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Monday, May 30, 2011

Lauryn Hill: "You Might Win Some, but You Just Lost One....."

Or, maybe you lost a whole bunch.  At least one. Here's what you can't do: you can not charge people $80 for a ticket to your concert that isn't even held at an awesome locale.  I'm fine with The Showbox SoDo - there's nothing wrong with it, but there's also nothing great about it. It's a warehouse with a bar in it.  It's huge and flat and you can't see over the tall people's head because the floor is not tapered.  It's just a big room with a stage.  Nothing much to love, lots to not love.

Here's the next thing you may want to consider, and I'm no expert, but you've been in show business for a while now and should know that the making your fans wait after the opener thing is a gimmick that only works to a certain extent.  There is a point of diminishing return.  There is a point where your positive trend line on the graph will start to swoop back down again, and swiftly. I'm pretty sure that point came about 45 minutes into our wait.

Sure, Dead Prez was awesome.  I love Dead Prez.  People in the crowd loved Dead Prez.  We were all riled up and bouncing around and screaming.  This is what you want as a headliner, right? For your opener to get everyone jacked up on freaking out?  And then, when the DJ came out afterward to kind of keep the juice going, it worked.  We were loving the kickback, 90's-hip-hop that he was rocking - it was awesome.  But, definitely after an hour of that went by, you probably should've started the fucking show. 

Definitely, no matter who you ask, after a full two hours of making us wait, packed together like factory farmed chickens in a musty den, you probably should've come out and at least said, "Hey guys, I love you, I'll be getting started as soon as I can but......." But something.  Something has to be said to your loyal fans who have devotedly followed you around, out of the 90's and into the 2010's.  Unless you're a stuck up, Hollywood-celebrity-style, self involved snatch.

But, if you want to piss off the people who literally made you who you are in the world of celebrity and fame, then you can come out after a longer than two hour wait without even acknowledging it and just start singing badly, with your bad sound system, with your earring falling off and go on like your crowd isn't booing you off the stage.

And now, I hate you - it's official.  I can't hear your music, music which I once loved, without remembering how poorly you think of us working class people who forked over the equivalent of hours of labor in order to watch you treat us like crap. And that's just "All That I Can Say."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eviscerating the Education Secretary

Via Progressive Review
A letter from David Reber, who teaches high school biology in Lawrence KS.
Mr. Duncan, 
I read your Teacher Appreciation Week letter to teachers, and had at first decided not to respond. Upon further thought, I realized I do have a few things to say.
I'll begin with a small sample of relevant adjectives just to get them out of the way: condescending, arrogant, insulting, misleading, patronizing, egotistic, supercilious, haughty, insolent, peremptory, cavalier, imperious, conceited, contemptuous, pompous, audacious, brazen, insincere, superficial, contrived, garish, hollow, pedantic, shallow, swindling, boorish, predictable, duplicitous, pitchy, obtuse, banal, scheming, hackneyed, and quotidian. Again, it's just a small sample; but since your attention to teacher input is minimal, I wanted to put a lot into the first paragraph.
Your lead sentence, "I have worked in education for much of my life", immediately establishes your tone of condescension; for your 20-year "education" career lacks even one day as a classroom teacher. You, Mr. Duncan, are the poster-child for the prevailing attitude in corporate-style education reform: that the number one prerequisite for educational expertise is never having been a teacher.
Your stated goal is that teachers be "...treated with the dignity we award to other professionals n society."
How many other professionals are the last ones consulted about their own profession; and are then summarily ignored when policy decisions are made? How many other professionals are so distrusted that sweeping federal legislation is passed to "force" them to do their jobs? And what dignities did you award teachers when you publicly praised the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island?
You acknowledge teacher's concerns about No Child Left Behind, yet you continue touting the same old rhetoric: "In today’s economy, there is no acceptable dropout rate, and we rightly expect all children -- English-language learners, students with disabilities, and children of poverty -- to learn and succeed."
What other professions are held to impossible standards of perfection? Do we demand that police officers eliminate all crime, or that doctors cure all patients? Of course we don't.
There are no parallel claims of "in today's society, there is no acceptable crime rate", or "we rightly expect all patients -- those with end-stage cancers, heart failure, and multiple gunshot wounds -- to thrive into old age." When it comes to other professions, respect and common sense prevail.
Your condescension continues with "developing better assessments so [teachers] will have useful information to guide instruction..." Excuse me, but I am a skilled, experienced, and licensed professional. I don't need an outsourced standardized test -- marketed by people who haven't set foot in my school -- to tell me how my students are doing.
I know how my students are doing because I work directly with them. I learn their strengths and weaknesses through first-hand experience, and I know how to tailor instruction to meet each student's needs. To suggest otherwise insults both me and my profession.
You want to "...restore the status of the teaching profession..." Mr. Duncan, you built your career defiling the teaching profession. Your signature effort, Race to the Top, is the largest de-professionalizing, demoralizing, sweeter-carrot-and-sharper-stick public education policy in U.S. history. You literally bribed cash-starved states to enshrine in statute the very reforms teachers have spoken against.
You imply that teachers are the bottom-feeders among academics. You want more of "America's top college students" to enter the profession. If by "top college students" you mean those with high GPA's from prestigious, pricey schools then the answer is simple: a five-fold increase in teaching salaries.
You see, Mr. Duncan, those "top" college students come largely from our nation's wealthiest families. They simply will not spend a fortune on an elite college education to pursue a 500% drop in socioeconomic status relative to their parents.
You assume that "top" college students automatically make better teachers. How, exactly, will a 21-year-old, silver-spoon-fed ivy-league graduate establish rapport with inner-city kids? You think they’d be better at it than an experienced teacher from a working-class family, with their own rough edges or checkered past, who can actually relate to those kids? Your ignorance of human nature is astounding.
As to your concluding sentence, "I hear you, I value you, and I respect you"; no, you don't, and you don't, and you don't. In fact, I don't believe you even wrote this letter for teachers.
I think you sense a shift in public opinion. Parents are starting to see through the fa├žade; and recognize the privatization and for-profit education reform movement for what it is. And they've begun to organize --Parents Across America, is one example.
. . . No doubt some will dismiss what I've said as paranoid delusion. What they call paranoia I call paying attention. Mr. Duncan, teachers hear what you say. We also watch what you do, and we are paying attention.
Working with kids every day, our baloney-detectors are in fine form. We've heard the double-speak before; and we don't believe the dog ate your homework. Coming from children, double-speak is expected and it provides important teachable moments. Coming from adults, it's just sad.
Despite our best efforts, some folks never outgrow their disingenuous, manipulative, self- serving approach to life. Of that, Mr. Duncan, you are a shining example.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bing Maps Results on Bing

