Thursday, March 31, 2005

It's Palos Verdes Fault

Since moving to California in July, 2000 I have been waiting patiently for an earthquake. Lee grew up in San Francisco and said that I might not be so happy when it happened.

Meanwhile, I read up on faults and quakes and wrote my Los Serenos docent research paper on Palos Verdes Geomorphology. I learned that the local Palos Verdes Fault is a baby compared to the San Andreas Fault.

Fault ----------San Andreas----Palos Verdes
Length-------------740 miles----------60 miles
Slip Rate----------2 inch/year--------0.1 inch/year
M7 time frame----15 years-----------1000 years

The PV Fault runs South of and parallel to Pacific Coast Highway across the PV Peninsula, then South toward San Pedro and under the Vincent Thomas Bridge and North in Santa Monica Bay past Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach.

The Pacific Plate is moving North along the San Andreas Fault at a rate of 2 inch/year, while the PV Peninsula is moving toward Redondo Beach at a much slower rate of 0.1 inch/year. The San Andreas is capable of a very large earthquake (M7 = 5,000,000 tons TNT) every 15 years while the chance of such a quake occurring on the Palos Verdes Fault is only 0.001 per year. Still, it could happen.

On March 22 at 4:07PM, I was sitting right here blogging away when I heard a loud thunder clap and felt like something large slammed against the house. I was startled but then thought wow, my first earthquake. I later went online to the Southern California Earthquake Center and discovered that it was Palos Verdes’ fault.

Southern California Seismic Network: a cooperative project ofU.S. Geological Survey, Pasadena CaliforniaCaltech Seismological Laboratory, Pasadena, California

A minor earthquake occurred at 4:07:06 PM (PST) on Tuesday, March 22, 2005.The magnitude 3.4 event occurred 3 km (2 miles) W of Manhattan Beach, CA.The hypocentral depth is 12 km ( 7 miles).

The next day the quake was reported in the newspapers.

"Yes, That was an earthquake"

No, it wasn't thunder. The magnitude 3.4 temblor, probably associated with the Palos Verdes Fault, hit the area with a sharp punch about 4 p.m.
By Josh Grossberg, Daily Breeze

Well, it may have been a tiny one, but it was my first and it was due to our own Palos Verdes Fault. Cool indeed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Three Wise Men

As a retiree and a recovering liberal, I have become an ardent student of conservative talk radio. The very best radio in Los Angeles is AM870, KRLA, where every weekday I can tune in to Dennis Prager (9AM -12PM), Michael Medved (12-3PM) and Hugh Hewitt (3-6PM).

Dennis Prager has been called “a moral compass” with a mission to “get people involved with what is right and wrong.” He is the author of three books and is currently writing a book on the case for Judeo Christian values, releasing chapters weekly on his web site

Michael Medved, our “cultural crusader,” is the author of a great new book, Right Turns, that chronicles his own turn away from the liberal left. Medved's show is unique, as he gives priority to callers who disagree with him. Mike’s web site is

Hugh Hewett is a constitutional law professor at Chapman University Law School, an author and “the unofficial historian of the blogging movement.” Hugh’s book, Blog, encouraged me to start palosverdesblog. Hugh’s web site is full of insightful commentary and is linked to the very best of the center-right blogs.

This morning on Dennis Prager’s show I had the unique pleasure of listening to all three wise men discussing the moral and legal complexities of the Terri Schiavo case; sobering and sad. But the show format needs to be repeated. Do us all a favor, gentlemen, make this a weekly event rotating among your three shows.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Blooming Christianity

A century ago, G.K. Chesterton noted that when men cease to believe in God they tend to believe in anything. When the German people chose to deny God and follow Hitler, they embraced the nonsense of Mein Kampf and the Nazi reign of terror. Decades later the Soviets ruled Eastern Europe and much of Asia with godless Communism that denied the most basic human rights. The Chinese Communists sought to stamp out all religions and even the 25 century old belief in Confucianism with it’s principles of good conduct and social values.

In Western Europe, secular relativism began to replace religious practice, and today only about 1/3 of Europeans are religious. Indeed, among Western nations, America is exceptional for its belief in God (86%), Christianity (80%) and religiosity (75%).

Elsewhere on God’s green Earth, Christianity is blooming like wild flowers. In a recent New York Times opinion piece (3/26/05), columnist Nicholas Christoff noted that “one of the most important trends reshaping the world is the decline of Christianity in Europe and its rise in Africa and other parts of the developing world, including Asia and Latin America.” The statistics are astounding. “On Easter, more Anglicans will attend church in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda - each - than Anglicans and Episcopalians together will attend services in Britain, Canada and the U.S. combined. More Roman Catholics will celebrate Easter Mass in the Philippines than in any European country.”

While Chairman Mao suppressed Chinese religions, “David Lyle Jeffrey of Baylor University sees some parallels between China today and the early Roman empire. He wonders aloud whether a Chinese Constantine will come along and convert to Christianity.” It is estimated that there are already several hundred million underground Christians in China. In a few decades China could be the largest Christian nation.

