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June 14, 2010

LEGAL BILLS? WHAT LEGAL BILLS?

John Briscoe catches his fellow board members stonewalling and covering-up. So what do they do when he calls them on it? They vote in public to keep things secret.


Bad move, hacks. 

Please note: I have nothing against appropriating a set sum of money against which the professionals can bill. Stan and I did that through Featherstone regularly. But we always submitted a detailed breakdown of products and services provided - dates, times, places, approvals, and other proof of work -  and that info was always put on the consent agenda for the board to read into the public record and approve at the meeting. It was not unknown for us to have to show up and explain the work we did, due to its technical nature and high profile (computers in the classroom - OMG!)

That's all Briscoe is asking for - a simple explanation of the work done. The other board members don't want to do it, even though most other Districts do, and even the county executive recommends that they do. 

Who told them not to? Why their lawyers, of course.

Dirty, dirty, dirty. And if there is no dirt, why the cover-up? Did they learn nothing from Nixon?

Time to disband all school districts. No district, no lawsuits, no legal fees, no big pots of money to tempt politicos. Every school a stand-alone entity, every child's education directed by his parents, all state funds spent on education paid only on third-party proof of ongoing achievement.

From John's PR:
Please see my summary of experiences regarding our little legal billing detail secret spending scandal.  The OC Register (OC Watchdog) has expressed an interest in the story and invested over an hour of interview and document review time.  Should be interesting.  News at 11:00!!!!
Click on "More" for the rest of the story.
more...

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June 09, 2010

LIMBAUGH RIPS OFF HUDSON & LANDRY?

Says Limbaugh Biographer Zev Chafets in his WSJ blog:

For starters he is not, and has never pretended to be, a member of the Christian Right. As a young disc jockey he invented a fictitious faith healer, “Friar Shuck” who saved people over the radio for a hundred bucks a pop.

Limbaugh was on radio in the early 70's in Pittsburgh (as Jeff Christie) when H&L made their popular albums in LA. 

See cut #3 on this album:


So, did Chafets get it wrong (Rush H for Hudson Limbaugh) or did Limbaugh rip them off, or did he tell Chafets he invented the routine? Or did H&L, with dozens of similar comedy recordings and a huge major market following, rip off the unknown local jock from Pittsburgh PA?

My guess: Limbaugh heard it at a radio industry deal, ripped it off & riffed it to his local audience, Chafets found the reference doing his book research, and thought is made good anecdotal evidence that Limbaugh was not a bitter clinger because he made fun of radio preachers.

Somebody owes somebody and explanation and apology.

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May 30, 2010

WHY WE REMEMBER

Go here for my tribute to the veterans in my family.

Also take a minute for thoughts a prayers for my mother, who took a fall last week and is back in the hospital healing a cracked vertebrae and a cut on her forehead.

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May 23, 2010

BRISCOE STRIKES A BLOW

John Briscoe responds to my call for him to propose that his school board & district be disbanded & the funds placed in a trust that will pay for approved instructional services as directed by parents of kids living in the district boundaries.

Interesting idea.
But gotta have HEADS enrolled to count 'em.
No heads = no income.
This idea has merit for a "basic aid" school district, but not ours.
 
And State of CA Constitution guarantees a free public education.
Would need change at highest level.
 
Thanks for your interest.  I know you lived the 'public school dream' with your install work.

Thanks, John, will do. I was also a full time public school employee for 6 months at Capo USD in 1998, and sat on the executive board working for Dr. Fleming. I know all the inside dirt about public instruction as committed by California.

But I'm not letting you off that easy.

Head count = legal resident in district boundaries, school age child, annually assessed, just like home schooled. In effect, all kids should be funded & assessed equally, regardless of which instructional process their parents select - traditional, home school, small group, on-line, etc. We just did a census, we know the number pretty closely, makes budgeting as simple as # of school-age kids x $ amount per kid. Why do we need a district & a board to figure that out?

All kids will still get a free public education per the constitution. What is the current definition of a free publicly funded education? It should be defined by the dollar amount available to each student to fund instructional activities and ongoing assessment as directed by their parents to master the subject matter and skills defined by the curriculum.

