Thursday, January 28, 2010

Progress, page 2

I received the following email in response to
yesterday's article "Progress?".

>Bill : Your going to be very unpopular with
>this kind of column. Have you noticed the
>number of pages in the local media lately?
>Even telephone time has suffered from late
>of participants, both sponsors and callers!

My response:

Popular but screwed is not where I want to be! If
real progress demands unpopularity, then so be it.

Obama said yesterday, in his State of the Union
address, that he's not content to have the US come
in second. How do we achieve as good as second
with a docile population? We'd be lucky to come
in behind all the members of the European Union!

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I received a flier from Congressman Bart Stupak.
It is the usual "I'm wonderful" sort of sheet
we're used to seeing once a year or at least at
election time. There are a few points I want to
comment about because they're so problematic.

"Since February the stimulus bill has created or
retained 1,950 jobs and committed $461 million for
Northern Michigan, according to the
web site."

Here's the problem: The web page has been debunked
by many because a lot of money went to congressional
districts that don't even exist and when pressed,
some of those making claims of "created or saved
jobs" had pulled numbers out of thin air. The
listings that follow are, in my opinion, bogus.

Not covered by the Stupak flier is the automated
weather station that, I believe, was funded by
stimulus money. The photo below shows the only thing
I've found so far attributed to stimulus money in
Iron County. It is located at the northwest corner
of the intersections between US2 and FFH16. Funny,
this has not been reported in the local newspapers
or WIKB, and it qualifies as "feel good news" that
Marian Volek of the Iron County Reporter prefers to

While on the topic, it seems that our local newsprint
media is, as Karl Marx called religion, "the opiate of
the people" way back in 1843.

It is just plain wrong for a newspaper to sew contentment
in a population that is living in a region where
government corruption is rampant because that only fuels
more corruption and misery. Of course Ms. Volek is only
repeating the "bucket filling" of joy and kindness that's
being presently taught to Stambaugh elementary students
who are in process of being taught to live happily in the
midst of the deceit and corruption that runs rampant in
this region.

Please note this well!

The only road to progress is through discontent.

The individual who is unhappy with working for
others, or on welfare in one of the many available
forms, opens his or her own business. Perhaps it
takes several attempts. I expect that eventually
Rex Angeli, for example, will once again start a
new business.

No, Ms. Volek, more of the same is unacceptable here
in Iron County. We need people, especially those
growing up here to be tomorrow's potential leadership,
to be discontent with how things are. Supporting a
program of "life is great in Iron County" is a
disservice to the community. Christianity teaches us
to love one another, and church or religious training
is where that sort of thing belongs. In the secular
realm, where a newspaper and schools belong, teaching
students to cast a critical eye on life in general
is the only legitimate lesson they should be learning.

Although "trust but verify" is generally attributed
to Ron Reagan, it was actually borrowed from a much
older Russian paradigm, "doveryay, no proveryay." I
think this is the idea that should be taught in Iron
County schools if we want a better life for the children.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Climate Change

Climate change and political understandings of it affect all
of us. There's a huge battle between those who, for whatever
reason, believe in what is called Global Warming and those
who are more appreciative of Climate Gate, the name given
to the apparent falsification of data at East Anglia
University that's been used as a basis by former VP Gore
and his followers.

It cost a few million dollars for the US to ship President
Obama to the climate talks recently, and the rest of the to
attend those talks as well as the earlier Kyoto conference
doubtless spent similar amounts and burned plenty of fuel to
get there in the fashion to which they're accustomed. Of
course they would be immune from any resulting energy taxes.
We would be the ones footing that bill.

The entire cap and trade legislation movement used the
falsified data from East Anglia as a foundation to "remake
America" by taxing the dickens out of all energy consumption.
I wonder how they intended to collect taxes on firewood here
in Iron County and many other places around the US? If that
tax were successful the USA would doubtless be denuded of
trees, much like Hati, in a few decades.

It looks like the information found on the NOAA web site,
US Government funded data, is accurate. It shows that while
there's a slight recent upturn in temperatures, those
numbers fall well below the high points during earlier times
when mankind was so sparse of population that our carbon
footprint was less than that of the naturally occurring
forest and meadow fires to say nothing of volcanic activity.

This is probably a good place to start your own investigation:

NOAA data4

Raw numbers going back a few thousand years, based on central
Greenland ice cores can be found at:

click here

The NOAA web page has lots of information for those eager to
understand our climate. I urge everyone to spend a lazy
afternoon perusing the topics available there.

