Category Archives: Rant

Why Betsy DeVos is NOT Good For America’s Education System

Earlier today, Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the United States Senate as the Secretary of Education in President Trump’s cabinet. Despite overwhelming public opposition, a hearing in which DeVos showed multiple times her lack of educational experience and knowledge, and two Republican senators who stood up and voted against her appointment, Vice President Pence cast the deciding vote, breaking the tie and pushing the confirmation through.

Betsy DeVos is an ardent supporter of charter schools and vouchers over the existing public school system. This is most evident in her leadership of the American Federation for Children, a nonprofit group which pushes these same agendas. DeVos, however, has no formal education experience or qualifications, as stated earlier. I, as a former elementary school teacher and holder of a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, have both the experience and qualifications to speak first hand as to why charter schools are rarely a good idea for our children’s’ education. Continue reading Why Betsy DeVos is NOT Good For America’s Education System

The “Muslim Ban” and False Equivalence

False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which two opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. This fallacy is categorized as a fallacy of inconsistency.

— “False equivalence.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence

On Friday, January 27, at 4:42 PM, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”. The full body of the executive order can be found here.

The backlash was almost immediate. Protests are taking place in cities and airports across the country. Governors and legislators on both sides of the aisle have spoken out opposing the executive order on multiple grounds. This is now the second weekend since President Trump took office in which protests took place.

One of the main reasons for protest comes from section 5(b) of the executive order, which states:

Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.(Emphasis added)

Many have taken that section of the order as proof that the ban is focused on preventing Muslims from entering the United States of America and is religious discrimination. White House cyber security advisor Rudy Guliani comments on the Fox News Channel appear to reinforce that concept:

“I’ll tell you the whole history. When [Mr Trump] first announced it he said ‘Muslim ban’. He called me up, he said, ‘put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally’.

— Eleftheriou-Smith , Loulla-Mae. “Donald Trump asked Rudy Giuliani how to ‘legally’ create ‘Muslim ban’, claims former New York mayor.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 30 Jan. 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-muslim-ban-rudy-giuliani-how-legally-create-islam-us-immigration-entry-visa-new-york-a7552751.html

Some of my friends on social media are calling out the protesters and opponents to the order using two examples of previous presidents who placed bans on refugees and/or revoked visas for foreign nationals. Their point is that there were no protests when these events occurred, so why should there be protests now. I have reviewed these two incidents since one took place when I was only 5 years old and the other I was not aware of, and I’ve found that both of these incidents are false equivalencies. Read on to learn why.

Continue reading The “Muslim Ban” and False Equivalence

Thoughts on Apple and the FBI

Before all of the recent security and privacy hullabaloo between the FBI and Apple, Apple tried to help the FBI. Apple could have recovered the data from the San Bernardino shooter’s phone if it was connected to a known wifi network and allowed to back up to iCloud.

The problem is that the FBI told the San Bernardino police to reset the password on the user account. This prevents access to the backups.

What the FBI asked Apple to do at that point was write a custom firmware update for that phone. It had to be made by Apple and digitally signed by them, otherwise the phone wouldn’t accept it. The firmware would remove the limitation of 10 incorrect password attempts before the phone would wipe itself. They also wanted Apple to remove a limitation to how fast they could enter passwords.

Here are the problems with that request:

1) No matter how careful the FBI or Apple are, there’s no guarantee that firmware won’t get hacked and reverse engineered. Imagine every iOS device made vulnerable because somebody lost their thumb drive.

2) How much time, money, and effort would Apple have needed to develop the firmware hack? That’s not Apple’s job. They’re not a forensics company.

3) One of Apple’s major selling points is their security. By hacking their own security, they severely damage their own reputation and their sales.

4) There are other iPhones in the hands of state and federal authorities. The FBI picked this particular phone because they knew the emotional impact it would have. They wanted to set legal precedent. They failed.

I’m glad they did.

Why Do I Even Bother?

