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Blog Posts for April 2012

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Where I'm Smarter than Hillary Clinton, Part II

 

So this morning, people in Egypt fire a rocket into Israel. A provocation that could spark wider panic and perhaps even war in a region that doesn't need it.

I wrote a post last year when this whole thing in Egypt was going down, saying that change for the sake of change is not a panacea - which we've learned here in the US for the last three years.

Hillary, on the other hand, said this:

It is not a question of who retains power - that should not be the issue.
When the Secretary of State doesn't understand that it matters who leads a country, well, that just speaks volumes. She sure thought it mattered when Bush was in office.

I said then, and I'll say again:

"If the government there actually turns out to be a democracy and run by its own people, odds are that Egypt will no longer be an ally and won't believe in individual freedom.

"While I support self-rule by people, the basis of that support is a desire for individuals to be free to choose their own direction in life. Tyranny by a majority that results in restricted freedom for the minority is not a government based in freedom. While it might be democracy, its underlying principle is not liberty.

"Pushing for democratic change in a region where the people do not embrace freedom is far more likely to turn out badly than it is to turn out well - for that nation's people and for the US."

Educated people aren't necessarily smart people, and it's unfortunate that too many look at academic credentials as accomplishment and intellect. It means nothing of the sort.

Liberals ought to embrace freedom. Isn't the root of "liberal" liberty? Democracy for democracy's sake shouldn't be a goal. There is a tyranny of the majority, both from the right and from the left, and both are wrong because they ignore every person's right to be free.

My definition: you have the right to choose the direction of your life so long as you're not stepping on the liberties of others.

Egypt has every right to choose its own course. But when it steps on the liberty of Israel by firing a rocket into its midst, then Israel has every right to defend itself. And should.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 4/5/2012 9:28:15 AM
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On Affirmative Action

 

Glenn Reynolds has a post today on the affirmative action data from a university which was accidentally released. The data shows the difference between LSAT scores by racial category. (This summation from the comments.)

White {164.38, 164, 3.14}
Asian {164.32, 164, 3.02}
Native American {166, 166, 4.72}
Latino {163.75, 164.5, 3.84}
African {160.33, 159, 2.31}
Black {160.22, 159, 2.68}
Evidently, the guy who runs the site is a minority. He says this:
Look, not to be rude, but if you are a white person with all the social and economic advantages thereof, and you can't bust 160 on the LSAT to get into freaking Baylor, I really have limited sympathy for you. You didn't get "shafted" by some Latino kid who got an "unfair advantage" over you, you got out-competed by all the white people who can break 160 without breaking a sweat.

And while we're here, if you are a black person and you can't break 160 on the freaking LSAT, and you don't get into a top 100 law school because Baylor isn't more aggressive with it's affirmative action policies, I don't have sympathy for you either.

Now since most people aren't law students or law graduates, you can look here for information on average LSAT scores. But to give you a quick overview:
The average LSAT scaled score is around 151, and more than 50% score between 145 and 159. A scaled score of 160 to 165 puts you in very good company, and you are in an elite group with a scaled score of 166 or better. Your scaled score will be ranked in a percentile, which is the percentage of test takers that you outscored. For example, a 75th percentile score means that you outscored 75% of the test takers, and that 25% outscored you. On the LSAT, a handful of correct answers can make a huge percentile difference. The difference between the 50th percentile and the 75th percentile is around three questions per section; the difference between the 90th and the 95th percentiles is less than two questions per section.
Emphasis mine. In short, the slight handicapping of 4 points, per what this says, "can make a huge percentile difference." It's the difference between scholarship or not, admission or not.

I believe people should be rewarded for what they merit. No freebies. You give people things, they don't work as hard, and everyone benefits when hard work is the ethic.

I don't have a problem with helping the disadvantaged gain access to opportunity when they bust their ass for it. The question is how you define disadvantaged.

Is the poor white kid who grew up with alcoholic parents disadvantaged?

Is the Jewish kid whose parents escaped Nazi Germany and emigrated here with the shirt on their backs disadvantaged?

Is the Asian kid who suffers from a speech impairment disadvantaged?

Is the black woman who grew up wealthy and attended private schools disadvantaged?

Yes, my examples above are skewed, but for a reason. I don't think skin color alone defines disadvantage. A factor? It depends.

