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In Other News

Well, now we know the name of the woman who created and was carrying what Barry Ritholtz called ‘The Greatest OWS Protest Sign Ever’. skippy reports that her name is Caitlan Curran, and she was a freelancer for public radio station WNYC until she told them that it was her.

The ‘whipped dog syndrome’ of public broadcasting is a thing to pity, but not to support. The PRI business program, Marketplace, took a different approach. They had a segment that discussed the contents of the sign seriously.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Occupy Wall Street isn’t a political movement, nor is it affiliated with any political party. They are asking that the government return to its roots and represent the interests of the majority of the actual people in the country.

On a more political note, Badtux reviews Zero’s student loan plan. If you haven’t got a job, it doesn’t make any difference if you are given an opportunity to consolidate your student loans. I haven’t seen it mentioned, but normally there are fees associated with refinancing, and, given the example of HAMP, you probably have to be current on your payments to apply.


1 Steve Bates { 10.30.11 at 12:55 am }

As far as I am concerned, “Public” radio is toast. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll give to my local Pacifica station… they may have a lot of weirdos on, including some I disagree with vehemently, but they have fought tooth-and-nail to stay controlled by their foundation and not by the private networks who have wanted to buy them out.

There’s nothing new in the “if you need a loan, you don’t qualify for one” policy except the latest choice of victims. Using tuition to perform a lobotomy on the nation’s youth seems an item of policy with some people. It used to be just Republicans, but now…

2 Bryan { 10.30.11 at 1:26 pm }

The only stations not affiliated with either Clear Channel or NPR on my radio dial belong to the Christianist Propaganda Network, so it is only on in the car these days. I may have to look into satellite radio.

3 Badtux { 10.30.11 at 7:01 pm }

It turns out that Obama’s plan is even less exciting than I mentioned. He’s merely accelerating by two years the implementation of a law that Congress already passed. Amongst other things, it’s going to limit repayment to 10% of disposable income and forgive any remaining debt after 20 years, so if you graduate at age 25, you’ll be debt free at age 45. Note that the statute of limitations for collection of most consumer debt is between 5 and 10 years, so that’ll make student loans only twice as onerous as regular loans… what a deal!

– Badtux the Underwhelmed Penguin

4 Badtux { 10.30.11 at 7:03 pm }

Regarding satellite radio, meh. It came with my Jeep. It’s better than (most) terrestrial radio, but that’s like saying that having hemorrhoids is better than having genital warts.

5 Bryan { 10.30.11 at 7:45 pm }

Meanwhile, the interest and penalties just go through the roof while you are unemployed, so you will never get decent credit, and can forget a buying a new car or house when you finally do get a job. Of course, when you get reported as a deadbeat because you can’t pay those loans, getting a job will be nearly impossible, now that credit checks are part of the procedure.

6 Steve Bates { 10.30.11 at 7:50 pm }

For a more positive experience with satellite radio, consult my friend Catherine. She has one subscription, with a detachable device (not sure if that’s the receiver itself) that hooks up either in her car or at home as she chooses. For her, the motivation is having utterly endless jazz without the repetitiveness of a stack of CDs… an educational tool for a serious amateur jazz flutist who can’t spend every evening in a club listening to the pros improvising.

There are many very decent web radio sources. E.g., I am fond of Radio Swiss Jazz; just google it. The sound s/w in any major OS (yes, even Linux!) will play those stations.

7 Bryan { 10.30.11 at 7:53 pm }

It should at least offer more than 40 songs in one of a half-dozen prepackaged formats, none of which I like.

Since none of the local stations offer news or weather except when there’s a hurricane, I may as well shift. I should at least be able to find some jazz or classical out there, as well as real ‘classic rock’.

8 Steve Bates { 10.30.11 at 7:56 pm }

As to student loans, I must have headed to college at exactly the right time. Being a kid from a lower-income family, each year I attended, I was granted a full scholarship from the university itself. At the end of my five-year program, I had a professional Master’s, a job lined up… and zero debt. Ah, those were the days! I really feel sorry for the students today.

9 Steve Bates { 10.30.11 at 8:01 pm }

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a repeat from Radio Swiss Jazz. And their taste in jazz is typically excellent. The programming varies with time of day… big band, small combo, vocal… but their selection is almost always high quality stuff.

There are hundreds of stations out there. IIRC, you can even listen to Houston’s Pacifica station, KPFT, online. Not that you’d want to… 🙂

10 Bryan { 10.30.11 at 8:02 pm }

It isn’t just students, Steve, the benefits for recent veterans are also piddling compared to mine, which were a step down from what people received coming out of WWII.

Tuition and health care have both risen at multiples above the average cost of living. Anything that benefited the 99% has been slashed to give tax breaks to the 1%.

11 Badtux { 10.30.11 at 9:07 pm }

Yeppers, tuition at California public universities — err, “fees” (because tuition at state universities is explicitly prohibited by the California Constitution 😕 ) have gone through the roof because Californians don’t want to pay taxes (on a per capita percent of income basis California is around #25 in taxation) yet want all these services, meaning that tuition, err, fees, goes up every year, and the number of classes offered goes down every year, meaning it takes at *least* six years to graduate because the courses you need to graduate aren’t scheduled any more often than that. No, I’m not joking. I wish I was :(.

