Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Dumbing Down Is Complete

Good Day World!

The "dumbing down" of America crept up on us like a panther pouncing on a capitalistic pig with palsy.

Sometime, sages know not when, our education system became less of a priority in our money-loving society. 

In the fifties they taught us cursive in school.

Today, if a student can even print legibly, they're doing good. They might even get a Smiley Face sticker from the teacher to show Mom and Dad how clever their child is.

The sad truth is our education system is mediocre compared to the rest of the world, according to an international ranking of OECD countries

Last year's comparison of academic performance in 57 countries left America in the middle of the pack at #16. Finland came out top overall.

Here's something else to consider:

There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture.

It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibilty (See Donald Trump).    

Is there hope for a postive change? Perhaps. 

President Obama signed an education bill last December that substantially limits the federal government's role by barring the Education Department from telling states and local districts how to assess school and teacher performance.

That's a step in the right direction, but still doesn't get to the core of our education system's problems. Parents, teachers, and politicians need to prioritize education like never before.

What does that mean? Among other things, it means taking a good look at what's happening in our culture. What's causing this delibrate dumbing down of students?

It also wouldn't hurt studying Finland's education system to see why they lead the world in smart kids.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Friday, June 3, 2016

Straight From The Fascist Recipe Book

Good Day World!

Did you know that, "America is like a cruise ship that is about to go over Niagara Falls with tremendous carnage and death?" 
(Photo credit: Driftglass)

This rather dim view of America's future comes from former presidential candidate Ben (Sleepy) Carson who thinks Donald Trump would be a good president and captain of that cruise ship.

This coming from the man who said Egypt's pyramids were used to store grain. Carson, once scorned and ridiculed by Trump, now belongs to the Trumpet/Trumpette Clubhouse of crazy followers.

Meanwhile Trump is butt hurt because Gary Johnson, a Libertarian, has cast his hat in the race. For extra measure, there's whispers about another third party candidate - an Independent one (David French) with conservative credentials. 

One thing that Trump's detractors have been adamant about is his fascist leanings.

Robert Paxton, an expert on historical fascism recently told Slate Magazine:

"The use of ethnic stereotypes and exploitation of fear of foreigners is directly out of a fascist’s recipe book.

“Making the country great again” sounds exactly like the fascist movements.

Concern about national decline, that was one of the most prominent emotional states evoked in fascist discourse, and Trump is using that full-blast, quite illegitimately, because the country isn’t in serious decline, but he’s able to persuade them that it is. 

That is a fascist stroke. An aggressive foreign policy to arrest the supposed decline. That’s another one. 

Then, there’s a second level, which is a level of style and technique. He even looks like Mussolini in the way he sticks his lower jaw out, and also the bluster, the skill at sensing the mood of the crowd, the skillful use of media."

If it looks like a demogogue, acts like a demogogue, and sounds like a demogogue... chances are it is a demogogue. 

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Boobs and Haboops: Ignorance on Display

Good Day World!

Some boobs in Texas recently got butt hurt when the US National Weather Service  said a haboob was rapidly approaching the Lubbock airport and might affect the city as well.

The problem? Take a look at these quotes from the National Weather Service's Lubbock FaceBook page. You might want to make sure you're sitting for this:

John Fullbright wrote:
 "Haboob!?! I’m a Texan. Not a foreigner from Iraq or Afghanistan. They might have haboobs but around here in the Panhandle of TEXAS, we have Dust Storms. So would you mind stating it that way. I’ll find another weather service."

Brenda Daffern wrote:
"In Texas, nimrod, this is called a sandstorm. We’ve had them for years! If you would like to move to the Middle East you can call this a haboob. While you reside here, call it a sandstorm. We Texans will appreciate you."

Tom Reinio wrote:
"I for one cannot wait until those gosh darn democrats get swept out of office cause you know the Donald will not allow those Islam loving words to be used in the good ole US of A. We have a new haboob on the way...and his name is Trump, the biggest haboob in the world!!!"

For the rest of you Texans who agree with these three, you should probably know that the Weather Service's use of "haboob" was entirely appropriate.

Haboob describes a situation in which a collapsing thunderstorm exhales a burst of wind. This burst, or outflow, collects dusts in the surrounding arid environment.

 The dust can grow into a towering dark cloud, the so-called haboob, that sweeps across the landscape, cutting visibility to near zero.

It's NOT a brand new term for sandstorms coined by ISIS.

The term haboob has been around for decades. As noted by Maryland weathercaster and AGU blogger Dan Satterfield, a 1925 paper in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society was titled ‘Haboobs’.”

You should know Texans aren't all boobs (Hey! I married one!)
Charles Russell wrote: 
To all of you people complaining about a word. Do you all realize how stupid y’all look? I mean, the rest of the country and the world is laughing at y’all. …  Stop getting offended over nothing. It’s super annoying to the civilized world We work too hard to make humanity modern and non-draconian to allow this sort of BS. Thanks."

Gwen Fine Roberts wrote:
"If the word Haboob bothers them, maybe they are a BOOB. I'm a Texan and don't want to be confused with unworldly, undereducated people who happen to live in my state."

I think my favorite response came from Joshua Shook who said:
"Just wait until these idiots discover that they've been using Arabic numerals their whole lives. The horror!"