I needed to get direction and decided to use Bing maps, that way I could send the directions to my windows phone.

On Bing, I did a search for maps and Microsoft's own map service came back 7th. Right after Masjid Ar-Rahmah (MAPS), which isn't even a map service.

Even on Bing users are not using Bing maps…. FAIL

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Washington State Budget Deal

The state legislature have released the budget for the next two years, and big surprise they are cutting budgets for those who need it the most, and not cutting where they should.

And the list of cuts are:
  • 1.9 percent cut for teachers and 3 percent cut for school administrative staff totally $179 million
  • 1 billion cut from K-12 education spending
  • 600 million cut from higher education spending (and increasing tuition)
  • 670 million cut from state-subsidized health care services
  • $230 million cut from mental health and long-term care programs
  • $127 million cut from the state Department of Corrections
  • $274 million cut from "other human services"
  • 344 million by eliminating automatic cost of living increases for retired workers
  • 3 percent pay cut for state workers - This pay cut I'm actually okay with, especially of those cuts affect the DMV.  

What I don't see on the list of cuts:
  • Modifications to the tax codes so that large companies can't keep getting tax benefits that don't trickle down
  • Various pointless road projects across the state being cut
  • Police salaries, who spend most of there time sitting at Starbucks or writing BS speeding tickets
  • No cuts to politician salaries by 1.9 or 3%

Voters need to take some responsibility for this budget as well.

Voters approved Initiative 1107 that ended a tax on soda and candy. That tax generated 130 million per year for the state.

Voters in this state voted down Initiative 1098 in the last election that would have allowed an income tax on those making over 200K a year. The estimated 2 billion dollars a year from that would have gone to educating the children of those who voted against it. And would have effected roughly 2% of the states population.

I'm no math wiz, but I'd say if both these had gone differently, they would cover pretty much all the cost of the budget cuts.

So if you are one of the jackasses who voted down 1098 or approved 1107, you better not be complaining about the budget from Olympia because it's partially your fault.

Data Sources:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Education Rally in Everett

Last Tuesday at Cascade High School in Everett, educators and those in support of public education gathered to hear their representatives speak and to speak with them.  Well, those representatives who showed up, at least.

It was neat to see District 21's Roberts and Lias.  It was heartening to see Stanford and Moscoso representing District 1.  I give props to District 38's McCoy and Sells and, finally, to Hope of District 44.  That guy was a rockstar, by the way, drawing the most applause and cheering.  But, I have to draw attention to those who were invited and did not show up: Kristiansen and Pearson of District 39.  For shame!

If you are imagining some tired old town hall sort of format, you are lukewarm.  You are blazing hot if you are imagining over 1,400 fully pumped up adults of various ilks hooting and hollering for the most molding of public institutions: public education.

