Speak in the Past Tense and Talk About the Weather

The FCC just approved a couple of billion dollars to improve school wi-fi, and I thought the objections of one of the Republican board members were a perfect example of the stupidity of the knee-jerk Republican responses to everything:

Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai is doubtful, saying during today’s meeting that “any talk of fiscal responsibility will be short-lived. In five months, maybe six, we’ll be back at this table discussing how much to increase Americans’ phone bills. Universal service contribution rates have jumped 60 percent under this administration. What’s a few billion dollars more?”

The FCC is also aiming to simplify the application process to make it easier for schools and libraries to apply. Even here, though, Pai said that “schools and libraries generally still have to fill out a 17-page application to receive funding.” They’ll also have to follow “specialized procurement rules,” wait months to receive any funding comments, and decide how to spend E-rate funds “up to a year before the school year begins.”

Pai argued that schools and libraries should be given more leeway to make their own decisions on how to spend the money.

This is the Republican “the food there is no good and the portions are too small” approach to government. Gripe about how expensive things are, make sure there are no regulations so that the inevitable rip-offs make things more expensive, and then bitch about how government incompetence lets us get ripped off.

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125 replies
  1. 1
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Even here, though, Pai said that “schools and libraries generally still have to fill out a 17-page application to receive funding.

    That’s about the length of the FAFSA. But ,hey if you believe that a third of the budget is wastefraudandabuse, and your’re trying to stop it, you get 17-page applications.

  2. 2
    Davis X. Machina says:

    ….and decide how to spend E-rate funds “up to a year before the school year begins.”

    This is faster than my district’s textbook adoption policy. There’s no evidence here of mental engagement with actually-existing schools.

  3. 3
    Fred says:

    GOP: “Government is bad and we make sure of it.”

  4. 4
    mai naem says:

    Well Pai was the general counsel for Verizon. Obama nominated him to one of the GOP FCC seats. I can’t remember – was the FCC the commission where the GOP person switched political affiliations so that Bush could nominate them for a non-GOP seat? Anyhow, look up Pai’s background. Parents were both physicians. He went to Harvard of Univ. of Chicago. Do you think he even knows somebody socially or at work who doesn’t have multiple devices with internet connections? I’m not talking about the serfs around him.

  5. 5
    D58826 says:

    OT but to funny. Over at digby’s place is a link to the breitbart article about the Muslim prayer rug found in Arizona

    Anyway, to Arizona:

    Matthew Leber spokesman for the American Patriot, Three Percent, sent Breitbart News photos of what American security contractors on the ground believe is a Muslim prayer rug found near the border in Arizona last week.

    A member of the security team spoke with Breitbart News on Monday night saying they were on patrol right along the border came down into a wash and the area were working in just south of Sierra Vista in Coronado national forest.

    “That’s when I saw this thing laying around. And I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ We walked over there and I didn’t really want to pull at it not knowing what was on it. I poked a bit at it with a stick and noticed some of the Arabic writing and was just like, ‘Oh boy.’ I snapped a couple of photos and then went on our patrol.”

    The photo shows an Adidas soccer jersey. (sigh)

  6. 6
    mark says:

    I would call them (to steal a line from Ed Abbey) “knee-pad conservatives”” always groveling before the rich and powerful, praying to the almighty dollar.

    Note the last line (and the establishment media always, always gives them the last word) is nothing more than Refailagain-speak for profitizing the public sector. Making money (with contracts usually gained by bribery…legal right now) off of things that should be sacred = public education, the armed services. Nothing is sacred to these cult members but money. Keep giving them their way and there will be no citizens left, only consumers.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    The best democracy money can buy.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    @mai naem:

    Where did you hear that Pai was Verizon’s GC? I don’t think that’s correct.

    In any event, the FCC by law has to be bipartisan. Typically, the White House works with the opposition parțy in the Senate on the pick. There’s not really anyone the GOP would name that would be any different.

  9. 9
    mark says:

    @mai naem: great info! Obama nominated this reactionary? jeez…

  10. 10
    Jay C says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Pai argued that schools and libraries should be given more leeway to make their own decisions on how to spend the money.

    So, iow, if the local school/library board want to take their Federal wi-fi improvement funds, and use them to erect a statue of Satan by the front flagpole, or finance a hookers-blow-and-gambling jaunt to Vegas, or even just vote themselves a “bonus”, Mr. Pai will be down with that because…FREEDOM! or what????

  11. 11
    bvernia says:

    I’m not sure what he was talking about when he referred to “fiscal responsibility,” but the program in question isn’t really government-funded. It’s paid for by mandatory contributions from telecommunications companies, and the funds are kept separate from the Treasury – at least that’s what the Fifth Circuit just ruled in dismissing a whistleblower’s case under the False Claims Act (i.e., the companies which were defendants in that case couldn’t have submitted false claims to the government under the E-Rate program because E-Rate is not part of the government).

  12. 12
    Baud says:


    You’re correct about the separate funding, but the E-rate is governmental. I’m not sure what the Fifth Circuit’s rationale was to say that it’s not.

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    @Davis X. Machina: There’s no evidence here of mental engagement


  14. 14
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Fuck the GOP. They claim government is bad, get elected, and then make it worse (either deliberately or through plain old incompetence) – and then say re-elect us because we told you how bad government was.

    The above just sounds like the usual combination of crap about how things should be – invisible hand über alles.

  15. 15
    JGabriel says:

    Even here, though, Pai said that “schools and libraries generally still have to fill out a 17-page application to receive funding.”

    And if they don’t have a 17 page application to fill out, Republicans will say we’re not getting enough information and the schools are probably committing fraud – because that’s what Republicans do: demand excessive information and proof of need, then blame gov’t for having too much paperwork.


