Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Have We Really Sunk This Low?

I'm not going to comment much on this, mainly because it disgusts and sickens me. Read it and see what you think.

Does wearing the American flag incite violence?
The US Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would not take up a major First Amendment case testing whether school officials in California violated the free speech rights of three high school students who were told they could not wear American flag T-shirts at school because it might upset students of Mexican heritage.

A school principal and vice principal at Live Oak High School near San Jose told the three T-shirt wearers that they must either take the shirts off, turn them inside out, or go home.

School officials determined that the threats of violence were credible. Rather than confront those making the threats, the school officials focused on the students displaying the American flag.
Oh, great. Let's punish the ones standing up for this country and kowtow to those who threaten violence. I thought the purpose of school was to educate. What lesson did the young Americans - and the young Mexicans - learn from this shameless display of conciliation? That might makes right?

The May 5, 2010, incident sparked national headlines – and a lawsuit.

The students charged that school officials violated their First Amendment right to engage in a passive expression of political opinion at their school by wearing American flag shirts.

A federal judge threw the suit out, ruling that school officials “reasonably forecast” that the American flag shirts “could cause a substantial disruption” at the school.
I'm not even going to get into what a sad commentary that is on today's society, when American flags  “could cause a substantial disruption.”
A federal appeals court upheld that decision. A panel of the San Francisco-based Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals said that in an “era of rampant school violence” involving guns, other weapons, and Internet threats, school officials were entitled to tailor their actions in ways they deemed necessary to avert violence and enhance student safety.
California. What else would you expect?
In declining to hear the student’s case, the high court action allows the Ninth Circuit’s decision to stand.

At the center of the case was a 47-year-old free speech landmark decision in which the Supreme Court found a First Amendment right of students at a Des Moines public school to wear black armbands to class to protest the Vietnam War.

The local school board got wind of the planned protest beforehand and passed a resolution banning armbands. The students conducted their protest anyway.

Five were suspended.

They sued. A federal judge ruled for the school district. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, declaring that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
So what happened between 1969 and today? How did we get from "constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression" to letting bullies set the rules?

I'm not sure of the answer to that question, but I suspect it has something to do with the gradual liberalization wussification of our country.

That 1969 decision is Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

Lawyers for the American flag-wearing students in California cited the Tinker decision as standing for the proposition that school officials must honor the free speech rights of students who engage in a “silent, passive expression of opinion, unaccompanied by any disorder or disturbance on the part of the [protesting students].”

The flag shirt wearers issued no threats, according to briefs filed in the case. They showed up at school wearing shirts displaying the national symbol of the United States.

The episode violates foundational First Amendment principles and teaches a dangerous lesson to public school students, Robert Muise, a lawyer with the Michigan-based American Freedom Law Center, said in his brief on behalf of the students.

“It is far better in our civilized society to teach students about the First Amendment and why we tolerate divergent views than to suppress speech,” Mr. Muise wrote.

“The better and proper response is for school officials to educate the audience rather than silence the speaker,” he said.

He added: “There is never a legitimate basis for banning the display of an American flag on an American public school campus.” (emphasis added)

It is time for the high court to revisit the issue and clarify the core holding in the Tinker case, Washington lawyer Robert Corn-Revere wrote in the Tinker’s brief.

He added that the California case also offered the justices a teaching moment. “This case is about the future of free speech as much as about the present and the past,” Mr. Corn-Revere wrote. “If students learn that threatening speakers is an effective way to suppress speech, this will produce more threats, and more suppression of a wide range of other speech,” he said.

“And beyond this, even peaceful students will learn that free speech must yield whenever its opponents are willing to threaten violence..."
Of course, what else could you expect from a court that upheld obamacare on the flimsy pretext that the mandate is a tax.

What a bunch of loons...

Monday, March 30, 2015

FOD 2015.03.30

Here's the overview:
An abiding goal of President Obama’s foreign policy has been to reduce America’s role in the Middle East, in the belief that it would lead to greater stability and serve U.S. interests. Has a policy ever been so thoroughly repudiated in so short a time? Mr. Obama has succeeded in his retreat, but the vacuum he’s left has produced a region on fire...
Here's the details:
As the Arab Spring has been followed by a long, hot summer of Middle Eastern warfare, President Obama’s vision of stable, reasonably democratic states is increasingly preposterous. His boast that “the tide of war is receding” under his watch is laughable.

And his desperation to strike a nuclear deal with the Israel- and Western-hating mullahs of Iran increasingly seems a desperate push to claim any accomplishment in the region by ignoring the facts on the ground.

Look at Yemen, which Obama cited four months ago as one reason why “America is safer” from terrorism. There, Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies Thursday launched an air campaign against Iran-backed Houthi insurgents — giving the head of U.S. Central Command all of an hour’s notice before the operation began.

Yemen’s president has fled while the old, formerly U.S.-embraced one, who had been pushed out in the Arab Spring, is working with the Houthis. The U.S. has closed its embassy and withdrawn Special Forces. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s flagship franchise and the one most active in the quest for a 9/11-scale attack, has gained freedom to operate.

Look at Iraq, where Obama boasted that, with America’s withdrawal, “Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security.” The country has shattered, with ISIS brutalizing large swaths of territory and Iran filling the vacuum we left behind.

The U.S. offered air support to a siege against ISIS in Tikrit, only to see Iranian-backed militias withdraw from fighting to protest American involvement. Air support became irrelevant without fighters on the ground.

 Look at Syria, where Bashar Assad crossed Obama’s red line without consequences, where more than four years into a civil war Assad uses chlorine in indiscriminate slaughter, and where ISIS fighters with Western passports are reportedly training with the gas in hope of launching attacks against Western train systems.

Finally, look to Israel. There, a peaceful, robustly functioning democracy has reelected a prime minister who, surveying the region, concludes that now is not the time to negotiate a two-state peace deal with Palestinian leaders who are partnered with an Iranian-supported terror group and who may or may not be able either to make a deal or enforce one.