There were teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, students, and friends and family there that night to share thoughts with our representatives and to beg for a bare minimum of educational support.  Most people merely wanted to keep the teachers we have and maybe to lower class sizes or at least keep them at the over-stuffed levels they are at.  Some argued that we need to go further, to tax the rich and get the money we need to make our education even begin to compare to most other countries in the world.

The best idea, being a biased teacher myself, was to do away with the type of standardized tests that we have to purchase from a company, not knowing what will even be on the test, give to our frightened students who bear the weight of representing their entire school with their results, send it back with billions of dollars in order to be scored, and then not even get individualized, specific feedback from.  Feedback that any teacher could really use in order to help each individual student achieve even more the following year. I mean, come on, you have to see the absurdity of this system.  We can do better ourselves; we don't need to pay millions of dollars for this crap.

In the end, I'm sure this rally did nothing much beside preach to the choir, bolster support for those representatives who did show up even though we would've voted for them anyway because they are the ones who give a crap about education, and let us all feel good and warm and fuzzy about ourselves.  Still, it was nice to see 1.5 thousand people in solidarity for such a good cause.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Democrats Trying to Cut Tax Breaks to Big Oil

We need to cut the deficit. As long as it doesn't involve cuts in big tax breaks we give to oil companies.

Obama and some of the Democrats are attempting to cut $21 billion in tax breaks currently provided to oil companies, and use some of it for green energy, and some to reduce deficit spending. As you can image the Republicans are against this, as it doesn't involve cuts to Planned Parenthood or NPR.

Actually they are against it because it involves cuts to big oil, whom they all make money from. And it is a Democrat proposal, which also means they have to oppose it.

Read more here...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keep Right Except to Pass

Wow, the Washington state patrol actually did something useful. They made a really boring video reminding us to stay out of the left lane except to pass.

They should write tickets for this instead of BS speeding tickets.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Windows 7 Phone vs Android

I've been using my Windows 7 phone for quite a few months now, and I guess it's probably time to do a comparison with my Google Android phone. Both phones by the way are made by HTC, and serviced through T-Mobile.

Windows 7 Phone

The Good
  • Great e-mail integration for all e-mail types, including outlook for work. I have a tile for each on my home screen. Which is quick and easy to access, read, respond, and file.
  • Integration with Office Live products is pretty nice, although personally, I don't spend much time reading Word documents on my phone. It is a handy feature for those who do.
  • The calendar does a great job of adding all my calendars from different sources into one view.
  • Zune player can sync via the blue tooth updating my playlists and podcasts. Zune player is also user friendly, and allows me to delete music on the phone, unlike my iPod.
  • Browser on the phone does an excellent job of displaying content so that it is actually viewable.
  • Phone navigation is easy and user friendly. Tiles on home page are actually a pretty good way of navigating the phone.
  • Larger screen is nice, and works well for watching videos or Netflix.

The Bad
  • Can't download and set custom ringtones. What the hell Microsoft, that's the number one thing people do when they get a phone is add ringtones of their favorite music of cheesy TV show soundtracks.
  • Can't do much of any customization such as change background image. Options consists of white or black, and a few choices for colors of the tiles.
  • When adding SIM contacts, G-Mail, Live, and Facebook (if using Facebook app) contacts, it adds them to one massive contact list. Imagine if every random person you've e-mail or friended on Facebook were in your phones contact list?
  • Limited battery life, I have to charge this thing every night.
  • Voice navigation requires an additional monthly fee. Not sure if this is a Microsoft or T-Mobile thing, but it's super lame.
  • Camera sucks! Yes it has a flash, but having to press the button on the side each time I take a picture shakes the camera.
  • GPS in the map has a hard time figuring out where I am sometimes.
  • And most importantly, it occasionally won't let me answer calls when someone is calling me. It is a phone after all. It rings, displays the answer call button, I just can't actually select it.
  • My phone doesn't allow for expanded memory, so I'm limited to how much music or views I can add. I've talked to a couple other people with different brands of Windows 7 Phones, and it sounds like some do expandable Macro SD slots. So I'll thank HTC for this super lame lack of an option.


Android Phone

The Good
  • Voice navigation works well and doesn't cost extra.
  • Uses contacts imported from my SIM card only.
  • Has expandable memory for more videos or music.
  • Apps! Largest selection of apps between all operating systems.
  • Can use my own ringtones. Nothing better than rocking out to the Magnum PI them song when people call.
  • Also allows me to delete music on the phone, unlike my iPod.
  • Actually allows me to answer calls.

The Bad
  • No off phone music player. I have to add all my mp3's and setup playlists on the phone… after all ready setting them up in iTunes and Zune.
  • Camera also sucks! In fact I'd say it sucks worse than the HD7.
  • Smaller phone is nice for travel, but videos not so watchable.
  • Doesn't sync multiple calendars. Although, there is probably an app for this.
  • e-mail and text notifications all use same tone. I don't really need to know whenever someone e-mails me, so having the option to set a different text sound from the e-mail notification would be nice.

