Friday, May 28, 2010

Why not papoose bags?

NTSB wants child safety seats on airlines

The NTSB is recommending that parents strap young children into safety seats when traveling by air -- a recommendation that could make travel significantly more expensive if it becomes mandatory. The safety board says lap infants can be severely injured in severe turbulence or survivable crashes when parents are unable to maintain a hold on them. Child seats are a better option, the board says, but that would require the purchase of an additional ticket. KSTP-TV (Minneapolis) (5/27)

Here's an idea. Why not a papoose bag? Or an infant carrier that a mother wears over her chest? Do we really need infant seats on planes?

Are T.E.A. Partiers Hypocrites?

James Taranto in his "Best of the Web Today" column for the Wall Street Journal reported the following:

Some public figures, though, are so ridiculous that despite their lack of wit, irony and sarcasm, their vices and follies make their real-life utterances and actions hard to distinguish from satirical fiction. Such a man is John Kerry**, subject of a nonsatirical article by Paul Bedard of U.S. News & World Report titled "John Kerry Says Voter Anger at Washington Is Hypocritical":

Times are tough, especially among those still looking for good jobs, but Sen. John Kerry doesn't think Washington's to blame. In fact the former Democratic presidential candidate, concerned with the anger voters are aiming at Washington, says that his party and President Obama are doing a ship-shape job. . . .

"We've come back," he says of the nation, Wall Street, and the economy. "This is an amazing resurgence." . . .

"I think there's a comprehension gap," said Kerry. His point: While people may not be feeling the benefits of the bailouts and healthcare reform yet, Congress has been working with Obama to right the economic ship. Still, he sounded sympathetic to those kicked around by the economy. "There's a sense of some things unraveling" to them, said Kerry.

But he said that the D.C.-directed attacks are hypocritical, since many of those attacking Washington spending presumably want to keep their Social Security and Medicare and want Washington to play a big role in the Gulf Oil cleanup. "There's a huge contradiction on a daily basis," he said.

Maybe, he concluded, the Democrats should change their communications strategy "to better sell what we've done."

So, the everyday Joe who works hard his whole life, has part of his/her income taken from his/her paycheck, told that this is taken and kept in a trust for retirement living and health care, is now told by politicians that he/she is a "hypocrite" for being against government spending but wanting Social Security and Medicare benefits? Sorry, this doesn't fly. Social Security and Medicare are not bailouts. They are not "stimulus" spending. They are not kickbacks or earmarks.

Simply put, those two programs were passed into law ostensibly for the benefit in old age of those who paid into the system. Isn't bad enough one isn't garaunteed every penny one puts in? Now we are called "hypocrites." Sorry, this isn't hypocrisy. This is holding politicians to promises made to the American people.

But this is yet another way liberals shaft those who work hard all their life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

GOP candidates' wording on Web strikingly similar--Big Deal or Much Ado about Little?

The Tuesday, May 25, 2010 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured this breath-taking report:

Madison — Several Republican candidates for Congress in Wisconsin and other states are using nearly identical language on their Web sites as they try to sway voters.

Presenting the ideas as their own, the candidates have posted strikingly similar passages detailing their stances on such issues as the economy, taxes and jobs, a review of their sites found. The similarity raises the question of whether some of the candidates are plagiarizing each other or whether they are all taking their language from a common source.

My first reaction was: "Wow, who would have thought? Talking points among Republicans! Soon the Democrats will do this too…"

Yet looking deeper at it, I'm not sure this is really a story. So some GOP candidates use similar wording. It's like they copied each other's web sites, or used talking points, or copied the planks of the party platform.

The GOP is a political party, after all. They are also known as Republicans. And political parties are a gathering of somewhat like-minded people harboring similar beliefs and philosophies.

And each party develops a platform. The issues on that platform are called "planks." So it is highly likely that politicians have copied and pasted their party's platform in their own promotional material--campaign literature, newspaper ads, radio ads, TV ads, and now the internet.

