Education About Education

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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education

Today a little education about education.

First I’ll crunch some numbers, as I like to do.

4,726 = the number of colleges and universities United States.

$589 billion =  the amount spent by students annually.

Of that figure,

$393 billion = tuition fees, and

$196 billion = expenses like travel and housing.

538% = the percentage increase of the cost of a college education over the past three decades.

4.5 = the number times more expensive it is to go to college today than it was back in 1985, even allowing for inflation.

So is the cost worth it?

Does the education system make sense?

The vast majority of Americans never even consider these important questions. They are fixated on their kids going to college – end of debate.

Whether they have the ability or not, or whether it is the right career path for them or not, if the parents can afford it and/or the kids can get a student loan (which they usually can) then they go to college.

But there is a heavy cost to pay, as we have just seen above. By the time they graduate 70% of students are lumbered with a loan balance averaging $28,400. Nationwide in the US, student loan debt now sits at a staggering $1.2 trillion, which is nearly 50% higher than all the outstanding auto-loan debt, and almost double credit card debt.

student loan debt

While it is true that college graduates have more opportunities to earn more than those without a degree, the number of those good paying jobs is limited. Most college graduates have to settle for a lot less that they were planning for when they started that expensive college education.

What is often forgotten is that there are many other opportunities out there in the workplace for someone who spends their time and money learning a trade or a skill. A friend of mine who is a plumber earns many times more than many of his contemporaries with college degrees and office jobs.

In fact, since more and more young Americans are turning their noses up at manual type jobs and opting for expensive colleges, there will soon be a shortage of essential trades such as plumbers, electricians and so forth, making those jobs even more lucrative than they are now.

Food for thought for the future perhaps.

FoodForThought

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There’s No Fact-Checker Like A Fact-Checker Checker.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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washington post fact checker pinocchio

I’m a great man for facts.

Even a cursory glance around my blog will confirm that. Every week I try to post some.

Facts are good things. Many other people seem to like them too.

Except for one particular group.

Liberals.

Facts always seem to get in the way of whatever it is they are trying to force us to accept.

Donald Trump open mouth

Enter Donald Trump into the story.

The Donald has caused a lot of controversy lately with his illegal immigrant pronouncements. Cowards like the management of Macy’s, NBC, Univision etc., have made knee-jerk decisions and run from the controversy without taking any time whatsoever to check the facts.

It’s the way Americans have been conditioned to behave when someone says something controversial about a minority or a minority view point.

The hardly impartial Washington Post has been in the forefront of the media critics and, of course, we have also had media mogul Rupert Murdock chirping in against a political candidate who is too rich to fit into his pocket.

But what did Trump actually say?

And do the facts support him or not?

Unlike Macy’s and the rest, let’s take a little time to have a look.

cops arrest illegal

Trump said that some undocumented immigrants commit crimes in the U.S. and in fact they do. He did NOT say ALL Mexicans and he did NOT include Hispanic U.S. citizens, which is what his detractors are trying to infer. In fact from the reports I have read I do not think he quantified it at all.

Trump did, however, strongly ‘imply’ that undocumented immigrants are more criminal than the average U.S. citizen.

The Washington Post “fact checked” this and found it to be ‘false’. The problem for the Washington Post’s fact-checkers is that some of the data shows otherwise.

For example, a 2011 Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-187, Criminal Alien Statistics, March 2011, to be precise) opens with the sentence,

“The number of criminal aliens in federal prisons in fiscal year 2010 was about 55,000, and the number of SCAAP criminal alien incarcerations in state prison systems and local jails was about 296,000 in fiscal year 2009 (the most recent data available), and the majority were from Mexico.”

‘SCAAP’, by the way, is the ‘State Criminal Alien Assistance Program’ which means aliens illegally in the United States at the time of their incarceration.

As for federal prisoners, the GAO states, “In fiscal year 2005, the criminal alien population in federal prisons was around 27 percent of the total inmate population, and from fiscal years 2006 through 2010 remained consistently around 25 percent.”