In Africa, Christianity is competing with Islam for converts. The Christian denominations such as evangelicals that are the strictest are flourishing. Thus global Christianity is becoming more socially conservative.

Meanwhile, in Europe, immigration is causing a resurgence of religion. If demographic trends continue, formerly Christian Europe will be Muslim by mid-century. And in America, an already Christian population will become even more so with the influx of immigrants from Mexico and from Central and South America. Good for America.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Good Thoughts on an Easter Sunday

Waiting for Mass to begin, Lee and I noticed the number of young mothers carrying their precious babies or walking with their beautiful children, all decked out in their Easter finery. One sweetie was dressed just like her mom and like the doll in her arms. It seemed like an explosion of babies and goodness here in Palos Verdes.

If ever I'm in doubt of the presence of our Lord, one look at those babies is all that I'll need.

I'm glad to be among the 86% of Americans who have faith in God. I feel sorry for the others and especially for the scientists who may have seen the face of God in their work yet deny His existence. How can one ponder the Big Bang birth of the universe, or the creation and complexity of life, or the wonder of the human intellect without appreciating the Creator who made it all posible?

Genesis 1:1 begins with the Hebrew word Be'reasheet which literally means "first wisdom." Thus in the 2100 year old Jerusalem translation Genesis begins "With wisdom God created the heavens and the earth." (The King James version changed it to "In the beginning ...."). And in Ps. 104:24 "How manifold are Your works, Eternal, You made them all with wisdom."

Wisdom is the fundamental building block of the universe. "It is the hidden face of God."

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Confederacy of Dunces

On this Good Friday, as Christians reflect on the passion of Christ, it is appropriate to ponder the passion of Terri Schlinder Shiavo. One thing about Terri is incontrovertible. She is an innocent young woman who is being killed by the United States “Justice” system.

Nearly everything else about this case is debatable and emotionally charged. When I hear the disingenuous and patently absurd arguments made by some members of the judiciary, some politicians and some pundits, I cannot help but remember that splendid farce by John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.

I would not want to die like Terri is dying. Then again, I would not want to live like she has for the last 15 years. I would want to have the best, up to date, medical diagnoses. I would want to receive physical therapy. I would want to be given basic care like teeth brushing, turning to prevent bed sores, and medicines to fight infections. I would like verbal and visual stimulation and natural light in my room. I would want to be fed by mouth and not by a tube in my throat. I would expect love from my husband.

If I were Terri Schiavo, I would be disappointed on all counts.

The injustice in this case is egregious. The ramifications for our society are monumental. Only the President and the Florida Governor have the power to save Terri and the soul of American society. I would have them do the following:

1. Arrest Michael Schiavo on suspicion of attempted murder and spousal abuse.
2. Transfer guardianship of Terri to her parents.
3. Bring charges of obstruction of justice against the primary judges in the case.
4. Initiate legislation to re-establish the “separate but equal” intent of the Constitution.

Constitutional lawyers doubt that the Florida attorney general would file criminal charges against Michael. In that case, his guardianship should be challenged on the grounds of marital abandonment that would serve as grounds for divorce. The key is to enable the Schindler family to be Terri’s guardians.

The legal case rests on the assumption of spousal guardianship. Yet, there must be some standard employed. Would you make a husband who was estranged from his wife her guardian? Or a husband who may have been involved in his wife’s injury? Would guardianship continue if the husband enforced draconian regulations on his wife’s care. Or if the husband became the common law husband of another woman and fathered two of her children. Is there no reason to question Michael Schiavo’s fitness to determine Terri’s fate?

The judicial dunces have chosen to believe Michael Schiavo’s assertion that Terri would not want to live in a vegetative state. Judge Greer believes that Michael loves her so much that he is complying with her earnest wishes. Yet he let her live in that state for nearly 15 years. Why so long if he loves her so much? He did not even mention her wish for seven years, until he won the malpractice suit. In testimony, he claimed to need the money to care for Terri for the rest of her life. A friend of Terri’s testified that Michael said he did not know what she wanted. He said they were only 25 years old and didn’t talk about such things. Another friend testified that Terri mentioned that she would not want to be killed this way. Is there no reason to question the husband’s assertion?

Terri’s “accident” occurred the day after she told her parents and her best friend that she was going to leave her husband. Terri’s parents were concerned about her safety and begged her not to return home that night. Her friend testified that Michael was a control freak and capable of violence. The police originally thought that a crime had been committed. When xrays were taken of Terri years later, several unexplained broken bones were discovered. A doctor testified that there was evidence of potential strangling. Michael also happened to be the only person present when the oxygen was cut off to Terri's brain in the first place. He has not allowed her medical records to be released.

A nurse testified that Michael went into Terri’s room, locked the door and left her weeping and in a state of extremely low blood sugar as could be produced by an insulin injection. The nurse testified that she found a syringe containing traces of insulin in the waste basket and found puncture marks on Terri’s body. Michael says he will not release Terri’s body for an autopsy once she is dead. Is there no reason to question Michael’s guilt and his motives?

