Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I hate SATs, but here's how to imporve them

I've took the SATs last year, I didn't like the fact that I had to take a standardized test to be a admitted to college. But I took the test anyway, and scored in the low 1300's. But it was enough to be admitted into UMD. Now here's what I like from this editorial:

First of all, the tests should be free. They should be given on a small scale, preferably by each school or department, and scored by the teachers at that school, though the students' names should be anonymous during scoring. The exams should test students on the actual knowledge necessary for their chosen fields of study. If a general test is necessary, it should not be limited to high school math and vocabulary. The tests should be as comprehensive as a student's education. Finally, entrance examinations should not be multiple-choice based. Essays and short answer questions are the only questions that truly measure a student's knowledge, creativity and ability. All in all, entrance exams should be the exact opposite of today's standardized tests.

Basically, Anika calls for the GRE's to be abolished ,and for the actual tests to administed by the universities themselves, more focused on short answers and essays ,and the new exams to be free of chrage.

If you can take the same suggestions to the SATs, I promise you that it would be much different from the current SAT's,and that would be a good thing.

Strong Mandate, Weak Democrat

Prince George's County has been ruled by the Democratic party for it seems to be like decades. Jack B. Johnson, the still county executive, is claiming "a "very strong mandate" to govern and outlined a broad agenda for the next four years."

So what's his agenda for next term?
...Johnson said he is well-positioned to use his mandate to attack the twin problems that have plagued the county through his first term: crime and lagging schools.

He said he will continue to expand the police force. There are fewer than 1,400 officers, but officials plan to push that number to 1,800 in the next few years. He announced shortly after the primary that he will retain Police Chief Melvin C. High but suggested he might unveil a new crime initiative shortly after he takes the oath of office.

He also said he plans to flood the school system with money, even as he acknowledged a slowing real estate market that will make for tighter budgets than during his first term, when he fully funded the school system for the first time in a generation.

Almost immediately, Johnson will face difficult negotiations over Prince George's Hospital Center, the financially troubled facility that serves many of the region's uninsured patients. A committee has spent months fielding offers from nonprofit companies to take over management of the county-owned hospital. Johnson said he will soon provide an update on the effort.

So his agenda in short is to:
  1. Expand the PGC Police to 1,800 officers
  2. Fully fund the school system, and
  3. Deal with transfering ownership of PG General to a non-profit companies (is it still privitization?)
But what about solving the real problems, why not deal with the root causes of crime (Poverty, neightborhoods designed not to grow and thrive). Why not expand the already weak THE BUS system? Why not find a way to eqaulize funding for PGCPS and fund it directly toward education? And why not a universial health care system for the county?

That's wht I would do if I was elected County Executive.

Haven't posted for over two weeks.

I did not know how I lost the will to blog. It was plenty of reasons: College work, thanksgiving (Ate turkey, baked chicken, corn bread, salad, and rice), internet surfing, wikipedia, Final Fantasy XI. But hopefully today would of this two week lull.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

UMD Life

Sorry for the no-blog day. There was a midterm in PHIL140, I finished homework for another Math 003 Chapter, and did a essay. Now I'm off playing PSO, regular blogging resumes tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

And Now a Public Information Advisory

I like to remind everyone in the UMD community to always get have your room key if when you leave the dorm. Because if you frequently don't and have to check out a loaner from the Hall Desk it will be considered as key abuse if you have checked out a loaner 5 times. Any incidents of key abuse could result in judical action by the UMD's Office of Judicial Programs.

That has been a Public Information Advisory from MDP.

ISO-College Park Rally Calls for End of Occupation of Palestine

Early afternoon today near enterance of the the MaKalden Library. The College Park Branch of the International Socialist Organisation held a rally calling for the end of the Palestinian Occupation. I was late by the time I got there since I did not expect a rally at this time, but I did caught a speech from a member of the Muslim Student Assoication.

UMD Spot

Fall Cleaning

The Vast Wasteland

More news about NBCU's decision to consolidate local spanish news:
The reductions reflect a trend by media companies to cut newsroom jobs in an effort to boost corporate profit and satisfy shareholders. In recent years, revenue at traditional media outlets has declined as more advertisers have embraced the Internet to reach younger viewers.

