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A Sunny Place for Shady People

Pithy, contrarian, politically incorrect and curmudgeonly rants on sex, money, power and politics and religion and philosophy. In short: Nothing matters, everything changes and there are no guarantees. The rest is rationalization and bribery. (c) Tom Milner 2002-2003. DIRECTORY of offensive POSTS at Archives: 07/09/03. RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Archives: 07/29/03. email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com.

Friday, June 27, 2003
Monday, June 30, 2003

(Warning: the following "rant" is boringly instructive but probably good for you. Read at your peril for educational purposes only.)

We have all, surely by now, learned never to divulge our social security number (SSN) -- except for the usual self-initiated business transactions involving the federal government or credit.

The gray area is in the private usage of SSN's (usually by thieving low lifes), neither expressly prohibited or authorized by law -- but practiced much too robustly by convention (and subterfuge).

Mostly these numbers are more misused or abused than not. Yet the Feds timidly refuse (well bribed as they are at every turn) to prohibit and control their dissemination.

The SSN has no place, except in a police state (to which we seem to be approaching), as a "universal identifier."

Very few situations actually require one to provide it.

The grandest and greediest opponents to widespread restrictions on SSN's are (rather obviously) credit reporting agencies (which increasingly control your daily life), providers of health and financial services (of dubious value), and state income tax and driver licensing administrators (no doubt well trained in Prussian police state strategies).

And the only specific federal requirement for submitting a SSN is for a commercial driver's permit - - not an individual one.

Now: about the grouping of digits in SSN's, myths are abundantly engaging.

For example, that the middle two digits -- the "Group Number" -- are a racial designation!

Not so.

The Social Security Administration explains the numbering scheme this way.

The first three digit set is the Area Number (originally denoted the state in which the applicant lived at first application).

The second two digit set is that Group Number. (We are unable to determine what it originally meant.)

And the final four digit set is the Serial Number.

The Area Number was assigned in the early years beginning with lower numbers in the east and increasing numerically westward (much as Zip codes today).

The Group Number merely further subdivides the Area Number.

The Serial Number is alloted in numerical order. (0000 is never used.)

(We become numbly number-dizzy.)

An indication of an invalid SSN is an Area Number above 770 (at this writing).

Keep your SSN kept!


Note: We recommend networkusa.org's Report on use and misuse of these numbers, a valuable resource for us.

Unrelated, Recommended:
Max Rodenbeck, "Bohemia in Baghdad," The New York Review of Books, July 3, 2003.

SUMMER NON-FICTION MUST READ: Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight by Paul Hoffman. Hyperion: 370 pp., $24.95.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Thursday, June 26, 2003

On June 20 the U.S. Senate passed, unanimously, The American History and Civics Education Act (introduced earlier in the House as H.R. 1078 on March 4, 2003), a futile exercise intended to promote better teaching of our history and civics in grades K to 12.

Any bill enacted unanimously is immediately suspect. (It also has Bush's support -- even more suspect -- as well as most of the House of Representatives.)

Smelled awfully rotten to us right away.

So: we read the bill.

We also understand from press dispatches that Diane Ravitch, a New York University education professor whose recent book The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (recommended earlier this year by this space) also endorses it, and surely she (who lustily condemns the educational perversions of political correctness) should know better.

The travesty is this $400 millions' worth of bullshit (how many seniors' prescriptions could have been filled for that amount?) will only perpetuate and enshrine the continued teaching of myth instead of reality.

(We won't bother mentioning that schools of education rank lowest in prestige on university campuses.)

Aside from the fact that most teachers of history and "civics" (or any other subjects for that matter) are utterly stupid and know little more than their charges, and that the whole of American education is mostly an abominable failure, the establishment by this bill of two week "workshops" for 300 "selected" instructors nationwide to study "key events, key persons, key ideas, and key documents that shaped the institutions and democratic heritage of the United States" is risible.

The legislation defines, for example, "key ideas" as "equal justice under the law" (translation: highest bidder wins); "freedom" (to smoke grass instead of swill booze?); "individualism" (white collar extortion, theft); "human rights" (except for minorities like gays or ladies seeking abortions); and a "belief in progress" (shift factory payrolls to China).

"Key persons" means "the men and women [emphasis added] who led the United States as founding fathers" (ladies as fathers?); "elected officials" (bought or rigged votes); "scientists" (excluding evolutionists, of course); "inventors" (of the richly useless); "pioneers" (those who enslaved Native Americans?); "advocates of equal rights" (this is the biggest myth of all!); "entrepreneurs" (monopolists like Bill Gates); and "artists" (puritanically acceptable conformists, of course).

The bill fails to include a few other "key persons" so essential to our democracy, e.g., bribable judges, larcenous lobbyists, venal lawmakers, Wall Street manipulators, thieving CEO's, lying Presidents, Government Fixers of All Hues, and the sadistic police.

If you aspire to actually teach history and civics, then teach the Ugly Truths, not just the Major Bullshit.


Highly Recommended, Unrelated: Stanley Hoffmann, "America Goes Backward," The New York Review of Books, June 12, 2003.

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