billion dollars in taxpayers' funds while prior entrepreneurs and businesses were not only excluded but pushed aside in the process.

Now just supposing about five of ten million had been set aside for already existing small private businesses & future business owners. What too then if they had a shot at these huge influxes of tax deferred loans?

Smarter planning: Do we need yet another hotel or would the likelihood of a pharmacy downtown succeeding financially be a better choice Do we need another restaurant or would a couple of strategically placed neighborhood bodegas likely work out financially better over the next few years. Should we have spend $30 million on just one new high rise rental building or instead used the money to acquire blighted properties. Turn them around and sell them to more permanent responsible home owners. Should NIZ have targeted a certain amount strictly geared towards a production/manufacturing company.

All the things I mentioned are building from the ground up instead of the other way around. The key here is to encourage small ownership. This would result in those who would have a greater vested interest, minimize our loses if they should fail and provide a possible independent way for people to make a living for themselves. Suppose we had setup a service center instead to help get people started.

Let's take for example a Hispanic mother who'd be interested and do extremely well opening a small daycare for her kids and others;. However she has neither the expertise nor financial resources to jump through the hoops. Had $20,000-$30,000 been set aside to provide her with the help needed to get one started she would not have only benefited the neighborhood, but then find a means to support herself as well

What if another $20,000-$30,000 was set aside to help someone start up a roofing or painting business of their own. The lists goes on and on, but you get the idea. In each and every case the goal is to help people find a way to make a living for themselves if only had 10% of the billion dollars been set aside for such purposes. Instead these same people may very well have to rely on the crumbs handed down to them with these part-time minimum wage service jobs.

Would my plan have worked?
Maybe.. maybe not, but we didn't even give it a try. It's still not too late.

Why not set up a NIZ office specifically for this purpose. Start off with let's say a million dollars and see how it goes. Yeah a million sounds like a whole lot of money but it's only 1% of what's nearly committed to this NIZ project so far.

Gentrification Is Not The Same As Revitalization

As far as I'm concerned a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. If Allentown and other cities are to move forward they can only do so if they are willing to begin from the ground up. Human nature is to give up trying if they think the deck's stacked against them and no one cares. Either we can continue with the direction we've always taken or try a different path.

As I stated I'm prone to look at history. From what I've observed trickle down economics is like building a structure before the foundation has been laid in which for it to firmly to stand on. What say you?

Six Flags Great Adventure To Go Solar

'The Asbury Park Press' is reporting, Six Flags to cut down 18,000 trees to build NJ's largest solar farm

There's nothing I like better then a headline that grabs peoples attention and gets their panties in a knot on first read. I suppose that just to be the case when readers see a headline that says 18,000 trees are going to get cut down. But if people read on in the article they will see the park & solar company installing the panels plan to replace those trees with 25,000 new seedlings over seven years.

There are so many pluses it's crazy not to move forward. The park will save a huge amount of money on their electric bill. The property they are developing will be taxed at a higher rate. Best of all we won't have to burn cruddy fossil fuels just so people can get their jollies off.

When the solar panels generate more electric then the park needs it will be sold back to the grid. Oh and there's one more thing the article didn't take into account. Their electric bill won't keep going up and up year after year.

This is fantastic news. It's my hope with or without government help the private sector will bring about more and more of these green projects. Anything that helps mankind wean away from depending on gas, coal and oil is a good thing.

No matter how it's done the harvesting and burning of these fossil fuels makes a mess of our land, seas and air. These started being created and being used millions of years ago in the past from rotting plants and animals. Hopefully one day that's where they'll stay, in the past where they belong.

At the time these fuels were the latest technology used to make torches and kerosene lamps. Technology eventually moved on to electric for powering our lights and motors. The previous generations took the next step. If they hadn't we'd still be reading by kerosene lamps and torches. Now it's our turn. Failing to progress would be a disservice to future generations. It wasn't done to us. I'd hate to think it was this generation that dropped the ball.