But centralizing the news operation has drawn a rebuke of NBC Universal from the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists, which is considering challenging upcoming Telemundo station license renewals.

The group contends that NBC is abrogating its responsibility to serve the public interest and breaking promises made when the network sought federal approval to buy Telemundo. The group plans to meet with NBC executives this week.
Sorry NAHJ, NBC has abrogated it's responsibility years ago.
The criticism drew a written response from Jay Ireland, president of NBC Universal television stations, and Don Browne, president of Telemundo Communications Group Inc. They contended that moves were needed to ensure the stations' long-term viability.

"We are fully committed to our mission of inspiring, educating and entertaining the Hispanic community," they wrote. "However, we must also face the realities of our marketplace. We … have struggled financially with local newscasts in some of our smaller markets."

The new format should also make it possible to bring regional news to Spanish-language stations in Fresno and Denver, which currently do not have a local newscast. NBC executives said the move would not affect Telemundo's national newscast that originates from Telemundo's headquarters near Miami.
That is some BS, NBCU really cares is about the money. This quote explains what this means to Latino viewers:

"No matter how they frame it, this means there will be less local news in these markets, not more — and it's good news for Univision," said Felix Gutierrez, a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication. "NBC should be giving people more reasons to watch Telemundo, not fewer reasons."

If it an't broke, don't fix it.

Obviously, Education Secretary Spellings does not get it.
A number of forthcoming federal efforts aimed at reforming higher education could compromise American universities' competitive edge worldwide by allowing the government to dictate their content, university President Dan Mote said.

Mote's chief concern, he said, is that stronger government oversight would cause a shift from content and currica shaped by student interest to a standardized model mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Great, not only we have No Rich Child Left Behind, we're going to have No Rich College Student Left Behind. We can deal with problems on our own, Spellings have worst problems she needs to worry about.

I do not want a phase withdrawl,

I want a immediate withdrawl!
Democrats poised to take control of Congress said Sunday that they would press to begin a phased U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq within four to six months, part of an agenda aimed at overhauling key aspects of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

"First order of business is to change the direction of Iraq policy," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who is in line to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee next year when Democrats become the majority party in both chambers of Congress.

Senior White House officials countered that setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals would weaken the Iraq government and embolden insurgents, but they acknowledged a need for fresh ideas on Iraq and expressed a new willingness to negotiate with Democrats on an array of foreign policy issues.

White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten indicated that the president would block legislation calling for a scheduled withdrawal.
Dubya, the Iraqi government has already weakened. Around 2,860 American soldiers are dead. Between 200,000 and 600,000 Iraqi civilians are dead as a result of this war. The more we stay in Iraq, the more embolden the insurgents are. Negotiation is not an option. We have wrecked this country long enough, it's time to leave Iraq. Not in six months, not in three months, not in one month, and not in two weeks. NOW!

The Prophet Has Already Spoken...

... on Monday's Diamondback. My editorial is about how the State of Maryland can fully fund not only the University of Maryland, but every college that's part of the larger University System of Maryland (Yes, in Maryland we have a public university system:

How can the state of Maryland resolve college affordability? It can establish a higher education trust fund. The trust fund would be dedicated to giving out much-needed funding to the University System of Maryland so it would not need to rely on tuition costs. It should also apply to room and board and other fees you or your parents are paying every semester. It would be similar to the Social Security trust fund, but the difference is this trust fund will be separate from the general budget and will pay out interest. No one in the Maryland government would touch it, because it goes exclusively to the universities.

The trust fund would, for all intents and purposes, allow free higher education to all students, undergraduate or graduate, admitted to any school that's part of the system. The fund would also give out monthly living expense grants of about $4,000 per semester to all students, unless they have jobs that pay the average yearly salary of a Maryland worker.

