About Crucis

I'm a retired telecom engineer, life NRA member, Amateur Radio Operator and Air Force vet. I created this blog at the urging of some folks who think I have an occasional thought. A liberal friend once described me as "being just to the right of Atilla the Hun." I thanked her for that description and told her I'd do my best to maintain her expectations.

How did this happen?

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NJ Governor Chris Christie

I usually don’t think much of Chris Christie. He isn’t a conservative and isn’t much of a ‘Pub, either. But today, he uttered a statement that I can agree upon. Finally!

“Some colleges are drunk on cash and embarking on crazy spending binges, just because they know they can get huge revenues from tuition.” — WSJ

In this case, Christie is right. College tuition is caught in a feed back loop. Colleges charge thousands of dollars for tuition, far beyond the means of most families. The students then file for student loans and get them. The student loans pays for the tuition. The colleges and universities, realizing they have a cash cow available in the form of government sponsored student loans, feel no restraint on raising tuition again each year.

In the mid-’60s when my wife and I went to college, we both had a teaching scholarship. Southern Illinois University, at that time, was on the quarter system, Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters. My tuition costs—which included text book rental, $112 for an in-state resident. The scholarship paid for all of that except for a $12 Student Activity fee. I paid more for room and board, $298 per quarter, than I did for tuition. I also worked 40 hours/week, part-time for the university for the grand sum of $0.95 per hour. I went to school full-time and then worked 40 hours for those expenses not covered by tuition nor dorm.

Tuition for today’s colleges and universities should be investigated for RICO violations because today’s tuition is a racket.

***

You’ve heard, no doubt, that St. Louis and Kansas City want to raise the minimum wage. Regardless of all the nonsense about a ‘living wage’ that such entry level jobs were never meant to fulfill, there are other reason why these metro areas want the pay increase—more money in the city coffers.

Higher minimum wage would increase city’s tax revenues, too

Letter-to-the-Editor, June 12, 2015

Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis is asking the Board of Aldermen to pass legislation mandating a near doubling of the current minimum wage from $7.65 to $15 an hour for certain businesses operating in the city by 2020 (“Slay seeks to increase minimum wage in city,” June 3). Naturally, this will undoubtedly appeal to all those who buy into this demagogic charade of equality and “fairness” by politicians and their followers of the Left.

But aside from undeniable economic facts, that prices will go up and seniors on fixed income will be hurt, there is something else that will result that I have not heard being talked about.

Consider, when you virtually double the current minimum wage, can you guess what benefits the city of St. Louis will receive? If you said that with higher wages comes higher tax revenue from the city earnings tax along with increased payroll tax revenue that will go to the state of Missouri, then go to the head of the class. If you add that increase wages mean higher sales taxes, you are clearly a summa cum laude candidate.

What Sleight-of-Hand Slay is attempting to do without saying so is to generate additional revenue while seeking to avoid being accused of raising taxes. Wonder if anyone else has caught on to this?

In the case of Kansas City there is an additional tax, the 1% (or is it higher now?) city income tax. If the minimum wage is increased, the city will get more revenue from its income tax.

When you get to the bottom line, it’s always about collecting more taxes. Involuntary taxation is nothing more than theft by other means.

Passages

Two British actors died over the weekend. One was world famous, the other less so. Christopher Lee starred in many films in the ’60s and ’70s playing Dracula in numerous Hammer Horror films. More recently he was known for his portrayal of the wizard, Saruman, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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Sir Christopher Lee died Sunday, June 7, 2015 at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Sir Christopher Lee dies at 93 – latest reaction and tributes

Screen legend famous for roles in Hammer Horror films, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars dies in hospital after suffering heart and respiratory problems

The other British actor was Ron Moody who played Fagin in the musical, Oliver! He died over the weekend, too, at age 91.

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Ron Moody as Fagin in the musical, Oliver!

Oliver! actor Ron Moody dies aged 91

Actor Ron Moody, who played Fagin in the hit film version of Oliver!, has died aged 91, his family says.

The British character actor was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for his performance in the 1968 Charles Dickens adaptation.

It’s always a sad day when old familiar faces leave us. These two now join a memorable list of British actors who are no longer with us, Alec Guinness, James Mason, Ralph Richardson, to name a few.

