2016 Election Learning

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

As I have grown older, I have begun to appreciate politics more than when I was younger. Maturity and wisdom are now replacing the inexperience of youth and the ignorance of youth. Disappointment in my political selections is nothing more than the recognition that nothing changes and does the joy of my political selections. I understand now that the government changes with the slow pace of societal changes. It is the process that I find most fascinating.

With all of the disappointment, crying, celebrating, and overall in your face nature, few Americans understand why our government was set up the way it is. How can I explain to that young latina who believes the solution is to fight and have deaths on “both sides” in order to have her way is not how America was set up? (Yes, there is an actual video of her stating this.) I simply can’t do this. I am even more disappointed, but not surprised, at our entertainers. What I can do is explain the process to my sons, though they should know.

As I watched the electoral votes Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I could not help see the flaws in the electoral college. If you looked at the electoral college map, you could spot urban areas with ease. What had begun as a way to not marginalize smaller, lower populated states is now marginalizing populations within states. In reality, the origination of this method of voting can be found within chains of slavery. This does not mean that marginalizing groups or states isn’t an issue. The true goal of the electoral college was to protect the slavery interests of the South, since the North’s population was larger than the South’s (excluding slaves) and could have pushed through suffrage. The South could not have any of this, and did its best to “even” everything.

Is the electoral college bad? Should it be replaced by the popular vote? I would argue no and each account with the first needing a qualifier. The electoral college needs modified. As I looked at the red on the map, many of the states really didn’t matter. Does Alaska, Montana, North or South Dakota really matter when competing with California, New York Texas, and Florida? They do not. If we look in more detail at the state of New York, does it matter if you live in any area other than New York City, Albany or Buffalo to name a few? The population of New York City alone represent 42.4% of the state but does not represent the interests of the entire state. This issue can be found in all states for this is an urban versus rural issue. Does all of silly ol’ California want to leave the United States? No. Actually only the unhappy people whose candidate lost.

If we go to a popular vote, why should those in lower populated states bother voting? Their voice means nothing and the Republic portion of America goes away while the true Democracy version of America grows. Why should anyone care about Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine, Hawaii, and even you D.C.? In many respects, this idea born of slavery ideals is an important method to involve everyone in the election process.

It may be time to update the electoral college by breaking out each state’s electors say Pennsylvania’s 20 electors, so regions may be able to cast their vote towards a more representative candidate. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh could cast their allotted votes while more rural regions in the state can select the candidate that they believe represents them. This better aligns the country and keeps with the idea of a republic. Less populated states have value and are more included in the elective process. Their vote actually does matter than the myth propagated now.

How does this election help us learn? It provides parents the ability to educate their youth about the electoral college and why it was designed. This election provides the opportunity to explain to our youth why we need to accept the results especially when it was not what we wanted. We do not need the latina or any of the 2016 election protesters who didn’t get their way to be citing violence. The electoral college was an good idea created on poor principles. What appears to be a poor idea in this year’s election is in reality a better option than the popular vote. Our nation needs the electoral college more now than ever as we are a diverse and widespread country. The goals and ideals of New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and good ‘ol Philadelphia do not necessarily agree with the rural goals and ideals of Utah, Wyoming, the rural areas of Pennsylvania and New York, or even Alaska. We need to give these regions a fair voice and together we can continue grow.

What Hollywood and the Media Missed

November 9, 2016 Leave a comment

I can recall my thoughts over a year ago as I said, “Don’t worry. Let Trump go, he’ll soon burn out, and we can get to the real candidates.” As he won the candidacy, I thought, “Damn! The Democrats have it, but…” I knew right there that Hillary Clinton was a defeatist selection.

As a white male, I know why I detest Hillary. She is a liar and corrupt. This is no different than any other “qualified” politician. They are all poison, and Hillary was the representation of it. The “Clinton Machine” was another reason. Just as people didn’t want another Bush, Clinton was a dynasty not wanted. There is no sexism here and very little around America. There were better women to select such as Mazie Hirono (I doubt she would win because of her heritage), Kirsten Gillibrand, and Patty Murray to name some of the female Democrats. These women had a better chance than Hillary.