We've known for a hundred years what kids are supposed to learn by any particular age. Some learn faster than others. As soon as you master a subject you move on, regardless of age. If you need to take longer, you do, if you don't, you don't (this approach is known by the derogatory term "tracking" - teacher unions hate it.)

The state should pay only for educational achievement, not for gold-plated warehouses full of kids herded around by political advocates who fudge the grades & tests to meet political metrics. I don't care how other kids are doing. I care how my kids are doing, as measured against long-established metrics of achievement.

Free education does not have to mean free day care. It does not have to be brick & mortar, 650 students & 35 staff performing 6 periods a day of failing curriculum. We can eliminate the huge bulk of state-paid overhead - facilities, transportation, food service and especially the bureaucrats & politicians that incur costs due to reports, lawsuits, other non-instructional activities.

Parents can choose to educate their kids this "traditional" way (and in districts like Los Al, they probably would), but if it costs more to do it this way than the state will pay, then the parents, either out of pocket or through charities & foundations, pay the difference. You want your kids in sports, arts, music, Scouts, etc, it's on your nickel. Why are we supporting high school sports teams when only a small fraction of the kids participate? Because it's popular? Sheesh.

The initiative to change has to start somewhere, might as well be with you. Use the arrogant ass Supt mentioned in the Register story as the embodiment of why the reform is essential - remove politicians, unions and non-instructional employees from the process, and pay for only the qualified instructional products & services that produce the results that state taxpayers want, as directed by parents. The idea that a school board  is valuable is ludicrous. It is entirely superfluous to the core activity it purports to enable & support - students learning.

Go for it, John. Make it happen. This is the year to do it, believe me.

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PAYING TWICE TO GET WHAT YOU WANT

School Board Trustee John Briscoe comments on my anti-school board and unionized public employee rant:

Jim:
Parents ALREADY educate their children elsewhere, anywhere else then public schools:
 
Westminster SD = 20% elsewherere
Ocean View SD (mine) = 25% elsewhere
Fountain Valley SD = 33% elsewhere
Huntington Beach City SD = 41% elsewhere
Newport Mesa Unified SD = 55% elsewhere
 
Yup, 20% to 55% of parents vote with feet & wallet spending TWICE their property taxes to church, private, or home school.  Already, now & today.
Imagine the stampede if vouchers were introduced!
 
Local school boards would become landlords renting out empty school buildings to private schools providing the education parents really want:
1. School Security = uniforms, name badges & ID like Long Beach, locked & secured campuses with single ingress & egress
2. Teachers that Communicate = weekly at minimum written note OR email to parents
3. Behavior contracts = 3 strikes & yer OUT!
4. REAL music program
5. REAL foreign language program
6. REAL PE Program where you might actually work up a sweat
7.  All Other & there's lots more that drives families away.

Right on, Brother Briscoe. We had our kids in private school through 8th grade, until they could move into the excellent Los Al High School via interdistrict transfer.

Over HALF in N/MUSD! This is more proof that the idea of ending public education is not only possible, but entirely likely, once the taxpayers are educated about how badly their money is now spent.

For more, go see John's web site www/JohnBriscoe.com.

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COME ONE, COME ALL

(This post will stay at the top until 5/29/10, so scroll down for new posts below)

We are only one week away from our annual Open House party and bacchanal here at the palatial McMahon compound.

Come one, come all for a relaxing afternoon and/or evening of food, fellowship, and fun.

Saturday, May 29th, the heart of Memorial Day week-end. Any time after Noon, all the way through 10:00PM.

(562) 430-2143. Directions here.

Reason? We need a reason? I thought I explained it all for you.

So if you are in town, please stop by for a while. You have two days off afterward to recover. Make this a truly Memorial Day week-end.

That is all.

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May 22, 2010

IT IS ON, FASCISTS

I've been quiet for a long time, mostly due to sloth, but partially due to focus on work and family. But recent events have riled me to the point that I'm ready again to speak out.

Here's what I just posted on FaceBook:

I've been doing a lot of talking with friends and family, and thinking about current events and issues, and I'm ready now to lay down my positions for public consumption and debate.

First: I've had it with school boards and districts, and with all unionized public employees.