The primary diagnosis of Terri’s persistent vegetative state was by a doctor who is an advocate for euthanasia. The doctor did not even employ MRI or PET scans that would commonly be used to certify his opinion. Despite medical advances, Terri did not receive any further medical diagnosis for a decade. A recent diagnosis by another state appointed doctor concluded that Terri is most likely in a minimal cognitive state wherein she experiences pain, fear, joy and love. She would most likely benefit from therapy that was denied her by her husband. Is there no reason to question the original diagnosis?

The Congress of the United States and the President passed a law that requires the federal circuit court to reconsider the facts of the case. To assure there could be no confusion in the courts, several congressional leaders submitted a "friend of the court" brief asserting the legislative intent of the law. Their brief stated that Public Law 109-3 requires US District Court Judge James Whittemore to have Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted pending the outcome of the federal court reviews.

They ordered a de novo trial, ie. from the beginning. Instead the court refused to consider the evidentiary facts, ruling that they were “unlikely” to change the outcome. Is it not clear that the court defied the combined legislative and executive branches of government and thereby violated the “separate but equal statute” of the Constitution?

Neither the law, nor the Constitution nor the concept of federalism requires that the courts have the last word. Governors and presidents are also sworn to uphold the law. “Sublimely confident that no one will ever call their bluff courts are now regularly discovering secret legal provisions requiring abortion and gay marriage and prohibiting public prayer and displays of the Ten Commandments. Just once, we need an elected official to stand up to a clearly incorrect ruling by a court.” (Ann Coulter)

Aside from the right-to-life people and the Catholic Church, where are the defenders of Terri’s right to live? “There are passionate groups of women in America who decry spousal abuse, give beaten wives shelter, insist that a woman is not a husband's chattel. This is good work. Why are they not taking part in the fight for Terri Schiavo? Again, what explains their lack of passion on this?” (Peggy Noonan)

As we await Terri’s death, we must remember that it is more than one life, however precious, that we are losing. “If we untether ourselves from the absolute injunction of our god to honor all human life — we are very likely to further morally defile ourselves and our civilization, even with the very best of decent intentions.” (Tony Blankly)

We must gird ourselves for the battle of morality against agnostic humanism. The war against terror pales in comparison to the importance of this campaign. The fate of America hangs in the balance.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bill's Big Five Unsolved Problems in Science

In a recent post (Young Scientists, 3/16/05) I listed “The Five Biggest Unsolved Problems in Science” from the book by Arthur Wiggins and Charles Wynn.

1. Why do some particles have mass while others have none?
2. Why is the universe expanding faster and faster?
3. What series of chemical reactions gave birth to the first living things?
4. What are the structure and function of the proteins encoded by the human genome?
5. Is accurate, long-range weather forecasting possible?

On 3/17/05 I mentioned the thoughtful response from Christina that ended with a good question re global warming: "What if it never happens?"

From Randy I received this:

"For the most part these seem to me to be among some of the fundamentally interesting questions that exist in science, except, #3."

"Since the answer to this is in Genesis chapter one the question too easily becomes a mechanism to deny that there is a holy sovereign creator that hold his creatures responsible."

"Kind of like the alternative to Darwin and Freud, not attractive to goats."

Now I'd like to present PV Bill's list:

1. What preceeded the Big Bang and what is the final state of the universe?

2. Does Darwinian evolution explain the creation of life, ie the creation of the first living cell?

3. What is the time frame for the next ice age and can we do anything to prolong the current interglacial period?

4. Is there a unified theory of physics that encompasses electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, special and general relativity?

5. What is the prospect for quantum computers?

I'll be exploring each of these unsolved problems in future posts.
Very interested in your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Family is a good thing

I'm back. Had a great time in San Francisco with son John and his friends Adrian, Jud, Renu, baby Ava and all the folks at U.Street Lounge. The restuarant, only open for 3 months, is doing well. Thursday night we went to the concert courtesy of Adrian. His friend Jane Glover, CBE, conducted the Baroque Orchestra and we were able to meet her after the concert.

Friday we went to Marin to visit 96 year young Aunt Marie and cousins Sonny and Susan. My Aunt is sharp as a tack. She questioned John about U. Street, whether it was a suitable place for her grandaughter Julie, just 22, to visit. Sonny was in the 82nd Airborne in Korea, the same paratrooper unit as my grandson Johnny is now.

Saturday John and I flew to Seattle then drove to Mt. Vernon to see my wee "Irish" mom, Mary. She is so funny. On the way to dinner, I asked her why she was pushing her walker so slowly. Mom, looking stern: "I'm an old lady you know. I'm 100." Mom, I said, "you were born in 1919, you're only 86, a young chicken." The nurse rolled her eyes and said Mom tells everybody she is 100. She likes it when they respond that she looks really great for 100 years of age. See what I said about my "Irish" mom.

Daughter Carolynne, husband Ray and grandaughter Christy drove up from Bend, Oregon to be with us. Christy just got her braces removed and looks prettier than ever. She turns 16 this month, so watch out on the roads. We all visited brother Bob and wife Maureen who also live in Mt. Vernon. All in all a wonderful family get-together.