Consider this, if any of the previous mentioned women were running for President, the large numbers of anti-Hillary people would not have come out; therefore PA, MI, FL, and even NC come to the Democratic Party. These women were not as hated as Hillary even though they may be seen as part of the establishment like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush. At most, sexism may have been a truer issue than in Hillary’s case. Indeed, I would prefer these women to “break through the glass ceiling” than Hillary who I see as tainted. Hillary was bitten by the infected zombie, and Americans could smell it.

Our entertainers have always been out of touch with their fans and the public in general. These people throw money around and talk of buying homes in foreign countries to live in because of Trump. How can the rest of Americans do this? The day after the election, we see the entertainers continuing with the venom while the American public is getting on with their life. While the entertainers wish to not unite and heal, the American public want to unite and heal. How is it that we even listen to these venomous and hateful people? We just need to recognize these people are not important and ignore their opinions.

The news media expected Hillary to win. They ignored the discontent in America. We can see today the bitterness with some in CNN as they take a negative approach towards Trump. They projected more of a negative image of Trump and in some cases rightly so. Hillary appeared to have a protectionist bubble surround her as members of the news media struggled to hide their support for Hillary. The most damaging was Donna Brazile and her emails. Today, we see the emphasis on Trumps lack of governing when they forget that President Obama had never governed. Inexperience does not mean anything. Time and again the news media misconstrues Trump’s statements of what he’s going to do. The public understood his statements. Does anyone really thinks he knew more than the generals? No, not even Trump. He was reactionary and a major mistake was to target these statements.

In the end, the public was ignored. How does the CNN political analyst miss the Sanders movement until he wins Michigan? She’s a political analyst? Heck, I understood what was going on early on and from both sides. It may have took me longer with Trump, but I soon understood the dissatisfaction. Our entertainers think a flash of cash and a few witty comments makes the country run. Sorry, but Americans do not have money to throw away and your wit gets old. To the entertainers, why do you continue with your hatred when America is ready to unite? Do you wish to continue to divide this country? Quit blaming everyone else for Hillary’s defeat. She alone must own up to her defeat and not find a scapegoat in order to deceive herself.

I don’t support Donald Trump, but I need him to succeed whether I like him or not. Donald Trump is the newly elected President and like President Obama has some very important decisions to make. His cabinet selection will dictate the success of his administration. The smarter they are the better he will guide America. The next hopeful step is the removal of the corruption in our government. If we can remove it, our lives get better as the money no longer flows to the corrupted politicians, but that is for another discussion.

Riding a Bike

November 3, 2016 Leave a comment

When our second son began to take college courses this fall, we were a little apprehensive about this. He is actually a very bright young man, and this, naturally, was not our concern. Compared to his older brother, we considered our youngest to be the most likely to fail. His older brother has the perseverance that the younger one does not. Failure could destroy the confidence of our youngest and  his anxiety about the upcoming classes had us concerned.

You see, when our first son began taking classes, we were prepared to let him go but continue to monitor from a safe distance. Well, we discovered how that went. His grades would suffer below what we thought he was capable of. Okay, I’m considered less realistic when I expect all A’s. When I actively engaged our son and became a part of his college life, the grades improved. I was Moses during the fight. As long as my arms were up, my son did well, but when I lowered them his grades suffered. God made a poor selection in me. I am the least worthy and capable of this type of task, but I was the only one left in the bullpen, I guess. The reality was that our oldest son was immature and not ready for a full-time schedule let alone two or three courses. His first two years as an official college student was one of weeping and gnashing of teeth. No longer could I be the direct influence upon my son. Though he did well, he also struggled. His junior year has been his wake up year as maturity takes hold.

Our oldest son’s experience weighed us down with our youngest, and the anxiety our youngest had was not helping. Another factor was how my oldest relayed to his brother his study habits. He NEVER read any of his books! All that money we spent on those books! The oldest is an audio learner and does well when the professors actually can teach. He struggles when they can’t and must rely on Youtube for supplemental learning or directly talk to the professor. Our youngest is a different type of learner. He is not as curious as his older brother and does rely on audio learning. His distaste for reading worried us as well, for this was one of the main ways he needed in order to learn.