  16. 16
    Kay says:

    @Jay C:

    Republicans cannot have a discussion without introducing “the laboratory of the states” principle. It also applies states to local. Once he checks that box he can move onto “personal responsibility”.

  17. 17
    Amir Khalid says:

    I have no idea what the American Patriots, Three Percent, think die Marke mit den 3 Streifen is Arabic for. Of, for that matter, what the rugs look like in Matthew Leber’s house.

    By the way, a prayer rug is customary because you need a clean surface for kneeling and sitting on. That’s all it’s for. In a pinch, you can use anything that’s clean enough, including of course a football shirt. More than once I have seen people praying on a flattened cardboard carton.

  18. 18
    Betty Cracker says:

    O/T, but I’m just not getting over this terror when my teen is driving thing. Right now, we’re driving out in the country, kid at the wheel, hubby up front to coach if need be. And the kid is doing fine, driving better than a dozen adults I could name. But I’m scared shitless!

    I’m hiding my terror by reading B-J, looking out the window, meditating with my eyes shut. I’m not letting on because I know expressing my neurotic fright would make the poor thing nervous. But gott-damn, I hate this. Can’t seem to shake it.

  19. 19
    Cervantes says:

    @Betty Cracker: For now, don’t be in the car when she’s driving. Or don’t ask her to drive when you’re in the car. She’ll understand.

  20. 20
    Cervantes says:

    @Baud: He was Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications from ’01 to ’03.

  21. 21
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Betty Cracker: I think they should offer courses in backseat driving techniques. But they don’t. Heck, they don’t even train folks in how to properly ride shotgun anymore.

  22. 22
    Baud says:


    That makes more sense.

    @Betty Cracker:

    Reading BJ alleviates terror?

  23. 23
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Cervantes: Not really an option because she needs the practice, and since she’s 15, and adult has to come along. The best I can do is suppress my terror.

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: yeah. But they could be terrorists. And they could be carrying diseases unknown to our science. And they could be gang members. And they could be allergic to dairy products. They could. You know they could be and we wouldn’t know it. Because we never ask the right questions. It’s all this “hey, are you hungry? Where are your parents?” crap that doesn’t get to the issues of real concern.

  25. 25
    Cervantes says:

    @Betty Cracker: I thought Mr. Cracker was handling it fine. If so, let him.

    Anyhow, you’re not really seeking advice, I know.

    It really is difficult to let them go, I agree. But at least with driving, it’s something you know how to do, so you can safely — I chose that word deliberately — assume she’ll figure it out, too.

    But just think of all the other things in this world that you and I have no idea how to manage, that she will soon have to cope with.

    There … does that help?

  26. 26
    Botsplainer says:

    I’m going to state the unpopular, but here goes:

    Education doesn’t require the tech investment that this society makes. More can be taught with chalkboards and dry erase boards by well paid teachers than can be taught by a legion of dullards armed with power point clickers and a room full of tablets.

    I was talking this week with my youngest daughter, whose high school was tech heavy. She’s intent on getting her PhD. She complains that some of her background is lacking, chemistry being the worst as there wasn’t much of a budget for labs, so it all came from a book discussed via PowerPoint. She also complains bitterly about the amount of time spent learning how to make powerpoint presentations.

    As I put it, no person who has ever attended a PowerPoint presentation ever said “wow, how interesting and informative. Those photos and slices of text really made that lecture pop.”

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT, but hilarious, from Noisemax:

    GOP Rips Todd Akin’s New Memoir

    The Republican Party’s worst nightmare is coming back to haunt it just as it hopes to win the Senate this fall.

    Former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s memoir is due out this month — and Politico reports that he does not apologize for his comments on “legitimate rape” or how the remarks brought victory to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill or how they hurt the GOP’s effort to retake the upper chamber in 2012.

    Pass the popcorn.

  28. 28
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    I’m particularly surprised that this person thinks a “Muslim prayer rug”, even one that looks like a German sportswear company’s product, is evidence of illegal immigrants from Latin America. Last I heard, there weren’t that many Muslims there.

  29. 29
    Baud says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    You’re surprised? Really? How long have you been reading American political blogs now?

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid: Well, they’re confusing Catholics with Muslims, but you have to understand these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know – morons.

  31. 31
    Cervantes says:

    @Botsplainer: Microsoft PowerPoint is a cancer and ought to be eradicated. (Alternative metaphor: forcing kids to use it is child abuse.)

  32. 32
    Amir Khalid says:

    Okay, you got me: I’m not all that surprised.

  33. 33
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Amir Khalid: true. But there is an entire circuit of speakers and authors who have made a good living going around to churches and militia meetings giving presentations on how sharia law is coming to Guadalajara next week.

  34. 34
    Poopyman says:

    @Suffern ACE: Powerpoint slides, no doubt.

    And so the threads are joined.

  35. 35
    Kay says:


    I did a 4 day community meeting on a new school we’re building. They hired a consultant to lead the group and he (IMO) pushed ed tech hard. So I’m at the “small business stakeholder” table and I’m waiting for question period to push back a bit on what I felt was a sales job and assuming everyone else was as completely persuaded as the consultant was. I was really pleasantly surprised to see a LOT of pushback, a lot of good questions. This wasn’t “get off my lawn”. A lot of our parents are quite young as are the teachers. In fact, it seemed to go the other way. The most enthralled and least skeptical seemed to be the older people. I wondered if maybe it is all more amazing to them than it is to say, my 12 year old who grew up with it. He’s not amazed by an online lecture or test prep disguised as a game. Why would he be?

