Saturday, January 21, 2006

After Wasting Millions of Dollars, FEMA Launches A Kiddie Web Page

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

After a year of hard work and millions of dollars, FEMA comes up with a promo for kids so they know what to do when a hurricane or terrorist attack happens. This monumental waste of money is also on the surface, insane. A hermit crab as mascot? How about an even more appropriate one like Square Pants Sponge Brownie?

From CNN:
After more than a year of delays, the Department of Homeland Security says it plans to launch a preparedness program next month aimed at alerting and preparing children for terror attacks and natural disasters.
FEMA, an agency within the DHS, already has a program preparing children for disasters. "FEMA for Kids" ( includes a pudgy and nervous-looking airplane leaking a trail of smoke, a hermit crab mascot named "Herman," and a song with a rap beat:

"Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,

"But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared,

"For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,

"You've got to be ready -- so your heart don't break."
Stop! Stop! You're killing me! Osama is laughing to death! The hurricanes are hurrying away! America is prepared! I suppose they could film kids singing this in front of the Super Dome, too!

Who are the psychotics designing all this? One character is a smoking airplane? What???? Is the plane's name "Atta boy"? Herman the hermit crab, geeze, someone is channelling some old 1960's pop singers, aren't they? "I'm 'Enry the Eigth, I am"?

They are having a contest to pick a new mascot. I nominate Squarepants Sponge Brownie. He sponges off the public till, he is clueless and lives in flood waters so he doesn't mind it if everyone is drowning, he would get along with 'Enry, the Hermit Crab and the plane dude can just go crash on someone else's couch.

Like, Dr. Freud's.
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Even College Students Can't Understand Basic Economic/Mathematical Matters (I say, ditto a lot of people running America!)

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

According to this study, most Americans can't read credit card offers. No surprize: they are written to be impossible to understand unless one is very clever or very suspicious or downright evil---like me.

From CNN
More than half of students at four-year colleges -- and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges -- lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers, a study found.
OK, several things here. Ever try reading credit card offers? First, the fine print is not only fine, they print it in light grey! I have to turn on search lights to see it, it is like getting a super secret message from a CIA spy! Worse, it is written in an archane language called, "Ponzian" which is similar to German, all the verbs are at the end and everything you don't need to know are capitalized.

Anyway, they haven't sent any in cuniform or Chinese but I suppose that is in the developmental pipeline, no doubt.

I actually do sit down and read these documents in my mail, after all, I write about economic matters. It is difficult, at best. I remember the Democrats passing a bill calling for simpler language in credit offers. Well, kiss that goodbye!

Several years ago, I applied for a fixed rate loan. I even asked the banker in front of several witnesses (always, always bring witnesses when talking money with anyone!!!!) if it was a fixed rate and was told, it was. So one day, I get the monthly statement which we go over carefully, and we saw that the payment schedule was altered and then noticed the new interest rate being charged.

So we charged down to the bank who tried to weasel out but we brought the witnesses and pointed to my notes and they had to recind the rate increase but I closed the account.

See? It isn't mere "are you able to understand the Rosetta Stone?" but really nailing down these slimy bastards when they openly, verbally, lie.
The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.
In Europe, you aren't allowed to stint on the tips, especially in France which is why the waiters are rude, heh. It is automatic. Ditto in most of Manhattan.

Most fine dining establishments, one passes the American Express to the waiter and checks off which percentage one wants to pay. Then they bring back the paper, you check to see the balance due and then OK it. Sounds simple enough.

Calculating in the head is a nice skill which I strongly encourage. One must be able to see instantly relative figure values like the difference between $4.2 trillion red ink under Clinton and $8.1 trillion under Bush, Bush doubling, roughly, our collective debts from all Presidents up to the end of eight Clinton years! Heh. Seems simple math to me and why do so many powerful men seem utterly unable to understand this number and what it means? Can't they read the writing on the wall, "Yo, dummies, we are going bankrupt"?
Without "proficient" skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization.

Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills. That means they can do moderately challenging tasks, such as identifying a location on a map.
American students are famous for not finding things on maps. We are lucky we can find our own asses in broad daylight. This is why we want to dominate the world. Then, everything is "USA" so we won't be lost.

What really disturbs me is Bush. He got, I would bet, through fraud and cheating, degrees from our top universities, Yale and Harvard. Yet he seems to not only not know very much about virtually anything, he can't even speak English. So how did he crib those tests?

Another Skull and Bones mystery! Yeah, that is it.

