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Charles Brown
Classical Pianist - Technology Author and Trainer - Amateur Cook and Photographer - Avid Chess Player
Classical Pianist - Technology Author and Trainer - Amateur Cook and Photographer - Avid Chess Player


It is hard to deny that the Bill of Rights is under attack these days; particularly the 1st and 2nd amendments. We certainly saw it just this past fall on college campuses. On Monday SCOTUS gets its chance to weigh-in on it, or at least gets another bite at the apple by revisiting an older decision.
In 1977 the court affirmed the constitutionality of a Michigan law requiring public-school teachers to pay an "agency" fee to unions if they were not full dues-paying members. The reasoning was that these non-union members were benefiting from collective bargaining and, as a result, should pay a fee covering the cost of such bargaining.
Since 1976 the National Education Association (NEA) has endorsed Democratic candidates and issues nearly 100% of the time. As a matter of fact, in 2014 the NEA was the third-largest political spender. From 2000 - 2009 teacher's unions spent more on state elections than all the business associations combined. Most state teacher's unions are tied to the NEA.
In the case being heard on Monday 10 California teachers are asking a very simple question: "If they are being forced to pay money to an organization that is highly politically active, whether they agree with that activity or not, aren't they being compelled into political speech that they might not otherwise make, thus violating their 1st amendment right to free speech?" Or, more specifically, "compelled ideological advocacy."
The latin phrase stare decisis comes into play. It means "to stand by a decision." Will SCOTUS stand by its 1977 decision despite the fact that it ostensibly eliminated a fundamental right? Well, surprisingly Citizens United comes into play here. In 2010 when hearing that case the court said it "has not hesitated to overrule decisions offensive to the First Amendment."
Is pay fees to a union superior to the First Amendment?

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I am always getting new photo editing tools and periodically I go through and redo my albums.
Here is a slideshow of my slides of Alaska taken on a September 2014 cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. I have not had a chance to title the slides yet but the gorgeous scenery speaks for itself. You will see islands, glaciers, whales, eagles, bears and a mansion in Victoria BC.
Warning, there are 255 slides here. Hope you have some time...LOL

Growing up, if one claimed to be anything other than what they really were they were considered mentally unhinged. Today, they are considered progressive heroes. But that raises some interesting questions:
We are constantly inundated with the phrase "White Privilege." We especially hear it associated with white males. However, this past couple of years we have seen Elizabeth Warren, Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner, Rachel Dolezal, Shaun King, and Ward Churchill (just to name a few) not only claim to be non-white and/or non-male...but actively avail themselves with the special advantages of their newly-minted minority status. Didn't both Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill land cushy and high-paying academic positions by falsely claiming native-American status despite having either no, or questionable, doctorate statuses? Dolezal became an NAACP chapter president by self-claiming she was black? One wonders if Caitlyn Jenner were younger would she now reenter the olympic arena in female competition?
So if being white or white-male has so many privileges, why are many high-profile progressives racing to be identified as some other category and then claiming the special advantages associated with such? If in our 21st-century postmodern culture we can be whatever we declare ourselves to be why isn't everyone racing to be the uber-advantaged white-male?

My trainer has me lifting 17,000 pounds a session 3-times a week. When I started in May that is what I was doing a week. 

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Great editorial by one of the more sober voices in political opinion. 

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Here is a 20-minute video I created using the photographs from the Alaska Cruise. There is a slight degradation in the image quality because of the video. I recommend using the fullscreen option. To play the video click on the thumbnail, then click when you get on the video site and start the video. Use the fullscreen button.

I will post a link to the photos themselves subsequently.

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For those of us living in the New York City area Steve Post was a morning listening requirement. There are times I had to pull off to the side of the road because I was laughing so hard. 

As an example, during a public broadcasting fund drive he asked: "Where else can you hear about endangered species at 10:00am and then, at 11:00am, see a show on how to sauté endangered species?"

He will be very much missed.

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I just posted some initial thoughts about Apple's new Swift Programming language. 

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I find it sad that yesterday was the anniversary of the beginning of World War I and I didn't hear a peep about it anywhere. Are we so determined to forget history?

I didn't find much mention of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg earlier this year. 

#Worldwar1  , #history  , #europeanhistory , #20thcenturyhistory

Tonight, I am making a Mexican Shrimp salad. It is real simple to make. 

Start with about 1/2 pound of cooked shrimp cut into 1 inch pieces.
Add 1 can of drained Goya Black Beans. Then cut up a small poblano pepper (which is only slightly hotter than a green pepper). Add 2-Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar and 2-Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Chop 3 or 4 green onions and about 1/8th of a cup of cilantro. Finally, to add some real heat, use a couple of teaspoons of Goya chipolte in an a adobo sauce. Be careful, that is hot. 

Mix it all and enjoy.

#food, #mexicanfood, #shrimp  
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