Thursday, 28 June 2007

Rants

Welcome to Boston, Senators. Have some tea!

(O.G. scribbles a few notes about What Happened and What It All Means. Links added and grammar & spelling corrected as time permits.)

  • Another Reagan moment? Breakdown of old political alliances. 20 years ago, who would have predicted the AFofL-CIO and National Review on the same side of a domestic issue! (Or any Republican Presidential candidate and Ted Kennedy.)
  • Reaction much bigger than just the conservatives. Conservatives + talk radio listeners + other malcontents = still not enough callers to crash the Senate's switchboard. Where'd everybody come from? Who are they? (Political: Is this a coalition looking for leadership? Could it elect a president?)
  • Bloggers.triumphant, justifiably. They blew the whistle on the Memorial weekend sneak-through, then provided the support (analysis, encouragement, expertise, linkage) to make the opposition fly. Mad props for beating out the D.C. establishment, but beware overreaching-- blogs didn't create the issue or the coalition that opposed it (see above), and the next issue will be different.
  • Again, bloggers and talkers grabbed control of the terms of debate (inside the proponents' and the MSM's decision cycle, c.f. Rathergate). Usual accusations of "racism", attempts to define issue as opposition to ALL immigration, failed miserably. Can anything overcome the Army of Davids? (Effectively infinite manpower and infinite knowledge.) Next political contest: Blogs -vs- blogs, with the MSM three news cycles behind?
  • With no question about the polling data, MSM smelled the coffee before the Senate did. Noted with amazement a couple of "bad consequences of illegal immigrants" analysis pieces on CNN Monday night. Also hysteria on WSJ's editorial page ("Immigration and the GOP") yesterday.  Also overnight articles indicating the bill was in trouble.
  • How much did Kaus's called-for videos scare the politicians? Will the next McFeingold require shutting down the net 30 days before elections?
  • Senate's ugly legislative process dragged into daylight. People knew it was there, but still didn't like what they saw. Multi-hundred-page bills voted on before they were even written, let alone read?
  • Greater sophistication of the discussion: When earmarks were discovered in the bill, everybody already understood the issue. (And said, "Oh look, there's one for Ted Stevens, as usual!")
  • One more step in a continuing process. Most presidents since Nixon have run against "the mess in Washington." Most voters have exempted "my delegation" from the overall mess. Will this change things?
  • New paradigm: Internet-organized ad-hoc national efforts to defeat particular congresscritters. Would a similar campaign elect anybody?
  • Risk-rewards ratio for the Republicans still seems way off. WTH were they thinking?
  • Sen. DeMint: “When the U.S. Senate brought the Amnesty bill back up this week, they declared war on the American people.” Welcome to Boston, Senators. How would you like your tea?
  • Somebody called the process "very European," and not in a flattering way. Insty calls 'em "inhabitants of Incumbistan."
  • Next battle the People vs The Establishment? 1968 Redux? Liberals wanted "another Viet Nam."  Now they're the establishment. (Be careful what you wish for!)

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 23:52:01 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Thursday, 21 June 2007

Rants

Your customer is... your enemy?

Looks like Big Music is right:

"The music industry is one of the greatest victims of consumer anger. Much of the illegal music downloading that takes place isn't done just because the music is free but rather because stealing music costs "the suits" money . In research we did for the entertainment industry, it became clear that music fans resent company executives for making too much money for themselves, too much profit for the corporations, and pampering and overpaying the "talent," and the way they express this anger is to download illegally to punish the industry." -- Frank Luntz, Words That Work
I can't believe that "stickin' it to the man" is the primary reason that most people download music-- it sounds too much like what I used to hear from shoplifting hippies back in the 1960s. Still, it's unsurprising that it's offered as a reason (or excuse), especially given the increased exposure of the industry's business practices. And that says something about the public's attitude toward the music industry.

Which should be a worry to Big Music's stockholders. In fact, there are a lot of stockholders who should be worried: Those who hold stock in communications companies whose officers want to monitor internet communications. Those with money in cable TV companies that try to weasel out of contracts. Or whose companies make inkjet printers that lie to users about how much ink is left. Or engage in other unethical (if not illegal) deceptive practices.

Because if you treat your customer like an enemy, sooner or later he'll probably reciprocate.
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The opening quote was featured in a post by Mark Ramsey, who's whistling past the graveyard: He hopes Big Radio might be spared from customer resentment because "Big Radio is free."

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 16:04:39 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Rants

Good riddance

Michael Bloomberg quits the Republican party. [via all sorts of people]

Which means that Republicans no longer face the prospect of coming up with excuses when Bloomberg's stupid nanny-isms result in stuff like this:

We regret that Wendy's cannot provide product calorie information to residents or customers in New York City.

The New York City Department of Health passed a regulation requiring restaurants that already provide calorie information to post product calories on their menu boards -- using the same type size as the product listing.

We fully support the intent of this regulation; however, since most of our food is made-to-order, there isn't enough room on our existing menu boards to comply with the regulation. We have for years provided complete nutritional information on posters inside the restaurant and on our website. To continue to provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants on our website and on our nutritional posters would subject us to this regulation. As a result, we will no longer provide caloric information to residents and customers of our New York City restaurants.

We regret this inconvenience.

Well, hey, they're just following their motto: "At Wendy's®, we're unrivaled in our passion for giving people what they want — and uncompromising in giving people what they deserve."

"Giving people what they deserve."

Hi, Michael! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Think I'll go buy a couple of burgers.

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[via Lileks, who after musing on the law of unintended consequences, says "I’d love to see that concept extended to every – single – other – business in New York, and watch the entire island empty out."]

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 21:19:44 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Saturday, 16 June 2007

Rants

We know we're paying them, the question is, "for what?"

Whether students are underachieving, average, gifted, or in need of individual attention, parents should recognize their own and their children’s role in learning mathematics and achieving optimal success. They [parents] should know the specific academic standards their children are to meet at each grade level, and they [parents] should be able to monitor their children’s performance and provide extra help when needed. Parents should be responsible for obtaining information regarding their children’s progress and know how to interpret that information appropriately. Above all, they should encourage a positive attitude toward mathematics.

Parents are their children’s first teachers. A child’s early experiences with mathematics at home can provide an important foundation for learning the content standards for kindergarten (Saxe, Guberman, and Gearhart 1987). Parents and other family members can nurture and stimulate mathematics development in their children and, for many children, will need to be involved in their children’s mathematics program at all grade levels (Stevenson et al. 1990)

However, schools must take greater responsibility to support the early mathematics development of children who are less fortunate and do not benefit from an educated, supportive family environment. Such support may require after-school homework, transportation services to bring children to school early for extra tutoring, extended tutoring support, and similar kinds of programs. -- California Mathematics Framework 2005, Chapter 7
So lets see: It's up to the parents to be the "first teachers," to "know [...] specific academic standards, to "monitor their children's performance," to "obtain information" (and "know how to interpret" it!), to "provide extra help," and "to be involved in their children's mathematics program at all grade levels." Oh yes, and above all "encourage a positive attitude toward mathematics."

Catherine Johnson (who ferreted this one out) wonders:
What parent apart from a person working in a math-related field can do this?

And how many parents working in math-related fields can do this? Pedagogical content knowledge is different from domain knowledge.

Next question: are parents expected to be able to do this for every subject their child will be "learning" at school?

And while the parents are doing all this, the school is doing... what, exactly?

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 02:31:48 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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