For the record:

Many weather and Earth science terms we use are derived from other languages — hurricane, tornado and derecho are all Spanish in origin, not to mention El Niño and La Niña. There’s also the Japanese term tsunami. 

In fact, there is very little in the English language that doesn’t have roots somewhere else in the world.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Did You See Them? 'Signs, signs everywhere there's signs'

Good Day World!

The electric road sign said "Trump Is A Shape-Shifter." 

Last week someone altered three Texas Department of Transportation electronic road signs and displayed their political preferences for all to see during the morning commute to work.

A more ominous sign is the one being posted by the State Department warning American travelers about traveling to Europe this summer.

It pointed to two events in particular — the Catholic Church's World Youth Day in late July in Poland and the European Soccer Championship, which France will host from June 10-July 10 — as potential targets.


Researchers have been looking for signs of the dreaded mcr-1 virus in America for decades.

It - mcr-1- gives germs the ability to withstand the effects of colistin, a last-resort antibiotic used to save the lives of people infected with serious superbugs. 

They found it in Pennsylvania last week, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In closing, do you remember this classic from 1970: SIGNS by the Five Man Electric Band? Here's the chorus:

"Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs
Fuckin' up the scenery, breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pandering 101: There's No Drought Problem in California

Good Day World!

Guess what?

There's no drought problem in California. It's all an illusion according to Donald Trump. 

Trump, who said plainly that "there is no drought," is implying that water that could be going to farmers is instead being used to ensure the survival of a near-extinct fish native to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

As Trump put it, state officials are diverting precious crop water "to protect a three-inch fish," at the behest of environmentalists.

Never mind that the amount of water being diverted wouldn't begin to solve the water shortage problem in California. Trump threw out the bait and hopes to snag a lot of under-educated people in his net.

Pandering to the fears of populace after populace, Trump's told the working-class people of Indiana he'd do away with outsourcing; the people of North Dakota (America's second-leading producer of oil) he'll do away with energy regulations, and he told the coal miners in Virginia he's going to reinvigorate the coal mining industry by doing away with the EPA.

Trump will promise anything to get elected. Anything. He says what people want to hear, despite the fact his solutions (if he even offers any) are simplistic and wrong-headed.

How far will pandering take the Donald? It's hard to say. So far he's managed to appeal to half of the Republican base - the under-educated angry white men, with success.

Hopefully, when it comes to the general election, the rest of the country will have more sense than to elect a demogogue.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day: Celebration and Traditions

Good Day World!

Today the country honors those veterans who died while serving their country.

Memorial Day is not be confused with Veterans Day which celebrates all veterans.

Tradition has it that the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainer of the day.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. 

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 P.M

Between the parades and flag raisings, other traditions associated with the day have sprung up over the years.

One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, an auto race which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.

Most Americans however celebrate the day with bar-b-ques, or they hit the road searching for adventure or visiting family and friends.

Marketers use the holiday as an excuse to promote Memorial Day sales.

Memorial Day also marks the start of summer.

Whatever you do be safe and remember what this holiday is really all about - honoring veterans who gave their all while serving this great country.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Word Struck: When Speech Gives Way To Silence

Good Day World!
Have you ever been struck speechless?

Momentarily stunned by a comment or by something you saw? At a complete loss of words? Tongue tied? I have. 

On my first date in junior high. It was really pathetic. I searched for words to impress my date and made croaking sounds that scared her instead! 

The first time I had to stand up in front of a class to make a speech, I lost my voice. I stood pointed at a chart and coughed. And coughed. Words barely discernible as human came out of my mouth mocking my efforts at communication.

The teacher took pity on me. She pretended I made sense and gave me a passing grade.  

When I think about it, I’ve been wordless many times in my life:

  “Where have you been all night young man?”
   No response.
  “Who said you could take that last piece of pie?”
   No response.
  “What were you thinking?”
   No response.

 You get the idea. It’s pretty common to be at a loss for words. I’ve given this a lot of deep thought (about five fully focused minutes) and I think it’s a survival instinct. If you say nothing, it’s better than saying the wrong thing. 

Think about it:

“Where have you been all night young man?”
“None of your business…” 
This is where harm comes in.
“Who said you could take that last piece of pie?”
“Grandma…she appeared to me in a vision…” 
This is the where you get to stare at the wall for the rest of the afternoon.
“What were you thinking?
“That I wanted to get fall-down stupid drunk and tell you…” This is where your mate locks the front door and lets you sleep it off on the front step.

Sometimes silence is golden. Or at least better than a truthful alternative. Then there are times when words can’t begin to describe what you’re seeing.

For example, when I watched each of my three sons enter this world I was without words. My world tilted each time, but no fine speech instantly sprang forth to honor the births.

Mere words could not describe those moments of new life I was shared with my wife. I saw my past and my future. Life and death often leave us speechless. 

The passing of my sister and brother, both so young, left me mute with misery each time. Words were dust in my mouth.

After 65 years of experiencing times when words were worthless or needless, I’m still amazed at how quickly they flee in times of stress, pressure, or pleasure. 

For example, when you get a back rub and are asked if it feels good, words seem unnecessary and a contented sigh says everything!

The next time someone asks you if the “cat got your tongue?” just smile like the Cheshire cat in Alice and Wonderland, and don’t answer.

Time for me to walk on down the road...

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...