1. Education matters:
A study, published through the National Bureau of Economic Research, collected data including interviews with charter school principals and teachers, student surveys, lesson plans, and video observations. It shows that input measures associated with a traditional resource-based model of education — class size, per pupil expenditure, fraction of teachers with no teaching certification, and fraction of teachers with an advanced degree — are not positively correlated with school effectiveness. Instead the factors that were meaningful are frequent teacher feedback, data driven instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and a relentless focus on academic achievement — explains almost half of the variation in school effectiveness. Moreover, these variables continue to be statistically important after accounting for alternative models of schooling, and a host of other explanatory variables, and are predictive in a different sample of schools.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.6 million Americans were self-employed back in December 2006. Today, that number has shrunk to 14.5 million.
TODAY’S NEWS FROM THAILAND:
1. Thai political adventures:
Thaksin the Terrible, the exiled fugitive ex-Prime Minister of Thailand and brother to the current Prime Minister, Princess LuckyGirl, has secretly received a Thai passport. This has dominated local media and has generated calls by the opposition party for impeachment of LuckyGirl.
More people died in the one day of flooding in the Philippines, than died in the two months of flooding in Thailand.
The sale of Christmas trees in Thailand (a Buddhist country) have skyrocket this year.
4. The Flying Ladyboys:
This past year PC air (that is not a joke), a regional Thai airline, announced it was hiring ladyboys as flight attendants. Among its initial hires, the airline proclaimed, was “Thailand’s most beautiful transvestite.”
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:
I am generally up and about. My cough has receded to a sometime thing. I still find myself quite fatigued. I hope that clears up as I get back into my daily exercise regime.
Yesterday I went to see the some of Bangkok’s Christmas decorations. Yes, Thailand (at least the commercial sector), a 96 percent Buddhist country, celebrates Christmas with a fervor that would make Faux News proud. The Central Department store boasts the worlds tallest Christmas tree. Tinkling lights, Santa Claus and peppermint candy canes are everywhere. Carolers, not the 4 or 5 person groups dressed in 19 Century outfits that we see in the US but full choirs, belt out nearly recognizable western carols. But no crèche. Damn the ACLU.
I also attended a Thai-Korea friendship festival put on in the plaza in front of one of the City’s largest department stores. There were, Taekwando exhibitions, singing and dancing, incomprehensible award ceremonies and a fascinating troop that painted large canvasses as they danced.
On the way home, I bought a Thai crêpe from one of the sidewalk food vendors.
Sidewalk food vendors in BKK and far more ubiquitous than Sabrett Hot-dog venders in downtown Manhattan and much more varied. From fried insect specialties to full meals, just about everything is available to eat on the streets of BKK. There are even guides to the best street foods in the city as well as the best Thai street food recipes.
BKK street food is some of the most varied in the world. Although, I have not yet tasted anything sublime (for example the perfect cannoli that I have searched for the world over and found something close to in Venerio’s on the lower east side of NY), it has often been quite tasty. The risk of potential food poisoning is substantially reduced by avoiding ice in your drinks, assuring everything is well cooked and avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables unless the skin is removed in front of you or it comes from something with a thick, inedible rind. On the other hand, what is one or two days a year of puking your guts out and wishing you were dead compared to excitement of culinary adventure.
The recent international climate change conference in Durban, South Africa has concluded with an insipid agreement by the attending countries that they will continue to work together on the problem. Of course, even that is probably a lie, since the fact they were not willing to work together at the conference is a good indication that they have no intention of doing so after it ends.
Apparently a number of consultant, advisors and commentators at the conference cautioned against doing anything because it could cause economic stress and advised that future technological advances could perhaps resolve the problem. This is a little like saying, when faced with a Tsunami, do not try to seek safety, because perhaps a rescue is being organized and you can avoid all the effort and risks associated with scurrying about trying to escape.
Add to this some interesting facts I came across a few days ago, if they are believable. The current value of the oil reserves held by oil companies and producers totals more than the total GDP of all but the four or five largest economies in the world. What conceivable reason would cause them to give up that wealth before it is sold and converted into profits? What entity, public or private, is large enough and powerful enough to resist being bought out or off or outright attacked if it places that treasure in jeopardy?
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Chapter: Escape without dignity.
Isabella dragged Vince across the dining room toward the doors leading into the kitchen. She thrust him against the wall, hard, pushed open one door with her foot, and with her gun pointed straight up toward the ceiling just like in the movies, gingerly peered inside. The shock of the impact from her shoving him into the wall hastened the return of Vince’s senses. Along with that came realization of the precariousness of his situation. Before he could act on this dawning awareness and probably panic again, she grabbed his arm, pulled him through the door, pushed him ahead of her and yelled, “Go, go, go, go!”
With the return of his reason, Vince’s male pride also swarmed into his consciousness, almost overwhelming it. He felt furious at her shouting and pushing him around. But before he could react, she shouted “down” and spun around to get off two shots back at the door they just passed through.
That was enough. Vince, wounded pride forgotten, replaced by self-preservation, hunched over bending himself almost in half, scrambled toward the door at the back in the kitchen, as fast as that contorted posture allowed. He stumbled through the door and on to the stairwell landing. Isabella, followed on his heels, shouting “downstairs, go!” Vince flew down the stairs, lost his footing and clumsily fell against the wall.
Isabella grabbed his arm again and by alternating pushing and shoving him managed to drive them both down the next two flights.
