Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Teachers and Education

Mostly when I think about school, I remember being in the student lounge at Galena Park High School at lunch time. I almost never ate in the cafeteria and usually bought a hamburger for lunch and stood around in a group of my friends talking. It was a fun social time, breaking up the day between classes.

I got almost all of my formal education in Texas, although I did takes some advanced college placement courses while I was in the army. I had about 10 credits for advanced placement that I never actually used for my college degree.

I remember some of my teachers that had an influence on me. At Jackson Jr. High in Pasadena I remember two English teachers: One was Dr. Bottrell and the other was Mrs. Morton. There was also a math teacher at Jackson, but I cannot remember her name – too bad – she inspired me. In high school, Mr. Osborne taught biology. Mr. Beiberstein taught algebra, Mrs. Perry taught me English. I remember Mr. Pemberton for art class. I do not remember all my teachers, but I do remember some who were important to me at an impressionable time. I would not consider myself a good student and I should have been. My fault and my loss, because I did not apply myself more.

When I think about education I think about teachers that inspire students. The time I spent in grades 1-12, all my teachers were focused on the students. It was rare for a teacher to take a day off – they were with us every school day. I think I was lucky to be educated in Texas in the 50’s and 60’s.

Now when I hear about education it’s about a teacher’s strike, teachers skipping school to protest elected officials or unruly students abusing teachers and their classmates. There are a few stories about private schools with excellent curricula and effective teaching techniques, but not nearly enough of these stories.

I read about State Boards of Education arguing about the content of text books. History books are always good for an argument. Some want a religious slant, some want more minority stories, some want to alter history to change a political narrative, some want to teach social justice. Adults trying to indoctrinate children to change our culture is dangerous.

Our education system is failing the children of our country. The more involved the federal government gets in education, the more it costs and the less effective it becomes. Our students rank about 30th in quality of education and we spend more per student than any other country.

Our presidential candidates are fighting over who pays for college when someone needs to focus on getting students prepared to go to college. For social reasons we have young people graduating from college who read on a third grade level. This is asinine.

Children need to be taught the truth about the history of our country, without a political slant. Parents should be more involved and have an opportunity to choose a school that best meets the needs of their child. Teachers need to be inspiring. Teachers should be memorable to the students. Ineffective teachers need to be weeded out and excellent teachers should be rewarded.

The future of this country depends on what elementary school children hear at school.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Why Have a Military?

Why do we have a military in the United States? Why does any country need a military? What is the purpose of the military? Why do people fight? What is on a soldier’s mind when they are in a fire fight?

These seem like strange questions to me. I think the answers are obvious. I thought the sole purpose of the military was to fight and win. Obviously, I am wrong about that.

Right now the purpose of the military seems to be to do battle in a way that does not hurt the enemy’s feelings. I cannot imagine rules of engagement in a battle where I am told not to shoot back. Currently, the military seems to be a testing ground for social experimentation, where everyone must have an opportunity to participate, whether or not they are capable.

There are some logistical issues and additional expense having males and females serving in the same unit. I think each branch of the service should be able to best determine how to use the personnel available to them. I think there is room for everyone to participate, but I think it is foolish to think every individual is capable of achieving every objective.

I think the only purpose of the military is to fight. I also think the fight should be the last resort. Once the decision to fight is made, the only objective should be to win and to win as quickly as possible. I think you do that with overwhelming force. I think you fight in a manner that preserves your forces while depleting enemy forces. If you are going to be able to defeat any foe, you probably have a better chance to win, if you have more and better weapons, more people and better training than the enemy has.

I think after you win and only after you win you go home and let the enemy rebuild their territory and decide their own future, hopefully in a more cooperative atmosphere.

With those ideas in mind, I think the military should be inclusive. I think everyone that meets minimum standards, determined by military commanders, should be allowed to participate. Under no circumstances should standards be lowered to extend inclusion, unless not enough people are available.  I think you decide the size of force necessary and fill those spaces with the best people available to achieve military objectives.

I think the only thing enlisted personnel care about the other people in their unit is will they be willing and able to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. They fight for each other and not much else matters.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Freddie Fender

Freddie Fender songs still come on the radio occasionally. I do not spend a lot of time listening to music like we did 30 years ago, but I still listen occasionally. I usually put the radio on FM and scan to see what pops up. Sometimes I scan for hours, never finding something I want to hear. Freddie Fender’s voice grabs my attention every time I hear him. I do not care if the recording is in English or Spanish, I enjoy listening to him – just a great sound and a beautiful voice.

Freddie Fender was born Baldemar Garza Huerta in San Benito, TX in 1937. He lived his early life in south Texas. He left high school at 16 and joined the Marine Corps at 17. He was thrown out of the Marines on a less than honorable discharge, which was later changed to honorable after alcoholism was reclassified as an illness. Later, he spent three years on a prison farm in Louisiana for drug charges. After that he returned to south Texas and worked as an auto mechanic.

