Saturday, September 29, 2007
It was a very basic situation whereby I left a meeting later than I planned on so as I ran around the corner of the office building to get to my automobile (okay -- earth killing SUV!!) before the parking meter expired I saw a parking enforcement police officer standing in front of my SUV. So I yelled to him with a smile as I ran to my automobile-- "hey officer, I was just leaving..........." The officer did not pause opting to put his ticket pad away, smiling to me, and telling me to "have a good day............"
Well I certainly did have a good day given this officer's empowered decision to decide that I posed no threat or burden to the community thus he could "give me a break" by not writing a tickets. The benefit to the city of course is via goodwill -- I avoided a 20 or 20 dollar parking ticket so the money saved could be spent during a meal at one of this city's restaurants which is highly likely due to my business work and socializing with my wife.
This officer reassured me that we can live well if we all respect some version of a social contract.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
At only age 44 with degrees from Georgetown University, Columbia University, and Yale University John achieved a lot in his short life and will be missed. As I thought about him this afternoon I remembered one of our extensive conversations months ago about his travels through the former lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. John was not only a stellar advocate for taxpayers but he was also the eternal student who enjoyed seeing the world first hand so he would understand it on a personal level.
Unfortunately when the name "Washington DC" is mentioned most people have negative thoughts about the political process but rising above all that negativism was the man I knew - John Berthoud. What bothers me the most about John's loss is my over-reliance on email to communicate. I regret I did not get on the telephone with John every week or so just to touch base - -but now he is gone.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
During the presentation of the polling results for the "Business Barometer" sponsored by the chamber I read through the handout to discover the results to a question posed to a scientific sample of the Minnesota business community - "How do you spend your training resources (for employees) ?" The results were -- 87% on specialized skills and 12% on REMEDIAL SKILLS!!
Yes, once our students graduate from our school system Minnesota businesses must spend even MORE MONEY to teach basic skills like reading and math. One executive from a radiator manufacturing company noted that her company has to teach some of their workers how to "count to 8 so they can complete their time sheets...............and how to use fractions during our manufacturing process................" Wow, even my big government friends out there (Holstein Girl???!!!) have to be very troubled that we have to pay for basic education twice -- first via the school system and then again with company money (the money the government hasn't taxed away yet!!).
Now today's presentations were disturbing enough but then I re-read this article from today's local newspaper - "Minnesota holds ground in math, reading tests". This article noted that "only 29% of the nation's eighth graders (14 year old students for my non-American readers) are proficient in reading -- that's remained unchanged since 2003." Let me pose a question -- if you worked in a sales job but had not increase your sales levels in the last four years don't you think you would get fired? But that is not the case with teachers and school administrators -- they simply tell us they need more money.
So in the last four years the American education system has made ZERO progress in terms of improving reading levels. Is it any wonder that only 25% of American adults read even one book last year? (for details see my posting "25%" at -- http://erasmusbookclub.blogspot.com) Perhaps even more troubling the Big Government advocates in our country look at poor performance like these test results and declare we need to "invest more" which of course means taking more of our income for their grand schemes. I would much rather keep my money in my family budget so my wife and I can hire a private tutor to work with our children in the same way the aristocrats/nobles did in European history.
Now I know why home schooling is not growing rapidly -- too many parents can't read and write thus they are unable to teach their children.
Time for more school choice.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Now his comment was not explained so you have to wonder -- did he mean that in his Islamic Republic utopia homosexuality was an unknown concept or perhaps was he giving us a hint that a "final solution" had been found for homosexuals? I simply can't tell if the President is so homophobic that he had all known homosexuals killed, deported, or he simply believes it is impossible to have homosexuals in the world he lives in.
When I first heard his statement I could not help but think of US Senator Larry Craig of Idaho since he was on the front page of today's local newspaper AGAIN since he is fighting his guilty plea to soliciting sexual relations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota airport restroom. Since Senator Craig has ZERO political future in Idaho I am thinking he should relocate to the Islamic Republic of Iran so he can avoid all homosexual advances since apparently there are no homosexuals in Iran we are told. Although their police sting operations are a bit more brutal than American ones given the history of the Revolutionary Guards of Iran so be careful out there Senator Craig :-)
Now if my blog doesn't make you laugh at times then you should visit the Iranian president's blog which you can find at --
While he does not post very often I do visit the blog to see what his latest crazy comments are so today I received quite a surprise since an American posted a very flattering comment (assuming it is a real person who posted) about the president. He is what this American said --
Your leadership for your country is one of the best in present day society. I wish that America had the guts like you to do whats right, and not what your rich company owners to control the government. Keep up the good work!