Local Newspaper Screwed

'The Morning Call' said., More layoffs planned at Express-Times newspaper . 'The Express-Times' said, The Express-Times and lehighvalleylive.com announce company structural changes.

Whether it be either the Morning Call or Express-Times one thing is certain, neither paper represents the powerhouse they once used to be. Neither should be gloating over the other. If anything they should to be thinking about merging their resources if not each other's companies.


For so many reasons journalism has been compromised by both a advertisement revenue dependency and governmental influences. If journalism is to survive it needs to find a new revenue stream. Newspapers once depended on subscribers which is no longer the case. Failing to discover a new way to become largely supported by a subscriber based system both papers are doomed to fail. Whether this is even possible I cannot say, but without it newspapers will become part of a bygone era much like TV reporting is today.

If the print media is to succeed I suggest they offer less online content and go back to the basics luring subscribers back to their print publications with what information cannot be found online. Why would anyone pay for what they can get for free? Seems like a no brainier to me.

This doesn't mean they can't offer online teasers, but if people want more information newspapers should encourage people to subscribe to their print publications for more detailed reporting. If someone has a better idea I'd sure like to hear about it.

What do you think?
Can newspapers find a better model to build upon for their businesses enabling them to survive ?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mean Tweets To Members Of Congress

"House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) read some mean tweets for the 2015 Radio & Television Correspondents Association Dinner on Wednesday, March 25th."


Video Courtesy of Frank Thorpe


WFMZ's Eve Tannery Sings

WFMZ's Eve Tannery sings "Kind of Woman" from the musical Pippin' (Short)


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

So Much To Blog About So Little Time

Headlines followed by quick comments...

Bethlehem Catholic bomb threat, Liberty and Freedom evacuations busy Bethlehem area authorities: My how times have changed. Throughout my three years in high school we had only one false fire alarm pulled inside the building. File this under what's that matter with kids today?

Nine of Pennsylvania’s 10 largest cities have more pensioners than workers: Allentown has 187 more retirees then current workers on the payroll. And no one saw this coming twenty years ago?

Texas- Man forced to pay child support for 13 years to girl he's never met despite DNA test proving she's not his: Any case involving child support I'd give it 9 to 1 odds against the man in any domestic court proceeding. The biggest bug-a-boo I've always had (having been a victim of this) the women doesn't have to account for one red cent of what she does with the money. I, like he, found out years later the kid wasn't mine either. Yeah I relate to that!

Massachusetts- Homeowner finds house rigged with explosives set to detonate with flick of a light switch after his tenants moved out: I have stories too long to talk about here why investing in rental properties is about the worst investment anyone can make. Flipping properties, managing them for others or creating new ones for sale is the way to go.

Minor league baseball time limits will change the way games are played starting May 1st: Upside- Games will move along faster. Downside- The less time fans will spend at the ball park the less sales of beer, souvenirs and food. Then on the other hand maybe the ball parks already figured out after two hours or so there's only so much suds and food fans are willing or able to stuff into themselves? Either way I'm certain it's more about money then the game. What do you think?

Ted Cruz, who wants to eliminate Obamacare, plans to register for Obamacare: I can understand his dilemma. He's no longer eligible for Canada's healthcare system since he gave up his Canadian citizenship. Being Obamacare is the only plan his employer (the Senate) will contribute towards I suppose he does like certain perks the government provides when it suits his family. But not ours?

Kraft and Heinz to Merge in Deal Backed by Buffett and 3G Capital- "The companies said they estimated they could find savings of $1.7 billion annually by the end of 2017 through cost reductions and efficiencies of scale." : In other words 1,000's of jobs will be eliminated.

Your seafood might come from slaves : What's with using the word "might"? What's a consumer to do? 90% of the vegan alternative food is mostly made up of soybeans which are GMOs. Meat, poultry and dairy products contain steroids, hormones and antibiotics. Even the seeds we buy to plant in our gardens are most times GMO or hybrids thereof. I tried living off prana Trust me even an anorexic would give up trying to live on it.

