Professor’s Classroom

Another Monday has arrived…wake up!….now is the time for the week’s quiz…..stop bitchin’….these are not that difficult……and besides you may learn something.

This French Aristocrat defied his social class and was imprisoned for not accepting communion. He escaped, joined the French army and fought against the British in the New World. He later became a leader in a fairly new political movement. The question is what was this man’s name and what is he most associated with in politics?

BAM! That ought to keep you busy for awhile…..wink…wink.

SAG UpDate #6

On July 19 about 700 actors from the Hollywood division of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) packed the Empire Room of the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. The meeting was called by the guild’s leadership in celebration of SAG’s 75th anniversary. The Hollywood branch has approximately 72,000 members, or about 60 percent of the national membership.

The meeting took place under tense and complex conditions. The current round of negotiations with writers, directors and performers in the entertainment industry, centered in Southern California, began a year ago. The writers, members of the Writers Guild, struck for more than three months last winter, and the leadership ended up reaching a rotten compromise, which failed to win increases on residuals from the sales of DVDs and included minimal gains for material on new media. The Directors Guild and American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) leaderships reached agreements along the same lines. Essentially, the entertainment conglomerates have gotten what they wanted, with minor exceptions.

The studios and networks are insisting that SAG sign the same sort of deal, but the guild leadership has held out to this point over the issue of new media in particular. In a statement sent out July 17, SAG national executive director Doug Allen insisted that the actors’ union must get a better deal than the writers and directors

Plug-In Hybrids

Gasoline-electric hybrids now, like Toyota’s popular Prius, don’t need to plug in—you just fill their tanks with gasoline and the battery keeps charged by the internal combustion engine and by energy generated from the wheels when braking (a feature known as “regenerative braking”). The battery then powers the electric motor when it is called into service during idling, backing-up, crawling in gridlock, maintaining speed while cruising, and for extra uphill power when needed. As such, the electric motor is essentially a back-up engine while the hybrid relies mainly on the gasoline engine.

Plug-in hybrids take the concept further by plugging into a regular electric outlet to enable the vehicle to operate solely on its electric motor for ranges of 40-50 miles or more on a single charge. This has profound implications for commuters who need only drive short distances to and from work every day and who may be able to do so solely on electric power. The gasoline engine then becomes the supplemental one for when the car needs to travel farther than the electric engine can take it.

U.S. automakers are also jumping onto the plug-in bandwagon. General Motors says that it will have mass-market plug-in hybrids—modifications of its Saturn Vue and Chevrolet Volt—on the road by 2010. Ford has also developed a small fleet of plug-ins, but is not yet ready to offer them to the public. Fisker, a U.S. start-up focusing on the creation of high performance, energy efficient vehicles, plans to sell an $80,000 plug-in hybrid sports car by late 2009. Chrysler’s Sprinter van was the first plug-in from a major U.S. manufacturer, but it is only presently available to a limited number of institutions as a fleet vehicle.

They are on the horizon, but they have ALWAYS been on the horizon.  The ayto Industry is just praying that the price of oil comes down and they can go back to making the models they are trying to sell now.

The War On Coke

Billions and billions of dollars have been spent over the years trying to get coca farmers to turn away from the narcotic and move on to a more legal crop.  And now they have.  But it had little to do with the US War On Drugs and its policies.

Soaring food prices may achieve what the United States has spent millions of dollars trying to do: persuade Bolivian farmers to sow their fields with less potent crops than cocaine’s raw ingredient.

But rising grain prices and food shortages have made him reconsider. He’s now asking coca farmers to supplement their crops with rice and corn as a way of holding down coca production while helping to feed South America’s poorest country.

U.S. programs have often banned the planting of coca — a small green leaf sacred to Andean peoples and the base ingredient of cocaine — as a condition for farmers to receive aid to try new crops.

In his own twist on alternative development, Morales is willing to split the difference: Growers can maintain up to one “cato” of coca, or about a third of an acre, which earns them about $100 a month while they receive a loan to plant other products as well.

