Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Word Play Gone Awry

A Slate resident feminist hears Gov. Christie talking about oral sex when he's obviously not.

Course, as Althouse points out, the writer's name means nothing.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Random Thoughts--January 6, 2012

Been reading a lot about President Obama's unconstitutional "recess" appointments.  Why is everyone surprised?  Our govenrmental leaders' (of both parties) disregard for the Constitution is not a surprise, why should this one be any different.

If Republicans in the House had any balls, they would impeach Obama for violating his oath of office.  He won't be convicted by the Senate,of course, but can anyone tell me exactly how Obama has preserved the Constitution of the United States?

Scientists have cloaked a moment in time.  Wait, What?  Check this out.  If they can do this, how soon before we get a Star Trek transporter so I don't have to sit in traffic between DC and Richmond, VA when I want to visit my family in Florida?  I don't need to be transported all the way to Florida, say DC to North Carolina would be fine.

Here's something to shut the environmental nutcases up:  New Materials Remove Carbon Dioxide from Smokestacks, Tailpipes and Even the Air.  Faster please scientists, I am getting sick and tired of some one driving an SUV or a private plane bitching at me because I emit CO2.

Finally, who is writing Chevy's press releases?  Bill Clinton?  It ain't a recall, but all owners of Chevy Volts are being asked to return their cars for "structural improvements"  It's a step below a recall.  Wait, how is it not a recall?     Ifyou are asking owners to bring the car back to the dealer, it sure sounds like a recall.  But then, it depends on what your definition of "is" is, right?

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“Does the First Amendment Protect Your Right to Speak for a Living?”

Short answer--yes.

And Florida is wrong to require a license to be an interior designer (yes, you read that right). Of course, Florida is not the only state to require a license for interior design--two other states do as well.

Pretty damn dumb.

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Clear campus rules needed on ‘harassment’

Greg Lukianoff, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has this piece in The Washington Post.  Key takeway

The concept of freedom of speech is under fire by college campuses AND the Obama Administration:

Overly broad harassment codes remain the weapon of choice on campus to punish speech that administrators dislike. In a decade fighting campus censorship, I have seen harassment defined as expressions as mild as “inappropriately directed laughter” and used to police students for references to a student government candidate as a “jerk and a fool” (at the University of Central Florida in 2006) and a factually verifiable if unflattering piece on Islamic extremism in a conservative student magazine (at Tufts University in 2007). Other examples abound. Worryingly, such broad codes and heavy-handed enforcement are teaching a generation of students that it may be safer to keep their mouths shut when important or controversial issues arise. Such illiberal lessons on how to live in a free society are poison to freewheeling debate and thought experimentation and, therefore, to the innovative thinking that both higher education and our democracy need.

Just because I say something that you don't like doesn't make harassment.  It might make it rude, it might make it unpleasant, but it doesn't mean it should be banned simply because some college administrator thinks it is harassment.

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Why getting a good education and a good job doesn’t necessarily mean going to a four-year college

James Pethokoukis is talking about that issue and is reading a book by Charles Murray called Real Education, a book I have read as well.

A few weeks ago, President Obama made a speech to a bunch of high school students in Osawatomie, Kansas which Pethokoukis quotes:

But we need to meet the moment. We’ve got to up our game. We need to remember that we can only do that together. It starts by making education a national mission — a national mission. Government and businesses, parents and citizens. In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class. The unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average. And their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma. Which means we shouldn’t be laying off good teachers right now — we should be hiring them. We shouldn’t be expecting less of our schools –- we should be demanding more. We shouldn’t be making it harder to afford college — we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go and doesn’t rack up $100,000 of debt just because they went.

Vice President Biden also made a similar speech in December at a high school in Jacksonville, Florida where he said,

A college degree “is about dignity, a sense of yourself, this notion of self worth, your standing in the community … it’s about becoming a better man and better woman,” Biden said. It’s about a person’s “social acceptability … the sense of your self worth and accomplishment. … Folks, it unlocks the mind and it serves as a tool to increasing civilization and progress.”

“A college education is almost a prerequisite to the middle class,” he said.

(Sorry, I forgot to link the original story on my facebook page when I posited this to my friends).

The fact is that, as lots of commentators are talking about, a higher education bubble is about to burst and it is not going to be pretty. Murray and Pethokoukis are arguing that we are sending far too many people to college and the message that we are sending that college is the only way to the middle class is pure bunk. My parents are solidly middle class, even upper middle class, and neither of them finished college. My mother went to a two year nursing school program and my father is retired Navy and I wouldn't not classify my upbringing as anything other than middle class. My sister is getting her degree at age 38, my brother is in the Army and doesn't have a degree, yet they are middle class Americans.

The fact is that the path to middle class success and security has never been about a college degree--it has been about being willing to work hard. Sometimes that work is what we traditionally consider blue collar work and that blue collar work can be incredibly lucrative. Skilled labor, such as welding, plumbing, steel working, etc. is in huge demand and the pay is incredible since there are so few people with the skills to do things like highway welding or steel work for bridges and other infrastructure that such workers might make $150,000 a year with over time. Sure they have to work in the elements, but really, that makes them so much more valuable.

