The Electric Commentary

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Buffalo wings and taxes

I'm dragging a bit this morning. I got back to the apartment last night tofind Mike's Hard Lemonade bottles scattered about and the roomie's girlfriend on the couch, by herself, three-sheets-to-the-wind. The roomie was at the Marquette basketball game, so, left on her own, she decided to get wasted and watch Scrubs in our apartment. Awesome. Of course I had to have a beer or two with her until the roomie returned from the game. When he did, of course I had have a beer with him too. And of course we had to call Pizza Shuttle. [I have a new-found love for Pizza Shuttle. They have a huge menu and will deliver anything until like 5am. I'm used to settling for pizza or burritos when the clock strikes bar time, but with Pizza Shuttle, I can have a rack of ribs, mashed potatoes, fried cheese curds and/or a pint of frozen custard (we're unhealthy eaters 'round here) delivered to my house even in the wee hours of the night.] Anyway, I think I ate too many Buffalo wings last night. It's a slow day today though, so no biggie.

I'm going to go look at some condos tonight. I'm in the early stages of becoming a homeowner. That being the case, I've been bitching about property taxes a lot lately. I'm pretty sure that taxwise, owning is better overall then renting since I get to itemize my deductions and all that junk. But wow it's depressing to look at a cool condo, say "that's in my price range" only to remember that I have to pay an additional $5k a year in taxes. It's even more depressing when I read things like this (scroll to January 18 post). Milwaukee Public Schools are banning cell phones. Obviously, I don't care about this issue. However, some MPS students do care and they voiced their concerns in letters to the board. Here are a few examples of what they wrote. I'm not making these up and they are copied verbatim:

"I don't think cell phones should be banned. yes it is true all cellphones are not used at the right time or purpose for fights taking pictures, or calling friends and family up to the school 1/17/07 hour 7 i figured out that it is a felony a criminal law. so inclosing of this opinion afrter school activities. It's a cold world these days. all people want to do wrong."

"I feel that we should be able to bring cell phones to school because it is to much happeing in miwaukee wisconsin such as crimes and robberys and parents are concern about they kids and nine times out of ten thats why they bought them because they have to catch the city bus or walk and anything can happen for an example yesterday on the city bus a boy got jumped for his mp3 player and he went and asked the bus driver to call the poloice and he would not call them and i feel since he had a cell phone he was able to call the police and his mother his self so you might need to call the police or something and you cant because you dont have your cell phone and some kids have to stay after for school activites and it get dark early and most of them have to ride the bus or walk and its not safe and another reason is that most teens have jobs,kids or something could have happened at home and you need to know right away so you can be informed thats why i feeel you should not aband phones from school."

"I fell like we should be able to carrie our cell phones outside as well as inside the school building.Why cant we carrie our cell phones? The teachers carrie their's, and they be on them more than the students do.I fell like if they wont us not to have cell phones inside the building, they should do the same thing."

"It really isnt being used except for emergency like if you just got jumped at school. Or into it with an adult or if u just not feeling well an the teacher wont let you use there phone. . . . Cell phones is not th problem its the people that dont know how to act."

"I think that they shouldn't be banned because anything could happen and the faculty may not handle the situation like it should have. Somebody could get tranded or hurt . . ."

"I think also that students just shouldn't be on the phone being disrespectful and rudely to the teacher and the class."

"Cellphones is a way of communicating....Example... How can you win a basketball game without communicating...Let's just say that Life is like a basketball and cell phones are the communicators..."

I suppose I should be proud to see that my tax dollars go to molding young minds like these. Life is indeed like a basketball, and you can't win a basketball game without communicating. Therefore, I hate paying taxes.


  • WOW. All caps WOW. Perfect examples of why a cell phone ban is a good thing. Maybe these young critters will be able to focus on learning how to write properly since they won't be distracted by cell phones.

    Seriously, if I knew I was terrible at spelling, grammar, and the like, I wouldn't try to write a letter trying to prove my point, since I'd figure that people seeing how poorly I write would actually weigh against their perceived intelligence of me. So does that mean that these kids don't even REALIZE that they're terrible writers? Or they just don't care because they think they can't live without a cell phone during school hours?