***

This headline appeared today.

Few GOP candidates are prepared with alternatives if court rules against Obamacare

It is a stupid headline. Why should the GOP come up with an alternative. The healthcare we had before Obama and the democrats ruined it, was excellent! Contrary to the lies spread by Obama, NO ONE WAS WITHOUT HEALTHCARE! It was a violation of law to turn anyone away from an emergency room—if they really needed care.

The truth was that hospitals were inundated by people, without health insurance, who came to the ERs who were not sick. The ER was the place to go for drugs (if they could talk a doc into giving them some), to get away from an abusive spouse, or, not uncommonly, to just hang out in a cool place during the summer heat.

Were there issues with healthcare before its destruction by Obama? Yes. For instance, healthcare plans were limited to each state. What a plan could offer in one state, may not be allowed in another. One change that could be done would be to allow insurance companies to provide the same plan in multiple states. That would drive insurance costs down through competition.

Beyond that, not much else is needed. One exception would be to deny insurance to illegals. Force them to go to ERs where they could receive care, and then be identified, detained, and shipped back to wherever they came from. That alone, would solve much of our illegal alien problem.

Just because Obama and the democrats hated our healthcare doesn’t mean it was bad, nor ineffective. Some democrats never heard the old phrase, “If if ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Our healthcare system wasn’t broke, far from it, it was the best in the world. Obama and the democrats have reduced that effectiveness to a 3rd world level.

No, GOP, you don’t need an alternative. Kill Obamacare and I’ll bet insurance companies would respond as before. Like your old healthcare? Kill Obamacare and you’ll get it—if we ignore the lies and caterwauling from the democrats and libs.

Irritating habits

In this particular case, I’m speaking of mannerisms of speech. When I was in high school back in the dark ages, when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and Elvis Pressley was riding high, a form of speech appeared across the country. It was the use of “like” interjected into speech about every other word.

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Dobies Gillis (Dwayne Hickman) and Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver)

I acknowledge, I was one of those…for a very short time. I used “like” more than once in a sentence at the dinner table. My mother, an elementary school teacher, climbed all over me. My father called it “hippy speak.” They thought I’d picked up the habit from Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebs. There were in a popular show on TV on the only channel we had at that time. Grandma just rolled her eyes and kept silent. (She still used “ain’t” and “cain’t” frequently.)

Needless to say, my use of “like” in a sentence was curtailed. I did learn a lesson on the proper use of words.

I developed another speech habit years later. I used to pause in a sentence and unconsciously say, “Uh…,” before continuing. It’s an irritation to me and I try, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to break that habit. It’s a continuing effort.

My speech habit did make me aware of such habits in others. I was an engineer and manager when I worked for Sprint. I had people working for me across the country. We communicated via email and audio/visual conference calls. My access to video conferencing was limited, too many others wanted to use the facilities. Therefore, we used audio conferencing heavily. It was a Sprint product we sold to customers and we were urged to use it ourselves.

It was common to work with some people for years and never see them eye-to-eye. We recognized one another by our voices. All was well except for one person…a woman in Omaha, a recent University of Nebraska graduate. She joined Sprint as a summer intern and after graduation was hired as an entry level engineer. I firmly believe she graduated solely because NU couldn’t stand her anymore.

She had the habit of ending every sentence on a rising note, as if asking a question. If she was asked a question, she seemed to reply with a question. Every time we needed something from her, it took a series of question-question cycles to get the information. We couldn’t tell if she was making a statement or replying with another question. The problem was compounded by her actually asking questions in response to a question.

This is a simple example of an interchange.

“Barbie, did you finish that report?”

“Yes?”

“Did you finish the report?”

“Yes?”

“Are you asking a question or making a statement, Barbie?”

“Yes?”

I had people drop off conference calls or not join if she was included in the meeting. If at all possible, I used email to communicate with her. Half of the time she ignored my emails. I finally shed her from my team. Working with her was just too difficult.

But I see I’m not the only one who worked with a Barbie. I was scanning the morning news articles when I came across this column. Barbie has multiplied! She’s endemic! And, she appears to be a product of our educational system.

What’s with this ‘beta-lilt’?