    The skeptics were doing what to my mind you’re supposed to do: weighing costs over value-added and also questioning what was the value-added over the other products we buy (textbooks, etc.)

    I don’t think you’re alone or that your wariness is “unpopular” so much as maybe drowned out.

  36. 36
    Mike in NC says:

    Ajit Pai? Must be a RINO, and definitely not a Real American!

  37. 37
    Josie says:

    @Amir Khalid: The belief among right wing emailers is that Muslims are coming across the Texas Mexican border illegally and not being identified because they are dark skinned and therefore look like Mexicans, therefore terror. This is so stupid on so many levels that it is difficult to know where to begin, but it is a meme.

  38. 38
    Baud says:

    @Mike in NC:

    No more or less than Bobby Jindal or Dinesh D’Souza.

  39. 39
    Cervantes says:

    @Baud: Nikki Haley.

  40. 40
    shelley says:

    Well, well, well, looks like the Fox viewers who believe we’re in a new era of ‘christians vs. lions’ will have their very own film. Re a Google ad here ” ‘Persecuted’ is an upcoming action drama mystery film directed and written by Daniel Lusko. ” Looking at his entry in IMDB, that definately is the crowd he’s aiming at.

    I can understand Fred Thompson and Gretchen Carlson ‘starring’ in a film like this. But Dean Stockwell? Oh dear, you need to get a new agent.

  41. 41
    geg6 says:

    OT, but I’m ready to strangle my older sister. This is the one who expected me and John to shell out about 5 grand to attend her destination wedding for her FOURTH!! wedding (and no, we didn’t go). Now she’s throwing herself a huge birthday party for her 60th, which I was fine with when we discussed it about a month ago when she said she was having it catered. I’d buy her a nice present, bring my own wine and have a good time partying and swimming in her pool. Thursday, she calls and says she needed to know what I’m bringing since the party was only two days away. I asked what happened to having it catered, she said she ordered chicken and potatoes, but she expected her sisters to bring the rest. Since it was so late in the process, I said I’d make a green salad. And asked how many were coming. She sad she got RSVPs from 60 people! Sixty fucking people! I just spent $80 on salad and it’s fixings. And then spent three hours washing and chopping vegetable. She is no longer getting a present; she’s getting a fucking card and that’s it. Am I wrong here?

  42. 42
    WereBear says:

    @Betty Cracker: It’s not her driving, it’s you worrying about the other drivers, maybe?

    Emotions aren’t logical. It’s because you love her and she’s growing up.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:


    You could get her a book on effective planning ahead and communications skills. (Or anything by Roz Chast, WTF, laugh is good.)

    My sympathies. And have fun at the bday party!

  44. 44
    Kay says:


    I love this story, with the installments.

    My son is getting married in August. They’re getting married in their apartment and they only invited 32 people because that’s all they can possibly host. The whole thing is turning out so nice. They aren’t all stressed because they’re not spending a ton of money and it’s sort of low-key and open. She sent out this email where “everyone who wants to can be a bridesmaid” that was so well-received by the (female) recipients. The volunteers are planning what to wear. I of course had to ask my son if I can be a bridesmaid and he said “no, you can’t”, because that’s the kind of authoritarian monster he is :)

    I wasn’t going to do it. I just wanted to know if I could do it.

  45. 45
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker: If another responsible adult is onboard (your husband), cadge some Ativan?

    Good to hear Cracker Jr’s driving skills are good. She’s got enough challenges living in your beautiful but whacked state.

  46. 46
    Mike G says:

    Pai argued that schools and libraries should be given more leeway to make their own decisions on how to spend the money.

    “So I can then cherry-pick examples of how it was spent to complain about next year.”

  47. 47
    Botsplainer says:


    Siblings. Chapping your ass from birth to death.

  48. 48
    WereBear says:

    @Botsplainer: However, it is important to know how to work these devices for future employment, and some of these kids wouldn’t be able to get much learning time with them, otherwise.

    I agree with your main point; I actually had a rigorous education from Florida in the 1970’s, but then again, I was a white kid, in the gifted program, and had a father who would complain if I wasn’t on the college track, as it was known.

    We know how to teach. We just don’t do it.

  49. 49
    Kay says:


    Are we sure they won’t get much time, though? I know it’s income level, I buy that, but even our lowest income teenagers have smart phones and data plans. They all have them. They use them like very small laptops. They’re pretty adept at this. I can’t get them to raise their eyes when they’re talking to me.

  50. 50
    beth says:

    @Betty Cracker: I feel for you – I finally had to just shell out the money for a driving school because if I kept teaching her, I would have stroked out. I’m a bad passenger when I drive with people who’ve been driving for years. Now, two years later, I still put on dark glasses and look out the side window or read a book if I’m forced to sit in the front while she’s driving (and she’s actually a pretty good driver).

  51. 51
    Botsplainer says:


    However, it is important to know how to work these devices for future employment, and some of these kids wouldn’t be able to get much learning time with them, otherwise.

    Actually, it isn’t. Most tech has a core functionality that can be mastered for non-IT professional use in a couple of short training sessions. My daughter’s biggest gripe was that they spent an inordinate amount of time learning to work systems that they knew were going to be obsolete, but no time at all on the why of computer function.

  52. 52
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Kay: you should use skype. Even when they are in the same room.

  53. 53
    Kyle says:


    The belief among right wing emailers is that Muslims are coming across the Texas Mexican border illegally and not being identified because they are dark skinned and therefore look like Mexicans, therefore terror. This is so stupid on so many levels that it is difficult to know where to begin, but it is a meme.