Yet here it is, in Israel, that Obama sees a wellspring of chaos. Likely on the verge of a nuclear deal with Iran that could threaten Israel’s existence, the President pummels Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to roll over.

The President’s responses to the meltdown in the Islamic states have been incoherent. In the best light, he’s coping with unmanageable forces. But his offensive against Netanyahu, leader of a rock-solid island of stability and Western values, elevates Obama’s regional policy beyond incoherence into insanity.
This is serious shit, folks. Under obama, the Mideast is  on a downhill path towards increased instability, increased tension, and inevitable armed conflict. And God help us all if Iran gets nukes, which seems inevitable under barry's regime.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.03.29

No theme today. Just random stuff.

Russ and Fred, two friends, played golf together every morning. They'd been doing so for years.

One day Russ didn't show up. Fred didn't think much about it and figured maybe he had a cold or something..

But after Russ hadn't shown up for a week or so, Fred really got worried.

However, since the only time they ever got together was at the golf course, Fred didn't know where Russ lived, so he was unable to find out what had happened to him.

A month had passed and Fred figured he had seen the last of Russ, but one day, Fred went down to the practice range, and -- lo and behold -- there was Russ.

Fred was very excited and happy to see him. Then he said, 'For crying out loud, Russ, what in the world happened to you?'

Russ replied, 'I have been in jail.'

'Jail!' cried Fred. 'Whatever in the world for?'

'Well,' Russ said, 'you know Sue, that cute little blonde drink cart driver?'

'Yeah,' said Fred, 'I remember her. What about her?

'Well, the little gold-digging witch figured I was rich and she filed rape charges against me. At age 79, I was so proud that when I got into court, I pleaded 'guilty'.

'The judge gave me 30 days for perjury.'

Bob, a 65 year-old extremely wealthy widower, shows up one Saturday afternoon at the Country Club with a gorgeous breathtakingly beautiful and very sexy 25 year-old blonde woman who hangs all over Bob and listens intently to his every word.

The young woman knocks everyone's socks off with her youthful sex appeal and charm. She laughs and giggles, every now and then she tells Bob, "I love you so much!"

His buddies at the club are all aghast.

At the very first chance, they corner him and ask, "Bob, how’d you get the trophy girlfriend?"

Bob replies, "Girlfriend? She's my new wife!"

They are knocked over, but continue to ask. "So, how'd you persuade a knock out like her to marry you?"

"I lied about my age," Bob replies.

"What, did you tell her you were only 50?" One friend asks.

"Hell no!" Bob replies, then smiles and says, "I told her I was 90."

A young Naval Officer was in a terrible car accident, but due to the heroics of the hospital staff, the only permanent injury was the loss of one ear.

Since he wasn't physically impaired he remained in the military and eventually became an Admiral. However, during his career he was always sensitive about his appearance.

One day the Admiral was interviewing two Navy Master Chiefs and a Marine Sergeant Major for his personal staff.

The first Master Chief was a Surface Navy type, and it was a great interview. At the end of the interview the Admiral asked him, "Do you notice anything different about me?"

The Master Chief answered, "Why yes sir. I couldn't help but notice you are missing your starboard ear, so I don't know whether this impacts your hearing on that side."

The Admiral got very angry at this lack of tact and threw him out of his office.

The next candidate, an Aviation Master Chief, when asked this same question, answered, "Well yes sir, you seem to be short one ear."

The Admiral threw him out also.

The third interview was with the Marine Sergeant Major. He was articulate, extremely sharp, and seemed to know more than the two Master Chiefs put together.

The Admiral wanted this guy, but went ahead with the same question. " Do you notice anything different about me?"

To his surprise the Sergeant Major said, "Yes, sir. You wear contact lenses."

The Admiral was impressed and thought to himself, what an incredibly tactful Marine. "And how do you know that?" the Admiral asked.

The Sergeant Major replied, "Well sir, it's pretty hard to wear glasses with only one f@$#*n ear!"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Let That Sink In

Wisdom from Twitter...

Words Fail Me

Posted without comment, because I can't think of anything to say...

Six Flags to cut 18,000 trees to go solar
A theme park plans to cut down more than 18,000 trees for the construction of what it says will be the largest solar farm in New Jersey...
The trees fight back.
Going green...?

In news from the entertainment world:

Heartbroken workers seek compassionate leave after Zayn Malik quits One Direction

I have absolutely no idea who or what a Zyan Malik is, and who or what a One Direction is, but evidently he/it/they are really, really important to some people losers.
 Zayn Malik's departure from British boyband One Direction has caused such consternation amongst fans that employers have been inundated with requests for compassionate leave.

Mr. Malik announced that he was leaving the band two days ago, prompting a flurry of calls to employment law firm Peninsula, which provides advice on staff rights in the workplace, as employees sought time off to grieve.

Since Wednesday, Peninsula has received 480 calls to its helpline from employers seeking advice on their staff requesting compassionate leave because of the Zayn Malik furore.
This is a Zayn Malik.
I don't recall getting compassionate leave when Elvis died.

From a blog written by a Chicago cop:
I've been detailed to the academy for about 2 months now. I was floored to learn of the new stress free work place program they run. When a recruit is feeling overwhelmed or like they are being singled out, they can hold up a red card. They are then excused from that activity, and the instructors can't talk to that recruit for at least 2 hrs. If the recruit holds up the red card twice in a day, they are allowed to skip the next class and stay in a "stress free zone" and take a nap or relax until they feel better.
Yeah, show that red card to some ex-con thug with prison muscles who is resisting arrest and let me know how that works out for you.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2015.03.27

Keeping with the theme of this morning's post ... Science!

Shake it for me...