I imagine one could "pan the globe" and find three Democrat candidates that have eerily similar wording on the web sites. It's nothing new.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

War Heroes, or They Stormed Toys 'R' Us in Operation Toys 4 Tots

If the Demon-crats had any scruples, they would denounce Blumenthal for his war veteran claims. I guess “Toys For Tots” can get rather brutal when you bring toys to a roomful of tots, but nothing anyone can’t survive. Wasn’t it in 2004 when Demon-crats fabricated documents trying to shame George W. Bush’s record during the Vietnam War? I never heard W. try to claim his war record was anything other than it was.

But I guess when the Demon-crats hold up John “Three Paper Cuts” Kerry as a war hero (one who also turned on his fellow soldiers by calling them war criminals), then I can see where the left is coming from. In their mind, “Operation Toys For Tots” is the only thing the military should be doing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Be Careful How You Use Words (Words Mean Things)

This letter was published in the Wall Street Journal on 17 May 2010:

I am writing to express my bitter regret at the most unfortunate use of the word "Polish" when referring to a Nazi concentration camp in an otherwise very interesting article ("On Style: Picking the Best of Spring's New Style Books," Personal Journal, May 6). By employing that linguistic shortcut, you succeeded in hurting the feelings of the people whose best sons and daughters were the first to suffer from terrible atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis in 1939.

An extensive system of extermination, concentration, labor and prisoner-of-war camps was built and operated by Nazi Germany. Describing a concentration camp as "Polish," only because it was located on the occupied territory of Poland, is tantamount to indicating that Poland was a participant in the Nazi crime. In reality, my country was Hitler's most brutalized victim with more than six million Polish citizens losing their lives during the war.

The blood spilled by the Polish military on all fronts of World War II, many times next to their American comrades in arms, calls for more diligence in choosing your vocabulary.

Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka

Consul General of Poland

New York
To be honest, when I read the original article, I did not think of Poland as the aggressor but as the victim. Many of us are very familiar with the history of World War II and understand those words to be shorthand for the atrocities committed by the Nazis on Polish soil during World War II.

Yet the consul general does have a point. At some point people may not remember what happened in the 1940’s. Even now there are those who deny all or part of the Holocaust. General Eisenhower, when he first saw the concentration camps, ordered photos taken. How prescient was his reasoning that people may not believe what the Allies found there in the aftermath of World War II.

So perhaps a better phrase might be “Nazi camp(s) built and operated on occupied Polish soil.” Or maybe just “Nazi camps in Poland.”

Writers are often taught not to assume the reader knows what is written about. A magazine I read includes submission guidelines not to write like an “insider.” This is a religious publication for a church that is also intended to be used in outreach. If the writer strings together acronyms like “NWC”, “MLC”, “DMLC”, or “BORAM” without explaining what those terms mean, the non-member (and I daresay the nominal member) will be confused. The guidelines for writers states to spell out the acronyms with the acronym, so that the writer uses “Northwestern College (NWC)”, “Martin Luther College (MLC)”, “Dr Martin Luther College (DMLC)”, and “Book of Reports and Memorials (BORAM)”.

Overall, Americans tend to be sloppy writers. It may be a huge reason we have great disagreements among people. We don’t take the time to express ourselves well. Nor do we take the time to listen and ask questions to ascertain that we are hearing what the other person truly is saying.

Friday, May 07, 2010

If You Love God, You’ll Pass This On?

The Internet and e-mail—isn’t modern technology wonderful? Just think, peck out a few words, click on “Send,” and someone half the world away reads your words. You can know people in other cultures and nations better than you know your next door neighbor.

But a price is paid for such amazing technology. There is SPAM. No, not the meat by-product produced by Hormel. SPAM is all that junk e-mail that clogs your in box of your e-mail rather than the mailbox approved by the United States Postal Service. Scams also run rampant on the Internet and in e-mail. Just think, how else can you get millions of people to forward an offer of free jeans or free trips to Disneyland except through the miracle of e-mail? Here’s a hint: if it seems suspicious, check out Then you’ll know whether to forward or delete that message you just received. Think about it—why would someone send an e-mail looking for a lost son when that person should be alerting the police and scouring the neighborhood? OK, the possibility exists that the little runaway got lost and ended up in Pakistan, but I doubt it.