    Right wingers have been using the border as a bogeyman in their parochial fear of Others for as long as I can remember. In the 80s it was commie Sandinistas sneaking across and desecrating our precious bodily fluids (before that it was Cubans), during Gulf War I it was Saddam’s sooper-sekrit ninjas infiltrating San Diego, and since 9/11 it’s all-mooslim-terrists-all-the-time.

    As far as I know there’s ever been a known Al Qaeda operative caught at the border. If there was I’m sure Fux News would still be pants-pissing about it and demanding a 1500-mile moat with crocodiles.

  54. 54
    WereBear says:

    @geg6: Reminds me of my first husband’s first ex-wife.

    She told the daughter she abandoned and we raised that she would pay for the wedding. She wanted to give her the shindig she never had! And so, she took complete control, manipulated the bride (who was young and never got over not having a mother) and so messed up everyone’s relationships we didn’t even attend.

    And about a week before the wedding, she told the bride that it had slipped her mind that she was pregnant and her husband was out of work and so she couldn’t contribute a penny.

    So there was a lot of last minute scrambling and the couple was divorced within three years.

    What did vicious ex-wife care? She got what she wanted.

  55. 55
    Steeplejack says:


    Am I wrong here?

    Only about making salad for 60 people. I would have told her, “The last I heard, you said it was being catered. Now it’s two days away, and I don’t have time to make anything. Maybe you can to go Food Lion and get a bunch of those crudité platters. Rotsa ruck!”

  56. 56
    Schlemizel says:

    Pai’s career outside of the FCC has spanned the private and public sectors. With respect to the private sector, Pai worked in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block LLP, where he was a Partner in the Communications Practice until being sworn in as a Commissioner. Years earlier, he served as Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications Inc., where he handled competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives.

    Pai also has served in all three branches of the federal government. After moving to Washington, DC in 1998, his first post was with the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as an Honors Program trial attorney on the Telecommunications Task Force. There, he worked on proposed mergers and acquisitions and on novel requests for regulatory relief following the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He later returned to the Department of Justice to serve as Senior Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy. Pai has worked on Capitol Hill as well, first as Deputy Chief Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, and later as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. Immediately following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

  57. 57
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I love the underground secondary market on smart phones they have running. My 20 year old is part of it. One of them gets a new, better phone and then they sell the old phone. He keeps moving up and I don’t think he’s ever purchased a new phone. He sneers at this whole idea of “plans” and “contracts” and “upgrades” :)

  58. 58
    Botsplainer says:


    So much wrong in one short tale.

  59. 59
    Schlemizel says:

    I’d go to costco & buy a bunch of their bagged salads. Maybe a bit more money but no work.

    Your sis sounds like my wife’s sis. A royal pain in the ass, I avoid her at all times but my wife puts up with it & whines to me.

  60. 60
    geg6 says:


    Oh gawd, weddings! John’s daughter’s wedding is a little over a month away. The intimate wedding on her mother’s farm has turned into a giant production with trailers being brought in for bathroom facilities and prep areas for bridal party. From less than a hundred guests to over 250. From a few thousand $$ to in the tens of thousands. And Kaitlind is not the one blowing it up, it’s her mother’s doing. And the woman is also trying to talk her into either having her step-dad walk her down the aisle or no one because John has not paid enough into this circus. As Kaitlind said to me, apparently the $1800 a month child support paid for fourteen years and the $100,000 he paid for the college degree she didn’t finish wasn’t enough money to assuage her mother’s antagonism against the guy she cheated and walked out on.

    That wedding day should be a blast, right?

  61. 61
    Kay says:


    I actually really like weddings. Do you and John compare/contrast when you leave one? We do. I went to one last summer that was three days long. I only went for one day and everyone had all these complicated relationships and grievances by the time I got there. It was like they had been thru some ordeal together and bonds were either strengthened or fractured. They had formed cliques! I love that stuff.

    They had a full-sized bus to take the wedding party to their various “appointments”. I saw it idling at the curb and I couldn’t stop laughing. My daughter was in it and she looked spectral and stunned at the ceremony. She was exhausted. She’s a fainter. I was primed to go get her if she started to sway.

  62. 62
    Schlemizel says:

    Oh gawd, the pain we humans inflict on ourselves. Sounds like you have a few good times ahead.

  63. 63


    I’m not sure what he was talking about when he referred to “fiscal responsibility,”

    Every other time they use that phrase it means ‘This helps people, and I don’t like helping people.’ There’s usually a side of ‘The people being helped might be black, and look where that’s gotten us – a black president!’ Doesn’t have to be, though. Being an asshole is the binding element of all GOP policy.

    Racism on blatant display. Evidence that a Muslim exists scares them, and is a news story.

    We absolutely, definitely need to be spending much more on teachers and more basic school infrastructure before computers. The GOP hates that even more than spending on computers. To Christianists, conspiracy theorists, racists, and the 1% the public school system is the enemy. They’ve always felt that way, and they define the GOP.

  64. 64
    WereBear says:

    @Kay: They use them like very small laptops. They’re pretty adept at this.

    Yes, and that’s fine for jobs that will need smart phone expertise. And there are some! But it doesn’t necessarily translate.

    At this point, at a minimum, everyone should have word processing and spreadsheet skills, able to not blow up the computer, plus tablet comfort and yes, they need PowerPoint. Because when the boss says, “Do a PowerPoint for me,” they will need to do it.

    Mind you, back when temping was an actual thing for administrative people who took vacations or whatever, and not a tactic to cut payroll, I took all the tests and checked all the boxes and winged it successfully, but not everyone has these kinds of skills. They need to have actually added up a column of numbers and formatted a document.

    And a lot of them cannot.