Mr. Hankins -- not only is your grammar terrible but your knowledge of the world situation and Iran in particular is incredibly lacking. Please take the time to read a few books, magazines, newspapers, and websites about Iran before you post another comment. For instance the Reason Foundation's recent magazine (www.reason.org) contains an article entitled, "Iran's Next Revolution", which will help educate you.
Finally -- I do agree with the President of Iran that the current world power structure needs to be changed but not exactly like he envisions!! We need to move the headquarters of the United Nations to a country other than the USA. Instead of New York City let's move the UN to one of these potential hosts -- Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Chad, Burma, and even Belarus. How many UN bureaucrats do you think would want to retain their jobs by relocating?
Time for you to return to Iran Mr. President,
Monday, September 24, 2007
Now who doesn't "love schools" or who wouldn't want to "adopt a classroom" ? These are all noble ventures and perhaps more importantly -- these are private, non-governmental initiatives as far as I could tell from the article I read. Three cheers for personal initiative!!!
The first website listed above provides some interesting background notes we should all pause to consider:
Did You Know?
Only 2.8% of dollars spent on education go toward classroom supplies.
The average teacher spends $400-$500 of their own funds each year to purchase classroom supplies.
100% of every dollar donated to Classroom Wishlist for classroom supplies is used to deliver goods into the classroom.
Donations to Classroom Wishlist are tax deductible.
What -- only 2.8% of "dollars spent on education go toward classroom supplies" ? Instead of writing checks to right this wrong why don't taxpayers ask a very relevant question -- so where is all the money going if it isn't going to supply the tools our children need?
Isn't this failure to arm teachers with the supplies they need to teach/engage the children in the classroom the equivalent of sending local police officers into the field without ammunition and sending fire fighters to extinguish fires without water hoses?
If our mayor/city council managed our police and fire operations in this manner they would be thrown out of office yet our school boards enjoy VERY high re-election rates for sending teachers into the classroom without the tools they need.
Education spending should go directly to teachers and parent associations to equip our classrooms versus the current system where the dollars simply get lost in the education bureaucracy. Perhaps my readers would like to know why I am so confident money is being lost in this way? I have first hand evidence courtesy of an elementary school teacher in Iowa I talked to at a fraternity brother's football tailgate last season. I asked her how much money she had to spend on school supplies each year to which she replied, "about $400 each year.........but I wouldn't have to if the school would eliminate the monthly car allowance payment it pays to administrators..................."
Don't tell me we don't have enough money!!!!
Priorities need to be set not higher school levies,
Based on the recent news reports I have reviewed the search status has been downgraded thus suggesting that officials feel Mr. Fossett will not be found alive. Not only is the loss of human life sad but the loss of Mr. Fossett would be especially sad because I loved his sense of adventure -- something that is often not appreciated in our sterile, modern world where peanut allergies and days off for students due to high temperatures dominate our schools.
However there is an even more personal reason that I am saddened to hear Mr. Fossett might not have survived his last adventure. One aspect of Mr. Fossett's life I have not seen mentioned in media reports is that is the incoming president of the National Eagle Scout Association (www.nesa.org) of which I am a member.
In his letter to NESA members (via the organization's magazine) Mr. Fossett noted that in his term as president of NESA he was going to focus on three projects:
- Database -- locating and databasing all Eagle Scout award winners
- Website -- improving NESA's current website
- Scholarships -- raising money to fund more Eagle Scout scholarships to ensure members can access college opportunities
Should we find that Mr. Fossett has indeed died in Nevada the world will not only lose a great explorer but the National Eagle Scouts Association will lose an exceptional leader that will be extremely difficult to replace.
God's speed Mr. Fossett,
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So why close the UN? My local newspaper -- in a VERY, VERY small article -- noted today that the UN voted this week to deny once again, for the 15th time, the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s application to become a full member of the UN. Bowing of course to the wishes of the 1.3 billion person marketplace known as the People's Republic of China ("Red China" for us Cold War warriors).