US soldiers and contractors sexually abused 54 under age Colombian girls and even made their assaults into pornography and will never face charges.: Hey I thought we were the good guys.. what the hell!

Los Angeles man stuck in Mexico after identity stolen "For now, Montoya waits in Mexico. Authorities at the U.S. Consulate say they are investigating and trying to get him a passport, but that could take 2-3 months.": Looks like this guy is going to enjoy the hospitality of our neighbors to the South for a lot longer then he expected. Think about that you students who are on spring break there.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT
In short.. At this point I'm not a big fan of human nature.


The Republican Budget: Believe it or Not



C-SPAN--"Members debated the House Republican fiscal year 2016 budget proposal, which includes $5.5 trillion in cuts over a decade and an Affordable Care Act repeal."

I'll offer this quick comment...
Either you side with one party who gives unlimited funding for defense and tax breaks to the commercial interests or you support a government that finds a greater need to support it's peoples over that of itself. What say you?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let's Build Smarter Home & Business Structures

France mandates new buildings have green roofs, solar panels


I'm not advocating government should force builders, but it sure would be swell if government offered tax and other incentives encouraging this kind of thing. Not only is it better for the environment but in long run would result in cheaper utility bills for the homeowners.

I'd even go so far as to suggest homes built with greater fire protection as well via the use of natural organic materials such concrete slabs & brick which would save lives and no doubt cost less for insurance.

Anyone have thoughts on this?


Photo Courtesy: solsustainability.org


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some Great Swing Dancing

'The Rhythm Stompers' practice run at 'Swing46'


Links to..
'The Rhythm Stompers'
'Swing46' (46th St, New York )

Friday, March 20, 2015

Israel Is Not Our 51st State

"An Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that Boehner will lead a delegation of congressional Republicans beginning March 31, 2015."


Whenever someone such as myself dares criticize or question I risk being labeled anti-semitic, It couldn't be further from the truth. What I take issue with is the fawning over an allied nation as if it were a part of the United States. News flash. Israel is a country not one of our states. The way politicians are carrying on these days you'd find it hard to believe it weren't.

Conservatives in congress have raised a stink over domestic spending on our social needs programs here in our own country. Yet have passed through billion$ in funds targeted for Israel over decades.


In fact "Total U.S. aid to Israel is approximately one-third of the American foreign-aid budget, even though Israel comprises just .001 percent of the world's population and already has one of the world's higher per capita incomes."

Am I against such aide? Absolutely not. What I have a problem with is the continued criticisms that this country is not a strong supporter or somehow we are leaving them down. It annoys me when Boehner and the boys are willing to travel half way around the globe to become involved with other nation's religious wars which have been at each and others throats since the old testaments were written. Hasn't Congress enough on it's platter to worry about right here in our own country?

These are the same dudes who are trying to tell the President which side he should support in Iraq and elsewhere in the middle east. Just today 46 were killed and 100 injured in suicide attacks in Yemeni. The attack was against Sunni worshipers by a group of Shiites. What they fail to understand these nations aren't at war with each other. National boundaries mean nothing. It's all about which mosque they go to.

By visiting Israel and inviting their prime minister to speak before congress it serves to only inflame an already tenuous situation. A visit that will neither benefit Israel nor the United States by creating even greater animosity. In-so-much as congress is treating Israel like it were our 51st state it is a further determent to their security given the Muslim radicals' hatred of all things they think are part of United States. It will provide another recruitment tool for them to use against Israel.

Our legislators visiting Israel and waving our flag is like waving a red cape in front of a bull to these radicals . If we really want to help Israel we'd best leave it up to Israel itself to deal with the situation and stay in the background as much as possible without interference. I'm sure American voters didn't elect our congressional members to advise Israeli citizens. The way this should work is Israel makes various requests to the United States and we respond one way or another to those requests. I'm certain the Israeli people and Knesset aren't too fond of Boehner and the boys going over there and offering their opinions and advice either.