Now the question is will O'Malley and the General Assembly take this idea and make it into law?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Adventures in Video Gaming

The Wii is not launched yet, but during my window shopping session at Target yesterday, I found out that some Wii stuff has already released. On the top right corner, there are Wii game disc holders. On the top left corner, Wii-mote stickers. On the bottom left, the entire shelf of pre-launch Wii products Finally, on the bottom right, Wii-mote covers. However I'm not planning to buy the Nintendo Wii anytime soon, I'll be fine with my Xbox 360 and PS2.

O'Malley: "Legalize Slots"

Here we go again with the slots.

Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley called upon the Maryland General Assembly yesterday to legalize slot machine gambling at horse tracks, saying he was "sick of this issue" but feared that the state's racing industry could collapse if lawmakers did not find common ground early in his term.

"Hopefully, we can find some room for compromise and address people's fears about this being the camel's nose under the tent, and move forward to other more pressing, important issues," O'Malley said during an interview on WTOP (103.5 FM, 820 AM), one in a series of radio and television appearances yesterday in which he was peppered with questions on the topic.

O'Malley, who is Baltimore's mayor, said slot machines at racetracks would help prop up an industry that provides 18,000 jobs in Maryland and would ensure the survival of the Preakness Stakes, a nationally renowned event at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore that O'Malley called "the equivalent of having the Super Bowl in Maryland every year."

OK I would not mind legalizing gambling, we already have the Maryland Lottery, why not legalize other forms of gambling. However the key aspect of legalizing gambling is to regulate and tax (preferably 80% of the revenue). Also, if the proposed law reaches the General Assembly, why not prohibit casinos and gambling area in disadvanaged neighborhoods and let indiviual counites decide if the gambling place is allowed with consent of the the people?

Twlight Academies?

Don't believe me?

Schools CEO John Deasy is moving ahead with reforms designed to take the school system off the state’s corrective action list in two years. Otherwise, the school system will face sanctions.

Deasy said he is ready to propose a policy to the new board that would make mandatory his ‘‘twilight academies” for all high school students who failed their assessment tests.

‘‘I don’t want to hear people [complaining] when they don’t graduate,” Deasy said.

OK, the concept of a twlight academy is a great idea. It's essenally an after school program with classes, with small class sizes. This concept is being applied to some high schools in the Prince Georges County area.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

On midnight tonight...

Remember what I told you about my first experience with the Rocky Horror Picture Show? If you folks missed it, the Santanic Mechanics is 10 years old now, and they're holding their 10th anniversity by showing the film again. If you have not been to a Satanic Machanic show before expect a lot of insantiy and crazyness abound. I'm already prepared for the 2nd screening and will bring you the lowdown from the 10th anniversity showing AND my first experience for the movie as soon as I can. (If schoolwork and assignements don't drag me down to the ground first.)

The battle rages on

I've stumpled onto an interesting article from the Progressive Review, and found this to be exactly true:

I realized later that I had stumbled upon the outlines of a new American political fault line. It was so new that it lacked a name, stereotypes, cliches, experts and prophets. In many ways it seemed more a refugee camp than a voluntary assembly, yet, as I thought about it, the more its logic seemed only concealed rather than lacking.

On one side were libertarians, blacks, greens, populists, free thinkers, the alienated apathetic, the rural abandoned, the apolitical young, as well as others convinced America was losing its democracy, its sovereignty and its decency. On the other side was a technocratic, media, legal, business and cultural elite centered in New York and Washington. At times it felt as if all of America outside of these two centers had turned into a gigantic, chaotic salon des refuses.

Another thing I noticed was that this was about far more than politics. A cultural and class coup was underway, of which the Clinton administration was a part, one that was creating a gated economy and transforming those outside the barriers into pliant, homogenized, multi-nationalized consumers for whom freedom, choice and democracy would atrophy into symbols of only virtual meaning. People like me were traitors to the cause. . .
True, man, true

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Govenor, Same Problem

Looks like O'Malley is trying not to be looked at as a socialist.

O'Malley has stopped short of endorsing the need for a mandated long-term funding source; but to cap tuition, the university does require a source of funding to cover its operating costs, such as salary increases for employees, utility bills and caring for the campus' computer networks, said system chancellor Brit Kirwan.

Since the university's primary sources of revenue are tuition and state funding, the state money that is earmarked for the university would have to increase enough to fund those operating costs. Then tuition could be capped and set to increase at the rate of inflation, Kirwan said.