Bill Vajk

Monday, January 18, 2010

For Want of a Nail

Page 1 of the January 16-17, 2010 Iron Mountain
Daily News has an article entitled "Community
colleges soar; Bay West no exception."

The article points out that, "One of the greatest
challenges is the graduation rates at Michigan
community colleges. This is primarily because
too many students arrive without basic math and
reading skills. Bay College is focused on this
and has received federal grant money to support
such areas."

I know this is an old problem, and a national
one, not purely a local UP problem. About 1973,
while I was still living on the east coast, I
undertook a job of teaching at Trenton Technical
Institute in Trenton, NJ, for a brief period. I
had a class of 8 students, primarily Vietnam
veterans who had an interest in bettering
themselves by learning what at that time was
about computers.

Please bear in mind that this was well before
the advent of small personal computers of the
sort you're undoubtedly using to read this text.
Computers, back then, were at the least in large
floor model cabinets called racks, and the
operator hadn't an inkling, usually, of what
was on all those punch cards they fed into the
infernal machine. Computer operator was a simple
clerical job. Programmer was separate, as it is
today. What these fellows in my class were there
to learn was how computers worked with an eye to

At the most elementary level, computers utilize
what is known as Boolean algebra, also known
as Boolean logic. The building blocks for that
are known in the computer biz as gates with names
like AND, OR, NAND, NOR. AND, for example, can
have 2 or more inputs of a high or low state. In
order to get a high state output from an AND gate,
all the inputs must be high.

What I discovered for my class was that not one of
them was able to perform 6th grade arithmetic out
of the workbook my daughter was using in school at
that time. Beyond that, the students weren't very
good at ordinary reading either. Never did any of
these students come to class carrying a newspaper,
or any reading materials other than those required
for class.

How was I supposed to teach these young men, all
in their 20's, to understand elementary electronics,
gates, and logic so they could have at least a
handshake acquaintance with the equipment they said
they wanted to work with? This stuff was nothing
like changing a tire on a car.

And that's the point. Not everyone is destined to
greatness. Not everyone should attend college, no
matter what the dreams and hopes of their parents.
Some people need to stick to changing tires. They're
good at it and it is an honorable job.

My father undertook to teach a neighbor elementary
algebra, something the adult man desired.

A=16 solve 3A=?

The neighbor, after several hours of effort, was
unable to solve this caliber of problem. He was a
perfectly nice man with a home, wife, one child,
and a good job. But he had achieved the highest
level to which he was destined and was unable in
his lifetime to achieve more. There's no dishonor
or disgrace in that. In fact he took pride in his
achievements, as well he should have.

That's the point of this discussion. If everyone
were able to be a rocket scientist we'd have plenty
of those around. There's a reason we don't.

So the trick is to explore one's limits, bump into
them, and do the absolute best one can with such
gifts as your creator has seen fit to bless you
with. Back to Bay College, my question is a simple
one. Why do we need federal grants so that
individuals can learn, in their 20's, how to do the
things we paid for in the 12 years of educational
opportunities already extended to everyone in this
country? If kids are blowing off opportunities for
12 years, why are we, in this time of massive
unemployment, paying for one more time around on
this issue?

We have, in the Iron River community, some individuals
who give their time freely to help those who haven't
learned to read, to read, if they possibly can. In my
experience, such volunteerism works much better than
any government funded initiative where the individual
can "fall through the cracks" again as they managed to
do for 12 years already. I applaud this charitable act
and suggest that if young people want to attend college,
community college or otherwise, that they be required
to come equipped to deal with the necessities. They
should be required to read, write, and do arithmetic,
on at least the 7th grade level before they're
admitted to any college level courses.

College should not be an extended High School. It is
a place for advanced studies, not a repeat of what
went before.

Bill Vajk

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Our local Judge Schwedler is heartless when it comes to
imposing fines and penalties. In most jurisdictions in
the United Sates judges make sure that defendants who
owe the court money aren't financially destroyed by the
systems that most of us see as corrections rather than
punishment of the entire family for the father's misdeeds.

From the below referenced web page, Schwedler is quoted:

"It’s really quite simple," explains Administrative Chief
Judge C. Joseph Schwedler of the Iron County Trial Court.
"We expect those who know they will owe money to come to
the court prepared to pay. And we tell them that."

"I was skeptical at first, given the type of defendant
we deal with up here in the Upper Peninsula, where the
economy is not flourishing like it is in other parts of
the state."

(Well he's wrong on all counts in this.)

"Almost immediately, the clerks commented on how much
more traffic there was in their office, with defendants
wanting to satisfy their court debts. When you create
the expectation, the money rolls in."