On the flight home on Sunday I sat next to a young man who is entering West Point in the fall. Sean Hoyt reminded me of my grandson, same age, same youth, same idealism. I'm encouraged by this generation.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom

As a young lad I believed that my mother was Irish. She always had an impish smile and we celebrated her birthday on Saint Patrick’s Day. Later, when I learned that she was Sicilian, I put it all together. The Irish are a little crazy and so are the Sicilians. But fun people!

This morning at the “Bucks” Rori, another Irish-Sicilian lass, read us a St. Pat’s Day prayer:

Take time to work, it is the price of success.
Take time to think, it is the source of power.
Take time to play, it is the secret of perpetual youth.
Take time to read, it is the foundation of wisdom.
Take time to be friendly, it is the road to happiness.
Take time to love, it is the privilege of the gods.
Take time to share, life is too short to be selfish.
Take time to laugh, it is the music of the soul.

Our Greek goddess Angela wonderered: Is life really too short to be selfish? Just kidding!!

A warm welcome to our newest blog friend Christina, the chemistry student, and good luck to her in the National Chemistry Olympiad.

Christina offered the following comments on the Five Biggest Problems in Science.

”About question #5 - I think finding accurate long range weather forecasting should either support/disprove the idea of global warming. Right now, there are so many different factors that computer generated models can't be trusted. Each model comes out with huge differences in temperature change, so like, you really don't know which one is right, if any is correct. A lot of time, effort and money has been spent on trying to prevent the possibility of global warming (the Kyoto treaty was recently put in action). What if it never happens? Then it's like a total waste of everything.

Ah, the young shall save us from ourselves.

I have to leave now for the airport. Going to San Francisco to visit our son John. We will be visiting my 95 year old Aunt Marie, tasting all the new dishes at U. Street, and flying up to Mt. Vernon, Washington to visit John’s “Irish” grandmother Mary.

Happy birthday Mom.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Young Scientists

While enjoying my coffee at the “Bucks” this morning, I listened to Dr. Dave explain the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath, a typical topic for our eclectic group. Jill leaned across and cautioned Davey that he was frightening the little girl sitting near us. I noticed that the girl was wearing a Peninsula High Water Polo sweatshirt and she did not seem to be the least frightened. She was also studying physics! Of course that caught my attention and I asked if she had attended the Einstein play last night. She regretted that she had not and then introduced her girlfriend who was studying chemistry. These two young women, both juniors, were studying hard sciences and planning to take more next year and in college.

Maybe there is hope for our technological future. Not nearly enough American students are going into the hard sciences, engineering or math while the developing world is doing the opposite. It is a serious problem that I will speak of in a later post. For now, I was glad to see the enthusiasm in these two young women. They have chosen to take challenging subjects and we need to encourage them.

I’ll close this post with a list from a new book called “The Five Biggest Unsolved Problems in Science” by Arthur Wiggins and Charles Wynn.

1. Why do some particles have mass while others have none?

2. Why is the universe expanding faster and faster?

3. What series of chemical reactions gave birth to the first living things?

4. What are the structure and function of the proteins encoded by the human genome?

5. Is accurate, long-range weather forecasting possible?

It’s an interesting list but is it the five biggest? What do you think?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Einstein at the office

He was the pre-eminent scientist in a century dominated by science. The touchstones of the era — the Bomb, the Big Bang, quantum physics and electronics — all bear his imprint."

"He was the embodiment of pure intellect, the bumbling professor with the German accent, a comic cliché in a thousand films. Instantly recognizable, like Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, Albert Einstein's shaggy-haired visage was as familiar to ordinary people as to the matrons who fluttered about him in salons from Berlin to Hollywood. Yet he was unfathomably profound — the genius among geniuses who discovered, merely by thinking about it, that the universe was not as it seemed.” (Time Magazine)

2005 marks the 100th anniversary of perhaps the most astonishing year in the history of science when Albert Einstein, then a clerk in a patent office, literally envisioned the modern world. Everyone remembers the mass-energy equivalence formula, E = mc^2, and the idea that motion is relative. Few understand the concepts or implications of his Relativity Theory (Special Relativity) or know the impact that the photoelectric effect had on the quantum view of nature and on modern technology. His third milestone in 1905 was the theory of Brownian motion that gave the first good measure of the size of molecules.

Tonight at the Palos Verdes Library, Peninsula Center, the actress Kres Mersky portrays “The Life and Times of Albert Einstein” from the unique perspective of his secretary. (It's time to go now.)

(I'm back.) The play was wonderful. Einstein's secretary Ellen worked for him in Berlin then moved with him to Princeton before the war. Tonight she greeted the audiance who were waiting for the great man to arrive. While we waited Ellen told us about her three decades with, in her words, the greatest Jew since Jesus. She warned us not to ask him to explain the theory of Relativity .... because of course he will do so. Gradually Ellen revealed her secretarial understanding of the twin paradox, gravity bending light beams, the spacetime continuum and curved space, and his distrust of quantum mechanics. Enchanting.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Still Runnin Against the Wind

Blowing up Boxes at Starbucks has generated a spirited collection of comments. Good friend PJ (peggyday2 on Zone bridge) approves of my proposals to institute merit pay and to abolish 30% of the administrative jobs, and she would also blow up the federal Education Dept! I agree wholeheartedly. PJ notes that "far too much money has been spent on a system that breeds mediocrity."

