Al's Rantings

A view of the world from a hillbilly perspective.

Location: Virginia

I was born and went to school in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, in southern West Virginia. After graduating from college, I got married, and began working in Bristol, TN. I have have various jobs from Tennessee to up state New York and a few points between. Now I work in West Virginia. Some day, I want to live in Alaska.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

VEA, again

As I was thinking about my recent post concerning the VEA, I decided to go beyond the headlines and actually look at the VEA web site to see view the VEA legislative agenda.

I found the following:

1. The majority of the issues are with money and retirement. Raises at 4.5% for 2 years, reaching and staying at the national average, increase $$ for the Virginia Pre-School Initative, and increase in retirement for current and future retirees.
2. Just say no to vouchers.
3. ALL publicly funded preschool teachers – not just those employed by public schools – to hold a bachelor’s degree and have specialized training in early childhood.

Nothing in the agenda about raising science and math scores, improve graduation rates, prepare kids for college, proper career planning for all students, grade inflation, school violence, etc.

The agenda is about the educators not educating the students.

Plus with "the anticipated retirement of 40% of teachers in the next five years," (VEA stat) the VEA should make it easier for non education majors to enter the teaching field. Instead, I have found that with a BS in engineering, it is difficult to get a teaching license and transition into teaching without excessive further education and training. Granted, some training would be needed, I believe the requirements are very stringent, especially for other professionals.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

National Average...

What is the deal with the "national average"? Everybody want to be at the "national average". Case in point is the Virginia Education Association (VEA). When it comes to pay it "wants the assembly to adopt as state policy the goal of meeting or exceeding the national average." In 2004-2005 the Virginia average was $45,963. That is pretty good pay considering summers off.

In fact, according the the VEA, "higher salaries are our No. 1 priority,".

AVERAGE means that there are numbers higher and numbers lower. Once someone below the average is moved to the average, an NEW average is reached. So, there will be a new national average every year.

Also, the VEA wants higher 4.5% raises the next 2 years and better benefits for retired teachers.

And what would consumers get? Less competition for education because the VEA opposes school vouchers.

Good Investment

The two senators from NY are want $$ from the Pentagon that the Department of Defense did not request. Among them are contracts that go to people who donated to Clinton or Schumer. In one case, the company president donates $2,500 and would receive a contract for $5 million...that is a pretty good return on your investment.

The senators want to help the state...

"In announcing the projects – included in a $454 billion defense-spending bill – the two senators touted the impact they would have on the state’s economy."

Well, duh! Want senator does not want to help the states economy! What the rest of the USA would like to know is does it help protect us.

But we can rest easy because there was not politics involved because "
when asked about their contributions, donors said the money was not spent with the expectation of future contracts or federal grants."

Money given with no expectations...where do I get in line to get some of that!

Christmas present...

I just got back from spending Christmas with my family in Wyoming County, West Virginia. The best thing I got was this Redneck Car Alarm. If you are interested in getting one...let me know.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

At the Gas Station

This has happened before. It really got under my skin tonight.

On the way home from work, I stopped in Narrows to fill up at the Liberty gas station. Gas was $1.99 per gallon, so there were lines at every pump. I thought I wisely chose a pump where there was only one car. It was sitting at the pump with no one around it. I concluded that person was finished pumping their gas.

Once in line, a couple of thing became clear. The person was finished pumping their gas. No one was sitting in the driver's seat. Some one was in the passenger's seat. After I pulled up, the person in the passenger's seat got out of the car. I thought "Alright! He is going to move so I can pull up to the pump." NOPE...that didn't happen. Instead, the guy went into the store! Now, I have a car with no one in it sitting at the pump and in my way. Finally, a few minutes later, the driver comes to the car and moves it. ARRRGGGGGG!

I do not understand why, if cars are lined up behind you to get gas, people will leave their car at the pump and go into the store to pay for the gas, and maybe get a Moon Pie and an RC. Please pull away for the pump when your are finished, then go pay and take your sweet time. I consider this to be a common courtesy. I want to get gas and get on my way!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Pot (Mexico) Calling the Kettle (USA) Black

It seems Mexico treats its own illegal immigrant very poorly. Even worse than the US plan.

In the US, the "bill, which passed on Friday with a 239-182 vote, would make illegal entry a felony, and enlist military and local police to help stop illegal entrants."

Mexico does this plus, it includes a prison term for those who enter the country illegally.

Mexico criticizes the US for doing what they do.

Rap - The Music of Peace

At a club in NYC, shootings and stabbings at a record-release party for slain rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Alaskan Bridges

Do you recall the bridges that the Alaskan senators requested and receive money for this past years. One was a bridge in Anchorage and the other was a bridge in Ketchikan. The one in Anchorage was called Don Young's Way. And both were ridiculed as a tremendous waste of money.

Well it turn out that Don Young's Way would serve to benefit his son-in-law. It turns out that Don's son-in-law in partners in a LLC that owns "60 acres of unobstructed view property on the Point MacKenzie side of Cook Inlet. The land sits directly across from Elmendorf Air Force Base, north of the Anchorage port and downtown."