Not My Fault

The other day my wife caught me looking at a young lady with a cute derrière. In my defense, I told her I couldn't help it. I was hardwired that way due to thousands of years of evolution.

She didn't buy it, but now I have science (Yay Science!) on my side.

Evolution May Explain Why a Curvy Bottom Drives Men Wild
Men are naturally drawn to a woman with a curvy backside, a new report suggests.

The "theoretically optimal angle" is a 45.5-degree curve from back to buttocks -- not necessarily a big butt, the University of Texas at Austin researchers determined.

These curvaceous gals would have had an evolutionary advantage, in that they appeared able to bear multiple children easily, the researchers said.

"These women would have been more effective at foraging during pregnancy and less likely to suffer spinal injuries," (study leader David Lewis) said in a UT Austin news release. "In turn, men who preferred these women would have had mates who were better able to provide for fetus and offspring, and who would have been able to carry out multiple pregnancies without injury."
Just what I was looking for in a bride - the ability to bear multiple offspring while foraging effectively.
This preference evolved over thousands of years and is likely to persist for a long time, the researchers noted.
In all seriousness, one intriguing aspect of the research is the implications it has for our modern day standards of beauty.
"What's fascinating about this research is that it is yet another scientific illustration of a close fit between a sex-differentiated feature of human morphology -- in this case lumbar curvature -- and an evolved standard of attractiveness," study co-author David Buss, a UT Austin psychology professor, said in the news release.

"This adds to a growing body of evidence that beauty is not entirely arbitrary, or 'in the eyes of the beholder' as many in mainstream social science believed, but rather has a coherent adaptive logic," he said.
Ah, science. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, it is the cause of, and the solution to, many of life's problems...

Because SCIENCE!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Comes Out, One Goes In (Maybe)

If I didn't know better, I'd think one of the following two stories was timed to distract attention from the other. The only question is which came first.

Coming out:
Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was released from an Alabama prison Thursday morning after serving time on charges of tax evasion and misuse of campaign funds.

The 50-year-old Jackson will serve the remainder of his sentence at a Washington, D.C., halfway house. Jackson began his 2 1/2-year sentence in 2013. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as Sept. 20, 2015.

The Democrat was convicted in 2013 of misusing $750,000 in campaign money on items including furs and vacations, as well as tax evasion.

His wife, Sandi, also faces time for related charges.

Jackson has lost a lot of weight during his prison term, and now has the “biggest Afro you’ve ever seen,” according to a source familiar with the situation.
Jesse Jackson Jr. and his “biggest Afro you’ve ever seen" (artist's rendition)

Now if we could only get dad Jesse Sr. in jail where he belongs, along with his fellow worthless race pimp Rev. Al...

Going in (maybe):
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held five years after being captured by the Taliban when he left his remote post in Afghanistan, was charged Wednesday by the Army with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
To say that this is a controversial and emotionally-charged case would be a massive understatement.
Charges that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserted and endangered his post in Afghanistan intensify the debate over his politically wrought release: Should he spend years in prison as punishment for endangering soldiers who risked their lives to find him?

Or was five years as a Taliban captive, where he was so isolated officials suggested it had affected his ability to speak English upon his return to the U.S., punishment enough?
Based on the charges, the death penalty was an option. However, that has been ruled out.
Bergdahl, 28, won't face a death sentence, although the punishment is an option for prosecutors to pursue against deserters in wartime. But his case does raise the question of whether military prosecutors will lock away for life a man the U.S. gave up five imprisoned Taliban commanders to bring home.

A death penalty case was likely a non-starter after all that had to be sacrificed to bring him home, said Jeffrey K. Walker, a St. John's University law professor, retired Air Force officer and former military lawyer. In fact, his defense attorney might successfully argue he deserves leniency after years as a prisoner.

However, the charges underscore the military's position that the hardship of his captivity doesn't outweigh the ramifications of leaving his post.
Some members of his former unit have called for serious punishment, saying others risked their lives searching for him.

"The military's obviously a very rough job. ... But everybody else stayed with the oath and did what they signed up to do. And as a result of that, some didn't get to come home," said Cody Full, 26, who served in Bergdahl's platoon.
IMO the judges should give serious weight to the views of those who served with him. They went through the same hardships Bergdahl did, and put their lives on the line looking for him after he disappeared. They did their duty. He didn't.

Then there's the trade-for-terrorists aspect.
Michael Waddington, a military defense lawyer not involved with Bergdahl's case, said he expected a long prison sentence and wondered why the U.S. bothered to bring him back.

"The administration traded known Taliban for this guy only to bring him back and put him in jail," Waddington said. "That seems to me like a waste of resources."
Not only a waste of resources, but a move that increases the threat we face.
Bergdahl was freed on May 31, 2014, after the White House agreed to trade five high-value Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay.

The trade was branded as illegal by lawmakers, who said they weren’t advised beforehand, It was also blasted by critics who said it violated America’s longstanding tradition of not negotiating with terrorists. There were also concerns – which would prove well-founded – that the Taliban members would return to the fight against the West.

Of the five ... at least three have attempted to reconnect with their old comrades.
Almost as despicable as Bergdahl's actions is the obama administration's stance on this case.
The incoming White House communications director defended the decision to trade Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders last year, even as newly announced desertion charges for Bergdahl renewed Republican criticism of the prisoner swap.

"Was it worth it? Absolutely," Jen Psaki told Megyn Kelly on Fox News' "The Kelly File." "We have a commitment to our men and women serving in the military..."
I gagged when I saw Paski spout that crap on TV. This administration has done nothing but rain piss down on the military from day one. How they can stand up there and spew that garbage with a straight face is beyond me.

To make matters worse, ramifications from this are hitting close to home. From the New Braunfels TX Police Department: (New Braunfels is a small town about 30 miles from where we live. My son and his family live there.)
There has been recent news coverage regarding a list of approximately 100 names of U.S. Military service members that supposedly was put out by “ISIS” as a “target list”.