Yes I know the official policy line -- "Taiwan is a breakaway province of mainland China so Taiwan is not a sovereign nation............" But since Taiwan and China aren't really on speaking terms especially since travel is highly restricted below these two entities how are the Taiwanese represented in the UN's General Assembly? Taiwan is a nation of millions of people living in a representative democracy that has highly competitive elections --- a stark contrast from mainland China. So "China" is really split into two entities today much like the Korean peninsula is split into two nations -- Democratic People's Republic and Korea (North Korea - home to uber-dictator Kim Jong Il who keeps his people in a permanent state of slavery to his regime) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Details on UN membership can be found at -- http://www.un.org/members/growth.shtml
If the UN can allow the two Koreas to be full members why can't Taiwan and China both have seats at the table of nations in New York City?
Like the League of Nations the United Nations has reached its natural demise so it should be closed today.
Unite via free trade not via the baby blue flag,
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in a car chase (I know, which one?) are talking:
Sally: why do they call you the "Bandit"
Burt: that is my handle, don't you have one (something like that)
Sally: no, can I have one?
Burt: okay, I will call you "frog"
Sally: Frog? why frog?
Burt: Because I would like to jump you
Well Sally Fields got some prime time TV attention this week during the annual Emmy Awards when she made a political statement during her acceptance speech. Yea, I know, big surprise, a Hollywood actor/actress lecturing us. Ms. Fields made some comments about stopping wars concluding, "if mothers ran the world there would be no God damn wars...................."
Wow, either Ms. Fields lives in a cave or hasn't read any books in the last 10 to 15 years especially history books. The concept of "war" knows no gender. History is filled with examples of both men/women/fathers/mothers who had led nations and troops into war. So for Ms. Field's benefit and both of my readers ;-) here is a list of female warriors:
- Margaret Thatcher -- former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (I am a fan) who led the UK to fight Argentina after their invasion of the Falkland Islands.
- Catherine the Great -- while she was Empress/Czarina of the Russia she sent soldiers and sailors into numerous wars
- Joan of Arc -- could there be a French warrior more famous than this woman?
- Queen Boadicea -- Leader of her Iceni tribe once her husband died. Boadicea led her warriors into battle against the Romans in a bid to rid them of imperial rule. If there is anything as a "just war" this is a great example
So NO Ms. Field -- just because mothers are in power does not mean wars are avoided. Please pause a minute to consider the videotapes that I have seen on CNN and Fox News showing Palestinian mothers rejoicing and encouraging their sons to become suicide bombers to battle Israel.
I want to avoid wars myself which is why I support universal free trade because history has proven that "trading nations are not warring nations............."
So the next time you give an acceptance speech Ms. Field why don't you make a pitch for ending tariffs on goods and services?
Peace Through Trade,
Monday, September 17, 2007
I thought about this recently because now I live in a city in Minnesota that owns some liquor stores because as our mayor tells me - "............that way we can better control/eliminate underage drinking................." Yea right!! My city is a land-locked suburb surrounded by other suburbs so doesn't the mayor think that minors will simply drive to a nearby city to purchase booze!!? Me thinks the city government simply loves the tax revenue that liquor sales produce but I am happy to be proven wrong so I ask my readers who are big government advocates to please educate my tiny monkey on this issue.
So our city has a number of government buildings -- city hall, city maintenance, fire stations, liquor stores, and even a golf course club house -- so instead of having all of our police located in the central "cop shop" why not create police sub-stations in the fire stations and liquor stores? That way our police are spread out around our fair city so they can more quickly respond to emergency calls. Additionally what better way to combat underage drinking then by having police officers working in an office INSIDE the government liquor store!!! In fact the police could review individual customers' purchasing records so they could turn over known heavy drinkers to the health police?
Yes, what a Utopian police state this would be whereby the infrastructure created via our tax dollars would be used to manage even greater aspects of our lives.
Privatization produces freedom,
So the headline that inspired this posting was, "Officer quits over You Tube videos", which might make the casual reader think someone captured a police brutality incident on video. But nooooooooooooooo!! It turns out that a Columbus, Ohio police officer, Susan Purtee aged 60, and her sister posted homemade videos on You Tube where they "disparaged" the following groups:
blacks, Jews, Cubans, and illegal immigrants
Since Officer Purtee is 60 years old I would guess she overlooked elderly drivers in her video rants :-)
As for my basic research I simply checked on the origin of the "Purtee" family name. As it turns out Purtee is a an IRISH name!! Hopefully all of you history students out there remember the signs in store windows stating "No Irish need to apply" in the USA when waves of Irish immigrants came to the USA -- to become cops in New York City or is that just another stereotype Officer Purtee!!???