  65. 65
    aimai says:

    @Betty Cracker: Yes, just opt out. I’m 53–I learned to drive at 30 when I was a long way from home and my mother never really reconciled herself to me as a driver. Even TODAY when I drive her places she clutches the side of the car and hangs on for dear life when I turn a corner. I swear its not me–its her. I’m a very good driver and my mother is the kind of person who once asked me to “check the manual” for directions when I was lost driving around Berkeley. She often also asks me if my car “has air conditioning?”

  66. 66

    This is the Republican “the food there is no good and the portions are too small” approach to government. Gripe about how expensive things are, make sure there are no regulations so that the inevitable rip-offs make things more expensive, and then bitch about how government incompetence lets us get ripped off.

    Yup. This was my precise rant this morning. Our Republican governor has refused the Medicaid expansion because it’s “too expensive” (even though it’s basically free) and he says we “can’t afford it,” meanwhile in Nashville this week an armed gunman holds up an auto parts store, the whole time blubbering “my girl has cancer, I need the money.”

    Yes, do tell me how expensive the Medicaid expansion is. I’m dying to hear.

  67. 67
    aimai says:

    @geg6: No, you are 100 percent right. I would have no trouble either cooking the meal myself (60 people isn’t that many) or asking all my friends to potluck it but asking siblings at the last minute to furnish the sides for a 60 person potluck is absolutely appalling. Really appalling.

  68. 68
    SixStringFanatic says:

    @geg6: These are the kinds of stories I point to when people wonder why, at age 46, I’ve never even seriously considered getting married. Pretty sure the bloghost would agree with me.

  69. 69
    Eric U. says:

    @Kay: you just have to go to one of these tech marvels a couple of years after they are built to see the problem. At Penn State we have a building that was supposed to be high tech that looks incredibly dated. I can’t imagine the students use the computers that are there, they all have laptops of their own. You need wifi and a power outlet at most. Maybe build in a few usb charger ports.

  70. 70
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @geg6: The only way you might be wrong is in giving in to her extortion of sibling provided catering for 60. I’d probably stay home, but I can be obnoxious that way sometimes. “My boundaries you don’t get to pick” is the message I try to broadcast.

  71. 71
    Citizen_X says:


    But you know that now, don’t you?

  72. 72
    Eric U. says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q): People know not to pull this crap on me, I would laugh. “Sucks to be you, sis” is the answer. But as self absorbed as my sister can be, she wouldn’t do this.

  73. 73
    Kay says:

    @Eric U.:

    I hate the “schools are like businesses” theme, I don’t think they are, but this was one area where the business people were helpful. We’re wary, because we’re sold upgrades and whatnot constantly.

    I don’t have any problem with the government expanding what I consider infrastructure, but I wish they wouldn’t sell the products, and some of them do.

    I have complete faith in the tech industry ability to sell product. I don’t think they need politicians acting as a salesperson. If the products have merit and add value, schools will eventually buy them.

    The whole community planning was really interesting. I highly recommend it. We had an expert discuss “project based” learning and this is a rural area and the farmer at my table asked me more about it. He’s a big, successful farmer and sophisticated. He actually ran his operation thru his smartphone the whole 4 days. I said “4-H is project based learning” and he smiled. That’s what it is.

  74. 74
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Josie: Of course if I was an Al Queda(A division of the Military Industrial Complex Inc.) I would use Bosnian Muslims especially the blonde-blue eyed ones, then again I was a fan of the Showtime series Sleeper Cell. :-)

  75. 75

    @Mr Stagger Lee:
    Do Bosnian Muslims hate us? Do they resent how we prop up Israel (right now displaying its worst tyrannical aspects), or do they not care because they’re not Arabs? Are they more concerned with how we helped stop their slaughter at the hands of the local Slavic population? I do not know the answer to any of this.

  76. 76
    Cacti says:

    Tommy Ramone has succumbed to bile duct cancer, becoming the third member of the group claimed by cancer of some type.

    The original Ramones lineup have all passed away now.

  77. 77
    Citizen_X says:

    @Cacti: Geez, was their neighborhood in Queens on an industrial waste dump or something?

  78. 78
    Kay says:


    That’s reasonable, but that isn’t how it’s sold. It’s sold as “transformative” (actual language used) and I just have some questions.

    This is an interesting take:

    One reason that so many people are so ready to fall for the rhetorical devices that give “digital native” and “digital immigrant” sticking power is that we’re all already primed to grant sanctified status to “digital”—to separate this current phase of development ¬¬out from the broad history of technology. I wonder, did people talk about “industrial natives” and “industrial immigrants”? Were kids who grew up working in factories just “industrial natives” who were at home amongst the machines? (I actually posed these questions to a few technology historians, to no avail.)

    I tend to think “having the capacity to learn to use a tool” is a skill that doesn’t depend on the tool. Public schools are just so strapped. I’d hate if they cut back on human beings to go full-out in this area. At my meeting, everyone kept telling me “staff is the biggest cost” sort of grimly shaking their heads at the waste of it all like I’m supposed to hate that and resent it and want to re-allocate or something. I’m thinking “good! you mean ‘people’, right? They do tend to be very mouthy and demanding!” :)


  79. 79
    ruemara says:

    @mark: Not great info, because the inferring going on is incorrect.

  80. 80
    Anoniminous says:

    The basics of what a computer is can be learned in a couple of hours. How a computer works is the next level, to grasp an overview is another couple of hours. Add a morning spent learning basic Set Theory and an afternoon spent on Boolean Logic. Then a quickie course in binary arithmetic and the little kiddies are Good To Go.