This might be funny to say as a lawyer sitting behind a desk most of the day, but there is nothing wrong with sweating at work. There is nothing wrong with a man or woman who works hard, takes care of themselves and their family, who works honestly and who pursues their own happiness without a college degree. They are honorable men and women. The fact that our President and Vice President demean (whether intentional or not) the millions of Americans (including most of our military) who don't have college degrees as not being middle class or somehow worth less as humans and as Americans is insulting in the extreme. To tell our children that people without college degrees (including some of those kids' own parents) have no standing in the community, have no social acceptability because they don't have a college degree (meaning my parents) is the worst kind of elitism.

President Obama is right, we shouldn't be expecting kids and families to rack up $100,000 of debt to go to college. But at the same time, we shouldn't be expecting every kid to go to college. College is not a guaranteed path to the middle class.  However, our nation has spent the past two decades touting the importance and necessity of "going to college" that it has probably affected the economy in the short term.

The only legitimate message about education that should be preached is that kids should finish high school, then they should work hard at what they do to earn a paycheck.  Success comes from hard work, not a piece of paper.

A rare personal post

Every once in a while, I feel compelled to write a personal post, something about what has been happening in my life.

As the start of the new year 2012, I have found that a great deal of my life has come into focus a little, various strings of thought that had been out there flapping in the winds of my brain, have seemingly come together, woven together as the result of a some serious time spent thinking about my life, about what I want (and don't want) it to be about.  I am struggling to find more positive energy in my life.

On a professional level, my career has come to a crossroads.  While I don't anticipate abandoning the law as a profession anytime in the near future, I have begun to think that my current legal practice is filled with a fair amount of negative.  I meet clients when the excrement has hit the wind generating device.  While I hope they appreciate the effort I and my colleagues put forth (and many have expressed thanks), I rarely see clients in the best possible light, at a time when they are at their best.  I don't blame the clients at all, it is the nature of being a litigator.  But I have had a few episodes in the past six months or so that have given me a better insight into the kind of law I would like to practice and that involves dealing with clients in a more positive light, helping them achieve their goals as businesspeople and as humans, rather than when it has all gone haywire.

Being a litigator can be a great deal of fun, I am competitive, I like to win and I like a competition that has rules, but allows for some creativity.  But litigation is also very negative as well.  It is a zero sum game.  If  you take a case to court, there is a winner and a loser--that is what a court does.  Even if you settle a case, both sides win and more likely both sides lose.  It is not very satisfying.

But there is so much negative energy that flows from litigation that I believe it has been affecting me on a personal level.  The confidential nature of my work (and I take my ethical obligations seriously) forbid me from talking about my work in too much detail with my wife.  I talk in generalities, I talk about procedure--which is pretty damn dry--and I internalize things.  Sure, I can talk to my colleagues about the cases, but I don't like talking too deeply about my personal life at work.  So the separation of the two means that work's negativity bleeds over into my home life and the stresses of my home life bleed over into my work.  The result has been that both my home life and my work life have been negatively affected.

Thus, the search for some more positives in my work life means that I can help clients move forward with the things that make them happy.  Being the general counsel to entrepeneurs is what I am looking for.  So that is where I will be focusing my attention.

But I have also found that so much of what I considered so important for so long is just a load of crap.  I used to follow politics so closely, but I am simply disappointed in our leaders of both political parties.  I suppose I am not the only one, it is something of a movement in the country I believe.  But at the same time, I know that all the shennigans affect my life professionally and personally.

I spent some time seeing my family over Christmas and New Year's and they don't seem as engaged in the whole political farce and they seem happier for it.  I was recently asked if I was interested into returning to the political arena as a staffer or as an attorney and I said no.  It is not that it would be a step back in my career, rather it was a realization that I am sick of politics.

I have been reading Declaration of Independents and some of the thinking there so summed up my thoughts,  I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal., I do believe in free minds and free markets, I do think that neither party is interested in even what they say they believe--they are only interested in prolonging their power.

And so, in the dawn of our New Year, I have decided to attempt to rid myself of as much of the negative influences as I can.  I can't abandon politics, but I can limit my involvement.  I can't abandon my career, but I can change course.  I will pursue my own happiness.  I will seek out more time with people who are positive, who are actively pursuing their own happiness.  Who knows, maybe we will help each other find our happiness.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Random Thoughts--January 3, 2012

The World better not frakking end this year--I haven't been to an MLS cup final or a World Cup on foreign soils or an Olympic games.  The rest of my bucket list needs some serious attention as well.

I did some math today and realized, that if I didn't have to pay my mortgage (or rent) for an entire year, I still wouldn't be debt free.  That is a troubling thought.

Take that last thought and expand it writ large to the United States--pretty frakking sad, isn't it--for me and the nation.

What should you do if you are stuck on a mountain road, behind a nasty accident for the better part of two hours---play Bubble Buster on your phone--I did and got farther than ever.

Dear  Crayola---your Color Wonder toys are wonderful--except on small matter---those glitter versions of the paper should come with a warning--"If you open this, it will look like a fairy threw up in your car."  Keep up the good work otherwise.  Thanks, Matt

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers