Monday, July 27, 2015

More Lessons Needed

The Chinese govt isn't very happy with its citizens abroad:
Media and even the Chinese president have been critical of how some Chinese travellers have behaved on trips. On a September trip to the Maldives, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested Chinese citizens be “a bit more civilised when travelling abroad.”

With more than 100 million Chinese travelling in 2014, misbehaviours have grabbed headlines worldwide. Among the most extreme: defacing an Egyptian sculpture, throwing boiling water on a flight attendant and urinating outside.
I wasn't very impressed with the Chinese tourists I encountered in Europe a few weeks ago, that's for sure.  They were very loud, even in churches!  At one church in Helsinki there was a young woman who kept shushing people as they entered the church, but as soon as they got inside they acted like a mob--you'd be surprised how loud people can be when they're trying to take group pictures.  And let's not forget the cutting in line, the pushing and shoving, etc.  It may be cultural for them, I don't know, but they were *not* in China and should conduct themselves more in accordance with local custom.

Our guide through the Hermitage was particularly hostile to Chinese tour groups, and with good reason, from what I saw.

I Have To Go Back To Work

I go back to work 2 weeks from today.  Does anyone else remember when school started around Labor Day?

Travel Next Summer

A friend gave me a map for either Christmas or my birthday; like a lottery ticket, you scratch off the silver color on the places you've been to reveal color below.  I used to think I was well traveled but when I look at this map I see I've only been to North America, Europe, and the Caribbean.  I've never been to Africa, to Asia,or south of the equator.

This got me to thinking about next summer.  Summer here will be winter south of the equator, but that isn't necessarily a problem--after all, how warm was Northern Europe a few weeks ago?!  Looking at the map, 2 places jumped out to me:  Buenos Aires, and Madagascar.  Both seem like they'd be very interesting and rewarding trips.  I also found a cruise that starts in Singapore, goes north to SE Asia, and then south to Perth, Australia.

So that's what I'm looking into for now.  No telling where I'll actually go, but these three trips seem like a good place to start.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It Happened

First time ever, I think.

I practice safe computing.  I keep my anti-virus software up to date.  If my browser warns me that a certain web site is dangerous, I stay away.

But I got a virus anyway, or at least a bad case of adware.  Despite backing up gigs and gigs of personal videos, I'm still told that there's 0 MB of free space on my hard drive.  Despite my adblocker software, ads from one particular source now show up on just about every web page.  Sometimes even new tabs will open in my browser.

Computer's been off all day, I have an appt at Best Buy tomorrow to get it cleaned up.  Posting this from the Chromebook right now.

Somehow I'll survive....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

If This Is True...

When school's not in session I revert to what I consider my "natural" sleeping hours, 2 am-10 am.  If this is true, I must be a genius!
We’ve all heard Ben Franklin’s famous musing, “Early to bed, early to rise. Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” It may be true that the go-getters among us tend to get up early, but it’s also true that more intelligent people tend to stay up later. Believe it or not, this is actually a scientifically studied phenomenon...

A study from Satoshi Kanazawa, psychologist at The London School of Economics, shows that intelligence and night-owl tendencies are strongly correlated. In a survey, Kanazawa showed that those with an IQ of over 125 tended to go to bed around 12:30 a.m. and wake up around 8:00 a.m. on weekdays, and to go to bed around 1:45 a.m. and wake up around 11:00 a.m. on weekends.

Those of normal intelligence tended to sleep from 12:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and from 1:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on weekends. Those of below normal intelligence tended to sleep from 11:45 p.m. to 7:20 a.m. on weekdays and from 12:35 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on weekends. As you can see, that’s a pretty big difference.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Where Is All This Money Coming From?

The taxpayer, of course:
A day after announcing plans to boost its minimum wage to $15 an hour, the University of California approved 3 percent raises for 15 top administrators.

Among those to receive the salary increases are five campus leaders, including UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, and six executives at UC’s medical centers and laboratories that are not paid with state funds. They will earn between $231,750 and $991,942 annually; Katehi will make $424,360.

The university’s governing board authorized the raises at its meeting Thursday without public discussion, except to note that they were for senior managers who have been in their position for at least a year and had not received a pay increase in the last year.

Read more here:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

How Would You Like This Guy On Your School Board?