Starbucks buddy Melanie suggests that "perhaps merit should begin at the student level." Exactly what I had in mind when I blew up "student tenure."

New friend Marianne (_marianne on Zone) is a truly special teacher of special education students. What a tough job that must be. It is especially tough when kids arrive at 7AM, hungry, tired, sometimes abused. Sadly, that is a problem that can only be fixed by fixing the parents. Bill Cosby has been talking to the black parents. Someone needs to speak to the whites and hispanics.

Special Forces Dave worries about holding teachers accountable when parents are non-existent or worse. I can't fix the parent problem but I do know what to do about the accountability. Throughout private industry, managerial structures have known how to deal with accountability. I managed a department of more than 100 people at Xerox and always know who were the best performers and the worst. I did not have to give them a test. The bottom 10% were clearly identified at all times and ready for layoff whenever it became necessary. I can guarantee you that the teachers at any grammar or high school know who are the poor teachers and the principal spends an inordinate amount of time dealing with that group. So the solution is simple: the principals fire the poor teachers and the school boards support the principals. If the principals themselves are inferior, then the boards need to fire them.

But Dr. Dave wonders what to do about the unions and the "labor law and contracts that protect the weakest teachers." Again the answer is stunningly simple. Contracts expire and labor laws can be changed. It only requires the will of the people. Eventually the people will decide that they care more about their children than about their politics.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bloggers Rule

Last night on CSPAN the pre-emminent bloggers from Powerline described how the blogosphere brought down CBS in the Rathergate affair. Scott Johnson and John Hinderocker are lawers in Minneapolis, fellows at the Claremont Institute and Newsweek magazine's Bloggers of the Year. They told how, in 12 hours on Sept. 9, 2004, they and their fellow bloggers were able to destroy the validity of the Bush Air National Guard story aired on 60 Minutes-2 by Dan Rather. The documents were frauds, the facts were false and CBS knew it the whole time.

The key to the expose' was the very large number of bloggers who read Scott Johnson's first post (The 61st Minute) at 8AM on 9/9/04 and replied within hours with information showing the documents were created on a modern computer and not on a 1970's era typewriter. Further revelations included the identity of the source of the forgery, the untruth of the accusations and the culpability of CBS all the way to the top.

The power of the blogosphere, where over 7 million bloggers are ready and willing to do research and publish findings on a moment's notice, made the difference. The new media's power will continue to grow as the number of bloggers and blog readers grow. The main-stream-media hasn't got a chance. So read the blogs, post your comments and tell your friends.

Some of my readers are still having trouble posting their comments.
Here is how you do it.

To Publish a Comment:

1. Go to the end of the post (paragraph) on which you wish to comment.
2. Click on "comments"
3. Click on "post a comment"
4. IGNORE the Sign-In box
5. Click on "Or Post Anonymously"
6. Type your comment (and your name if you wish)
7. Click on [Publish Your Comment]

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Blowing up Boxes at Starbucks

Against the wind. I'm still runnin against the wind. I'm older now but still runnin .... against the wind.

As the debate about public school reform raged this morning within the Starbucks crowd, I couldn't help but recall Bob Seger's song. Just why is this so very damn hard?

In a previous post, Reforming Public Education, 2/10/05, I reviewed the Claremont Institute proposal for California: Fire 30% of the bureaucrats, increase teacher pay 10.7% and save $1.2Billion per year. Done and done, or so I thought.

Today Dr.Dave made it clear why my solution is so grossly insufficient. Paying poor teachers 10.7% more isn't going to magically transform them into good teachers, he said. Darn, the idealistic liberalism that still occupies my soul caused me to overlook a basic fact of life. Generally speaking, the best and the brightest do not go into teaching. Look at the faculties of your local grade schools, high schools and junior colleges: How many teachers are from the top quintiles of schools like Berkeley, Stanford, USC, ...? In the sciences and math, how many of the teachers even have degrees in their subject? If we really want to attract outstanding students to the teaching profession, a 10.7% raise is not going to cut it.

Furthermore, Dr. Dave said, there is a glut of teachers out there, effectively depressing the salary scale. Zone Bridge friend Marianne, a teacher, says that more and more teachers are entering the profession from online degree mills. So what is to be done?

Explode the boxes! The first step is to institute merit in the teaching profession. The Governator is pushing the idea very hard. Arnold is demanding that teacher pay is based on merit and teachers' continued employment depend on classroom performance. Usually California is out in front of the nation on reforms and just about everything else. On this topic, however, states such as Minnesota, Tennessee, Ohio, Colorado, are taking the lead in establishing a merit model where performance determines raises.

Once a merit model is established, the cream will rise to the top, and the dregs will be easily identified. The next explosed box is the outdated tenure system. Fire the bottom 10% of the teachers based on performance. Do it again the next year, and the next.

Meanwhile, use the saved money to hire much better teachers at substantially higher salaries. Instead of hiring 10% after the first year, hire only 5% at 50% higher starting salary. Use the 10.7% raises obtained from eliminating the bureaucrats to reward the best teachers on a sliding scale, starting at zero raise for the 11th percentle (those who just escaped losing their jobs) up to say 20% for the 99th percentile.

Continuing this process leads to larger class sizes. So be it. A Wall Street Journal article by Chester Finn points out that over the last 50 years the number of pupils in US schools has increased 50% while the number of teachers has tripled. Talk about a glut! (Thanks to Ralph at From LA to El Dorado for the pointer.) So if we want to attract the best students into the teaching profession offer them starting salaries around $60,000 and pay the best teachers over $100,000, just by increasing class sizes. And don't let the liberals tell you the learning will be inadequate.

Quality learning will be assured through the dual mechanisms of hiring the best teachers and blowing up one more box: student tenure. To remain in good standing in a public school, students will be required to do their work and behave themselves.

It is about time that the public education system joins the hard modern world where good behavior and good performance are rewarded while bad behavior and insufficient effort are never tolerated.

It is the least we can do for our children.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Real Men Wear Red

News Flash: Republican men are sexier. At least that is what my wife tells me. Now there is proof positive from that bastion of feminity Playgirl magazine.

Michele Zipp explores the fun side of "down and dirty" politics and examines sexuality on both sides of the aisle. In the process she comes to a realization about herself and reveals for the first time she’s now a Republican.

"Siding with the GOP when you live in the bluest state around is almost like wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey at a New York Yankees’ home game," says Zipp in the April issue of PLAYGIRL. "I cannot tell you how many times a person assumed I voted for John Kerry in 2004. Most of the time, I don’t have the heart to tell them, or the energy to discuss my reasons for going red this election year. But this is PLAYGIRL magazine so it’s about time I was the one who bared what’s underneath."

"Those on the right are presumed to be all about power and greed -- two really sexy traits in the bedroom. They want it, they want it now, and they’ll do anything to get it. And I’m not talking about some pansy-assed victory, I’m talking about full on jackpot, satisfaction for all."

"The Democrats of the Sixties were all about making love and not war while a war-loving Republican is a man who would fight, bleed, sacrifice, and die for his country. Could you imagine what that very same man would do for his wife in the bedroom?" asks Zipp.

I heard about this listening to Rush. A woman caller testified that it was indeed true: "I think that Dick Cheney is the sexiest man in America."
Case closed.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Another Greatest Generation

Throughout our history America has had many "greatest" generations. It is hard to think of a generation greater than America's first, the Founding Fathers who defeated the most formidable military power of the time and founded the greatest country in history. Lincoln's generation fought the bloody Civil War to end slavery and preserve the Union. Tom Brokaw's book made a case for the WWII generation who grew up during the Great Depression and saved the world from the Nazis and Japanese.

Every family has at least one member who fought in that war. My Father invaded Germany with the tank corps, Lee's Dad died in the Pacific theater.

Good friend Dave writes movingly of his father who passed away last week: He was a great American, and I’ve no doubt told you his life story before: he was orphaned when he was six years old, ran away from the orphanage and lived on the streets of NYC for a while until he pulled himself up by the bootstraps and made something of himself, working for the New York Daily News newspaper for 50 years, starting as a copy boy and retiring as a senior executive. Of course the thing I’m most proud of is that he, being one of the Greatest Generation, helped make the world safe for Democracy for all of us. He was on PT Boats for 4 years for WW II – first in the Mediterranean against Nazi Germany and then in the South Pacific against Imperial Japan. He not only received four Purple Heart medals for serious wounds he suffered in combat, but for gallantry in action he was also awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal. He and my Mom were married for 52 years. He was a great Husband to my Mother, a great Father to all of us kids and a truly great man.

We Americans owe Dave's father, Lee's father, my father and all the others of the greatest generation so much.

Now we are blessed with another great generation that is fighting and dying to preserve our liberty. Dave himself is a special forces officer who has already served bravely in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is preparing to leave his wife and three sons again for another tour of combat. I am grateful for his service.

Good friends Joan and Bob miss their son Rob serving a second tour in Iraq. Captain Rob writes: Since the elections it has been quieter here at Balad AB. Haji doesn't seem to think we are such a worthy target anymore, although he is still pretty active in the rest of the country. The good news is progress is being made faster than they can disrupt it. Most of the people are on the side of progress and there have been a few reports of "lynch mobs" attacking terrorist cells in their towns. Rob is a wonderful young man and I am grateful for his service.

Our Grandson Johnny has done a tour of duty in Iraq with the Army 82nd Airborne. He is home now but preparing to return to Iraq. I am grateful for his service and know our Daughter Carolynne worries about him terribly.

God bless our brave troops. They are the greatest!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Cookie Goes to School

Every day around 3PM Cookie and I take a walk down Highridge Road. The children walking home from Ridgecrest grammar school all know and love Cookie and dozens take the time to give her a pat, a hug or a scratch. Goldens are hard to resist. Today a group of Chinese children who live in our neighborhood stopped and one asked: What's her name again? Another little girl responded "she's Cookie." I said that she is also Galleta in Spanish and Puchinya in Russian; does anyone know her name in Chinese? The little girl shot right back: "Fortune Cookie." These kids are brilliant!

Speaking of smart children in Palos Verdes, the Asia America Youth Orchestra is presenting the concert "Classical is Cool" at the Norris Theater on May 1, 2005. David Benoit is conducting the celebration of classical music from the movies. Tickets are going fast.

Former Peninsula resident Ralph of LA to El Dorado blog fame asked about the construction at the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. The charming natural history museum has been closed for several years while the government was deciding who was responsible to remove the lead in the soil (from bullets) that had shut down construction. They finally got the lead out and began construction last month. It should be ready to reopen by the end of the year. I belong to the Los Serenos docents who run the Interpretive Center. While it has been closed we docents have taken thousands of kids and adults on hikes to the tidepools, trails and fossil digs. We have as much fun as the kids do.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

What Liberals Think About Democracy

Time for another public service message about Liberals. In order for normal people to know how to talk to Liberals, if you really must (Anne Coulter) we must try to understand how they think. That is a challenge. Whenever you hear a Liberal make an outrageous statement your inclination is to think that he didn't mean it, how could he, it's just rediculous. The awful truth is that they do mean it; Liberals speak from the heart and mean what they say.

A prototypical example is former president Jimmy Carter. After kissing Ayatollah Khomeini's butt, Carter expressed amazement when the Iranian dictator took over 400 Americans hostage. Everyone in the entire world except Carter knew this was expected behavior from a psychopath. Of course Carter was the same man who was attacked by a giant swimming rabbit.

Continuing in the Democratic presidential vein, there was Bill Clinton, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, explaining why he so admires the Islamic Republic of Iran. “Iran today is, in a sense, the only country where progressive ideas enjoy a vast constituency. It is there that the ideas that I subscribe to are defended by a majority.”

And here is what Clinton had to say in a television interview with Charlie Rose: “Iran is the only country in the world ... with elections, including the United States, including Israel, including you name it, where the liberals, or the progressives, have won two-thirds to 70 percent of the vote. There is no other country in the world I can say that about, certainly not my own.”

So, while millions of Iranians look to the United States as a model of progress and democracy, a former Democratic president looks to the Islamic Republic as his ideological homeland.

Now turning to the latest Liberal to run for president, one wonders why John Kerry has recently sponsored a Senate resolution honoring a Stalinist who championed racial separatism? The Soviet Union awarded W.E.B. Du Bois the Lenin Peace Prize. Maoist China staged a national holiday in his honor in 1959. Now, for reasons unexplained, the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nominee seeks to honor Du Bois too.

Kerry promoted his Senate resolution, cosponsored by Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy (Mass.) and Carl Levin (Mich.), by declaring, "Dr. Du Bois taught us that the promise of freedom is honored through action." But Du Bois hated freedom, and through his actions of renouncing his American citizenship and joining the Communist Party he showed this.

And speaking of the Liberal stallwart Teddy Boy Kennedy... the Senator compared our soldiers to the Islamic terrorists thus: "Our military and the insurgents are fighting for the same thing--the hearts and minds of the people--and that is a battle we are not winning." Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

There you have it, several examples of what Liberals think about democracy. I know, I know, I can barely believe it myself. Can these guys really be Americans?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

What's up in Palos Verdes

Happy Whale of a Day. The City of RPV and the Los Serenos docents hosted their annual festival celebrating the migration of the grey whales at Point Vicente next to the Interpretive Center. It's always a great event and today was no exception. I worked kids games at the humungous jumping on, crawling, falling, contraption that the little ones love. What a blast!

Several fascinating Library events are coming up.

On Tuesday March 15, 7:00 PM at Peninsula Center Library Kres Mersky performs The Life and Times of Albert Einstein. It's the great scientist seen through the critical eyes of his secretary.

In celebration of Women's History Month, on Tuesday March 22, 6:45 PM (refreshments) at Pen Center is a talk by Prof. Eileen Smith of Marymount College on Jane Austin, Her Life and Her Works.

Learn how to organize the clutter in your life at the Clutterology workshop on April 2, 1 - 4 PM at Malaga Cove Library.

To celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, on April 23 from 10 AM - 2 PM at Pen Center hear a reading of The Taming of the Shrew by the Shakespeare Festival/LA.

All these programs are FREE. You can help support the Library by using the web site to purchase your books and other stuff from Amazon; processing your visas at Peninsula Center; disposing your old printer cartridges at all branches; and donating all your excess books to the used book sales. The Friends recently passed a milestone. Since 1990 they have raised $1 million from the sale of used books. Don't forget to join (or renew) the Friends.

Friend Rori Roje, Library Director Kathy Gould and I met with Mike Lansing, Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the South Bay at the San Pedro Club. What a great place for the kids to hang and learn and play. Rori does a super job helping the high schoolers prepare for college application. Mike is looking into the possibility of opening a B&G Club on the Hill, near Peninsula Center. I really think this is a fab idea. Let your City Council know your thoughts.