How about this. We stay out of their politics and they stay out of ours. We are two nations who have lots in common. The greatest differences are how religion is ingrained throughout the political systems in middle east and how our founders tried to base our government apart from it. If United States is to succeed in the middle east we must remain as far as possible from religious differences and focus on those who distance themselves from killing each other over them.

Most of the middle east is a swamp since the beginning of recorded history. A no win situation from which we should pull away from no matter who is slaughtering who under the banner of what religion. No one can save the world from itself under such circumstance. To those who seek peace, we should offer our background support. The trick is to sort out and defend those who want no part and those who do. No easy task.

The more we insert ourselves the more we become part of the problem. The best we can do is to remain strong, united and defend our own country. The role of peace maker has consequences. Those of the Christian persuasion and believe in Jesus the Christ can tell you how well that turned out for him.

The long and short of it is... by staying strong, being like minded in common cause, thereby building a strong example for others to follow and tending to our own business is the goal we should set for this country. It was what allowed us to defeat all of the enemies (Germany) who once overtook Europe. The same is true today. We need to focus 100% on our weaknesses and not be poking around other parts of the world who distract from who we are or should become.

While I have empathy & understanding to Israel's problems they are not part of the United States. They should not nor do they wish to become our 51st state. Both sides need to acknowledge this fact.

Think Wireless & Other Technology Safe?




From Blue Tooth to automobile remotes, PCs, and "secure" credit cards, Hacker extraordinaire Pablos Holman shows how nearly every secure system is vulnerable..






TEDxMidwest (August 30, 2012)


This was nearly three years ago. Look at all the stuff hackers have been able come up with since. Things like those involving major corporate and government server security breaches for example. It isn't a stretch to believe both our own government and foreign governments alike aren't extremely interested in employing individuals with these kind of skills.



Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing I suppose depends if you're the snooper or the one being snooped.

Then again who's to say the snooper isn't being snooped on at the same time too :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kraft Recalls Macaroni & Cheese

On Wednesday, March 18th 2015 Kraft Foods announced it's recalling 242,000 boxes of it's Macaroni & Cheese because some boxes may contain pieces of metal. Kraft Foods Group Inc. says it is aware of eight incidents of consumers finding metal in the boxes, but hasn’t been informed of any injuries

Be far it from me to speak on nutritional values or can say I had an unparalleled employee experience working for Kraft for over 33 years. Nor that's I'm a big supporter of huge corporations. However one thing I can vigorously defend is their quality control program.

The negative comments I see on the internet under this news story on various sites come from the kind of ignorance I've come to expect.

If anything, quality control was a pain in the ass with all it's oversight. First off all ingredients that come into receiving from both other companies and from other Kraft plants were taken to the lab and inspected before being released into production. This after spot checking other companies facilities under certification for use by Kraft. Most people don't realize there are a dozens of quality checks made before a product is released from the warehouse.

The lab procedures involves checking the product as it proceeds from one step to the next (catch it before it becomes a larger problem). In addition there are metal detectors, machines that inspect the labels and if it's glass for chips or bird wings (a 5 point laser check) and so forth. Product is usually held for a couple of days until the lab has a final look over the samples collected both on the line and the final product stored in the warehouse. We had quality control people looking over our shoulder who visited each line several times a shift collecting samples. This was to verify all the quality checks we cooks, filler and packer operators had performed every 10 minutes or less where within standard. I can't tell you the number of times product was unnecessarily put on hold or trashed just because it fell below the specs or was near code date. Most of it would be fine to eat otherwise.

Many of the products we made went through dozens of pumps, thousands of feet of specially coupled stainless steel piping, holding tanks and countless other equipment. Any which could cause contamination via bacteria or some mechanical problem (oil, metal, etc.). There is even bacteria analysis performed after each cleaning of the pumps, pipes and tanks before any product was allowed to flow into them.