    None of this basic stuff is that hard or difficult to learn. Once learned it provides a background for knowing the Why of application programs thus making learning the What a darn sight easier.

  81. 81
    WereBear says:

    @Kay: No question that you are right… if they are trying to shuffle off teaching to tools instead of people, they are wrong.

    We all learn best through modeling and human interaction. This is why we celebrate genius because it’s someone who never did that before!

    And I speak as a lifelong bookworm. I learned a lot that way, but stuff I had trouble with (Algebra!) was solved by actual teachers.

    However, I do think we have some obligation to let high school graduates leave school with actual skills. I know kids who don’t have laptops, don’t have phones, don’t have anything but endless baby sitting chores and the knowledge that when they graduate from HS the parents will throw them out on their own.

    I’d like them to have some skills to be more employable than their parents.

  82. 82
    Kropadope says:

    @Kay: Don’t you know everything should be run like a business and employees are an expense, like printing supplies?

  83. 83
    Kropadope says:

    @Kay: In fact, I don’t think a business could attract good employees or thrive if it were as draconian towards it’s employees as Republican politicians.

  84. 84
    Bex says:

    @geg6: :Your sister sounds like she has lots of issues, total narcissism being just one. You were right not to go to the wedding. You are right to be pissed off about the last minute salad bringing. You will be right to ignore rude requests like this in the future.

  85. 85
    WereBear says:

    @Anoniminous: I suspect you have not hired young people for entry level positions.

    Then again, I was once debating firing someone for being unable to file numerically, and they saved me the trouble by quitting.

    They had been hired by the post office.

  86. 86
    WereBear says:

    @Kropadope: They don’t and they aren’t.

    American business needs to go back to basics and dump the MBA idiocy. Short term thinking will ruin us all.

  87. 87
    Anoniminous says:


    Education and Job Training are two different goals thus two different, yet inter-related, paths are required to reach the specific goal. One of the problems of the US school system is, IMNSHO, the inability to grasp this.

  88. 88
    jc says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things in this country. The right demonizes minorities and the poor, and then when some poor person acts out of desperation, looting a Walgreens for disposable diapers during a natural disaster, one of the Fox fascists screams: see! “those people” should be locked up.

  89. 89
    another Holocene human says:

    @Amir Khalid: I always found Malcolm X’s comments on Oriental rugs interesting.

  90. 90
    WereBear says:

    @Anoniminous: I don’t know how they still work it; my high school had a “track” for the college bound, and another “track” for vocational, and I don’t have a problem with that.

    Middle and upper class kids get pushed into academics whether they have a talent for it or not, and working class and the poor get pushed away… whether they have a talent for it or not.

    Every kid deserves an education, but jamming some person who wants to be an auto mechanic, and has promise in that profession, into Greek Mythology when they don’t want to be there; that’s a waste of money and time.

  91. 91
    Tripod says:

    Screw this clown. The correct tea partay-n’ down answer is BURN THE BOOKS!

  92. 92
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @WereBear: I can sweat copper pipe, and conjugate Greek -μι verbs. I’ve done both for money. On a good day I can conjugate while I sweat pipe.

    People are pretty flexible.

  93. 93
    Poopyman says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    People are pretty flexible.

    Yeah, like PEX, which is going to make your pipe sweating skills obsolete. The ironic thing here is that the market for conjugating Greek is more stable.

  94. 94
    Anoniminous says:


    I agree.

    I submit one of the fundamental problems with the US school system is the privileging of academics and the disparaging of Trades. Any kid with a knack and interest in auto mechanics is deemed “inferior,” and even “stupid.” (shudder quotes)

    ETA: Pirsig goes into this in depth and along several different axis in his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

  95. 95
    Corner Stone says:


    Every kid deserves an education, but jamming some person who wants to be an auto mechanic, and has promise in that profession, into Greek Mythology when they don’t want to be there; that’s a waste of money and time.

    Is society et al better served by having that individual be educated on a topic they’re not interested in? And has no linkage to any potential income stream in the future?

  96. 96
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @WereBear: Well, maybe by “jamming” that promising auto mechanic into Greek Mythology it will make him/her a better mechanic because he/she will have been exposed to the universe of ideas and critical thinking.

    It’s time we get MORE expansive in our education curriculum: we are becoming too narrow and it’s affecting our ability to be good citizens.

  97. 97
    Anoniminous says:


    Anyone doing maintenance will need to know how to sweat copper pipes. There’s a hundred thousand linear miles of the stuff installed in old buildings and even in new(er) plumbing systems using PEX there’s an occasional called for sweating copper in both domestic and industrial applications.

  98. 98
    Betty Cracker says:

    @aimai: It’s totally me, not her. Maybe it’s a manifestation of fear of empty nest or something? I taught both my younger siblings to drive and have taught several men to trailer and drive sizable boats. I’m usually not a scaredy-cat!

  99. 99
    Kay says:


    That is something the Obama Administration has made progress with, thru the Labor Department.
    It’s partly regional and partly class-based, IMO. We have a waiting list for our 5 county vo-tech high school. It is hard to get into. For skilled trades, part of it was the decline of labor unions. They had apprentice programs. Some still do. My middle son applied for one (electrician) and he is still waiting to hear back. They get thousands of apps.
    There’s huge support for it here. There doesn’t seem to be this big fear that kids will be “tracked” too early based on family income or other things that shouldn’t matter (although I do think one has to be careful that doesn’t happen).

  100. 100
    scav says:

    @Corner Stone: Mmmm, I’d say getting the tools of problem solving and techniques for identifying and evaluating data and lines of argument and workflow, QAing etc. in both the physical and more abstract (yup, even literary) sense are critical. Skills in communication count too. Immediate interests can be good grounds for getting this overall ball rolling, but learning that these basic problem-solving skills are generalizable and recognized as such is an important step. Too great a focus on exact skills, exact context, can lead to dead ends, especially over the long haul.