Steve, I went to college when kids from a poor family could get 100% of tuition and books paid for by Pell grants. Nowadays, Pell grant awards for poor kids might buy *one* textbook, nevermind tuition. And since poor kids generally have a sketchy education due to cut after cut at the local school districts that they attend school at, they generally don’t qualify for scholarships.

Republicans are always whining that poor kids should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Well, it’d help if the Republicans would quit taking away the bookstraps to give tax breaks to the 1%, leaving nothing for the p0or to pull themselves up with…

– Badtux the “Students are screwed” Penguin

12 Bryan { 10.30.11 at 10:45 pm }

Down here you make more working day labor, than substitute teaching, but the lottery money is buying e-books [maybe Kindles] for students so the district doesn’t have to buy textbooks. Tell me this makes sense.

They want everyone in a student loan program so the banks will own them for life.

13 Steve Bates { 10.30.11 at 11:11 pm }

I think that sound I just heard was both my parents’ ashes turning over in their respective urns. Two schoolteachers would be horrified if they were alive to see the atrocities perpetrated against the education of children.

14 Bryan { 10.30.11 at 11:25 pm }

The anti-intellectualism in the US is a societal disease. On the one hand we demand all kinds of training for teachers, but then we refuse to pay them for the training or to give them the tools they need to teach.

We waste so much money regulating schools with administrators and standardized tests, that would be better spent paying for actual teaching.

15 Badtux { 10.31.11 at 10:49 am }

Tell me about it. The consulting firm I once worked for was very cheap, they charged only $5,000 per year per school maintenance fee to handle all the state and federally required attendance and discipline data collection and reporting via their on-site computer systems. This on top of the cost of the computer systems and software themselves. Then the lunchroom system was similar. Then the special ed system was similar. The end result was that just for the yearly MAINTENANCE fees on these things, you could have hired another teacher at each school. Add up the amortized cost of the software and computer systems, and you could have hired *ANOTHER* teacher at each school.

Given that 99% of our students qualified for the free lunch program, we would have been much better off just saying, “Everybody gets a free lunch”, and doing away with that computer system altogether. But if we’d done that, then the Feds would have yanked our lunch money. The demographics / attendance / grades / transcript system was, alas, required for a reason — Louisiana was plagued by “ghost students” who got per-pupil funds but didn’t actually exist before they started tracking all this stuff via computer, some school districts lost 1/4th of their students compared to the previous year once the student tracking system was implemented (!!!!). (The majority of ghost students were students who’d been at a school in the district for at least one day of that school year, but had transferred out during the course of the school year and were properly credited to other districts for ADA purposes, but some were outright fraud). The discipline system was required because of parents involved with “civil rights” groups who kept suing the school districts for being mean to those poor innocent little black boys, everything had to be tracked via computer so that it could be verified that discipline offenses received equal treatment regardless of whether you were white or black, male or female. Thus the whole “Zero Tolerance” thing, which basically was forced onto the schools due to these lawsuits. Then there was the whole special education bureaucracy, when the reality is that for the majority of the students who were marked as “special ed”, they needed pretty much the same thing as the rest of the students — access to better methods of teaching reading and/or arithmetic. (Note that the majority of students who are “special” in today’s schools are *not* retarded or autistic, they are “learning disabled”, a vague notion that basically boils down to “didn’t learn how to read via the same methods used for the rest of his classmates”). But getting them formally designated as “special” via a very expensive assessment process and expensive IEP process was the only way to get the federal funding to give them the help they should have gotten just as a matter of course, if the schools had been adequately funded and staffed in the first place…

I was one of the last echelon of students taught by the stereotypical old lady spinster teachers (why, some of my teachers were as old as 40 years old! 🙂 ), before the women’s right movement got women the right to work at professional jobs beyond nurse and teacher. Schools could pick the best and brightest young women to be teachers back then. Today… not so much. Add in persistent underfunding and you can understand how so many people can be so stupid…

– Badtux the WASF Penguin

16 Bryan { 10.31.11 at 1:31 pm }

“Once the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the aircraft, we can fly.”

That’s an old line chief maxim from the Air Force, but it describes the ‘oversight solutions’ that are generally offered by ‘management’. People screw up or cheat in one place, so everyone gets a new form to fill out, and nothing is actually done about the people who caused the problem because the managers can’t or don’t want to take the time to actually do their job and supervise people. Everything is classified as a ‘problem with procedures’ not a real personnel problem.

We spend too much time watching insignificant amounts of money, while the big money isn’t monitored at all. The F-22 is still trying to suffocate pilots, but no child who doesn’t meet specific criteria is receiving a free lunch.

With costs going up, student aid disappearing, and salaries in retreat, no one can afford to become a teacher today. You can’t afford the cost of the loans on what a teacher makes, and they keep pushing the requirements higher.

You can’t defraud Medicare of billions and become governor of a state, but give a hungry child a meal, and you’ll never work again. This country has seriously screwed up priorities.