He began singing to mostly Tejano audiences and recorded some popular songs in Spanish drawing little attention. He called himself El Bebop Kid for a few years. A few of the songs he recorded in Spanish were, Elvis’ “Don’t Be Cruel,” Harry Bellefonte’s “Jamaica Farewell” and Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.”

Next he tried some rockabilly calling himself Eddie con los Shades, still with limited success.

In 1958 he changed his name to Freddie Fender. He chose Freddie to draw a gringo audience and Fender he got from his guitar. He moved to California looking for a new start and a recording contract.

In 1974 he finally hit it big with his first number 1 song on the Billboard country and pop chart with “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.” That single went on to sell a million copies. His next successful song was a remake of a song he wrote himself and recorded earlier with little attention paid to it. “Wasted Days, Wasted Nights” became his second million selling single.

I owned his “Best of Freddie Fender” Album and it was one of my favorites in the 80’s. Songs included, were his two million sellers plus “Secret Love”, “You’ll Lose a Good Thing,” “Vaya con Dios,” “Sugar Coated Love,” “The Wild Side of Life,” “Since I Met You Baby,” “I Love My Rancho Grande” and a few others. This was one of the prizes of my record collection.

Freddie Fender joined two Tejano bands after his solo success. The Texas Tornados and Los Super Seven got record contracts. They won a few Grammys, but never had the monetary success Freddie Fender had as a solo artist.

Freddie Fender died of cancer in 2006, but the music is still around. For the rest of my life, I will stop and listen when and wherever I hear his voice. Its music to my ears.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Problem with the Truth

I posted a blog with this title earlier in the week and it contained some errors. This update corrects those errors. My apologies.


The main problem with the truth today is that if the truth does not fit a person’s ideology, they do not believe it. Sad, but true.

Here are a few statements I think are true. 

People in charge make the rules.

If you want the rules to change the rules, you need to get an education and prepare yourself to get a leadership position.

According to our census, ancestry of people who claim to be white traces to Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. Some Hispanics also claim to be white.

White people were the majority in this country from its inception to the present.

White people still hold the majority of leadership positions in most parts of the country.

Hispanics will become the largest racial demographic in the USA in about 20 years.

The Asians population is growing fast and will become the largest racial demographic in about 40 years.

Blacks will still be a minority in this country for the foreseeable future.

End of facts.

The following are my opinions.

The demographics of the Dallas police department matches the demographics of the community. This is a good thing and the practice needs to spread to other cities.

Police officers should have continuous training and a better understanding of the feelings in their communities. Police officers need community support.

People should avoid police confrontations. Both the police and the person confronted have a responsibility to keep the confrontation non-violent.

To keep the peace and capture perpetrators, the police will respond the same with Asians and Hispanics being the majority as they did when whites were the majority.

The safest way for everyone in a police confrontation is to show respect for each other.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Stop It!

Racial Tensions are high. It is understandable. A Black man is shot by a white police officer and the next word out of many people’s mouths is racism. Well, it is not always racism, but try and tell that to the Black Lives Matter crowd. Their minds were made up before a shot was fired. Unfortunate.

The narrative with all the race baiters in the country is that most police officers are racists and want to shoot Black people. It is stupid, but it is their mantra.

Alton Sterling was shot on the streets of Baton Rouge, LA while two police officers were trying to apprehend him. Police were called because Sterling threatened someone with a gun. Multiple videos were taken by passersby and none of the videos showed everything that happened. What was obvious from the videos is that Sterling was struggling with the police officers and Sterling was shot. Was Sterling scared? I am sure he was. I would have been scared too. Were the police officer scared? How could they not be scared? They were trying to apprehend a man that reportedly had a gun. Of course they were scared. Sterling’s death was unfortunate, but I doubt that he died because two racist cops wanted to kill a Black man. Yet many jumped to that conclusion, knowing no more than I know.

In St. Paul, Minnesota Philandro Castile was shot by a white police officer while Castile was sitting in his car. Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light. Reportedly, Castile told the police officer he had a gun and was reaching for his wallet to produce his concealed carry permit. Was Castile scared? I do not have enough information to conclude that, but just being stopped by a police officer is cause for concern for many people. If Castile was taught that cops want to shoot Black people, then sure he was scared. Was the police officer scared? You better believe it. A man just confessed to having a gun and reached for something in his pockets. I would be scared.

Castile’s girlfriend took a video after the shooting. All the videos seem to get on the internet immediately. Every video and every eye witness have a story, but none of them show the entire story. I want to know the entire story before passing judgement.

