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Comment Re:Send in the drones! (Score 4, Informative) 848

And on the flipside, my neighbor is Ukrainian. Ukrainian Independence Day was this past weekend, and they invited me over for a few drinks. (Which, as a side, do not drink with Ukrainians on Ukrainian Independence Day if you like a functional liver). None of them speak English terribly well, but they made it abundantly clear it's bad over there right now. They've still got family & friends there, and they're naturally worried.

Several shots later, they taught me the phrases, "Fuck Putin" and "Fuck Russia" in Ukrainian. Fans of Russia, they are not.

Comment Re:It's The American Drean (Score 1) 1313

When the average teachers in Chicago are making ~75k / yr with incredible benefits

Citation to a credible source needed. The only place I see figures of $75K are news articles quoting a biased source. Unbiased sources (e.g. the various salary surveys) are reporting $55K or thereabouts.

Let's face it --- this wouldn't be the first time an employer has inflated claims about how much he's paying in an attempt to discredit unions negotiating for a better deal.

Whether I can be considered credible or not is another question, but seeing as my wife is a teacher in the Chicago suburbs...

$75k outside of Chicago proper is insanely high - it's possible for a 20+ year veteran teacher with extra certifications and a couple of masters degrees, but aside from that, most teachers will never see that much. There are a few expensive districts where the prices vary, of course, but once you get out of Chicago itself, the pay rate traditionally plummets.

IN Chicago, 75k is much closer to reality. I don't know if that's that's the AVERAGE, but I do know starting salaries in CPS (chicago public schools) are over 50k, and in some cases pushing 60. There's a few of reasons for this.

  1) The Chicago teacher's union is absurdly powerful.
  2) To teach in Chicago, you have to live in Chicago (same is true for almost all government jobs in the city) Unless you want to live in the ghetto, the cost of living there is extremely high.
  3) Speaking of ghettos, a very high percentage of Chicago schools are, to put it mildly, hellholes. It's hard as hell to keep teachers because of just how bad conditions are in some of those schools. Nobody wants to work there, so the salaries have to be higher than the 'burbs.

Comment Re:Thirst Toast (Score 2) 197

What a shame if all this effort means Earth is the only planet to harbor intelligent life.
Or worse, the first.

Nah, it'd be kind of cool to be the ones strutting around in our encounter suits spouting enigmatic one-liners to the lesser civilizations.

The only drawback is we need to rapidly speed up our medical research so we live long enough to see it.

Comment Re:I just can't live without a ZIF socket. (Score 2) 1009

Multiple times. And, more importantly - about 6 months ago, my motherboard decided to go south. Not wanting to spend the money to upgrade everything, I found a cheap new board, moved everything over, and called it a day. Had the CPU been soldered on, I'da had to buy both a new board and a new processor, along with the possibility of my RAM no longer being compatible with the new board. Big difference between a $50 board and several hundred dollars worth of new hardware.

Comment Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (Score 1) 570

BS. First, kids are not changing that much. Second, if they were changing that much and teachers were adapting, they wouldn't be able to make the lesson plan before they met the students anyway. Thus, only an incompetent teacher would be making lesson plans in the summer.

Tell that to the teacher who gets the 'gifted' class one year, the sack of potatoes the following year, followed by the class of kids whose primarily language is not English, followed by the class of batshit insane kids whose parents refuse to medicate. Teachers get WILDLY different groups of kids year in and year out. Furthermore, they get their tentative class lists well in advance for good reason - woe to the teacher who doesn't at least do SOME prep work beforehand. Waltz into the first day of school thinking you're going to be able to teach a brand new class with the same schedule and plan as last year, and you'll get a very rude awakening very fast. It's very true that a teacher will still have to do some alterations once they meet the kids, but if you think they can get away with doing nothing all summer, you're out of your mind.

No, what we have is a bunch of half truths that get stapled together into one big lie. Teacher A has to take a summer course and it gets added to the list. Teacher B has to grade essays and thus works more hours. That gets added to the list. Teacher C takes a summer job and that gets added to the list. Teacher D is brand new in a low cost of living district so gets a low starting wage and that gets added to the list. Teacher E lives in a high cost of living district, so their housing cost is high and that gets added to the list. This goes on and on until you have a picture of abused teachers living in shacks working 365 days a year just to put scraps on the table.

