Brilliance from Boing Boing:
Archive for the ‘Other News’ category
The fiscal year 2009 Dept of Education budget was $59.2 BILLION. And what did all that money buy us? Not much.
Fifteen-year-old students in the U.S. ranked 25th of 34 countries on an international math test and scored in the middle of the pack in science and reading, raising concerns the U.S. isn’t prepared to succeed in the global economy.
Teenagers from South Korea and Finland led in almost all academic categories on the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, according to the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, which represents 34 countries. U.S. students ranked 17th in science and 14th in reading. The U.S. government considers the OECD test one of the most comprehensive measures of international achievement.
The results show that U.S. students must improve to compete in a global economy, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday in a telephone interview. The Obama administration is promoting national curriculum standards and a revamping of teacher pay that stresses performance, rather than credentials and seniority.
“The brutal fact here is there are many countries that are far ahead of us and improving more rapidly than we are,” Duncan said. “This should be a massive wakeup call to the entire country.”
Naturally, the government response is to spend MORE money and give themselves MORE power. But doesn’t the 30+ year history of the federal dept of education prove that it is positively made of FAIL?
Abolish DOE at the federal level. Give control of the schools back to the individual states and local communities. Save billions of dollars and bring real learning back to the schools. After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste, right?
1. US Diplomats lie, spy and generally have a low opinion of non-US officials and leaders.
2. Governments of the world engage in secret deals, gossip and general sneakiness.
Any government who didn’t already know these things would have to be incredibly naive. It would also be incredibly naive of the US government to believe that other governments take everything the Americans say or do at face value. So while the CableGate specifics might be shocking to us “ordinary” folks, I doubt there were any real surprises for anyone involved in world “diplomacy” on a daily basis.
Oh, maybe there is a little embarrassment over some of the things that were leaked, but the 9/11 of world diplomacy? Hardly.
Video of the Day:
After all the outrage over TSA “security theater” these past few weeks and the success of National Opt-Out Day, we need to remember to promote possible solutions rather than just complaining.
With that in mind, here is an excerpt from a great article in Canada Free Press…
The path to safer air travel
It might surprise some people to learn that it takes travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel less than 30 minutes on average to get from the parking lot, through screening and to the boarding area, all without the use of full body scanners or needless groping. Their system of security is arguably the most effective in the world. They have not had a security breach since 2002 when a passenger mistakenly boarded a flight with a stowed handgun. Even then, that situation ended without incident.
I’ve heard and read all of the arguments that the Israeli security model could not be effectively implemented in the U.S. and Canada due to a wide range of factors, including area and demographics. Baloney. These contentions are merely excuses by people with little or no security experience who are afraid of being accused of bigotry and intolerance, or who stand to make fortunes through the sale and deployment of high tech x-ray devices.
I also say “baloney” to anyone who claims we can’t use the Israeli model here because we have so many more airports, so many more travelers. What? We can’t hire enough people to make up for the larger scale? In case it has escaped anyone, we have MILLIONS of UNEMPLOYED people right now who could use a job! A great many of those unemployed are over 35 and would probably be more than capable of doing the work.
In addition to hiring and training people in the Israeli model, many have asked why we aren’t using bomb-sniffing dogs. Indeed, why not? Apparently, the dogs have proven to be far more accurate and reliable than the billions of dollars spent on machines to do the same thing in Iraq as shown in this video:
Ideally, the whole thing would be left to private enterprise and the free market but let’s be honest. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon. So given the constraint that airport security will remain in FedGov hands for the foreseeable future, it should make one wonder – doesn’t the government want to create jobs? They keep saying they do but when a ripe opportunity to do so appears they look the other way.
It’s almost as if lining someone‘s pockets is more important than finding and using proven and effective security measures.
Actually, today is NOT the busiest air travel day of the year. Not even close! Everyone just thinks it is.
All reports are that people are moving through the lines quickly – even more quickly than usual – and that only a small percentage of travelers (as expected) have opted-out of the scanners. A handful of educational outreach groups peacefully handed out literature at airports today, but those were far from the security lines, slowing down no one.
There have even been reports from travelers that in many airports the scanners were not even in use today. Though TSA denies this was a tactical decision on their part, it certainly helps explain why people have been moving through the lines much faster than usual.
So if TSA actually did feel threatened by Opt-Out Day and you got through an airport security checkpoint today in record time because only the traditional measures were in use – you’re welcome.
It also seems that Thanksgiving air travel is down considerably this year and travel by road is up approximately 12%. A spokesman from AAA says the organization estimates “94 percent of all holiday travelers to go by automobile” this year.
I’m certain that at least some of that increase in road travel is due to people who have chosen liberty over fake security. So take that, Big Sis. We’re opting out of flying entirely.
All in all, I’d call the day a rousing success.