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The Absence of Allen Sherpa – A Visit to the Tribal Areas

Everyone has at some point heard references to the “tribal areas” of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, but few grasp the significance of the term. Our perceptions are colored by the books we’ve read, Hollywood movies we’ve seen and the pseudo-news coverage to which we’ve been exposed. They’re painted as dark areas where bandits lurk in the shadows that would exist if the sun ever shined. The people are sinister, uneducated and clannish. They view all outsiders with suspicion and distain. They know little about the outside world other than that it is bad and its influence should be resisted when its extermination isn’t possible. As our efforts in Afghanistan continue to meet with great frustration, I wanted to know more about the tribal areas in the hope of getting a better understanding of the “big picture”.

Upon my arrival in the tribal area, I found much of the stereotype justified. It was almost like a walk back in time. The levels of civilization varied substantially. It was obvious there was some wealth, but it was clearly concentrated in the hands of a very few. Most of the “houses” were more basic than those to which I am accustomed. Some had electricity, intermittent as it may have been, but some did not. Plumbing (with the exception of sewer) was common, but not taken for granted. The lucky ones had firewood piled high. Others had to forage for wood on an “as needed” basis when the severe winter cold made it a matter of survival.

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Econ 101 – He Never Saw it Coming

Sometimes people just don’t look both ways. That’s how wrecks happen. In this country, the level of economic expertise is pathetically low. We don’t mandate even basic economics classes in most high schools. The average American doesn’t have a clue how the economy works or what the Federal Reserve does. If the paycheck clears the bank, the economy must be good. If our collective ignorance didn’t have such a monumental influence on our future, it would be funny. But when some people listen to the likes of Glenn Beck for their economic knowledge, our future is bleak indeed. Tea baggers sit in judgment of President Obama, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Barney Frank and myriad others who provide direction to our economic policies, yet few could tell the difference between their economic philosophies and Shinola. It truly portends of a dismal future.

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When Did “American Education” Become an Oxymoron?

I froze in my tracks. I was listening to NPR Monday when I heard a “teacher” from the Detroit public school system say “I will not even entertain merit pay because I believe merit pay is an insult. What you’re in essence telling teachers, we’ll pay you more if you teach better. What that operates under the presumption that our teachers are not giving their all on a day to day basis.”

It was absolutely unfathomable that someone claiming to be an “educator” had the audacity to suggest that all teachers were giving their unrelenting all to the task of educating America’s youth. This person has no business collecting a paycheck. He should be relieved of his job of fleecing the taxpayers and cheating the children of America so he can return to whatever cave in which he has been living. If he typifies the American teacher, it is no wonder our competitiveness in the international arena has become so pathetic. Continue reading

Elite: n. best of class, superior

You wish to drive a car on the highways of the State in which you live.  You must have possession of a car, some knowledge of driving, and a driver’s license.  To get a driver’s license, you must take a test.

You want to earn a living cutting hair.  You need a license.  You must take a test. 

You want to talk with someone on a shortwave radio.  You must have a license and to get it you must take a test.

Want to sell life insurance?  Stocks?  Securities?  Real estate?  You must take a test. 

Build a house?  Kill its termites?  Install the plumbing?  Take a test.

Fly a plane?  Be a school teacher?  Test.  Even working in the Post Office calls for a Civil Service Exam. 

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The 2009 Idiot’s Guide to Personal Finance

Many Americans greeted the new year with a grunt rather than a grin.  Mired hopelessly in debt, wondering where they’ll be working and hoping they won’t find themselves homeless.  The great American greed-fest was great fun for some, but like hoards of New Year’s revelers, millions have awakened with a throbbing financial hangover

The party’s over.  The festive mood has been replaced with the pale light of morning and it’s a long walk home.  “I shouldn’t have had that last one,” you say.  The truth is, maybe you shouldn’t have had the first one.  But a whole generation of “gotta have it now” Americans haven’t had the good sense to live within their means.  When’s the last time you heard someone say “I’ve got to save my money so I can buy that”?  Hell no!  With credit cards and easy money, suckers near and far have fallen and continue to fall for every financial con game imaginable and a few that weren’t imaginable.  Consider the abject idiocy of a few of these schemes.  How many have you fallen for?

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Joe the Plumber to File for Bankruptcy

Barack Obama is proving to be truly presidential in conduct and demeanor. John McCain is proving to be a curmudgeon. In the third and final debate, John had some difficulty staying on point, couldn’t resist throwing in periodic inane remarks that were obviously canned, pre-planned sound bites intended to capture the imagination of the unimaginative. He intentionally spewed his “facts” despite the fact that in many cases, they have repeatedly been proven false.

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Parents, Teachers, Boards, and Oblivion

With tidal regularity, one group or another raises a ruckus over something that is or isn’t right with our school systems. The latest hullabaloo in the White Mountains comes from a group of misguided parents that seem to think the priority of “education” should be placed above that of “socialization”. The concern appears to revolve around the need for the football team to have a luxury bus for transportation to and from its games.

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