MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

November 22, 2011

A Happy Holday Season to All!

MasterPo is calling it an early holiday season.

Thank you to all MasterPo's readers and friends.

MasterPo will be back early next year for more cutting edge commentary and insights.

Untill then,

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

November 16, 2011

The “Right” To An Education??

It seems every day we in America, and the entire Western world, are discovering all these amazing new “rights” we have. Food, housing, clothing, a job at a “living wage”, health care, and of course an education. It is to the latter this is addressed.

Sounds lovely on the surface. Everyone has the right to be educated. And indeed you can’t have a successful democracy and/or a thriving economy without an educated population. But the Devil is in the details as he usually is.

To what level an “education” is the right?

High School?
Trade or vocational school?
2-year college?
4-year college?
Graduate school?
Post-graduate school?

If you have the “right” to an education does that include the “right” to attend whatever school you want?

So if we say that the right to an education includes through a 4-year college does that mean everyone has the right to attend Harvard or Yale or Princeton or MIT?

What about admission requirements like grades and SAT scores? (as much as those are bogus indicators) If you don’t make the scores the school wants has the school violated your rights?
Does the school have any say in who attends? Or is that now discrimination?

After World War 2 the U.S. military GI Bill paid a very generous schooling allowance: Veterans received 1 year of full tuition for every 6 months of military service they completed. In terms of a college program that meant the government would pay for a 4-year degree course after 2 years of military service. Not too shabby! The veteran had to apply to the school and get in. No guarantees there. But if they did the government picked up the bill.

Will similar be the same now if education is a “right”?

Moving on…

Once you’re into a school, can you ever be dismissed? In other words, what if you fail the courses and school wants to expel you from the program – is that now violating your rights?

Not every student will be a Calculus master or a Shakespearean writer. If someone doesn’t learn the subject material, at least enough to squeak by passing, who’s at fault? The school? The teacher? “Society”? (as usual) Was the student’s rights violated?

Or what if you just don’t show up to many class? Don’t do the home work and term projects and now fail the class? They didn’t educate you as evidenced by not passing the class so have your “rights” been violated? Why not?

And does your “right” to an education also include the necessity of being provided with text books for the courses?
Note paper and pens?
A bag to carry all your school supplies?
Transportation to/from school?
A wake up call to make sure you’re up in time for class?

This gets very silly very fast! But that’s what happens when “rights” are created out of the ether because it sounds oh sooooo good and noble.

At some point very very soon (if not already happening) the decision has to be made, as a collective society, where the line is between what society can provide you and what you must do for yourself. You can send a person to a brand new school building filled with the latest computers and technical gear and staffed by al PhD’s in their field, but, if the person just sits there in a daze and does apply themselves to the material, doesn’t do the assignments, doesn’t participate, then nothing can be done. Some subject matter is hard to comprehend let alone master. If it were that simple everyone would be a PhD.

A “right” isn’t always right.

November 12, 2011

Identify Theft – In Reverse!

Identity theft (which used to be called “impersonation”) is all the rage to talk about these days. Many companies make a tidy sum selling various services they claim monitor your identity and warn or even prevent when someone tries to impersonate you. MasterPo has heard mixed reviews of these but they – and the entire indentity theft conversation – overlooks the reverse scenario.

That is: What happens when someone or some entity insists you are someone else?!

That sort of happened to MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo a few years ago.

We bought a new cell phone and was assigned a phone number from the carrier. But as it turned out the phone number had previously been used by someone in New York City, apparently as their primary number. We kept getting calls for that person.

At first it was typical stuff like sales calls, notice your Rx is ready, etc.

Then it got a bit more personal in the sense that why didn’t this person notify these people of their new number? We received calls from a mechanic shop that his car was ready and other seemingly important businesses calling to tell this person something they ordered or requested or wanted or paid for was ready for them.

Then came the next step: Calls from utility companies.

Apparently this guy owed a lot to utilities, especially Time Warner Cable.

We tried very hard to say that we aren’t this guy, we just bought a new cell phone and this is the number that was assigned.

But they didn’t listen.

Realistically MasterPo can see the other side. Someone owes a lot of money, this is the number the creditor has on file for them, but now the voice on the line claims they aren’t the one who’s on the owed account. Frankly if someone who owed MasterPo money and when called the voice at the other end claimed this wasn’t them MasterPo would be skeptical too.

But try as we did MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo just couldn’t stop the calls that came at all hours of the day and night.

In the end MasterPo had to change the number again and then the calls stopped (but not before we had some fun at the company’s expense!).