One service member on the list lives within Comal County and has a New Braunfels address...

At the request of federal authorities the service member has been contacted and is aware of this situation. Comal County Sheriff Office is also aware of this issue and has made adjustments to patrols to provide extra patrol in the area where this service member lives...
The above was posted on the New Braunfels PD Facebook page. What is gratifying is the number of people who responded by saying something like this.
"We stand United against these cowards, you threaten one of us, you threaten all!!!"
My favorite response:
"Probably could of picked a better community as I think everyone in Comal County has five guns per resident!!!!"
That estimate may be a little low...

Texas Throw Back Thursday - Beer

A look into the history of a great Texas tradition - Beer!
...what a lot of beer fans don’t realize is that (San Antonio) has deep brewing roots that go back 160 years and that it dominated the Texas landscape for decades as the state’s beer-brewing capital.

Beer brewing was among the first industries to blossom in San Antonio. It began with the influx of German immigrants to the area in the middle of the 19th century. They brought with them a thirst for suds...

German immigrants started pouring into the state in the mid-1800s. At that time, English settlers along the East Coast were crafting ales, but in Texas, Germans turned to brewing traditional lager beers, which ferment at cooler temperatures and take more time to make.

“All the breweries in Texas opened in communities that had a large German population,” said Jeff Holt, who has chronicled the state’s beer history on his website TexasBreweries.com. “It’s like they got here and built all their stuff and then said, 'Oh crap, who brought the beer?’”

Before a unified rail system and refrigeration, towns needed local breweries to ensure that the beer didn’t spoil. Throughout the Hill Country, brewers set up shop...

...Charles Nimitz, the grandfather of Chester Nimitz, a fleet admiral in the Navy during World War II, operated a brewery in the saloon of his hotel in Fredericksburg, starting in 1860. It was short lived, as the Civil War, like it did with many other breweries in Texas, brought an end to beer production because Union blockades made it difficult for brewing ingredients such as hops and grain to flow to the South.
Yet another reason why folks down here aren't too fond of the damnyankees.

In San Antonio, brewing beer on the industrial scale got started with the opening of the Western Brewery next to the Alamo in 1855.
Annually, the brewery produced about 1,600 barrels of beer, which fermented in a large, cold cellar beneath the Menger Hotel. Its beer was sold for 50 cents a gallon and by 1878...the brewery became the largest in the state.
William A. Menger, chief of volunteer fire Company No. 2, gave the city its first steam pumper to fight fires on June 12, 1868. He also established the city’s first brewery next door to the Alamo before going into the hotel business at the Menger Hotel (Courtesy Photo / San Antonio Conservation Society)

The area had a smattering of local breweries through the end of the 19th century. In 1881, when the International Great Northern Railroad, later the Missouri Pacific, connected San Antonio to Austin, larger breweries were able to deliver beer to San Antonio. While local breweries were able to ship their beer to other cities, the competition from larger breweries meant an end to beer making as a cottage industry.

In 1884, Anheuser-Busch started the Lone Star Brewing Company... A couple of years after Lone Star was founded, Pearl beer... started being produced by a group of citizens that formed the San Antonio Brewing Association. The brewery, which later became the Pearl Brewery, grew to become one of the state’s largest breweries by 1916.
A historic photograph of workers at the Lone Star Brewery. (Courtesy Photo / Witte Museum)

The old Pearl Brewery

We'll skip the Prohibition era, which is a sad chapter in our nation's history.
Over the years, consolidation became the name of the game for the U.S. brewing industry. In 1952, Pearl officially adopted the name of its popular lager as the name for its brewery. Nearly a decade later, Missouri-based Goetz Brewing Co. bought the Pearl brewery. The Pearl brand was acquired by Pabst in 1985.

Lone Star had a similar fate. After Prohibition, it was reopened as Champion Brewing Co., which made Sabinas and later Champion beer. In 1940, the formula and name for Lone Star was adopted. The brewery was acquired by Olympia Brewing Co. in 1976, which was bought by Wisconsin’s G. Heileman. Detroit’s Stroh bought Heileman and closed the Lone Star brewery in 1996. Pabst bought the Lone Star brand in 1999 and made it at the Pearl Brewery until it was shuttered in 2001.

The closing of both the Pearl and Lone Star meant the loss of thousands of jobs and the end of major brewing operations in San Antonio.
Not to fear, beer lovers. The rise of microbreweries and craft beer has restored local suds to thirsty San Antonians.
Around the time Lone Star closed, a handful of craft microbreweries started to brew beers...

More than a century and a half after brewing became a local industry, craft brewers continue to inch into the market. Just two years ago, there were roughly a handful of breweries in operation in San Antonio and the surrounding towns. Since then, that number has about tripled...
Because BEER!

Alamo Beer Holster - available here

A few of the craft beers now available in the San Antonio area.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Catching Up

If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that the last few weeks' posts have not been up to even the usual low standards of this blog.

I blame my father.

He's 97 years old, and his health is getting worse. He's fallen five times in the last two weeks, resulting in four ER trips and two days in the hospital (one each ankle and elbow - no fractures, but pretty good bruising and swelling; and two head injuries - one requiring the hospital stay for a CAT scan and neurological observation, and one necessitating 4 staples). He's still pretty sharp, but physically he's getting more and more frail.

He was in an assisted living facility, where he had his own apartment, along with health aides and housekeeping services. However, he now needs a higher level of care, so we moved him to a skilled nursing facility. In non-PC terms, he went from an old folks home to a nursing home. He has taken one more step down that lonely road we all must eventually travel.

We also had to change doctors and insurance companies, which was a nightmare of paperwork and so-called customer service.

All in all, it was an eventful couple of weeks. But all of that is now behind us (knock on wood). He's in a place where he will get the care he needs. I'm just glad he's close enough that we can visit frequently, and get there quickly if needed.

