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On This Day, 1924 February 3, 2011

Posted by Ken in Politics.
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While it is never polite to cheer at someone’s death, and while I don’t think my ‘friend’ means it personally, I have to believe that somewhere over Rockefeller Center my ‘friend’ has a slightly bigger bounce in his walk, that his demeanor is just a wee bit happier today, Feb. 3rd, the 86th anniversary of the death of Woodrow Wilson.

From Twitter:

@westwingreport On This Day. 1924: Woodrow Wilson died. He was the 28th President, serving between 1913-21.

Installing Windows Server 2008 R2 on a Dell Poweredge T605 December 8, 2010

Posted by Ken in Technology.
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Back in January I posted a note regarding the install of Windows Server 2008 R2 on a Dell Poweredge SC1425, so after going through an eventful install of Windows Server 2008 R2 on a new server, a Dell PowerEdge T605, I feel compelled to offer another write-up. (more…)

Tea Party October 2, 2010

Posted by Ken in Politics.
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The following is a response to the write-up in the Oct. 15th issue of Rolling Stone on the Tea Party – here it is, typos and all – enjoy!

Hey, they got POTUS, VPOTUS out doing ‘Get Out The Vote’ rallies (for those candidates that will have them) and sparked a resurgence in study/understanding the Constitution. The first is pretty sad (it boils down to ‘aw come on, give us more time’), the second can only be good (greater understanding of the Constitution can’t be bad).

What is fun to watch is how career politicians become unhinged by questions like “What gives Congress the right to require the purchase of private healthcare coverage?” The politicians aren’t used to straight-forward questions.

They rail against passing unread bills, and are called kooks.

The ‘tea party’ is not a real political party, it us a loosely-defined set of shared beliefs that candidates either agree with or not, in whole or in part.

This administration has spent 18+ months vomiting trillions of dollars on union special interests (why not scrap ‘prevailing wage’ requirements for infrastructure projects? More bang for the buck…), throwing billions at teacher benefits at the expense of Americans working overseas, defense spending and food stamps over the next ten years, and repeatedly ‘stimulating’ the economy to ‘loosen credit’, which has not yet happened, now that we are in our third, fourth stimulus package.

It’s hard to pay attention to what is going on and NOT be frustrated/mad – the tea party provides a core set of beliefs most many Americans can understand and rally around.

It will be interesting to see how many dormant non-voters of either party decide to vote this time around. The only number I’m interested in this election are a) the percentage of eligible voters that vote, and b) I want Rep. Holt to be voted out. Aside from the above, I’d like Republican control of House and Senate, remember that was the combination that led to the oft-mentioned “Clinton Surplus.” Pelosi/Reid have had 4 years controlling the legislative branch of Gov’t, they have become the failed policies of the past.

Where the Truth Lies September 26, 2010

Posted by Ken in Politics.
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Rupert Murdoch on the cover of Wired Magazine, July, 2006

Wired Cover, July, 2006

I read an old Wired Magazine (14.07, July, 2006) over the past few days, and came across a posting by Lawrence Lessig (who’s intellect and knowledge I have the utmost respect for both, but I find myself disagreeing with him slightly less than half the time I read his writings. I will concede my opposition is likely based in my own ignorance of the topic under discussion, but that is where I fall frequently.). In it, while he was gushing support and admiration on former VP Al Gore & his PPT stack cum movie, he recited a quote from Richard Posner’s Catastrophe that resonates with much going on in politics today:

The challenge of man aging … catastrophic risks is receiving less attention than is lavished on social issues of far less intrinsic significance.” The reason? Attention is guided. And when the guides allow themselves to be guided, the result is less attention where it objectively matters and excessive attention only where it pays, either politically or economically. Who has time for catastrophes when there are gays who want to get married?

My point, ignore the topic du jour and focus on what’s important – avoid the side-show, focus on what really matters…

Waiting for Superman September 24, 2010

Posted by Ken in Uncategorized.
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In a story over at the news/opinion website The Blaze, I commented on the current state of public schools and the promise of charter schools on a thread discussing the new movie “Waiting for Superman”, and since I spent a fair amount of time on the response, I thought I’d post it here for your enjoyment:

I live in NJ and work in public education (IT, not in the classroom), and I ran for the local school board a few years ago. I feel I understand both sides of the “teacher union debate”.

Once upon a time, teachers felt they were victimized by principals and the administration that could fire teachers at will (seemingly), unions helped remedy that fear, but their protections have in the minds of many in the community have gone to far. I agree with the community and feel that the teachers now run the buildings, and the pricipals are forced to sit by and tolerate bad teachers rather than dedicate countless hours to attempt to get rid of a bad teacher.