A quote from this book:

“Placed on your desk, malachite will soak up some of the electromagnetic pollution emitted by your computer and other appliances. You can make it your own personal guardian against viruses that can attack your computer via the internet and email. Its healing energy can be an added repellent to any new viruses that are attacking software programs and can be used alongside your dedicated anti-virus program. The stone dispels negativity, absorbing any radiation and pollutants that leak into the atmosphere.”

[sarcasm]

My God! I’ve been going about it all wrong! I hereby renounce my 15 years of IT experience and will follow Mary Lambert’s tried and true method of keeping my computer clean and safe! After all, she’s a reiki healer! That’s how she knows how to fix computers!

[/sarcasm]

[facepalm]

[/facepalm]
Source: my books – fengshui

We Should Be Used To This By Now

As some of you know, I have lived in the Cleveland area all my life. What’s more, I am and have been a die hard Cleveland Indians fan ever since I found out what baseball was. Thanks to these two facets of my life, I have long since come to terms with the special brand of disappointment that only Cleveland sports can deliver. This is a town which ploughs through snow and heartache on a very regular basis.

Having said that, I am not watching tonight’s return of LeBron James to Quicken Loans Arena. Personally, i’m done with the hype over booing the latest former Cleveland sports star who “broke our hearts” and find it a little hard to believe that this city still has the energy and anger after all the other drama we’ve dealt with for so long.

Continue reading We Should Be Used To This By Now

How To Keep Your Employer From Seeing Your Facebook Updates

If you don’t want your employer seeing your Facebook updates:

1. Don’t friend any of your coworkers (or, at least, your superiors) on Facebook.

2. Go to http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/ and run their privacy scan on your Facebook account. Lock down your account per the site’s recommendations to ensure that your account is not visible to anybody who is not your friend on Facebook, including your employer.

3. Don’t post anything on your Facebook page which could be considered a “career limiting move”. You never know who might see it and say something about it.

4. Delete your Facebook account. Nobody can fire you fire what you say on Facebook if you’re not on Facebook to begin with.

Just think of Facebook as that blabbermouth friend from high school. You couldn’t tell that friend ANY secrets because they’d just tell everybody they know.

The Fair Elections Now Act

For the second time since I started this site, I’ve felt compelled to write my congressmen about what I feel is a very important issue.

About two weeks ago, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The case focused on the constitutionality of limiting corporations’ independent spending during campaigns for the Presidency and Congress.  In a 5-4 decision, the court essentially removed any restrictions on corporations and campaign spending.  What this means is that our voices as voting American citizens will be drowned out by large corporations with deep pocketbooks who want to see THEIR candidate in office. Our votes now count for much less than ever before.

I, like many others, feel this is unacceptable.

Harvard Professor of Law Lawrence Lessig has started an online petition called Change Congress in support of the Fair Elections Now Act.  The basics of the bill would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers, or donations from lobbyists, and would be freed from the constant fundraising in order to focus on what people in their communities want.

Today, I had the opportunity to send an email to John Boccieri (D), George Voinovich (R), and Sherrod Brown (D), my representatives in Congress, to ask them to support the Fair Elections Now Act.  Here is what I wrote:

My voice should count as much as any other voter during the elections. With the recent decision by the Supreme Court, however, I feel that the power of my voice is now directly proportional to the size of my checkbook. To me, this flies in the face of everything the Founding Fathers stood for so long ago.

There is a way to fix this problem: the Fair Elections Now Act.

You have the ability to remind this country what a democratic republic is and how it is supposed to work. You have the ability to renew the faith of the American people in you and Congress. You have the ability to make things right.

Please do so. Thank you.

Please research the court decision and the House and Senate bills which have been introduced in response to the decision.  If you feel like I do, let your voice be heard. Don’t let our democratic republic be taken away from us.

Another Reason Bing Is No Google

I never use Bing to search the Internet.  Why would I?  Google has provided more than adequate search services to me for years.  Somehow, though, Bing managed to convince me that I should never use their service.