And the winner is…

There are features of both that I really wish I could take from each and make into one super awesome phone, but since I can't and have to go from what is available now, I'd have to go Android. The apps selection, ring tones, better maps, and ability to answer calls makes it a winner over the Microsoft phone. But, give it another upgrade or two with features I actually want, and the Windows phone could easily end up being my phone of choice.



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Governor Mitch Daniels Cuts Planned Parenthood

Image Source
Mitch Daniels, who is expected to run for President on 2012 has signed a bill that will cut funding for birth control, cancer screenings, STD tests, and other services Planned Parenthood offers in Indiana.

With the new law Indiana is now saving about 3 million in public funds. Of course, that doesn't account for the future added costs of children being born to unfit parents, medical costs for no screenings, and any number of other unforeseen future expenses. But at least Daniels can tell his right-wing conservative base that he's anti-abortion to get the votes he wants.

Read more here…

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seattle Ops Out of Phone Books

Seattle city council did something useful recently, they passed a law and worked with Dex to allow people opt out of receiving the yellow-pages. Now only if other cities would jump on this bandwagon and do the same for everyone else.

Click here for Seattle residents to opt out

Full story on Seattle PI

Monday, May 09, 2011

Douche-Bags on The Bus - Fat Seat Fill Guy

He's a little hard to see, but the back of this head is this weeks douche-bag on the bus.

There are days that the bus is pretty full, and as I've previously mentioned people tend to put bags on the seat next to them so that others can't site there. I sometimes do it as well. 

This guy does more than that. He uses is fat body as an excuse not to share space. And he isn't even that big. He sits in the seat with his bag on the next seat, he turns his body to the side so his legs are taking up the space in front if the seat next to him. He turns his laptop on, and utilizes every inch of space so as to make it clear not to try to sit next to him.

On the day I took this blurry picture, every single seat on the bus was full except for the one next to him. In fact, I've only seen the seat next to him being used once and that is because the bus was completely full, and the last person on had to sit there. I feel bad for that person.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The cost of bin Laden: $3 trillion over 15 years

As we mark Osama bin Laden's death, what's striking is how much he cost our nation—and how little we've gained from our fight against him. By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the United States at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down.

Read full story here...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Douche-Bags on The Bus - Worth the Wait

Once again, it's been raining, it's cold, and there is plenty of warmth in peoples cars. Yet, these people must make sure they can get a nice window seat on the bus.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Furminator, Great Brush, Sucky Service

I ordered a Furminator (fancy dog brush) on the 7th of April. As a few days passed, then a few more, I began to think it might not be coming. The link they sent me to track my order continually showed as blank for the status and tracking number. So, on Monday the 18th I decided to call. I received a person right away who told me it was delivered on the 13th.

Obvously I didn't have it. With the tracking number she provided me, I called FedEx. The person on the phone said it was delivered as well. She also told me to check my backdoor, garage, and neighbors. I'm thinking if it had been sitting somewhere around my house for 5 days, I probably would have noticed. Since I was positive that it hadn't been delivered to me, she filed a claim for me.

The next day, I received a phone call around 7:30 in the morning. Since I was in the shower at that time, they left me a message, reminding me to check my back door, neighbors, and garage.

I called a few hours after that when I got to work. I spoke to some guy, since the girl who had left the message was busy. He also reminded me to check my back door, garage, and neighbors.

I informed him, as the others, that the back door would involve jumping a fence and making it past the dog the brush was for.

Wednesday, I finally get a call and they tell me that the driver says they delivered it, but since it obviously went to the wrong house they would cover the charge for another one. Leaving me to call Furminator again, which I did that day.

I told the person who answered that they would need to send me another, and bill it to FedEx. I was transferred to someone's voicemail, where I left a message.

On Thursday, after not receiving a call, I called again and was transferred to the same persons voicemail, who once again did not call me back.

On Friday, I called again, and this time no one answered at all. So, later that day, I went to the website and sent them an e-mail threatening to contact the Better Business Bureau, blog about it, and make a fuss.

The weekend goes by, and on Monday I get an e-mail from some guy that says he is sending me the brush. If I would have known that's all I needed to do, I would have e-mailed them sooner, as it seems kind of pointless to offer a customer service number if that number doesn't actually provide customer service.

It's now May 2nd and I finally have my brush, nearly a month later. So was the free shipping and 10 dollars off worth not just going to a local pet store and getting the brush? Honestly no. Using the equation that time is money, I wasted enough time on this issue to where it cancels out the savings in money.

But at least now this harry monster can get a good brushing.