This bridge would increase his property value of the 60 acres and greatly benefit Senator Young's son-in-law.

As I have heard many times in my career...its not what you know its who you know. It's nice to have family in high places.

House Of Representatives Vote on Winning in Iraq

This legislation, H RES 612, was about winning the war in Iraq. It contained such things as

(1) the House of Representatives is committed to achieving victory in Iraq;
(3) the House of Representatives encourages all Americans to express solidarity with the Iraqi people as they take another step toward their goal of a free, open, and democratic society;
(4) the successful Iraqi election of December 15, 2005, required the presence of United States Armed Forces, United States-trained Iraqi forces, and Coalition forces;
(7) , along with the members of Iraqi and Coalition forthe House of Representatives recognizes and honors the tremendous sacrifices made by the members of the United States Armed Forces and their familiesces;
(8) the House of Representatives has unshakable confidence that, with the support of the American people and the Congress, United States Armed Forces, along with Iraqi and Coalition forces, shall achieve victory in Iraq.

Good mother and apple pie stuff that all of the US House of Representatives can agree upon. This should pass with flying colors in the House...WRONG!

There were 109 Nay votes. See them here. This is unbelieveable!

How could anyone be against winning this, or any other, war that we are in? Can it be concluded if you do not want to win, then you want to loose? This is a terrible way to support the troops, by not supporting a resolution to WIN.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Marcus Vick Returning to Virginia Tech?

According to this column, Marcus Vick will return to Virginia Tech for his senior year. I disagree. I believe he will make himself eligible for the 2006 NFL draft. Afterall, his brother Michael, made statements that he would return to ole VT to play football his senior year. But he left and signed a big contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

I believe Marcus will do the same. He has been in a lot of trouble the past couple of years. Contributing to the deliquency of a minor, speeding, possesion of marijuana, and school suspension. It is clear that college is too restricting for him, even though he is Big Man On Campus.

He, and VT, were the darlings of ESPN this past season. He received a lot of good publicity. Expect a team to make an offer and little Vick will be gone from Blacksburg.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hillbilly Limo

For the true hillbilly we have this limo.

Crossing the Street in Blacksburg, VA

You would think college kids would be smart enough to look both ways before crossing the street and they would always cross in a cross walk. But I guess not. So Virginia Tech police must make some changes like "taking parking off one side of the road; increasing the space between crosswalks and parallel parking spaces from one car length to two; expanding the lighting; adding bars within the parallel lines; changing the color scheme to white and green; and putting pedestrian crossing signs in the middle of road."

And a whole department spent time doing an exhaustive analysis of what worked.

When I drive in Blacksburg is seems that people believe they always have the right of way and are indestructable. They do not look before stepping into the street, jay walk, and never, never seem to be in a hurry to get to the other side!

Here's a idea....get out of the road. I'll obey the law and yield at the cross walks. College kids need to obey the law AND use common sense. In a pedestrian/vehicle collosion, the pedestrian will loose every time!

West Virginia Turnpike

Bad news for those of us who have to travel the West Virginia Turnpike. The tolls are increasing from $1.25 to $2.00 for a car. This is scheduled to happen 1/1/2006.

I do not understand why, the WV Turnpike exists. Travel on Interstate 77 is free from Cleveland, OH, to Columbia, SC. Except in West Virginia where we have a toll road. Even in WV, the tolls are only for the part of I-77 that is in southern WV, between Charleston and Bluefield. From Charleston to Parkersburg, there is no toll. So people in the poorest part of the state, the Appalachian coal fields, must pay to drive on this 4 lane road. To make things worse, there is a nuisance toll of $0.25 at Beckley to get off I-77 to go white water rafting.

The turnpike is a joke. Why not make it free to travel the turnpike as this author suggests? According to this article,

"The Parkways Authority was created to invent ways to spend the snowballing money. Some of its abortive plans were lulus. Clipping Yankees worked so well that revenue soared. Then in 2004, another $200 million in bonds was authorized — apparently in an effort to keep tolls on the Turnpike forever."

This increase is rationalize by saying that 75% of the revenue comes from out of state cars and trucks, aka Yankees. My perception is that a lot of "make work" projects are done on the turnpike. It seems there is always construction on the turnpike. A lot less than the part of I-77 that runs from Charleston to Parkersburg.

Just say no to raising the tolls!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

You Can't Hide Money....part 2

Check this hillbilly out

Good DDT

This column points out some interesting facts about the chemical DDT.

Two to three million people die of malaria every year, Uganda's health minister has said, because the U.S. government is afraid of a chemical called DDT. DDT was once used every where to kill bugs and more importantly kill mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that carry malaria. But it was stopped. Not because people got cancer, but because it threatened bird populations because it thinned the eggshells.

The result of banning DDT was a "huge resurgence" of malaria. It has killed almost 50 million since DDT was banned (50 years). DDT will save lives by fighting malaria in Africa, but our government refuses to use it because it might offen environmentalist and cause political fallout.

