Theory Is Cheap, Reality Is Expensive

Would that the client knew this too.

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Ever get into a discussion about a project with a client only to find out that someone told them it should be easier, simpler, faster or cheaper than you just stated?

Somewhere between your thinking and their reality is what you are looking for, in both time and money. Don’t leave money on the table, but don’t lie to your client either. If you use their time and their words, you can not go far off course. But taking advantage of someone who does not know the difference may come back to haunt you next time you try to do business with them. Don’t be short sighted.

Theory works very well until someone needs to get work done. Then what should take a minute takes 15 or 15 hours. Sometimes, that is how it happens. Other times it really does take a minute. Be open and upfront with your clients and vendors, and they will be with you too.



Congress and The Debt Credibility Test

An oxymoron I think.

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In the debt ceiling impasse, the Moody’s bond rating agency added another improbable choice Monday to those facing Congress: why not get rid of the legal limit on federal borrowing altogether?

After all, the debt limit statute hasn’t had a restraining effect on spending or borrowing, as Congress’ fiscal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, noted in a recent report.

To end the impasse, President Barack Obama and Congress will need to muddle through with a plan that commits them to cutting future spending as the price for getting enough votes to raise the borrowing limit.

Willing to compromise, but how?

One legislator who as a House member voted “no” to that Medicare expansion in 2003 was Jim DeMint. He’s now a senator and a leader of his chamber’s fiscal conservatives.

He seemed to hold out some hope for an end to the impasse on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We certainly are willing to compromise,” DeMint said. “We’re willing to give the president an increase in the debt limit.”

DeMint supports a bill to enact a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget and to limit spending to fixed amounts. But revenue isn’t on the table. The bill requires tax increases be approved by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

And DeMint said Democrats ought to agree with the GOP that “sometime in the next decade” that “we have to stop spending more than we’re bringing in.” But again, he didn’t specify when this ought to occur.

If Congress doesn’t raise debt limit

Critical to the outcome is the judgment that members of Congress will make as to how — if they don’t vote to increase borrowing — the Treasury could manage for a few days or longer.

The GAO said in a legal opinion in 1985 that the Treasury secretary has “the authority to choose the order in which the pay obligations of the United States” and the department can do this “in any order it finds will best serve the interest of the United States.”

“That is an open question. There is no statute that says if the executive branch runs short of cash, it can decide which of Congress’s binding spending laws it will carry out and which it will ignore,” said former Under Secretary of the Treasury Jay Powell, who is now a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He also said there’s no law telling the Treasury secretary he cannot do this either.

Which bills to pay?

“There’s the legal issue and there’s the operational challenge,” said Susan Irving, GAO’s Director for Federal Budget Analysis. “You’re talking about intervening in an automated system that electronically pays about 80 million bills” — the approximate number of bills the Treasury says it pays per month.

The Standard & Poor’s rating agency reminded Congress last week that the question for investors isn’t so much whether Congress and Obama can find a stopgap solution to get past the 2012 election. The question is how credible the bond market will find a plan that would pledge to cut future spending.

“There is an increasing risk of a substantial policy stalemate enduring beyond any near-term agreement to raise the debt ceiling,” S&P said.

A nation which deserves an AAA bond rating doesn’t allow itself to reach this point, it implied. “We view an inability to timely agree and credibly implement medium-term fiscal consolidation policy as inconsistent with a ‘AAA’ sovereign rating.”

S&P said it would downgrade Treasury bonds “if we conclude that Congress and the administration have not achieved a credible solution to the rising U.S. government debt burden and are not likely to achieve one in the foreseeable future.”

Credible and creditworthy

The crucial question: Are Congress and the president credible enough for the U.S. government to be deemed creditworthy?

There’s plenty to reason to doubt: for example, since 2003, Congress has chosen to circumvent a law it had passed in 1997 to control the growth in Medicare outlays that pegged payments to doctors to the growth rate of the economy.

The credibility that would come from reducing the debt rests on someone, whether members of Congress or the members of IPAB, making exactly those kinds of decisions. It’s the actual decision to cut or restrain spending, and not the statutory debt limit, that will gain credibility and protect the government’s creditworthiness.



Superintendent Requests School Turned Into Prison


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A school superintendent in Michigan has written a public letter to the editor asking Governor Rick Snyder if his school can become a prison instead. The full text is below. What do you think?