Clarence Page, writing for the Chicago Tribune, looked at the numbers and found that of the 8% Harvard student population that was black, half to two-thirds were recent immigrants, not affected by American slavery. He wondered:

Are elite schools padding their racial diversity numbers with black immigrants who do not have a history of American slavery in their families? This development immediately calls into question whether affirmative action admission policies are fulfilling their original intent.
Hmm... so was that the original intent - solely to help those affected by slavery? Just what is Affirmative Action?
The term "affirmative action" was first used in the United States. It first appeared in Executive Order 10925, which was signed by President John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961, and it was used to refer to measures to achieve non-discrimination. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 which required federal contractors to take "affirmative action" to hire without regard to race, religion and national origin. In 1968, gender was added to the anti-discrimination list.
In other words, it was implemented to prevent people from barring access to opportunity due to race, gender, etc.

But the numbers posted from Baylor University show that it's now being to used to provide access in consideration of race, gender, etc.

That's different. We've moved from working to see everyone as a person who has the right to opportunity according to their merits and we've changed it to handicapping people according to their skin color, gender, etc.

The difference is subtle, and profound. One works toward a colorless, nonjudgmental society and the other sees everything through a lens of color and subjective judgment.

Every person deserves access to opportunity with no prejudicial barriers. We're all just people, no different or better than any other. What we do with the opportunities handed to us should determine our future based upon our merits.

When we are treated differently for circumstances outside our control, such as skin color or gender, we protest. It is, by any measure, unfair. No one deserves to be treated differently. In fact, when people are treated with the same consideration, only then are we equal, and we are judged as human beings, all on the same level.

Shouldn't that be the standard?

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 4/8/2012 9:27:06 AM
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Hilarious

 

James O'Keefe is brilliant, and he's doing the job that should have been done by the media.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 4/9/2012 9:45:05 AM
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Expense

 

Every minute of every day, we make a choice of how we expend our precious life. Once it's gone, it's gone.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 4/14/2012 7:18:48 AM
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Hilarious, Part II

 

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 4/16/2012 8:01:09 PM
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Rejection

 

As we watch the significant failures of our government in so many ways, here's something to consider:

You can't fire the government when it sucks. There is no alternative.

Don't like the service or the competency of Wal-mart? You can go to Target.

Don't like the service or the competency of the cable company? You can get satellite.

My mom is a health care provider. A bureaucrat in Washington misfiled all of her Medicare reimbursement paperwork. To get the $2,000 they owe her for services rendered, she has to do the following:

1) Resubmit her EIN.
2) Resubmit her personal SSN.
3) Fill out 32 pages of paperwork documenting what paperwork was lost (I'm not kidding).
4) Wait 4 - 6 weeks for a decision on whether the paperwork she's submitting to get access to her paperwork that was misfiled is filed correctly or not.
5) If it is, then she has to wait for them to refile it correctly.
6) Then she gets to find out whether they will give her any of the money she is due for the services she performed.

To get this far in the process, she had to wait on hold for 3 hours yesterday.

Welcome to single-payer, government-managed health care. Why anyone would vote for that is beyond me.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 4/20/2012 3:29:11 PM
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How to Get Through

 

How do you get through the big shit in life?

Having had my share of the tumultuous, here's how I think it's best to manage:

1) Remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be. It's easy to slip into vices when stressed. For me, that's overeating. Instead, repeat the mantra in your head of self-definition. Do not allow yourself to become less than what you are or what you aim to be. This is not a time for careless permission or license.

2) No self-kicking, just in case you do something wrong in violation of who you are. It is a time for forgiveness.

3) Appreciate the small. For me, that's ear-covering headphones and music. It's art. I guess I go to my right brain. Peter Gabriel's Mirrorball, for example, has some wonderful orchestration and a delicious lyric: "We kiss like we invented it." You dig into small things and find delight in them. It's not day-to-day living; it's minute-to-minute living in some moments. That's okay. And if you're going to do something stupid like overeat, make it frozen peas thawed and not ice cream. You won't feel like bigger crap afterward.

4) Friends. And friends again.

5) Gain a vision of what life will look like after you're through it. Stare at that long and hard in those tough moments.

I'm sure there are other things you can do, but that's a good start. When your soul hurts, you need a healing kit at the ready. Think it through and you'll have one when you need it and not wake up drunk in a room you don't recognize, or something similarly regrettable.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 4/24/2012 12:11:08 PM
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Surprise!

 

Shocker headline:

Economy's Biggest Drag Right Now Is Government

Do tell.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 4/29/2012 3:25:57 AM
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