Voucher Detente

So, recently the State of Nevada passed a law allowing vouchers for parents to send their Special Snowflakes to private school on the public’s money. I have long been opposed to school vouchers for several reasons and if you’re curious, you can read about them here and here.

But it turns out that the Nevada law has a catch: to get the money, the child must be enrolled in a public or charter school for at least 100 days. Does anybody happen to remember how long a typical school year is? It averages 180 days.

So yeah, if you honestly give it an shot and the local public school isn’t working for your kid, the State of Nevada will help you out, but they’re not going to subsidize sending your Precious Darling to Las Vegas Day School or Bishop Gorman. You want the State’s money? You play by the State’s rules.

That is detente, Comrade.

In Closing: When a traffic citation can mean a death sentence, we all have a problem regardless of gender or color; Last Words; Waaah, Uber doesn’t like following rules!; hidden near Vegas; Votesmart; skewed; no surprise.

Music Monday: October 31

Sure, that’s Halloween. It’s also the anniversary of the founding of the Great State of Nevada. And there’s an interesting story concerning that. It involves lost documents, the most expensive telegraph ever sent, and Republicans trying to steal elections garner additional electoral votes.

So in honor of Nevada’s 150th birthday, please enjoy some Nevada items.

In Closing: how dare victims call sexual assault what it is; sugar; Russians turn back time (in a way); some nice juicy NSA items; wages; Israel; War on Drugs; some random global climate change (formerly global warming) items; maybe they’re not overpriced after all; diversity; smile, you’re on cop camera; fixing COLA would require admitting that inflation is higher than most people know; and American cat cafe.

Yet More Things I Learned This Semester

Yes, the semester is almost over and that means it’s time to share a few choice thoughts.

In General:

  • There are people who are willing to wait for a spot 100 feet closer to the building, even in nice weather. In the meantime, I’ve parked in the next lot over, locked my car, walked to the building, and made it to the 3rd floor while That Guy is still waiting for an ever-so-slightly closer parking spot.
  • You’d be surprised how many people don’t show up to class regularly and still expect to do well in that class.
  • Sorry, I already knew that time management is important.
  • Cleaning staff never notice graffiti on the back of a bathroom stall door.

In Spanish:

  • Spanish has two verbs that translate “to be.” Use one to ask “What kind of person is Juan” and the other to ask “How is Juan”. Use one to ask “Where is Maria” and the other to ask “Where is Maria from”. Use the wrong one, and you may well say “Teresa is boring” instead of “Teresa is bored.” Teresa would be understandably upset.
  • It’s alarmingly easy to mix up the verbs “to go” and “to see“.
  • You can do a lot with cognates. The one thing you can’t do is be sure you understand the correct thing.

In Microbiology:

  • Not only can viruses infect bacteria, they can accidentally take bacterial genetic material to the next bacterium when they leave.
  • The entire family of Penicillin related drugs works by pulling out the “molecular nails” that bacteria use to build cell walls. Resistant bacteria have an enzyme that breaks up the “nail-puller.” Viruses don’t have cell walls, and that’s why these drugs don’t effect them.
  • Look, you’re never ever going to wash every single germ off your hands. What’s more, you wouldn’t want to. The germs that normally live there help keep “opportunists” — that’s bad-guy germs — from setting up shop. So for pity sake, stop using that damned anti-bacterial soap.

In Anatomy:

  • If you are trying to remember a whole bunch of acronyms (say, hormone names), you are better off memorizing the long version. Otherwise the “alphabet soup” will drive you mad. Besides, often the long version tells you what the darn thing does!
  • How much carbon dioxide you have in your body determines a lot more things than the amount of oxygen. It effects your respiration rate, the pH of your blood, and more.
  • The first thing your body does with any carbohydrate you eat is turn it into a simple sugar. So, should a diabetic be eating a lot of pasta?

There you go. Now let’s have some In Closing: GOP is upset that their Nevada organization doesn’t want to keep fighting a lost battle; on debt; it does at least put a roof over head; I wish I could refute this; even Mitt “Rmoney” thinks that the minimum wage is too low!; death penalty follow up; Subway CEO tosses owner operators under the bus; the ACLU on NSA reform and letting cops hack your computer.

Ok, Fine. Bundy.

I thought this was going to blow over fast, turns out I was wrong. So here is a brief summary of my thoughts. It is a local issue to me, actually in Clark County Nevada same as Las Vegas, and so Las Vegas Metro Police Department does actually have [some] jurisdiction. Still, it’s kinda a hike from town.

