Thursday, February 01, 2007

Are the People Getting Too Smart?

It used to be that people believed everything the “experts” told them to believe -- but in this new age of unlimited information sources, and not just those who can afford to buy all the “professionals,” there isn’t enough money to buy off everybody, who may be even better-informed because of a compelling personal interest. Most problems are not solved by dispassionate and disinterested professionals -- but people with a personal stake in the outcome, which needn’t make that interest and success necessarily bad or invalid.

I think that is one of the grave errors in information processing that has become a crisis ready to turn the page on the old notion that information was something only “objective” people could do -- so we have those who have never invested a single penny of and on their own, proclaiming to be the experts on investing and finance -- because they’ve never risked anything of their own, but had read all the books in the safety and security of a tenured position that absolved them of any requirement to learn anything from actual experience!

Society produced too many of these instant experts -- with gaudy credentials and certificates as proof that they knew something -- when they only knew how to fool everybody else into thinking that they did. That was the distinction between “professional” schools from classic “academia,” before those distinctions got blurred -- and success in the profession, overrode and even derided concerns about truth. What one was taught at professional schools, was how to act like every other professional -- and not independence of thought, which is the categorical imperative of a student worthy of the name, which every great teacher must always be.

But somewhere along the line, the vocation of student was no longer the job description of the teacher -- but was regarded as that which the teacher graduated from -- which makes them worthless as teachers. For the only thing one can truly teach, is how to learn -- and those who are no longer students, but think they never need to learn anything anymore to fool anybody else, is the reason their students have learned not to learn. Yet this is mostly what our education systems produce -- teachers no longer capable of learning anything themselves. That is what children are for -- to learn all those things they don’t want to learn themselves, and to past that tradition on to every succeeding (failing) generation.

That is perpetually the crisis of education. Education has meaning, purpose and power if it can teach even the oldest -- to learn, to change, to adapt. If it doesn’t have that power, than what good is it even among the young? -- who really, are born into the state-of-the-art information -- and must be coerced and compelled to learn all that is no longer valid and true, as history, culture and “correctness,” that in time, will become increasingly political and arbitrary.

Thus it becomes more important to learn how things used to be, have been, and always must be -- than to discover what is possible and true right now, as though everything that is no longer true, never existed as fact. What it is important to discover are the facts right now, and not to have opinions about “facts,” that might never have been true at all, but just widely taught.

That should be no excuse for why there is no time to teach the relevant and urgent.

8 Comments:

At February 02, 2007 7:59 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The sad tale being repeated all across the country:

http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2007/02/01/opinion/coffee_and_outrage/iq_12290173.txt

Get real about the monorail!

by Steve Sebelius

OH, THE POOR, POOR LAS VEGAS MONORAIL. It's just so sad.

According to the Review-Journal, the monorail's 2006 ridership was down 30 percent, with a mere 15,430 average riders in December.

That's so very, very far from what monorail founder Bob Broadbent promised would be a robust 50,000 riders per day! Oh, to go back to those days, and hear those heady promises once more! To be able to turn to monorail critics who claimed Broadbent was exaggerating by at least half and tell them that, in time, even they would be proven pikers!

Of course, as in every R-J story on the topic, the monorail's officials look at their empty trains, seas of red ink and too-high fares and claim ... prosperity is just around the corner!

"The monorail's current daily ridership of approximately 20,000 riders still far exceeds most rail systems throughout the country," said Ingrid Reisman, a nice person forced to rely on irrelevancies to make her case. "There's other factors that weren't taken into consideration, one of them being 'The Deuce' [double-decker buses] and some of the marketing efforts are still launching."

OK, it's time for a reality check. The monorail blows. It's never going to succeed. President George W. Bush will bring peace to Iraq and the whole Middle East and be hailed as a great world leader before the monorail works as intended. And enough with this business about the new marketing efforts. You can put as much lipstick on this pig as you want, it's still going to be bacon in the morning. Ah, crisp, delicious bacon. Mmmmmm.

Anyway, monorail backers have been saying expanding the train to the airport will be its salvation. Sure, they have to convince suckers (they call them "investors") to buy millions in supposedly private monorail bonds (the existing bonds are in "junk status"). But they can point to the Clark County Commission's Dec. 6 approval of the plan, at least!

Please. The Clark County Commission didn't notice its hospital was bleeding more red ink than the U.S. government, airport land worth millions was being traded for loose change and several (now former) members were leaving work with giant Louis Vuitton steamer trunks full of bribe money. They're the political equivalent of Ray Charles.

No, in order to save the monorail, its employees need to abandon ridership studies, bond campaigns and route planning in favor of a more realistic approach.

How about this for marketing: In the future, the monorail won't be propelled by computers and motors, but rather by winged unicorns pulling the trains down tracks inlaid with gold and chocolate.

Inside, cars would be remodeled to feature luxurious leather seats at which clones of Jessica Alba deliver sacks of magic beans that not only cure disease, but also reverse the aging process! Then they'd dance to the music of magical flutes and harps played by pixies, nymphs and leprechauns!

(There would be no need to chase said leprechauns for their pots of gold, since ridership on the monorail will be totally free. In fact, they'll pay you to ride it!)