And the picture of teachers only working 9 months out of the year, getting out of work at 3 and doing no work outside of class is also completely false. Teachers have to put in a TON of work outside the classroom, and many principals/other administrative folks can be as bad as any PHB when it comes to making up inane busy-work for their staff.

Comment Re:Ha, you threaten teacher jobs and see what happ (Score 1) 570

The idea that teachers should have to do new lesson plans every year is something that I keep hearing. Unless the programs are changing drastically every year, this should be done once centrally and used by everyone.

They are. Different districts, different principals, different rules that change by the year/mood of the administration.

Administrator gets a bug up their ass to try some New And Awesome Teaching Method, demands their staff use said method, and there you go. New lesson plans.

Add to that, kids are different every year. What worked for one group of kids may not work for next year's group, and teachers need to adapt just like everyone else.

Comment Re:AMTRAK (Score 1) 382

Short answer: Yes, rail travel, with vast investments, could truly do wonders.

Long answer: Vast, VAST investments. It would require much, much faster trains, and new rail tracks...everywhere. The biggest problem with Amtrak is the fact they don't own the rails - they have to yield the right of way to freight, which causes an already Not Too Fast train to be even slower. So, yeah. You'd need more than a few billions, you'd need a complete redesign of the entire county's rail system. Not happening.

Comment Re:America is a BIG Country (Score 2) 1205

Mmm hmm.

Talk to me about walking distance to places when you live in the midwest or northeast, when it's 800 degrees below zero and there's a foot of snow on the ground.

Try working in Chicago proper, and try finding a place close to your office. You have two options. 1) Dodge the bullets, or 2) Sell your kidneys to afford it. Oh, you want to raise a family? Want your kid to have a good education? Hope you can afford private school, 'cause the Chicago public school system ain't exactly Harvard. Want your kid to actually have a safe neighborhood? Well, see above. Hope you can afford one of those nice neighborhoods (that costs several times more than a comparable suburb) But hey, at least you can walk to where you need to go.

Choose where you live, huh? Well, I'd be more than happy to move. Just find me a job in your little walking distance paradise, and find my wife a job as well. While you're at it, get my friends and family to move as well, 'cause I happen to like them.

There are VAST differences in lifestyles depending on the region of the US you are in. One size fits all is utterly impossible in this country.

Comment Re:multitasking (Score 1) 1003

From a brief scan of SkyTran on Wikipedia...neat idea, completely unworkable. (At least not in any significant US metro area).

How is that system going to handle several hundred (possibly several thousand) people waiting in line to hop on for their morning/evening commute home? How long are people going to be stuck waiting in line for their turn during these rushes? Add to this the fact that large metro areas that two of our largest metro areas (New York and Chicago) have some real nasty winters. So factor in the cost of very large enclosed & heated areas for people to stand around and wait their turn to hop into one of these things (and the cost of acquiring the real estate to build said areas).

The US has a larrrrge amount of real estate. A whole lot of people commute in from suburbs to the major metro areas. Thus, for this to even make a dent in traffic, you'd have to have just an absurd amount of connection points throughout every suburb and into the city, which would also create several very backed up 'exit points' when you have a small army of corporate types heading to the office.

Now, if we're talking about just doing it within a large city itself, okay. You still need to address the sheer mass of people trying to get on and off at a single point (can you imagine how long it would take to board this thing after, say, a sporting event?), and how one can cram this thing into densely built cities. Much easier said than done.

Unless I'm just not seeing it, this would NEVER be efficient in a densely populated area, especially during rush hour times. A combo of high speed mass transit and self driving cars is really the only feasible Solution To Transit In The Future (tm)....unless/until we get our Star Trek Transporters.

Comment Re:For a school superintendant (Score 1) 505

Good lord, your supers are only making 80-130? Average superintendent salary in Illinois is ~150k, with more than a few making over 300k/yr - there's a reason I'm hoping I can convince my wife to move from teaching into administration down the road, despite the political bullshit that comes with the job.

And of course, they're axing teachers left and right due to financial difficulties. Shock.

In my experience, the administrators are/were rarely all that great of teachers, they're the ones who play the political game the best.

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