  101. 101
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Betty Cracker: I would never peg you as a scaredy-cat, Betty, but I do see this as, possibly, dealing with so many (parental) issues that are out of your control that your fear is bubbling over into areas that you normally would take in stride and embrace.

  102. 102
    another Holocene human says:

    @Botsplainer: I have a bunch of coworkers who have yet to grasp click and drag who put the lie to such cheerful assertions.

    I went to a wealthy school. We spent formal hours learning how to work gui. You did too, must likely but it has receded into the depths of time.

    (It’s like the mythical ‘learn language like a child’ when a child learns their first language over years and with difficulty.

    Children can’t hold in frustration like adults but in they’re own way they’re far less impatient.

  103. 103
    WereBear says:

    @pamelabrown53: I know that is the theory but I have rarely observed it working in practice.

    What I saw was boredom and resentment which created problems for everyone. Electives in HS are fine. Let people explore their interests.

    But we can’t force everyone into the same mold.

  104. 104
    Tommy says:

    A few years ago my little rural town filled out some paperwork. We got TARP funding and wired every public building with fiber. We built our own fiber network. Now the goal is to offer close to free Internet access for everybody. The thinking, well that would be “cool” and businesses might want to relocate here.

    Verizon and others plan to sue the city.

  105. 105
    another Holocene human says:

    @Botsplainer: Powerpoint is like a cult. It needs to go straight back to hell.

    Hahvahd lurves them some PP. They also had the only Chikfilhate in New England.

    Just sayin out of HU and MIT, MIT is better and you can still cross register for Harvard classes muahaha. Otoh they’re both in Cambridge :(

    Note: neither fine institution would have me, but in a do over I’d just ignore the big crimson pimple

  106. 106
    J R in WV says:

    Right now it’s the alien Muslims, ever since September 11, 2001.

    But no one remembers the attack of the satanic lords, when every deceased wild animal was a satanic sacrifice, when child care workers were actually convicted of sexually torturing children (with – magically – no sign whatsoever of ever being touched on their genitals!!!) and making them help with the sacrifice of either a horse or a goat, with no sign of the remains.

    Law officers actually became experts in satanic ritual so they could find and dig out the satanic circles that were hiding all around us.

    Personally, that’s just another choice of religion, isn’t it? Don’t people have every right to worship a god, no matter what they call him? Her?

    But for at least 20 years the threat to the children of the secret satanic cults was overwhelming. The history is all there, but everyone seems to have completely forgotten it. I hope those child care workers sentenced to life in prison for torturing children with invisible sexual abuse aren’t still in the solitary confinement torture cells, to keep the inmate population from hurting them.

    Anbd now we know it is easy peasy to implant memories into the minds of children by endlessly interrogating them with leading questions. Without any adult present to protect the child, no lawyers, no parents, that would spoil the system. No video of the whole interrogation process, either, that would spoil the trial.

    But the idea that an Adidas shirt could be thought to be a mulsim prayer rug, that’s pretty funny, in a very sad way. Satan working in that guy’s sub-conscious mind, right?

  107. 107
    Botsplainer says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Speaking just for me, empty nesting is awesome.

  108. 108
    Tommy says:

    @another Holocene human: I went to college at a time where computers were not common. So I never went to a class where a PPT was given/presented. If I went to class today and a teacher pulled that shit, I’d stand up and say something like “are you that lazy?”

  109. 109
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @WereBear: Maybe I’m not getting what you’re saying. Children can be taught to understand big,broad concepts from the beginning. The earlier they’re exposed, the better it is to not pigeon hole.

    I’m thinking, WereBear, that I’m not understanding your meaning and thus am unnecessarily at cross purposes. Look forward to future communication.

  110. 110
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @D58826: I like how the article is mainly “this guy talked to someone at someplace, we can’t say who or were, that,,..” ’cause second and third information is so factual.

  111. 111

    @Davis X. Machina: Only seventeen pages? Based on most RFA’s I see from most funding agencies — government and private — that’s the short form. Last week I worked on a grant where the narrative for the budget alone with supporting docs was 25 and I counted myself lucky.

  112. 112

    @Davis X. Machina: PS: With most grants from the federal government, the first year is basic planning and setting up. The real action takes place in Years 2 – 5.

  113. 113
    randy khan says:

    So, from first-hand experience as someone who works around the FCC:

    First, Pai is kind of a jerk. He’s like the smartish kid in high school who wants everyone to know how smart he is, even though he’s not actually the smartest one. He makes a point of throwing pop culture references – usually movies – into almost all of his public statements so as to make it seem like he’s a little hip.

    Second, what his bio doesn’t say is that his political sponsor is Sam Brownback. You can extrapolate from there.

    Third, he got the seat because, since the Clinton Administration, the FCC has been divvied up so that the President picks the chair, people in Congress from the President’s party pick the other 2 commissioners from his party, and people in Congress from the other party pick the remaining 2 commissioners. It’s a terrible system, but nobody in Congress will let it be changed for obvious reasons. Most of the recent Republican Congressional picks have been awful – Pai, Michael O’Rielly (who has taken to pronouncing that he doesn’t care what the courts say, he knows what the Communications Act means), Deborah Taylor Tate – because they’ve been rewards for loyalty of one sort or another. The Democratic picks aren’t entirely great, either, but at least they’re more plausible choices – Mignon Clyburn actually was a state public utility commissioner, for instance.