As if that wasn't great enough, sumptuous massage beds would be set up to allow riders to unwind while special big-screen TVs automatically scan their minds and play their favorite movies or TV shows. Happy endings? Need you even ask?!

And the route won't be the lame one laid out by Broadbent because the MGM Grand and Bally's and Hilton agreed on a scheme long ago to move tourists from one property to another. Oh, no. You'll only start at the MGM Grand.

The train will wind through a misty forest to an enchanted land of dreams, where trees produce candy, rivers of nectar flow past dewy meadows of delicious licorice and gingerbread homes dot the landscape.

Now that's a marketing plan, baby!

And it's about as realistic as the monorail's actual plans.

Steve Sebelius is editor of CityLife. He can be reached at 871-6780, ext. 306 or Ssebelius@lvcitylife.com

 
At February 02, 2007 8:14 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The state now says a tollway way flyover could be built for $700 -- just like the proponents of the tollway said -- instead of the $3.5 B the Mayor's team contended would cost -- same as the rail, although they admitted the rail would not actually solve the traffic congestion but be one more option to ignore.

And because the first installment of the rail would be useless and underutilized, we'd have to spend 10 times more to make it really useful -- or so they would claim again, and all their unions, contractors, consultants would pack the public hearings again.

I think we've seen this movie before -- everyday down at our legislative offices and on public access television. It's time to switch the channel; nothing ever good will come on.

 
At February 02, 2007 8:26 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I'm sure the Mayor's team is already busily at work writing letters to the editor to encourage the passing of new legislation down at the world-renowned source of outrageous legislation -- to pass laws that prohibit the solving of traffic congestion before the rail project is completed.

But the congressional delegation will be successful at shoveling all the pork barrel money they need to ensure that the problem is never solved -- but continues to get out of hand, requiring more money and highly-paid experts -- creating more jobs.

 
At February 02, 2007 10:24 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Meanwhile the newspapers and local media do their best to distract us to what is going on in Iraq and everything else far away in the world -- and asking us what we ought to do with those "urgent" problems -- while every local con-artist is robbing the people blind with the help of their paid-for elected officials as well as a complicit media calling themselves"liberals."

 
At February 02, 2007 10:32 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

They seem to be very "liberal" in helping themselves to OUR money.

I'd be very generous too if I was wasting everybody else's money -- and calling myself a "democrat."

I'm glad to hear that there are decent, law-abiding, equal opportunity shysters.

 
At February 02, 2007 5:35 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Feb/02/br/br2315074869.html

Report: Making ends meet harder to do in Hawai'i

Advertiser Staff
A new University of Hawai'i report shows there is a widening gap between what people earn in the Islands and what they need to make ends meet.

The report, called "Economic Well-Being in Hawai'i: Family and Individual Self-Sufficiency," was issued by the University of Hawai'i Center on the Family and Aloha United Way.

It shows a single-parent family with two young children needs $54,644 to get by on O'ahu on a no-frills budget.

It also shows housing costs increased by 70 percent in Honolulu between 2002 and 2005. There were also increases in other areas, including transportation, healthcare, child care and food.

However, between 2002 and 2005 the average wage in Hawai'i only increased by 5.5 percent, according to the report.

"The individuals and families not earning self-sufficient wages are not only the very poor," said Susan Doyle, president of Aloha United Way. "They include many who are gainfully employed."

The report is based on the basic costs of supporting a family in the Islands and defines self-sufficiency as having enough money to meet basic needs without governmental or other subsidies, a news release said.

The full report will be available on the center's Web site later this month.

It looks like the unions are setting us up for another finding that the “poor” are those making less than $55,000 a year -- and the median income should be $100,000 a year.

 
At February 02, 2007 5:44 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

From another union/Democratic Party stronghold:

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=local&id=4986925

Audit Finds Dead People on Camden Schools Payroll
WPVI By Nora Muchanic

CAMDEN, N.J. - January 31, 2007 - Even though the Camden School District has been plagued by scandal and mismanagement for a number of years, the results of a new audit are prompting quite a reaction.

"It's just totally unbelievable and absolutely incredible that we can have such a dysfunctional system in place," said school board president Philip Freeman.

An independent audit of Camden schools found widespread fiscal mismanagement and lax controls in areas like payroll, purchasing and accounts payable.

For instance, auditors found a number of employees remained on the district payroll after they died. One man was allegedly paid $130,000 even though he has been dead since 1974.

The audit found vendors have been overpaid more than $17 million. In one case the district forked over almost a million dollars -- $953,000 to be exact -- for some copying equipment even though the purchase order was for just $55,000.

Residents are angered by the fiscal mismanagement.

"When you do a purchase order you put down a set of numbers. Is someone coming behind and adding on to it? Who's checking it?" wondered Vicki McRae.

Another resident, Ada Perez, said, "It's terrible because that's money they could use for the kids instead of throwing it away."

The scandal-plagued district has been under some form of state oversight since 1999 and the subject of numerous audits and action plans. So how can the fiscal mismanagement found in the audit go on?

"I think this is pretty clear evidence that we've got to be more aggressive with our following and ensuring changes actually do take place," said New Jersey Education Commissioner Lucille Davy.

Camden officials have 45 days to put a corrective action into place. Davy also told Action News that she is hiring a retired state police investigator to keep a closer watch on the finances.

 
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