The cato limit — in practice since 2004 — is seen by U.S. drug officials as a questionably legal concession to drug smugglers, but it has become the linchpin of Morales’ strategy to fight narcotics while supporting the leaf’s traditional use as a mild stimulant with medicinal qualities.
If they limit their coca crop to just the cato, growers are entitled to $500 loans to plant rice, corn and other increasingly lucrative foodstuffs, and even a $2,000 grant to build a house.

Experts say Morales’ plan may help keep growers afloat while alternative crops have a chance to take hold — and global food prices continue to climb
But rice will have to compete with rising demand for cocaine in Brazil and Europe — both top destinations for Bolivian products. Bolivia’s coca crop, the world’s third-largest after Colombia and Peru, still increased 5 percent last year, though government officials say that’s a victory compared to 27 percent growth in top-producer Colombia.

Today In Labor History

21 July

Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.” Instead, the militiamen joined the workers – 1877

IWW leads a strike at Hodgeman’s Blueberry Farm in Grand Junction, MI – 1964

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich. is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human – 1984

The Electoral College Is Coming

A measure that would push the Electoral College to the fringes of American politics has been an unlikely beneficiary of this year’s protracted presidential primaries.

Buoyed by a long presidential primary season that focused attention on states that usually are overlooked in the calculus of winning a nomination, states as far-flung as Massachusetts and Hawaii have passed or are considering legislation that would guarantee that the candidate who got the most votes nationwide would win the White House.

If lessons from high school civics classes on how the Electoral College operates had dimmed, the 2000 election brought them back to life as Al Gore won the national popular vote but lost the presidency to George W. Bush in the Electoral College after the Supreme Court settled the dispute over Florida‘s vote count. That’s because almost every state casts its electoral votes based on the winner of the popular vote in that state.
The U.S. Constitution provides that states can choose how they allocate electors. Under the group’s plan, the new method of casting electoral votes would take effect when states with a combined 270 electoral votes—the number necessary to elect a president—join the national popular-vote compact
National Popular Vote was founded by Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Koza. The group says the measure should have bipartisan support, pointing to the near-miss of the 2004 election. Bush was re-elected when he won the popular vote by more than 3 million ballots. But a switch of only 60,000 votes in Ohio would have swung that battleground state to John Kerry, who would have won in the Electoral College.

And Republicans have supported it, including Illinois State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), a co-sponsor of the Illinois bill, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed in April.

Apart from partisan politics, the Electoral College has supporters. Walter Berns, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, notes that the current system helps small states keep some clout on the national scene.
Still, even some opponents of the Electoral College are skeptical. Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, favors amending the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College. Supporters of the National Popular Vote campaign say is that’s too difficult because an it requires approval by two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states.

This is a shorten post from an original article published in the Chicago Tribune. Time for this archaic piece of crap to be eliminated.

Barr, The Libertarian Sounds Presidential

Barr, the Georgian who served as a Republican with Libertarian Party inspiration Ron Paul in Congress, said his third-party appeal stems from the idea that “choosing between the party of big government and the party of really big government … is not serving the country well.”

With either major party in control, Barr asserted in an interview before a speaking engagement Sunday night, “nothing is going to change of any substance.”

As the candidate of a party that aims to file government to the nub, Barr said his presidential agenda would include getting the federal government out of the war on drugs, letting states decide what drug offenses should be prosecuted and whether marijuana possession should be allowed for medicinal purposes.

Now, as a candidate trying to compete for votes with Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, Barr always is asked whether he will siphon enough conservative votes from McCain to assure the election of Obama, who is seen as favoring a more activist government than McCain.

Barr’s answer is that he wants to win and cannot “throw” the election to the Democrats the way that many voters thought independent candidate Ralph Nader pulled votes from Al Gore, allowing George W. Bush to claim the presidency in 2000.

Sounds like Barr and I are on the same thought wave.  I have said that I do not believe that much will change in Washington after this election.  But that is where the similar thinking ceases.