It is long past time to eliminate all public schools, and to banish all public employee unions.

So how do we replace them?

Schools: The state should pay only for specific instructional achievement based on standardized tests, as directed by parents/guardians. Each child will have an individual education program directed by their parent or a parent-assigned advocate, who will either personally monitor or cause to be monitored their child as they are instructed by on-line expert systems that inculcate the state-approved curriculum via systems like the FSU K-12 online schools.

http://www.flvs.net/Pages/default.aspx

We should not be paying exorbitant teacher salaries for daycare services, which is what we are doing now. Former public school teachers can provide instructional and supervisory services as contracted by parents or their assigns, at contract rates based on what the market will bear.

Unionized public employees: All current public employee collective bargains, pensions and benefits are abrogated based on the principle of unjust enrichment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unjust_enrichment

Existing pension contracts will be terminated at their current market values, and their owners funded by state bonds instead of cash.

Going forward, every state employee position will have to be justified on a return on investment basis. Only those positions that have a positive ROI will be continued

All other positions will be eliminated. Terminated employees will be given 6-months salary and continuation of benefits as they move to the private sector.

The remaining essential public positions will be changed from employee status to contract status, where each employee will be hired on a 1-year contract basis. Each year they will be evaluated based on ROI and performance, and renewed only if their position is necessary, and their performance is adequate.

I will do a more detailed write-up on these topics in the near future, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, see you on the barricades, Comrades.

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November 28, 2009

MESSAGE, MESSENGER

Just sent a quick not to Glenn Reynolds re: this post.

Hi Prof,

Re: Climategate, you quote "a climate scientist":

"Scientists claim that they would never get any research done if they had to continuously respond to skeptics. The counter to that argument is to make all of your data, metadata, and code openly available. Doing this will minimize the time spent responding to skeptics; try it! If anyone identifies an actual error in your data or methodology, acknowledge it and fix the problem. Doing this would keep molehills from growing into mountains that involve congressional hearings, lawyers, etc.”

Change 'scientists' to 'journalists' and he's describing blogging done right.

And: “It is possible that some areas of climate science has become sclerotic. It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.”

Change 'climate science' to 'journalism' and he's describing legacy media, at it's end state.

Just fancy ways of saying "Honesty is the best policy". Maybe that phrase should be put over the door at every legacy media shop, and the employees have to 'jump-touch' it on the way in & out, like a college football team.

Also: Confusing "message" with information. Proper blogging separates and identifies messages from information; legacy media (and the climate scientists they favor) select only the information that reinforces the message. Information sources (including governments and the politicians who inhabit & operate them) now and in the future will be trusted only to the extent that they report information separately from messages

And yes, I am loving how right I was about the whole AGW scam.

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May 30, 2009

WHAT DO YOU MEAN "WE", KEEMO SABE?

We need a lot more of this.

Kids belong to their parents

Parents are responsible for what their kids do, including how well they perform in school.

The State has a compelling interest in supporting parents as they see that their children are properly educated. That support should be in the form of a fixed maximum amount of money reimbursed annually to the parents for instructional costs, provided that the child passes standard tests. No pass, no pay.

Go ahead, call me a Nazi. But this is the only way to fund basic education. Anything beyond the basics should be entirely up to parents, and they can either earn more money and pay for it, or join a group (like, say, oh, I don't know, maybe, what, a religion, or Boy Scouts, or something?) that pools their resources to promote specific educational, instructional, and recreational activities.

See? All fixed! Was that so goddamn hard?

Alert Arnie.

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May 26, 2009

MORE RANDOM LINKS

I don't know whether to be happy or scared that this guy is working for the government. But I do like his style.

Throughout my working career, I've noticed that Tuesdays are always the most hectic days for me. Looks like I'm not alone in this observation.

Here's an article right up Frankie Pryor's alley.

Here is where all the mischief in education is coming from. This is the first place that needs to be shut down.

Look out Lockheed and Boeing - here comes the budget axe.

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May 25, 2009

MEMORIAL DAY THOUGHTS

I want to pay tribute on this Memorial Day to all my friends and family who have served their country in the military. Their service in the past gave us the freedom we have today, and those serving today ensure that we can enjoy our lives as we see fit. Only a tiny fraction of the people on this planet have this gift of freedom.

