Recently in politics Category

It's an election year, so it only seems right to put forward my own ideas on how to improve our world. ;) Actually, rather than talking about theoretical ideas, I thought it would be nice to put those ideas into specific suggestions. In this case, two of them would be legislative actions, while the third would require card brands to revise their contractual agreements from top to bottom.

Incidentally, the underlying theory is this: rather than mandating specific detailed practices (as the now-dead Cybersecurity Act of 2012 threatened to do, and as Pres. Obama has threatened to enact via executive order), I think instead it makes sense to allow the market to optimize for revised performance and/or behavior requirements. The reason I prefer this approach is because we're still in a rapidly changing and transitional period in time. Until this round of technological growth and evolution slows down and stabilizes, it's short-sighted and irresponsible to codify too many specific actions or behaviors (e.g., imagine trying to codify each of Microsoft's server security guides as law... by the time you get it ratified, it's likely obsoleted by a new OS release, not to mention that it would inevitably stifle innovation). Thus, you change the overall business environment dynamics and let the market sort itself out. Or so the theory goes.

FACTA Red Flags and Credit

The latest compliance deadline for the FACTA Red Flag rules is quickly approaching, and you should be afraid (very afraid). Well, okay, maybe not afraid afraid, but you should be concerned. Sure, about compliance, but also about a larger slippery-slope issue that is escalating. See, the government wants us to believe that every business that invoices for services rendered are extending credit, and are thus subject to the new rules. This argument is dangerous and represents a serious, unwarranted overreach of authority.

A Couple (Brief) Political Quibbles...

If you don't care about politics, or other peoples' views on politics, please skip this post... :)

I wanted to comment on two things that I've found rather annoying of late: health care reform and the Nobel Peace Prize.

On health care reform, I'm at a loss. Despite all the doom and gloom and FUD, I think people are failing (once again) to get ticked off for the right reasons. Specifically, writing a law that says "though shalt have health insurance" is NOT a national health care plan. Look at how poorly states do enforcing their requirement for car insurance. Now the federal government is supposed to use a similar tact, nationally, for all people? Please. It's complete bullocks, and I really think this thing should be put out of our misery. Basically, my taxes are going to be increased so that the federal government can do... what exactly?

On the Nobel Peace Prize, I'm at a bit of a loss to explain how a president who's served less than a year in office can win it. What has he done? I mean, I'm all for supporting President Obama, but his win here greatly cheapens this award. By all rights, he should have thanked the committee for their support and good intentions and then turned it down. Seriously. A prize unearned is no prize at all. I'm very disappointed in the Nobel committee.

EFF Quote of the Day

I loved this quote from today's EFFector 22.32 by the EFF.

* DVR Is TV's New BFF
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), once considered a mortal threat by the
entertainment industry, have now become its new best friend. It's just
the latest example of how the industry's constant warnings of the
dangers of "piracy" frequently turn out to be baseless hysteria.

Oppose Merit-Based Pay for Teachers

Pardon the political rant... this is an issue near and dear to me. Please join me in openly opposing merit-based pay for teachers. This is the dumbest idea in education reform since Bush's No Child Left Behind (or educated or funded). That Obama has proposed such a plan makes me even more annoyed with the president I helped elect (this is not change I can believe in!). For more on his push, see here and here.

So, to keep this short and to the point... the problem with merit-based pay is that there's no reasonable, rational, consistent way to measure performance... teaching is more art than science. Every student is different, with a unique perspective, background, learning style, and, more importantly, pace of development. To penalize a teacher for having a group of students who develop more slowly than others is absurd. No matter how good the teacher is, there's no way to force a child to develope faster than they're capable of doing.

One might then respond by pointing at standardized tests. Surely those could be used, right? The problem, of course, is that when you put all the emphasis on standardized tests (as has been done the last several years thanks to Bush and NCLB), then the teacher is only incentivized to teach to the test. Instead of education and learning, you get rote memorization. Rote memorization is NOT education. Teaching to the test, and the resultant rote memorization technique, means that students are graduating without the ability to think for themselves (no critical thinking skills). Regurgitating facts is an almost completely useless ability if you don't know what to do with the facts. Just because you can recall constants and equations does not mean you know when and how to use them. This is a major problem.

And before you get off on the tangent about how our poor US students just don't compare with students in China or India, let's bear in mind some basic statistics... if you look at the top 10% of China and India (total populations of 1.3B and 1B), you're looking at 130m and 100m people, respectively. According to the US Census Bureau, the current US population is only 305,979,379. So, let's compare, then... the top 10% of China and India is approximately 230 million people, which is about 75% of the total US population... now consider that the best and the brightest are the ones who typically get to take standardized tests in those countries... while all students in the US take those tests... this is not, then, an apples to apples comparison, right? So, don't get off on those misleading reports about how the US is lagging behind... if you want to know the real cause of the US decline in education, it's the combination of requiring a focus on standardized tests (rote memorization instead of critical thinking) and the development of an entitlement generation that thinks everything should come easily to them with little or no effort (since mommy and daddy have always provided).

Twelve Days of EFF (Please Donate)

eff.gifVisit EFF, hear their take on the Twelve Days of Christmas, and donate! :)

My Most Important Post Ever

Today I give you my 500th post. I've been mulling over for a few days what to do with it, and I've come to a conclusion. It's the single most important thing I can tell every American citizen that will listen: Vote on November 4th.

I'm not going to tell you who you should vote for at this point. My preference is clear from my blog, and the vast majority of people have made up their minds already. However, that being said, it is incredibly important that you, as an eligible American voter, exercise your right and get out to vote. It's what defines this country as a Democracy, and it's precisely this value that the current administration has wantonly disregarded. Make your voice heard tomorrow.


Prime Example of Extremist Wackos

A possible top answer to the rhetorical question "what the heck is wrong with people?!?" Glad to know we're not short of complete wackos in this country (as if you had to look farther than the White House to see that).

ATF says it has disrupted plot to assassinate Obama, kill 102 black people

Just when you think the Bush administration can't make a mess of anything else, you run across this little story about how the Bureau of Land Management has decided to reject the direction of Congress and declare itself free of oversight in order to authorize uranium mining just outside of the Grand Canyon. Lest you think this is a tree-hugger moment about saving a national treasure, bear in mind that this mining would impact the Colorado River, which provides drinking water for about 25 million people. No big deal, right? Sheesh...

If you've read this blog before, you know I'm a wee bit vexed by the current state of corruption and lunacy in the US Government. Here I offer a few more examples of just how scary-crazy things are getting.

Illegal warrantless wiretapping. Our brilliant Congress has gone ahead and provided indemnification for the cooperating telcos. So, how bad is it? Well, it turns out that it's about as bad as we feared, with Americans' Constitutional rights being violated regularly.
ABC News Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

Perhaps more disturbing is the presence of an Army brigade on US soil under the relatively new "Northern Command" - a command that provided intelligence and military support for the oppression of demonstrators in St. Paul during the RNC, and now who may support any number of illegal military operations at home. Ugh.
Is Posse Comitatus Dead? US Troops on US Streets

It seems that even the US Army (or at least this retired Col.) agrees that things are getting ridiculously bad in this country.
The End of America?

And now for a couple articles highlighting why the McCain/Palin ticket cannot be allowed into power. They criticize Obama for his loose connection to people like Bill Ayers, yet look at the insanity that Palin brings to the party. Yikes!
The Witch Fighter Anoints Palin

The Palins’ un-American activities

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