Senator Harkin: Fair

February 13th, 2009

160px-tom_harkin_official_portraitI find myself not too happy with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today. It appears that on Wednesday he went on to the liberal talk radio show of Bill Press and said?

BILL PRESS:? Alright, well good for you. You know, we gotta work on that, because they are just shutting down progressive talk from one city after another. All we want is, you know, some balance on the airwaves, that’s all. You know, we’re not going to take any of the conservative voices off the airwaves, but just make sure that there are a few progressives and liberals out there, right?

SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA): Exactly, and that’s why we need the fair — that’s why we need the Fairness Doctrine back.


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Schools

Solutions: Powered Schools

There are hundreds of thousands of schools scattered across America and the costs of educating our young people continue to rise every year, forcing higher taxes on all of us either through property tax increases or through state budgeting. When schools are in session, the class rooms use huge amounts of electricity, not to mention the costs of heating and providing water. During the summer months these large buildings and properties often sit largely idle aside from normal maintenance.

So here is my idea:

Install solar and wind power generating capabilities to every school building. Most schools are generally built with large flat roofs. These are great open spaces for the placement of solar panels. The idea of course is to generate as much electricity as possible, and preferably as much as the building would normally use during high usage days. This would make the building electrically self-sufficient during the winter months when class in session. During the summer months when the schools are sitting mostly idle, the power generated by these systems could be sold back to the power grid, generating money for the school districts that can be used for books, computers, etc to help educate our kids.

In the town of Grinnell alone we have 2 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and the high school. That’s 4 buildings in this one town of just under 10,000 people that could be generating power for sale to the grid and improving the financial situation of the town.

The downsides of course is the initial investment. It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 to retrofit a home for solar power which would obviously have far lower electrical needs in comparison to a school building. That is money that would have to be paid for either through bonding or higher property taxes unless private enterprise were to volunteer and donate the monies, but in the long run there is serious potential for school districts to generate revenue by turning their buildings into power generating stations.

School Jam

From KCCI-TV

The St. Ansgar school in Northeastern Iowa is, like most schools in America, having difficulty getting kids to stop using their cell phones during school hours which are distracting and can help propagate cheating. St. Ansgar?s answer, signal jammers. The school board recently passed a motion to spend up to $5000.00 to purchase jamming equipment.

A couple of questions I have here is one, it doesn?t seem to be very legal. In 2005 the FCC issued a public notice stating?

In response to multiple inquiries concerning the sale and use of transmitters designed to prevent, jam or interfere with the operation of cellular and personal communications service (PCS) telephones, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is issuing this Public Notice to make clear that the marketing, sale, or operation of this type of equipment is unlawful. Anyone involved with such activities may be subject to forfeitures, fines or even criminal prosecution.

So I don?t see how the school can do this. I understand that they haven?t actually bought the equipment yet and that the Iowa Association of School Boards is helping research whether or not it?s legal (maybe they should read the FCC notice I just linked).

Another question I have is, how does the school ensure that the jamming of the signals only encompasses the school grounds and not say, half the neighborhood the school resides in. While I?m no expert on signal jamming I would think that the equipment wouldn?t be very discriminating in what it blocks.

And finally, what about emergencies? While officials state that the equipment would be shut off in emergencies, the time it takes for someone to go to switch and shut it down could mean the difference between someone living or dying.

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