Going back even further in origin though we find that the Purtee family name comes from the Norman-French word "porcel" which is derived from the Latin word "porcus" which as you might guess means "pig" or "piglet"!!
So in summary -- we have a racist cop in Ohio who hails from an oppressed immigrant group (Irish) whose family name means "pig" which of course is a very derogatory nick name for police officers.
Officer Purtee's resignation from the police force is effective on September 22nd so I hope she enjoys her retirement complete with a pension paid for by taxpayers ( you knew I had to get a jab in there somewhere) :-)
Erin go braugh,
Friday, September 14, 2007
The issue here is that the City of St. Paul (Minnesota) approved a resolution that would prohibit "sober houses" in the city unless approved by the city council. Sober houses are a form of group living environment "set up for people recovering from alcohol or chemical dependence." (Source: Pioneer Press) Some sober houses kick out residents who relapse according to this article.
As an outside observer of these houses I can see the value of addicts supporting each other to stay clean on their road to recovery. Given the fact that our legal drinking age is 21 and there is no "eating age" (yet!!) access to food is obviously greater than access to alcoholic beverages thus creating greater potential for obesity the public health community would probably argue.
By no means am I an advocate of the following concept -- I simply want to highlight it so once a politician or public health health Nazi advocates it then my readers won't be so surprised -- the concept of course is:
Yes sober houses for obese people! If you are trying to lose weight why not live with a group of obese people in a sober house support environment?
There is one challenge that the location of sober houses has that obesity houses might not have -- city councils/sober house neighbors have major concerns about parking problems caused by sober houses since usually 6 to 15 people live in such a house. Assuming these people have drinking problems they are likely to have suspended licenses don't you think? But parking shouldn't be a problem at obesity houses since the residents shouldn't even bother owning automobiles -- opting instead to walk or ride a bicycle to help them on their road to recovery.
If I have overlooked something or if these obesity houses exist already today I would love to hear from my readers.
Off to my gym now,
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I thought about this "educational experience" when I read a recent column by Ruben Rosario in my local newspaper regarding Professor Louis Mendoza's (University of Minnesota's Chicano Studies program) bicycle tour of the USA to explore the "Latinoization of America." Professor Mendoza's tour is being documented at his blog --
Professor Mendoza's tour is all about understanding how/if Latinos are integrating into American society via the "melting pot" concept we were taught in school or if they are living in cultural ghettos. This tour is scheduled to run from July to December 2007 so that means some long days of pedaling for Professor Mendoza. When I checked his blog today I noted that he is in the Detroit, Michigan area so he better pick up the pace so he can avoid some early snow storms since he plans to tour New York state before turning south.
One story shared in Mr. Rosario's is Professor Mendoza's meeting with an older Mormon couple who had done missionary work in Latin American and spoke Spanish. The husband in this couple (quoting Rosario now) --
"talked about the goodness and the family-oriented work ethic of 'wetbacks'...................but Mendoza went beyond the knee-jerk response. He looked into the man's heart and listened to what else he had to say. In part it was a tale of this man risking his own safety to rescue poor illegal immigrants fleeced, abandoned, or left to die by 'coyotes' - human traffickers."
Setting this man's racist word choice aside for now this observation really makes you wonder about immigration reform. What if we created a legal form of "human trafficking" whereby instead of paying "coyotes" to get them into the USA immigrants could pay a fee to the US Treasury which could be used for completing background/security checks? Let's make things more transparent to reduce crime and death along our borders.
Safe travels Professor,
Friday, September 07, 2007
- "High school sports helps girls stick with college" -- Sadly yet another university study (tax dollars involved??), this one from Brigham Young University, that simply confirms what garage logicians (see the Garage Logic Show on KSTP AM 1500 for background -- like me have known most of our lives. In my high school participation in sports and excellent academic performance went hand in hand for most of the athletes. Since sports teach out children discipline, responsibility, time management, and team work you develop the skills needed for college.
- Cindy Sheehan -- the mother made famous via the anti-Iraq War protest she led outside the "western White House" at President George Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch has declared she is a candidate for the US House of Representatives seat currently held by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco. Given the peace activist community in San Francisco and Speaker Pelosi's failure to bring the troops home after her nearly one year in office this Sheehan-Pelosi primary election is clearly one to watch. In fact opponents of Speaker Pelosi - like me - might be highly motivated to write a campaign check to Ms. Sheehan!!! November 2008 could be very interesting.