By Harold Harrison, June 10, 2015

Over the last several decades, there have been a number of poor speaking habits developed that eventually get ridiculed out of common use.  “Like” and “ya know” certainly have had their time in the limelight.  I recall a teacher reciting the Gettysburg Address: “Fourscore and seven years ago, ya know, our Fathers, ya know, brought forth…”

Building to a crescendo is a small thing that is now screaming at me, particularly when I tune into NPR and other lefty venues.  Something doesn’t exist until you name it, so I am offering the term beta-lilt, which is the verbal affectation of ending a sentence a tone higher than the body of the statement.  This normally is used to imply a question, like an invisible question mark, which is perfectly fine in the sparse use of a normal conversation.  However, it has somehow become the basis for all conversation among certain people.  As a guess, I would say it is generally found in the Millennials, with an emphasis on the women and beta males within that group.

Now that I have brought it to your attention, I believe that you will quickly recall its use and recall that it goes with a subservient verbal posture that implies a serf speaking to his overbearing master.  A further guess would be that it developed within our “institutions of higher learning” (/snark), where students are browbeaten into sitting at the feet of their all-wise professors of gender studies and are always testing their place in the pecking order, like a puppy with a few too many whacks with a rolled up newspaper.

Implicit in this affectation is the premise that “I am making a statement and I don’t know whether you will agree with it, so I am offering it as a question, so when you signal any disagreement (probably non-verbally), I am less likely to have to prostrate myself in front of you.”

Have we created a younger culture where political correctness has left those most sensitive souls always walking on eggshells in fear of touching the third rail of misspeak that would cast them out into the wilderness of…what?  Our comfortable non-P.C. universe?  Does this reflect a Common Core product so undereducated that nothing is understood well enough to leave one confident enough to state it in declarative sentences?  Is it a result of everyone getting a ribbon so no one has been forged in the furnace of failure?

The column continues on the American Thinker website. It appears that Barbie is not a fluke. No, she’s been conditioned with a speech pattern like Pavlov’s dogs. She’s a product of our liberal education system.

Tuesday’s Thoughts, June 9, 2015

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Common Box Turtle

It appears the migration has started once again. Several decades ago, in the late ’70s or early ’80s, there was a massive migration of land terrapins, or, as some call them, box turtles.

During that time, I made a business trip to Jeff City driving on US-50. On one two-lane section of the highway, literally thousands of turtles had been killed trying to cross the road. It was so bad that the highway was slick with blood and gore and a number of cars were off the highway onto the shoulders because their drivers had lost control of their vehicles.

In the last week, I’ve seen a number of smaller box turtles crossing the highway. I haven’t hit any but I’ve seen where many turtles didn’t make it across the road. If you see a little bump slowly moving across the highway, give’em a pass. It’ll save you from having to wash your car to remove turtle gore.

***

An article appeared on the St Louis Public Radio website late yesterday. The headline reads, “Missouri ranks 10th in high school graduation rate. Is that as good as it sounds?”

The short answer is, “No!” Graduation rates do not equal education rates. From the article, any student, or person filling a seat, can get a high school diploma in Missouri simply by showing up. I had a link once to an article that exposed the Kansas City School district’s failure: 22% of the 2012 KC high school graduates were functionally illiterate. The link is now broken, the article has been blocked. Here’s a link to a page with a graph that supports my older post. You can read my 2012 post on the KC school district here.

The bottom line of the NPR story is that Missouri has increased the number of high school graduates. They’ve done so by dumbing down the curriculum and eliminating any real requirements for graduation…except, perhaps, for that oh-so-important social and community service requirement. This is what state (and federal) control of our schools have wrought.

When phonics was removed as a teaching aid for reading, reading skills dropped. My wife once tutored the daughter of a friend. She had trouble reading. Her school, a public school, used ‘sight’ reading as the method of choice. It turned out, if I remember correctly, the girl was dyslexic.

Finally, her parents removed her from public school and placed her in a private school. It was not an issue of the public school being unable to teach her. They would not because they were confined to one technique that does not work for dyslexic kids. The private school was more interested in results instead of methodology.

An important item frequently overlooked by those who stand with sight reading over phonics is the argument that some words, such as hot, hope, hook, hoot, house, hoist, horse, horizon, honey, hour, honest, can’t be taught by phonics alone. That’s true. The English language is filled with exceptions. That’s why, along with reading, it is important to teach SPELLING!