Then this weekend we received the news that a friend of ours passed away. That entailed a round of phone calls and emails, along with making travel plans for the funeral. We'll be heading for Chicago early next week for several days. Oh yeah, I have to speak at the funeral, so I need to come up with a few choice remarks.

On top of everything else, there's been the usual spring chores - weeding, mulching, pruning ... all that good stuff. In addition, the kids were home from college last week for spring break.

Speaking of the kids, one of them is enrolling in a summer study abroad, while the other is going on a volunteer mission trip to Peru this summer. Last week was a flurry of vetting their destinations, researching travel options, working through the application process (more paperwork...) and other assorted time-consuming activities. It's a good thing I'm retired, because otherwise I have no idea how we would have gotten everything done.

Things will continue to limp along here for another week or so, after which we'll hopefully get back to what passes for normal around here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Those Who Can't, Teach

In what other profession could one get away with this pathetic level of performance?

Teacher keeps job despite ‘unsatisfactory’ rating 6 years in a row
The city Department of Education has failed to fire a teacher rated “unsatisfactory” for six consecutive years. Ann Legra, 44, a first-grade teacher at PS 173 in Washington Heights, racked up “six years of failing her students,” the city ­argued in a 16-day termination hearing.

Hearing officer Eugene Ginsberg upheld charges of Legra’s “inability to supervise students,” excessive lateness and absence and poor lesson planning in the 2012-2013 school year.

But Ginsberg dismissed evidence that Legra was a lousy instructor, saying she didn’t get enough coaching.
WTF? She needs coaching? Since when does a college graduate with 20+ years of teaching experience need coaching? By that reasoning, the SCOAMF in the White House is a complete failure because he didn't get enough coaching.

He imposed only a 45-day suspension without pay. Legra keeps her $84,500-a-year salary, but is now assigned to a pool of 1,400 teachers who serve as substitutes.
WHAT?!?! Six years of unsats gets you $84 grand a year?!? Good God Almighty, please grant me a job where I get paid that much for failing to perform.
Gov. Cuomo last month called the teacher-evaluation system “baloney” after the latest results revealed that fewer than 1 percent of the state’s teachers were rated ineffective.
Never thought it would happen, but for once in my life I agree with a Cuomo.
“Six U-ratings is an outrage. It’s a black eye on the system,” said Michael Mazzariello, a former chief prosecutor for the DOE. He faulted administrators and current lawyers.

The DOE said the case is under review. “We are committed to having great teachers at the front of all our classrooms,” said spokeswoman Devora Kaye.
Yeah, right.
Ginsberg’s ruling came the second time the DOE brought charges against Legra, who was hired as an aide 23 years ago and became a teacher at PS 173 in 2001, officials said.

In a prior settlement, she admitted excessive absences from 2009 to 2012. The DOE let her off with a $2,500 fine.
That worthless FIB (Fill In the Blank) can't even be bothered to show up for class, is unable to educate the unfortunates who have the bad luck to be stuck in her class, and yet still has the nerve to protest her dismissal.
In one example of her poor management, PS 173 Assistant Principal Kevin Goodman found Legra’s classroom in “chaos.”

“Students up out of their seats, at least one was running, another was demonstrating karate moves on the closet door and the majority of the students were not involved in anything instructional — an issue that has repeatedly plagued your tenure as a classroom teacher,” he wrote at the time.

Three of her 6-year-olds were injured in a classroom melee that day, he added.

Amid the “mayhem,” Goodman wrote, Legra was “buried in a corner at a computer table” where she could not monitor all the kids.

Legra said she was “re-sharpening pencils” that were too sharp — to prevent accidents. She claimed the students were “walking around the room working on word activities.”
Words fail me.
Over the school year, Legra was absent 27 times and late 37 times. Legra said she suffers asthma and had to go to court for a custody fight with her ex.
So that makes it okay not show up for work? Again, GMAFB.
Job protections for tenured teachers make it difficult to fire bad apples. The system requires that each charge be proven in a trial with witnesses, documents and arguments. The DOE must show the teacher was given training and chances to improve.

The hearing officers — picked jointly by the DOE and the teachers union — frequently balk at termination, instead ordering a fine or suspension and requiring the teacher to take courses.

Legra, approached by The Post at her home in Fort Lee, NJ, first insisted she was not the PS 173 teacher, but a friend named Margaret Morel — a mix of her middle name and married surname.

Legra later claimed she was ­harassed and targeted because of her high salary.

“They really want to get rid of workers who are there for a long time,” she said. She also complained she had no help with some special-needs kids.

Legra has since filed a federal lawsuit against the DOE, charging discrimination based on her race, gender, national origin and medical disability.
Oh, of course. I should have known. The poor thing is a victim. And of course, racism, sexism, and disabilityism are involved.

Yet one more example of why this once-great country is on a downhill slide...

Ann Legra, alleged teacher

Monday, March 23, 2015

FOD 2015.03.23

This time it's not about barry. It's mooch's turn.

Feds to Weigh Children in Daycare - USDA collecting data for study mandated by Michelle Obama’s healthy eating law
Bureaucrats from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will weigh and measure children in daycare as part of a study mandated by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The agency published a notice in the Federal Register on Friday proposing data collection on what meals are served in professional and home daycare facilities and how much physical activity children perform.

Aside from assessing how healthy the food in daycare is, the USDA will also check the weight and height of roughly 3,000 children.
What's next? Banding them so that the feds can study their migration patterns? Or embedding microchips in them so their location can be monitored 'for their safety'?

It's bad enough that michelle has ruined lunchtime for millions of school kids. Now she wants to weigh and measure them to do ... what...?

I am so glad our kids are out of the public school system...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.03.22

Friday was the first day of Spring.

Seems like the weather didn't get the message...