With a group of friends I had lunch last Wednesday with Dr. Tom McFadden, President, at Marymount College. That place is a jewel of the Peninsula. Tom told us about the college history and that he assumed the presidency in 1992 after moving here from Rochester, NY, where I lived for most of my life. He was dean at St. John Fisher college where wife Lee graduated. After lunch we were given a tour of the college. They are hoping to expand the library, build a gym and dorms for some 200 students, all things that are needed. I hope the RPV Council will approve the plan.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Judeo Christian Means American

John and I finally finished the 'Why Republican' piece and sent it to the PV News. Not much commentary until yesterday when faithful visitors Ralph and Anony (wish you would give me a nickname to use) responded about the Judeo-Christian values part. Anony thinks it is exclusive, or devisive, not big tent. That is just a misconception about the meaning of J-C.

When Toqueville called America "exceptional" he was referring to our common belief in the creed of Americanism. From the beginning, and more so with every passing year, Americans are not a racially defined people but a people defined by our unique ideology. Americans are a racial polyglot but a cultural and ideological melting pot. We are "e pluribus unum," out of many one, and the moral creed that our culture and our laws rest upon is Judeo-Christian. Anyone who adopts that culture may be an American, whether his race is Arab or her religion is Hindu, or whatever. [One may even be an atheist, under the law, but I wonder how good an American you could be.]

Samuel Huntington in Who Are We describes the American Creed as defined by Jefferson to include the English language, the English rule of law, the responsibilities of government and the rights of the people defined by the Constitution, religiousity, the Protestant work ethic, the belief in advancement and Judeo-Christian ethics based on the Ten Commandments and the Bible. Buy into those things and you qualify to be an American and a Republican. We want you!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Why We Are Republicans, the end

Republicans of all faiths believe in the Judeo-Christian values the Founding Fathers relied upon, based on the Commandments handed down from God. Over 90% of Americans believe in God and that “under God” belongs in the Pledge of Allegiance. Yet liberals aided by activist judges have nearly banished God from the public square. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals actually ruled that a Pledge adopted by the Congress, signed into law by the President and overwhelmingly approved by the people is unconstitutional. Such elitist arrogance should not be tolerated.

Thomas Jefferson, a Democrat, had the answer. After losing the election of 1800, but before Jefferson’s inauguration, the Federalists doubled the number of federal judgeships and appointed judges who would actively oppose Jefferson’s policies. Jefferson's answer was to abolish all 18 of the new federal judgeships and to assert the right to correct the Supreme Court when it misinterpreted the Constitution. When one branch of government abuses its power, the other two branches have the right and obligation to correct the situation. When the Supreme Court rules against voluntary prayer in school and in favor of pornography and pedophilia on the internet then something is seriously wrong and must be fixed.

We are Republicans because we know, beyond any doubt, that America is unique. Americans are unified by an allegiance to a common set of ideals: liberty, individualism, anti-statism and equality of opportunity and respect. Most Americans want to reduce the role of government and the Republicans are the most anti-statist major party in the West. American values are exceptional. We are among the most patriotic, noble, idealistic, energetic, optimistic and religious people in the Western world. We are Republicans because we believe in the unique American creed and share these values.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Why We Are Republicans, and again

Republicans believe in conservative solutions to social and economic problems. Conservative solutions are based on individual responsibility not collective responsibility. We believe that Americans are capable of managing their own lives with minimal government assistance or interference.

Parents ought to be able to spend their portion of the education budget on the school of their choice through the use of vouchers. Workers should be able to invest their social security taxes in personal accounts that will grow faster than the government accounts and will be ours to pass on to our descendents. Indeed that was the vision of FDR. We should not have to pay welfare to able-bodied men and women who refuse to work. We especially need to free up the national health care system from the inefficiencies that make it the largest segment (14%) of the economy.

It is ironic that Democrats, who profess to be for the common man, oppose the very solutions that will benefit the working person and the poor most of all.

Republicans propose conservative, practical solutions that give people ownership and actually work.

See Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America by Newt Gingrich.

Why We Are Republicans, again

Republicans believe in free-market capitalism based on private property and peaceful exchange. In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith noted that humans have a natural propensity to “truck, barter and exchange.” Commerce benefits society since it is a positive-sum game in contrast to the Marxist belief that one person’s gain is another person’s loss. By embracing capitalism America has thrived economically and socially.

Yet Democrats still believe in a host of myths about capitalism: American workers were rescued from abusive industrialists by government regulations and labor unions; the excesses of capitalism caused the Great Depression; Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” ended the depression; deregulation leads to chaos and excess.

These and other anti-capitalism myths are thoroughly exploded in How Capitalism Saved America by Thomas DiLorenzo.

Indeed, “capitalism is the source of the generational increase in the American standard of living.” On the other hand excessive government controls caused the problems that capitalism fixed in America. And excessive controls, coupled with high taxes, account for the Western European economies lagging so far behind the United States.