On the third landing they hesitated. He to catch his breath and she to check into the stairwell below and above her. Above the door appeared to open. She fired another couple of shot. The door slammed shut again. Leaning back against the wall, she extracted a magazine from her magic purse, ejected the now empty one and slammed in the new.
Then they were off again down the stairs until they arrived at the bottom, a small alcove with two doors. One marked with the word “Lobby” in large red letters, the other obviously leading to the alley at the side of the building.
“Which one,” Vince shouted reduced once again to near hysterics as he heard the thud from the footfalls of their pursuers racing down the stairs above them? (to be continued)
POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
1. The impossibility of parody:
“It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”
~Newt Gingrich, telling us we should do as he says, regardless of what he actually does.
2. Buddy Roemer on China:
China’s protectionist trade practices and human rights violations are an abomination, and as president he would retaliate so fast it would make Chinese heads spin while potentially igniting a global trade war. Roemer’s “fair trade” policies would be very specific: tit for tat retaliation for unfair trade practices. “If your goods come into this country, and they’re made by children or by prisoners, they will not be allowed in.”
3. David Frum Republican Party consultant and conservative political commentator explains Faux News:
“But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.”
1. IQ matters too:
b. Signs you are smarter than average:
“…new findings, from a landmark study published [June 2007], showed that eldest children had a slight but significant edge in IQ — an average of three points over the closest sibling and it found that the difference was not because of biological factors but the psychological interplay of parents and children.”
The New York Times
I am the eldest child in my family, both my sister and brother are smarter than I am, was that because I did not get along with my mother?
2. : What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
a. It is time that we as a nation begin growing back together again.
I find it fascinating how much John Adams and the CEO of Goldman Sachs look alike.
3. The defining characteristics of Fascism:
Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each. Here are the first 5:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution…
4. The Adam Smith on why we sympathize with the rich and hesitate to tax them overly much:
Smith attempted to explain why, despite the fact that we have a moral obligation to tax our superrich at the peak of the Laffer Curve: to tax them so heavily that we raise the most possible money from them — to the point beyond which their diversion of energy and enterprise into tax avoidance and sheltering would mean that any extra taxes would not raise but reduce revenue, we in society feel it is wrong to so tax their incomes. In the case of the hard-working rich (as opposed to inherited wealth), he posited that we sympathize with the type of person who:
“devotes himself forever to the pursuit of wealth and greatness….With the most unrelenting industry he labors night and day….serves those whom he hates, and is obsequious to those whom he despises….[I]n the last dregs of life, his body wasted with toil and diseases, his mind galled and ruffled by the memory of a thousand injuries and disappointments….he begins at last to find that wealth and greatness are mere trinkets of frivolous utility…. Power and riches….keep off the summer shower, not the winter storm, but leave him always as much, and sometimes more exposed than before, to anxiety, to fear, and to sorrow; to diseases, to danger, and to death…”
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments.
According to economist Brad deLong, we don’t wish to disrupt the perfect felicity of the lifestyles of the rich and famous; and we don’t wish to add to the burdens of those who have spent their most precious possession — their time and energy — pursuing baubles. These two arguments are not consistent, but that does not matter. They both have a purchase on our thinking. Unlike today’s public-finance economists, Smith understood that we are not rational utilitarian calculators. Indeed, that is why we have collectively done a very bad job so far in dealing with the enormous rise in inequality between the industrial middle class and the plutocratic superrich that we have witnessed.
5. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
Some of you have commented that the personal calendars I sent to you appear very complicated. I suspect that was because I did not have the proper application and had to use a financial template to display a yearly calendar instead of the normal monthly one. That and that I also inserted the corresponding Gregorian Calendar dates for reference I am afraid made it confusing. In fact, your personal calendar is much less confusing then the Gregorian one you are currently using. In your personal calendar, you have only two months with different days ( eight 28 day months and four 35 day ones) with the Gregorian Calendar you have at least 3 (one of 38 days, 4 of 30 and 7 of 31). Also, every month in the Gregorian Calendar more of less differs from every other month in the year. Not so with your personal calendar. In addition, every day in your new calendar falls on the same day of the week each month forever. Thus if you were born on the 15th day of the 10th month it would always fall on a Monday.
I have attached a more recognizable graphic of the two calendars.
The first 3 months of the standard Gregorian Calendar :
Graphics not available at this time…..
And since there are only two different months in your personal calendar, I have been able to show the entire year with just two attachments.
“Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Christopher Hitchens maintained his resolve and did not turn, he did not repent, he died an unrepentant and defiant atheist. That would mean today, if the Scriptures mean anything, that he is in Hell today.
But here’s my point, the point I was making earlier is that if he is, if Christopher Hitchens is, in fact, in Hell, he’s there because God loves him. Not because God hates him but because God loves him. And I explained what I mean by that. What I mean by that is that God loves us enough to, in the end, give us what we insist on having. If we are determined to have our own way then God, in the end, is going to give us what we insist on having, because that’s what you do for people you love.”
Bryan Fischer – conservative fundamentalist minister.
Huh – Let’s see if I got this right : God sends us to Hell because he loves us and wants us to have what we most want. Therefore Hell means getting everything you want. Heaven then must be where you get nothing you want. I always expected as much.
Finally something that explains the difference that I can understand.
Alas, If truth be known, both my menu and french fries preferences are decidedly conservative.:
Repentance is definitely needed indeed!