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Comment Re:Wow (Score 2) 224

I think you have to look at where the funding comes from for Republican and conservative causes. Don't just look at candidate funding, even election advertising has a lot of funding that isn't straight to the candidate.

Although there might be no shortage of self-employed Republicans, they don't really call the shots for the party. It's the very deep pockets who do.

Comment Re:ooh ive played this game before. (Score 1) 170

Well, you're missing an important dynamic here, which is groupthink.

When people decide whether something is true or false, right or wrong, the first thing they do is look around to see what other people think. And this is actually not a bad heuristic. Sometimes when you're in jail for civil disobedience it's because you are, in Thoreau's words, "a man more right than his neighbnors". But most of the time it's because you're a mule-headed crackpot. You should at least consider the possibility that if everyone else disagrees with you, it may be because you're wrong. But most people go further. They play it safe by only having opinions they see lots of other people having.

So shills actually do something far more significant than trick politicians and civil servants into believing there are armies of just plain folks out there who care so much about the natural rights of cable companies that they'll donate impressive amounts of time and money out sheer public spiritedness. Shills alter the public perception of what a normal opinion sounds like.

This isn't Civics 101. This is how politics works in the real world. It's a little bit like stage hypnosis. When diplomats are surprised or outraged in that particularly insincere way they have, everybody knows it's phony. But somehow they go along with it because -- well nobody seems to know why. Same when a politician cites the support of some group that everyone knows is paid to express support. People know it's fake, but they react as if it were real

I think this gets to yet another function of shills. I think they function as a signaler of fitness in the Social Darwinism game. It's a bit like buying an ad during the Superbowl; it doesn't really say anything about how your beer tastes. It signals that you're a successful, Serious Player in the beer game. Having flocks of flying PR monkeys at your beck and call doesn't mean that those monkeys spout anything but gibberish. It means you've got the resources to be a Serious Player; a kingmaker perhaps, and you've put skin in the game. And so we go along with the gibberish, because it's more important to be on the winning side than the right one.

Comment Re:Density Myth. . . (Score 1) 337

If it was just the greater Ephrata metroplex (heh) you might have a point. But they fibered up the whole of Grant county. Almost as big as LA county, but only 28 people per square mile. Gray's harbor county fibered up at the same time and is much the same. Now what?

Comment Re:Democrats voted (Score 1) 932

They do, in some states. I believe Ohio has a Libertarian party ballot at the primaries; there may be others.

The Tea Party isn't registered as a political party; they are a movement within the Republican party. They may well be able to gain separate primaries if they wanted them, but as far as I can tell their goal is explicitly NOT to do that. They don't want to run against Republicans in a general election; they want to replace Republican candidates with those more to their liking.

If they were to run it as a third-party race (or if Cantor were to run a write-in campaign) it would open up a huge opportunity for the Democrats. (Something like IRV might prevent that, though there are other ways to subvert IRV.)

Comment University Tenure <> Public School "Tenure" (Score 2) 519

This is another one of those political talking points that amount to nothing more than dishonest quibbling. Yes, the kind of "tenure" that university professors get would make no sense for a high school teacher, but that's not what "tenure" means in public schools. It has the same *name*, but it means something *different*.

It's practically impossible to get rid of a university professor with tenure. An elementary school teacher *can* be fired, but only for specific causes. Here are the list of causes which, under my states laws, a tenured public school teacher can be fired:

(1) inefficiency,
(2) incompetency,
(3) incapacity,
(4) conduct unbecoming a teacher,
(5) insubordination
(6) failure to satisfy teacher performance standards
(note) teachers can also be laid off due to staff reductions.

This seems like a pretty complete list of the justifications a reasonable person would need for firing a teacher. If a principal has documentation of any of these causes, the teacher is out. Immediately. The teacher can appeal to an arbitration board, but pending any reversal of the firing the teacher is not allowed back on campus.

It's actually quite straightforward to fire a tenured teacher. Two of my kids teachers were dismissed, even though they had tenure. One for gross inefficiency, the other for conduct unbecoming a teacher (she told a black student he should "go back to the plantation"). The teacher fired for bad conduct was the head of the local teacher's union. The union did not make a stink in either case; it generally doesn't. It's OK with dismissals for cause, so long as there is documentation and proper procedures are followed. If there weren't documented cause or the teacher didn't get his right of appeal, they'd fight that, as they should.

The myth that you just *can't* fire a tenured public school teacher is sometimes spread by lazy principals. They'll tell unhappy parents, "Gee, I'd like to get rid of that one, but he's got tenure. It's practically impossible to get rid of a tenured teacher." There was a case like that in my town where the principal kept telling parents there was nothing he could do about a certain teacher. Then they school got a new principal, and a few months later he fired the teacher in question.

Comment You're missing half the tenure equation. (Score 1) 519

All those young adjunct professors who are publishing like mad, refusing no committee assignment, and enduring any indignity their superiors can dream up in the vain hope of grasping the brass tenure ring. Often the decisions of the tenure committee are inexplicable, so you have no option but to put your nose to the grindstone and pray.

That doesn't excuse the attitude "I've got mine, to hell with this place," but it makes it more understandable.

Comment Re:Density Myth. . . (Score 5, Interesting) 337

Population density is why we don't have gigabit fiber to tiny little rural towns in the middle of nowhere like Ephrata, WA (pop 7000). No, wait. They have had gigabit fiber to the home since 2001. Back when that cost a metric boatload of money. And yet the network made an embarassingly large profit they had to pay back to their customers because they are a nonprofit. How is that even possible?

It is possible because your density story is a lie. It is made up. There is no truth to it. If Ephrata, and even smaller towns in that county, can have gigabit at a reasonable price 14 years ago then we all can now. The tech is 100x cheaper now. There is no excuse for not fibering up the whole country.

Comment Oh God (Score 2) 337

Now they are both going to sue me for the slander of associating each with the other. They'll probably both win too, and have to sue each other over fractions of my soul. But the judge will be in on it and award both the same soul three times each.

Comment Re:Somewhere in my mind... (Score 3, Funny) 337

Such a dumb setup.

Not as dumb as paying more per gigabyte of RAM on your Cisco server for the privilege of paying more per gigabyte of RAM and Gigabit of network bandwidth on your Oracle software so you can pay extra for the ports on your Cisco network switch. With mandatory support contracts all 'round.

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