It certainly takes all kinds.  This is from your King County (Seattle area) voters guide, and he's running for a seat on a school board:

David Blomstrom

David Blomstrom

Education: BS in ecology from Huxley/WWU; wildlife studies at University of Alaska @ Fairbanks
Occupation: Writer, website designer and educator

"The Vietcong never called me nig---," said Muhammad Ali, a draft-dodging Muslim who recognized his real enemies: Demopublicans, fascist police, corporate attorneys, corrupt unions, apathetic brain-washed citizens, and the Jews* and corporations they work for - not communists, environmentalists or Muslims. The enemy also includes Seattle's own Bill Gates, purveyor of crappy software, phony philanthropy and genetically modified food.

I'm the only Seattle activist who targets Gates and his partner in crime, Paul "Buy Me Another Stadium" Allen, a twin disaster for education. While a teacher, I fought alone against the derelict retired general turned Seattle Schools Superintendent John Stanford - the corporate clown whose name now graces the school district's headquarters. In 1999, I became the first Seattle candidate to make derelict principals a campaign issue. (Remember Garfield High School's Al Jones?) I'm now the first to blow the whistle on Seattle's Jewish Mafia, as represented by The Stranger and The Seattle Weekly. I know who the enemy is, and I'm not afraid to stick it to 'em.

Home to Microshaft, the Discovery Institute (a creationist stink tank) and Shell Oil's Arctic rape squad, Seattle has become a capital of the so-called New World Order. As intelligent, caring members of the community are pushed out by gentrification and yuppies, there are fewer people like me left to fight back. Moreover, genuine activists never get a fair shake; the game is rigged. Yet I continue to run for office because it's educational, I love to fight, and it's the right thing to do.

Wake up and support your children, not the clueless troops who murder children in occupied countries! In solidarity with Iran, Syria, Russia, Latin America, freedom fighters around the world and the students who called me Mr. B, Viva la revolucion! (Visit my website and join the Global Awakening.)
While you've got to enjoy his candor, the guy's obviously a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

One local Jewish resident wasn't pleased with the Jewish Mafia comment:
I admittedly am not aware of where, legally, the line is drawn between political free speech and ‘hate speech’...

Can you honestly say or demonstrate that if comments similar to those of David Blomstrom (page 73, Voters’ Pamphlet) – casting the “Jews*” (not sure why the asterisk was included; perhaps some psychological ‘tic’ expressing itself on paper) and the ‘Jewish Mafia’ as being among the many enemies of the citizens of King County (he never actually identifies specifically who his collection of enemies are enemies of) – were directed against other religious, ethnic or racial groups that those comments would be published in a King County Voters’ Pamphlet?

Why should I or any of my co-religionists have to tolerate such hatred in a Voters’ Pamphlet.  As a Jew, I am sick of seeing my people maligned and sick of seeing my children (Blomstrom entreats the reader to ‘support your children’, perhaps the only glimpse of sanity in his ‘statement’) exposed to expressions of antisemitism on campus, in social media and in the public political forum.
He got a response which ended with:
On a personal level I am deeply sorry. Sherill Huff, King County Director of Elections.
I'm all for publishing the crazy man's words--that's the best way to let people know he's crazy.  The original complainant seems to understand this but doesn't like it, and then points out the obvious:
The issue says Behar, is what he suspects is a double standard. “What bothers me is that I find it hard to believe they have never before received any candidate ‘statements’ that slander African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, sexual minorities….  My suspicion is that they themselves may be less inclined to censor comments about Jews than when they pertain to other more favored minorities.  They are telling me they can’t control it, no matter who, but I can’t help but be a little skeptical.”
Seattle.  San Francisco of the North.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bad Idea Dropped

It was a bad idea anyway, even if you don't consider the probability of political machinations and interference:
Nearly two years ago, President Obama proposed a federal system to rate the nation's colleges and universities, one that would provide families with an objective and unified tool to compare schools and for taxpayers to determine whether the massive investments in scholarships and other government spending on higher education are worthwhile.

The idea, however, was met with protests and concerns from college leaders who contended that it was misconceived and could unfairly pit schools against each other.
After repeated delays and many consultations with skeptical college leaders, the ratings system was recently scrapped.
White House officials say that pushback from the higher education industry and congressional Republicans did not lead to the retreat. Instead, they say they could not develop a ratings system that worked well enough to help high school seniors, parents and counselors.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Who's The Minority? Is There Racism Here?