Any comments I could make would pale in comparison to the sacrifices of all service members. So here instead are the service histories of some of my immediate family. Compare what they went through in their early twenties to what you and I did.

I also want to salute my father in law, Ed White, who served as a SeaBee in the Philippines in the Korean War, but I don't have all the particulars of his service dates.

All stories below are from "The McMahon and Harrington Family Histories" one of my mother's scholarly genealogical publications.

My Dad: Robert Francis McMahon (b. 4/30/1921, Flatbush, Brooklyn, NYC, NY, d. 11/4/1988 ) "(Robert) entered the Army in 1943. He was assigned to the Army Air Force and attended radio schools in Kansas and Florida. After some time in Desert Center, CA he was sent to the South Pacific. He served as a radioman and his unit followed battles from one island to another. His primary stations were at Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea and Tacloban, Leyte, in the Philippine Islands. Although he did not engage in combat himself, there was lots of action in the skies overhead (and radio facilities and crews were always prime targets -JM). Many hazards complicated the rugged living conditions - heat, rain, bugs, fungus, etc. He was stung by scorpions and hospitalized for hepatitis. He returned to the US in 1946."

My Mother: Deidre Irene Dunn McMahon (b. 4/10/24 Los Angeles, CA) "On her 20th birthday she enlisted in the Marine Corps Women's Reserve and was called to duty July 1944. After boot camp at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, she worked at Headquarters Marine Corps, Navy Annex, Arlington, Virginia, in the Rehabilitation Division until her discharge in April 1946. The military was a very positive experience for Deirdre. Not only was there a feeling of satisfaction in contributing to the war effort, but it was an opportunity to make lifelong freinds, travel, and see history in the making. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in April, 1945, she was the right guide for the Women Marine contingent that marched in the funeral procession down Pennsylvania Avenue from union Station to the White House.
[...]
It was during her two years of military service that Deirdre also developed an interest in her extended family and its history.
[...]
After her discharge she took her first airplane flight - Washington , DC to Burbank, CA on a DC-3 - about 12 hours, much of it through heavy rain, thunder and lightning, with about six stops along the way."

My Uncle Bernie. Bernard James McMahon, Jr. (b. 8/9/19, Brooklyn, NYC, NY. d. 8/12/98 ). "Bernard was accepted by Harvard University, majored in Economics and earned his bachelor's degree in 1942. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 changed his plans for the remainder of his senior year. He had been accepted into a special Industrial Administration Program at the Harvard Business School designed to train management leaders to support the war effort.
[...]
He was expected to apply for a commission in the Navy, which he did, but later declined the commission and enlisted in the Army Air Corps [... ] on 29 January 1943 and was assigned to Flight Training Class 44C, where he served as editor for Flying Lines, the training center's newspaper.  He trained in Corsicana, Texas, and Columbia, South Carolina, before going overseas in the summer of 1944. He was assigned to a B25 Bomber Group based in Corsica, off the italian coast, and was a pilot with the 12th Air Force, 57th Bomb Wing, 321st Group, 445th Squadron. Their mission was to bomb the German supply lines to Italy, specifically the Brenner Pass.
By April 1945 Bernard had flown 63 combat missions. In may of that year, when he was a 1st Lieutenant, hew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This is one of the highest awards available to any person serving in the US military. In the letter to his mother which accompanied the citation and medal, Brigadier General Charles T. Myeres commended him for superior leadership and high personal integrity. In addition, he was credited with a specific instance over Italy when he held his damaged plane steady while his bombardier destroyed a vital enemy position."

My Uncle Curtis. James Curtis McMahon (b. 7/30/23 Brooklyn, NYC, NY, d. 4/7/84 Santa Ana, CA). James enlisted in the Army in October 1943 and was overseas in the European Theater of Operations from October 1944 to April 1946. He served in England, France and Germany and participated in the Central European Rhineland Campaign. His duties as a mess sergeant included ordering supplies and making up menus. He supervised 165 men, one civilian mess and three military kitchens, He received a certificate of merit from the 114th Engineers Combat Group in August 1945. He was discharged from the 253rd Engineer Combat Battalion as a Technician 4th Grade at Fort Dix, New Jersey on 3 May 1946.