US-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-Logo.

The Government Accountability Office figures also show that in 2009 the total alien – i.e., non-U.S.-citizen – population in the United Sates was about 25.3 million, which included about 10.8 million aliens without lawful immigration status – illegal aliens in other words.

The total population of the U.S. at that time was approximately 306.8 million. Non-citizens comprised 8.25% of the population and illegal aliens about 3.52%.

If you compare the percentage of illegal aliens in the population as a whole (the 3.52% mentioned above) with the percentages of illegal aliens in the prison population, namely 25% in 2009 and almost 39% in 2013, it is clear that their crimes are well in excess of their proportion of the population.

More numbers.

The FBI’s records show that there were 67,642 murders in the U.S. from 2005 through 2008, and 115,717 from 2003 through 2009.

The GAO estimates “criminal aliens” were arrested, convicted and incarcerated for 25,064 homicides. That means they committed 22% to 37% of all murders in the U.S., while being only 3.52% to 8.25% of the population.

Therefore the facts confirm that criminal and illegal aliens commit murder at much higher rates than all inhabitants of the U.S. – at least 3 to 10 times higher.

immigration_origin_of_illegal_immigrants

Although I have not had the time to crunch the numbers further, what you have just read could be a very conservative total because the FBI doesn’t get itself involved in all homicides, most of them are handled at state and local level.

Based on the erroneous research of their misnamed “fact-checkers”, the Washington Post alleged that Trump’s statements were only underscoring  “a common public perception that crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration”.

It went even further, stating that Trump’s repeated statements about immigrants and crime were a “misperception” and that there was “no solid data support it”.

The Washington Post fact-checkers obviously did not take the time to check the facts in the GAO reports, which as we have seen actually do support the perception trump is vocalizing.

Apparently there is no fact-checker like a fact-checker checker.

Where are Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein when you need them?

Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward

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Forget The Cold War, The Summer Is Here

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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2nd cold war

The world breathed a great sigh of relief when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, but somehow we’re in the middle of another cold war that nobody wants or needs.

How did that happen?

As most things do, it all started with a huge mistake. That mistake was the West, particularly America, treating Russia like a defeated country after 1991, instead of the formidable nation that it still was despite the breakup of the USSR. Mikhail Gorbachev has acknowledged that fact.

Unfortunately Americans have no clue about foreign affairs and never have had. That, plus a ton of arrogance, led us to the Ukraine which America thought it could more or less capture as an ally to be slotted into NATO. They wanted a fully armed NATO nuclear arsenal on the Russian’s doorstep.

The Americans quite rightly didn’t like it when the Russians tried to do it to them in Cuba way back in the early 1960s, so what idiot thought that the Russians would like it when they did it to them?

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Whoever formulated the plan, it was heavily influenced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor during President Carter’s administration. His theory was that the only way to prevent Russia becoming a great power again was to remove the Ukraine from its sphere of influence.

Thus America initiated an eastward expansion of NATO, using the EU to present the Ukraine with a choice between Russia and Europe. Some Ukrainians, like those in the Crimea favored Russia and others in other parts wanted closer ties with the EU.

Like many other countries, the prospect of joining the EU is attractive to a significant proportion of Ukrainians. But the way America tried to bring it about was just a step too far. The Ukrainian President, who had been duly elected, was removed in what would have been called a “coup d’etat” had it happened elsewhere, or had Russia been the culprit.

That is why a lot of the tensions between the West and Russia is centered on the internal troubles within the Ukraine.

If one looks into the history of the Ukraine another significant part of the puzzle presents itself.

ukraine-map

In much the same way as stupid English bureaucrats redrew borders in the Middle East without any consideration for the people who lived there, (for example, the Kurds), which resulted in wars and upheaval ever since, when the Soviet Union broke apart somewhere in the region of 25 million Russians were left outside the borders of Russia. A lot of them were in the Crimea in the Ukraine.

But the Ukraine had only been independent for three years in its history (1917-20), after the collapse of the tsarist armies.

