Music Monday: The Sea

Today is a holiday in Japan called Sea Day (Marine Day or Ocean Day, if you prefer), so enjoy this little sea shanty from Shogun:

 

In Closing: Oh yeah get your hot fresh NSA and privacy and War on Terror links right here (H/T Comrade Misfit); the War on [Brown People Using] Drugs, the Police State, and other oddities; uh, that’s still less than one in 5; infrastructure; I hope this crazy woman ends up paying everybody’s legal fees; Why Johnny Can’t Sit Still; Turns out that higher minimum wages are good for job creation (and I have yet to see an iPad run a deep fryer or stock a shelf, thanks); the working poor have jobs, stupid; a couple education items; and a terrifying coincidence.

Post to Twitter

Random Purple Flower

IMG_20140518_170541

Post to Twitter

Tags: ,
Posted in Picture This by bmagnus. No Comments

Keep It Simple, Silly.

Alright, so apparently it took tens of thousands of kids showing up all alone in our country, having traveled thousands of miles through incredible obstacles to get us to collectively pay attention to immigration policy for more than 5 minutes. There’s screaming on both sides: they’re kids, many of them little, and they need our protection; they’re here illegally and we need to send them back to their [incredibly impoverished and unsafe] homes as quickly as possible before they bring crime and disease for crying out loud, due process be damned.

Let’s be clear on this. Immigration policy is broken. Further, our current system for asylum and naturalization is so complicated that any solution that does not involve radical simplification is no solution at all. That simplification needs to include a reduced amount of paperwork, written in a way that it can be filled out in some cases without the help of expensive lawyers. That simplification needs to eliminate limits on the numbers of immigrants that can come from specific regions and get work permits – unrealistically low limits that even the Senate knows need to go. Maybe it doesn’t need to be so simple that a little kid can navigate the system, but certainly an adult who knows how to read should be able to get started.

Of course that’s only one piece of the puzzle — the part the most helps the kids right now. In the long term, we as a nation have to stop doing things that increase poverty and gang violence in Central and South America. That will make it safer for other children to stay in their homelands with their families rather than come thousands of miles to a strange land that only offers the faintest hope of a better life.

We also need to remember that children aren’t the only ones who illegally come to the United States because no matter how bad conditions are here, it’s better than at home. Conditions are bad here for undocumented immigrants because the byzantine rules for work permits means they work in low wage, low skill, long hours, sometimes blatantly illegal, non-existent protections for workers jobs — the so-called “Jobs Americans Won’t Do [because we foolishly want minimum wage and a safe workplace]“. The employers who exploit these willing workers (and put law abiding businesses at a competitive disadvantage) must face consequences: fines, inspections, jail for the people who sign off on breaking the law.

This is not a complete solution. However, it’s how we “stop digging the hole” we’re trapped in.

In Closing: “The beatings will continue until morale improves”; the latest attempts to undermine your privacy (and indeed, your access) online, and bonus NSA links; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer yet again; “This isn’t about your health. It’s about control.”; great, because it turns out we’re gonna need some new bridges soon! (I saw a picture of the set-up last week and it’s truly impressive); and Remember Come November. Oh, and vote in the damned primaries so we at least have decent candidates!

Post to Twitter

Music Monday: Outrun

Outrun is — as nearly as I can tell — an 80′s revival movement using emulation of early MIDI hardware. It seems to derive it’s name from an album by Kavinsky. The album was named after an 80s video game.

 

Post to Twitter

Tags: , ,
Posted in Music Monday by bmagnus. Comments Off

A Few Random Education Items

Sorry if this feels like a tab dump. I stored up a bunch of things I’d hoped to say more about, but it’s clearly not happening. From the top, please!

So, let’s start by talking about online college courses. First up is this nice little infographic. One little detail left out is that some schools have moved entire courses to “online only” as far as I can tell. It makes scheduling a whole lot easier, both for classes that many students must take (say, history 101) and for classes with limited interest (“seminar in 20th century politics”). I’ve taken multiple online classes, with satisfactory results. Here’s some perspective on online classes from a guy who actually understands higher ed.

Of course, not everybody makes it through college. Many drop out because they have trouble with the work, and many others drop out because they have trouble with money. Federal policies may make the latter worse. You know what might also be making things worse? Wall Street.

So, before you can get into college and start amassing student loan debt, you have to actually get into college, right? So is anybody at all surprised that upper class kids do better on the SAT?

Back to the beginning now. It turns out that all the calculators, manipulatives, and fun songs do less to teach kids math than good old fashioned “drilling the basics.” I’m not sure why it is that every few years we get away from the old-fashioned way of teaching math that actually works. I suspect it’s because the teachers get bored with the basics.

And finally, the silliness that is a super-hard kindergarten admissions exam. It seems to me that when I was 5, all they wanted to know was “does she know letters, numbers, and colors?”