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May 23, 2009

ANOTHER STACK OF LINKS WORTH YOUR TIME

An easy way to cut health care costs - visit the doctor online. I would do this every time I could, like going to the ATM instead of waiting in line for a teller. With local walk-in places to handle bloods and other samples (like the WalMart clinics) doctors can dramatically improve their throughput and reduce their facility needs, scheduling into their offices just the patients that have to be seen.

And it would be a lot easier on the elderly, like my mom, who could get their bloods & fluids collected by an out-call medical tech, then talk with the doctor online or over the phone, rather than having to take half a day, two bus rides and an hour or two in the waiting room just to talk with the doc for 5 minutes, only to have him tell you what he knew two days before - you need a prescription adjustment, or some such routine matter.

What's probably needed to make this happen is legislation that will limit malpractice awards to protect doctors from shysters who will second-guess the doctor's decisions made remotely rather than face-to-face.

Remember my theory that swapping battery packs instead of trickle recharging them would make electric vehicles much more viable? It's a theory no longer. God, I love it when I'm right. It happens so seldom that I really enjoy it. Well, just shows to go ya that even a blind pig will find an acorn now and again (as KC Jones would say).

Forget your angels and your demons. Check out true mythology - the myths of pollution.

The first step in shrinking government should be repealing the 16th Amendment. This is a big "Only Obama Can" type of radical change that we really need to get done. Given the budget mayhem created by Obama and the Democrats, this idea is no longer limited to libertarian cranks and professional tax cheats - it's essential to American survival.

From the Weekly Standard: Cheap Electricity is the Green Energy We Need.  Coal and fission nuclear are the only viable sources for the next 50 years.  All others are only marginally viable in limited applications, and only then when subsidized.

Want to know why I no longer support the Catholic Church? Here's the last straw. When they line up with Pontius Waxman, they lose me completely. Combining liberal activism like this with the recent declines in educational excellence in Catholic schools, along with the endless indulgence of touchy-feely Kumbayah cum Andrew Lloyd Webber church services that replaced our quiet, dignified Masses, and you end up with what we have today: a self-reverential reality show instead of a cultural reflection of core religious beliefs.

This also solidifies my belief that all tax benefits for charitable and political contributions need to be removed. You believe, you give. period. Let's see how many "charities" will evaporate when the tax incentive goes away,

More about the myth of a "green jobs" recovery.

That moronic Department of Homeland Security report that characterized American military veterans as "rightwing extremists" has officially been pulled. Of course, Secretary Napolitano blames the people she vilified for making a stink about it. And also her staff, of course. She's one of those managers who believes in the policy of "The Buck Never Got Here, So Don't Blame Me".

I said it will take more than a decade for our economy to recover from the Obama/Pelosi/Reid fiscal mayhem. Here's somebody who makes a convincing case that it will actually take two decades. Oh, joy.

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May 22, 2009

IT'S PARTY TIME, IT'S EXCELLENT, IT'S JBD'S WORLD

(This post will stay at the top until 5/23/09, so scroll down for new posts below)

We are only one week away from our annual Open House party and bacchanal here at the palatial McMahon compound.

Come one, come all for a relaxing afternoon and/or evening of food, fellowship, and fun.

Saturday, May 23rd, the heart of Memorial Day week-end. Any time after Noon, all the way through 10:00PM.

(562) 430-2143. Directions here.

Reason? We need a reason? I thought I explained it all for you.

So if you are in town, please stop by for a while. You have two days off afterward to recover. Make this a truly Memorial Day week-end.

That is all.

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May 21, 2009

MY GRANDMOTHER, THE PIRATE FIGHTER

The Somali pirates have fallen out of the news since our SEALS popped 3 of them to rescue the captain of a ship they hijacked. But during the height of the crisis, much was made about how piracy was practically unknown in this modern age, outside of Disney and rum. Articles like this chin-puller analyzed how Obama might compare with previous pirate-fighting presidents.