Q.  What did the overly excited gardener do when spring finally arrived?
A.  He wet his plants!

Q.  Can February March?
A.  No, but April May!

Q:  Why are soldiers so tired on April 1?
A:  Because they've just finished a long 31 day March.

Q.  What's a three-season bed?
A.  A bed without a spring.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2015.03.20

First day of spring ... "You make me wanna roll my windows down, and cruise..."

A Rare Threesome

There will be a total eclipse of the sun today* (Friday, March 20, 2015). This is also the first day of spring. As an added bonus, tonight will feature a Supermoon.
* The total eclipse will not be visible anywhere in the USA and will be seen only by folks on some rather remote islands in far northern Europe Friday morning. Residents of the Danish-owned Faroe Islands and the sparsely inhabited Norwegian island group of Svalbard will be the only lucky ones to see the full spectacle.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible across all of Europe, northern Africa and much of northern Asia, according to Space.com. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon obscures only part of the sun from Earth's view.

"Depending on where you are in Europe, you will see anywhere from roughly 50 to nearly 99% of the sun's diameter eclipsed by the moon," according to Space.com's Joe Rao.

Those of us in the USA can watch the eclipse online starting at 4:30 a.m. ET Friday on Slooh.com.
Still, today offers a rare celestial three-fer.

Solar eclipse, Supermoon, Spring equinox: Friday will see three rare celestial events
As the eclipse plunges the UK and other places (but not, alas, the US) into darkness this Friday, two other rare if less spectacular celestial events will be taking place, too: a Supermoon and the Spring equinox.

A Supermoon, or perigee moon, happens when the full or new moon does its closest fly-by of the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does. And the spring equinox refers to the time of the year when the day and night are of equal duration, mid-way between the longest and shortest days.

The equinox will also happen on March 20. While it won’t have any discernable, direct impact on how the solar eclipse looks, it will contribute to a rare collision of three unusual celestial events.

On March 20, the Earth’s axis will be perpindecular to the sun’s rays — which only happens twice a year, at the two equinoxes. After that, it will start tipping over, making the days longer in the northern hemisphere.
Given the weather we've suffered through this winter, Spring can't get here soon enough.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Texas Throwback Thursday - 1884 Shootout

The Texas state legislature is considering a law allowing open carry of firearms. Opponents are predicting dire consequences if it passes, including a return to the days of the Wild West, complete with gunfights in the streets.

That leads us to the following story.

The San Antonio Express-News is celebrating its 150th year of publishing. As part of that, it is running a series of stories on historical persons and events. This one chronicles the type of gunfight that open carry opponents fear will come to pass if the bill becomes law.
Few events in San Antonio better capture the grit of the Old West than an 1884 shootout by Main Plaza that claimed the lives of feared gunfighters Ben Thompson and John King Fisher.

…the news…appeared in every leading Texas newspaper and even on the front of the New York Times...

…the San Antonio Express noted a “most remarkable fact” that the two renowned gunslingers were riddled with at least 22 bullet holes...

“They have died with their boots on, a death that is considered eminently genteel by desperate men,” the Express reported.

An inquest concluded that two other men killed them in self-defense…
22 bullet holes – that’s a serious case of self-defense.
Thompson, an English native, came to the United States as a boy with his family, which settled in Austin, and served in the Confederacy. He became an infamous cattle trail gambler, wandering from Texas to Kansas, and later ran a saloon on Austin’s Congress Avenue. He married and had two children, but was reputed to have killed about two dozen men.

Bat Masterson, famed lawman and gambler of the West who knew Thompson from their work with the railroads, once said there were few men of his time who could equal Thompson with a pistol “in a life and death struggle.”

Fisher, born in North Texas, was younger and known simply as King Fisher. He operated in the lawless area west of San Antonio along the Rio Grande, leading a group of thieves and killing his cattle-rustling cohorts when they crossed him. Because residents of the region feared him, Texas Ranger Capt. Leander McNelly once called Fisher’s ranching enterprise on both sides of the Mexican border “a perfect reign of terror,” according to Williamson…

“No witnesses can be found who will dare testify against the desperadoes…,” McNelly wrote in a report to the governor.
Sounds like the Clintons.
Fisher carried two silver-plated, ivory-handled revolvers, and often wore embroidered sombreros, vests and jackets, crimson sashes, silk shirts, tiger skin chaps and silver spurs that jangled. He married in 1876, had four daughters and became a deputy sheriff, then acting sheriff, in Uvalde County in the early 1880s.
Good thing he was married and a father. Otherwise, based on his dressing habits, I’d have to question what team he played on, if you know what I mean.
Thompson and Fisher both had spent time in jail, but were typically acquitted, pardoned or able to escape when charged with murder or assault. Events leading to their demise began when Thompson visited the Vaudeville Theater, perhaps San Antonio’s most popular gathering spot, in 1881, and “was cleaned out” playing faro at a card table run by Joe Foster.

“Liquored up and furious, he pulled his pistol and accused Foster of cheating…”
“Liquored up and furious" - not a good combination. But nothing happened that day. A year later, however, it was a different story.
Thompson returned to the theater in 1882 and confronted the owner, Jack Harris, once a friend from his military days, and influential political figure in San Antonio — then the largest city in Texas. Harris had a shotgun, but was killed when Thompson fired a six-shooter. Thompson was held in jail for several months, then acquitted.
That wasn't enough to satisfy Thompson. He still held a grudge against the card shark Joe Foster.
Foster and Billy Simms, a former friend of Thompson’s, took over the theater and saloon at Commerce and Soledad streets, on what became known as “the Fatal Corner,” because of frequent gunfights, on the north side of Main Plaza. Since Fisher was on good terms with Foster and Thompson, some have said he sought to reconcile their differences. Thompson had turned in his badge, and was said to be drinking heavily.