But what really takes the cake are the e-mails with an inspiring story. Maybe it’s the person that bought a gallon of milk “for no reason, really.” A “voice” nags at the milk buyer, who drives down dark and dubious words to a building dark and eerie and, against all instincts, goes and finds a mother with several hungry children and no food to be found. Lucky he bought the milk.

Or my favorite, because I erred on sharing the e-mail (minus the “send this to 10 people if you really love God”). You may remember it—“The Room.” Mea culpa.

September 11 released a slew of such e-mails. One showed God busy running hither and yon protecting people from being part of the tragedy. One was entitled “In the Elevator.”

Not that there is anything wrong with the inspirational. A weakness is that the inspirational is meant to inspire you to perfection or to carry out some good deed. Rarely is the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection mentioned or that this death and resurrection assures us that our sins are paid for and forgiven. Let me make this suggestion: next time you get such an e-mail, try to edit it to give God the glory and let Christ shine through and forward THAT version.

What really gets my goat are the closing lines in such e-mails. You are asked to display your Christianity—and forwarding such a message, in the author’s opinion, is one grand display of your Christianity. Some go over the top with guilt trips. “Ever wonder how you can forward a risqué joke without giving it a second thought, but we’re too embarrassed to forward an e-mail about our Lord?” Some even play “Big Brother.” They ask that you send the e-mail back to the person who sent it! My, my, we can certainly keep an eye on each other, being our brother’s keepers as it suits us.

Paul once addressed people with a similar problem. No, Paul didn’t have e-mail in his day. What Paul did have were a group called the Judaizers. These people claimed that to be truly Christian one must follow the Mosaic Law as well as be baptized. Men were to be circumcised. All had to observe the feast days and dietary restrictions. “Show us you’re truly Christian by living like a Jew.”

But Paul simply said: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day.”

Add to that “or by whether you send along an e-mail or not.” God did give us Christian freedom. And sometimes it’s better to keep the e-mails and maintain personal contact away from a PC with others near you.

If you love God, feel free to delete this e-mail, share it with someone you do want to share it with, or keep it in archive. Whatever you do, you are still a redeemed child of God and no action you do will change that fact.

Congress' Grubby Hands on Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines CEO defends carry-on fee in DOT meeting
Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza met with officials from the Transportation Department on Thursday in an effort to defuse concerns over Spirit's planned fee for carry-on bags. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said after the meeting that he was "frank" in telling Baldanza that he disagreed with the fee, but he stressed that his main concern was full disclosure for passengers. "Mr. Baldanza and I had a productive discussion this morning, and I'm pleased that Spirit will make sure the new fee is well-advertised to consumers," LaHood said. Chicago Tribune/The Associated Press (5/6)

So here’s an airline in a free-market economy trying to save costs. It decides to charge for carry-on baggage. This could be the start of a trend. How many people will try to carry on larger pieces to avoid the baggage fees for regular luggage?

Anyway, perhaps Spirit is trying to emulate Ireland’s Ryanair. Ryanair seeks to cut costs to the bone. You can fly for $10 or less (someone showed me a page with free airfares on Ryanair posted). The catch is you travel without luggage. If you take luggage, that adds up as you are charged per pound over a certain weight. But a friend of mine has often spend €10 to take a flight to Italy and sit on the beach for the day, then fly back to England. Jolly good time, he would say.

Given the low cost of clothing at Wal*Mart, why not use the Ryanair model? Fly anywhere in the United States for $25 even, but a fresh outfit at Wal*Mart, then donate to Goodwill to avoid any baggage fees on the return flight. Don’t forget to get a receipt from Goodwill for tax purposes.

In the end tell Congress to get out of telling airlines what they can or cannot do.

Regarding the Continental-United Merger and Congress' Grubby Hands

Oberstar vows close scrutiny of United-Continental merger
The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is urging the Justice Department to block a proposed merger between United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., said forced divestitures and similar measures would not change the anticompetitive nature of the merger, which he called "a disservice to all of aviation domestically and internationally." But experts say the merger looks like a safe bet, despite the political rhetoric. Analysts note that the two airlines compete head-to-head on only 13 domestic nonstop routes, and Continental CEO Jeff Smisek noted earlier this week that "we have no international route overlaps whatsoever." Houston Chronicle (5/6) , Reuters (5/6) , Bloomberg Businessweek (5/6)

Great! Congress finds another way to meddle in our lives. What’s so wrong with this merger? There is very little route overlap. There is no overseas route overlap. For once the labor battle isn’t between labor and management in the merger but between the competing labor unions!