Silicon Valley.

Whites and Asians.

And schools:
In my hometown, tiger parenting could be seen as a sort of litmus test to see which culture you were most familiar with. For a long time, Saratoga, my hometown of 20,000, was almost entirely white. And then the tech revolution brought new-money immigrants like my Chinese-born parents into the tech sector. After a stock market boom or two, they could afford a house in Saratoga, in all its suburban glory, with pristine lawns and an allegedly pristine school system.

Around me, I noticed that almost all the parents or students complaining about the policies were Asian.

To say that whites resented Asians or Asians resented whites would be a gross exaggeration of a largely utopian merger. Youth soccer leagues were run by parents of multiple ethnicities: Indian, white, Chinese, Korean. Often, they were co-workers in their fields. Parental involvement was unified in activities spanning from musicals to the Parent-Teacher Association.

But it was in academics where one could smell the distinct coded scent of a split. There’s a nearby high school called Lynbrook, which by now is probably upwards of 90 percent Asian. I had a friend there who used to joke that they called the white people “the few five.” Everyone knew the one black student by name.

The Wall Street Journal came out with an article in 2005 documenting “The New White Flight,” a twist on the term used to describe the phenomena of white people moving out of poor neighborhoods, taking their tax dollars with them, and often leaving largely black schools derelict and underfunded. At Lynbrook and nearby schools, the Journal writes, whites weren’t quitting schools because the schools were bad. And they weren’t harming them academically when they left; more Asians just moved in.

“Quite the contrary,” the article read. “Many white parents say they’re leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurricular activities like sports and other personal interests. The two schools, put another way that parents rarely articulate so bluntly, are too Asian.”
The article presents an interesting view on things.

Worm In the Apple

This is not how you should treat employees, and if they're required to submit to this then it should be done while on the clock:
A federal judge has ruled that Apple must defend a class-action trial, to begin in January, representing thousands of Apple store workers. The employees claim they had to spend as much as 20 minutes off the clock having their bags searched to combat employee theft—known as "shrinkage"—every time they left the premises.

According to US District Judge William Alsup's ruling: (PDF)
In stores where searches were performed by the manager on duty, some employees say they had to scour the store to find a manager and wait until that manager finished with other duties, such as assisting a customer. Where searches were performed by a security guard, some employees had to wait until a security guard became available. Some employees sometimes had to wait in line. Employee estimates of the duration of the whole process, including both searches and wait times, range from five minutes to up to twenty minutes per search, with extremes occurring during busy periods such as product launches or holiday seasons. By contrast, managers estimate wait times at only a few seconds.

Alsup's decision applies to about 12,400 workers in California, which has more employee-friendly work regulations than those of the federal government or other states. Alsup allowed the litigation to continue despite the Supreme Court ruling in 2014 that warehouse workers for in Nevada could be forced to spend as much as 25 minutes off the clock to undergo security screenings at the end of their shift.
Thursday's decision sets the stage for a rare public glimpse into how Apple treats its retail store workers. Store workers in 2012 e-mailed Apple chief Tim Cook saying the search policy treated employees "as criminals."

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sanctuary State

No doubt you've heard about the murder of a woman by an illegal alien who was repeatedly repatriated to his own country but kept returning to San Francisco because he knew it was a so-called sanctuary city, a city that does not cooperate with immigration authorities where illegal aliens are concerned.

California is essentially a sanctuary state:
More than half of the driver’s licenses California has issued in 2015 have gone to residents living in the country illegally, reflecting the success of a new law extending licenses to people regardless of residency status.
I cannot go to Mexico and get a drivers license there. Neither can I get one in Britain, Italy, South Africa, or Argentina. I'd ask what possible reason there could be for giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens, but we all know the answer.
Supporters also argued the law would help a marginalized population step out of the shadows, although many worried that a population accustomed to avoiding scrutiny would be reluctant to reveal themselves to a government organization, even though the law prohibits the DMV from sharing information with other government agencies.

Read more here:
I want lawbreakers to stay in the shadows.  They should be marginalized.

One-party rule has turned California into a lawless regime.