In this case there was little the businesses could do to MasterPo. But this does show identify theft in reverse. Maybe call it “Identity Assignment”?

November 7, 2011

This Is America’s Future (?!)

The future of any nation lays with the next generation – the children. We can debate the effectiveness or the lack thereof of the American education system but as the saying goes it’s attitude that makes the difference. And the attitude of today’s American youth is, to put it mildly, appalling!

Here are some examples:

Several years ago there was a young man by the name of Patrick who was very active on all the saltwater fishing forums in the Northeast. (MasterPo has written about Patrick before). He was a lad of about 16/17 when he came on the scene and tried so desperately to want to run with the big boys – experienced sport fisherman who had twice is age in fishing experience. Alas, poor Patrick took soooooooo much heat and criticism for many of his comments. Most were well deserved in MasterPo’s opinion too.

Finally, when Patrick couldn’t run with the big dogs he took to impugning them, their tackle and techniques, fishing reports etc. So much so that it was said several tackle manufactures threatened in writing from their lawyers to sue him for slander! Bet that made his parents happy. MasterPo understands he even received threats of physical harm.

Patrick then went on to pretty much take whatever opposing stance these people expressed on subjects of work, politics, religion, school, professions, etc. Very very sad that he was only able to relate to his seniors by insulting them. MasterPo wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick is now one of the Occupy Wall Street rioters now.

After about 3 years Patrick disappeared and to MasterPo’s knowledge hasn’t been seen on a fishing forum again since. Probably his parents got tired of having to pay lawyer fees to respond to slander cease&desist letters and took away his computer. Most likely they told him if he has the time to slander online he has the time to get a job! Today, young Patrick would be nearly 30 years old. MasterPo wonders if he has changed his ways. Hopefully.

Then there was the story of Paul, aka Martini.

Paul was a young kid in his early 20’s when MasterPo encountered him at work. His nickname was Martini after the character from “One Who Flew Over The Coo-Coo’s Nest”, part because he was one of 4 Paul’s in the office and part because he was a simplistic young man.

Paul could have had a decent career at that organization, maybe even risen to a management level, if he was just more conscientious and paid attention. Instead, he listened to the 20-30 year veterans of the organization and their tainted views of the world. Maybe they really did have a beef at some point, maybe not. But that’s literally decades ago for many and Paul shouldn’t let their experiences sour his fresh starting career. But he did. Within months Paul was talking smack about the managers and the organization as whole as if he too was a 20-year veteran. A lost and bitter soul at such a young age.

Finally and especially sad is the ongoing current story of Donald (not his real name).

Donald is young boy of 17, a High School Senior, and not a bad kid at all. MasterPo wouldn’t even call him lazy. Just unthinking, unconcerned, uncaring.

Last year Donald showed an interest in the culinary arts. So he attended a cooking program at a local school (in addition to High School). Late this year he was dropped. Didn’t pass because he didn’t attend enough classes and didn’t finish his cooking assignments. Now he wants to be Police.

All this time he has also been taking part in a Navy High School program called Sea Cadets. He (and I think his parents) wants to go into the Navy after High School and the Sea Cadets gives them a pre-view of Navy life as well as getting him in at a higher grade than an off-the-street recruit (think ROTC for enlisted). That he’s doing decently in. But he has to take the Armed Services Aptitude test (ASVAB) to be in the MP’s.

Here’s where it gets really sad: He will tell you all he needs is a score of 50 to be a Military Police. (Top score on the test is 100 which we calls “rocket scientist” level.) But 50 is only the minimum score needed to just be considered for the MP’s. It doesn’t guarantee anything. In fact, if Donald gets a 50 and someone else has an 80 and the MP’s only have one opening in the next training slot who do you think will get that slot? Yet Donald will just say all he’s aiming for is a 50.

MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo (who is trying to tutor him in the math part of the test, but even then Donald doesn’t do his homework rather than hanging with his friends!) have tried to explain this to him. He doesn’t seem to get it. Deer-in-the-headlights stare. Worse still, Donald says his parents and his uncle will pay him $100 if he gets just a 50 so that’s what he’s aiming for! In fact, Donald says that all his life his family has told him to just do the minimum needed to get by!

What kind of lesson is that to teach a child?!

MasterPo will grant that sometimes a minimal effort is the best you can do. That is, in a few very specific situations (which are generally also very situational) there is a time and a place to “just get by”. But now is not that time of place for a young man like Donald! He’s too many years away from encountering that kind of scenario much less being able to make an informed judgment as to whether or not to “just get by”.

This is the future of American. The next American generation.

Heaven help us all!