Here’s the deal:  I just finished updating my work calendar with the classes I’m scheduled to teach.  I wanted to make sure my schedule synced to my Google Calendar so I would have access to my schedule outside of work.  I’m doing this on my work PC using Internet Explorer 8 (haven’t installed FireFox or Chrome yet, sorry).  Being Friday and feeling a little lazy, I just type “Google Calendar” in the address bar.  I figure it should bring up search results, the top result of which should be the GCal link.

Here’s what I actually got.

bing_captcha

Remember, I said I NEVER use Bing.  Why on earth does Bing think that I’ve “done so much searching lately”?  Also, I have never had to deal with a captcha image when doing a Google search.  This is a total inconvenience for the user (me).

Sorry, you won’t even stay the number two search engine on the internet with this kind of crap.

Why Wal-Mart Sucks

I have long had a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart and suspect that many of you reading this may feel the same way. On the one hand, it’s hard to ignore the prices, pure and simple. My wife and I discovered that when we bought cat litter and house cleaning items about a month ago and saved a wad of cash. I even applaud their movement to “go green”, relying more and more on solar energy to power their stores. On the other hand, however, there is the old adage that you get what you pay for. Today, I rediscovered that lesson, but also learned that Wal-Mart can go out of it’s way to make sure people get much more than that, and not in a good way.

My story starts this morning. I was driving along I-271, on my way to start the work week, when I noticed a strange rumbling sound coming from my car. After pulling over at a rest area, I found that one of my tires was almost flat. I was close to the Richfield exit, so I figured I could make it to nearby gas station and fill up the tire with air, resulting in only a short delay on my journey. Alas, it was not to be.

I did make it to the gas station. I even filled up the tire with air – at least, to about 20 PSI. That’s when I started hearing the tire popping, followed by a loud BANG! as the tire gave way. My 10 minute stop just turned into a tire changing delay of 45 minutes.

The good news is that I was able to call a local auto service shop which I knew very well, Wheatley Auto Service. They took the car in, gave me a loaner car for the day, and arranged to replace the tire. The bad news is that the tire in question was one I bought at Wal-Mart. In June. It barely lasted 4 months before giving out.

Now, before I continue with my rant, I will admit that the tire IS under warranty. That’s not a lot of help, however, when you’re miles away from the nearest Wal-Mart and you have to be at work to teach a class in about 15 minutes with a 30 minute drive ahead of you, especially when you’re stuck with a spare tire that keeps you at 55 MPH, increasing the travel time. I’ve also had quality issues with other Wal-Mart products, so I wasn’t keen on the idea of replacing one crappy tire with another.

There’s the “you get what you pay for” part of the story. Now for the “Wal-Mart gives you more IN A BAD WAY” part.

I came across this story via a Twitter post a couple days ago. You can find the details in both the South Bend Tribune newspaper and The Consumerist blog. Here’s an excerpt from The Consumerist, however, to give you a taste of what pissed me off about the whole incident:

“Walmart can try to spin itself as being on the side of good all it wants, but if it ever suspects you of shoplifting, you may find that you’re powerless to fight back. In the case of a couple accused of shoplifting some Bic lighters in Niles, Michigan this past August, Walmart detained them, the police came and cuffed one of them, their two kids were taken to a security room, and—after a review of security footage proved the couple’s innocence—they were banned for life from all Walmarts. To top it off, Walmart’s legal team has sent the couple a letter asking to be reimbursed for 10 times the value of the lighters, even though the police determined no shoplifting had taken place.”

Oh, and the kicker to the story? The couple is a gay couple.

While I’m at it, let me add some more fuel to the fire – the children are developmentally disabled Romanian children adopted by the above gay couple.

I am hereby declaring a boycott of all things Wal-Mart. I am asking you to do the same. If you don’t have an option (ironically likely because Wal-Mart stifled competition in your area), I understand, but, in my case, there’s a nice Target down the road, plus many regional and local supermarkets. On top of that, I’ve got TONS of online shopping options. I just can’t see ANY reason to support a company who has shown such a demonic disregard for humanity at so many levels.

Oh, and if you work for Wal-Mart, please update your resume and get it out there. You deserve a better employer.