Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Small Scrapes and Bruises (Poem – “Powerpoint Poetry”)

1968 • Twelve years old • Cool, sunny morning • Brilliant blue sky • Greet a morning with limitless possibilities

So much energy • No fear • Black Schwinn Typhoon • Coaster brakes • No GPS


Gone all day • Miles from home • No ID • No cellphones • No adults knew where we were


No boss • No bills • No schedule • No money • No worry • No boredom
Fall off • Skin scraped • Small amount of blood • Burned only a little bit, only a little while • Right back on bike


Home around 6 • Bactine • Family dinner • Scabs on knees • Sleep • No worry • New day • New possibilities

A Look at 2009

It seems like it’s the time of year when we look back at what was accomplished, or not accomplished. This time of year and birthdays…

As usual, it was mixed, but overall not bad. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. The stock market did OK, but I’m still way “behind” where I thought I would be at this time in my life. However, I’m still quite fortunate. I lost my brother in law Dave this year. The Packers and the Bears won decisively this weekend and I know we would have discussed that. I miss him.

On the good side, my web business had some success. I have paying clients. I have performed well in the local search arena – my clients can be found on Google and Yahoo using the search criteria that we agreed was appropriate. The sites are functional and attractive. I have so much to learn still – and it wouldn’t hurt to get a better feel for graphic design and color matching.

I wrote some fiction this year – the first since college. I even wrote a poem – perhaps I’ll post it here. I was berating myself for not writing enough this year. I wanted to write a piece per week on my blog. I guess I wasn’t paying attention – this will be post 49 for this year (not counting the posts I ghostwrite for other people’s blogs), so I only missed three weeks. I guess I’m allowed 3 weeks of vacation at my age.

Despite the economic turndown, we had nice vacations (Tahoe, Florida, my RV trip…) and got home improvements accomplished.

Overall, not a bad year. Back to doom and gloom in the new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

American Competitiveness: An Educated Work Force

It takes three components to make a country competitive in the world economy: an educated work force, a sound infrastructure, and pro-business policies. I wish to address the make up of the work force.

The nation needs a workforce with a range of capabilities, but there are minimum standards that should be attained when a person graduates high school. Everyone should be able to read a newspaper and comprehend what was written. Everyone should be able to read and understand instructions for the common things they will encounter in their lives: cars, refrigerators, computers… They must have a basic understanding of math. Arithmetic should be second nature, with the ability to spot an obvious mistake. Everyone should have some grounding in algebra and geometry. Some understanding of statistics is important, at least so they can understand what they read, hear and see  in the media. They should be able to speak and write grammatically correct English. Lastly, they must be as comfortable with computers as possible. This is the minimum necessary for economic competitiveness; I do feel more is necessary to make people good citizens – but not much more.

Post-high-school education should consist of two tracks. One track should teach the technical skills necessary to teach people how to grow, make and fix things. The other track (which today seems like the only track, or the only “desirable” track) should train people for the professions: engineering, law, medicine… As I’ve said in many other posts, we need more people who can figure out how to grow things, make things and move things than we do MBAs, lawyers, game programmers, YouTube video contributors, and – dare I say it – creative writers.

However, education is not the silver bullet to increasing American competitiveness. It is necessary, but not sufficient. Other countries have plenty of smart people – and in the case of China and India, way more of them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

American Competitiveness: An Educated Work Force

It takes three components to make a country competitive in the world economy: an educated work force, a sound infrastructure, and pro-business policies. I wish to address the make up of the work force.
The nation needs a workforce with a range of capabilities, but there are minimum standards that should be attained when a person graduates high school. Everyone should be able to read a newspaper and comprehend what was written. Everyone should be able to read and understand instructions for the common things they will encounter in their lives: cars, refrigerators, computers… They must have a basic understanding of math. Arithmetic should be second nature, with the ability to spot an obvious mistake. Everyone should have some grounding in algebra and geometry. Some understanding of statistics is important, at least so they can understand what they read, hear and see  in the media. They should be able to speak and write grammatically correct English. Lastly, they must be as comfortable with computers as possible. This is the minimum necessary for economic competitiveness; I do feel more is necessary to make people good citizens – but not much more.
Post-high-school education should consist of two tracks. One track should teach the technical skills necessary to teach people how to grow, make and fix things. The other track (which today seems like the only track, or the only “desirable” track) should train people for the professions: engineering, law, medicine… As I’ve said in many other posts, we need more people who can figure out how to grow things, make things and move things than we do MBAs, lawyers, game programmers, YouTube video contributors, and – dare I say it – creative writers.
However, education is not the silver bullet to increasing American competitiveness. It is necessary, but not sufficient. Other countries have plenty of smart people – and in the case of China and India, way more of them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Town considers eyeing crime from the sky -- chicagotribune.com

I read this article today: Town considers eyeing crime from the sky -- chicagotribune.com

The concept is that there will be an aircraft (I couldn't tell from the article if this was a drone or a manned aircraft) filming virtually everything in the town - 24 / 7. Is this what we are moving to? Is this what we want? Our every move monitored? Our cell phones can track our movements. Our iPass can record where we've been and how fast we got there. Our credit and debit card transactions leave a trail of our whereabouts and actions. And now, we're being filmed from the sky. If this becomes the norm, will this still be the "the land of the free and the home of the brave"?

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