In these tough economic times, schools are hurting. And yes, everyone in Michigan is hurting right now financially, but why aren’t we protecting schools? Schools are the one place on Earth that people look to to “fix” what is wrong with society by educating our youth and preparing them to take on the issues that society has created.

One solution I believe we must do is take a look at our corrections system in Michigan. We rank nationally at the top in the number of people we incarcerate. We also spend the most money per prisoner annually than any other state in the union. Now, I like to be at the top of lists, but this is one ranking that I don’t believe Michigan wants to be on top of.

Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.

This is why I’m proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!

Please provide for my students in my school district the same way we provide for a prisoner. It’s the least we can do to prepare our students for the future…by giving our schools the resources necessary to keep our students OUT of prison.



LAPD Stops Arresting Kids on Their Way to School

Are you {expletive deleted} kidding me? For real? Why do we continue to think the best way to deal with kids (of color) is through the justice system? This is un-freaking-believable even if they did stop it.

Grr. Sputter. Mumble. Mumblesputter. Seriously.

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Imagine that you’re running late to school — maybe you forgot your lunch, maybe you had to help your younger siblings get ready for school, or maybe you just overslept.

You hear the late bell ring just as you’re approaching campus, but you’re met right outside the school gate by a squad of police officers, who detain you for 45 minutes and give you a daytime curfew ticket that carries a $250 fine before letting you go to class. And then you have to miss a full school day several weeks later to go to court to deal with the ticket.

That has been the reality for thousands of students in Los Angeles, which has a daytime curfew that makes it illegal for basically any youth under the age of 18 to be in public while school is in session. Until recently, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) routinely conducted enforcement sweeps around schools first thing in the morning, so that students who were trying to get to school were the ones most likely to be ticketed.

Surprise, surprise — students of color were also cited at rates far outpacing their representation in the population. According to LA school police data, none of the more than 13,000 tickets they issued from 2005 to 2009 went to a white student. Apparently white students are never late for school.

Figuring out effective strategies to keep students in school is no simple task. Many factors contribute to low attendance rates, ranging from emotional and mental health problems to hostile school environment and lack of appropriate academic supports, from economic pressures and lack of adequate transportation to family issues. But, as Gara LaMarche recently argued on HuffPost, the lack of a simple solution is no excuse for defaulting to punitive law enforcement tactics, especially when so much data and research confirm that they are not just ineffective, but actually harmful to students.

Instead, the real solution is for law enforcement and school officials to put in hard work to collaborate with the community to figure out the best path forward. To LAPD’s credit, that is what happened here, and it should serve as an example as we all continue working to improve student attendance in LA and around the country.



Wonder If It Was Worth It

The problem with revenge is you often go just one step too far. ;)

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“52-year-old Walter Powell wanted revenge when he was fired from his position as an IT manager at Baltimore Substance Abuse System Inc. So, he hacked into their systems — installing keyloggers to steal passwords. Then, when his CEO was giving a presentation to the board of directors he replaced the slides with pornographic images. Powell has now been given a 2 year suspended sentence, and 100 hours community service.”



How Big Is The Web?

I remember when there was an applet that let you look at a random website changing every 30 seconds. I thought that was the flipping bomb.

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There’s no easy way to find out or explain the size of the web.

After all, though there are a few governing bodies and consortia, there’s no real central control system for the Internet. No one really knows with 100% certainty exactly how many websites exist, for example, or how many new websites are set up each day.

GoDaddy is the largest ICANN registrar of domain names, controlling almost a third of the total market and almost half of domains from the top ten registrars. Enom, Tucows, and Network Solutions are next in line, with 5-9% each. [source:]
The oldest currently registered URL is, which was registered March 15, 1985. Other notable domains in the first 10 registered URLs include,, and, all registered in 1985. [source:]
A top-level domain (TLD) is the part of the URL that comes after the dot. There are currently 324 TLDs. 291 of these are country codes. Only 5 TLDs (.com, .net, .biz, .info and .org) are unrestricted and unreserved for specific types of sites. [source: IANA]
Just how fast is the web growing? In 2009, around 3.7 million new domains were registered each month. As of June 2011, it’s not uncommon for 150,000 new domains to be registered with generic TLDs alone in a single day. [sources: VeriSign and]
How many websites are there? That’s a difficult question to answer, because there’s no central control system for the Internet. Here are some tidbits we do know:

[graphic source: Netcraft]