On top of all of this the companies we supplied sent their own people in to check up on us. Believe me when I say they were unmerciful. If something didn't meet what was stated in their contract they would be the first to reject that product. Things like ph levels, ingredient content quantity or any other reason they could find to question what we produced. The more a outside inspector could find the greater value it was to their careers.

I'm not saying the food couldn't be better. Nor saying what ingredients could be improved upon. What I am saying without reservation is there's nothing more that can be done to assure neither bacteria nor product contamination is not of the utmost priority to these companies. This cost them both money and reputation. Something none of them can afford.

While technology has vastly improved, when you're dealing with 200-300+ pounds a minute, no one can assure every ounce, jar or box will be absolutely perfect. Therefore it annoys me when ignorant comments are made against people who are trying their best at the jobs they do. Why am I not surprised?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gov. Wolf's Budget Plan



The Morning Call newspaper listed sales-tax exemptions that will end under Wolf's budget plan.

"In addition to paring down sales-tax exemptions, Wolf wants to increase the tax rate from the current 6 percent to 6.6 percent."

R U 4 or Against?


Healthcare: Sometimes Costs Same As Out Of Network

The Daily Mail did a report on a study compiled by 'Gawker'. In the article they posted the following chart..

Most medical plans only pay half of what they would if a patient were to have the procedure done 'in-network'. It should be plain to see if one lived in Houston it wouldn't be a burden if someone were visiting someplace else where it would only cost 1/3.

For example instead of it costing over $20,000 this same operation would cost just $8,345 in San Francisco. A difference of over $11,600. So if their insurance company only paid half ($4,172 of the $8,345) they'd wouldn't be much worse off (assuming 80% in-network coverage for the $20,000 operation in their home city of Houston).

Ah but here's the rub. Suppose you lived in San Francisco and had this operation done in Houston. You'd be out $10,000 (50% of $20,000). That's almost $6,000 more!

Granted in this example I used (carpal tunnel) is an elective surgical procedure, but what if you were involved in a car accident and it were not?

Hence my support for uniform national healthcare such as a expansion of Medicare for everyone. In this scenario Medicare would pay 80% of the $20,000 ($16,000) in Houston or 80% of the $8,345 ($6,759) in San Francisco. Therefore if someone were to have their car accident while away from home while in San Francisco rather then be out $4,000 they'd be out only $1,586.

Under Medicare it's most likely charges for medical care wouldn't allow providers to charge a difference of over $11,600 for the same procedure. While I'm sure there would be allowances for one area from the next I find it unreasonable one should charge 3x's more then the other. In addition many would travel elsewhere if they could have elective surgeries done less costly. Thusly driving medical costs down even further through competition.

So we have two choices. Continue to do things as we have always done them under privatization or build a better working model. Currently Republicans in Congress are crafting legislation to privatize Medicare. It seems to me this is moving things bassackwards. But hey you keep electing them and that's what you're going to get. Don't say I didn't warn ya!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lets Talk About Our Penal System

The New York Daily News reported Saturday, March 14th, 2015 on a new book published by a ex-Riker's Island prison guard who served time for selling drugs to inmates and pimping out female officers as 'copstitutes'.

This comes on the heels of an earlier report on February 21st, 2015 in which the New York Times reported, Brutality at Rikers Island Persists.

I'm not going to detail those two articles. Anyone who's interested can read them for their self. Suffice it to say anyone coming out might become a worse person then when they went in. However there are exceptions. I became aware of this when later on the same day I came across this TED Talks video.


Ismael Nazario: What I learned as a kid in jail
(TED Talks: Published on Mar 11, 2015)
As a teenager, Ismael Nazario was sent to New York’s Rikers Island jail, where he spent 300 days in solitary confinement — all before he was ever convicted of a crime. Now as a prison reform advocate he works to change the culture of American jails and prisons, where young people are frequently subjected to violence beyond imagination. Nazario tells his chilling story and suggests ways to help, rather than harm, teens in jail.



My Personal Thoughts
The most prevalent attitude most people have regarding prisons is they only exist as punishment. What most overlook prisons should also be a place where rehabilitation should be made possible.