So in the battle between the rich, white, tree-huggers against the poor, black, kids of Africa, the tree-huggers are winning.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Virginia Tech Exemplary Departments

When I read this release about exemplary departments at Virginia Tech, I got a surprise. The Cranwell International Center and the Department of Human Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will receive Tech's 2005 University Exemplary Awards. I concluded there must have been some outstanding results or major break throughs in teaching or learning or both.

However, I was wrong. In order to get this award, the departments needed to "maintain a first class teaching and learning environment for students and faculty" and "perform work that is essential for sustaining a truly excellent academic environment". No outstanding educational break through, instead a first class environment.

This was because of diversity not education. In fact, the Department Of Human Development was recognized because "for enhancing global diversity and promoting international and multi-cultural perspectives. It provides an environment where women, international students, and ethnic minorities feel comfortable working, living, and studying." This department gets an award for diversity and then brags because 78% of the faculity are female.

I believe the exemplary awards should go to departments that effectively teach, train, and prepare men and women to function and become successful in today's work environment.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Possible Trouble in LA

It looks like there may be touble in Los Angeles when the govenor decides about Tookie Williams. This is similar to the happenings during the OJ case.

"We picked up information that led us to believe that there were some planned and intentioned acts of violence that could occur in the wake of the decision or the execution planned for Stan "Tookie" Williams," Robin Toma, executive director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, said during a news conference at City Hall.

I hope these threats do not affect the govenor's decision.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bush and Congress Approval Ratings

CBS just released a poll about Bush, Congress, and the Economy. I have seen some reports about Bush's low approval ratings. The following was taken from this poll, dated Dec. 7, 2005.

Bush's job approval: Approve 40%...Disapprove 53%
Congress' job approval: Approve 33%...Disapprove 53%

Interesting, the same number disapprove President Bush and Congress. However, more people approve of the President's performance than of the job Congress is doing. Democrats in Congress want to talk about the President's approval when their approval is no better! It seems everyone inside the Beltway is look upon poorly.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

National Day of Counter-Recruitment

If you did not know it, today was National Day of Counter-Recruitment. See the announcement here. Apparently, they are protesting the Solomon Amendment which "allows the government to cut off federal funding from schools that ban military recruiters." The claim is that the Don't Ask-Don't Tell policy for homosexuals violates the school's anti discrimination policy.

Then the US is accused of using weapons of mass destruction. The flyer says "US used chemical weapons (white phosphorus) in Fallujah, laying bare the truth about exactly who is using "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq." Accusing our military of using WMD. This is pathetic!

Isn't it ironic that law professors, who rant from their podiums throughout the academic year, oppose the one-day-a-semester presence of military recruiters. Law schools, weeks from pronouncing their seniors ready to practice law, argue that they are unable to discern whether the military is an ethical employer; and law professors, who demand the right to speak, deny law students the ability to hear the speech of military recruiters. (link)

The military is like the police force. Everyone talks bad about them until there is trouble. When that trouble arrives, who gets called first? The military (and the police.) And it seems the people yelling loudest for help are the ones who were just bad-mouthing the military.

May God bless the military and their families!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Virginia Bloggers Carnival

Be sure to visit the VBC!

This does not help at all...

Well, Howard Dean is at it again. During an interview, Dean says "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong..." How that for moral support for our troops...telling them, and the world, that the US will loose this war.

He also said
"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam."

And "
What we see today is very much like what was going in Watergate," Dean said. "It turns out there is a lot of good evidence that President Bush did not tell the truth when he was asking Congress for the power to go to war."

Same thing over and over. We will loose...its like Vietnam...Bush lied...

If he has evidence or a specific plan, it would be nice to see either.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

New Defense...Sexsomnia

In Toronto, a man was acquitted of sexual assault charges on Tuesday because he said he was asleep during the attack. See it here.

Call in the expert..."A sleep expert testified that Luedecke suffers from a disorder that causes sexsomnia -- involuntary sexual behavior during sleep -- which he had experienced before."

Very interesting.

Illegal Immigrations...

Howard Dean says about illegal immigration "Republicans would make illegal immigrants their new scapegoats during the 2006 elections..." See here for link.

How can they be scapegoats? If they are here illegally, the law is being broken. Is it bad to enforce the law?

Friday, December 02, 2005

First Valleydale now Smurfit-Stone

More layoffs in Roanoke. This time its 27 hourly and 3 salaried at Smurfit-Stone.

Global Warming...Again

Scientist now say that cooling in Europe is, of course, the result of global warming. It says the slowing of the Atlantic currents could cool northern Europe in the coming decades. Scientist conclude "the potential cooling of Europe was paradoxically consistent with global warming caused by the accumulation of heat-trapping "greenhouse" emissions."

Everything is caused by global warming!

If Europe cools, then England will cool, Greenland will be next to cool, Iceland, etc. And the climax will be a new Ice Age caused by global warming.

Christian Peacemaker Teams

By now, we have seen the video of the Christian Peacemaker Team that was kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq. It is interesting that instead of putting the blame on the terrorists, this group is blaming the US and the UK. The web site says

"We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the U.S. government."

It is amazing that people give these terrorist so many breaks!