Sunday, August 31, 2008

Regarding Education

The following is à propos of a discussion recently suggesting a watchdog committee for education.

(all one line, this blogger chops off the last few characters... :-(

I think a watchdog is a good thing, primarily in that it may affect how the tax funds are spent. As I've said numerously publicly and privately, there is no excuse what so ever to increase taxes. Give me any budget and I will find zillions of dollars being misspent. It is the nature of the beast.

Having said that, we do not live in a perfect world so must do the best we can with what we have, which is the current system.

Primary and secondary schools are a long way in the past, but I have fairly sharp memories of undergraduate and graduate studies. (For better or worse...)

History 101, Economics 101, Physics 101 are all pretty much the same any where you go, and all taught by graduate students, although the name on the shingle is Professor XYZ. (I know. I taught Trigonometry 101 as a graduate student... :-(

So what are we to do?

We are to stop (if we ever started) thinking that someone owes us something, get up off our haunches and move out.

The education system provides resources and *some (perhaps not much or certainly not enough, but some) guidance to work through those resources.

But at the end of the day it is up to the individual to make the most of what they have. If they do not then they have no one to blame but themselves.

This article points that out.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

080814 Musings

Interesting day. I'm currently on the Left Coast wrapping up a week of "TAD - Temporary Additional Duty". For the uninitiated this means doing strange and unnatural acts for the benefit of the Nation in addition to your day job.

In this case, the strange and unnatural act is submitting yourself to the vagaries of the US flight and aviation system.

I have zero problems with the imposition of extreme security measures. The enemy is insane and requires extreme measures to foil. Zero problem in that regard.

However, the execution begs, pleads, for improvement.

I spent the last six weeks in Europe: Valencia, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca, Netherlands. Six weeks without a single cross remark, without a single confrontation of any sort.


I returned to Dulles International Airport. The first thing I heard on leaving the aircraft was "MOVE IT!!" uttered by a warder at the end of the gate access tunnel. A few more "MOVE IT"s and another fellow and I started making "MOOOOO" cattle sounds.

Welcome to America.

On the current business trip I checked in with United at Providence on Monday 11 August. As I arrived the young brunette woman dispatched her two colleagues, saying something like, "go on, I will take care of this."

"Nice," I thought. "Take care of the troops. Good."

But then I then proceeded to the login terminal. "Sorry. a ticket agent will attend to your requirements" or words to that effect. So I moooed a bit and stood in line while this young brunette mooned at her current client.

In due course she noticed the other clients standing in line and ushered three others through, checking their baggage and issuing boarding passes, while I stood there, perplexed. After the third, I approached her: "Excuse me, how does this work? You have moved three people in front of me?" This was followed with a snit of self justification: "There is only me!" "What's your hurry, do you have a flight to catch?"

Huh? Generally unsatisfactory behavior.

So I mustered up my best command presence, looked her in the eye, explained the problem, and she backed off.

Twit. But I wouldn't want her job for anything..

Then, I had to change flights in Chicago. This required changing terminals from A to C, or vice versa. I forget. Whatever, it required boarding a shuttle bus. The driver was wearing his "do-rag" with his girlfriend in the right seat. "MOVE IT" emanated again.

Rudeness is a weak person's attempt at a display of strength. These people are worthless.

I finally got to my San Diego destination. The return flights were totally overbooked. There was no visible way to return home before Saturday.

OK, let's just wait and see. Fortuitously (although not for my travel agent, as it put her through the wringer yet again) , my schedule changed to requiring return from Los Angeles LAX.

Cool. All well, lots of flights at reasonable hours. Screwtape defeated.

Not so fast so. The 0815 return flight tomorrow has been canceled, so after due consideration I decided on the red-eye tonight.

Signed over 7000 miles ($ 50) for a stay in the "Red Carpet Club". Pleasant enough, but no food. OTOH, the lady at the desk, from Ecuador, was very pleasant and helpful.

Tonight's adventure was struggling with T-Mobile's Hot Spot. I found that for $10 I can get T-mobile WiFi internet access for 24 hours. Initially it does not work with Firefox, but I called the service number and was pleasantly surprised to find a young person who actually knew what the problem was and fixed it instantly by giving me the numeric IP address for the login site: you put

in the address field of the browser and that takes you to a screen that lets you log in, assuming you have already bought an account and registered a username and password.

The session does expire rather quickly, so you may have to log in again. This requires closing your browser session and/or clearing your cache.