The post-December 1991 Ukraine was thus a composite entity, its western regions had belonged to Poland between WWI and WWII; its eastern regions were Orthodox and Russian-speaking; and its Black Sea coast had been Ottoman.

The Crimea had never been Ukrainian until Nikita Khrushchev decreed it should be in 1954.

Thus, for anyone with any degree of understanding of foreign affairs, the troubles now being suffered by the various peoples in the Ukraine were both predictable and avoidable.

But the stupid bureaucrats in power were not able to predict it and thus the mess became inevitable.

Ukraine crisis

Sadly the situation has now deteriorated into what amounts to a civil war in the Ukraine. On one side there is the Ukrainian army plus “volunteer battalions”, supported by the US and its allies, and on the other the “separatist” militias who draw their support mainly from Russian-speakers in the east, and who are supported by Russia.

Outside of what is happening in the Ukraine itself, the US and EU implemented severe sanctions against Russia which have hurt, but not nearly as much as they were supposed to. In turn Russia announced counter-sanctions on food and looked to emerging markets, particularly China, to diversify its foreign trade and industrial cooperation.

And so the Cold War part two has begun and shows little sign of ending just yet.

In fact it looks like the Ukraine will remain in a mess until it gets its act together and decides whether it wants to remain on friendly economic terms with its huge neighbor Russia, or whether it will settle for becoming subservient to the whims of the US, via some kind of economic agreement with the EU.

It has a third option, though, perhaps its best option, and that is not taking sides, but rather remaining on friendly terms with both East and West.

However, they may never get the chance to choose option three. In plain language, I don’t think that the people who arrange assassinations and coup d’etats will let them do that.

Meantime, summer or not, the chill continues.

snow in summer sun

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The Entertainer Continues

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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donald trump thumbs up

If Donald Trump has done nothing else, apart from entertaining us, he has raised some uncomfortable truths for Americans to face.

For too many years people in America have had the luxury of sitting on the fence, avoiding taking stands on moral issues, or issues affecting minority groups in their country.

They’re frightened.

Frightened of looking like cranks.

Frightened of pseudo-intellectuals (who really know very little) mocking them.

Frightened of not being part of the herd.

Frightened of not appearing ‘nice’.

Lower that Confederate flag and raise a white one, quick!

Dear help us.

Confederate battle flag flies in South Carolina
Confederate flag comes down at South Carolina Capitol after half century

People, and not only in America, have been conditioned to act the same, buy the same gadgets, watch the same TV shows and even dress the same. If it continues they’ll all be dressed in similar suits like China in the days of Chairman Mao, only with little red smartphones instead of little red books.

More importantly than all these, the people are being conditioned to ‘think’ the same. ‘Sheeple’ are easier to control than ‘free thinking people’ and as we know it is all about control.

When I said they’re ‘frightened’, I meant Americans have been conditioned into being afraid to stick their own heads above the parapet.

But when occasionally someone does it for them then they secretly cheer – but not too loud mind you in case someone hears.

That’s why Trump enjoyed a surge in the polls after his remarks about illegal immigrants and how they are not all perfect human beings. Everybody knew it but were afraid to say it.

The political elites, most of them anyway, would never be caught saying what they really think – in public. Admittedly Trump said it in his own brash and loud style, but at least he said it.

You don’t have to agree with him – far from it – but you do have to acknowledge that he said what many thousands of ordinary Americans were thinking yet were afraid to say.

Many of these ordinary Americans are probably living in areas where there have been massive influxes of immigrants. They know how it has affected them. In these areas English has become a second language. Social problems have increased and crime has gone up. And everyone is afraid to say why.

More to the point, they know from first-hand experience that this new ethnic diversity has failed to provide the benefits that the liberal political elites promised it would.

Facts are facts are facts.

the-american-dream

Many people have come to America to live the ‘dream’ and better themselves. But many others have come to take advantage of what they regard as a soft target for crime.

Many of Trump’s critics are just as guilty of trying to get publicity for themselves as perhaps Trump is making the remarks in the first place.