Two Black men shot by police in two days put the Black Lives Matter crowd into the streets in many large cities. I do not mind peaceful protests in the streets, even though I think the protesters start before a shot is fired. They are anxious to shout racism. They look for excuses to shout racism.

Two dead Black men in two days killed by police officers should be a concern for everyone. I think it is. Most of us do not go to the streets to show our concern, but as human beings, we care.

Several snipers took advantage of the Black Lives Matter street protest in Dallas and five police officers were killed. At least six more were wounded on Thursday night. There may have been as many as nine snipers, but the exact number is unclear at this time. Three of the shooters are in custody. Police had an opportunity and reason to shoot them, but they did not shoot them. They apprehended them, arrested them and incarcerated them. You think any of these policemen were scared?

Stop It! Escalating the violence of unfortunate shooting is not a solution. Police get continuous training and can always use more training. One thing the police want to know is where your hands are. Very few people get hurt by police officers when they can see your hands. Every news cast in the world will show violent videos in the next few days. We do not have to act violently as a result. Stop It!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My View on Immigration

The United States population is made up of immigrants. The first settlers were explorers. Then came the trappers and tradesmen. Indigenous peoples were encountered sporadically throughout the country. Some people left their homelands to get away from tyrannical governments. The Puritans came for religious freedom. Some people came just because they had a spirit of adventure. Some people came because the United States needed workers to construct large projects, like the Chinese who helped build our railroads. Many of the Irish came because of famine in their homeland. All the people that came here throughout the short history of our country were looking for a better life and they thought they could find it here.

Immigrants who came here learned to blend in with their neighbors. It was not quick and easy – it always takes time for new arrivals to integrate. Immigration laws were created to meter entry into the country at a rate that allowed new arrivals to assimilate, find employment and become assets to the country. The more successful immigrants learn the language of their neighbors and meld into society.

Historically, the people that came here became Americans, with loyalty to their new country while maintaining allegiance and feelings for their heritage and the family they left behind in their old countries. They wanted citizenship and happily swore an oath of allegiance to this country and showed a willingness to fight to keep the country free. They contributed to the growth of our population and our prosperity. Immigration was a good thing.

Then something changed. Many people that have lived here all their lives no longer respect the country that allowed them to prosper and families to improve their position in life. Immigration stopped being metered. The borders became porous. The efforts to assimilate stopped. Even the oath of allegiance for new citizens was changed so that people no longer had to swear allegiance to this country. They no longer had to agree to support the country’s military in times of war. For the first time we started inviting new people into the country who were a burden to the United States and expected to be on the welfare rolls throughout their lives.

The result of unmetered immigration is a weaker country with a growing disloyal population. There are few jobs available for the currently unemployed citizens and certainly no jobs for new arrivals. Their enclaves have many destined for poverty row. They will join gangs and riot in our streets, since their progress is almost nil. Their allegiance is to the country they left behind and destruction of the United States is of no consequence to them. Their dire circumstances turn them to violence increasing the crime rates in their vicinity.

No one is anti-immigrant. The people that are accused of being anti-immigrant for wanting metered immigration are the people with the knowledge of the history of our country. The accusers have no interest in history and no knowledge and obviously no foresight of the outcome of their positions.

We have become a weaker country with a less loyal population and I think it is by design. A sad situation, Ollie.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Independence Day

The Fourth of July is a federal holiday called Independence Day. That commemorates the day the First Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, making the 13 American colonies a new nation independent of the British empire. That occurred on July 4, 1776. The declaration states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It took some hard work and some political changes to move closer to the goals spelled out in this declaration. The Second Continental Congress wrote a Constitution to describe how our government would be formed. In 250 years this Constitution has been amended 27 times, including the first 10 amendments known as the Bill or Rights.

Within 200 years of the declaration the United States of America became the most powerful influence in the world. Approximate 50% of the world population that wants to migrate from their home want to move here. Even in our current diminished capacity, this is still the “go to” place in the world. They want to come here for a better life.

Unfortunately, about half the population of this country want to change the United States into what most of the people of the world are fleeing from. Somehow this makes no sense to me.

Our poorest people normally have more than the richest people in many parts of the world. Why change that. It makes more sense to me to teach others how to make changes that will help them better themselves where they currently reside.

It is amazing to me how many people in this country resent being here. There is nowhere they can go that they would be better off. They all know that, that is why they stay here. Biting the hand that feeds you seems to be the order of the day among many. I find it sad.

If I want something better, I work for it and I get it. I have never found that complaining about my circumstance helped me. My actions did. My choices. I live the lifestyle I choose, because I worked hard to get it. Most of my friends did the same and feel the same as I do.

We are an independent people. Take advantage of it. Enjoy being alive.

Happy Fourth of July, friends.