We are in our third month of the semester, and my youngest son is actually doing great. The first two months were spent by my wife and me supporting our youngest son. He was given leeway on his chores and other tasks. Once he got his firm footing, he was off and running, and unlike his brother, I am not as attached to his college coursework. This doesn’t mean I won’t be a part of it. For the next two years, I will be a support person for my son and maybe even the first two years of his official college life.

As homeschooling parents, my wife and I have recognized that our sons learn differently and require different needs. This is true with all youths. For our sons to succeed on their own, we need to be like the parent teaching their child to ride a bike. We hover around the child as they wobble on the bike and let them go once they achieve the balance needed to ride a bike. This is something I think all parents need to recognize. Our children or young adults need our parental assistance even when we or they think they are on their own. I no longer follow my older son’s coursework. He is riding on his own. My youngest is beginning to learn to ride. My wife and I will surround him until he, too, masters the balance needed for life. We are the first lines of defense against failure.

Sanitized History

October 11, 2016 Leave a comment

I have noticed that many homeschoolers have talked about using traditional history book whether they are textbooks or book written years ago. They do not like or approve of the history being pushed to the American public today. There are claims made about modern history stating it is incorrect or wrongly portrays events. This new history demonizes America and fosters a hatred towards certain groups. Are past history books better than the current history being taught?

I recall in my youth learning history through the bland textbooks the schools provided. I also recall the history books in the ill-funded libraries. What made these books and history in general so dull was the simple fact these histories were sanitized. As a youth, President Kennedy was pure and perfect. George Washington’s biggest flaw was the folklore of chopping down a cherry tree. When slavery was presented with Washington, he became a kind and gentle soul who emancipated his slaves, after his death. Much of this history has been called patriotic history. How valid is this history?

Sorry to say homeschoolers that past history books are horrible. These books present an unrealistic past that glosses over the horrors of man, and in some cases outright lies about the past. What African slave was truly happy that they were a slave under the dominion of a kind master? Sorry, but there are plenty of books out there describing the misery these slaves endured. The perception of blacks being slow and unintelligent was a purposeful propaganda begun in the late 19th century to keep down the black population. Even our treatment of the Indians has been sanitized. We allow disease to wipe these people out, and portray most if not all of the horrendous treatment of colonial people to Indians. These past histories perpetuates myths and lies.

A second reason why past history books are flawed is the simple fact they are outdated. History is full of discoveries. I recall growing up while being taught the Norsemen visiting North America was a myth. How wrong we are. We now understand how the Danes migrated to Britain. Through discoveries, we are able to correct history that we got wrong. New discoveries of hidden facts alter the history we know. We have learned much about Jamestown in the last twenty years that any book or article before, say 1990, is likely to be wrong. Archaeology done on battlefields have change how the victors and losers portrayed what happened. The past may be static, but history is ever changing.

Are modern histories correct? The old history books portray a biased viewpoint based on the period. At the end of the 19th and early 20th century, historians would represent Indians in negative terms such as calling them savages. There was a view of white superiority based on how Europe conquered that looked down upon the Chinese, Japanese, and other cultures. These attitude permeate many of these books. If the old possessed this bias then it stands to be that modern history has the same types of attitudes. Yes, modern history is as flawed as ever and grossly over-represents the negatives of people like Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other characters of history. Like their past, modern historians make the characters of history one-dimensional and bland. Slave owners become the cartoonish, evil character we see in movies like Die Hard or the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Columbus is portrayed so one-dimensionally in history, now, that he becomes a mythical evil creature like Jason, Alien, or other unrealistic monsters. The minorities or down trodden become one-dimensional as well as their sufferings they must overcome makes them the comical heroes that, again, we see in bad movies, or they are tragic characters that we are forced to relate to as their humanity is taken away for the effect desired more so than their being.

Sanitization works two ways. One method makes history pure and wholesome while the other side makes history evil and corrupt. Today’s history does have a tendency to portray the worst in people and nations in order to try to balance a mythical problem. Today’s history must accept that people can be good and bad. It cannot focus on one element in order point out what was missed. It must be even keeled.