But the critics exhibit a sadly familiar and predictable pattern. They see an empty talking head on TV, think it’s smart, and then say the same things or a slight variation thereof. That makes them think they look smart too, except of course it doesn’t, because the talking head on TV was empty, not smart at all.

Many of these detractors have gone so far as to say that Trump’s remarks are not “presidential”.

The big question, that unfortunately is not being asked in blazing headlines in the media, is why in America today is it not ‘presidential’ to tell the truth, or to give a true expression of what you believe?

If that is now really the case then it is a sad reflection of American society and not something to be proud of.

You have another choice though.

If you want a liar in the White House there’s always Hillary.

hillary clinton liar

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Sacre Bleu! – Er, Make That Red White And Bleu!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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sacre bleu cartoon

There has been a lot of activity in France lately concerning the United States government spying on three French Presidents.

The current President of France even called an emergency meeting of the Conseil de la Défense, the country’s highest national security forum to discuss the emergence of documents that appear to implicate the US National Security Agency (NSA) – now who’da guessed that? –  spying on Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who ruled France from 1995 to 2012.

The documents further indicate that the NSA may have also targeted the personal communications of Francois Hollande, France’s current head of state.

The files were published by WikiLeaks, which described them as “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents”, detailing NSA spying operations against the French presidency, as well as espionage directed at several French government ministers and at France’s ambassador to the US.

French President Francois Hollande at meeting to discuss Wikileaks revelations

The documents include intelligence briefs, which detail the thoughts and diplomatic maneuvers by French presidents and other senior officials, on subjects such as the Greek economic crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and the United Nations.

This is further evidence of more disgraceful and arrogant behavior by US spy agencies.

The thing is, however, no one is surprised any more.

Since Edward Snowden’s revelations the world has come to expect illegal and bad behavior from Americans. It is as simple as that. And for the reputations of Americans it is as bad as that. Which is a great pity because these activities do not represent in any way the vast majority of the American people.

So, if they aren’t a surprise to anyone, will the latest revelations cause trouble between America and France? I think the undoubted answer is “Oui”, but only a “petit oui”.

As befits normal protocol in these kinds of things, the American ambassador to France was summoned for what was called ‘an official protest’, but little or nothing more happened apart from President Obama getting on the phone with the French President, groveling and apologizing and assuring him in no uncertain terms “that the US is no longer spying on France”.

No, I don’t believe him either, but there it is.

President Obama on phone

There was no need for America’s snooping. As with Germany, French and American intelligence agencies cooperate with each other regularly. They jointly monitor international issues of mutual concern, such as what is happening in Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Libya, and even the financial catastrophe that is Greece.

For now that will continue, but the road ahead looks bumpy.

Wikileaks has already made good on its promise that its “French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future”.

The latest release from the whistleblower website contains more documents that indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA), under orders from Washington, were tasked with collecting secret information not only about the economic policies of the French government and the country’s financial sector, but on export contracts by French companies.

In fact every French-registered company involved in negotiations for international projects or other sales contracts valued at over $200 million, like car makers Peugeot and Renault and financial institutions like BNP Paribas and the agricultural credit union, were also subjected to US government secret snooping.

Washington’s pathetic statements that none of this information is ever used to benefit American companies competing for international contracts rings mighty hollow with the French, and the rest of the world come to that.

This latest information is a lot more damning and may necessitate a much stronger response from the French – even if it is just to save face.

Like their attitude over the invasion of Iraq, I think any further reaction would include little or no cooperation in any future American interventions in the Middle East and maybe the use of a veto or two in the United Nations.

We might be at the start of a new meaning to the term “non” cooperation?

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non merci button

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Handcuffs Explains A Lot – More Fasab Facts!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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You’ll understand the title of this post better in a moment when you read the latest collection of facts from the fasab archives.

A little bit of something for everyone I hope.

Enjoy.

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did you know2

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In Spanish the word

“esposas”

means both

“wives” and “handcuffs”.

