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.

About Time

For the longest time, it seemed like the only person truly trying to bring attention to the flaming bag of feces on America’s doorstep known as the Trans Pacific Partnership was Dave Johnson. Thank [deity] he’s so tenacious. Well, now he’s getting some traction. Here’s from today’s New York Times:

Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

Let me translate that for you: a company doesn’t like a law. They can sue the city/county/state that made the law in a UN Tribunal! While the feds or a state might have the funds to fight that, your city or county is effectively bullied into compliance with corporate demands. Say goodbye to environmental regulations, fracking bans, efforts to curb corporate abuses. Kneel before your corporate overlords!

Yeah, I’m not a fan of the NYT’s 10-hits-per-month thing either. But I’m glad that a Serious News Source is pointing out reality.

In Closing: not sure how many of us have the patience to make rice this way; zombies and you; “His life story is so ridiculous that if they made a movie about it, nobody would believe it is true”; while I don’t agree with all of it, I have to admit that it works (and would work so much better with a public option!); one meeelion people have “get out of the security line free” cards (that’s one out of every 320 people in our nation, the rest of us better bathe and watch how we yawn!); the Supreme Court had to say “um yeah, you should follow the law.”

Privacy? Oh, were you using that?

The incident in Paris is already being used as an excuse to take away what little privacy (and other rights) remain in the world, despite the fact that privacy is a necessary feature of security. In the meantime, bulk data will continue to be collected by both the government and various corporations (who of course, can sell that information to the government without anybody having technically violated the 4th or 5th Amendments). Nor is the NSA the only agency collecting information; the DEA is doing it too. Are they at least sharing nicely, or are We The Taxpayers paying to collect all this stuff twice?

Now, don’t forget for one minute that the President is proposing laws that crack down on “hackers”. Those laws would make a dizzying array of normal and sometimes necessary activities illegal. That’s on top of the undead CISPA cyber”security” bill. Oh yeah, and that nasty old TPP that would make corporate rights more important that national rights.

At what point does Joe Average get fed up? Congress is doing the opposite of what he wants almost every chance they get. And thanks to rigged Congressional districts, all of our political voices are diluted. Further even though the amount of money made in our nation per person is near a record high, Joe Average has very little to show for it. What happens now?

In Closing: why you can’t have hot and cold running municipal internet; misinformation; how dare you be a crime victim; brother, can you spare a bridge; some of us would like our sons to know this stuff too; backfire; denial; take the money and run.

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Habitual

Today’s question:

Do you think you have more good habits or bad habits?

I thought about going a little zen on this question and simply saying “yes.” I have good habits, I have bad habits, I don’t know that I ever bothered comparing the two. I suppose I’d like to think I have more good than bad, and there are people who might disagree.

Sorry, not the best post. But hey, yesterday you got a good rant!

In Closing: Stingray; the London Stone; Women of the Senate; with more people identifying as liberal, I wonder when politicians will stop fearing the word; climate denial; policy; and the Real Johnny Appleseed.

Hard Habit to Break

Today I’m actually using the official prompt:

Have you ever tried to break a habit and failed? What made it so difficult to break?

Ok, this is a weird one. I’m still not quite over this habit: I have a hard time passing up things that are cheap or free.

I’ve got dozens of books on my Kindle that I don’t know when I’ll have time to read them, but they were free! I’ve got canned food in my pantry that I only have because it was on sale — and theoretically I’ll use it eventually. I’ve been known to buy clothes that fit but aren’t really my style because they were so inexpensive.

Why is this a hard habit to break? Well, because it’s easy to think I’m being thrifty. In the case of free ebooks, it doesn’t actually cost me anything. In the case of food, well, I guess I’m well prepared for an emergency. In short, one person’s bad habit is another’s good habit.

Oh hey, and just the other day I got this free ebook on how to break bad habits!

In Closing: the case of the blonde MIT student; Ha Ha Harvard; not entirely sure how one solves problems without strong reading and math skills; crime, security, and privacy; and the intellectual heirs of MacHack.

Happy NSAmas!

The Feds took advantage of the fact that nobody was expecting anything newsworthy to happen on Christmas Eve to quietly release a treasure trove of documents (links to source material here!) showing that they have been very very bad stewards of our private information.

And all of you who bought the Elf on the Shelf? You’re teaching your kids to submit to constant surveillance. Hope you’re proud.

In Closing: A few items on the police; air travel; on screwing the nonrich; because clearly the race of fictional characters is newsworthy; what if the terror threats were in fact a brilliant publicity stunt to puff up what is by all accounts a not-very-good comedy?; and wolves are better at math than dogs.

Ferguson

Here CNN, let me fix that headline for you. You see, you’ve got it as “Tense Ferguson awaits grand jury ruling; mayor says authorities prepared“. What you meant to say was “Mayor says authorities ready to rumble.” Let’s just face it, there’s going to be trouble. The fact that the cops look like an occupying army is in fact an incitement. And let’s also just face it, the authorities are preparing to put down a popular uprising because they know damn well that the grand jury will rubber stamp the idea that cops only shoot Very Bad People, even when the Very Bad thing they are doing is just walking down the street.

In Closing: dark matter; no kidding, a thing that flies in the air falls under FAA jurisdiction; modern slavery; and that’s why this happened; and finally, best headline you’re likely to see today.

Big Bad Shorties

It’s the Food: It turns out that people do pay attention to nutrition labels. That’s a good thing, because soon and very soon obesity will overtake tobacco as the #1 killer of Americans. Have some truth in comic form.

Zombies!!: Well sure, they aren’t allowed to try and collect it, but they can still claim you owe it!

Act Two is Coming to Ferguson: The grand jury will speak soon. And it looks like the police are prepared for anything that happens… by which I mean that they are heavily armed in a manner that is itself inflammatory.

On Privacy, not Piracy: Americans are aware of how little privacy they may have.

A few last election items: Yeah, voters are disappointed in Democrats. Yeah Republicans simply “lost less.” And yeah, anybody who wants to win in 2016 better pay attention to how things are going for normal Americans.

And Finally: It would appear that I am the one person in America that does not give a single **** about Kim Kardashian’s ass.

But What Would be the Point?

Wednesday, I thought I’d put up an open letter to the President to the effect of “Hey, listen, America needs you to be a grown up when Congress inevitably sends you piles of doggie doodoo.”

But, as my title says, what would be the point? He not only hasn’t delivered on a bunch of things he said were important, he’s outright backtracked on some of them. I don’t see him leading on curbing unconstitutional surveillance — in fact I see government agencies wanting more power to trample my rights in their quest to find mostly imaginary terrorists. I don’t see Gitmo closing. I keep hearing about job creation, but then I keep seeing homeless guys on nearly every major corner. I don’t see things getting better for Joe Average. TPP hasn’t been crushed under the threat of veto by the President of the United States. I guess at least there are attempts to whittle down Too Big To Fail.

So that’s where I’ve been all week, mentally at least.