Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Art of Substitution

When you go off to college....one of the first things you come to grasp is that they rig up their classes.  For a bachelor's degree....there are typically forty classes required.  The counselor gal will explain you need a history class, two basic English grammar classes, maybe a science class, and then it starts to split out into odd classes required for your major.

At some point, there will be this one odd class or two....which they only offer once a year.  Or it might be these two odd classes which make no real sense to your degree but they've written up a requirement that for a degree in economics....you need two classes in international affairs.  You will eventually get a bit disturbed by this and ask for a substitution. The counselor gal will just glare at you and say "no".  They run things like this and you simply are a customer....nothing more.

This week, the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro....came out and said budget issues are so serious....that they are cutting 1k different classes.  They cut the staff and have taken drastic moves.  Then she kinda said that it's likely that a kid might not be able to make up a regular full schedule this fall.  Finally, there is this subtle hint that they might just accept a course-substitution program.....just to get kids to attend their university and get to the degree they desire.

Oh my.....a university admitting that course-substitution might actually be possible?  Here is this rare chance to actually dump the two or three stupid classes they mandated for your degree and then take classes that would relate?  Unbelievable.  I'm guessing several professors with areas of expertise which just aren't stimulating or worthwhile....probably have been told to retire or find another place to teach.

The other side of this offer?  They had to pump the tuition up another 6.5 percent....just to meet the course-substitution scenario.

The year after I started at Louisiana Tech University (part-time)....they came up to mandate a pre-English class.  You could take a test and hope to bypass this mandate, but if you failed....you basically paid $300 for a class that would not count toward your degree.  In essence, you were wasting cash and time....taking a class that didn't help your degree at all.  I had already taken English 101, so they couldn't bring this topic up with me.  The new folks?  They were fairly angry and all attempted the test (which had a cost attached). Most passed, and skipped this stupid requirement.  The amusing thing is that it was mostly high-school kids just starting out....that failed.

A couple of years passed and then they did the same thing with math....you had to take a pre-math course, before any regular college math.  Again....another test was offered for you to possibly bypass this.  Naturally, the cost to the pre-math course?  $300.

In a way, it's like a Vegas casino....rigging up the games to always pay them more in the end.

DC & Shootings

Over the past ten days in DC....we've had this significant episode or two being widely reported in local news....two transgender guy-gals shot at.  One is dead and the other apparently escaped (luckily).  Cops are saying there is an emerging "pattern".  The phrase "hate-crime" comes out whenever the news media chats on the topic.

I was kinda puzzled by this and dug into the two episodes.  Both episodes occurred in northeast DC....where you tend to travel without issue in the daytime and maybe up until 10PM.  After midnight, this is not exactly a safe neighborhood.  The shootings...both....strangely enough occur between midnight and 4AM.

Now, you'd sit there and ask some silly questions....like why anyone has to be out after midnight in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of DC.  But then you come to the obvious conclusion....both individuals are transgender prostitutes....street-walkers.

So in simple terms....transgender hookers out on the street.

Because of the special way that "hate-crimes" are written up....they get a totally different view when shootings or murder occur. If this had two white guys out at 1AM in northeast DC.....it'd just be a plain old shooting and no worries....same way for two black guys.  So the cops have a special task force and hunting for leads.  The sad thing here....it may eventually lead to another transgender guy-gal.....who had issues with the other two targets....and this whole "hate-crime" situation will dissolve real quick because no one can possibly be guilty of a "hate-crime"...if they are the same type.

Only in America.

The Other Addiction

"It reminds us of addiction because addicts are seeking something that they can't have. They want a state of happiness or nirvana that can't be achieved except through an artificial substance and reminds us of the Norway situation, when people are thwarted at obtaining something they can't, have they often strike out and Norway is one kind of example to one kind of reaction to that kind of a frustration."

--Stanton Peele, a psychologist

Yesterday on MSNBC, one of the lesser journalists on the network wanted to make a point....so he brought on Doc Peele to talk about the poor delusional Tea Party folks.  Doc Peele gave it his best shot.....that Tea Party folks are basically "addicts".  At some point, he even wanted folks to know that this psychological problem could eventually lead to violent situations.

So after a while of pondering over MSNBC's comical attempt to act like journalists.....I'll offer up some simple analysis.

MSNBC journalists remind me of an addict.....because addicts are often seeking something of an imaginary nature, which they can never reach or have.  MSNBC journalists want a state of happiness or nirvana in their reporting.....which simply can't be achieved except through an artificial or non-existent journalism.  This reminds one of a bunch of 3rd grade kids where they often reach a point in failing to reach something they can't tell the truth on.....they then get frustrated and start acting like slobbering crazed 3rd grade kids.....jumping from one made-up story to to another.