  • The Bundy Ranch issue was originally brought to my attention when the “standoff” started and a so-called “Free Speech Zone” was in place. Now, I am on the record as saying that Free Speech Zones are an affront to the First Amendment. Thankfully, somebody came to their senses and stopped that nonsense and they did it pretty quick.
  • Half of “the West” and 81% of Nevada is owned by the Federal government and has been for over a century. This includes lands ceded to the Feds as part of our incorporation as a state. This is a fact, sure as “the sky is blue.”
  • Bundy claims to have “ancestral rights” to graze his cattle despite the fact that a) his family hasn’t even owned it that long and b) people whose “ancestral rights” were guaranteed by freaking treaty don’t have them.
  • Contrary to what The Governor of Texas thinks, Bundy does not own the land in question. He owns the land across the Interstate Highway. The issue is that Bundy is using resources that don’t belong to him, just as surely as if I started watering my lawn from the neighbor’s spigot. If I pulled that stunt, my neighbor would be justified in disconnecting my hose.
  • There was a period of some years where Bundy did actually pay the Feds the required fees. I’m not sure anybody understands why he decided to stop.
  • The desert tortoise is a red herring. Ok it’s a tortoise, but it’s irrelevant.
  • The solar farm is just bad timing. Perhaps it made Bundy mad, but it certainly didn’t change BLM plans.
  • Bundy has been in and out of court over this matter for years and lost every single time.  If that’s not “due process of law,” I am unclear on the concept.
  • If anybody else decided they weren’t going to pay the feds money they owed, they would be in deep doo-doo.
  • If anybody else aimed weapons at the feds, there would be deeper doo-doo.
  • Ok, sure, the “militia” is “well regulated.” Well done, thanks much. Now maybe you guys can go home to your jobs and families? Oh right, if you had a job you wouldn’t be able to go to Bundyfest.
  • No, our local sheriff doesn’t have the authority to take guns away from the feds as Bundy wants. Otherwise, Commandant Arpaio would already have tried.
  • I hope nobody is surprised that a nutcase who thinks the feds have no authority over federally owned land is also a racist.
  • At this point, the thing is a full on Vegas festival of silliness, complete with a wedding.

I think the authorities are angling for a way to end this thing without causing an even bigger problem (and hey, glad the anniversaries of the Koresh incident and Oklahoma City bombing are past). And perhaps that’s why Bundy keeps letting this thing get more outlandish: more cameras means less odds of black helicopters or whatever he’s afraid of. Still, the best way to end this is to stop the media coverage.

In Closing: speaking of solar farms; easter [rotten] egg; like a Virgin; a competitor?; if you need a co-signer, you can’t afford it; and a bunch of items on the middle class, typical Americans.

John Dies at the Shorties

Baby Dinosaurs: More accurately, embryos in various states of development.

Follow-up on FPS Russia: Yeah, not a lot of meat on this story. Since when does the ATF get involved in “murder” investigations?

Random items on Real Estate, biased towards Vegas: Foreclosures are returning to where they were before the bust, with Nevada leading. However, prices are 30% higher than last year and distressed sales are down by a similar percentage. Interesting.

When you have a minute: Check out BustedKnuckles‘ new site.

Backtracking: CNN/Money might have thought Chained CPI was a great idea to save the budget a few days ago, but now they realize what way the wind is blowing.

I can’t believe we are back to “Jobs Americans Won’t Do”: They want to solve this “problem” with a new class of serf permit visa. Seems like these hypocrites are all about “let market forces do the magic” when it’s raising prices, but against the same when it might mean paying an American a decent wage! Go ahead, watch a bit of Dirty Jobs and tell me there’s such a thing as “jobs Americans won’t do” with a straight face! It isn’t that Americans won’t do them, it’s that they want more money (and perhaps safety equipment) than an easily exploited semi-legal immigrant worker.

Meanwhile, there are 3 unemployed Americans for every job opening: Yeah. Go ahead and push that serf permit visa program.

At some point, the Baby Boomers decided that they were never going to get Social Security; then they went about insuring just that: 1983 was the important year.

Le Petit Prince: Prince Hisahito goes to Kindergarten. You may remember him from this adorable picture.

When the Shorties Went Out

Gee, D’ya Think?: Turning underpaid undocumented workers into legal taxpayers making at least minimum wage could boost the economy.