On March 11, 1884, Fisher, then about 30, and Thompson, 40, went drinking in Austin, then rode a train to San Antonio. They had dinner and saw a show at another venue, then arrived at about 10:30 p.m. at the Vaudeville Theater, where they drank some more and smoked cigars in an upstairs box or balcony.

Accounts of the fight have varied. According to Williamson, gunfire erupted after Foster refused to shake Thompson’s hand. Thompson and Fisher lay dead. Foster had a leg wound, possibly self-inflicted, and later died.

The inquest found that Foster and Jacobo S. Coy, a lawman and bouncer, killed Thompson and Fisher in self-defense. But…many believed Simms and Foster, tipped off that the pair were headed to San Antonio, had stationed a bartender, gambler and stage performer, each with a Winchester rifle, in a theater box, in case trouble began.

Thompson was buried in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery in a large ceremony befitting a prominent community leader. The nonprofit Ben Thompson Preservation Foundation, which seeks to preserve his “authentic legacy,” dedicated a graveside marker in 2012.

By Fisher’s grave, in Pioneer Cemetery in Uvalde, is a state historical marker recalling a “celebrated outlaw who became a peace officer” and “once undisputed ruler of a 5,000-square-mile area” centered in Eagle Pass, known as King Fisher’s territory. The marker also mentions his “fine clothes and tiger skin chaps.”  
The “Fatal Corner” of the 1880s, where Commerce and Soledad streets now intersect on Main Plaza, included Hart’s Cigar Store, which had upstairs gambling rooms connected to the adjacent Vaudeville Theater, site of a famous 1884 shooting.

Ben Thompson, one of the most feared pistol fighters of his day, was killed in a San Antonio saloon on March 11, 1884.

King Fisher, acting sheriff of Uvalde County, was killed in a famous 1884 shooting at the old Vaudeville Theater and Saloon in San Antonio’s Main Plaza.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The EPA Is Out Of Control

First they targeted wood stoves.

EPA's Wood-Burning Stove Ban Has Chilling Consequences For Many Rural People
It seems that even wood isn’t green or renewable enough anymore.  The EPA has recently banned the production and sale of 80 percent of America’s current wood-burning stoves, the oldest heating method known to mankind and mainstay of rural homes and many of our nation’s poorest residents...

...the change will impose a maximum (airborne particulate emissions per cubic meter of air) 12 microgram limit. To put this amount in context, EPA estimates that secondhand tobacco smoke in a closed car can expose a person to 3,000-4,000 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter.

Most wood stoves that warm cabin and home residents from coast-to-coast can’t meet that standard. Older stoves that don’t cannot be traded in for updated types, but instead must be rendered inoperable, destroyed, or recycled as scrap metal.

The impacts of EPA’s ruling will affect many families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 survey statistics, 2.4 million American housing units (12 percent of all homes) burned wood as their primary heating fuel, compared with 7 percent that depended upon fuel oil.
I guess the EPA wants all those people to freeze in the dark.

Then it was backyard barbecues.
The agency announced that it is funding a University of California project to limit emissions resulting in grease drippings with a special tray to catch them and a "catalytic" filtration system.

The school said that the technology they will study with the EPA grant is intended to reduce air pollution and cut the health hazards to BBQ "pit masters" from propane-fueled cookers.

Charged with keeping America's air, water and soil clean, the EPA has been increasingly looking at homeowners, especially their use of pollution emitting tools like lawn mowers.

The school is proposing two fixes to reduce emissions from barbecues. First, they want to cut back on grease flare-ups. The idea: "A slotted and corrugated tray is inserted immediately prior to meat flipping, and removed immediately after. This short contact time prevents the tray from over-heating and volatilizing the collected grease. This collected grease will then drip off into a collection tray and can be used at the pit master's discretion."

But, total capture isn't "practical," so a filter and fan are proposed for installation. "The secondary air filtration system is composed of a single pipe duct system which contains a specialized metal filter, a metal fan blade, a drive shaft, and an accompanying power system with either a motorized or manual method. This system can be powered by either an exterior electric motor with a chain-driven drive shaft, directly spinning the fan blade, or a hand-powered crank," said the project write-up.
I grill fairly frequently. I damn sure ain't gonna put my beer down to 'hand-power' a crank that turns a fan that does ... something ... I'm still not sure what. And I also ain't gonna mess with a "slotted and corrugated tray," inserting it "immediately prior to meat flipping, and removed immediately after."

I've got something else I'm willing to insert into the a$$holes at the EPA.

Thankfully, there are a few sane people out there.
Supporters call it the #porksteakrebellion: a St. Louis-born effort to keep the EPA from regulating back yard barbecues. State Senator Eric Schmitt (R) Glendale, is urging people to barbecue this week to send the EPA a message.

Schmitt launched the rebellion via Twitter after learning the EPA had funded the study.

“The idea that the EPA wants to find their way into our back yards, where we’re congregating with our neighbors, having a good time, on the 4th of July, barbecuing pork steak or hamburgers, is ridiculous and it’s emblematic of agency that’s sort of out of control,” Schmitt said.
Amen, brother!

Now it's hotel showers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants hotels to monitor how much time its guests spend in the shower.

“Hotels consume a significant amount of water in the U.S. and around the world,” an EPA grant to the University of Tulsa reads. “Most hotels do not monitor individual guest water usage and as a result, millions of gallons of potable water are wasted every year by hotel guests.”

“The proposed work aims to develop a novel low cost wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel guest room showers,” it said. “This device will be designed to fit most new and existing hotel shower fixtures and will wirelessly transmit hotel guest water usage data to a central hotel accounting system.”

The EPA also has a WaterSense program that challenges hotels to track their water use and upgrade their restrooms with low-flow toilets and showerheads.
Let me tell you, folks, we had to install those damn low-flow toilets in our house. They cost more than the old-fashioned kind and don't process solid waste very well (how's that for putting it discretely?). #2 usually requires multiple flushes to accomplish what one flush used to.

