The View From The Golden Dome

Views on the week's events plus some of mine.

Les Berman Weekly 12-14 Hold Please. Traffic. PISA. Titan. Buddha and so much more…


So, I had to get some information from a government agency. At best, that’s a daunting task, as you know. I called the 800 number and was given a pretty complete menu of options, none of which could answer my question, and there wasn’t an option at any time of speaking to a live person. I gave myself a couple of options… hang up, guess at the answer, or press 0 and see if I get booted out of the system. I pressed 0, and got in a queue that they said was 31 minutes. And all of this for an answer that would take less than one minute. And I was on hold for 63 minutes – because I needed the answer to the question.

I made an amazing discovery about Los Angeles traffic. During the week, it’s very light at 6 AM. The corresponding discovery was that I really don’t like having to be somewhere at 630 AM. Especially because it’s still dark and cold.

I’ve learned other things lately. The PISA, (not pizza) rankings came out recently and scored students in 65 countries on different skills – math, science, and reading. Asian countries took the first seven slots in math. The highest ranking western country was not the USA (#36) nor was it Canada (#13) or the UK (#26), but it was Lichtenstein. And I would bet that most of my readers could not find that country on a map. Geography was not part of the testing.

In reading, the highest scoring western country was Finland (#6) and the first five slots were Asian countries. This testing was done on 15 and 16 year old students. Canada was #9 and the USA was #24. And in science, the highest scoring western country was again Finland #5, Canada in 10th spot and the USA was at #28, with Asian countries all taking the top spots.

These statistics are worthy of mention because concerned parents in the US will gravitate towards charter schools, and the stronger demands made on the students. Eventually, parents will realize that homework, actually completed by the students rather than with parental ‘assistance’, is a necessity. Perhaps a longer school day is an option, and without question, better paid teachers are a necessity.

There will always be kids who rise to the top regardless of circumstance, and these kids will likely be leaders in the future. I am curious as to the racial demographic in Ph.D. and M.D. programs in the top schools in the USA. The objective would not be to exclude students, but might be an incentive for more education funding here at home. Are we witnessing the beginning of the decline and fall of the American empire? A scary thought.

Meanwhile, a NASA spacecraft flying around Titan, a  moon up there near Saturn, has detected traces of the chemical used in the manufacture of propylene, that most important ingredient in food containers and car bumpers. I’m guessing this could become useful information for my great grandchildren. The article was a full page in length but I covered the essence.

And then, the journal Antiquity has published findings that establish an earlier date for the birth of Siddhartha Gautama who became Buddha. This is notable because there are approximately 350 million followers of Buddhism, making it one of the world’s great religions. The site at Lumbini is by tradition, the birthplace of Buddha. One of the remarkable facts is that the site was largely abandoned from about 250 BC until 1896.

The archeological findings reflect the nonviolence and nonoffering traditions of the Buddhist religion. As they excavated beneath the known sites, they found earlier existence of a shrine which pushed back birthdates about a hundred years, and more or less reinforced the Nepalese estimate of the Buddha’s birthdate to about 623 BC.

Home loan rules are changing again (January 10), and for the worst, thanks to our friendly legislators in DC. So if you’re thinking about refinancing your property, call me today. I do answer calls on weekends. The magic number.. 818.305.4695

Have a better week!

Les

Berman’s Factoids of the Week:

You may not know that many non-living things have a gender.

Web Page — Female, because it’s always getting hit on.

Subway — Male, because it uses the same old lines to pick people up.

Hourglass — Female, because over time, the weight can shift to the bottom.

Hammer — Male, because it hasn’t changed much over the last 5,000 years, but it’s handy to have around.

Remote Control — Female. Ha! You thought it’d be Male. But consider this — it gives a man pleasure, he’d be lost without it, and while he doesn’t always know the right buttons to push, he keeps trying.

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 Les Berman CMC
        Real Estate Loan Specialist
       
NMLS ID 227675
Voice: 818.305.4695
Email: les@lesberman.com
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December 28, 2013 - Posted by | business, fun, general interest, humor, medicine, real estate, sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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