Post to Twitter

Federal Judge Rules that Banks Must Follow the Law

More specifically, a Federal judge has ruled that MERS tried to circumvent state law, costing counties millions of dollars in lost recording fees, compromising public records, and confusing consumers. Needless to say, executives form MERS disagree with the judge’s interpretation of state law.

This ruling could cost MERS millions of dollars — billions if other jurisdictions are included. Since I have always felt that the entire purpose of the corporation was to get around the law, I hope they get what legal penalties they have coming to them.

 

In Closing: Yeah yeah I’ll keep posting NSA links as long as there are links to post (bonus anti-terror link!); tax reform; maybe it’s because nobody can afford overpriced organizing stuff; that does sound a little unfair; it turns out that Medicaid is better than nothing– for hospitals!; a couple diet, exercise, and obesity items; about nothing, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”; and “take our puppet, please!”

Post to Twitter

Music Monday: Retro Revival

Just a friendly reminder though: there is a difference between a fine booty and a fat ass.

In Closing: a few birth control and other women’s issues items; this is why net neutrality is important to you even if you didn’t know it; a couple random NSA and CIA items (you know, they could halt the scandal by shuttering the program); maybe a poor choice; send in the drones?; wow; and I do feel certain your life isn’t 70% better than it was in 1980 (assuming of course that you were alive then).

Post to Twitter

Oh, make up your mind already!

Oh no! The Millennials can’t afford to buy houses!

Oh yeah! The Millennials will soon be buying houses!

Oh wait! It turns out that when we say the Millennials are living at home with their parents, we meant they were living in dorms!

Oh heck! The unemployment rate among Millennials is 40% — and that’s people who are actually looking for jobs (rather than going to school and living in the dorms)! I guess cancel that house-buying boom.

Meanwhile, despite AP propaganda telling us how wonderful the economy is, we have millions of people who need some form of government aid (sure, Fox News, blame the people instead of the reality they live in) and a big problem in how our “great” economy is paying for itself. The disconnect between the economy as seen from the top and as seen from anyplace up can be seen in this graph, meant to demonstrate the difference between “average” and “median” net worth. I guess that’s how we ended up with a couple millionaires arguing about which one is poorer.

I wonder how long we can keep going like this.

In Closing: your regular shot of NSA and privacy related stories; speaking of guys I’m surprised are still alive, Ahmed Chalabi; a modern sin; not sure what I think of this; and how the Dow works.

Post to Twitter

Yay?

So, another jobs report came out today. Now, remember that economists believe it takes 150-200k new jobs gained each month to keep up with new people entering the workforce. Obviously that’s an average, and also obviously June is one of those months that a disproportionate number of people get out of school and start looking for jobs. Keep that in the back of your head, even though it’s not going to get mentioned elsewhere.

In June, the United States added 288,000 jobs, roughly 10% of which were government jobs. Unemployment is down to a mere 6.1% nationally. And there’s more good news hidden behind the headline: average manufacturing workweek is above 40 hours, so theoretically factories need more workers now; long term unemployed is down to [a still depressing] ~3,100,000.

Of course there’s bad news hidden too: average workweek overall was 34.5 hours; wages aren’t up; when you include the underemployed and discouraged workers, unemployment looks more like 12.1%. Think about that: just under of 1 in 8 workers is either working part time when they want full time work, or has given up on finding work at all!

As a guy with more expertise than me summarized, it’s “meh.” Or perhaps you prefer the more technical “yawn.”

Nevertheless, Wall Street went WHEEEEE! on anticipation that the Fed might actually raise interest rates.

Oh, and it turns out that the states with the most job growth are the ones with those “job killing” higher minimum wages.

 

In Closing: Oh yeah, get those sweet sweet NSA and spying on Americans and the world links here; free science books; birth control Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling follow up links; problem solved!; media points out what many of us have been saying for years; apparently I’m the only one surprised that Maliki is alive and actually in charge of anything; when a red cross blanket on a gym floor is soooo much better than home [insert sad face here]; for pity sake, use seat belts and make sure the kids buckle up too; and then they wonder why the locals are pissed at them.

Post to Twitter

Music Monday: Michael’s Crafts Customer 4 Evah

Ok, so the Supreme Court came out with an extremely narrow ruling regarding whether closely held private corporations can refuse to provide contraceptive coverage for employees. So yeah, even if I were a crafty type of person — which [Deity] knows I’m not — I won’t be going into that hobby store with the rhyming name. Except maybe to loudly announce “Oh wait! This is that place where the employees aren’t allowed to have birth control!”* and walk out.

 

 

* Ok yeah, an exaggeration I know.

In Closing: Wow; truth; veggies; workers; Oz; sneeze; military; and infrastructure.

Post to Twitter