The Sum of Knowledge

The sum of knowledge can be seen in this: we are taught, we express what we think we have learned, our errors are corrected, and we learn more by doing better.

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Fight for a Change

I believe that we have forgotten how to fight in this country. The further we get from the fighters of the 1950’s and 1960’s such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the further we get from fighting that makes a difference in society. The Occupy movement was a perfect example of this. For all of their bluster, they accomplished nothing and broke dozens of laws that had nothing to do with their cause in the process. They left filth on the streets and caused problems for people that had nothing to do with those they were protesting. In comparison, think of the four young men from North Carolina A&T who in 1960 quietly sat at a lunch counter and simply asked to be served coffee. They were refused because of their skin color. These four young men took up a fight as gentlemen (in the old sense of the word) and with dignity and grace. They were heard. They caused real change.

Fighting involves risks. I believe that Dr. King knew of his impending death and spoke of it just before he was assassinated. Corrie Ten Boom knew that if the Nazis discovered evidence of her fight against totalitarianism by hiding Jewish people in her home, she would lose her life. The Chinese students who died in Tiananmen Square gave their lives so they could raise their voices.

We need to recapture the fires of change in our bosoms and stand against all forms of injustice. Find your passions and fight for them. Take risks. Be willing to lose what you cannot keep so that you can gain what you cannot lose (Jim Eliot). Remember that “a man [that] hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live” (Dr. King). Maintain the pressure on your “boilers” so you are hot enough to fight but not so hot as to explode. Leave nothing on the battlefield except the echos of your cries for change.

Student vs. scholar

I am sitting just a few months shy of my second Master’s.  Three weeks after I get that, I undertake a second opportunity to get a  doctorate, only this time at age 50 instead of age 32.  In one of the uncounted number of random thoughts that come during periods of solitude, I was considering what the difference is between a student and a scholar.  A student sees studying as the means to an end such as a diploma or a degree.  A scholar sees studying as a beginning without needing a particular end in sight.  When I was 32, I was merely a student.  Today, I am scholar.

If you want to say, “I told you so”

I am inviting anybody in the United States that held a different opinion than mine about our newly re-elected president to say, “I told you so” to me when any of the following happen:

  1. The national debt ceases to grow for 12 months straight
  2. Our credit rating goes back to AAA
  3. We completely leave Afghanistan
  4. A budget is passed
  5. The president sets foot in Israel
  6. Real unemployment stays at or below 6% for three consecutive months
  7. DOMA is repealed and benefits like Social Security and military spousal privileges are extended to all legally married people
  8. The academic rating in science and math of U.S. students gets back into the top ten in the world
  9. The president fulfills his 2009 promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay
  10. The number of appearances the president makes on talk shows in a year is less than the number of press conferences he holds in the same year
  11. There isn’t a single presidential appointee at the USDA that has not or does not benefit from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)

You know where to reach me.

What is more dangerous?

I was corresponding with pinkishey, a fellow citizen of the blogosphere, about the incessant bombings in her soon to be home in Israel.  She writes beautiful prose of her adventures there.  It takes me back to my younger years in Teaneck, NJ where I and many of my Jewish friends dreamt of living in the Holy Land.  I remember giving serious thought to moving there and joining the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) when President Carter re-instituted the draft.  She wrote of the impact of missiles in her soon to be home-town of Netivot (http://kvetshing.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/grad-missiles-from-gaza-hits-home-in-netivot/) and how that related to her feelings of relative safety.  I wrote the following to her.

What is more dangerous, living in a country where your government seeks to protect you from your enemies or living in a country that gives aid to your enemies? I used to be proud of how our (U.S.) government treated our (Jewish) people. Now I have a president that hasn’t set foot in the Holy Land while in office and would rather appear on Late Night with David Letterman than meet with Israel’s PM. Here is one of my favorite Israeli’s view of this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YK7UGytvs8.

I hope she is able to stay there.

Are you willing to sacrifice a night at the movies?

I’m going to break out my Jewish guilt for just a moment here. Do you go to the movies? I do. My wife and I enjoy about two hours of freedom from the insanity of the world by paying about $24 to see a movie. What if that same $24 could buy a night of freedom for a young girl that is forced to the live the life of a prostitute in Thailand? By sacrificing one night of comfortable entertainment, you are giving a girl or young woman a night free from being a sex-slave. We talk about how much we need our days off from work. How about giving someone a well-needed day off from the disgusting occupation they are forced to be in.

While we are talking about the movies, check out this 4 minute video (http://youtu.be/21vyrOfNgag) from Freedom 4/24, the non-profit that is working to help stem the tide of human trafficking and the sex-trade.

Are you willing to give up a night at the movies yet?

On October 20, 2012, I’m participating in the Run for Their Lives 5k run (I’ll be walking, I’m dedicated but I don’t have a death wish). The purpose is to raise awareness for Freedom 4/24’s mission and raise funds to support it. You can donate very easily. Go to http://www.freedom424.org/donate/ for instructions.

Are you convinced yet? If you aren’t sure, just think of a poor young girl being used by a disgusting pervert while you are waiting for your movie tickets. Enjoy the show.

Still not convinced? If you have $24 of discretionary money and you aren’t willing to sacrifice it, I have one last request. UNFRIEND ME/UNLIKE ME/UNFOLLOW ME/DON’T VISIT MY BLOG AGAIN!

A Second Open Letter to Sen. Tom Harkin

On September 24, 2012, I posted the following letter to Senator Tom Harkin’s Senate Web page.

________________________________________________________________________

Senator Harkin:

As a veteran and taxpayer, I appreciate your desire to have the money used to educate our veterans be used effectively and efficiently. However, the presentation that you authored has issues. I’m trained in statistics and because of that, I could make a laundry list of issues. You are a very busy man so instead of going item for item, please allow me to point out one blatantly wrong slide. You have a slide entitled “For-Profit Colleges Employ Many Recruiters But Few Placement Staff.” From a subjective perspective, to have a slide with a title that indicates an issue with For-Profit Colleges as a group but then indicts a single one is disingenuous and ineffective because your case is that many schools have this problem, yet you showcase only one. It also smacks of a lack of objectivity and personal bias. Even if your chart is accurate, it does not make the point that this is a systemic problem.

Objectively, the slide in incorrect. University of Phoenix, the largest school under the Apollo Group umbrella, has an extremely robust Career Services site that covers the gamut of services from resume writing to career research to interview preparation. The site also lists major employers that Phoenix partners with to help find jobs for its graduates.

Your data was gathered from 2007 to 2010. I started at Phoenix in 2010 and I don’t know what its career placement services were like then. It could be that in 2010, your statement was accurate. However, it is nearly 2013 and it definitely is not accurate.

If I had the 20-30 hours free to write it, I would write a report that shows slide for slide, just how bad this report is. I don’t have the time to write it and anyone as busy as you doesn’t have the time to read it. Please consider making this “update” to your report as a show of good will. I’ll be the first person to thank you for that by making a post to that effect on my blog, andyknaster.com.

Since your Senate Web site has a link to that report on its home page, it appears that this is a report you are proud of and feel the people need to read. Don’t you owe it to your constituents and all of America to be accurate and up-to-date?

This is my second letter to you. I requested a response to the first one and I have not received it. I posted to your Facebook page and got no response. Please respond to this message. This is a very non-partisan issue. In this highly contentious and partisan time, taking action on a non-partisan issue is something I think would resonate well with many Americans.

Respectfully yours,
Andrew Knaster, BA, MA, MCP
University of Phoenix Master of Information Systems student, class of 2013