    By Anonymous mitch, at 11:03 AM  

  • How do these people even operate cell-phones?

    I miss Pizza Shuttle. They were a savior in law school many times over. And their ribs aren't even that bad. At 3 in the morning.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 11:25 AM  

  • They deliver frozen custard? Like ice cream?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM  

  • Wow. I actually think the basketball similie was by far the most eloquent argument against the cell phone ban. The arguments that you need to cell phone to call home after you get jumped or jacked for your MP3 player because the faculty can't handle anything was also a good argument, albeit poorly articulated.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 PM  

  • I am reasonably certain that these kids don't even realize how terrible their grammar is. My sister currently teaches 4th grade in an Atlanta suburb. Before that she taught second grade at MPS. The problem isn't in the schools, it's in the home.

    My sister is a total bitch, and I personally would hate to have her as a teacher because I know what a bitch she can be. She is ADAMANT that her kids use proper grammar when speaking in class, and says that most other teachers are as well. The problem is that the kids go home and, not surprisingly, communicate with their family and friends using something that only vaguely resembles proper english. She says she literally has to start over EVERY DAY getting her kids to speak properly. By the end of any given school day most verbs come out of their mouths properly conjugated. When they return the next morning, it's all been tossed out the window.

    By Blogger Mathew, at 1:11 PM  

  • Yeah, I agree. I realize that problem #1 for most urban youth is crappy parents and it would be tough for any education system to fix that problem. But the system we have is expensive, inefficient and paid for by me. And all things considered, I'd rather get a nicer condo.

    And yes, Pizza Shuttle delivers frozen custard.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 1:23 PM  

  • mathew,
    Second and forth graders talking/writing like idiots is one thing. These kids, if I understand correctly are in high school. They should be able to compose a sentence. Their teachers have failed at this point.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:12 PM  

  • Well, I guess we've got a first hand example of what happens to grammar when all of your written communication skills come from text messaging in class instead of paying attention or doing work. Seriously. I have a cousin who racked up $110 in text messages in a month and a co-worker's daughter ran up a $350 one month! (Now on an unlimited plan).

    I say we give up and teach them only math. That's where the economy is demanding workers now anyway.

    By Blogger Scott H, at 10:53 PM  

  • As a graduate of a 4-year college with a BS in math (and a BS in computer science), let me tell you that the average joe will fail in math. Hell, they'll fail in computer science, and that's by far the easier of the two degrees.

    Responsibility would be a good start for education, with values being a strong contender for first place. I grew up on a farm, and it KILLS me to hear about kids whining about cell phones. You remember that SPRINT commercial where the SPRINT bus pulls up to a parents/kids football game, and one of the questions the SPRINT dude asks is if the kids are sick of the parents freaking out over their cell phone usage? WORST. COMMERCIAL. EVER.

    Psst, hint for the parents. If you're sick of your kids running up cell phone bills, TAKE THE GD THINGS AWAY!!!

    The day that the cell phone went from a novelty/convenience into a necessity for the general population was the worst day in technological history (barring a few life-ending instances).

    The whole "teenagers feel the need to write feedback despite not being able to write coherent, complete, correct sentences" is yet another matter, which I feel I've already covered.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 1:07 AM  

  • I think that there are lots of valid reasons for kids to have cell phones in school as long as they are not used during class time. In my opinion, the real scourge of classrooms is laptop computers.

    As for teaching kids. As a student of management, I can tell you that the most sought after abilities in the market are the ability to communicate (with verbal taking precedence over written) and think analytically. Unless you're a total jackass, those things combined with a good work ethic pretty much guarantee upward and lateral mobility.

    While these kids aren't exactly Perry Mason reincarnated, they can still develop a competency here. The fact that they attempted to mount a defense signals that they probably have the core attributes required, they just need to have the interest and awareness.

    Yeah I know... easier said than done.

    By Anonymous Rashid Z. Muhammad, at 8:12 AM  

  • I don't know Mitch… I think cell phones are great. And don't get me started on text messaging! I don't care one way or the other when it comes to letting kids have them in school. My point here isn't about cell phones. It's about high school kids that can't write a sentence. I certainly wouldn’t claim that cell phones are causing these kids to be illiterate and it’s not the cell phones that make them think that they are entitled to everything the teachers in the school have. The problem is bad parents and a screwed up public school system that isn’t held accountable to anyone and is paid for by me without my consent. And rap music.