Is this necessary? The people paying the fines and
penalties generally have very little to begin with. Is
the court unnecessarily pushing them into asking for
charity or state support as a consequence? Yes, fines
and penalties must be paid, but does the court system
really need to be irrational about it?

And why wasn't this sort of information provided by the
local newsprint media when it is fresh?

Bill Vajk

Iron County Reporter

The Iron County Reporter has been getting smaller
ever since I've subscribed. Yesterday the renewal
notice came in the mail. The price would be $45
for a year, or $26 for 6 months.

Unfortunately "The Reporter" takes a very narrow
view of what they decide to report.

This academic description comes from the web
page referenced at the end of this posting.

"The Seattle Times asked its readers what they
think a newspaper is for. One reader responded,
'The purpose of the newspaper has always been
to keep people informed of events around the
world as well as those in our backyard...

"Events that directly and indirectly affect us
and the rest of humanity and our planet....The
best newspapers are diligent, unbiased, and serve
no one but their readers, the general public - not
always telling them what they want to know, but
what they NEED to know. If you do these things
wholeheartedly you will offer the reader something
the internet cannot: substance... Do not
underestimate the public.'"

In a nutshell, the local problem is defined.
The Reporter does not fill the unbiased news
reporting niche that the community so badly
needs. It has, instead, become an organ of
local government, a pure propaganda sheet
shilling for the local oligarchy. It is my
opinion that the "independent press" does
not exist in Iron County in the classic
newsprint media.

The Iron County Reporter, in my opinion, is
not worth the price. I'm not renewing a


Bill Vajk

Why Is Sarah Palin So Despised?

There are probably as many possible answers as there
are people, but a few things that generally don't make
the list are worthy of mention.

First and foremost, the American culture (and a few
European ones as well) doesn't deal very well with
high profile alpha women. The more attractive (and
perhaps Barbi-like) they are the more they're despised
for these characteristics alone.

Combined with the above, Sarah Palin represents a
few more ideals.

She hunts!

She is an active, hands on, participant in the family
fishing business.

She participates in outdoor activities with her snow

She's a mom, with a childbirth in her 40's.

She's an outspoken conservative.

She's proven an honest politician.

While any one of these factors would be sufficient to
garner a goodly following of jealousy, the confluence
of all of them has led to the response we can plainly
see. Plug the words Palin and despised into your
favorite search engine and you'll see the results for
yourself. I find it interesting that just about all those
outspoken against Sarah Palin focus on one point
or another. They've missed the larger picture that
would make a very interesting study in sociology.

Bill Vajk

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How's Your Tolerance for Government Misbehavior?

About a year ago I found it necessary to sue the
City of Iron River for failure to justify a
Freedom of Information research fee of $38.46.
The City, instead of talking to me to in order
to find mutual grounds for settlement, relied
on the Michigan Municipal League to defend the
suit in court, with an eventual co-pay by the
city of $ 5000. The Municipal League's promise
“to make better cities” didn't happen, nor did
it do the taxpayers any good. So was the City
Council and the administration working for the
taxpayer in that case?

We taxpayers have at least three ongoing issues
with the city. Those are the grass mowing by the
city whenever they think your grass is ugly,
penalizing folks for not using water (the so
called readiness to serve charge), and the
10% per month compounded (that's an actual
rate of about 314% a year) penalty for being
tardy paying the water bill.

In December 2009 I notified each member of
Iron River's City Council and the administration
of my impending lawsuits to resolve these three
ongoing issues before they foreclose my property
in Iron River for my refusal to pay such ridiculous
and illegal charges. Once again they seem to believe
that the correct solution is in defending a lawsuit
they could easily avoid. Once again I have to ask,
who are they working for?

Spending more taxpayer money defending against a
lawsuit than the city gets as income from these
three petty draconian ordinances sure doesn't make
any sense to me. The purpose for writing this
article is to advise taxpayers how Iron River spends
their money. It seems that they're not doing it
to benefit you, the taxpayer. My personal
tolerance for government misbehavior is pretty

How's yours?

Bill Vajk

Monday, January 11, 2010

Letter to Michael Steele

Sent 3 January 2010

Michael Steele
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington DC 20003

Dear Mr. Steele:

My wife and I have been lifelong Republicans but
have, since we moved here in retirement, been
excluded by the local, state, and national

All attempts in the past two years to contact
anyone and to establish rapport have failed. All
that ever happens is that we have been placed on
an email list that provided us with top down
“the Democrats are evil” newsletters. That
paradigm works well for religions and Saul
Alinsky clones but it has no place where a
political party is concerned. Each communication
I've received from the party had quite
specifically three requests for donation of money.
That paradigm, too, is appropriate for religion.