My reaction: hey, they forgot about Irene M. "Mammy" Dunn, M.D., the fearless pirate fighter of the Santa Maria!

Mammy was my grandmother, who graduated in 1908 from Syracuse University as an MD (take that, woman's libbers) who traveled the world in the 50's and 60's. One of her trips was aboard the ship Santa Maria, which was hijacked by Portuguese political radicals in a bid to draw attention to their cause.

Here is an excerpt from a book by one of the hijackers, and here is a news story that says that a TV movie was being made last year about the hijacking. And here's a web post that says that the press frenzy was so intense that one reporter who literally missed the boat to go out to cover the story actually hired a small plane and parachuted from it, trying to land on the Santa Maria but ending up in the ocean instead. It also says the US Marines had been called up to lay down covering fire when the ship was stormed by Brazilian troops, but the hijackers negotiated their release before that happened.

My Sainted Mother, who is Mammy's daughter, collected all of Mammy's memorabilia - newspaper clippings, magazine articles, etc -  and journal notes, and we have them here at the palatial McMahon compound.  It's quite a story, and an interesting peek into the world of my childhood. For instance, the newspaper articles routinely gave the home addresses of the people they quoted.

So let's not forget that along with three Presidents, at least one brave American women fought to rid the world of piracy.

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May 19, 2009

TAX THOUGHTS

April 15th came & went without any comment from me. Not because I don't feel strongly about taxes, mind you. Rather, I had other things to do.

So here is a collection of tax thoughts, one month late:

Here's how I define tax fairness: everybody pays something, so that everybody has a stake in keeping taxes low. Ari Fleisher does a nice job of making this case.

This is also why I'm opposed to mandatory payroll withholding. Most of the hourly shop guys that work for me are under the impression that it is our company that deducts and holds the SS and Fed and State taxes, even though we explain it to them every year that not only does the company not keep that money, we have to add money (the employer half of SS) and deposit it immediately, even though the employees don't actually have to pay it until the 15th of April the following year.

I believe that instead of mandatory withholding the way it is now, a certain percentage of every check should be deposited into a portable, federally guaranteed, interest bearing savings account, against which taxes, insurance premiums, retirement account contributions, and medical expenses are withdrawn. Then every worker knows exactly how much they actually got paid, and can see clearly where the money went. Any money not spent belongs to the worker. No tax returns to file, no deductions to manage, no loopholes, total visibility.

And the withdrawal for taxes should list the name of the elected officials responsible. For example, the Federal income tax withdrawal should read: WITHDRAWAL: OBAMA, PELOSI, REID, FEINSTEIN, BOXER FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS.


more...

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May 18, 2009

HOWARD R. ALTER, JR. R.I.P. - DAVE DEVOL REPORTS

Former National President Dave DeVol sends the following report from the memorial services for Howard Alter.

Brothers:

It was a signal honor to represent the Gamma Theta Alumni Association and San Diego alumni at services this past weekend for Howard R. Alter, Jr., Past National President and former Executive Director of Theta Chi Fraternity.

Brother Alter (11/1/18-5/9/09) was the most significant member of Theta Chi during the past fifty years, and arguably  the most important since the Founders.  He was twice elected National President, and served for sixteen years as Executive Director of the Fraternity.  He was a member of Theta Chi for seventy years.

I have been a member of Theta Chi for fifty-four years, and knew Howard for fifty-three.  To suggest that he was an institution in our Fraternity would be an understatement.  He succumbed to cancer at age ninety.

An open casket visitation was held at Stockland Farm, the 132-year-old ancestral home of the Alter Family in Plum Borough, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, on Thursday and Friday last.  A beautiful spray of red carnations was presented on behalf of the Gamma Theta Alumni Association.

A private ceremony was held at the home on Saturday morning for Fraternity Brothers and family members, followed by a public service of thanksgiving at the Presbyterian Church of Plum Creek, The Reverend Dr. John J. "Jack" Lolla, Beta Omicron Chapter, University of Cincinnati '72, officiating.

Brother Alter was interred in the family plot at the Plum Creek Cemetery, with a Military Honor Guard and a Twenty-One Gun Salute.  Past National Vice President Dick Elder and your humble servant were Pall Bearers, along with five former Field Representatives who served under Howard.  Al Bulliner eloquently represented the International Fraternity.