Modern history is the best option with a very healthy dose of skepticism. When history begins to describe the attributes of the character in a one-dimensional way, then allow skepticism to take over. Humans are flawed characters where they can do acts of bravery, kindness, sympathy, and empathy while often portraying the worst that can be imagined. History is at its best when we do not trim a section we do not like or do not focus on one aspect. If history is too good to be true or too terrible, then doubt its validity.

Paint.Net

September 27, 2016 1 comment

As the family winds down the homeschooling lifestyle, there is one program that I continue to be thankful for, and this is Paint.Net (http://Getpaint.net). 2004 was the initial release which coincides the time we began homeschooling. Actually, I think we started schooling a year before this program came out.

Paint.net is a free download that allows you to alter images or create images. There are add-ins to improve the capability of the program, and once you play with it for a while, it becomes a great program to use. At one time, you used to be able to download the code, in C# I believe. For what I used it for, the program was great for homeschooling.

Porfolios were a must where we live, and our family constructed as nice of portfolios as we could. We took pride in educating our sons, and the portfolios were are a part of that pride. I altered images or fixed imperfect images and created artwork to apply to the portfolios. As you can see, the portfolio was the main purpose of this program, though occasionally I used Paint.net on photos that I took. I never really did much graphical artwork with the program, but it could work with it.

If you are looking for a cheap graphics editor, then this program may be worth a shot. Having this program can’t hurt, since it is free. If you don’t like it, you can easily remove it.

Categories: Homeschool, Software Tags: ,

Jourdon Anderson’s Fake Letter

There was a profound and entertaining letter making its rounds a few years back on the web. It was a letter by a former slave, Jourdon Anderson, written to his former master in 1865. The letter had a sense of humour that one finds with some of the best writers or even pundits of today. It is a true work of art when you break the letter down for its content and message. Here is a link to the letter: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/01/to-my-old-master.html.

My question is the validity of the letter, not so much as the existence of the letter for it was published in the New York Daily Tribune on August 22, 1865, but more for the letter writer and the former master. The content itself lends credence to not being a true or real response to some letter written by Colonel P.H. Anderson. This is a well-written letter for a slave let alone an average white person living in the nineteenth century. In fact, the letter reminds me somewhat of Mark Twain. The letter in one take provides a narrative of the slave’s struggle. Keep in mind that Mr. Jourdon Anderson dictated this letter.

What about the original letter written by Colonel P.H. Anderson? I know of no evidence of its existence which leads me to surmise that it never existed. This letter would go a long way of proving the content of Jourdon Anderson’s letter as being real and not fabricated. This doesn’t mean that a letter wasn’t written, but we may never know and cannot conclusively conclude that it ever existed.

There is no doubt Jourdon Anderson was real. There are census records noting his existence in Ohio, so we can safely take Mr. Anderson as a real person and former slave. Mr. Anderson, not to be confused with Neo, lived to a nice age of 81.

As I searched for P.H. Anderson, I found a name of Patrick Henry Anderson. Colonel Anderson was a few years older than Jourdon likely was a playmate of Jourdon’s as youths. Slavery maintained a master-slave relationship. Colonel Anderson would die in 1867, two years after his supposed letter to Jourdon. So, Colonel Anderson is a real person.

A third individual is the man Jourdon dictated the letter to, and this is Valentine Winters. This man was an abolitionist who apparently hosted Abraham Lincoln once. Mr. Winters born in Clearfield County, PA (I had to include this because that county needs some recognition) and moved to Ohio where he started a bank, I believe. Apparently the comedian Jonathan Winters is a descendent of Mr. Winters.

Mr. Winters is the key component of my argument. First, I do not think Colonel P.H. Anderson ever sent a letter to Jourdon Anderson. Second, Jourdon Anderson did not receive any letter from his former master and did not dictate the published letter as it was written. Third, Mr. Winters constructed this letter as an abolitionist for political reasons or reasons to improve the plight of the former slaves. As stated earlier, the structure of the letter is too perfect and eloquent in its style. Was this letter ghost-written? I do not believe the letter reflects the words of Jourdon Anderson but uses him to make a political point. More research is needed to determine what the point of the letter was. It has nothing to do with what we interpret today or what it stated in the letter. The clues, though, are found within the letter since the mention of wages are driven home.