I Could Like this Pope: Ok, he’s not perfect (No, I don’t believe in Papal Infallibility either). At least he has no Nazi entanglements, what with having been a little kid on the other side of the globe during World War 2. But there’s something to be said for a Pope who preaches things like taking care of the environment and those less fortunate than ourselves. It’s like he’s been reading some sort of… Bible or something.

Nevada is Catching On: I think we may just pass a legal marijuana bill here, mostly because the Legislature smells tax dollars.

Turns out it’s easier for everyone: When I was a kid in school, we were “tracked by ability” and we all knew it. Nobody ever told us there were the “smart kids,” the “average kids,” and the “dummies,” but we all knew who we were — and among ourselves, those were the names we used. No “bluebirds and redbirds” for us. That sort of self-labeling might be part of why schools discarded the practice. But it’s back. It has to be easier to teach (and learn in) a group of 20 kids with similar abilities than 20 kids that are all over the map!

Gonna have to try this: Veggie oil + baking soda = cabinet cleaner.

Security Theatre: The TSA is protecting us from people on trains who have had medical tests.

Considering a career in criminal justice?: Then please do check out DiscoverCriminalJustice.com.

On Perception of Aging: And why a good lipstick is really important.

Top Ten Candidates for Species Resurrection: Scientists think there is hope for bringing back these extinct animals.

The more you know: Failure to use a condom when planned counts as condom failure.

Who knew?: Big cats like classical music.

And finally: It’s coming. It’s slow, but it’s coming.

Ides of March

Pi Day is over. Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.  To the best of my knowledge, Caesars Palace is not planning any memorial events. A friend has suggested not celebrating with a salad.

In Closing: three political cartoons (render unto Caesar, eh?); oops, turns out the samples from Lake Vostok were contaminated; Yay! Vegas is not number one!; on the interpretation of study data; grumble; double a small number is still pretty small; wow; comfortable workers work harder (attention, Yahoo); hard to save anything when there’s nothing left; totally bombed; cord cutting; when there is no market, market forces don’t act.


Get the popcorn…

Somebody once said that all politics is local. Local meets nationwide today in a city called Sparks.

So the Nevada GOP and the National GOP are having a little disagreement. The RNC has threatened not to seat Nevada’s delegates to the national convention if there are “too many Ron Paul supporters.” The Nevada party, on the other hand, says that we have a set of rules we agreed to and we are going to follow them, regardless of the outcome.

Our caucus was held all the way back at the beginning of February, and there were simply more candidates then. The Experts decided that “Romney is supposed to get 20 now and Paul eight….” However, The Experts don’t get to pick the delegates to the national convention; the delegates selected in February to go to the state convention today do that. State officials agree that there will be no “loyalty test” for those selected to represent Nevada in Tampa. This clears the way for Ron Paul’s supporters to take over.

Maybe not, but it will be a train wreck.

In closing: unemployment and labor participation; somebody smack Nancy upside the head with reality; and it’s a sad day when Ted Koppel thinks that Comedy Central has the best news reporting.

Down And Out on Paradise

Sticklers for detail will notice this is the Strip and not actually Paradise, a few blocks East.

Things are tough all over.

I do hope nobody is surprised to learn that poverty in the United States is even higher than expected. After all, some 15% of our population is on food stamps — and that’s according to the freaking Wall Street Journal! And it is worse than average here in Vegas, where the “recovery” you lucky souls in other parts of the nation have been experiencing the last 2 years has passed us by like some angry Santa:

There’s a newer version of this chart right here. Add to that the fact that Vegas is still the reigning foreclosure capital of the nation, and it shouldn’t be any shock that we have a problem with homelessness and “food security” — a fancy term for “no food and/or no money for food.” Please remember that no matter what you may think of the work ethic of people in these situations, some of the people effected are children. There are mighty few jobs available to children that will pay the family’s bills, and most of them are worse than mere hunger.

Maybe if Wall Street didn’t sell us a pack of lies about how we can run our economy on lattes and cheap imports, we could change things. Even Starbucks is trying to create jobs outside the Latte Economy.

In Closing: is police use of a GPS really different from tailing them (uh, yeah); whites use more drugs, but blacks get sent to prison more (huh, could the War on Drugs possibly be racist??); even a broken clock is right twice a day; Americans would rather have government bureaucrats than insurance company bureaucrats (who could know these things?); amen; and right on, Rick.