In addition, we now have plungers in every bathroom.

What a joy.
The EPA is concerned that the average shower, which lasts just eight minutes, uses 18 gallons of water, and has asked Americans to reduce their shower length by at least one minute.
Of course, there is another way to reduce water usage while showering...

Save water. Shower with a friend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Unable To Function In The Diverse And Pluralistic Environment

Next I suppose they'll be cashiering SEALS for being violent men with weapons.

Navy Chaplain fired for being Christian
A highly decorated US Navy chaplain has been relieved of duty and the Navy is moving to remove him from active duty because he had the temerity to actually be a Christian.

    Lt. Commander Wes Modder, was accused of failing “to show tolerance and respect” in private counseling sessions regarding issues pertaining to faith, marriage and sexuality, specifically homosexuality and pre-marital sex...

    Modder, chaplain at Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C., was given a “detachment for cause” letter February 17 after the Navy found him unable to “function in the diverse and pluralistic environment.”
unable to “function in the diverse and pluralistic environment” Who on earth dreamed up that crock of nonsense?

    The 19-year military veteran has a record full of praise and commendations.

    Modder could lose his retirement benefits if the Navy convenes a board of inquiry and officially separates him before he completes 20 years of service, according to the Military Times.

    Before he became a Navy chaplain, he served in the Marines, including tours with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Naval Special Warfare Command, where he was the Force Chaplain of the Navy SEALs.”
If I've got the story right, a new assistant assigned to Modder filed a complaint against him based on information the assistant found in Modder's files regarding private, one-on-one counseling sessions with Navy personnel.
    On December 6 a new assistant and two Equal Opportunity representatives showed up with a five-page complaint on Modder. The grievances focused on Modder’s views on “same-sex relationships/marriages, homosexuality, different standards of respect for men and women, pre-marital sex and masturbation.”

    The junior officer had been working with Modder for just a month...

    Modder was immediately removed of his duties and told to clean out his office when the complaint was received, with no opportunity to defend himself.

    “To be clear,” (military veteran and attorney Michael) Berry said, “Chaplain Modder does not dispute that during private, one-on-one pastoral care and counseling sessions, he expressed his sincerely held religious belief that: sexual acts outside of marriage are contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual behavior is contrary to Biblical teaching; and homosexual orientation or temptation, as distinct from conduct, is not sin.”
What was Modder supposed to do? Say it's okay with God to commit sodomy and adultery? That might have kept him in the Navy, but it would have got him kicked out of the Church. Seems to me it's the Navy that is 'unable to function in a diverse and pluralistic environment.'

So it has come to this. A chaplain has to choose between his religion and the Navy's version of political correctness.

May God have mercy on us all...

LCDR Wes Modder

Monday, March 16, 2015

FOD 2015.03.16

The flaws inherent in barry's signature piece of legislation - obamacare - have been cataloged at length elsewhere.

Here, however, is a small piece of the legislation that illustrates the absurdity and waste of that nonsense rammed down our throats by a despotic president and a totalitarian congress.
...the ACA has given the Food and Drug Administration the power to go after your favorite vending machine.  By the end of next year, according to a new FDA rule, most snack machines must have calorie counts prominently displayed, or risk removal.

Any sort of vending machines, from mixed nut machines to gumball machines, are subject to this new rule, if the operator owns twenty or more machines. The calorie declarations must be clear, conspicuous, and placed prominently on a sign in, on, or adjacent to the vending machine.

This rule would not only cost the FDA millions of dollars to implement, money that could be better spent on speeding new drugs to market or returned to the taxpayer, but it could drive many small vending machine companies out of business with little real benefit to consumers.

While the FDA claims that this new regulation will lower health care costs, it also concedes that it has “not estimated the actual benefits associated with proposed requirements.” In other words, no study was conducted or true consumer behavior tested. The regulation simply assumes that, given more information, consumers would choose to eat less, and obesity would decline.

The FDA claims that the regulation will decrease healthcare costs by $7.5 billion over the next 20 years. The supposed benefit of these assumed lower obesity levels would be healthier Americans, who would need fewer visits to the doctor and diminished spending for Medicare and Medicaid. But, before implementing a program that will have a definite effect on small businesses, it should have at least attempted to empirically find out whether the regulation will be effective.

Studies have shown that displaying calories in restaurants does not affect the calorie intake of customers. After a 2008 law mandating the display of calorie counts in chain restaurants was implemented in New York, calorie intake did not decrease, according to a joint study led by Julie Downs of Carnegie Mellon in 2012.

While the benefit of this program is dubious, expected annual spending on governmental door-to-door compliance checks is estimated to be $38 million a year...

The cost to the vending machine industry is similarly high. According to the FDA’s final ruling on the regulation, the initial cost of implementation for these companies will be $26 million with an annual cost of $24 million after the first year... These costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher snack prices.
Does anyone really think that posting calories will stop us from eating candy bars or salty snacks? After all, calories and nutritional information is already on the snacks' packaging.
Furthermore, vending machines make up only a small portion of the food consumed by the average individual. The FDA estimates that roughly a third of all food is eaten outside the home. Of that, an even smaller portion comes from vending machines. It is questionable how effectively this new regulation will decrease obesity when eating at a vending machine seems to be small percentage of people’s diets.

“The obvious next step for the FDA is to require food manufacturers to display their calorie counts on the front of all packaging in grocery stores, so that consumers will be deterred from buying high calorie foods without having to pick up the package and look at the back.”

This labeling requirement is just one example of how little attention Congress pays to consumer decision-making and costs for businesses. The FDA’s obligation to comply with the ACA is understandable, but the law is a flawed approach to curbing obesity.
obamacare in a nutshell: a costly, unneeded, and ineffective expansion of government powers that does little good at great expense.