That explains a lot.

handcuffs

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NASA was sued by three men from Yemen

for trespassing on Mars.

They claimed that they had inherited

the planet from their ancestors

thousands of years ago.

trespassing on Mars

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The Incas introduced the world to potatoes

via the Spanish conquistadors and

nearly a quarter of Europe’s growth

between the 1700s and the 1900s has been

attributed to the introduction of this crop.

potatoes

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According to scientists, about three quarters

of the species that make Australia home

have yet to be discovered.

wildlife in Australia

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When an unemployed painter named

Richard Lawrence tried to shoot Andrew Jackson,

his gun wouldn’t fire.

The 67 year old president began to

beat his would-be assassin with a cane

during which the assassin pulled out another gun.

This gun also misfired and the

disgruntled painter was dragged away.

Richard Lawrence tried to shoot Andrew Jackson

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There is actually high speed internet access

all the way up Mount Everest.

Everest

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In 2000, Congress passed the

National Moment of Remembrance Act

which requires all Americans to stop

what they are doing at 3pm on Memorial Day

to remember and honor those who have died

serving the United States.

National Moment of Remembrance Act

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At the start of World War I

the US Air Force only had 18 pilots.

A pilot checks his bomb placement after dropping a "flour bomb" during a target competition Sept. 22 at the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous World War I Fly-In on the grounds of the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Activities included period re-enactors in a war encampment setting, era automobiles on display and participating in a parade, flying exhibitions by WWI radio-controlled aircraft, and a collector's show for WWI items.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt Joshua Strang)

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Rogue planets, also known as interstellar planets,

nomad planets or orphan planets, are

planetary-mass objects that have

broken from their orbits and

travel aimlessly through space.

The closest rogue planet to Earth yet discovered

is around 7 light years away.

Rogue planets

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You can get ice cream in lobster,

squid Ink, and caviar flavors.

lobster ice cream

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At 1,435 meters per second

the speed of sound in water is almost

five times faster than it is in air.

speed of sound in water

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Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones

attributed his popular song

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

to a dream.

He’s said to have recorded the acoustic riffs

just before falling back to sleep.

(The riffs were followed by 40 minutes of him snoring.)

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A Right Old Mess!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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political hypocrisy

It seems there is no end to the political hypocrisy that has taken over our well surveilled world.

I wrote a post a few days ago about the Belgian government wanting Skype to hand over confidential customer data. I called it ‘Taking A Swipe At Skype’ (if you want to read it click here )

In a previous post called, ‘What Is The German Word For Hypocrite?’ (if you want to read that one click here) I had a bit of rant against the hypocrisy of Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel who professed great anxiety publicly about the Americans snooping in on her phone calls while she and her intelligence agencies were in cahoots with the US to spy on other European countries.

Now a week or so later the two stories have merged with yet another piece of hypocrisy, this time by the Belgians who have announced that they are starting an official investigation into allegations that Belgium’s telecommunications networks were spied on by a consortium of German and American intelligence agencies.

telecommunications network

In other words, it is okay for the Belgians to snoop on Skype users, but not okay when someone else wants to snoop on the Belgians.

If that’s not another good example of hypocrisy I don’t know what is.

Specifically the targets in Belgian sights are the United States National Security Agency and Germany’s Bundesnach-richtendienst (BND) and an operation that they referred to as ‘EIKONAL’.

The Belgians found out about the snooping when Austrian politician Peter Pilz blew his whistle at a press conference in Bern, Switzerland, saying that EIKONAL had targeted European telecommunications carriers for at least four years, from 2005 to 2008.

Spokesmen for the Belgian government have said that if the alleged espionage is confirmed, it would have “not only legal implications, but will also affect relations between Belgium, Germany and the US”. It also threatened to “take appropriate action” but didn’t specify what that would be – they probably don’t know yet.

Switzerland and the Netherlands flags

Needless to say, the governments of Switzerland and the Netherlands were not amused by the revelations either and immediately launched their own investigations into this thing called ‘EIKONAL’.

It’s all turning into what they call “a right old mess”.

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