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Dale Schultz

Wisconsin Republican Dale Schultz

Any politician who votes against the party line deserves credit.  Even if we don’t agree with their actual vote, we should least appreciate that by defying their own party they’ve taken a political risk, usually because their principles manage to survive their selfish interests.

Former Rhode Island Republican US Senator Lincoln Chafee’s opposition to the Iraq War comes to mind as one of the best examples of this in recent years.

Now, so too does Wisconsin State Sen. Dale Schultz’s lone dissenting vote the other night when his fellow-Republican colleagues successfully carried out a sneak attack on the middle class.

“Ultimately, I voted my conscience which I feel reflects the core beliefs of the majority of voters who sent me here to represent them,” Schultz said.

Protesters gathered in the state capitol in Madison chanting “Shame, shame, shame” after Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate used a procedural loophole–and, some argue, broke the open meetings law–to pass a standalone bill restricting collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions.

The fourteen Democrats in the state’s Senate were absent, having fled Wisconsin three weeks ago to prevent a vote on legislation proposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.  On its surface, Walker claimed the legislation was aimed at addressing the state’s $137 million budget deficit.  Even though it also contained provisions restricting collective bargaining, which many of the Governor’s critics saw as a direct attack on labor, Walker swore publicly that the impetus behind the legislation was budgetary.  As a budgetary matter, it required a quorum which Democrats blocked by leaving the state.

But, all the budgetary justifications turned out to be just a front after all.  The new version of the bill that the Republicans passed on Wednesday night separated the union provisions from any measures that spend money, thus eliminating the need for a quorum while achieving the legislation’s true intent—to punish Democrat-backing unions.

The legislation quickly moved out of committee and onto the floor of the Senate, where Republicans voted 18-1 to approve it, with only Schultz daring to push back against it on behalf of the working people of Wisconsin.

Mark Miller, the Democrats’ leader, said:

“In 30 minutes, 18 state Senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.”

Another Democrat, State Sen. Chris Larson, added:

“This is on the Republicans’ heads right now. If they decide to kill the middle class, it’s on them… This is a travesty is what it is…. I can’t sit by and let them kill the middle class.”

Wisconsin Protests of 2011
Wisconsin Protests of 2011

I’ve never before posted a product review on my blog.  But this one is so crappy that I’ve no choice but to make an exception.  People need to be warned about what not to waste their hard-earned money on.

PRODUCT: Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 v3

I ordered this product on Amazon less than a year ago and am already replacing it.  Not sure how much ergonomic research actually went into the designing of this product.  It’s more likely that they just came up with a design that looked cool rather than one that actually fit well with the human hand.

MICROSOFT WIRELESS LASER KEYBOARD

"Ergonomics" apparently means no two buttons can be the same size.

KEYBOARD PROS:

  • It’s wireless.  That’s pretty much it.

KEYBOARD CONS:

  • The keyboard is much larger than it needs to be, due to the extra space wasted on keys you will NEVER use and the superfluous “palm rest”. If you have limited space to work with and also need to have multiple books on your desk for studying, this enormous keyboard will prevent that.

    Good luck finding the "Escape" button without taking your eyes off the monitor screen.

  • I bought this keyboard because I thought its “ergonomic” design was intended to enable optimal typing speed, but it actually makes me type slower.  All the keys are different sizes, some are awkward to reach, and in general its just a very awkward typing experience. The keys are spaced in such a manner that makes it less than optimal for your fingers to naturally type.
  • The WINDOWS button is overemphasized and keys that you will frequently need and use, such as the ESCAPE key and the CTRL key, are very tiny and hard to reach from a natural typing position.
  • The F1 thru F12 keys never worked correctly (I’m on Windows 7).

MICROSOFT WIRELESS LASER MOUSE

Microsoft should put on a clinic: how to maximize thumb discomfort!

MOUSE PROS:

  • It’s wireless.  That’s literally the only thing that’s better about this mouse than the old clunker in a box in my basement.

MOUSE CONS:

  • At first glance, the shape of this mouse makes it appear to be designed to fit perfectly to your hand.  DON’T BE FOOLED!  Holding this thing is actually very awkward and if you use it for more than an hour it actually becomes somewhat painful, particularly in your thumb which is forced (by the bad design) hang under your hand at almost a ninety degree angle.  Whoever designed this mouse must have been playing a bad prank.
  • The absolute worst thing about this mouse is the scroll function. Lots of times it will stop working, most often when I am trying to scroll up several pages in MS Word or several revolutions on a web page.  At first I thought it was getting physically stuck–but the scroller wheel itself is still turning, only you make no progress on the screen.  Its as if you’ve reached the top of the page when you really haven’t  And then the only way to get it to scroll past that point is to either scroll down first and then scroll back up through it, or to use the side bar–which completely defeats the purpose of having a convenient scroll function in the first place.
  • There is no tactile or noise feedback on the scroll function. On the other hand, the Right/Left click is unusually loud.  I think if I was in a dorm and had a roommate who was trying to sleep it would keep him awake.
  • The two buttons on the right hand side of the mouse are unnecessary.  One of them zooms and one of them is the equivalent of hitting the “Back” button on a web browser.  It is very easy to accidentally click on them at the wrong time while trying to make your thumb more comfortable.  If that happens at the wrong time, it will completely screw up what you’re trying to do.  For instance, if you accidentally click on them while composing an email message or a message on website such as Facebook, it will take you back a page and then when you scroll forward again everything you’ve typed is gone and you have to start all over.

CONCLUSION

Basically, I can think of no reason to recommend this product.  I take that back–I would recommend it to a rival or competitor of mine in a shady attempt to make him become less productive!

Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000 v3

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From a recent Cracked article, 5 Complaints About Modern Life (That Are Statistically B.S.):

In general, it’s easier to be negative… It’s easier for us as a generation, because to admit that the world isn’t that bad right now would be to admit that we have it easier than our grandparents did and that the world thus has the right to expect more from us.

(Read the full article here).

The article tries to debunk some common myths and misconceptions about modern life, including:

  1. Music has never been crappier than it is right now;
  2. Crime today is skyrocketing out of control;
  3. Today’s processed food is unprecedentedly unhealthy;
  4. Today’s citizens are dumber than our ancestors; and
  5. Contemporary standards of living are lower than ever before

Though author’s present some compelling arguments, ultimately it’s hard to tell whether their aim is to mitigate complaints about the present-day or just to point out that things have always sucked, and that they sucked way worse in the past than they do today.

Rest assured that not everyone gets off in this country.  Here are two examples are two examples of American citizens who broke the law and are being punished for their “crimes”–just in case you’re feeling less than confident in our justice system in the wake of a repeat gun offender’s Continue Reading »

For the second year in a row, the United States barely cracked the top twenty in press freedom.

Reporters Without Borders compiles the World Press Freedom Index annually. According to the organization’s website,

the index measures the state of press freedom in the world. It reflects the degree of freedom that journalists and news organisations enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom. Continue Reading »