Spelling, as it was once done, taught those exceptions, spelling taught the proper use of the word, it’s relationship to other words, it’s root(s) and its meaning(s). Spelling is another skill that is being dropped in many public schools. Spelling does not support the goal of passing the standardized tests. Rote memorization, with or without understanding, does.

When ‘No Child Left Behind,’ was introduced, the teachers claimed, rightly so, that the result would be to teach the tests. Remember, the purpose of the Education Mafia is not education but job security. When NCLB was passed, the teacher’s union promptly changed methodology and started teaching the new tests. That choice, teaching the test, has carried over and is institutionalized in Common Core.

Remember, behind every headline, there is a core of truth…and a lie. It’s up to you to discover which is which.

They’re coming baaack!!

Or they will be next Fall. The Celtic Woman group is returning to Kansas City on October 22, 2015 playing in the Music Hall. Tickets are, supposedly, available for purchase now. If I understood the ad correctly last night, the price per ticket is in $100 range.

I’ve never seen Celtic Woman in person. I would certainly like to see them. At those prices, however…

Sigh…

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Celtic Woman

If I can’t see them with my own Mk I eyeballs, I’ll have to be satisfied with these You Tube videos.

Máiréad Nesbitt is the group’s violin soloist. Not only is she a magnificent violinists, she dances while playing. Usually she and the others wear shoes with 2″ heels. From time to time, Máiréad dances barefoot. “The shoes hurt,” she said in one interview. Isacc Perlman, eat your heart out!

Máiréad Nesbitt is the only Celtic Woman member who has stayed with the group throughout its history. She was originally intended to be just a soloist. Instead, she’s become the core holding the group together.

The members of the group is fluid. They come and go. Lisa Kelly was one of my favorites. She left the group some years ago and now teaches in Georgia near Atlanta.

Another of the original singers who has gone is Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. She appears in the video below.

Cloe Agnew left the group and returned. She’s one member who has been with the group almost from the beginning.

Finally, there’s Orla Fallon, the dark-haired one.

If you’re a Celtic Woman fan like me, here’s a present for today…the hour and a half video of their concert in Dublin, Ireland.

Repeat: Friday Follies for June 5, 2015

The left is attempting to smear Marco Rubio and his wife. The Drudge headline this morning is this: NYT INVESTIGATES: Rubio and Wife Cited 17 Times for Traffic Infractions... The New York Times couldn’t be bothered by Hillary’s State Department incompetence, nor of the bribes funneled to her and Bill through their shell corporation, but let the Rubios get some traffice tickets? Horrors!

I’ll take the Rubio’s traffic ‘indiscretions’ over Bill’s and Hillary’s criminality any day. At least the Rubios paid their fines instead of attempting to cover them up.

***

Rick Perry announced his candidacy for Prez yesterday. I saw him speak at the NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville a month ago. It was apparent then that he was going to run. (You can see my comments and a link a video of his speech here.) Perry’s opening video of him shooting steel with an AR was a hit with the NRA members—especially his final look to the audience in the video.

Perry lost his bid for Prez in 2012 by screwing up one interview. In that interview, he said he’d close three federal departments. He named two and couldn’t remember the third. I’ve heard him say elsewhere that he had learned his lesson—never give an interview after having major surgery. Perry had surgery on his back during the campaign and was taking pain-killers when he was interviewed.

I like Perry. I like a number of the ‘Pub candidates, Cruz, Walker, Rubio, Jindal, and to as lesser extent, Paul. I told my wife after hearing Perry speak in Nashville, “He is the only one speaking today that actually appears Presidential.”

***

I don’t know how many of you subscribe to Erick Erickson’s daily newsletter. I do. I don’t always agree with him but, on occasion, he says something that strikes a cord within me. Today’s newsletter had such an occasion. I would hope you read it, too. It contains ammunition for you in your next discussion with a liberal who claims our Founders were racist, old white men.

Open Letter to a Liberal Professor

My conservatism doesn’t need to be edited.

No post today

I’ve a list to to-dos for today that has eaten my writing time. I’ll be back tomorrow.