    Fourth, Pai’s plan, literally, was to cut the application form down to a single page and not require the schools and libraries to say what they were going to do in advance so long as they promised to use the money for things that were permitted. Ironically, there were a lot of things that Pai and the Democrats agreed on, including eliminating funding for voice service and other legacy services entirely. That’s the really big picture on this order, but Pai wanted to blow it up so he could create a bunch of impossible-to-audit block grants.

    Fifth, some of Pai’s complaints were utterly nonsensical. He said it would be tough for schools to apply because the new discounts were being calculated on a district-wide, not school-by-school, basis. Well, of course, no public school applies on its own – those applications are done at the district level, so the change actually made it easier, not harder to apply.

    Finally, this is part of a calculated strategy to claim that the FCC is being run in a partisan fashion. The truth is that the Republicans aren’t interested in compromise at all. Pai and O’Rielly both said yesterday that all of their proposed changes to the order had been rejected. I’m sure that’s true, but it’s also true that the only ones we actually know about – Pai’s – would have changed the whole program in a pretty radical way.

  114. 114
    Ruckus says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    “My boundaries you don’t get to pick” is the message I try to broadcast.

    How do you make that work? The only way I have is to disappear from the planet. A not small task.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m with Steeplejack and Schlemizel on this one — at best, I would have ordered a big salad from the grocery store and picked it up on my way to the party. Sorry, sis, but I have a job and I need more than 2 days notice to make food for 60 people.


    I get along fine with my stepmother (who raised me after my own mom died) but when it came to wedding time, we each had our own party — I planned the ceremony and small (40 people) reception here in California, and she planned a separate reception for us in Illinois about a month later. It worked out great — I had exactly what I wanted for my party, and I was able to relax and enjoy her party, which was exactly what she wanted.

    (My dad did take me aside at one point and say that he was willing to give us a cash gift instead of having the second party, but I knew she’d been hoping to throw a wedding for me since the two of them got married and she finally had a daughter, so I refused.)

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think I know what WereBear is saying because I saw it in my high school in an upper middle-class area: kids end up getting sorted by social/economic class and not by their interests, so a white upper-class kid who’s really interested in auto mechanics gets shuffled into academic classes that s/he may not have any interest or aptitude for, because their social class demands that they go to college, not into a trade.

    I definitely agree that kids should be encouraged to pursue their interests and should be exposed to things like Greek mythology that they may not realize they’re interested in until they’re exposed to it. That’s why it’s such a crime that arts and music have been cut from schools — those gave kids who might not be that interested in academics (math, science, English, etc.) something new and interesting to learn.

  117. 117
    Betty Cracker says:

    @randy khan: Thanks for that insider view, even if it does confirm our worst fears.

  118. 118
    Cervantes says:


    Do Bosnian Muslims hate us? Do they resent how we prop up Israel (right now displaying its worst tyrannical aspects), or do they not care because they’re not Arabs? Are they more concerned with how we helped stop their slaughter at the hands of the local Slavic population? I do not know the answer to any of this.

    “They” don’t all hate “us” — nor do they all necessarily believe we “helped stop their slaughter” for purely humanitarian reasons. They are as varied as we are, and include as many cynics per capita. Also note: they are part of the “local Slavic population.”

    Re the way “we prop up Israel,” one does not have to be Muslim to object — but yes, many of them do object. You can find in Sarajevo the same anti-Israeli resentment you can find anywhere else, and some of it holds the US responsible (at least in part).

  119. 119
    randy khan says:

    @Betty Cracker: @Betty Cracker: Sorry to have to do that.

    The good news is that there’s no filibuster at the FCC, so Pai and O’Rielly can be thorns in everyone’s side, but can’t stop the Democrats from moving forward. While I don’t think yesterday’s order is perfect (although, in fact, nobody outside the FCC actually has seen it yet), it’s a lot better than what would have happened if the Republicans had been in a position to block a decision.

  120. 120
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @J R in WV:

    Don’t people have every right to worship a god, no matter what they call him?

    No. Only REAL religions (read: Protestant Christianity) are protected by the First Amendment.

    It’s on the original golden tablets hand delivered to Madison and Franklin by an unnamed arcangel (not named Moroni, for sure) in 1787.

  121. 121
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    No. Only REAL religions (read: Protestant Christianity) are protected by the First Amendment.

    I’m not even sure about that. Based on the recent Supreme Court rulings, Protestant Christianity seems to be protected only as far as it agrees with the One True Church. Protestants who have no problem with birth control still have to obey their employer’s dictates that just happen to match up with those of the Roman Catholic Church.

  122. 122
    Cervantes says:

    @randy khan: Thanks.

    Yes, Brownback — but also, at Chicago, he was a student of Cass Sunstein (who has worked for Obama and is Samantha Power’s husband) — so he’s connected.

  123. 123
    randy khan says:

    @Cervantes: No doubt he’s connected – look at the jobs he held – but it’s definitely the Brownback connection that got him nominated. It’s completely irrational, but basically the President has no say over the nominees from the other party these days. (This led, among other things, to President Bush nominating Ernest Hollings’s chief of staff to the FCC, and believe me when I say that nothing that Michael Copps did pleased Bush one iota.)

  124. 124
    Cervantes says:

    @randy khan: That’s a great example (Copps)!

    Thanks again for your insight.

  125. 125
    Cervantes says:

    @another Holocene human:

    Just sayin out of HU and MIT, MIT is better and you can still cross register for Harvard classes muahaha. Otoh they’re both in Cambridge :(

    Yes, Harvard does not make incoming cross-registration easy. MIT does, for graduate students and undergraduates — as does Wellesley, which is not in Cambridge and possibly attractive for other reasons.

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