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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Critical Thinking Cycle

"I'm thinking of starting a discussion group. . . people will come from all over to listen to me."  -Lucy Van Pelt


First Published 5-7-2012
"Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled." -- Michael Crichton.

Intellectual Traits and Virtues


in Reason






Fair mindedness



Open to understanding opposing views

Open to integrating opposing views

Open to fair, balanced  and positive compromise

Respectful of others and other views

Las Vegas Weekly: Diners, diners and diners in Boulder City

From hangover breakfast to proper brunch or a quick cup of coffee, Boulder City diners have you covered.
Photo: Beverly Popp

In more than a decade living in the Valley, I’d never felt the urge to eat in Boulder City—until the incessant urging of a Jersey transplant (a friend we refer to as Boulder City Barbie) finally got me to trek out on the 95 … and discover stockpiles of diner fare well worth devouring.

Southwest Diner is the first spot you’ll come across along the drive, and while it’s mired in ongoing Nevada Highway construction (and its exterior is overwhelmingly kitschy), you shouldn’t pass it by. The garish memorabilia motif continues inside, but the food should help you forget about that.

Specifically, I suggest checking out some of Southwest’s more unique menu items, like the Santa Fe potato pancakes. Your mother’s latkes these are not. More crab cake in composition—and eerily green due to the infusion of a jalapeño/cilantro/green pepper combination—the pancakes have just the right amount of kick. Even better: the housemade cinnamon-charged applesauce served alongside.

The Details

The Coffee Cup
512 Nevada Way, 294-0517.
Daily, 6 a.m.–2 p.m.
Mel's Diner
558 Nevada Highway, 293-1508.
Daily, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Southwest Diner
761 Nevada Highway, 293-1537.
Daily, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. (9 p.m. Friday & Saturday).
Another interesting option is the vegetarian Mick sandwich. No telling who Mick might be, but I’m glad he (or she) came in after a night in the bars for two eggs, avocado, Monterey Jack and mayo layered on wheat toast. If you happen to wake up in a Boulder City ditch, you know where to get your breakfast.

Not to be outdone, Mel’s Diner—less than half a mile down Nevada Highway—has a fine hangover cure of its own: the Haystack. How do biscuits, hash browns, eggs and sausage smothered in gravy sound as a remedy?

Mel’s is a prototypical diner with counter seating and checkerboard tablecloths; its wood paneling reminds me of my mother’s dining room. Mel’s serves all the standard diner fare and is a good option even when the nearby Coffee Cup isn’t overflowing.

Highlighted in a 2007 episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the Coffee Cup seems to get the lion’s share of Boulder City’s diner traffic. The room and exterior are adorned with nautical flotsam, and not the pirate kind—we’re talking surfboards and water skis.

As for food, all you really need to know is that this joint serves peanut butter and bacon waffles. Coffee Cup’s menu asks you to “add some flavor” to its basic waffle, so I felt obliged to do so, in the form of, I’ll write it again, peanut butter and bacon. And if waffles aren’t your thing, stop in for the pork chile verde Fieri liked so much or the robust sausage gravy.

Truthfully, any of Boulder City’s three diners would be a hit in Las Vegas, though they feel more at home in their anachronistic setting. Test ’em out for yourself, and remember, Barbie showed you the way.

FOX News, all the "truth" that's needed to build ratings and elect Republicans

First published 3/22/2012

Public Education and Private Profit

Interesting on the radio.

Why do we cut budgets, pass cost on to citizens and encourage a class caste system to develop in America?

Listening to the radio a report from the National Education Policy Center says that Republicans are steering the wrong direction in education because they are steered by the elites.  Wealthy people who can afford to send their kids to pirate schools see reform coming for competition, the marketplace, administrative savings, cost efficiencies, privatization, testing quotas, merit raises, no unions, and youthful newly trained teachers.

The truth is that that eliminated the most experienced teachers, the ability to earn a fair wage and benefits, increased bias on the part of administrators on teachers pay and merit, the reality of the quality of education and other factors impacting individual student populations, and that education cost more so cutting costs only cuts quality and services.

Education is used by private companies to make money, not to enhance services. The quality can be higher at a private school but the pay level and benefits for staff is generally less, yet parents pay large amounts to send their children to these schools.

Poor, even middle class parents, particularly with large families are being asked by the wealthy to pay for their child's education when they have trouble paying mortgage, rent, food, transportation, hearing and for the basics. Wealthy people do not think about that or they believe in "let the marketplace sort it out" other words work houses.

Why aren't we concentrating on pre-school education? Why not lower class size? Why not provide incentives and programs that attractt the best teachers to the schools most in need? Why are we spending on out sourcing and privatization instead of on well researched and proven methods to raise the standard of education.

The broader issue is privatization in general, a goal of most Republicans. The privatization has spiraled out of control, from prisons, welfare,  to use of military mercenary "private contractors" fighting our wars along side US Soldiers. Does it cost or save money? What impact does it have on oversight? What tax payer controls are in place? Whose cronies benefit and why? Has it increased fraud, abuse, corruption? Has privatization really increased costs? And was it done just to break unions and line the pocket of campaign contributors?

Pineapplegate and Privatizing Public Schools 
Pineapplegate and Privatizing Public Schools

The private sector does not do it better...they just do it for profit.

Standardized test questions about a pineapple and a hare have been ridiculed by students, teachers and critics of education reform. Are public schools being privatized at increased cost to taxpayers and the quality of education itself? Also, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng leaves the US Embassy, and open questions after President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan.