Greenspan is supposed to be a genius yet he seems clueless about his own field of expertise much less archane stuff like the declination of High Middle German verbs, for example, or the history of Mesopotamia from 6000BC to modern times. We just want him to be honest and open about simple things like how much money is the Fed printing these days and how is it impacting on inflation and is the budget deficit really under $500 billion a year, if so, how could Bush run up over $2.5 trillion in red ink in less than five years? Some dead cat is bouncing somewhere.

Last I looked, we never went over $425 billion, mostly in the $300 billion range. So where did the mysterious extra trillion missing dollars go? Hmmm. Maybe they do know their math, these clowns, and are really thieves.

Well, arrest them all. And force our students to learn real economics for once. Of course, this means changing our entire school system. Arg. Students who figure out figures: revolutionary. Dangerous.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bush Babbles Bizarrely About Need To Learn Language Skills

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Bush babbles about how we should all learn foreign languages. He doesn't pause to wonder why he can't speak English better than a stoner taxi cab driver from Jamaica.

From Smirking Chimp:
We had Bush sum up his Iraqi Crusade thusly: "It's tough...And it's hard work. What you're seeing on your TV is hard work." (I'll say. Watching Dubya speak in public is like watching a twitching "Monk" marathon on cable. )

We had Blinky state before a U.S. University Presidents' Summit on International Education: "We're going to teach our kids how to speak important languages. (As opposed to those UNimportant ones.) We'll welcome teachers here to help teach our kids how to speak languages. (Instead of teaching them how to grunt and point at shiny objects.) But we're also going to advance America's interests around the world and defeat this notion about our — you know, our bullying concept of freedom by letting people see what we're about. Let them see firsthand the decency of this country." (WTF? This is addled even for Blinky!)
As a person who had gotten scholarships in German language studies, I will now scream something very loudly: my life was personally messed up by all the schools, high and low, from the University level on down, stopped hiring German language graduates. SUNY, for example, fired their entire German language staff! Amazing! And all the languages, if they can hire foreigners to teach, they do. Even when I went overseas and learned a lot, it was useless.

I did get hired for a short while by a German firm with offices in NYC. But that is a different story.

The main thing here is, what is that babbling idiot doing, talking about learning languages? He speaks English worse than a taxi driver in Manhattan who just arrived at Kennedy Airport from Uzbekistan!

What is very Freudian about babble boy is the "our bullying concept" statement. Obviously, the dark corners of his mind are at work here, he thinks about being a bully boy and inside his pathetic bubble, he struts and preens desperately, hysterically, his feeble chin all aquiver, his pencil neck thrust forwards. And the "decency of this country" is particularily funny.

From the Yahoo picture site
You know, watching a heavily painted, primped whore bloviate about morals is particularily funny. I mean, I don't care, but then I don't run around talking as if I were some blue stocking Puritan. Shudder at that.

Learning languages in this immigrant country has been entirely aimed as getting people to learn English which we English invaders foisted upon this continent, years ago. The lack of interest in learning languages is heightened by the fact that English, thanks to the British/American imperial efforts, is the Lingua Franca of the world right now, superceding even Latin.

I will note that Bush won't say what languages we ought to learn. French? Bon! German? Ich glaube nicht. Spanish? Well, one must talk to the gardener and servants in the kitchen! Heck. Learn Chinese? Ahem. A good idea. Japanese, ditto. It pays to know the nuances of another language especially when one is doing diplomacy. The Chinese and Japanese ambassadors and all their staff and everyone learns English and they happily chat in English with us but when doing diplomatic work, they revert to their home languages and this is a severe handicap for our stupid negotiators who probably are being paid by these foreign powers anyway, but they can't figure out what is going on during translations and believe me, no translation of anything is straight forwards!

All languages have their idiosyncracies! And Chinese is famous for the many permutations and levels of meaning surrounding diplomatic language. They carefully crafted this over many centuries, forged by hundreds of emperors served by a history of vast numbers of servants and advisors, it is a complex and difficult Mt. Everest of Meanings. One can't climb this mountain using English only.

But of course, the entire point of learning a language means knowing how to use it and this takes us back to Bush and his lunatic asylum crew. They think language is an old hack one can whip into any direction. Far from carefully perusing words, they blabber and blubber all over kingdom come, the laughing stock of the world. To use language is more than talking like an ill trained parrot.

It means thinking and speaking intelligently. And only by rewarding intelligent speakers and punishing babbling idiots can we expect our youth to be inspired to take the trouble to speak English well and to learn to be coherent in other languages.

Someone, please shut up Bush. Thank you.
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