    My other point is that, not only am I paying for a school system that sucks, I'm paying for a school system that I will never ever use. What these kids wrote is a big reason why.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 8:25 AM  

  • I'm paying for a school system that I will never ever use.

    Sure you do.
    Who drives the bus your secretary takes to work? Who made those buffalo wings or brewed your coffee this morning? You're not on an island and even gated settlements are not independent to themselves. Who paved the road leading to them, and hooked up your cable? Came out to help when your power was out by a tree, or your visiting parents had a health emergency? You're firing at the whole system here. The problem is bad parents and a screwed up public school system that isn’t held accountable to anyone The system of public financing. The lack of respect for working parents. The past practices that have helped people shirk their parenting skills. Plenty of blame to go around, or you could just try to free yourself from it. You might benefit less, but you would be more independent and it might not bother you as much. (?) Meaning, you don't have to work and live in Milwaukee, right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:17 AM  

  • I'm not firing at the idea of public school per se. I'm firing at a poor-performing public school system. I'd feel better paying for it if it wasn't so bad. I'd consider sending my kids to it too. But since it is so bad, I'd rather not spend a lot of money on it and wouldn't send my kids to it.

    I'm not opposed to spending tax money on roads and public transit. That's what tax money is for. Or are you suggesting that the guy that drove the bus that my secretary took to work learned how to drive it at MPS? The guys that paved the roads learned how to do it at MPS? The guy that put hot sauce on my wings learned to do that at MPS? Really? They wouldn't have been able to perform those tasks but for MPS? I guess I don't follow that argument.

    No, I don't have to live and work in Milwaukee. High taxes are certainly one thing that goes in the "against" category when evaluating the city. But there are great things about the city that I do like that do outweigh the high taxes. Just because I like a city as a whole doesn't mean I shouldn't complain about certain aspects of it, does it? I bet you're one of those people that tell people that complain about America to move to Canada, aren't you?

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 10:16 AM  

  • I'm not bashing cell phones. They're great. They're convenient. I merely bash the way many people use them.

    The fact that a commercial heralds the fact that kids can crank up a cell phone bill every month is just disturbing. It's not a toy, and shouldn't be used as such. Barring VERY special circumstances, no child needs to spend 500 minutes a month on the phone, nor send $350 worth of text messages.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 10:26 AM  

  • Sorry for past snark, but honestly didn't mean for you to be defensive.

    I bet you're one of those people that tell people that complain about America to move to Canada, aren't you?

    No. I sympathize with problems of city living. But understand Milwaukee is notoriously bad in this way -- the segregation, the schools. I can see if you're forced to live/work there, it helps to vent. But unfortunately, it's the whole related system to blame. There are better places that operate more efficiently where you might be happier if it bothers you to be part of that because it seems an especially sad system there.

    Or are you suggesting that the guy that drove the bus that my secretary took to work learned how to drive it at MPS? The guys that paved the roads learned how to do it at MPS? The guy that put hot sauce on my wings learned to do that at MPS? Really? They wouldn't have been able to perform those tasks but for MPS? I guess I don't follow that argument.

    Sadly in a post on communication, that's exactly what I was arguing. Those Milwaukee-educated kids of today will be local workers tomorrow, right? You're a part of that school district already whether you realize it or not. That bus driver maybe didn't get his CDL in high school, but he got the basics. Ditto the neighborhood paramedic who went through public schools. The road laborers too, the fast food "chefs". The education may be substandard, but those students will be working somewhere in the system someday. Poor spelling and communication skills or not. So yes, you are part of it already, even if your own kids aren't there.

    Those examples I used of local workers that support daily in ways maybe you don't see. It's all related and if you stay there, you're all dependent in the system on each other, unfortunately. Them on the bottom, you up higher.

    Re. cell phones:
    Sadly, if you want things to improve in schools, you really can't be libertarian re. discipline. Religious private schools work in drilling the basics precisely because they don't respect everyone's individual rights of freedom, and strict discipline is enforced.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:54 PM  

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