Once upon a time, teachers were poorly paid, earing less than similarly-educated professional earned, unions helped remedy that situation, demanding market-rate wages for teachers. In the minds of many in the community the compensation scale has been tipped to favor the teachers and over-compensate them. Starting teachers (those who, for example, just graduated from a teaching college with no experience beyond “student teaching”) earn $49K/year, and under my districts current contract realize 6-7% raises annually. I agree that the comensation levels are inflated and don’t reflect either short or long-term market realities.

Once upon a time, teachers either had no pension or their pension was very minimal – unions helped resolve those wrongs and current teacher upon retirement earn a lifetime pension that is calculated by taking the number of years in the union, divided by 55, and then multiplied by the previous three-year average salary. It is not unusual for a teacher with over 18 years in teaching to be earning $90K/yr, and if a teacher with 35 years teaching were to retire, the calculation would be:

35 / 55 * $90,000 = $57,272,72/yr pension

That seems like a fair, non-pauper pension – in fact it seems a bit generous to many, especially those in the community that do not have pensions in their jobs who pay taxes to fund these pensions. I agree with the community, and think the remedy lies in the adjustment of the pay scale first, and if needed a reconsideration of the divisor of the calculation.

Once upon a time teachers had poor healthcare coverage, but unions stepped in and adressed that so that now teachers enjoy (at least in my district, which is not special with regard to the scope of health care coverage for teachers) high-quality, low-co-pay health care coverage and (in my district) contribute a minimal amount towards the cost of their coverage. As healthcare costs have escalated and the community has experienced rising co-pay and employee contributions in their families, teachers have been blissfully immune in most cases, arguing that a cut in the scope of benefits or an increase in co-pay or contributions is in reality a pay cut. Teachers (at least in my district) negotiate healthcare benefits as a defined level of benefits ignoring cost. I agree with the community,a nd I am actively working with my school district to adjust their contract negotiations to handle healthcare benefits as a “benefits bank” where cost is negotiated on the basis of employer contribution levels, allowing the district to get a handle on the cost of healthcare coverage.

Are these pressures hurting the students, I’m not sure – I believe that higher pay and benefits attract better teacher candidates, but simply paying teachers ever-increasing salaries and premium benefits doesn’t guarantee a better experience for the child in the classroom.

Are Charter Schools the answer? Not sure, but they side-step a lot of the issues many community members have with the current situation and appeal to many. Charter schools offer a choice, and with that choice comes a certain amount of risk – parents choosing to enroll their children in a Charter School need to understand the risks and the possible benefits before deciding what is right for their child.

Link to story with comment on theblaze.com

The Project September 14, 2010

Posted by Ken in Uncategorized.
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I’ve just created a new blog (what, another one?!) called Ken’s Project Blog over on WordPress.com – it is a short-term exercise, more of a portfolio piece than anything else, I hope you’ll stop by and drop of a few comments (if you are so motivated).

Gov Christie on Education Funding in NJ September 9, 2010

Posted by Ken in Education, Politics.
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Here is a quick video of a teacher attempting to show-up Gov. Christie – it doesn’t go so well for her… Every one of her points are tired half-truths from the State and local teacher’s unions, and Gov Christie responds to most of her points with straight-forward facts that are easily verifiable and have never been disproven – enjoy!

Another Rally in DC September 2, 2010

Posted by Ken in Politics.
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A rally in DC on the National Mall, what a wonderful idea! The real question is this: Are they holding a rally to promote honor, responsibility and charity, or to demand bigger wedges off the Gov’t cheese wheel? As a cynic, after looking over the names of the organizers, I suspect the latter, and timing it one month before the election, and tying it to a simultaneous door-to-door get out the vote effort ensures this will most definitely NOT be a political rally – right?

October 2, 2010 – or 10/2/10 – be sure and save the date!

LINK: http://blog.aflcio.org/2010/08/05/one-nation-formed-to-bring-back-the-american-dream/

Home Broadband Study September 1, 2010

Posted by Ken in Technology.
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Globe, ComputersThe Pew Research Center released a report as part of their Internet & American Life Project entitled “Home Broadband 2010” that makes some interesting observations, including that about 66% of adults have broadband access at home, and that the remaining adults that do not have broadband access do not want it. I look forward to the “Net-heads” insisting the report is wrong, that everyone needs broadband access at home, but does anyone really know anyone who can not get broadband access at home?

Take a few moments, review the report here, and let me know what you think…

Stark comparison between two DC events September 1, 2010

Posted by Ken in Uncategorized.
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It is amazing to see how the National Mall looked after an event back in January, 2009 when you compare it with an event that occured last weekend. I have to question if the folks at the January, 2009 event have any sense of personal responsibility or even pride in their nations capital…

First, the video of the aftermath from the January, 2009 event:

Next, the video from the August, 2010 event:

Makes me feel a bit like the crying indian from that Public Service Announcement when I was a kid:

(Special Thanks to TheBlaze.com for bringing the first two videos to my attention)