It’s not like there isn’t competition. The legacy carriers have been merging for some time now. Does Northstar Oberstar remember when his home state Northwest merged with Delta?

Meanwhile, newer, smaller, more agile airlines keep cropping up. It might be said that the easiest way to make $1,000,000 in the airline industry is to start with $10,000,000, but that hasn’t stopped entrepreneurs from trying. Part of what is creating problems for the legacies is that the newer carriers aren’t burdened with the pay and benefit structures the legacies are. Even with bankruptcies and re-organizations, the legacies still carry a legacy of decades of workers.

Ironically, United and Continental had a similar name in their founding. Walter T. Varney was an instrumental figure in the founding of both companies. Maybe as a nod to Varney the new company could go back to Continental's old name: Varney Speed Lines. Or at the very least the first plane painted with "United" on the fuselage and the tilted globe on the tail be given the moniker "Walter T. Varney".

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Humanitarian Side of the Immigration Debate

Arizona just passed an immigration law. It echoes the federal law already on the books, if not actually enforced. The difference, it would seem, is that Arizona would actually enforce the law. And that has brought a torrent of criticism. The code words of "rights" and "dignity" are thrown about.

How about "humanitarian"?

To be sure Arizona voters cannot afford being host to people who break the law when they come into this country. There are reports of violence as well. I'm going to go on a limb that the percentage of immigrants who cross the borders with invites or papers that actually cause trouble is low. But there is violence.

Now with a law on the books but ignored means that some legal residents will feel put upon. Now figure some of these land owners have guns, usually to shoot coyotes and rattlesnakes and such. Now an "undocumented person" crosses the wrong parcel of land and gets shot, possibly killed. Not very humanitarian, is it? So maybe we need to enforce the law so that people don't feel as if they need to take the law into their own hands.

Although the poor rancher might be the one charged with a "hate crime."

By the way, Bob Sarver, the Phoenix Suns owner, is an idiot. Did you see what he plans on having his team wear to protest the Arizona law and/or celebrate Cinco de Mayo? The Phoenix NBA team will wear jerseys saying "LOS SUNS." He should have consulted a Spanish dictionary--or an Arizonan of Mexivan descent--to get the name correct: "los soles".

School Vouchers & School Choice

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran this report:

Ongoing voucher school study shows students on par with MPS peers
By Erin Richards of the Journal Sentinel

April 7, 2010 11:22 a.m. | The latest results from an ongoing, five-year study that's comparing the performance of students in Milwaukee's Parental Choice Program to that of those in Milwaukee Public Schools finds that the youngsters continue to perform at similar levels.

Those results and more are found in six reports released this morning in Madison by Patrick J. Wolf, a professor of education at the University of Arkansas who heads the School Choice Demonstration Project.

The team of researchers studying Milwaukee's voucher program under the umbrella of the project include Jay P. Greene at the University of Arkansas and John F. Witte at the University of Madison.

Wolf said the new results in the longitudinal study are similar to the results found in March of 2009, the first year after baseline data for the matched groups of students in MPS and MPCP, or voucher, schools was collected in the 2005-'06 school year.

"Levels of student growth in the MPCP are still similar to those for comparable students in MPS," Wolf said. "Less taxpayer dollars are spent on the MPCP vouchers than on educating students in MPS. You're getting similar rates of achievement growth at lower cost with the MPCP."

Well, at least the study says the voucher system is having the same effectiveness at a much lower cost than the traditional public school system.

What also needs to be studied is performance before and after implementation of the voucher program. If performance has improved, that is also justification for the voucher system as competition is leading even public schools to do better. Often opponents of vouchers point to the same results as a justification vouchers aren’t needed as the *same* results are recorded. If performance overall has improved after the voucher system went into effect, that is more telling than a snapshot look at performance of the two groups.

I would hope that vouchers provide competition and that *everyone* improves, not that there be a disparity between voucher and traditional public school students. Isn’t that the goal, to improve education overall?