Banner image: A young student in looks closely at a math exam in Chicago. Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty

In six or seven states, kids were asked ridiculous questions on a standardized test. Then, New York's 8th graders were asked about a pineapple that challenges a hare to a race. Since the pineapple can't move, forest animals suspect it has a trick up its sleeve and bet on it to win. But the hare wins and the animals eat the pineapple. The moral is: pineapples don't have sleeves. The story — and the four questions kids were asked about it -- are so obviously stupid that education officials have announced they won't count in official scoring. The resulting ridicule helped fuel the growing backlash against No Child Left Behind and other education "reforms" based on tests devised by private corporations. Parents' and teachers' groups, and some churches, are among those complaining that education is being sacrificed to the profit motive at public expense. What are the consequences for taxpayers and — more important — for students?


Additional information can be found on KCRW's To the Point:



Question everything...George Carlin

Remembering all who died in the service of their country!

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

9-11-01 Pentagon

As I re-post this the ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon is about to begin at the Pentagon. I am working my board shift at KNPR 88.9 FM and Nevada Public Radio statewide. 

First posted 5-25-2010

As we head into Memorial Day Weekend remember all of those who lost their lives in the service of our country. On Monday of this week I was given a tour of the Pentagon by my life long friend Lt. Col. Robert F. Cain III, who is stationed at the Pentagon. The memorial above, along with the names of those lost on 9-11 at the Pentagon, a Chapel and a sculpture of benches mark the site where Americans lost their lives on the plane and while doing their jobs for the greater defense of the nation.

May we never forget.

Pro Life?

Sunday Morning News and Views

U.N. observers reported dozens of children and adults were killed during fighting in Houla, Syria. It is unclear who was responsible for the attack on Friday that left at least 32 children among the dead, though activists blamed government artillery and thugs.

This  is Memorial Day Weekend, the day we are suppose to remember those who died in the service of their country, both military and civilians. Too many Americans think of it as Veterans Day, which honors all veterans, or a day to Barbecue, or as a three day weekend to get out of town. Take the time to remember the reason for the day and what it stands for. Give thanks.

The Golden Gate Bridge turns 75 today (May 27th.) In the 1930s, the expectation for a major construction project was that for every $1 million spent, one worker would die. At a cost of $35 million, the Golden Gate Bridge was the largest suspension bridge ever built.  Then radio host of "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" Canadian Art Linkletter cut the ribbon. Just as with the Hoover Dam, the building of the Golden Gate Bridge was a massive public works effort. Workers from all over the US and Canada, most of them vets of the War to End All Wars, flocked to the construction site. In large projects of the time the rule of thumb was that for every one million dollars at least one man will die. For most of the construction there were no deaths, the one day a catwalk collapsed, while being removed, talking other construction infrastructure with it. Men fell 220 feet, but most survived that fall. Others hit the structure or bridge debris and were not as lucky. In total of 19 men died that day. None of the workers who built the dam survived to celebrate 75 years of the dam's existence. The last surviving person to have worked on the project passed away last month.

The Ironman World Championship takes place this fall in Hawaii. Just in case you feel ready to really push yourself to the limit.

The Butler did it. The Catholic Church has been in the public spotlight a lot this year.  The issues of contraception and gay marriage have been part of the presidential campaign and church leaders have weighed in. There have also been new revelations in a case involving leaked Vatican documents: The butler may, in fact, have done it.  Pope Benedict's butler has been arrested in a "leak" scandal. Paulo Babrellia  is one of what is suspected to be a network of spies withing the Vatican leaking information to the scandal hungry Italian press.

 Earlier this month, voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Now, the state's cities and counties, which offer domestic partner benefits to their employees, are unsure whether those benefits will be challenged as they have been in other states with gay marriage bans

Who coined the phrase "job creators" to mean rich? George Orwell's "1984" called this "Double Speak." And if jobs are created, what percentage have been outside the US? 

Jobs calling for mid-level skills have been on the decline ---even as high and low-skilled jobs are still in demand. This means a lot of people are stuck looking for jobs that no longer exist. As an example, a company based in Las Vegas has more than 18,000 openings world wide it cannot fill because the qualified applicant pool is too small and because it is now more difficult than ever to get the needed security clearance. Credit card debt, a mortgage that is not top heavy, no history of moving violation convictions are among reasons applicants are rejected and not hired. Also suffering are middle age and older men,and more recently woman, who have mortgages and obligations but cannot find work that pays enough to make ends meet.

Selfishness and a lack of patience may have ended the American Dream. As a nation we no longer have patience or resources to take our time with education, time to learn a job or profession, time to save up and build credit. We want instant results that reward us. The social conscience that has been a part of this nation since its formation has given way to  every man for himself, or at least major reductions in supporting our neighbor ether with "barn building", or through gifts to charity and organizations that help the less fortunate. As the the price of almost everything goes up for churches and charity, contributions go down. And now there is wholesale of any government social safety net, many of which go back to how we got out of the Great Depression, or further back to Teddy Roosevelt or even Ben Franklin. From teachers to social workers, employment security offices to customer support, we are laying off those who choose to work for less, and expecting those who remain to do work once done by two or even a dozen individuals. We want low prices despite the loss or decline of American workers income and jobs it takes to lower prices. We could care less about the price others pay as log as he have what we want, now and at  a bargain price. We have shifted from  a nation that cares, a country with a heart, to one where everyone is on their own, and we do not want to see or deal with our less fortunate brothers and sisters, at least in person.