I'm personally not much with the Tea Party guys (in the same fashion that I find issues with Republicans and Democrats).  But I find journalism at such a low point in today's environment....often stuck in some ditch with three think-tank guys telling you something of a bogus nature and you know each of these guys are pulling down $120k a year from some special interest group with a fancy name like the "Red Bay Advanced Dimwits Foundation".  Wannabe news media groups shop around....find the right dimwit to say what they need.....pay the guy $1k for his 12-minute interview, and run around acting like facts are facts.

Course, on the other side of life.....out of a hundred potential viewers at any time of the day....on average....there's only three guys watching MSNBC.  It's likely that one of the three is in a nursing home and the orderly is forcing Uncle Karl to watch the channel.  A second viewer is some radical liberal guy from San Jose, CA, who is unemployed and mostly mad at the world.  And the third viewer is some gal from Pakistan who is trying to learn English from watching TV....and her neighbor suggested this channel.

Nukes and the Testaments

The Air Force has this interesting job skill....the nuclear officer.  Basically, you get recruited some degree (or volunteer) after your first assignment.  They check your background and intelligence....then send you onto a school where you become this controller of nuclear missions.  It's an easy lifestyle.  You show up....pull twenty-four hours in some silo....and stand guard over the buttons.  If the red light comes on....you start preparing for some message.  Ninety-nine thousand and nine-hundred and ninety-nine times....it's an exercise. But if the President gave the order....then you'd read the coded message, and with your buddy....pull out your amazing key....twist it in the mechanism and launch nuke missiles.

At some point twenty years ago....the Air Force came to realize that they had some strongly religious guys coming in to be nuclear officers.  Then this question or two came up....over this moral dilemma.  What if they disagreed with that split moment and didn't believe nuking Russia or China or whoever was necessary?   Naturally, this bothered the instructor folks at the nuclear officer school.  So they got the local chaplains to develop this course.

Now, you'd be curious about this....what would chaplains want to teach nuclear officers?  Well...they found this amazing logic contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible....that you could agree with nuking just about anyone.

Naturally, you'd sit there and ponder over this.  Once someone brings up the Old Testament  and New Testament.....and start talking about logic of nuking someone....it's going to stir up some kind questions.

But, over the past twenty years....things in this short seminar went rather quickly, and I would speculate that most guys in the class didn't care....if the President said nuke the bad guys....they'd just do it and not care about who the bad guys were.  In the last year, somehow, this all got out and some folks took this chaplain's course to court.  This week....the group won and the Air Force removed the course.

This makes a guy ponder for a bit.  Here we are now....without any moral dilemma class on nuking folks for these officers.  Most of them won't even care, I'm guessing.  There's this other question though....is there really enough of a lesson in either the Old Testament or New Testament really do this anyway?

I always got to the point when in Vacation Bible School....wondering why the heck to divide up the two Testaments anyway.  And what made one old and one new?  Who was the editor for such a decision?  Did we even need the New Testament?

So in six months....Captain Joe will show up at his bunker in Montana.....his first real 24-hour shift in the silo.  Quietly, as the hours pass....Captain Joe will eventually wonder if he can twist the key or if the President really knows what he's doing.  Captain Joe will be unsure.  His buddy for the silo shift?  Captain Ernie?  He's mostly sitting there and thinking about this hot lusty gal he met last week in town, and if she really is a DD-size.  Captain Ernie will spend the whole twenty-four hours wondering about this.  In the end....you can guess which guy has a Old & New Testament issue.....and which guy has a potential transmittable disease issue.

Only in America.

Nuking for a Hobby

So here's the deal.  This Swedish guy....Richard Handl....didn't have a lot to keep him busy.  For some reason, he got interested in this idea of running a nuclear power plant....but didn't want to mess around with various rules, state mechanisms, or spend big bucks.

So Richard decided that he'd just build a nuclear reactor in his house.  It was an interesting experience.  He found all the various notes on-line and acquired the pieces necessary.  He even kept a blog on his experiments and how things were working.

Then someone woke up....read and grasped what Richard was doing....and called the cops.  Swedish cops show up and arrest Richard.  Apparently, there laws in Sweden to keep you from doing this in the house.

Swedish law is kinda firm on this......and it could be up to two years in prison for Richard.  The cops won't say nothing....mostly I suspect because they rely on a prosecutor who doesn't understand much of this either and is relying on a college professor or two to advise them.

The fascinating part of this?  Richard ended up spending around $40k of his money to make this happen.  He could have spent the $40k on a lusty woman from Little Rock.  He could have spent the $40k on a all-wheel drive terrain vehicle.  He could have spent the $40k on some political party.  But he had this fascination about having his own personal nuclear reactor.

Adding to this....he is number 38.  That means he's the 38th guy to build his own reactor.  It is a reputation that you can't ever live down....number 38.

So here's what should worry you.  The knowledge he had....is out there and easily obtained by a sixteen year old kid.  They could probably accomplish this for less than $40k.  This by itself....ought to worry you.  We've made technology so dirt-simple....that a major nuclear episode could occur anywhere in America....thanks to Charlie, that kid who mostly hangs out in Dad's garage and just grins when you ask what he's doing.