The monthly earning of Mr. Anderson’s of $25 does not dispute the validity though the $25 could have been elevated for effect. In 1870, the average daily earnings of non-farm labor was $1.56 which gives a white worker $31.20/month if they worked a standard five day workweek otherwise is was around $37. The education of his children are likely the result of the local abolitionists. More research into wages are needed to verify if $25 is reasonable. Other points to be made are acts his former master did. These remind me of all of the events that happened to the crew of the Memphis Belle in the movie of the same name. The events represented what happened to other aircrews since little of that happened to the real crew of the Memphis Belle.

I think the letter is real but the content fake. It was contrived for other reasons than to respond to a letter Colonel P.H. Anderson never sent. The content is a brief summary of slavery constructed for a letter. I can’t confirm these event didn’t happen the way they were stated but do believe they are a common summary as I indicated happened with the movie Memphis Belle. The evidence does not add up to this letter being nothing more than a type of propaganda constructed for a political purpose, and that little if any of the content was true.

Praise

The power of praise works! I am built on criticism and not praise. My expertise, if it is so lofty, is critiquing an event or person’s actions. Coaching sports, I was able to point out what a player was doing wrong and provide corrections. Most of us are critiquers, too. (I should say critics, but…) The polar to criticism, praise, can be very effective and maybe better.

As an aging graduate, my confidence entering graduate school wasn’t the highest. My attitude was, if I do poorly then I know and nothing lost other than tuition. If I do okay or better, I’ll play along until I fail. Get the idea of my confidence? My age and experience also allowed me to be pessimistic, since a graduate degree isn’t likely going to improve my station in life. The lackadaisical approach works well with my situation. As my classes became more numerous, a change happened with me. What was more interesting are the professors I encountered.

I have had seven or eight professors. Most I would say are knowledgeable. Okay, they all should be but that is another post – why you don’t have to be smart to have a PhD. My confidence and grades fluctuated with the professor I had. One would assume that the worse I did the harder and the undergraduate idea of meaner the professor was. That was not the case. Harder didn’t mean worse and easier/not as brilliant didn’t give a better grade. (NOTE: what I mean by brilliant is how the professor is able to catch short-cuts and such. Yes, you can get one past professors.) What I discovered was their response to me directly affected my grade and confidence.

My most difficult professor was my favorite. She inspired me and was critical of my work. I did get the worst score with her and the highest with her. In the subject where she was an expert, I received high praise for my work. What did she do? Well, she did point out my errors which were embarrassing for me, but the biggest thing was her praise of my work and the positive criticism she provided. When I was at my lowest, she took a moment to send me an email and give me the moral support I needed. What I did was try to excel to not only meet her expectations but to please her. I went the full mile to learn and achieve. Yes, she provided criticism, but it was not the primary interaction. I honestly try to emulate her methods of criticism and praise.

One professor was my worst. He isn’t a bad guy. He wasn’t positive with me and was rather insulting in an unintentional way. Indeed, the class he taught was one I was most knowledgeable in, and I was looking forward to this class. I ended up dreading and hating the topic. What happened? For starters, he was quite negative about my work. He would state that he quit recording certain errors because there were too many and went on to criticize something else. He was right. I made my typical errors, but he offered nothing else; no constructive criticism. It was coming to the point where I would think, why try? I easily predicted which fellow classmates would drop out. I never received praise and felt any positive image about myself from him. He drained the enthusiasm from me.

Other professors are somewhere in between. My current professor provides a positive impact with me by complimenting and pointing out the positives. Now there are the negative criticisms, but these are not emphasized and do not bring me down. He is succeeding with his students by his method of criticism through praise. He is inspiring us to look at our mistakes as well as the good parts of our work. This method makes you want to excel and succeed.

When we instruct our youth, we need to be mindful of how we criticize. Everyone makes mistakes. They know when the screw up. What they don’t know is how close they are to succeeding. A few kind, supportive, and helpful words may be enough for the youth to get up and succeed. Everybody will fail and everybody can succeed. Why don’t we place a positive spin on failure and help them along. Don’t worry, they’ll do the work to succeed.