Wylie said a tuition cap "could be quite positive, but of course we need the state to step in and provide the support so the quality of the university is not eroded."

Kirwan said with strong tax revenues bolstering the state's financial stability, most in the system were optimistic about future funding.

"Given that we have a good economy, I have a lot of confidence that we're going to be able to keep tuition moderate, increases moderate, because of both his commitment to do so but also the ability to invest state funds in higher education," Kirwan said.
Capping tuition is not going to be enough to manage the rising cost of college education. Even if he impliments his plan, college affordablity in Maryland will still recieve an F. Unless he wants to cut tuition in half in addition to the cap, I got three words for you. Free College Education

Reporting from McKeldin Mall, this is Ndubuisi Okeh from MDP.

The Vast Wasteland

Here is the full lowdown on the NBC 2.0 cutting floor.

Telemundo, which is owned by, NBC Universal will discontinue it's news casts in Huston, Dallas, San Antonia, San Jose, Denver, and Phenoix with a five-breau operation feeding stories to two news centers: Burbank, California for San Antonia, San Jse, and Denver and Phenoix the almost contructed Telemundo production center in Dallas for the Huston and San Ontonio. (Wait a minute, didn't Siniclar tried that before shutting it down). That's right, no local spanish news if you do not live in New York City, Chicago, and Miami.

In some of the areas affected, this means no real local news.

Here's another great article regarding this too. And another one too

MSNBC will be closing down it's Secacus,NJ branch and moving into Englewood Cliffs, NJ and Manhattan,NYC

Replacing dramas with more profitiable and easy to make reality and game shows (Great, more reality crap, but I do like Wife-Swap)

The end result, the savings will be reinvested in digital television projects that will bring in 1 billion in revenue in 2009 (Yeah, right)

But the only silverlining is that NBC will be recrduling Thursday nights with comedy's from 8pm-10pm starting november 30th

So this is what we get for the passage of the Telecommunications Act 1996, centralization, consolidation, and savings; all at the expense of the general public, the public the networks had to serve in the public interest.

Here's one quote where they show this comtempt:

Zucker noted that the rival ABC network had quietly been doing the same thing in recent years.
"We want to be sure that we continue to provide the best programming possible," Zucker said. "We just want to put the programming where we get the highest rate of return."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Maryland Democrats ought to do in the Next General Assembly?

  1. State-funded Univerisal Health Care,
  2. Publicly takeover BGE and all public utilities,
  3. Raise the mininum wage to a living wage of $12 per hour
  4. Provide for Free Public Education from Pre-K to Graduate
  5. Expand and improve Public Transport, no more road building (That include trams and passenger rail, I'm looking at you MTA Maryland/MARC)
  6. Repeal the Sales tax, raise mininum tax threshold to average Marylander yearly salary, and make the rich pay their share
  7. Stop pollution of all kinds
  8. Build public housing for everyone, and in way that allows the community to grow and not in disadvantaged areas.
  9. Implement a levy for public broadcasting stations of 2 dollars per month to be added on to electric bills to allow MPT and maryland public radio to finally fully serve its mission
  10. Last and not least: Decodify the Annonated Code of Maryland. Simplfy the law to plain English so that average people can read Acts of the Maryland General Assembly.

The Vast Wasteland

On today's Diamondback I read an interesting ariticle about why there are little good shows on broadcast television:
...why are the only good shows on the air either being canceled or on premium cable channels? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

You want ingenious television? It's scarce to find on NBC, ABC, CBS or FOX because of the restrictions set on average TV networks, but when one-of-a-kind shows actually appear, they tend to get the ax despite positive press and critical acclaim (Arrested Development, anyone?). And that's not even a phenomenon of this season, it's just how the network-TV cookie crumbles, leaving highlights like Twin Peaks and Firefly in its wake.

Sure, tons of crap has been cut so far this fall - Kidnapped on NBC, Smith on CBS, Runaway on The CW and Happy Hour on FOX - but actual gems like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on NBC are in jeopardy despite great acting, writing and production, while trash like Desperate Housewives and The O.C. remain on the air.

