Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why I will never go to Singapore

I read last night with some amazement that chewing gum is illegal in Singapore. It is a punishable misdemeanor offense that is supposed to deter littering. Now I'm not a big gum chewer but we're a much, much bigger country and I know lots of people that chew gum regularly and I haven't noticed that we have a particular problem with used gum. If you want to talk about coffee cups, cigarette butts, newspapers and myriad other things then I'll agree that litter can be a problem. I don't recall ever having to modify my walking path, needing to make an unplanned trip to the car wash or not having my 9 iron approach shot land where I want because of chewing gum. Have any of you experienced significant problems or inconvenience directly caused by gum? And remember Mike Fay? In Singapore they cane people for misdemeanors like littering! I don't think that would be fun. I'll pass on the Bazooka until I get home, thanks.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Central Falls, Rhode Island

I've been waiting for something like what happened at this high school for a long time. I remember when I was in high school I wanted all the teachers fired too, but for altogether different reasons. After getting the details of the entire process I applaud the Superintendent for having the gumption to do this. I mean come on now. This school has ranked in the lowest 5 percent of school districts in Rhode Island year after year! This wasn't a one time thing! Over 50% of students drop out before graduation! Math proficiency numbers are an astounding 7%! So according to Federal law you have 4 choices when this happens:
  1. Close the school down,
  2. Turn it into a charter school,
  3. Follow a 'transformation' model with longer days and eating lunch with the kids, or
  4. Fire all the teachers and come up with what's called a turnaround plan.
Well presented with these options the union said everything was just peaches and cream and wanted no changes, including option 3 which seems pretty painless. That makes the choice pretty simple to me. Off with their heads! Of course the teachers are now saying "they gave their heart and soul to the students" and "I've been in this school for 28 years...". I assume that was as a teacher and not 28 years as a student. One teacher proudly noted that they raised their reading scores 21 percent in 2 years! That's good but what are the scores now, 22%? Well maybe you're all genuinely nice people and as well intentioned as anyone but as far as being teachers you apparently suck at it. But they can apply for teaching jobs in other districts after the current school year ends. Oh boy, I bet they'll be scooped up in a hurry!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Little More on the 2010 Winter Olympics

A few random observations on the 2010 Winter Olympics:

  • It was nice to see the Canadians relax and poke a bit of fun at themselves for the torch problems during the opening ceremony. You have to be able to laugh at yourself before you have the right to laugh at anyone else!
  • The Canadian hockey team was absolutely loaded! It's like the New York Yankees on ice.
  • Why does the host country get to practice on some Olympic venues before the games start? Especially on the ski slopes where that gives the hosts a decided advantage. An ice rink is an ice rink but each ski slope and bobsled run is unique so, in fairness, everybody should get to see it for the first time at the same time.
  • Why did Lindsay Vonn keep running into things? Although I don't think any tears need to be shed - with her celebrity and good looks my guess is she'll do OK without skiing.
  • I never heard of "Platinum" medals. Maybe I should pay more attention.
All in all I enjoyed the games and the competition. Good job Vancouver.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What Country Am I From?

I'm sitting here watching the Olympics and they just showed a couple skating for Georgia, the country not the state. The woman is a US Citizen that lives in the US whose mother is Japanese (not sure about the father). Apparently she has a sister and brother also involved in this Olympics that are representing Japan. I guess just before things started the government in Georgia did a rush job on her citizenship papers so she could skate on the Georgian team. But she is a US Citizen and lives here. Shouldn't that put her on the American team? I don't get it.

BTW, I've been away for quite a while because I got bored with the blog as nobody responded. I also got into a downward spiral because of my extended unemployment. I'm still out of work but things are looking much, much better at this point. So all I need now is for people to actively participate. You don't have to agree with me, just participate!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished!

Can you really believe that some policeman actually gave a guy a ticket for jaywalking after he saved a couple of lives? The good samaritan was seriously injured but the women he was helping escaped without injury. First of all, do any of you actually know anyone that has ever received a ticket for jaywalking? I don't. And if the women crossed WITH the well meaning criminal shouldn't they get tickets too? Officer, aren't there some old ladies out there driving Buick's the size of aircraft carriers that maybe park a few inches too far away from the curb that you could focus your considerable yet misdirected energies on? You must be new.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Stimulus Plan

Now that the president has signed the new economic stimulus plan the pundits are all over it saying that it won't work for this reason, that reason, and all these other reasons. I don't know if it will work or not but at least it's SOMETHING! The non-plan of the last eight years didn't work out so well, and the Republican plan (see my prior Partisan Politics post) to simply give tax cuts instead of money was both laughable and typical. If I made $250,000+ per year I'd love a tax break. However if I'm currently making $0 per year what the hell does a tax break do for me? As a talking head on TV pointed out last night the tax breaks in the current plan would result in roughly $13 more per week in the pockets of the average family. That won't even pay for a neighborhood kid to shovel your driveway! Notice I said the 'average' family here, so Donald Trump and Bill Gates would probably see a more robust difference but they're probably not really concerned with having their driveway cleared. But here's my idea - unlike the last stimulus plan where checks were mailed that recipients either paid bills with or stuffed into their mattress I say the treasury issue a debit card to each taxpayer for $10,000. You can't put it in the bank or pay your electric bill with it but only buy a product or a service like plane tickets, a TV, furniture or even put it towards a new car as a down payment.  That accomplishes two things: people are able to purchase new or replacement items for their homes or go lay on a beach for a week and try to forget this whole mess, and products would start moving off the shelves in stores and lots. And then factories would need to make more furniture and televisions and cars so they'd need people to build or assemble those things. People would be brought back from unemployment and this entire current cycle will start spinning in the right direction. It can snowball upwards just like it has snowballed down. Anybody with me on this?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Partisan Politics Alive and Well

I see by the vote in The House that we've put partisan politics behind us and are moving forward for the good of the country, the average working family. Well that lasted a long time, didn't it? The Republicans ALL voted against the plan. That means not 1 in that entire group thought it might be a good idea and it might help their constituents. Not 1. Interesting. They all favor tax cuts instead of spending (we all know they're told how to vote by the few that run that particular party). Maybe we should have given Iraq a tax cut instead of pumping billions of dollars into that fiasco. I can't verify this but I think I read a week or two ago that the Iraqi government (such as it is) has an $8 Billion surplus. That's Billion with a B. So why are we spending our money? You'd think they'd be so grateful for us saving them from that tyrant Saddam that they would say "No, I insist! This war is on me!". To get back to my point, what the Republicans need to realize is that a tax cut isn't going to do a bloody thing for people that are out of work. It will sure help people with jobs making lots of money, but my guess is that they're not the ones needing help. If you get people back to work then they'll start paying taxes. See how that works? It's really not very complicated.