Update, 7/20/15:  Victor Davis Hanson on San Francisco:
What we won’t hear from quite liberal people is that their own policies of legal nullification are catalysts for tragedies. Municipal and state nullification of federal statutes also has a shameful American history. It was just such a principle — that local and regional lawmakers could decide that the law of land is not applicable to themselves — that was at the heart of the argument for the Old Confederacy.

If 19th-century South Carolina could unilaterally declare that U.S. law did not apply within its environs, why then not 21st century San Francisco as well? (Apparently San Francisco thinks South Carolina was on the winning side of the Civil War).

Such contemporary liberal nullification is predicated on the relativist premise that progressive and situational cancellation of law is noble — whereas other, less enlightened states or city rights movements have no business copying their model. Should Billings declare gay marriage illegal inside its city limits and thus its local officials would not sanction marriage between the same sexes, or should Fresno County decide to suspend the endangered species act inside its border, or should Provo announce that the city would summarily deport illegal aliens without notifying federal authorities, San Franciscans would be outraged. They would rightly equate such nullification with secessionism.

Picking and choosing which federal laws to follow — whether or not to file a tax return with the IRS? — leads where exactly? That those who are caught not filing tax returns statistically have no higher incidence of criminality? And if that were true, what exactly would it prove?
Update #2, 7/23/15: Why? Because they're all run by Democrats:
The Obama administration on Thursday threatened to veto a House bill that would strip federal law enforcement grants from "sanctuary cities."

The bill would deny cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws certain Justice Department grants, and is expected to get a House vote on Thursday. The bill is a response to the shooting death of Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant who had been deported several times.

An illegal immigrant, Francisco Sanchez, was a convicted felon but was released from custody by law enforcement in San Francisco in April, despite a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement order to hold him so he could again be deported. He has been charged with killing the 32-year-old Steinle.

But a White House statement indicated that the Obama administration doesn't see that event as a reason to pressure sanctuary cities to enforce federal laws.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fan-made Star Trek

There's a lot of fan-generated Star Trek videos out there, and most of it isn't "production quality".  There are, however, a couple of organizations that are doing top-notch work.

Star Trek Continues looks like they film on the original series Star Trek set.  The writing, the stories, the characters--it all looks straight from the hand of Roddenberry.  The acting is so reminiscent of the original series characters that the only difference is the fact that the actors aren't Shatner, Nimoy, et. al.

Watch these full-length episodes:
Pilgrim of Eternity
Fairest of them All
The White Iris

Even better, 2016 promises a full-length independent motion picture, Axanar.   First watch the 21 minute teaser video, Prelude to Axanar.  Then watch the feature film teaser for Axanar; the full movie is expected to be released in late 2016.  Here is the indiegogo fundraising page if you'd like to contribute.

I have to agree with one of the commenters on the feature film teaser video:  "Ok. So 'Fan Film' now means 'A film so wonderfully produced that fans will love it more than the actual franchise?'  Sure. That sounds cool."

Now seriously, go watch Prelude to Axanar.

Fast Food Places

I only saw one McDonald's in St. Petersburg; I tried to take a picture of the sign but the reflection in the bus window prohibited doing so.  Why would I want a picture of a McDonald's sign, you ask?  Well, have you ever seen McDonald's written in Cyrillic?  If you haven't, here's a yahoo search so you can.

Here are some other fast food restaurants in Cyrillic:

And then there was this nostalgic little down-home cafe, where you can long for the good ole days:

Bon appetit.

Bad Guys In The World

This excerpt comes from a piece on the execution of a terrapin farm manager in North Korea:
American elites have always had trouble understanding fanaticism. The brahmins in the Roosevelt White House could not understand why the Japanese would fight to the last man rather than surrender. And think of the presidents from Nixon on who truly understood Islamic fanaticism. Carter hadn’t a clue. Reagan tried to deal with them. Both Bushes clearly underestimated the depth of hatred of the U.S. by the fanatics in the Middle East. Clinton thought lobbing cruise missiles was enough. And Obama insists Islamic fanaticism doesn’t even exist.

So it shouldn’t surprise us when we have failed to grasp the depth of depraved fanaticism in North Korea.
And this guy probably has nukes.  I know what let's do, let's ensure another country run by fanatical wackadoos gets nukes!