What she saying is true. As a matter of fact, there are two main reasons why most good shows are either canceled is that in the broadcasting industry is about money, although the FCC is supposed to regulate the industry in the public interest, it's clear that they are not doing their job, as a matter of fact the FCC is the Broadcast's industry's Bitch, since it's establishment in 1934. They keep crap on the air because it gains the largest viewers. I call it the "lowest common denominator" audience.
The point of television is to engage, interest and entertain, and when shows push the envelope, both the viewer and the network benefit. So although we have to wait an exorbitant amount of time and suffer in agony until The Sopranos and Weeds come back, use the time off to tune into your average broadcast television show. By showing networks viewers care about more than just Eva Longoria's latest suburban tryst or what the hell California is going to do without Mischa Barton, you can help keep quality television like Studio 60 on the air - and maybe get Housewives and The O.C. off.
I'm afriad that will not happen anytime soon. And if you think that Maryland Public Television (Maryland's PBS affliate) is any different, it's not. Public Broadcasting has the same problem as the broadcasting industry, the only difference is that it involes AWASPs, stupid pledges programing (two words: Suze Orman), and 20 year old British imports and Barney.


The people have decided, and the decided that they have enough of GOP hypocracy,stupidty and the war in Iraq. The Democrats won the House of Represenatives by 22 seats and as of now a 50/49 match in the Senate. Locally in Maryland, Michale "Sellout" Steele lost to incumbent Ben Cardin. (Obviously, being black is not enough to be elected. This means the Era of the Dubya legacy will be crumbling down.) As for the Governor campagin, Ehrlich has lost to Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley.

Want a example? Donald Rumsfield is stepping down. (Trial and imprisonment for war of agression is remains to be seen).

For the full official tally for the state of maryland here they are.

Now don't celebrate just yet. The Democrats we elected are still sold out to corporate special interests. So the only way we can get what we want like univerisal health care, or free education (instead of capping tuition) is to do one thing: Lobby

Write letters to your elected officials. As a matter of fact, fax your letters since all elected officials have at least one fax machine, so they will have no excuse not to read it. If possible and in most cases it is, go to your legislature to meet your officials in person. Demand what you want, don't wait for them to do it for you, because most likely they will not.

Election 2006 The deciding factor.

Ok, I've waited over two hours just to cast my ballot for the historic mid-term election of the year. The good thing is that the Democrats has won the House by the time I type this, however the Senate remains to be seen. So what will happen if the Dems win congress?

Will we get out of Iraq?
Will the King Dubya be overthrown by impeachment?
Will America escape the grip of the health care industry and enjoy universial health care?

We will find out soon.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The ramifications of NBC 2.0

OK, we all know what's going to happen to NBC by the next season, they're going to "cut" 700 million dollars by consolidating news and reducing real programing and making more game shows and reality tv crap. I'm planning to wrte a full report of NBC 2.0 and how it will affect you as a comsumer.

Stay Tuned.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I supposed to be back early, instead Amtrak screwed me.

I planned to be back to UMD around 10:30, instead the train got into mechanical problems, waited two hours and instead the train eventually made it into Aberdeen. Amtrak had to rebook me on a 4:19pm train, and even that train was delayed. It did arrived and got on and went my way to UMD. Now I know one thing, don't trust Amtrak when it comes to punctuality, unless you're bording at the terminal stations.

This is actually the end result of America's transport policy of susidzing roads and the airplane industry, and this is what we get, a train service that has been living on life-support for most of its life and designed to fail. Not to memntion that MARC, a wonderful alternative to Amtrak, do not operate on weekdends, requiring anyone to take a day trip from Aberdeen,MD to Washington, DC to pay around $27 one-way (that's if you reserve a day in advance).Compare that to the $10 one way fare from Aberdeen to Washington DC.

If I were President, I would order the reallocation of funds from roads and airplanes to trains and public transport. Of course, don't rely on the Republicrats to do that.

In other news, this is my first post in my blog for a long time. I just had too much on my mind, regular blogging will resume tomorrow. Seriously, I'm not joking.