Former Grand Chapter Member Don Fine and former San Diegan Warren Hoffman, President of The Foundation Chapter, Inc., were also in attendance.

A reception followed at the world-famous Oakmont Country Club, scene of eight United States Opens and numerous other important golf events.

In attendance during the weekend were eight Past National Presidents of Theta Chi, numerous Fraternity Brothers, inter-fraternity executives, members of the Booth-Alter Family, and countless community leaders, neighbors and friends.  The entire weekend was a stunning tribute to Howard and the legacy he leaves behind.

Brother Alter was honored with every award in Theta Chi, including the Distinguished Service Award, the Fraternity's highest honor, and the North-American Interfraternity Conference Gold Metal, the highest honor in the fraternity world, for his interfraternal service.

I was deeply moved to have been a participant in this historic occasion, and thank you for the opportunity.

Your grateful Brother,

David E. DeVol
Gamma Theta '59

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MORE GOODIES FROM ALL OVER

Peak Oil My Ass.

iPod & iPhone go to war. Imagine that - private enterprise motivated by profit makes better tools than government-sponsored programs.

Hi speed rail is a boondoggle of the highest order. But California voters voted to borrow money to "develop" the supertrain from LA to SF. Arrant fantasy.

Health insurance does not equal health care. We must go back to every person paying for their own routine health care, removing businesses and other third parties completely, and insuring only for major medical costs. Just like all other insurance.

Hey, the climate change skeptics are starting to win over the mainstream press. Wow, even the loser media types are starting to wake up..

Green jobs will bloom in the new government economy, so the story goes. Not exactly, so the reality goes.

Horror! Lydia & Lynnette, look away. Russian scientists have discovered that Disney's holy "Nine Old Men" routinely recycled their animation gags frame-by-frame. Gawrsh!

What is the best investment a company or organization can make? Paying a lobbyist - it pays off 220:1. That's way better even than the Mafia.

More evidence that "going Galt" started as soon as people knew where we were headed with Obama.



And finally, as if you weren't pissed off enough, here's a list of those who collect over $100,000 annually in pension payments in California. I think one of these guys lives down at the end of my street. They need to take a 30-40% haircut just like the rest of us. Whatever they did, it wasn't worth this much delayed compensation, but they made their deals when times were good. And the bad news is, this list will expand dramatically in the next 10 years.  The only solution is bankruptcy, so we can abrogate these contracts and all the union contracts, and bring sanity back to government spending. My plans for getting this done are here and here.

Posted by: JBD at 05:26 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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May 16, 2009

ON TORTURE

Democrats want to prosecute Bush-era lawyers for aiding and abetting what they call torture. Specifically, they want to prosecute and jail anybody that had anything to do with authorizing or allowing the procedure known as waterboarding. This technique was used to crack key terrorists that resisted other forms of interrogation, and led directly to information that prevented additional terrorist attacks on our country.

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HOWARD R. ALTER, JR. R.I.P.

My old boss, mentor, friend and Theta Chi Fraternity legend passed away last week. His obituary is here, which includes a link to his obituary in the local Pittsburgh newspaper.

I have hundreds of "Uncle Howie" stories, most of which would be be indecipherable to non-Theta Chis due to all the obscure and personal references. So instead of trotting them out, I'll just post below the tribute I wrote for him on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1998. (Click below where it says "more")

One tidbit - if you want to know what Howard sounded like in his prime, the best approximation I can think of is Otho, from Beetle Juice (especially the passage starting at about 4:45)



Now imagine that voice reciting this, his favorite poem, a poignant metaphor for Brotherhood:

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide--
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

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WORD OF THE DAY: FLATTERY + SATIRE = FLATTIRE

This delightful neologism describes perfectly the self-serving liberal documentaries and news segments that make up the bulk of modern video production.

My favorite example is the old TV show "Designing Women", which never failed to feature one of the characters spouting some pompous leftist commentary, always non sequitur, to which the audience would invariably hoot and applaud with approval.

Does YouTube provide an example? Why yes, yes it does:
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