The Republican Party in this part of the state is
close to 100% inactive. If nothing else, the people
in any sort of official position have become space

In this region, the population at large is
conservative. In Iron and Dickinson counties in
Michigan, the conservatives vote for Democrats.
Across the border in Florence Co. Wisconsin, in
the region between Iron and Dickinson people of
the same mindset vote Republican. That being said,
this region is in serious need of a proper political
awakening with lots of attention from the Republican
party. Look at how the presidential election voting
went in this region despite the fact that McCain's
people very badly decided not to visit or pay any
attention to Michigan. How much of an effort would
it take to swing the state to the Republican Party?

Here's the bottom line. So long as the Republican
Party doesn't care about what goes on in my neck of
the woods I'll do nothing to support the Republican
Party, and that's too bad because I'm quiet active
in my relatively new (2003) community. Conservative
Republicans I talk to locally have a similar view. I
suppose we're waiting for “our political party” to
see the light, that this is a two way street, before
we get excited about attempting participation once


P.S. You're probably screwing up by failing to grasp
the advantage by adapting a motto like, “We are all
about jobs for everyone!”


Editor's comment: If you favor the Democrat points of
view, at this moment the Dems are no better. Nobody is
listening to you either. If you're a Dem, write your
own letters to the leadership. Please do it sooner
rather than later.

Bill Vajk

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Local Changes from Federal Activities

National events have local repercussions. I think it time
to talk about some of them.

We can begin with the supplying of certain items NOW
considered by the federal government to be durable medical
goods. I am unabashedly a diabetic. I inherited a gene, or
several, that predisposed me to this medical condition. I
use an instrument called a glycometer several times a day
to find out what my blood sugar is and to inject insulin.
When I went to refill my prescription for the test strips
that are used with this instrument, Snyder Drugs sent me
over to the diabetes nurses next door where I was advised
of the full situation. Neither Snyder Drugs nor the Corner
Drug Store can actually afford to get the Durable Medical
Equipment (DME) provider certification that Medicare
insists they must have if they wish to continue to provide
this equipment to diabetics.

A couple of the large mail order firms, such as the one who
is constantly advertising on TV, Liberty, were recommended.

Understand please that this is a federal mandate, newly
made under the current administration that is supposedly
working to make medical care in the US easier, better,
cheaper, and available to everyone. What they've done in
this instance is to make it impossible for me to get
these supplies locally, and apparently gave their pals,
probably large contributors, something of an increase
in sales and profits at the expense of our local
businesses! What's going on? Why is the administration
making these things artificially more difficult? And why
are one use test strips considered “Durable” Medical
Equipment? Can it have anything to do with the money
going into a smaller number of pockets, in fact pockets
that will in future make political contributions to the
party that helped line them?

I haven't gotten into whatever the other items commonly
used have been affected. In my little world the damage
that the current administration has done with this one
petty bureaucratic decision is typical of all the others
that are to come. It sure isn't the “change you can
believe in” sort of improvement that Obama promised
while on the campaign trail.

I did find that the Walgreen's pharmacy in Eagle River,
as part of a huge nation wide chain, is certified. At
least I'll keep my little order out of the hands of those
mail order crooks.

While we're on this this topic of change once again, I
think it past time to point out the en masse multiple
personality disorder that Iron County seems to suffer
from. On the one hand I keep hearing, almost everywhere
in the county that those who are native (the majority
of the population) to this region are against change.
On the other hand, this community voted for Obama
whose main promise during his campaign was CHANGE.

The fact that a community that speaks out frequently
and regularly against CHANGE makes no sense at all
when they voted in favor of it.

While we're here, let's briefly address some of the
future change items now promised by the current congress
and administration.

Health Care – This bill has all sorts of features to assure
that more people will be covered, costs to those able
to pay will go up, and services will be more difficult
to get. Union members will be taxed on their “Cadillac”
Plan” coverage. Equipment like life saving pacemakers
will be taxed. Those who can least afford a pacemaker
will have to pay a tax on the device!

Cap & Trade – This bill is designed to tax all forms of
energy based on the size of the carbon footprint it
creates. It will reach into everyone's pocket in order
to, it is claimed, reduce the carbon footprint this
nation creates. The final effect is to drive all those
manufacturers remaining in the US overseas where
this tax does not exist.

Card Check – This bill is designed to require identification
accompany all unionization voting. So much for America's
secret ballots.

Let me know how these changes are going to work for you!

While you're at it, let your congressmen and senators know
how you feel about these issues.

Bill Vajk

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