- Hillary Care -- while reading the June 2007 issue of State Legislatures magazine I noticed their State by State Report Card for 2004 entitled, "Making the Grade on Women's Health". While my adopted state of Minnesota received the #1 ranking I was shocked to see Arkansas ranked at #49 out of 51!!! Arkansas - home of Bill and Hillary Clinton when he was governor until 1993 when he become president so I doubt their "health care paradise" could have been destroyed in only 11 years by future governors. This is the same Hillary who chaired the task force that tried to have the federal government take over the entire US health care industry.
Bottom line for me -- I am looking forward to our daughter being in school sports but fear Hillary Clinton being elected President in 2008.
So overall consumers who did not wait in line (like me!) with the "early adapters" can now get double the memory capacity for $100 LESS than what the first consumers paid. Now that is the free market and Moore's law at work!!!
As this news from Apple was breaking we tax slaves of Minnesota were/still are dealing with a labor strike at our University of Minnesota -- a "land grant" university originally created to "educate the common man..........." -- by the clerical, administrative, and technical workers who are members of the AFSCME (http://www.afscme.org/) labor union. Now shouldn't these workers be concerned with "putting students first.........." like we always hear in labor union money grab campaigns especially since classes at the university started this week?
Then again -- perhaps we don't need all of these workers at the university? Why? While driving today I heard a news report quoting the university administration that work is getting completed by those workers who are not walking the picket lines so apparently 1/3 of this work force is NOT showing up for work. So a 33% reduction in staff but some how the work gets done? How about instead of giving these strikers a pay raise we direct the university management to purchase PDAs ("personal digital assistants" such as the iPhone and Blackberries) for the entire university management and professors if they don't have them already?
But getting all the key academic staff "wired" via PDAs we can reduce the need for substantial numbers of clerical personnel while also making productivity gains similar to those seen with the changes in the Apple iPhone. This is the opportunity for the university/tax payers to break the AFSCME union on campus via modern technology.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
After nearly 8 days of canoeing in Northern Minnesota I have returned to "civilization" to resume my blogging. I put civilization in quotes to pose the question -- which is more civilized? a.) paddling around a set of lakes with your friends coupled with a daily nap in a hammock or b.) experiencing road rage during your daily commute followed by a pile of junk mail and telemarketing calls once you return to your home cave ?
Since I enjoy being married with children I opted to return to what most people call "civilization" by returning to my home in the suburbs of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Upon our return to the canoe outfitter's office I started getting up to date on the latest news. During my trip here are some key developments I missed:
- US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez announced he was resigning -- no I did not send my resume to the White House!!
- US Senator Larry Craig (Republican of Idaho) announced he was resigning due to a police sting operation in June 2007 at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport that targeted men seeking sexual relations in the rest room. Fortunately I did not fly anywhere in June so I was not at the airport at the time!!
- My Iowa State University Cyclones lost their home opener in football to the "football powerhouse" (insert laughter here) Kent State University. Why oh why do they play such non-conference games? I would much rather my Cyclones play the University of Minnesota Gophers -- then at least we would have two NCAA Division I football teams playing each other not David vs. Goliath match ups which produces only hollow victories or VERY embarrassing losses.
Well enough of the news review and commentary -- let me return to our canoe trip. If any of my readers wants to experience raw nature and get away from the rat race you can start your research at -- www.ely.org. After we returned from canoeing we spent the day touring the City of Ely, Minnesota where we visited the Dorothy Molter Museum (www.rootbeerlady.com).
I met Ms. Molter in the early 1980's during one our canoe trips since she lived in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area since 1930 until her death in 1986. She was known as the "root beer lady" because of her home made root beer what she produced for selling to travelers in the area. The museum tour reinforced my personal thinking that government too often disrupts peoples' lives as it did with Ms. Molter when they told her she had to leave her beloved Isle of Pines. She repeatedly told the government "no" or "you aren't offering me enough money" which ultimately resulted in her being allowed to live there the rest of her life. Ms. Molter's fighting spirit not only battled Mother Nature but also the US federal government which is an inspiration for all of us.
The bottom line for me is that the canoe trip was very fun and very relaxing but now it is time to get back to work and blogging so please stay tuned for future commentaries.
May your life be filled with tail winds,