There are tons and tons of so-called white collar experts who seem to have countless solutions to our ever growing prison populations. However I think the best person to listen to is someone like Ismael. Either we can keep treating people like animals in a cage or recognize many (not all) are salvageable. Too many times we think of the world in simple terms such as good or evil. Human beings are not that simple. Very few are 100% pure evil. In a number of cases there is a measure of good that just needs to be nurtured.

I'm not talking about mass killers or the criminally insane, but rather the larger portion jailed today for crimes in which they can make amends. It makes sense both economically and for society as a whole that we pursue whatever course is necessary to reduce recidivism.

Presently in the United States 2.66+ million adults are in jail and over 70.8 thousand juveniles in detention. In a recent report the average cost per inmate in New York’s prisons is $167,731 per year. This same article stated there are 12,287 housed a Riker's Island. If just 10% of those could be rehabilitated it would save million$ at that prison alone. Multiply costs estimated nationally to be well over $74 billion (2007 figures) and we're talking billion$. Not to even mention how society would become safer.

I have several ideas how this could be accomplished, but this post is too long already. If anyone has further interests I'd be happy to discuss them via the comments below.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lehigh Valley High School Broadway Musicals (2015)



It's that time of the year again when Lehigh Valley students get to demonstrate their talents.

Thanks to lehighvalleylive.com (The Express-Times) we can take a sneak peek at 10 of the 30 participants in rehearsal.

Some of the following musicals were already performed. Some have yet to take the stage. You can check out all the show times & dates at The Freddy Awards Official Website






The State Theatre will host a preview party for the general public from 5PM-8PM Wednesday May 20th, 2015. TICKETS ARE AVAIALBLE HERE. The $85 ticket price includes a buffet, complimentary beverages and more. All proceeds benefit the non-profit FREDDY© Awards.
OR
If you just want to catch a glimpse of performance rehearsals including the Opening and Closing numbers from 4:30PM-10:00PM, tickets are just $25.

This year's three hour 13th annual Freddy Awards show can be seen LIVE on WFMZ-TV Thursday, May 21st, 2015 starting @ 7:00PM << There are a few more videos WFMZ has also provided.

FACEBOOK: The Freddy Awards TV Show


My personal all time favorite was Parkland High School's 2013 performance of 'The Phantom of the Opera'


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day Today


03/14/2015 is Pi day because of it's more common expression, 3.1415

Pi is unique because it never reaches a conclusion of exactness no matter how far you calculate it.

I'm not going to pretend to have a handle on this. However The New York Times had a good write up piece on this today.



For those more a stickler for details...
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3218339896938075616855911752998450132067129392404144593862398809381240452191484831646210147389182510109096773869066404158973610476436500068077105656718486281496371118832192445663945814491486165500495676982690308911185687986929470513524816091743243015383684707292898982846022237301452655679898627767968091469798378268764311598832109043715611299766521539635464420869197567370005738764978437686287681792497469438427465256316323005551304174227341646455127812784577772457520386543754282825671412885834544435132562054464241011037955464190581168623059644769587054072141985212106734332410756767575818456990693046047522770167005684543969234041711089888993416350585157887353430815520811772071880379104046983069578685473937656433631979786803671873079693924236321448450354776315670255390065423117920153464977929066241508328858395290542637687668968805033317227800185885069736232403894700471897619347344308437443759925034178807972235859134245813144049847701732361694719765715353197754997162785663119046912609182591...and on and on, etc, etc and so forth...


Still Confused?
Maybe this music video will help



I'm certain a lot of people may doubt my numbers. I'd really appreciate someone doing the math to verify my accuracy. Here's an excellent site that provides several formulas for calculating Pi

Please get back to me when you're done.
     Thanks & you're welcome :-)

Some Really Great Drumming


Joe Nocella


Friday, March 13, 2015

Robin Hood in Reverse (U.S. Economy)

This Is Why I'd Rather Elect Bernie For President in 2016 Then Other Candidates.

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